Impeccable Alonso Cruises To Spanish GP Victory, As title Race Hots Up
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  12 May 2013   |  3:48 pm GMT  |  504 comments

Fernando Alonso made the perfect use of a blistering start and bold strategy to deliver an emphatic victory to his adoring fans at the Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

It was a race that was dictated by tyre strategy, with much of the field played it safe by adopting a four-stop strategy, whilst Raikkonen and Lotus were again able to make one less pit stop and he put himself in contention for the race win in the middle stages of the race. It will give further fuel to critics of Pirelli who argue that the tyres have too great an influence on the races at the moment; Alonso said after the race that he had been able to push at 90% to achieve the result, but others like Hamilton were much more hamstrung.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery tweeted after the race, “We aim for 2/3 stops. “Today was too many stops, we got it wrong, too aggressive. We will make changes, probably from Silverstone.”

However, the Lotus driver was unable to push his hard tyres during a twenty-lap final stint and could not threaten Alonso. It is the Spaniard’s thirty-second career victory and brings him to within seventeen points of the Championship leader Vettel. It was also the win from the lowest starting position, 5th, that we have seen in Barcelona.

Vettel still holds that championship lead ahead of Raikkonen after bringing his Red Bull home in fourth place, but it was not his day today as the Red Bull struggled to maintain both pace and tyre life; something had to give. He had looked to be the main challenger to Alonso following the first stops, but drifted away in the second half of the Grand Prix as Raikkonen cruised into contention.

Raikkonen remains in second place in the World Championship, now closing to just four points behind.

The top three each have credentials for the driver of the day as Raikkonen was able to maintain life in three sets of the medium tyre before switching to the hard tyre for his final stint.

Massa also had a very good race as he overcame a three place grid penalty which forced him to start ninth and made his way past Rosberg and Vettel in a Ferrari that was peerless on the day.

Alonso’s win was set up by the start; from fifth he kept his foot in around the long turn three to take both Raikkonen and a slow starting Lewis Hamilton for third place and got on to the tail of the leading pair, pole sitter Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg got off the line well and was able to defend from Hamilton in to the first corner, the Briton having a large lock-up, which allowed Vettel to get around his outside. And once Alonso made his way in to third position the lead trio edged away during the opening phase of the race and up until the first set of pit stops.

At this stage Ferrari grabbed the initiative to bring Alonso in early and put him in to clear air whilst Vettel was sat behind an ever slowing Rosberg. When Rosberg and Vettel reacted and pitted a lap later Alonso cut his way in between the two and began to pile pressure on the race leader.

In the ensuing laps Alonso harassed Rosberg, eventually taking the lead on lap thirteen with a late braking move around the outside of turn one. This allowed him to make a short break but his hopes of Rosberg holding up Vettel were short lived as the Red Bull driver made his way in to second place, demoting the pole sitter further down the order.

For Rosberg, from then on his race crumbled as both he and team mate Hamilton tried to make use of a three-stop strategy. But, as has been prevalent this year, the Mercedes was unable to match the race pace of its competitors and manage its tyres they and ended the day with an uninspiring result. He lost four places within two laps as Massa and Raikkonen made their way past with little difficulty.

From this point Alonso never looked seriously threatened, helped indirectly by Raikkonen being held up behind Vettel during the second phase of the race. The lead group remained unchanged as Vettel was followed home by team mate Mark Webber. The Australian found himself stuck in the pack early in the race and like in Bahrain he opted to pit early for clear air. This system worked once again and maintained his team’s lead at the head of the Constructors Championship.

Behind Webber was a close battle for sixth place between Rosberg and Paul Di Resta. The Force India driver heaping pressure on the pole sitter in the closing laps but unable to take his place. It was another strong showing by Di Resta who collected some much needed points to sustain Force India’s lead over McLaren in the Championship.

The top ten was closed out by the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, who were able to complete the race without any collisions or angry radio messages. Perez took one more stop during the race and was told to hold station in the closing laps as he raced up to his senior team mate.

