The Bahrain Grand Prix turned out to be a race in which some rather unexpected names stood out, making this the Performance Podium of the ‘unusual suspects’.
But in which order did the stars of Sakhir end up in performance terms? Keep reading, and you’ll find the answer.
1) Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez answered his critics in fine fashion in Bahrain with a highly impressive drive to sixth place.
The McLaren driver had been criticised for not defending hard enough when battling with other cars in China, but Perez came back brilliantly in Bahrain, getting stuck into fights with other drivers throughout the race, most notably with teammate Jenson Button, with whom the Mexican tussled in a thrilling duel that lasted many laps.
Perez got the better of his McLaren sparring partner late on in the race, before passing Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in the closing laps and also demonstrating his renowned tyre management by getting to the end on three stops, in a race where Button was forced to make four visits to the pit lane.
The challenge now is for Perez to continue to produce drives of this nature, and if he manages to do so, he will more than begin to repay the faith McLaren showed in signing him to replace Lewis Hamilton.
2) Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean was another man slightly under the cosh before this weekend. The Frenchman hadn’t driven particularly badly, but had failed to show the speed he had often demonstrated in 2012.
It was perhaps apt, then, that Grosjean produced by far his best performance of the season so far in Bahrain, the scene of his maiden Formula One podium last year, making best use of a three-stop strategy to take third place.
Having spent the first part of the race mired in a battle with the McLarens, Grosjean came alive in the second half, using his fresher medium tyres at the end to pass Paul di Resta in the closing stages and claim his first podium finish since Hungary last year.
Grosjean has managed to keep his nose clean so far this season, and if he can build on the speed he found this weekend, then the Frenchman could well become a regular podium challenger throughout the year.
3) Paul di Resta
Paul di Resta made best use of an extremely quick Force India to match his career best finish of fourth in Bahrain.
di Resta moved up to fourth on the opening lap, and when Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg began to drop back, for a time was running in an incredible second place on merit.
The Scot lost out to Kimi Raikkonen on lap 34, but then ran solidly in third place, and looked set for a maiden F1 podium before Romain Grosjean’s charge bumped him down to fourth in the closing stages.
Despite missing out on the podium, di Resta will be delighted with his weekend’s work, and with Force India fighting it out at the front on merit so far this season, a top three finish may not be too far away.
HM) Sebastian Vettel
It would be hard not to find a place in this Performance Podium for Sebastian Vettel, who even by his standards produced a storming drive in Bahrain.
A stunning overtake on Fernando Alonso on the first lap put him second, before his swift pass on Nico Rosberg gave him an early lead which allowed him to streak clear at the front.
From that point Vettel never looked like being beaten, and comfortably drove out the rest of the race to take his second win of the season and cement his place at the top of the drivers standings.
HM) Fernando Alonso
It’s a testament to Fernando Alonso’s driving ability that he recovered from two DRS failures to secure eighth, and a good haul of points from today’s Grand Prix.
Two unscheduled stops in the early part of the race, put him on a compromised pit strategy, and with no DRS to make his way through the field, he was forced to make up lost ground with a significant speed disadvantage.
Despite the lack of DRS making him defenceless against Sergio Perez in the closing stages, Alonso will be happy to have salvaged some points from this race and minimise the ground lost in the title battle ahead of F1’s return to Europe.
2013 Performance Podium Rankings
1) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) – 13pts
2) Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault) – 10pts
2) Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) – 10pts
2) Sergio Perez (McLaren-Mercedes) – 10pts
5) Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) – 5pts
5) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) – 5pts
5) Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) – 5pts
5) Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) – 5pts
9) Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) – 2pts
9) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 2pts
9) Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) – 2pts
12) Jules Bianchi (Marussia-Cosworth) – 2pts
13) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) – 1pt
The Performance Podium rankings are calculated depending on where each driver places in each race. 1st place receives 10 points, 2nd place = 5pts, 3rd place = 2pts and an Honourable Mention = 1pt