Felipe Massa, after two disastrous opening races and under intense pressure to finally perform, snatched the lead from Robert Kubica before the first corner, and the dominant Brazilian was never challenged as he opened his 2008 points account on a circuit he also won on last year. Kimi Raikkonen, in contrast, has looked off-color all weekend, but the margin to Massa at the end was just a few seconds, and he leaves the Kingdom with the championship lead.
The team has emerged from Bahrain leading the constructors' world championship, having outpaced McLaren and run Ferrari very close. Pole sitter Robert Kubica had a bad start, as did Nick Heidfeld, and soon Kimi Raikkonen passed him as well as Kubica slid on oil, but the gap to the red cars at the finish was a mere few seconds. "I think without those problems we would maybe have fought with Kimi (for second place)," the Pole said. Heidfeld's race to fourth was a good recovery after a difficult weekend, and he is just second to Raikkonen in the drivers' title chase.
Heikki Kovalainen set the fastest lap of the race, but otherwise it was not a good day for the Anglo-German team. The Finn finished fifth, behind the two Ferraris and BMWs, while Lewis Hamilton lost his championship lead to both Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld, with a disastrous showing. He messed up his start and lost seven places, and then hit Fernando Alonso and had to pit for repairs, leaving a points finish out of reach.
Another strong day for Jarno Trulli, cementing his reputation this year as the best of the rest behind the six drivers of the top teams. Timo Glock was happy with his ninth following a slight gearbox hiccup, greeting the checkered flag some half a minute behind Trulli's sixth.
Mark Webber picked his way through the lap one chaos and spent his afternoon chasing down Trulli. David Coulthard bounced off a couple of cars in the first corner and had to pit for a new tire, and later incurred friend Jenson Button's wrath after closing the door on his countryman as the Honda driver tried to pass.
Nico Rosberg scraped the final point, but he had hoped to race Trulli. "In the end the car was just not good enough," he said. Kazuki Nakajima's awful start, and then a spin on the puddles of oil on lap two, condemned him to a day amongst the backmarkers.
No points in Bahrain. Fernando Alonso carried some rear wing damage from his incident with Lewis Hamilton - which had some British pundits crying foul - to tenth place. Nelson Piquet spun on the early oil and eventually stopped due to a gearbox problem. "My engineers asked me to retire so that we would avoid a penalty in the next race," he said, referring to the new four-race gearbox rule.
Rubens Barrichello was the only Honda finisher, after emerging the winner of a scrap with Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella. Jenson Button pitted for a new tire after the first lap, before criticizing his friend David Coulthard for causing their crash by weaving in the braking zone.
A strong twelfth place finish for Fisichella; the first of the eight lapped cars, and again genuinely fighting Barrichello's Honda. Adrian Sutil fell a lap behind the field after a lap one crash, and finished dead last.
Sebastian Vettel tagged a Force India in the first corner, before another car slammed into him in turn four, damaging the rear of his car beyond repair. "I don't know who he was or what he wanted to do," said the German of the unnamed culprit. Sebastien Bourdais' race was an uninspiring run to fifteenth, having started from the same position.
Still with easily the slowest car in the field, Super Aguri's drivers both finished in Bahrain, with Anthony Davidson ahead of Takuma Sato.