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As it happened: Race day at the Bahrain International Circuit
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Bahrain10:30 Hello and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for opening round of what promises to be a pulsating 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The Formula One fraternity have already endured a hectic start to the year, with four closely-scheduled tests in Spain in February. The teams had just a couple of days to get back home, strip down the cars and prepare them for shipping to the Middle East for this first event.

The Bahrain International Circuit has been extended for the seventh visit of motorsport's top category. Several new corners have been added to the first half of the lap, resulting in a track length of 6.299 kilometres.

49 laps of racing combat await the 24 drivers who are taking part in the championship this year, although how many make the chequered flag at the end today remains to be seen.

It's the 2010 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from the Bahrain International Circuit. The race itself begins at 12:00 GMT, but before then we will set the scene by reviewing yesterday's action from an interesting qualifying session, update you on today's weather conditions and support card activity, and focus on some of the major talking points so far this weekend.

10:35 On paper, the first race of a new season always promises excitement. But perhaps this, more than any other year, has the potential to truly deliver.

There are big-hitting stories all the way down the grid. At Ferrari you have the returning Felipe Massa and Maranello debutant Fernando Alonso desperate to get off to an early start and erase the memory of last season.

McLaren has two British drivers, as 2009 champion Jenson Button slots in alongside former champ Lewis Hamilton. Both will be keen to establish themselves over the other in the first few events of the campaign.

Michael Schumacher has decided that, at 41 years of age, it's time for another crack at his passion in life, and is going for an eighth world crown. He faces perhaps the stiffest competition since his debut year in 1991 - and not just from the other teams. Alongside him is Nico Rosberg with a lot to prove.

Red Bull is the only team from the top four that has any continuity. Vettel and Webber stay as the driver pairing, and the team is powered once again by Renault. The Austrian outfit has already stated that the title is the prime target for the year, and Vettel especially has started well.

Sebastian Vettel10:40 Saturday produced a memorable qualifying session as the 24 drivers battled it out for the best places on the grid in Bahrain.

For a long time it was known that the three new teams in the sport this year - Lotus, Virgin and Hispania Racing Team - would occupy six of the seven elimination places in Q1. Somewhere along the line, that meant there would be a fall guy.

It turned out to be a private Spanish battle as Pedro de la Rosa neatly moved himself out of 18th position and up to safety on his final effort in the Sauber. This dropped Jaime Alguersuari into 18th with no further chance to improve.

The second phase of the session turned out to be a little more predictable, although there was drama for a short time as Jenson Button struggled for pace in the McLaren. He only just managed to fight his way out of 11th spot and into Q3. Rubens Barrichello found himself unlucky to be demoted by the Briton's improvement. Barrichello was joined by Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, de la Rosa, Buemi, Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov.

The final shootout turned out to be a case of 'who dares wins'. McLaren and Ferrari sent its drivers out for the standard two runs of three laps, so for the first five minutes there were only four cars on the circuit. Eventually Sutil led those only making one effort out onto the track, just as the others were returning to the pits for their second set of tyres.

Sometimes one run is all that is needed to bag the pole, and Sebastian Vettel did it again yesterday. He instantly set the timing monitor alight and completed the job with a wonderful 1m54.101s, holding off an excellent late lap from the returning Felipe Massa..

Fernando Alonso will start his Ferrari racing career from third on the grid, with old friend Lewis Hamilton alongside him. Rosberg was fifth with Webber sixth, Michael Schumacher learning the knockout qualifying format in seventh, Button eighth, Kubica ninth and Adrian Sutil rounding out a great top ten using the harder tyres.

10:45 Weather conditions - as they have been all week - are stunning today. A cloudless sky and a top temperature of 34 degrees Celsius awaits the 24 drivers this afternoon.

The track temperature has been climbing steadily throughout the morning, and could touch 50 degrees during the 49-lap race.

10:47 This morning's significant development is that Ferrari has made a precautionary engine change for both its drivers.

There is no penalty for switching to another unit in the eight-per-driver allocation. However, with the change being made under parc ferme conditions, the removed engines can now only be used in free practice.

Ferrari gives Alonso new engine too

GP2 Asia10:50 Giacomo Ricci took DPR's first GP2 victory since the 2005 season as he led from start to finish in the Asia series finale this morning. The Italian powered through from fourth on the grid at the start and soon put a gap on the field to take a comfortable victory by 5.3 seconds.

In a relatively static race, ART's Sam Bird and Coloni's Alvaro Parente settled into second and third by the first corner and remained there for the duration, giving Bird his first GP2 podium and Parente his best result since returning to the series.

The main GP2 Series begins at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Ricci ends DPR's victory drought

10:55 Rene Rast has dominated the opening rounds of the Porsche Supercup, taking victory in both support events in Bahrain.

Rast, runner up in last year's series, led home double champion Jeroen Bleekemolen in today's race to get his title campaign off to the best possible start.

Former McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalist Nick Tandy took an impressive third this morning, getting his full season with Konrad Motorsport underway in fine style.

Bahrain parade11:00 Almost sixty years ago at an airfield in Northamptonshire, England, the top drivers in the world embarked on a mission - that of becoming world champion driver.

