Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari stormed to a resounding victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona today in front of his adoring home fans. The Spaniard was unmatched in pace and looked totally in control throughout the race as he took the lead from Nico Rosberg after the first round of pitstops. After that, he controlled the race and won by a margin of over 9 seconds from second placed Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. Felipe Massa completed the podium by running a strong race, moving up from 9th on the grid. It was Ferrari’s race to lose and Alonso grasped the opportunity to take victory by leading a full charge to the finish line.
Sebastian Vettel took 4th for Red Bull and finished a race where the team were not as competitive as they wanted to be. Vettel was reminded on some occasions by his race engineer to preserve his tyres underlining the effort needed to control his car’s pace. He did not fight Raikkonen as the Finn charged past after the third round of pitstops and seemed to be running a race of his own. His team mate Mark Webber had an uneventful afternoon and followed his team mate home in 5th. Nico Rosberg had another bad race where the Mercedes was just not good enough on its tyres to keep him in the hunt for victory. As was the case in Bahrain, he fell back down the grid and was swarmed by faster cars most notably the Ferraris, the Red Bulls and the Lotus. He ran a three stop strategy and was the best of the Silver Arrows with the right mix of aggression and restraint. However, it was even worse for Lewis Hamilton who had a torrid race finishing 12th after starting on the front row. Hamilton lost position from the start to both Alonso and Vettel and proceeded to fall back as the race progressed. It was another stark reminder that though Mercedes seem to be the top team in qualifying, their race pace was something they urgently needed progress with. Paul Di Resta in the Force India finished a close 7th chasing Rosberg all the way to the finish line while his team mate Adrian Sutil ended up 13th.
The McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez finished 8th and 9th as the Briton came through from 17th in the opening stages to salvage 3 points by running a three-stop strategy. His Mexican team mate who ran a four stopper had to settle for 9th after his team interestingly told him to “save his tyres’ while he still had a lot more pace left in them. Daniel Riccardo took the final championship point for Torro Rosso.
Last year’s winner, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado had a race to forget after he was awarded a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He finished 14th, a complete turnaround to his dominating victory last year. Romain Grosjean, Jean Eric Vergne, Giedo Van der Garde were the only retirements in an otherwise uneventful Spanish Grand Prix which had primarily strategic overtones and where tyre preservation took preference over raw pace.
The championship battle becomes all the more closer now with Sebastian Vettel retaining his lead with 89 points and Raikkonen closing the gap to just 4 points with 85. Fernando Alonso leapfrogs Lewis Hamilton to take third place in the driver’s championship with 72 points. With Monaco a week away,these three top drivers will be hoping to keep the momentum going into F1’s most glamorous and prestigious race.