WORLD champion Sebastian Vettel celebrated Red Bull's first victory of the season and went back to the top of the standings yesterday after a Bahrain Grand Prix that put Formula One in the eye of a desert storm.
The German's sigh of relief on the podium was echoed by teams and bosses after the race, scheduled against a backdrop of anti-government protests and nightly clashes between police firing tear gas at petrol-bomb throwing youths, went ahead without incident and despite worldwide condemnation.
The 24-year-old Vettel's 22nd career triumph, and his first in the troubled Gulf kingdom, made him the fourth different winner in four races - the first time that has happened since 2003.
"I think it was an incredible race. Extremely tough," he said.
Vettel now has 53 points, ousting McLaren's Lewis Hamilton from the top. The Briton, who finished eighth after two nightmare pitstops, has 49.
Champions Red Bull also overtook McLaren in the constructors' battle.
The German was pushed hard in the closing laps by Finland's 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who had started 11th and finished second ahead of Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Raikkonen had the benefit of several sets of fresh tyres for the race, having missed the final phase of qualifying on Saturday, and he made them count on a circuit that delivered an enthralling race.
Last year's Bahrain GP was cancelled due to a bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising and the 2010 event is remembered for a lack of excitement.
In that respect, yesterday was also not normal. Raikkonen was challenging Vettel from the halfway point, with a first victory since his last year with Ferrari in 2009 looking a real possibility.
"Given the fact that Kimi found a dealership somewhere where he got some new tyres from, which allowed him to start every new stint on new tyres, it was tough to keep them behind us," smiled Vettel.
The German, who had started from pole for the first time this season after a record 15 starts from the top slot last year, made his trademark single-finger salute after taking the chequered flag.
Australian Mark Webber was fourth in the other Red Bull with Germany's Nico Rosberg fifth.
The main grandstand was half empty, but organisers put yesterday's attendance at 28,000.