Today, nothing has changed and the mission statement is the same, but along the way there have been many twists and turns. Triumph and tragedy, moments of heroism and heartbreaking failure - all of which pull us in to what is the greatest sport in the world.

As a celebration for the 60th anniversary of the FIA Formula One World Championship 18 of the sport's champions are on hand this weekend to demonstrate the machines that made the history.

AUTOSPORT has prepared a gallery special to mark this amazing occasion, as the champions of yesteryear turn back the clock one more time.

AUTOSPORT gallery - Formula One champions parade

Bahrain fans11:05 Motor racing enthusiasts love to debate and discuss the action on track, and the live forum at the bottom of the screen is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts on events as they unfold at the circuit.

• Who will win the Bahrain Grand Prix?

• What can the McLaren drivers do from fourth and eighth on the grid?

• How quickly will the teams be able to change tyres during pitstops this afternoon? During the winter many suggested that we could see four wheels and tyres changed in around three seconds. Will any of them get near that?

• How will the three new teams get on this afternoon? Will any of the six cars finish the race?

Tell the world what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

11:10 Here is the grid lineup for today's race:

Pos  Driver         Team
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault
 2.  Massa          Ferrari
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes 
 5.  Rosberg        Mercedes     
 6.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault   
 7.  Schumacher     Mercedes 
 8.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes 
 9.  Kubica         Renault 
10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 
11.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth  
12.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes 
13.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth   
14.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari  
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari 
16.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari   
17.  Petrov         Renault  
18.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari 
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth 
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth 
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth 
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth 
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth *
24.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth *

* Starting from pitlane 
Michael Schumacher11:15 One man has dominated the pre-season headlines. Michael Schumacher returns to Formula One racing competition this afternoon at the age of 41.

The seven-time champion is back with master strategist Ross Brawn once again, as Mercedes makes its official return to Formula 1.

Things haven't run completely smoothly for the German. On Friday morning he was particularly unhappy with the set-up of his car, but further work throughout second and third practice saw his pace improve.

He eventually qualified in seventh position for his first race start since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Lotus11:20 Three new teams have entered the sport this year and all have struggled to some degree to get on the pace, which is perfectly understandable in this time of restricted testing.

Lotus Racing has generally been the best of the three new entrants so far. Drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen have qualified in 20th and 21st positions respectively and will be looking to make it to the end of the race with the hope to benefit from others having reliability problems to pick up a point or two.

Virgin Racing has suffered hydraulic problems throughout the pre-season tests, but is working hard to get on top of the issues. The team was generally a shade slower than Lotus in testing, but Timo Glock has given them a big boost this weekend by out-qualifying the Lotus pair. He starts today's race from 19th place with team-mate Lucas di Grassi in 22nd spot.

Hispania Racing has had by far the toughest time of any team in the championship so far. A late deal saved what was Campos Meta, and the team is here at the last minute - therefore no pre-season testing was possible.

Bruno Senna rolled the car out for the very first time during Friday practice and did well in the circumstances. However, there have been major problems on the other car of Karun Chandhok. The Indian debutant amazingly didn't get his chance to turn a wheel until qualifying after endless troubles, with gear selection hydraulics.

Overnight changes to the cars mean both HRTs will start from the pitlane and it will be a remarkable achievement if one makes it to the finish after such limited pre-race running.

Tyres11:25 With the ban on in-race refuelling, strategy for this afternoon is completely up in the air. It will take a few races for the best plan to become clear, but testing has given a few clues on how it may play out.

With the exception of Adrian Sutil in the Force India, who used the harder tyres in Q3, all the drivers from the top 10 shootout are forced to start on the super-soft rubber they used to set their grid time.

On a full tank of fuel, weighing in the region of 160kg, those tyres aren't likely to last long in the blistering heat of Bahrain. We can expect pitstops from these drivers after around 15 laps, after which the car will lap considerably faster on fresh rubber. This will force others into reactionary stops, as now it is often better to pit before a rival rather than after.

Drivers outside the top ten can start on a new set of the harder tyres, running longer into the race before a single stop to change to the option compoud. Two stops are also possible, but only in the case of major tyre worries, as this involves getting in a lot of traffic with the one stop runners.

One year ago, polesitter Vettel would have been a solid bet to take the win, but with the new rules it all comes down to how well the Red Bull can manage its tyres - and whether the Ferrari pair behind have a better long run pace. Testing suggests that may well be the case, but we'll only find out in the heat of battle this afternoon.

Horner: GP a journey into the unknown

11:30 The pits are now open for the drivers to head around and form up on the first grid of the year.

There are a lot of things to check at this critical time. For starters, this is the first time that the cars have run today, so all functions on the car need to be checked. The drivers will want to get a feel for the handling of the car and current track conditions.

The all-important radio will need to be checked, and on a warm day like today the drinks bottle will hopefully be working so that the drivers can keep cool during the event.

11:32 Jenson Button rolls out of the McLaren garage with the number one on his car. He joins the racetrack for the lap to the grid.

