Sebastian Vettel won the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix with a lights to flag victory to collect his first win of the 2012 season, ahead of Lotus team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both enjoyed fast starts to the race and it was the double world champion that set the early pace ahead of Hamilton, Mark Webber and Grosjean, who made up several places on the opening lap, as did Fernando Alonso.
Grosjean in the Lotus continued his good work in the early stages, as he overtook both Webber and Hamilton to go second behind Vettel on Lap Seven of the race.
The McLarens of Hamilton and Jenson Button appeared to be struggling with rear tyre wear before they had completed 10 laps and both drivers opted for an early tyre change.
Hamilton's tyre change was a slow one and cost him nine places and as he returned to the track he had to drive off the track onto the dirt to fend off a challenge from Nico Rosberg in a spectacular move that went upstairs to the stewards room.
Both Lotus cars were looking strong, as Raikkonen set the fastest lap as he moved up to third place behind team mate Grosjean after all of the first pitstops had been completed.
Hamilton suffered a virtually identical poor pitstop on Lap 24 that cost him yet more time, as Raikkonen overtook Grosjean into second behind Vettel.
After the second stops, the gap between Vettel and Raikkonen was around two seconds, with Grosjean a further five seconds behind.
By Lap 33 the gap between Vettel and Raikkonen was down to one second as the former world champion hunted down the German.
Both of the leaders came in on Lap 40 for new tyres at the same time and Vettel's lead remained at the two second mark after the pitstops and with tyre degradation appearing to be the key to the race the gap was two and a half seconds as the race entered the final 10 laps.
But Vettel kept the lead and wasn't seriously pressed in the final stages as he collected his 22nd F1 victory and also moved to the top of the world championship drivers standings.
Button's race ended early with what looked like gearbox problems, while Michael Schumacher made up 12 places to finish inside the top-10 after incurring a grid penalty before the race and Paul Di Resta finished an excellent sixth in the Force India.
Daniel Ricciardo started an excellent sixth on the grid, but could only finish 16th, one place behind Toro Rosso team mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
2012 Bahrain Grand Prix – results
1) Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
2) Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus
3) Romain Grosjean – Lotus
4) Mark Webber – Red Bull
5) Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
6) Paul Di Resta – Force India
7) Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
8) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
9) Felipe Massa – Ferrari
10) Michael Schumacher – Mercedes
2012 F1 Drivers Championship – overall standings
1) Sebastian Vettel 53 points
2) Lewis Hamilton 49
3) Mark Webber 48
4) Jenson Button 43
5) Fernando Alonso 43
6) Nico Rosberg 35
7) Kimi Raikkonen 34
8) Romain Grosjean 23
9) Sergio Perez 22
10) Paul Di Resta 15