And Daniel Ricciardo took the final points paying position with another strong outing for Toro Rosso. He and team mate Jean-Eric Vergne were having a good battle until Vergne was collected by an early-released Nico Hulkenberg in the pit lane and was consequently forced to retire.

SPANISH GRAND PRIX, Barcelona, 66 Laps

1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 66 laps 1hr 39m 16.596s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus+00m 09.3s
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari +00m 26.0s
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +00m 38.2s
5. Mark Webber Red Bult +00m 47.9s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +01m 08.0s
7. Paul di Resta Force India +01m 08.9s
8. Jenson Button McLaren +01m 19.5s
9. Sergio Perez McLaren +01m 21.7s
10. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso +1 lap
11. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1 lap
12. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1 lap
13. Adrian Sutil Force India +1 lap
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams +1 lap
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +1 lap
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 lap
17. Charles Pic Caterham+1 lap
18. Jules Bianchi  Marussia +2 laps
19. Max Chilton  Marussia +2 laps

Rtd Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 52 laps completed
Rtd Giedo van der Garde Caterham 21 laps completed
Rtd Romain Grosjean Lotus 8 laps completed

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1

F1 just cannot win cant it? The words of Frank Williams in the 90s echos, this is a sport but it is a business as well. Businesses want to see racing which is unpredictable, with numerous winners this year we have had that. Back in the early 2000`s everyone said F1 was BORING!

By the late 00`s it had got its excitment back but overtaken still lacked, so the FIA came up with KERS, DRS and tyres. Whether tyres are destroying the sport I am unsure, there needs to be a balance. Spain was frankly silly, with too many pit stops and people trying to go slow but part of being a racer is using tactics to make the tyres last. If we didnt have tyres like this the odds would be on a red bull walkover. We cant have it both ways, either we accept the F1 of today or we go back to the dark days when F1 results were manipulated. See 2002 for many instances.

2

If Pirelli make a bullet-proof tyre, with fantastic temperature ranges, with great durability, wonderful flexing characteristics…

If they bring back testing…

Then the winner of the races will be the team that works the hardest and makes the best car and puts the best drivers in them.

Is that what you all really want?!?

3

Now I’ve had 24 hour to mull it over, I think maybe we’ve just had so many good races recently that this dull one stuck out. Back in the Schumi era it was this dull every week.

Could it be that Merc and Mclaren not being in the race is making it seem even worse than it is? Without their challenge, only 2 or 3 cars are really in with a shout.

4

It seems obvious to me that the majority of people that are “Pro pirelli” currently are Ferrari/Lotus/Fernando/Kimi fans. I have no real allegiance to any team or driver but am purely interested in watching good hard racing, what we are seeing currently couldn’t be any further from that.

The tyres they have provided this year have gone too far down the road of performance degradation, to the point that we have seen at least 1 de-lamination every race, how long before there is a serious accident as a result of one of those tyre failures?

Watching the in-car footage during the race was painful, very rarely did any driver appear to be driving on the ragged edge and instead were clearly lifting and doing everything they could to conserve the tyres, this is not like anything I have ever seen before in all the years of watching F1. To liken this to the turbo days on any other era where you had a finite amount of resources at your disposal to work with is disingenuous, in those scenarios you were at least able to push for a part of the race, on these tyres pushing is punished with dramatic performance loss so drivers are being actively discouraged by their engineers from racing one another, i’m sorry but that belies the name of motor racing.

The worst thing of all is we are in a relatively strong period with regards to drivers, sadly we are being robbed of seeing them do battle because to do so would effectively ruin their race. Sad days indeed.

5

it’s not about being a Ferrari/Lotus fan; it’s about to be consistent with the regs. If you change your scope during the season, you’re artificially changing the pecking order at the expense of the teams who designed their cars better suited to the tires. The best thing FIA sould do is go back to the original season tire package and leave it like that ’til the end of the season. If your team is not the one enjoying the show -like in my case- suck it up and wait ’til 2014

6

Maybe the tyre situation has gone just a bit too far. For me, in the past, Pirelli’s Paul Hembery made some ill considered remarks about the situation. I think this irritated a number of people both inside and outside F1.