11:33 Timo Glock tours along the back straight with the softer tyres on his Virgin, heading for the grid.

11:34 Down in the Mercedes garage, Michael Schumacher is getting himself ready before getting in the car.

11:35 The German starts from seventh place on the grid today. He qualified 1.4 seconds shy of the 1m54.101s set by polesitter Sebastian Vettel.

11:36 Laps to the grid continue, with the majority of the field now in place on the start/finish straight.

11:37 Nico Hulkenberg attacks the tricky middle section of the lap as he heads around to prepare for his first Formula 1 start.

11:38 Michael Schumacher is now on his lap to the grid, with the track temperature currently a sizzling 48 Celsius.

11:43 It is a packed grid, with the former champions mingling among the teams as they make final preparations to the cars.

11:45 The pits are now closed, with 15 minutes to go before the start.

11:46 The national anthem rings out over the Bahrain International Circuit, played today by the Bahrain police band.

11:48 This is a nervous moment for the teams, with no testing in such high temperatures they can't be sure the cooling will be adequate on these brand-new cars.

11:50 The traditional Gulf Air flypast is now taking place. The Airbus A330 makes for a stunning sight as it skirts past the BIC tower.

11:52 Michael Schumacher climbs aboard the Mercedes and is strapped in.

11:52 World champion Jenson Button is now getting comfortable in his McLaren, ready to begin his title defence from eighth on the grid.

11:54 Fernando Alonso is being strapped in to the F10 Ferrari for his debut with the Scuderia.

11:55 There are five minutes remaining until the formation lap begins. The tension is building as we move closer and closer to the start.

11:56 The ambient temperature is a roasting 35 Celsius.

11:57 To remind you, both HRT F1 entries will start the race from the pitlane, as the team continue to work on the cars.

11:57 Under three minutes to go now and the tyres are bolted on to all the cars - with the top 10 drivers forced to start on their qualifying sets

11:59 Engines fire with a minute to go.

12:00 The green light flicks on to signal the start of the formation lap. Sebastian Vettel answers the call and leads the field of cars away.

12:00 The 22 cars that are on the grid have all left their positions.

12:01 Vettel leads the field through towards the bumpy section at Turn 6 and towards the back straight.

12:02 The cars look fantastic as they weave and dart around, as the drivers generate heat in the tyres.

12:02 They will also need to work the brakes so that they have good braking efficiency for the tricky first series of corners after the start.

12:03 Vettel makes the turn for home and leads the pack onto the start-finish straight.

12:04 The first few rows are now in position. The rest of the field is forming up neatly.

We await the lights ...

Lap 1: The five red lights go out and the season is underway in Bahrain!

Lap 1: Sebastian Vettel gets away and leads the field into Turn 1 ahead of Massa and Alonso.

Lap 1: Webber's Red Bull is smoking heavily on a frantic opening corner.

Lap 1: Vettel leads the pack through the new section of circuit from Alonso, Massa, Rosberg and Hamilton.

Lap 1: Webber has dropped down to eighth place on this opening lap.

Lap 1: Big moves in the opening corners are Alonso muscling past team-mate Massa and Rosberg demoting Hamilton.

Lap 2: Tonio Liuzzi is up to ninth and Vitaly Petrov has made a stunning start - up to 11th spot.

Lap 2: Vettel has forged a solid lead as he flashes over the line two seconds clear of Alonso.

Lap 2: Massa is 1.3 seconds behind in third, from Rosberg, Hamilton, Schumacher and Webber, who has taken seventh away from Button.

Lap 2: Adrian Sutil has made a poor start in the Force India. He has dropped down from his 10th place starting slot to 22nd position.

Lap 3: Karun Chandhok's Formula 1 debut is over in the space of two laps. The Indian has made contact and lost the front wing of the HRT. He is out of the race.

Lap 3: Vettel sets the fastest lap at 2m02.517s - over eight seconds slower than his pole time with such a heavy car now.

Lap 3: Nico Hulkenberg has spun away his 13th place in the Williams. He rejoins ... but as he does so we see Lucas di Grassi pulling off the circuit. The Virgin driver is out of the race.

Lap 4: Replays of the start show Alonso taking the inside line through turn two, demoting his team-mate to third.

Lap 4: The Force India of Sutil made contact with Kubica in the funnel as the track narrows slightly at Turn 3. Both drivers spun at once, with Sutil coming off worse. He is up to 19th place now.

Lap 4: Webber was smoking heavily with what appears to be an overfill of oil as he continues in seventh. The smoke appeared to catch Kubica unsighted in the opening corners.

Lap 4: Nico Hulkenberg has been into the pits in the Williams. He rejoins in 22nd place.

Lap 5: Up front, Vettel leads by 2.3 seconds from Alonso with the pair on a very similar pace.

Lap 5: Hamilton is right on the tail of Rosberg in a battle over fourth.

Lap 5: Outside the points positions, Petrov runs in 11th with Kobayashi 12th. His team-mate de la Rosa is right on his tail in 13th. Alguersuari is up to 14th with Buemi 15th and Kubica 16th after a poor opening lap.

