The Enstone-based Lotus F1 team just missed out on a sensational victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday – but were delighted with two podium finishes nonetheless.

World champion Sebastian Vettel tasted his first success of 2012, but had a great battle with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen before claiming victory.

The Red Bull driver built an early lead from pole, but was caught by the Finn, who started 11th, after half distance.

Vettel then pulled away after the final pit stops, despite Raikkonen’s attempts to close him down.

Romain Grosjean was third to complete a memorable weekend for Lotus, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton finishing eighth and Jenson Button retiring. Raikkonen had judged his rise from 11th place on the grid to perfection.

His low qualifying position was a tactical ploy to ensure he had more sets of new tyres to use in a race that all teams expected to be dominated by tyre management in the high temperatures.

“It’s always easy to say if afterwards, but in the end we were not fast enough,” he said. “I had one chance to pass Sebastian, but I chose the wrong side.

“We gave ourselves a chance, but we didn’t do it.”

Raikkonen added: “It’s a great result for the team and we deserve it as everyone has been working very hard.

“I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t take the win because we had the pace.”

Grosjean said: “It’s a great feeling to get my first podium, and I’m really proud of the whole team for doing an incredible job today.

“We’ve known all season how quick the car can be, but with such a tight field any small mistakes can make a huge difference.”

The Caterham team, who will soon move to Leafield, again failed to pick up a point with Vitaly Petrov 16th and Heikki Kovalainen 17th.


2 K Raikkonen (Lotus) +3.333secs, 3 R Grosjean (Lotus) +10.194, 16 V Petrov (Caterham) lapped, 17 H Kovalainen (Caterham) lapped.


7 K Raikkonen (Lotus) 34pts, 8 R Grosjean (Lotus) 23, 21 V Petrov (Caterham) 0, 22 H Kovalainen (Caterham) 0.


3 Lotus 57pts, 11 Caterham 0.

CHIPPING Norton racer Alice Powell, who just six weeks ago was talking of giving up the sport due to a lack of money, has signed for Status Grand Prix to compete in the GP3 Series this season.

The 19-year-old has spent the last three seasons racing in the Formula Renault category with Manor Competition – becoming the first female to win a Formula Renault championship in 2010.

She has now received backing from a series of sponsors and is preparing for her first event, which is in Barcelona – as a support race to the Spanish Grand Prix – on May 12-13.