Race Report: Spanish Success For Alonso

Sunday 12-May-2013 14:45

Fernando Alonso thrilled his home crowd as he scored a dominant win at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Spaniard out-drove the opposition on an afternoon dominated by tyre wear, with 14 cars having four-pit-stop races. Kimi Raikkonen was able to make a three-stop strategy work for second place, but never looked like troubling Alonso, while Ferrari made it a 1-3 with Felipe Massa clinching the final podium place.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel came home a distant fourth ahead of Mark Webber and polesitter Nico Rosberg who just about held onto sixth place at the finish.

Race Report
The sun was beating down on the Circuit de Catalunya with a crowd of 95,000 expecting to see their home boy do well. With an ambient temperature of 20C the track was up at 37C as the cars lined up after what Sebastian Vettel described as a "ridiculously slow" parade lap.

Grid: 1.Rosberg, 2.Hamilton, 3.Vettel, 4.Raikkonen, 5.Alonso, 6.Grosjean, 7.Webber, 8.Perez, 9.Massa, 10.DiResta, 11.Ricciardo, 12.Vergne, 13.Sutil, 14.Button, 15.Hulkenberg, 16.Bottas, 17.Maldonado, 18.Van der Garde, 19.Gutierrez, 20.Bianchi, 21.Chilton, 22.Pic

As the red lights went out the two Mercedes got away well, closely pursued by Vettel in the Red Bull, Alonso and Raikkonen. Hamilton locked a wheel going into Turn 1 leaving his braking late as Vettel came round the outside to grab P2 off him.

Alonso had got away well but took a shallow angle through Turn 1 as Hamilton led Raikkonen through the corner. Hamilton was slow through Turn 2 and with Raikkonen boxed in behind the Mercedes, Alonso made a bold move going around the outside of Raikkonen - then seeing how slow Hamilton was he continued on around the outside into Turn 3. Luckily Hamilton gave him room and Alonso was up into a maginificent P3.

Behind, Mark Webber got a poor start and dropped places, ending up in P11 while Adrian Sutil shot forwards starting from P13 and ending Lap 1 in P8. Jenson Button started from P14 but sank back to P17 after he had to brake to avoid hitting a Toro Rosso in Turn 2.

Positions at the end of Lap 1: 1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Perez, 7.Massa, 8.Sutil, 9.Grosjean, 10.DiResta, 11.Webber, 12.Vergne, 13.Hulkenberg.

Massa having been relegated three places for a block in qualifying was up to P7 after the opening lap and overtook Sergio Perez on Lap 2. In the opening six laps two small trains developed - both headed by Mercedes. Nico Rosberg held up Vettel and Alonso, with a small gap to Lewis Hamilton who was holding up Raikkonen and Massa.

On Lap 7 Kimi dived up the inside of Hamilton into Turn 10 to take P4, Massa then started to apply pressure on Hamilton and managed to pass the Mercedes just before he dived into the pits at the end of Lap 8. Sutil came in at the same time and all his good work at the start was negated with the car stuck in the pits for a pit-stop that took an age and put him to the back of the field.

Romain Grosjean limped back to the pits to retire his Lotus on Lap 9 with suspension failure. Then a lap later and the front-runners started to come in for the first stops - Alonso and Hamilton on Lap 10, followed a lap later by Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen and Perez.

All the stops left Esteban Gutierrez leading the race for Sauber. Positions on Lap 12: 1.Gutierrez, 2.Rosberg, 3.Alonso, 4.Vettel, 5.Massa, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Webber, 8.Perez, 9.DiResta, 10.Hamilton, 11.Hulkenberg.

Mark Webber had stopped earliest, at the end of Lap 7, but the move had paid off, whereas Lewis Hamilton endured a longer pit-stop and was put back out into traffic and slumped from P6 to P10. Alonso jumped Vettel in the stops and Massa had got past Raikkonen.

Despite the new tyres Nico Rosberg was having a hard time of it and on Lap 13 was swallowed up by Alonso with a DRS pass into Turn 1, and then later in the lap he was passed by Vettel and also Massa. Two laps later and it was Raikkonen who took a place off him.

With Gutierrez pitting, this left Alonso in the lead and it became rapidly clear that the Ferrari was able to run at a much stronger pace than the Red Bull. Alonso's lead was 3.0 seconds on Lap 17 and 4.1 on Lap 19. Alonso pitted from the lead on Lap 21 - a lap later than team-mate Massa.

At this stage of the race it looked likely that both the Red Bull and the Lotus would go for a three-stop race, while Ferrari were committed to a four-stop strategy for both drivers. However such was Alonso and Massa's pace in this next stint that Red Bull were forced into converting Vettel to a four-stopper. Raikkonen caught Vettel up but behind them, on Lap 23, Alonso was putting in 1:27 laps compared to Kimi's 1:30 with Vettel even slower.

Red Bull gave up the fight to hold on to a four-stopper (which Mark Webber had forced on them for his strategy due to the poor start) and brought Vettel in on Lap 24 and he emerged behind Rosberg in P4. Raikkonen's lead over Alonso was four seconds on Lap 25 but at the end of Lap 26,Kimi too was in for tyres. The Lotus driver took on another set of the medium tyres whereas most of the field had been using up their new-spec hard tyres.