Lap 5: Adrian Sutil continues his recovery up the order and takes 17th place from Kovalainen as the pair blast down towards Turn 1.

Lap 5: It will be fascinating to see if Hamilton can use the straight line speed advantage of his McLaren to make it past Rosberg's Mercedes on the main straight.

Lap 6: Hamilton is just 0.5 seconds behind Rosberg over the line but doesn't commit to a move this time by.

Lap 6: Continuing the run down the order, Glock is 19th with Trulli 20th, Senna 21st and Hulkenberg recovering after that early stop in 22nd place.

Lap 6: The other Mercedes is also under pressure, with Mark Webber close behind Schumacher.

Lap 7: Kamui Kobayashi is beginning to lead a train of cars . He is 12th at the moment and is losing ground to Petrov ahead of him. Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi are all close behind the Japanese driver.

Lap 7: After six laps it is Vettel from Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Hamilton, Schumacher, Webber, Button and Liuzzi.

Lap 7: Timo Glock had been closing down on 18th placed Kovalainen, but the Lotus driver responds as the Lotus versus Virgin battle for new team supremacy continues.

Lap 8: Nico Hulkenberg has passed Bruno Senna for 21st position. His next target is Jarno Trulli. The Italian is 21 seconds up the road.

Lap 8: It is to and fro up front between Vettel and Alonso but the gap is now 2.8 seconds and the Red Bull's pace is good in this early stint.

Lap 8: Hulkenberg is catching Trulli at three seconds per lap and will catch him in around five laps time.

Lap 9: Webber continues to chase Schumacher and Hamilton remains close to Rosberg but neither are close enough for an overtaking move.

Lap 9: Vitaly Petrov is doing a great job thus far in the Renault. He is 11th and hanging on to Barrichello very well. The difference between them is one second. Kobayashi is continuing to fall back from Petrov and is now 4.7s adrift.

Lap 9: Webber is harrying Schumacher, while Hamilton's charge has fallen away slightly from Rosberg as he appears to have used the best of his rear tyres.

Lap 10: Liuzzi is the leading non-Q3 contender on the harder tyres and the front-runners will want to slot in ahead of him. The Italian is ninth, 23 seconds off the lead.

Lap 10: Adrian Sutil is still 17th in the Force India and closing down Robert Kubica at one second per lap. Both drivers have made poor starts and the Polish driver will not be keen to let the Force India breeze past. The gap between them is currently 2.9 seconds.

Lap 10: Massa clocks the fastest lap, closing to 1.9 seconds behind team-mate Alonso in third.

Lap 11: It's time for a lot of number crunching in the pits as the leading teams work out when to make a stop for fresh tyres.

Lap 11: The new team drivers are now beginning to drop away significantly from the rest of the field. Heikki Kovalainen is leading that category in 18th place at the moment, but he is a full 15 seconds behind Sutil - who passed him only a few laps ago.

Lap 11: With Hamilton and Webber both boxed behind Mercedes, they may want to stop before their rivals.

Lap 11: Pedro de la Rosa has passed Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi for 12th place. Kobayashi was slow on the last lap with a time of 2m07.194s.

Lap 11: Hamilton is told on the radio to save his tyres if he can't make a move on Rosberg.

Lap 12: Kobayashi is now 13th and has Alguersuari, Buemi, Kubica and Sutil all homing in on him.

Lap 12: Vettel sets a 2m02.318s fastest lap, pulling the lead gap to 3.5 seconds over Alonso.

Lap 12: This is very useful pace from Vettel, giving the Red Bull team some room to maneuver around Ferrari's stops.

Lap 13: Pedro de la Rosa, now realized into clean air, sets his best lap of the race so far. He has already pulled out five seconds on team-mate Kobayashi. That shows how much the Spaniard was being held up.

Lap 13: Bruno Senna comes into the pits from 22nd place and takes on the harder tyre. He struggles to get the car away from the pit box but eventually gets back out and into the action.

Lap 14: Kobayashi's day is over in the Sauber as he has come to a halt in the middle part of the lap with a technical problem.

Lap 14: Robert Kubica comes into the pits from 15th place, handing the place to Sutil who had caught him. The Renault rejoins the race.

Lap 14: Hamilton's chase of Rosberg has intensified in the scrap over fourth. Could McLaren pit early to try and jump the Mercedes?

Lap 14: Timo Glock has passed Heikki Kovalainen for 17th place. The Virgin now leads the new car battle.

Lap 14: Nico Hulkenberg has overtaken Jarno Trulli for 19th spot as he continues his recovery up the field.

Lap 14: Vettel's lead is now an impressive 4.1 seconds over Alonso and this looks very good for the Red Bull team.

Lap 15: Vitaly Petrov's race has bee dealt a blow after a great start with problems at the Russian's pitstop. He was up in 11th place and doing well, but the engine is off and the Renault mechanics are checking the car thoroughly.

Lap 15: Vettel is a second quicker than Alonso on his latest lap.

Lap 15: Robert Kubica is now flying following that early pitstop. He is in 16th place but only 0.8s behind Alguersuari, who has also stopped.

Lap 16: That is critical information for the front runners - signalling a change to fresh hard rubber will give very quick lap times.