The reality is that every team is given a huge amount of data about the tyres and it is up to them to interpret it, and use it when designing their cars. If anybody wants a glimpse of the type of data. Have a look at that supplied for a F3 tyre http://www.avonmotorsport.com/resource-centre/downloads. F1 gets much more data. F1 has always required drivers to look after their tyres, nothing new. Rather than just putting the blame on Pirelli, maybe we should be criticising those teams that have failed to interpret data correctly, and ended up with a poor design. Remember that all performance aspects of the car, aero, suspension, tyres etc., are interdependent. So Red Bull and others, saying that it’s the tyres that are stopping them achieving their full potential is incorrect. In F1 everybody seems to have a ready excuse 🙂 Changing the tyre design as suggested by some, is blatantly unfair on those who have done a good job so far. Maybe a small change to compound mix is all that is required. The embedded steel belt looks like a good idea, because it appears to be stopping violent deflation. Though I wonder if it is affecting the overall thermal characteristics.

7

http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2013/05/12/actualidad/1368381726_616026.html

Mr. Joan Villadelprat is a former F1 engineer.

(Only for multilingual, I’m afraid.)

8

I said last year when these tyres were a bit better that such a narrow operating window compared to tyres in years gone by, must surely not have the reliability or certainty of a more durable tyre during the construction of the tyres and now look a what we have this year.

That said there is something seriously wrong with F1 that we have a supplier to F1 changing the nature of the “sport” mid season because some teams have problems. Well there are several teams doing just fine aren’t they!

We all saw what happened last year – every team improved their tyre performance after summer. It’s ok for fans to be critical but Pirelli and FIA Cannot react to everything immediately and need to give this time!

10

It just seems like the teams that have done poorly designing and adapting their cars to the current regs (which include the tires) are the ones complaining. It would be unfair to help them by changing the tires. Shouldn’t their be a reward for doing a better job then the others? This would be a punishment, especially for Lotus.

Congrats Alonso, well done~

11

Everyones moaning about the tyres, and rightly so, there have been a number of tyres in the last few races where the tread has come away from the carcases. This I see as more of an issue that the fact they have to nurse there tyres.

Every driver is in the same boat with nursing the tyres, and it’s down to the teams to produce a car that manages this the best. Currently this looks like Ferrari and Lotus. So well done them. I much prefer the fact that races are more unpredictable now, and not just bore fests where you qualify you pretty much finish. Cars not being able to overtake etc. That’s not racing either is it?

12

This may have been said already, but I’m a little suprised that the media headlines are that 80+ pitstops confuses fans. I remember Schumacher pitting 4 times at magny cours a few years back and taking a great win. The issue isn’t the number of pitstops or the fact the tyre degrade, its the fact that while the tyres are on the car they can’t push them.

Maybe i’m naive, but could Pirelli not alter the compound so that the rubber could be ‘pushed’ for the full stint before they fall off the cliff? thereby meaning cars like Red Bull can push throughout a stint and teams like Lotus who have designed a car easier on their tyres can still eak out an advantage?

For example only, and not bias on these teams, Red Bull could push for 12 laps before the tyre performances collapses, but Lotus could push for 16 laps due to their car design?

We need cars that are designed to be easier on their tyres to be rewarded, but all teams need to be able to drive flat out so to speak.

Just a thought…

13

That’s a nice thouth but I am afraid that with the current downforce levels it’s gonna be difficult to design a tire that stays put for a long stint and then starts degrading fast. That would require a different compound in the outer layers and a softer one in the inside, right above the metal mesh.

I think the challenge is for the teams to adapt the levels of mechanical grip so the tires can spread the pressure pulses over a large surface area without graining that much. When Pirreli increased the lateral stiffness, the amount of graining and the possibility of total delamination went up -that’s just my opinion-. It seems that Merc has a terrific chassis, high downforce, and high top speed but at the expense of putting a lot of load on the tires. That’s perfect for qualy but terrible with full tank and race trim. If the find a compromise between downforce levels and mechanical grip to preserve the tires better they should win a couple of races this year

14

We have such a talented pool of top drivers at this moment. To a point, it’s a bit disappointing that we can’t see them compete in sport where all boundaries a pushed to the limit.

