Sebastian Vettel is the three-time defending world champion in Formula One racing, and also happens to be the reigning winner of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. With an ideal No. 2 starting position, there is little reason to expect anything other than Vettel emerging victorious once again.
A poor qualifying run had Vettel starting in ninth position at the UBS Chinese Grand Prix, which accounted for his fourth-place finish. Bahrain offers the perfect opportunity for him to bounce back from that relatively disappointing result.
German compatriot Nico Rosberg ran sensationally in qualifying to thwart Vettel's bid for a 39th career pole. However, Vettel acknowledged there wasn't much he could do about it even with a perfect lap, per Luke Smith of Motor Sports Talk:
Congratulations to Nico, he did a very strong lap. It was all his today...I’m definitely not disappointed. When I crossed the line I saw I didn’t go first, saw second place on the screen and did not know how much was missing because my lap was fine.
That confidence bodes well for the dominant driver, and even with his spot secure on the front line, he'll need to be bold in order to weather the early push from other contenders.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa provide formidable competition, as both are in the top five of the points standings and qualified third and fourth respectively. Even though Massa is a two-time champion in Bahrain and Alonso has won thrice himself (h/t Sky Sports), Vettel will find a way to victory lane.
Smith's report also documents the strategy that Vettel discussed with regard to managing his tires, which will be a factor in the extremely hot climate. That is something that Vettel handled well last year to win, as he made three pit stops.
Who will win the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix?
Vettel was not significantly challenged down the stretch of the 2012 event at Bahrain International Circuit, winning by a margin of greater than three seconds.
This is only the third time that Rosberg has held a top qualifying spot in his career, and he's only won one race overall. It shouldn't be hard for Vettel to get by him near the beginning.
Comparisons to F1 legend Michael Schumacher haven't been enough to distract Vettel into a slump throughout his promising career to date, which has allowed him to fearlessly attack on the track.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing has the top star in the sport, and has to like its chances at a track that Vettel is familiar with winning on. Vettel will redeem his most recent letdown in China by crossing the finish line first in Bahrain for his 28th career win.