The Bahrain Grand Prix was the fourth career hat-trick for Sebastian Vettel. The German was back on the top step of the podium after a drought of five races and is the fourth different winner in four races in a repeat of the 2003 championship. Unlike that season though these winners have come from four different manufacturers.
To find a similar situation like that we have to go back to 29 years to 1983, when the first four winners were: Nelson Piquet (Brabham), John Watson (McLaren), Alain Prost (Renault) and Patrick Tambay (Ferrari).
Long Beach 1983; the last time the championship began with such a varied winners' list was 29 years ago © LAT
Vettel is also the fourth championship leader of the season, and eight men have already stepped on the podium, one more than the entire 2011 season!
Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta also led their first laps on Sunday, albeit only for one lap each due to out-of-sequence pitstops, making it eight different leaders this year (Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sergio Perez, Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Nico Rosberg are the others). That is the same amount as led the whole 2011 season and, taking into account the list does not include Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen, it seems likely the figure will increase.
In just one week we also went from an all-Mercedes-powered podium to an all-Renault one, the first since the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix. With Webber in fourth there were actually four Renault units in the top four for the first time since the 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix.
And there's another link to the 1990s: Romain Grosjean gained the first podium for France since Jean Alesi finished third in the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix.
It was a great race for Lotus. The Enstone-based team hadn't got two cars onto the podium since the 2006 Japanese GP, when it was known as Renault. The team's previous podium came at Malaysia last year and it hadn't led a race since the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix. As far as cars carrying the Lotus name are concerned, the last podium was courtesy of Nelson Piquet in Australia, 1988.
Reversing the grid
Kimi Raikkonen was the most striking example of clever tyre management in the Bahrain race: he turned a starting position of 11th, which is worth an extra set of new tyres, into second position at the flag.
This is the list of drivers that this year who have scored points after starting outside the top 10, considering only the dry races:
Australia - Perez; Raikkonen; Alonso; Kamui Kobayashi; di Resta
China - Bruno Senna; Vettel; Pastor Maldonado
Bahrain - Schumacher; Raikkonen; Felipe Massa
• This was the 22nd win for Vettel, who thus joins Damon Hill at the 11th in the all-time winners list
Kimi Raikkonen secured his 69th podium finish in Bahrain © LAT
• Raikkonen was back on the podium (his 63rd) for the first time since the 2009 Italian GP
• Webber finished fourth for the fourth consecutive time in 2012. So far in 2012 he has started from four different grid spots, but the final result has always been the same!
• di Resta equalled his career's best finish, sixth, like in Singapore last year
• Felipe Massa scored his first points of the season in ninth: now only the drivers of the newest outfits haven't scored points
• Schumacher fought back from 22nd on the grid to 10th. The German has scored points on every occasion (four times) in his career that he has started outside the top 20
• Lewis Hamilton finished off the podium for the first time in 2012. He had previously finished third in every race
• First pole of the season for Vettel. It was also the first time he has out-qualified Webber this year. In a way, he's maintained a record: since the duo started racing together at Red Bull, Vettel has never been beaten four straight times by Webber in qualifying. He's also never started outside the front row for more than three races since he joined Red Bull in 2009. It was Vettel's 42nd front row start, putting him in to the all-time top 10, tied with Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart
• Red Bull recorded its 39th pole, going level with Brabham at sixth in the all-time list
• Hamilton recorded his 40th career front row start and enjoyed his 40th consecutive start from the top 10. Vettel prevented, by less than a tenth of a second, the first pole for McLaren at this track
Daniel Ricciardo managed a career-best sixth in qualifying for Bahrain © LAT
• Daniel Ricciardo recorded his best qualifying spot - sixth, up from 10th in Australia. It was the best result for Toro Rosso since the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix (Jaime Alguersuari, sixth) and the first top 10 in Bahrain for Toro Rosso
• Sergio Perez equaled his best career grid position, eighth, obtained last week in China. He also recorded a streak of three races inside the top 10 on the grid for the first time
• First time in the top-10 for di Resta this year
• Massa recorded a string of four races outside the top 10 for the first time since his last year in a Sauber: from Australia to San Marino, 2005
• Heikki Kovalainen was able to take a Caterham to Q2 for the sixth time since the squad joined the field three years ago
• For the second time since he came back to racing, Schumacher was knocked out in Q1, the other being last year's Belgian Grand Prix when a wheel came off his Mercedes. Following a gearbox change, he started only 22nd. In his 291 grands prix, he started in a lower spot only in the aforementioned Belgian Grand Prix (24th)
• For the first time in his short career, Charles Pic was able to outqualify Timo Glock. In three years, Glock has only lost out to his team-mate in qualifying seven times