Paul Di Resta finished fourth in his Force India-Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton snuck through at the end to take fifth for Mercedes as Red Bull's Mark Webber lost two places right at the finish, scoring seventh. Sergio Perez was sixth for McLaren-Mercedes, Fernando Alonso wound up eighth in his Ferrari, Nico Rosberg, who started from pole position, was ninth for Mercedes and Jenson Button arrived home tenth for McLaren.
The fighting for positions late in the race was enthralling, with battles between Perez and Alonso, and Webber and Hamilton particularly thrilling.
Although the circuit was far from empty, the crowd appeared down from previous years and this could be due to calls to boycott the race by protest leaders in the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix as civil unrest continues in the country (see picture).
Vettel now has a solid lead in seeking his fourth consecutive world championship. With 77 points, he is 10 up on Raikkonen. Hamilton's fifth-place finish and Alonso's less-than-wonderful eighth saw the Brit move ahead of the Spaniard, 50 points to 47.
Red Bull has a solid lead over Lotus in the constructors championship, 109 points to 93.
There is now a three-week break until the next Grand Prix, in Spain, May 12.
- Sergio Perez had the bit in his teeth for McLaren on Sunday. He was happy with his sixth-place finish, the team was happy and even Jenson Button, his teammate, was full of praise (despite a slight criticism that he was too aggresive following a request to the team to "calm him down" after the Mexican ran into the back of him during a particularly boisterous joust they had toward the end of the race).
And why would this be, you ask? Because Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world who''s financing Perez's career, was at the race. It wouldn't do to be anything less than totally aggressive, would it? And the team and Button wouldn't be foolish enough to utter any really discouraging words either, considering that one of Slim's companies, Telmex, will be announced in December as McLaren's new primary sponsor . . .
- You've heard this before but I'll say it again: if Fernando Alonso didn't have bad luck, he wouldn't have any luck at all. Coming off a victory last week in China, the two-time world champion had qualified third and was mixing it up with pole sitter Rosberg and Vettel in the first few laps. Then his DRS flap stuck open and what promised to be a spirited run at or near the front became a struggle to survive. That he battled back to eventually finish eighth is a testament to his skill as a racing driver.
Two things about the DRS flap: 1, How can it stick open? How can that happen? The rich teams spend millions on research and development and yet a stupid little flap can stick open? 2, This is a fine example of why Formula One (and other racing organizations) are too cute by half when it comes to gimmicks to "spice up" the spectacle. Why have those stupid things anyway? F1 drivers are supposed to be the most skilled in the world and anybody good enough to be in that league should be able to slipstream and slingshot past on a long straight and not need any help.
I feel the same way about the tires. Let them have all the qualifying (read: super soft) tires they want, so they're all out there trying their dardest to be the fastest and not have to worry about starting the race on the tires they used to qualify. Then, give them all the soft, medium and hard tires they want for the race and forget the "built-in degradation" business. Let the teams and drivers manage the tires any which way they want. If they stop once or twice or never, so be it. F1 has to stop trying to stage-manage races.
- I've said many times that I don't like blocking in F1 or, as they call it, "defending." In my world, you "defend" by going faster so that the guy behind doesn't get close enough to try to pass. It's a chicken way, I think, to pull in front of a faster car and balk it. And before the emails start, I don't like slide jobs in sprint-car racing, either.
Anyway, the blocking started right at lights out when Rosberg pretended he was Michael Schumacher and went all the way across the track from pole position to block Vettel from going up the inside and beating him into Turn One. Just about everybody else was blocking, too. It continued throughout the race. It's a dangerous practice. One of these days, Alice . . .
- TSN lost the commenting feed for eight laps, between laps 16 and 24. The video feed was great and some sound was available - the scream of the engines and even one or two radio exchanges between drivers and teams - but the voices of Ben Edwards and David Coulthard went missing.
TSN went to a side-by-side commercial while trying to figure out what to do and then, after returning for two laps, went to commercial again but this time there was no side-by-side coverage, it was full-screen commerce. I suspect they were trying to reboot the system and had to shut everything down first. That didn't work, though.
But then, as quickly as it disappeared, it returned. It was nice to hear voices again.
- It's very hard to do play-by-play of anything. If you think it's easy, turn off your TV sometime when you're watching racing, or baseball, or hockey, and do the commentary out loud. See? It's a skill and it takes awhile to master it.
Having said that, Ben Edwards - at least once a race - allows a Murray Walkerism to slip into his commentary. So this is a public service message, courtesy of me:
Ben, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are no longer teammates. When they were playing tag at one point during the last half of the race, you said this: "Hamilton is about to pass his teammate Button." Maybe you meant to say "former teammate," but somehow the "former" never made it out of your mouth.
This has happened before. It bears watching.
- NORRIS McDONALD