Lap 16: Vitaly Petrov's Renault is wheeled back into the garage by the mechanics. He climbs out while the problem is found.

Lap 16: Hamilton breaks off his chase of Rosberg and pits the McLaren.

Lap 16: Mercedes pit Schumacher, both are away rapidly.

Lap 16: Robert Kubica has passed Jaime Alguersuari for what is currently 14th place, as Sutil pits from 12th in the Force India.

Lap 16: Both feed out in clear air and will now need to attack, with Hamilton trying to leapfrog Rosberg - who is likely to be in this lap.

Lap 17: Webber is also likely to react to Schumacher's stop - unless the team think he can now lap quickly in clean air.

Lap 17: Alonso pits from second and is down and away with the hard rubber.

Lap 17: Heikki Kovalainen is spending much of the day looking in his mirrors. Next on his tail is the recovering Hulkenberg. This is the battle for 16th.

Lap 17: Rosberg does indeed pit - can he stay ahead of Hamilton?

Lap 17: Button scrambles in too and may have delayed Rosberg's release ...

Lap 17: Hamilton is though, with Rosberg falling in between Hamilton and Schumacher.

Lap 17: Jarno Trulli overtakes Timo Glock for 18th place. It's all action down the order with battles everywhere between the new team drivers. Glock is dropping back and is clearly in trouble.

Lap 17: We expect Glock to pit at the end of this lap.

Lap 18: Vettel will surely react soon to Alonso's stop - he currently has an eight second margin over Massa.

Lap 18: Vettel is in for his stop from the lead. He's away without any drama, as Massa also makes his stop.

Lap 18: Hulkenberg now makes the move and he passes Heikki Kovalainen for 16th place going into Turn 4. He is 17 seconds behind 15th placed Adrian Sutil.

Lap 18: Vettel leads comfortably over Alonso and Massa.

Lap 18: Timo Glock has indeed come into the pits with problems in the Virgin. He is wheeled back into the garage.

Lap 18: Lewis Hamilton sets the fastest lap at a 2m00.447s as he takes advantage of fresh rubber.

Lap 18: Liuzzi and Barrichello are yet to stop and find themselves fourth and fifth.

Lap 19: Hamilton, Rosberg, Schumacher, Button and Webber follow through, with the latter having lost out badly during the pitstop scramble.

Lap 19: Vettel's lead is 3.5 seconds over Alonso after the stops.

Lap 19: Hamilton is on the case of Barrichello and sends a great move on the Williams into Turn 1.

Lap 19: That puts Hamilton up to fourth on the road, ahead of the yet-to-stop Williams.

Lap 20: Robert Kubica hasn't been able to shake off Jaime Alguersuari. The Pole passed the STR a few laps ago, but Kubica may have used the best of his tyres already with those over quick laps immediately after his stop. They are battling for 13th place.

Lap 20: Bruno Senna is the next of the new team drivers to retire. He pulls off at the end of the main straight with smoke pouring out of the back of the Hispania Racing entry. He was running in 19th place at the time - albeit well off the pace.

Lap 20: Massa takes the fastest lap at 2m00.117s as the fuel continues to burn off and his tyres remain fresh.

Lap 20: Barrchello stops his Williams and resumes ahead of De la Rosa's Sauber in 12th.

Lap 21: Lotus have won the battle of the new teams via reliability. Kovalainen is 17th with team-mate Trulli 18th. All four Virgin and HRT F1 cars are now out of the race.

Lap 21: There's not much between Vettel and Alonso at the moment on pace. The lead is 3.3 seconds, with Massa closing slightly on his team-mate.

Lap 21: Liuzzi makes his stop from fourth, handing that place to Hamilton.

Lap 22: The best battle at the moment in the top ten is Webber harrying world champion Button.

Lap 22: Liuzzi rejoins in 10th position and stays ahead of Barrichello. Buemi is between them at the moment but is expected to pit very soon.

Lap 22: Hamilton, in fourth, is currently lapping around the same pace as the leaders but is over 17 seconds behind after a difficult first stint behind Rosberg.

Lap 23: The closest battle down the field is between de la Rosa and Kubica for 12th place. Kubica has shaken off the attentions of Alguersuari for the moment to the tune of two seconds.

Lap 23: Alonso sets his best lap of the day in 2m00.491s, closing to 2.6 seconds behind Vettel.

Lap 24: Buemi is making his tyres last but is losing pace in 10th place. Barrichello is all over him and now passes the Toro Rosso going into Turn 1. Barrichello takes over 10th.

Lap 25: Buemi in 11th is now facing serious attack from de la Rosa and Robert Kubica. His pace is way down at 2m04s. He needs to pit to get these tyres changed.

Lap 25: Massa is edging closer to team-mate Alonso and is now 1.4s behind.

Lap 25: Reaching half distance, the order is Vettel from Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg, Schumacher, Button, Webber, Liuzzi and Barrichello.

Lap 25: Robert Kubica has passed Pedro de la Rosa for what is 12th place. He will immediately get onto the back of Buemi as he continues to circulate at a fading pace on his original set of tyres.