Well, Formula 1 ended being a sport some time ago, it’s a show.

15

well despite most of everyone’s comments on how this was not racing or a farce, not including the last bunch of comments, i think that this was a brilliant drive from Ferrari and Alonso. it is sad that all anyone can concentrate on is the tire issue. it looked to me that ferrari throw caution to the wind and said “we are not going to tip tow around today (to use one detractors words), let’s just go flat out and no matter what the degradation is and see where we end up.” obviously they felt they had the car to do it. isn’t that what everyone whats to see, flat out racing well today ferrari were the only one’s that could do it and make it work and they took one extra pit-stop so what. they should be applauded for their effort. instead their victory is being hijacked by the tire issue. and this idea that 4 pit-stops is to many, is just silly. does that mean if someone wins a race because they chose one to everyone else’s two, that makes that win any less relevant or justified. please, if red bull could win a race with 5 pit-stops they surely would do it. as it turned out today they didn’t have the car to challenge for the victory, does that mean it is the tires fault?

16

“obviously they had the car to do it”

17

it’s always like that; you have to have a strong car if you want to win.

Ferrari showed us yesterday that in some circuits, where the pit time is not that long, you have the option to race with a different philosophy; go as fast as possible and keep fresh tires….other teams will switch to that strategy too for the rest of the season.

What Fred did yesteday was great. He drove a terrific first stint and followed the plan perfectly. He and Felipe, brought back Ferrari WC into contention. Congrats!

18

i don’t know if this is allowed but i wanted to re-post a comment for everyone that thinks this is not racing to read. it is just ridiculous that some how what happened today at the Spanish GP was not racing. this straw man argument, that the tires are the problem is just flat wrong. it is similar to saying that because we have we have a engine allotment i,e we have to look after the engine in the race or for the race allotment and therefore we can’t crank the horsepower up this is not racing because we (i guess red bull) can’t drive to our full potential.

here is the comment:

hero_was_senna Reply:

May 12th, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Imagine that!

I’m not sure when you first started watching F1, but pre the Ferrari/ Schuamcher era, F1 was strategy, no driver could drive flat out for the whole race, they had to look after the car, fuel and tyres.

Find a video of F1 in 1985, watch the likes of Prost trundling round for the majority of the race and pass cars at the end because he saved his car, tyres and fuel.

Or find a copy of Mansell winning the 1987 British GP, where he and Piquet destoryed the others, but he made a pit stop for a punctured tyre and came from 29 seconds behind to beat Piquet.

There are so many instance over the years when races have been exciting because of problems with cars, rather than the snooze fest of Vettel qualifying 1st and disappearing.

1992 Monaco GP. The race was boring beyond belief, only Mansell changing rubber five laps from the end and Senna defending on worn out rubber elevated it to classic status.

so very well said…

19

One team is able to go faster and another team do one pitstop less than the competition to cover the same distance faster than everyone else with the same tires provided to everybody.

What is the problem now, the tires or the team who designed the cars that chew up the tires. Sensible ones would say the latter 🙂

20

Congratulations to Fernando who drove a great race . No one was going to catch him in Spain that was clear from his attack on the first lap and the subsequent pace of both Ferraris.

I just finished watching the race and almost wish I didn’t watch it-it would be the first time in a while. Whether you support Pirelli or not – there is too much emphasis on them when going racing for all involved ,including us fans. Tyre delaminations is a bit of giveaway. The other thing is that the FIA banned reFuelling and asked for degrading tyres which was a double whammy really. Perhaps with more durable tyres teams like Mercedes may have been more successful or Ferrari may have a won a heck of a lot more.

The commentary during the race did a lot to fuel the fire on the Pirelli argument, with DC and co’s comments on the onboard lap of Raikkonen. Yes he is careful, but the car is well balanced and Kimi is super precise – be makes it look easier and yes he had one less stop – so he had to be more careful than others!. You have to balance the total situation and express that to less informed audience. Rather than fire them up and say “this is not what I want to see” ( truth be told want to see this less than anyone) . Further- Im a fan who favour Lotus and Kimi and they seem to be revelling with this formula- but deep down I doubt any driver who was an all or nothing racer whi used to drive on the limit every second could prefer this- a further testament to his incredible ability to adapt.

