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Winners and Losers: Spanish GP

Sunday 11th May 2014

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Winners and Losers: Spanish GP

Winners and Losers: Spanish GP

Lewis and Nico stole the show in a season where the team battles are providing the most entertainment...

Stars of the Race

Lewis Hamilton and Pete Bonnington, Mercedes, 1st
Lewis never looked on top of his W05 in the race even though he scored a decisive pole position on Saturday and got an unchallenged getaway to lead through Turn 1. The rest of the race was spent looking in his mirrors. Or, as DC likes to calls them, his "mur-errs".

In fact most of the race seemed like a counselling session between himself and race engineer Pete Bonnington who was expected to come up with solutions to any problem or any question that Lewis decided to throw at him. Anything from graining tyres to providing a constant dialogue about where he was slower than Nico - seemingly lap after lap after lap.

Later, we had Lewis coming on team radio saying that he wasn't being talked to, like an abandoned orphan pushed out on the steps of the Children's Home, to which Pete wisely said that they weren't going to talk to him while he was passing backmarkers. Then when Lewis got the second of two sluggish Mercedes tyre changes and wanted to know why it happened, Pete came up with the perfect robust answer - "we'll talk about it after the race, Nico lost time in traffic - get on with the ruddy job in hand" Although he didn't actually say the last bit.

Hamilton resisted all the pressure from Rosberg who said he needed another lap to get in front of Lewis. He may have needed more than that. The most interesting moment of all was them together in the green room directly after the race - making a point of saying very little. They could have played Bjork's 'It's Oh So Quiet'.

Overtaking Move of the Race

Lap 38: Sebastian Vettel on Felipe Massa for P9

Sebastian Vettel had a great race, especially after he pitted so early - Lap 13 - and found himself racing wheel to wheel with Kamui Kobayashi for the honour of P21. On his resurgence through the field the RB10 showed some great pace, Seb taking Fastest Lap on Laps 54 and 55 and ending up with Fastest Lap of the race overall.

Given the difficulties of overtaking at Barcelona, choosing a three-stop strategy is a risky one, but Vettel's carefully assessed aggression was a renewed glimpse of his multiple Championship status.

On Lap 38 he came up against Felipe Massa who was very much on the same strategy as the Red Bull having stopped five laps earlier. Vettel needed to get past in a hurry if he was to keep his momentum going and slung 'Sexy Suzy*' up the inside at the last minute into Turn 5 and Massa had to give best.

Later on he managed to overtake Magnussen round the outside of the hairpin and just keep some wheels on the circuit a move that typified his battling afternoon.

*We're not sure if this still applies after he changed his chassis

Winners

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
The last thing we needed at Barcelona was for Nico Rosberg to trail home 15 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton or get as duff a start as he did in China and spend the rest of the race pegging his way back through the pack. Rosberg's been unhappy with his last three starts, this one included, and although he didn't get swamped, he wasn't able to apply pressure as Hamilton had been able to do to him in Bahrain.

He was also able to take advantage of faster pit-stops and the fact that backmarkers were alerted by Lewis coming through and left him a clearer run.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
Daniel's first podium that won't be taken away from him. It's unlikely to be his last this season and the Vettel vs Ricciardo battle is going to shape up nicely as a sideshow to which Mercedes driver will win the World Championship. Because of its mix of corners Barcelona is a good indication of how the rest of the season will pan out and though Red Bull are good, they're not going to find a second in the next four or five races, by which time it will be too late. ( They can't even depend on reliability failing the W05, the only thing that has stopped the juggernaut so far is a tiny little rubber insulating tube that split down a seam on Lewis's engine in Melbourne.)

Circuit de Barcelona, Catalunya, is supposed to be a Red Bull circuit and Dan did finish 30 seconds in front of the next non-Red Bull car. The only problem was that he was 48 seconds behind the cars in front. Seb's set-up time may have been limited by a wiring loom failure on Friday, but Daniel was still easily faster than him in Qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 5th
Bottas is used to scrapping his way through races but in Spain he had a relatively lonely time of it, Grosjean slowly dropping back and the Ferrari challenge slipping away. He couldn't resist the two Red Bulls, but it's more points on the board

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 6th
Alonso eventually got the better of team-mate Raikkonen who resisted him for the majority of the race. In fact just as Lewis was questioning the interminable length of his pit-stops, Kimi didn't sound best pleased that it was his team-mate who got the first call from the pits.

Kimi's problem with the handling of the F14T, specifically braking on turn-in, showed itself a few times with lock-ups, such as the opening lap, but otherwise he looks to have made strides forward.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 8th
As if Ferrari didn't have enough problems making their car go faster, they now have to factor in a Lotus. One half of the Lotus driving team has got its act together and is going to challenge for grid places in front of the Scuderia as ably demonstrated by Romain putting his car onto the third row of the grid.

Grosjean managed to keep his E22 on the island despite "thousands of problems during the race" and scored the team's first points of 2014. He also managed to put in some feisty resistance against Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 25 when it looked a certainty that the Finn had got him round the outside of Turn 1. His resistance didn't last long. Romain had sensor issues that would sometimes give him six cylinders and at other times five. In the end he was thankful to get it home a second in front of Sergio Perez's Force India.

Losers

Felipe Massa, Williams, 13th
Considering Bottas did so well in qualifying and Massa looked to have the speed to do equally well (up until his final run in Q3) this was a puzzling and downbeat result. Felipe failed to get his bullet start of previous races and spent the rest of the GP languishing in the midfield.

Considering the Circuit de Catalunya has one of the longest runs to the first corner, there was very little shuffling of the pack in Spain - of the top seven, only Bottas and Ricciardo changed places.

McLaren, 11th and 12th
Oh dear. This race was supposed to be The Great Leap Forward for Mclaren, the race when they gathered up all the glorious improvements that they had been working on since the season began... and they ended up outside of the points. What's more, they were the fourth best Mercedes-engined team and they couldn't overhaul Force India who had only changed their floor. If Luca Montezemolo thinks that Ferrari have got problems...

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 15th
Maldonado elected to start from the grid and not the pitlane because he thought he might be able to slip past both Caterhams and Marussias at the first corner. That didn't happen. His clumsy overtake of Ericsson got the penalty it richly deserved.

Media Watch

"We've lost Martin Whitmarsh. We've wost Stefano Domenicali." Suzi Perry

To Sebastian Vettel. "I think the polite word for what you're going through this weekend is 'character building'." Lee McKenzie

Eddie Jordan and Three Times Le Mans Winner, Allan McNish were competing for the STBO Award (first letter is 'Stating' and the last is 'Obvious')

Eddie: "We know that the race and the points are all in the race."

Allan McNish: To Mercedes' Paddy Lowe - "It looked clearly like the cars were racing against each other."
You can see why they made him a driver steward...

Andrew Davies

Highs & Lows Of Alonso At Ferrari

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