Lap 26: Webber continues to pressure Button for seventh but is still to find a way past the McLaren.

Lap 26: Kubica now drills Buemi round the outside with no time wasted at Turn 4. Great move there by the Pole. His next target is Barrichello who is five seconds up the road.

Lap 26: Jarno Trulli comes into the pits in the Lotus from 18th and last place.. He rejoins after a clean stop as Lotus look to reach the end of the race.

Lap 26: Sebastien Buemi finally pits the Toro Rosso and immediately drops several positions. He was 11th when he came into the pits.

Lap 27: Pace at the front remains just over two minutes per lap.

Lap 27: The times aren't improving as quickly as they should with the fuel being burned, indicating that the tyres are wearing heavily in his heat.

Lap 27: Nico Hulkenberg pits for a second time in the Williams. He was 16th but a full 38 seconds behind Sutil. He had an 18 second buffer over the leading Lotus of Kovalainen before the stop.

Lap 27: Massa continues to catch team-mate Alonso as they battle through lapped traffic.

Lap 28: Alonso still has Vettel in sight down the back straight but is still almost three seconds behind.

Lap 28: Jaime Alguersuari pits for the second time from 13th place. He was losing ground to de la Rosa and will at least lose 13th to Adrian Sutil, who is slowly but surely closing in on the points.

Lap 29: Hulkenberg rejoined following his pitstop in 17th place - behind Kovalainen. But as Felipe Massa comes up to lap the pair Hulkenberg takes his chance at Turn 17 and slips up the inside of the Lotus.

Lap 29: Vettel bounces back from a poor lap with his best of the day - 2m00.320s.

Lap 30: Pedro de la Rosa pits from 12th place and there is big trouble here for the Spaniard. He is wheeled back into the garage by the Sauber Mechanics. He is out of the race.

Lap 30: That was a good lap from Alonso - 1m59.583s - fastest of the day and he closes to 1.5 seconds behind Vettel.

Lap 30: There's still a long way to go on these tyres, some 20 laps.

Lap 31: Jaime Alguersuari is flying on his new tyres. Managing the tyres over a long stint is something the youngster will need to learn this year. He is 13th at the moment but 13 seconds behind Adrian Sutil.

Lap 31: Alonso is clearly happier with his tyres at this phase and is 1.1 seconds off the lead now.

Lap 31: Behind the top eight, Tonio Liuzzi is ninth. He is nine seconds behind Weber but catching the Red Bull slowly. Barrichello is tenth and catching both of them.

Lap 31: Hamilton in fourth is still setting a good pace but remains 15 seconds behind and only reliability can help him make the podium.

Lap 32: Robert Kubica is 11th, almost six seconds behind Barrichello, but also running very quickly. The battle for the final points positions is really hotting up.

Lap 32: Alonso needs to be careful while tailing the Red Bull in these temperatures and is moving aside on the straights to get cooling air through the Ferrari.

Lap 32: Vettel is told on the radio that Alonso is likely to overheat and he is to maintain the gap back to the Ferrari.

Lap 32: Sutil is 12th, with Alguersuari 13th with STR team-mate Buemi 14th. Hulkenberg is 15th and Kovalainen comes into the pits from 16th place in the Lotus.

Lap 33: Kovalainen is back out quickly but has lost that 16th place to team-mate Jarno Trulli.

Lap 33: Not a great tour from Alonso, while Massa and Vettel clock their best times.

Lap 34: Massa is being encouraged to save his engine by engineer Rob Smedley, with Ferrari already using up some of their allocation with the changes this morning.

Lap 34: Alonso is right on Vettel's tail now and the Red Bull may have a problem.

Lap 34: Vettel reports a loss of power due to a broken exhaust.

Lap 34: Alonso will surely take the advantage now, although it is difficult to pass through the twisty parts of the circuit.

Lap 34: The Ferrari is right with the leader on the back straight but can't make the move.

Lap 34: Surely the lead will change hands along the front straight ...

Lap 34: It's all action up front, but down in 11th Robert Kubica is setting quick lap times still. He is just five seconds behind Barrichello and the fight for the final point of the day continues.

Lap 35: Alonso tails the Red Bull and dives past Vettel in to the final corner and the Spaniard leads in Bahrain.

Lap 35: Massa storms past Vettel to take second.

Lap 35: It's a Ferrari one-two as reliability strikes Vettel's Red Bull. Hamilton will surely catch him shortly to take the final podium place.

Lap 36: Vettel's engine note continues to sound horrible as he struggles with that broken exhaust.

Lap 36: Alonso sets the fastest lap at 2m59.477s as he storms off into the lead.

Lap 36: Hamilton is just 4.5 seconds behind Vettel and 10.6s off the leader.

Lap 36: Hamilton is closing rapidly on Vettel now and will soon be with the stricken Red Bull.

Lap 36: Michael Schumacher is still in sixth. He was losing pace for a time, but has responded to the challenge from Button and Webber. The gap from Schumacher to Button in seventh is now 1.6 seconds.

Lap 37: Webber is eighth and just 1.3s behind the world champion.

