El Matador Fernando Alonso storms to Spanish F1 GP victory in front of home crowd in Barcelona
The Spaniard had to wait till the time was ripe after failing to get past either Nico Rosberg's Silver Arrow or Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull at the starting phase of the race, though a brilliant thrust around by the Lotus of the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen and then the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 made him gain vital ground.
The Scuderia Ferrari team was the first of the front contenders to make their pit stops to switch from Pirelli’s medium tire to the hard, first with fifth-placed Brazilian driver Felipe Massa on lap eight, then with Spanish driver Fernando Alonso one lap later.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel stopped on the 10th lap, leaving Esteban Gutierrez temporarily in the lead for Sauber as he had yet to pit, and though Nico Rosberg resumed in second place behind the Swiss car, Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was able to come back third ahead of Vettel.
As a matter of fact, this was Fernando Alonso's first decisive move. The next came on lap 13 as he overtook German Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. This move initiated a critical slide from second place to fifth for the German as Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa also overtook him.
Spanish Scuderia Ferrrari driver Fernando Alonso became the leader of the race on the 14th lap when the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez pitted, and thereafter he managed his race brilliantly, taking a set of medium tires on his second stop on lap 21, mediums again on lap 36, then a final set of hard compound tires on lap 49.
German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel slipped back the order as his similar four-stop strategy failed to pay off. Thus Kimi Raikkonen on Lotus was left as Fernando Alonso’s only serious challenger.
Lotus put the Iceman on a three-stop strategy, which began with mediums, and stayed that way in his stops on his first two laps 10 and 26. On his third and final pit call on lap 45 did he switched to hard compound tires.
By the time Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso made his last stop (which he did with a puncture) , the gap between them was eight seconds, but on his newer set of tires, Fernando Alonso initially pulled away. Their lap times then were three-thousandths of a second apart, and thereafter the Lotus was marginally quicker, but the gap stayed around 12s until Fernando Alonso backed off on the final lap and crossed the line 9.3s ahead in a race that was vital to his title ambitions and which put Ferrari right back into the contention for the 2013 Formula 1 constructers title.
Brazilian driver Felipe Massa fought intensely from ninth on the grid after his penalty for impeding Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber during the qualifying dropped him three places, and invaded the final slot on the podium, 16.7s behind Kimi Raikkonen. Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had to be content with fourth and fifth place, as Mark Webber fought back from a terrible start to follow his team mate home.
In relation to the top five finishers, the remaining positions down to the 13th position were in doubt to the checkered flag. Nico Rosberg’s three-stop pit strategy earned him sixth on another rough and deeply disappointing day for Mercedes, whose tire wear remains devastating, and proves again, that there is a huge discrepancy between the qualifying pace and race performance.
He just held off Paul di Resta who yet again was Force India’s better finisher. The Scot drove another great race for seventh, ahead of the two dueling McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. The English McLaren Mercedes driver slipped way down the order for a long time but it emerged as the race unfolded that he was on a time saving three-stop strategy.
The Mexican on the other hand made an excellent start and ran sixth initially before being passed by Massa. Thereafter he was always in the hunt for points, but after his fourth pit stop he closed in on Button but did not make quite the same robust attempts to overtake as he had in Bahrain. Six points for McLaren Mercedes were a rewarding result, after all the troubles the team and drivers faced in practice and qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo drove a superb race for Toro Rosso and just managed to hold off Gutierrez, who had his best Grand Prix so far for the Swiss Sauber team with a feisty drive in which he seemed likely to score his first points. He missed out his aspired target by three-tenths of a second.
In 12th place, Silver Arrow driver Lewis Hamilton had what must rank amongst the worst races of his F1 career. He was beaten off the line by Nico Rosberg and overtaken by Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in quick succession, ending the lap fourth. Trying to fend of the challengers of his team mate during the start phase of the Spanish 2013 Formula 1 Grand Prix, he ruined his tires by heavily braking into turn one. Soon he was sent down the order in a car that just lacked speed, and literally ate up his tires. His four-stop strategy never paid off, as well as team mate Nico Rosberg’s three-stop strategy. At one stage he was down in 15th position and he was lapped on the 55th lap, but he managed to salvage 12th after fending off Adrian Sutil’s Force India by less than half a second by the finish line.
Williams also had a hugely disappointing afternoon, especially on the 43rd lap when 2012 winner Pastor Maldonado was lapped by Fernando Alonso, the man he beat last year. The Venezuelan got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and finished a lapped 14th, while team mate Valtteri Bottas ran ahead of him for a long time but had to be content with 16th place behind Nico Hulkenberg, whose race was destroyed when Sauber unsafely released him into the path of incoming Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.
Nico Hulkenberg needed another stop to replace his face-lifted nose, and made a sixth to serve a 10s stop-and-go penalty. The Frenchman eventually had a right-rear tire puncture as a result of the collision, and later retired because of the damage that resulted from this tire puncture.
Caterham seemed set for their best race in a long time as Giedo van der Garde battled with the Williams early on, but the left-rear wheel was improperly fitted in his pit stop on lap 20 and he soon lost it trying to return to the pits. As a result of this, the team was subsequently fined €10,000 for unsafe release. In the other Caterham, Charles Pic came from the back of the grid to beat the two Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
In addition to Vergne and Van der Garde, the only other retirement was Romain Grosjean, with a rear suspension problem on his Lotus.
Sebastian Vettel still leads the points table with 89 to the consistent and challenging Kimi Raikkonen’s 85, while Fernando Alonso’s latest win moves him up to third with 72 from Lewis Hamilton on 50, Felipe Massa on 45 and Mark Webber on 42.
In the 2013 Formula 1 constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 131 from Ferrari on 117, Lotus on 111 and Mercedes on 72.
Barcelona - Cairo - Abu Dhabi
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