Someone who wouldn't be using up any more tyres was the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde who lost his left rear wheel, forcing the Dutchman to return to the pits in a three-wheel car and the team to face a charge of an unsafe release.

Positions on Lap 27: 1.Alonso, 2.Massa, 3.Vettel, 4.Raikkonen, 5.Rosberg (one stop) 6.Webber, 7.Gutierrez (one stop), 8.Button (one stop), 9.DiResta, 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Perez, 12.Vergne. Hamilton was now back in P15 bemoaning the fact that he'd just been passed by - of all things - a Williams.

After Rosberg pitted on Lap 28 the two consistently fastest cars were Alonso in the lead and Raikkonen in P4. They were able to run in the 1:28s while Massa and Vettel were both in the 1:29s. By Lap 31 Raikkonen had closed up to third place man Vettel and needed to get past him quickly if he was going to keep within a pit-stop of Alonso.

The gaps at this stage, Lap 32, were: Alonso, 11.2 to Massa, 6.9 to Vettel, 0.5 to Raikkonen. Kimi tried a brave move round the outside of Vettel at Turn 10 which didn't come off and then a lap later the World Champion decided to simply let Raikkonen go through. The Finn tried a very late move up the inside into Turn 1 on Lap 33 which Vettel must have watched all the way because he didn't turn in and left a gap for Raikkonen.

Positions on Lap 33: 1.Alonso, 2.Massa, 3.Raikkonen, 4.Vettel, 5.Webber, 6.DiResta, 7.Hulkenberg, 8.Rosberg, 9.Perez, 10.Vergne, 11.Gutierrez, 12.Button. (all two-stops)

Nico Hulkenberg had been up to P7 but his afternoon was about to fall apart at his next pit-stop, on Lap 34. The Sauber was released too early, just as tenth placed man Jean-Eric Vergne cruised into the Toro Rosso pit. Hulkenberg saw him, slotted in behind in pitlane, but probably didn't figure that he was slowing down to come in and rammed the nose of the Sauber against the rear of the Toro Rosso as it slowed. He needed a new nose and got a penalty for unsafe release.

On Lap 36 Alonso and Massa pitted together -such was their degree of separation, and when he came out, Raikkonen led Alonso by 1.7 seconds, but with the Ferrari on much fresher tyres had soon cruised past him for the lead. By Lap 42 Alonso had a 6.4 second lead over Raikkonen and both men had to stop at least one more time. Massa closed the gap but was still some distance off. On lap 44 Alonso led by 9.7 seconds and Raikkonen had a 7.3 second advantage over Massa.

The Lotus came in for its final time on Lap 45 but was still able to exit in P3. The four-stoppers, along with the three-stopping Rosberg, still had to come in one more time.

Positions on Lap 46: 1.Alonso, 2.Massa, 3.Raikkonen, 4.Vettel, 5.Webber, 6. Rosberg (two stops), 7.DiResta, 8.Button (two stops), 9.Perez, 10.Ricciardo, 11.Hamilton, 12.Gutierrez.

Rosberg came in for the last time on Lap 47, Alonso on Lap 49, Webber and Perez on Lap 50, Massa, Vettel, Ricciardo and the distant Hamilton on Lap 51.

Positions on Lap 53: 1.Alonso, 2.Raikkonen, 3.Massa, 4.Vettel, 5.Webber, 6.DiResta, 7.Rosberg, 8.Gutierrez, 9.Button 10.Perez, 11.Ricciardo, 12.Maldonado 13.Hamilton.

Everyone bar DiResta and Gutierrez had stopped for the final time. The Scot dropped behind Nico Rosberg to P7, but despite tyres that were six laps younger, failed to get past the Mercedes driver in the 13 laps to the flag.

There was little excitement or change of position in the closing laps - Perez closed on Button but significantly didn't pass him and was warned off putting his tyres at risk by team radio. Gutirrez closed up to Daniel Ricciardo and was just 0.3 seconds away from his first point at the line.

At the front, the gaps were all unbridgeable and Fernando Alonso duly came home to an ecstatic reaction from the home crowd ahead of Raikkonen, Massa, Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, DiResta, Button and Perez.

After the race Pirelli's Paul Hembery admitted that there would be change coming as this had been the race where tyre degradation had dominated too much of the proceedings and that the aim from now on would be to get two- and three-stop races, not a GP with 14 cars make four or more pit-stops. A concern shared by none of the jubilant 95,000 crowd.


01 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1h39.16.596
02 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus +9.3
03 Felipe Massa Ferrari +26.0
04 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +38.2
05 Mark Webber Red Bull +37.9
06 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +68.0
07 Paul di Resta Force India +68.9
08 Jenson Button McLaren +79.5
09 Sergio Perez McLaren +81.7
10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro 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
Did Not Finish
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso RETIRED 14 laps
Giedo van der Garde Caterham RETIRED 45 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus RETIRED 58 laps

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