Lap 37: Alonso is attacking relentlessly now he has taken the lead and has clear air. A 1m58.879s cements the Spaniard's lead at over five seconds.

Lap 37: Vettel's exhaust failure is confirmed to him over the radio as Hamilton prepares to take third away from the Red Bull.

Lap 37: Rubens Barrichello sets his quickest lap of the race so far, as he responds to the challenge to his tenth place from Robert Kubica. The gap between them is now 5.3s.

Lap 38: Hamilton is right with the Red Bull now and will likely step up to the podum this time by.

Lap 38: It's easy pickings for Hamilton down the main straight and he is through into third.

Lap 38: The Lotus drivers are gradually speeding up as the race wears on. Trulli and Kovalainen are in 16th and 17th places, but they are now running in the low 2m03s range - that is only three seconds away from the front runners currently.

Lap 38: Alonso has maximized his advantage over team-mate Massa since getting free of Vettel and is now almost six seconds in the lead.

Lap 39: Vettel is falling back towards Rosberg and the battling trio of Schumacher, Button and Webber.

Lap 39: Kovalainen in fact sets his personal best lap of the race - 2m02.894s. That is only 3.1s away from the Ferrari drivers.

Lap 39: Vettel is currently 14.3 seconds ahead of Rosberg but is lapping 3.5 seconds slower with that continuing exhaust problem

Lap 40: Button in seventh is now exactly one second away from Michael Schumacher. Webber is 1.1s behind Button as that trio get closer together by the lap.

Lap 40: Schumacher, Button and Webber are still lapping close together but there has been no position changes since this train formed after the single stops.

Lap 40: Worryingly for McLaren, Hamilton reports a vibration from the front of his car.

Lap 40: This circuit is tough on brakes, particularly with the hefty fuel loads this year.

Lap 41: Hamilton did have a problem on Saturday morning, when a brake duct failed and damaged other components of the front left hub.

Lap 41: Webber makes a small error at Turn 15, denting his progress. Button edges away slightly for the time being. Schumacher is still fighting to stay ahead of them in sixth place.

Lap 41: Rosberg is still closing on Vettel and the gap is now under 10 seconds.

Lap 41: Sebastien Buemi in 14th has caught team-mate Jaime Alguersuari, but Jaime responds and gets the gap back up to 1.2s.

Lap 42: Up front, Alonso now leads Massa by a comfortable 8.8 seconds and the Spaniard is well on course to win on his Ferrari debut.

Lap 42: Jarno Trulli is in trouble in the Lotus. His lap times have dropped away drastically in the last couple of laps and he is now running in the 2m11s bracket. Team-mate Kovalainen is 10 seconds behind and catching him quickly.

Lap 42: Hamilton is the fastest man through the first sector and is a further eight seconds behind Massa in third.

Lap 43: Vettel is still fourth, with Rosberg slowly catching the struggling Red Bull.

Lap 43: Kovalainen is right on the tail of Lotus team-mate Trulli. He passes and is through into 16th place.

Lap 43: Hamilton sets his fastest lap of a 1m59.560s, with Rosberg also on his best lap to close to 6.7 seconds off Vettel.

Lap 44: Michael Schumacher responds yet again to the challenge from Jenson Button. He has edged out the gap to 1.3s and holds on to sixth place.

Lap 44: Trulli's problem is clearly getting worse. His last lap was a painfully slow 2m17s. It is likely that he will pit soon.

Lap 44: Rosberg is now 4.8 seconds behind Vettel and closing enough to make a move before the end.

Lap 45: Michael Schumacher is told over the team radio that he is likely to catch the ailing Vettel before the end of the race.

Lap 45: Jarno Trulli stays out in the Lotus after posting another 2m17s lap. He is two laps down in 17th and last place.

Lap 46: ALonso sets the fastest lap at a 1m58.287s while Massa has dropped to 11.4 seconds behind the leader. Rob Smedley appears to be concerned about something on his car.

Lap 46: Rosberg is now right with Vettel's sick Red Bull and is looking to make a move.

Lap 46: Mark Webber is catching Jenson Button again. The gap between them is 1.9s, with Schumacher a further 1.1s ahead of Button in sixth and seemingly able to control that gap.

Lap 47: Jarno Trulli's Lotus issues are of a hydraulic nature. The team has decided to keep Jarno out there, in the hope of getting both cars to the flag. Kovalainen is 16th with Trulli 17th.

Lap 47: Rosberg is just 1.3 seconds behind Vettel now but can't make it through that time.

Lap 47: Rosberg will surely make it past but it looks like Vettel will hold on to fifth.

Lap 48: Vettel continues to hold Rosberg with just two laps remaining.

Lap 48: Button is making a final push on Schumacher's sixth place. The gap is 0.6s ... as we see Sebastien Buemi pull off the track with mechanical trouble. He was 14th but now out of the race.

Lap 49: Alonso is on to his final lap and on course for victory in Bahrain.

Lap 49: Schumacher has the gap in hand though, and edges away again with the gap now at one second.

Lap 49: Rosberg still can't get Vettel and it looks like the Red Bull will hold on to fourth.