Every team and car is slightly different on different rubber – so why not let them run diff rubber- all 3 compounds . On Soft rubber the Lotus is faster than most teams – yet someone decided to can it for Spain. Should we expect success at Monaco- I think not because of the traction advantages of the Ferrari and the high downforce advantage if the bulls

21

Topic of this year: “nursing tires!”

Every driver had to nurse their tires. Ferrari just more downforce on the fast corners making the tire savings easier.

Raikkonen who got second was driving pedestrian like throughout the race. Is this suppose to be racing?

22
Craig in Manila

Ok, I’ve been watching F1 since the early 80s.

I reckon I’ve missed maybe 5 or 10 races on TV in that period.

And I’ve been to one race per year since 1985.

In the “good old days”, we used to hear a voice saying “Push push push” or “He is catching you”. The driver then did his job and drove the car to the max.

Now we have the faceless men in the pits and their spreadsheets/software telling drivers to “slow down”, “do not race him”, or “You need to do one minute thirty-ones only”.

We have the fastest-lap in the race being done by some guy who qualified 19th and finished out of the points.

His fastest-lap was six tenths faster than the winners fastest-lap and 1.3seconds faster than the pole-sitters fastest-lap !!

How is this right ? How is this F1 ?

If this is the direction of F1, then I am lost to it.

I didn’t turn it off last night but I came the closest that I have ever come.

Sad.

23

First, congratulations to Alonso & Ferrari….Kimi, Massa.

Pirelli are only doing what they are contracted to do make tyres that degrade…But the delamination of some tyres is a big worry. (not a puncture or wear but delamination)

What I don’t get…Is F1 is suppose to be going green, smaller engines, less fuel usage, collecting energy from braking etc. BUT spend millions on tyres that don’t last and more wasted tyres for landfill…where does that fit in with the revelence to the rest of the motoring world.

A big V8 fan, but can live with the turbo V6 🙂

The tyres are a real worry and can make some entertaining results. Is it really racing when the best drivers are not permitted to go flat out to see which is the best man & machine. It’s not F1 the pinnacle motorsport.

24

Wait a minute. All the teams did their winter testing at this circuit. You telling me that they didn’t see this problem back then and didn’t engineer their cars accordingly?

25

“Winter” being the operative word here. The conditions were completely different in testing.

26

Agreed with Dani above. Even Nico Rosberg conceded that Merc need to design a car that uses its tyres better and not blame Pirelli. The teams have to manage the regulations as they see them and if they get it wrong they have to fix the problem or else they won’t win. Alonso and Kimi especially are also demonstrating great driving skills in the process. For all of Lewis’s speed and race craft he has to manage the situation as best as he can and complain less. Last year Alonso had a notably slower car and yet he still competed for race wins and even the championship.

27

James, is there any indication yet as to what happened with Grosjean’s car? Seems a bit odd for the rear suspension to just break. Being the rear right, I’m wondering if maybe he took turn 8 a bit too aggressively and hit the high kerb there. If it hadn’t failed already then, maybe the high downforce while running down that back straight finished it off.

As for the tyres… haven’t been much a fan this year, but this race really didn’t sit well with me. The train following Rosberg at the start, with what seemed like no one wanting to risk the tyres to make a move. Too much coasting about. And the two very similar-looking tyre failures that both seemed a little suss. Punctures from carbon fibre debris or front wing contact I can understand. But this year only 5 race weekends in we’ve seen a bunch of failures that just happen seemingly out of nowhere. Even if they are from debris as Pirelli seem to be claiming, are the tyres maybe a little too fragile? So many failures in such short time seems a bit much.

Feel a bit sorry for Lewis. While he probably wasn’t coming into the team expecting to be in a position to quite comfortably lock out the front row of the grid, he probably also wasn’t expecting the polar opposite race performance. His, “I’ve just been overtaken by a Williams,” comment had me laughing though. They probably didn’t find it as funny in the Williams garage though.

