Spanish Grand Prix: Race Analysis

Never before has there been a more belated Race Analysis! For that, I apologize  As I announced in a previous article, revision for exams has to come first and on this occasion, a late analysis of the Spanish Grand Prix is the resultant bi-product. It may seem like a long time ago, but Fernando Alonso took his second win of the season on Sunday, delighting his home fans in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen reduced Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the championship, with an impressive second place. However, tyres were the major talking point as a ludicrous 82 pit-stops were made over the duration of the race.
Fernando experienced a fantastic race, demonstrating the strength of the Ferrari. While they had performed well in Friday’s long runs, they evidently eclipsed Red Bull, who seemed to be the team to watch judging by their pace during FP2. Alonso managed to execute one of his trademark starts, passing Kimi Raikkonen and then Lewis Hamilton on the outside of turn 3. He went on to jump Sebastian Vettel in the first round of pitstops, before passing Rosberg for the lead only two laps later. From their, the Spaniard never looked back. His commanding lead was abetted by his careful use of the tyres.
Alonso exclaimed, “Even if this is the third time I’ve won a home race, the emotion is still very strong, as if it had never happened before. It’s nice to be able to give the whole of Spain this win, especially at a time when the country is in crisis and for many people, it’s not possible to come here to bring their support. I thank everyone for that support and the team for doing a fantastic job. After a far from easy qualifying, everything went perfectly, the start, the strategy, pit stops, tyre management.”
After such a dominant victory, Fernando is firmly in the championship battle. He evaluated, “I think that with this car we can fight for the World Championship, because in five races we have finished second once and had two wins. From now on, we must manage to produce a consistent performance and score as many points as possible because we are well aware that we are not the quickest and to change that many people are working night and day at the track and in Maranello”.
After the race, Pirelli Motorsport Boss, Paul Hembery announced that Alonso had a tear in the compound of his right rear tyre. Fortunately, he stopped just after the fracture was caused. It was suggested that if he had continued for another lap, the tyre would have delaminated and Fernando’s race would be severely effected.
Joining an exuberant Fernando on the podium were Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. The Finn managed to complete the race in three stops, while his competitors had to make one extra trip to the pits. This once again underlined Lotus’ ability to manage tyre degradation, despite the severity of the drop off. Raikkonen now sits just four points behind Vettel in the championship, after outstanding consistency during the first five races. Only once has Raikkonen been off of the podium this season.
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa continued his promising form, bagging his first podium in 2013. The Brazilian struggled on the hard compound tyre, but showed excellent pace on the medium, which allowed him to pull away from the Red Bull’s behind. Massa stated, “I am very happy with this podium. It was a really nice race and a fantastic result for the whole team. When you start from far back everything’s more complicated, but I managed to get away well and I immediately had a fantastic pace. On the first lap I pulled off a few overtaking moves thanks to the car being very competitive, which meant I could be aggressive, while at the same time looking after the tyres. Right to the very end, I thought it might be possible to fight with Kimi, but when I fitted my last set of Hard tyres, the ones we thought would be best as they were new, I had oversteer and began to lose the rear much earlier than I had expected. All the same, I am very pleased with our performance at this track. Now we head for Monaco, a completely different track where overtaking is very difficult. We know we don’t have the quickest car, but all we can do is continue to work with the same amount of effort, because I’m sure we are going in the right direction”. Massa could later prove to be an invaluable asset to Ferrari, as Fernando Alonso mounts his title challenge. If he can maintain pace, he could easily take points away from Fernando’s rivals, as he did on Sunday.
Worth a notable mention is the young Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez. While he has faced many critics over the past few weeks, (myself included), he impressed on Sunday, using an ingenious strategy to climb up the field from P19 on the grid. He finished P11 and while he missed out on the first points of his career, he achieved the fastest lap of the race. Certainly, an impressive fact, considering that this was only his fifth race. Perhaps, the media have not allowed him enough time to establish himself within the team. Esteban said, “I focused on getting the most out of the car today, and it was important to achieve a result like this for me and the team. The team has given me the patience and tools to improve as a driver and this is what I could extract from the car. It was a tough race and tyre management was critical. At the beginning of the race I was quite surprised about how much I could get out of the tyres. The last two stints were a bit more difficult, but this is a step forward.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton experienced one of the most difficult races of his career. After locking out the front row, Mercedes went careering backwards with Rosberg finishing in P6, while Hamilton slid to P12. At one stage the Briton was placed a lonely P15, where he battled with Pastor Maldonado. At the time, he commented, “now I’ve been passed by a Williams” as desperation set in. After the race, Hamilton stated, “A difficult afternoon today and going backwards is never fun. We switched to a four-stop strategy during the race but I suffered with a lack of grip and balance throughout and we were never really able to get the tyres working. I know that everyone at the team is working so hard and we need to keep positive. I’m sure we will figure the problem out and we’ve got to keep pushing together to close the gap. I will be doing my best to help and encourage the guys.”
So, there is my brief report of the Spanish Grand Prix. With one exam done, just 12 more remain. I cannot wait to resume normal service on the blog, but I hope you enjoy the content in the meantime.        

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