13:44 Fernando Alonso wins on his debut for Ferrari!

The Spanaird muscled past team-mate Massa off the start and harried Vettel all the way until the Red Bull's demise.

13:44 It's the perfect start for Ferrari as Massa makes it a one-two.

13:44 Lewis Hamilton takes the final podium place for McLaren. It wasn't a great start for the Briton, after falling behind Rosberg off the start but his pace was good after the stop to take the best of the rest behind the red cars.

13:44 It's a creditable fourth for the early leader, Vettel, who is bound to be disappointed with that exhaust problem costing him the win today.

13:44 Nico Rosberg takes fifth on the debut of Mercedes GP.

13:45 Michael Schumacher crosses over the line in sixth place. He holds on over Button and Webber. Tonio Liuzzi brings the Force India home in the points in ninth spot and Barrichello takes the final point with tenth.

13:45 Alonso is delighted with his win, which sends an ominous sign to the rest of the field.

13:46 Robert Kubica finishes out of the points in 11th spot, ahead of Adrian Sutil. Jaime Alguersuari was 13th, Hulkenberg was 14th.

13:46 Vettel has pulled up in his Red Bull to try and limit the damage to his machine.

13:47 Alonso tours his F10 into parc ferme as the winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

13:48 The Spaniard jumps on to the nose of his winning car, taking the applause of the pitlane.

13:48 Heikki Kovalainen brings the Lotus home to the end of the race in 15th place - setting his fastest lap of the day in the progress. Buemi was classified 16th. He pulled off with a few laps to go.

Jarno Trulli with his ailing Lotus was the last classified finisher, in 17th position. Trulli pulled off on the last lap of the race.

13:49 Massa is also very happy, with second on his return to Formula 1 after that horrible accident in Hungary last year.

13:51 Seven drivers retired from the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix:

Pedro de la Rosa retired in the pits with technical problems, as did Timo Glock and Vitaly Petrov.

Bruno Senna stopped at the end of the straight with smoke out of the back of the HRT. Kobayashi and di Grassi both fell by the wayside early on, and Karun Chandhok was the first retirement of the day following a crash in the first couple of laps.

13:51 The Spanish national anthem rings out over the BIC in honour of Alonso's perfect drive to victory today.

13:52 That is followed by the Italian national anthem, as Ferrari return to winning ways and start the season perfectly.

13:53 Fernando Alonso accepts the huge trophy as the Bahrain winner for 2010. What a great start to his Ferrari career!

13:53 Stefano Domenicali is on hand to collect the constructors' trophy as Ferrari start their title campaign with a strong one-two.

13:54 Felipe Massa receives his trophy for second place this afternoon. The Brazilian backed off towards the end of the race, finishing 16 seconds behind team-mate Alonso, but it is a wonderful return for Felipe after his nasty incident at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year.

13:54 Third place trophy goes to Lewis Hamilton for a solid start to his season.

13:55 The fruit-flavoured Waard is sprayed on the podium at the end of an incident-packed Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Ferrari drivers don't take long to soak down team boss Stefano Domenicali on a great day for the Scuderia.

13:57 Here's our round-up of the first race:

Alonso takes victory on Ferrari debut

14:00 With a radically revised points system, here's how the tables look after the opening round:
World Championship standings, round 1:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Alonso        25        1.  Ferrari                    43
 2.  Massa         18        2.  McLaren-Mercedes           21
 3.  Hamilton      15        3.  Mercedes                   18
 4.  Vettel        12        4.  Red Bull-Renault           16
 5.  Rosberg       10        5.  Force India-Mercedes        2
 6.  Schumacher     8        6.  Williams-Cosworth           1
 7.  Button         6       
 8.  Webber         4       
 9.  Liuzzi         2       
10.  Barrichello    1       
14:03 The future is not orange, it's red - Ferrari red.

The Ferrari one-two may have been achieved on the back of Sebastian Vettel's late-race exhaust problem, but as a driver pairing, Alonso and Massa clearly will be a force at every round this season.

Vettel was driving brilliantly at the front and did all he could to bring home good points for the team. The German will be hugely disappointed this afternoon, while Hamilton is clearly happy with the final podium place.

Mercedes did well on its return to the sport and Michael Schumacher can be pleased with a solid start to the season, but what is likely to worry him is the 44-second deficit to Alonso's Ferrari.

The new teams all did as well as they could, and clearly that Lotus is a reliable machine. Kovalainen and Trulli showed improving pace throughout the race and their individual lap times will make interesting reading later. Virgin was plagued by reliability issues and HRT clearly has a lot of work to do, but it is early days for the team.

This was the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix here on AUTOSPORT Live. We hope that you have enjoyed the coverage this weekend, and we will be back with full weekend coverage of the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

Race length: 49 laps
Clear skies High Temp: 34°C / 93°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 08 Mar Start GMT
 Bahrain Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 12 Mar
 Friday Practice 1 06:45
 Friday Practice 2 10:45
Saturday 13 Mar
 Saturday Practice 07:45
 Qualifying 10:45
Sunday 14 Mar
 Race day at the Bahrain International Circuit 10:30