Alonso wins on Ferrari debut
Fernando Alonso won the season-opening Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix and led a Ferrari one-two in a dream debut with the Italian glamour team on Sunday.
"There is no better way to start the relationship," declared the double world champion after collecting the winner's trophy and a bottle of non-alcoholic local fizz. "I am with the best team in the world," added the Spaniard laid down a marker for the season with his 22nd career victory.
It was Alonso's first triumph since he won the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix for Renault and he weaved his car jubilantly across the track as he approached the chequered flag without a rival in sight.
With no refuelling allowed and after racing in searing temperatures at the newly-extended desert circuit, Alonso collected 25 points for the win under a scoring system that now rewards the top 10 finishers.
Image: Ferrari's Felipe Massa (left) and Fernando Alonso (centre) celebrate their podium finish with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
Vettel leads for most of the race
The race was led for more than two thirds of the distance by Germany's Sebastian Vettel before the Red Bull slowed and was reeled in.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was overtaken by Alonso at the first corner and finished runner-up, 16 seconds behind, on his race return from life-threatening head injuries suffered in Hungary last July.
Britain's Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, completed the podium for McLaren, 23.1 seconds behind Alonso, with Vettel slipping to fourth after starting on pole.
"It's a pity but what can you do. All in all it's been positive all weekend apart from the failure," said Vettel.
"Everything was running smoothly, but I lost power with about 20 laps to go, we are not sure what it was yet, but it wasn't good. Luckily I could continue and finish fourth but we should have won really."
Image: Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari's Fernando Alonso during the Bahrain GP
Schumacher finishes sixth
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, making a comeback at the age of 41 and after three years away, was sixth for Mercedes and one place behind fellow-German team mate Nico Rosberg.
The former Ferrari ace said his race was as good as it could have been.
"Overtaking here is impossible and that is the action we are going to have with this environment of race strategy," he said.
Image: Michael Schumacher of Mercedes before the Bahrain GP race
Defending champ Button takes seventh spot
In a race low on thrills and spills and with little overtaking as cars burned through their heavy fuel loads, world champion Jenson Button made a faltering start to the defence of his title with seventh place on his McLaren debut.
Malaysian-owned Lotus, their exalted name returning to the sport after a 16-year absence, proved to be the best of the three all-new teams and the only ones with a car still running at the finish.
Finland's Heikki Kovalainen was 15th, two laps down, and Italian Jarno Trulli 17th and last of those classified.
"What an amazing day. Lotus is back," said team boss Tony Fernandes.
Image: McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain gets a pit service
Force India log points, Chandok crashes out
India's Karun Chandhok retired on the second lap on his debut for the Hispania (HRT) team while Brazilian team-mate Bruno Senna retired on the 19th.
Vitantonio Liuzzi's ninth place finish earned Force India two invaluable points from the season opening GP.
While the best Karun could have achieved was to complete the race, Adrian Sutil's 10th place on the starting grid had raised Force India hopes for a good finish.
The German driver, however, dropped out of the points race after an opening lap scramble to eventually finish 12th and it was his Italian team-mate Liuzzi who took the onus on himself to ensure that the Vijay Mallya-owned outfit gained something from the season opener.
Image: Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi drives during the Bahrain GP