|© AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili
Sebastian Vettel has come up with a way to put to rest the controversy over his decision to ignore team orders in Malaysia: keep winning races.
He did just that on Sunday, winning the Bahrain Grand Prix in a dominant display to finish ahead of Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on the podium. He also won in Bahrain last year.
The post-race reaction couldn't have been more different than it was in Malaysia, where the 25-year-old German driver ignored team orders and passed teammate Mark Webber to win the race. He was forced to apologise but the tension within the team was obvious.
At the Bahrain International Circuit, Vettel and the crew were all smiles.
"Sebastian fully deserved this victory today and it's a fantastic team result," team principal Christian Horner said. "To win any Grand Prix is truly an enormous challenge. To have won for the second year in succession here, to have won two out of the first four races and to be heading back to Europe leading both the drivers' and constructors world championship has been a very positive start to the campaign for us."
With his 28th career victory and second of the year, Vettel significantly boosted his chances of defending his drivers' title. Having already joined greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by winning three consecutive titles and becoming the youngest triple champion in the sport's history, Vettel can match Fangio and Schumacher's feat of four straight crowns.
Red Bull -- which has won the last three constructors' titles -- heads to Europe leading Lotus by 16 points.
Vettel started from second and grabbed the lead on the 17th lap, eventually beating Raikkonen by nine seconds. Grosjean was nearly 20 seconds back in third.
"The pace was phenomenal," Vettel said. "The car was very quick and it just started to get better and better toward the end. Really, a beautiful race where you could push every single lap."
After the race, Vettel said it was time put the Malaysia controversy to rest.
"I think we've moved on and I think that in terms of crossing the line first there's no difference," he said.