28

I like the unknown factor that tires add to the races. There is nothing wrong with that. They are just another part of machinery that adds to the decision when to push and when to conserve, with the bonus that the decision quite often has to be re-evaluated mid race.

They may be a dominating factor in that thought process, but so what? There would always be something that dominates which way to go. I like when that dominant factor is out of teams’ control, like weather, for example. I cannot wait to watch a race when the forecast is rain, or better yet, an unpredictable weather. Now we have that more often than not with the “unpredictable tires.” Love it!

29

Tires, Tires, Tires.

Do we ever get bored.

Was it an overkill today with the tires?

Maybe a tad, but not by much.

Last year we also had around 3-4 stops/driver and we remember it as a very good race between the Williams, Ferrari and Lotus.

Mercedes isn’t the fastest car just because they can take most out of the tires in 1 lap.

That’s the only reason they are so strong in qualy.

Guess what, other teams have focused on race pace instead of qualifying, and why not. The points are awarded on Sunday, so why not focus the resources in trying to get around the track as fast as possible for 1h 20min – 2h?

People need to realize that Alonso was the fastest today, not because of tires, but because he could manage his speed on the track and his speed throughout the entire race perfectly. Vettel couldn’t, the Mercs were way off, the Lotus was good.

By the way, the overtakes on this track from 2004-2010:

6,2,7,5,2,2,11

From 2011-2013:

90,51,71

Which do we want?

I’d rather have the last three please. (but DRS could be scrapped)

30

Congrats to Nando for his 2nd win in Spain, it’s been awhile since 2006.

Alonso was the only one charging like there was no problem with his tires degradation, most were skating on ice. I was hoping Kimi will be closer to Alonso but after Nando overtook Kimi on the options there was no looking back. A raging bull in charge. And he had a puncture at the end of his first stint, now this is what Alonso meant about luck.

Felipe is back in form and that’s good for Ferrari. If he carries on in this manner a win will soon be in his pocket, hope so.

Gosh what ever happened to Hamilton was mind boggling the way he just fell back so drastically. His worst race ever.

The all time quotation in F1 ‘I can’t go any slower’ is a classic.

If Nando can run away with these fragile tires and Pirelli will be tweaking them to last longer which they should!!!(at least 20 to 25 laps) the WDC will be his or Kimi.

At the podium as Kimi as possible he didn’t give a damn if the press never showered him with the attention he should be receiving. I’ll be all too glad and pleased if he grabs the world title this year.

Gotta give Rosberg the credit for holding out on the tires so very carefully. You could feel Nico yip toeing as many did too.

31

I have been following F1 for 2 decades and certainly do not feel the current tyres make the racing any more artificial or a “lottery” than usual.

The past five races have been anything but a lottery. It’s been pretty clear that the Ferrari and Lotus are the quickest on race day. Red Bull might be good on certain track/temperature conditions while the Mercs are struggling in races, much like Toyota struggled to stay in front after a good qualy.

We’ve had years where teams were dominant because of engine superiority, either in power or in reliability. Even to the extent that Enzo Ferrari said “Aerodynamics is for those without a good engine”.

We’ve had teams dominate with aerodynamic advantages (most recently Red Bull), as well as those with greater reservoirs of engineering and financial power (Ferrari about ten years ago). We’ve even had the odd team succeed due to technical innovations that were later banned or copied in the very next season. I consider all of these as competitive advantages during the period in question.

There is no reason, as far as I am concerned, to consider the ability to manage tyres today as anything but a competitive advantage. Ferrari and Lotus do it the best at the moment. They can drive faster overall on the same tyres than anyone else, just like some cars went faster because of better engines or better reliability, etc.

It would have been a lottery if you had a Torro Rosso or a Caterham win as frequently as a Ferrari or a McLaren fo a sustained period of time. It would have been a lottery if the FIA decided to allot different types of tyres to each team in the race. As long as the best teams are winning consistently, it is not a lottery. When the 4 best drivers in F1 (or even if they are from the best teams) are the top four in the championship, it is not a lottery.

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