The 2013 Spanish Grand Prix gave the excitement that the home viewers, what they wanted to see, and to the people who thronged the Grandstands, what they came to see. Let’s find out how it all happened. But, this is a different sort of excitement though...
“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" - Fernando Alonso
“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. - Felipe Massa
On Saturday’s qualifying, Mercedes continued their strong qualifying form by taking the whole front row with Nico Rosberg on pole and Lewis Hamilton on the 2nd place. Sebastian Vettel was 3rd, Kimi Räikkönen 4th and Fernando Alonso 5th. Felipe Massa finished the qualifying on 6th place, but later was punished with a grid penalty of 3 positions for blocking Mark Webber on his flying qualifying lap. Mercedes’ qualifying speed was once again really impressive, but nobody in the team knew before the race, if it will be more difficult for the team on the race once again. The team had focused on long runs during practice sessions, hoping to gain additional data and boost their race pace.
After the race start, Rosberg was able to maintain his position. Vettel moved into 2nd place and Hamilton lost a bit, as Alonso made a beautiful start. He started well and took an advantage to both Hamilton and Räikkönen on the second corner, and passed them brilliantly on the outside. Webber meanwhile had a bad start and lost positions. It was a good start for another Ferrari as Massa was able to pull himself up to 7th on the start and later passed Sergio Perez for 6th, and soon was right behind Räikkönen and Hamilton.
The same trend continued with Mercedes as it did at Bahrain and China: Rosberg and Hamilton started to face problems with pace. Rosberg was staying on the lead though. After couple of laps Hamilton lost positions to both Räikkönen and Massa. Meanwhile, Räikkönen’s team mate Romain Grosjean was out of the race thanks to a suspension failure. The Frenchman was able to bring his car back to the pits, but there was nothing the team could do for the failure
“Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.” - Kimi Raikkonen
During the first pitstops, all the drivers at the top changed to the prime tyre, but Räikkönen had a different strategy and took another set of option. Alonso gained an advantage by a well worked pit strategy and got past Vettel who was rejoining the track from his routine stop. Rosberg was able to stay in front of Alonso and Vettel, but not for long though, as Alonso made the move on Rosberg two laps later. Things really started to turn difficult for Rosberg as Vettel, Massa, Räikkönen and even Daniel Ricciardo passed him later on. Again it was a disaster for the Germans after starting from pole position.
On lap 20, Felipe Massa came for his second pitstop and it started to be clear that Ferrari was going to do 4 stops strategy for both the drivers. Tyres weren’t lasting well, and the other top drivers came to the pits too for new rubber. Räikkönen though was able to stay out longer than others, even though he was with the option tyre. Meanwhile Caterham’s Giedo Van Der Garde reported on the radio that his wheel wasn’t attached and soon the Caterham driver lost the wheel, but made it back to the pitlane by using only 3 wheels. He couldn’t continue the race though. The team got a fine, after the race for an unsafe release. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton was struggling and had dropped to 14th position after his second pitstop. It didn’t help that Williams’ Pastor Maldonado overtook him, and Hamilton afterwards was looking frustrated on the team radio.
Räikkönen finally came to the pits, he took a set of options once again, while his rivals took another set of prime earlier. The Finn clearly was with different strategy and was able to make the option tyre last well. When he came back to the track, he lost some time behind Sebastian Vettel, but later got past the triple champion and went to the 3rd place behind both Ferraris. Alonso started to make a gap on the lead and the big question was if Räikkönen’s 3 stop strategy was enough to beat the Spaniard.
“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.” - Lewis Hamilton
“We said before the race that seventh would be a good result and towards the end I was even fighting for sixth. So we can take a lot of positives from the weekend because this is a track that has traditionally not suited our car. It was a great effort by the team to get through to Q3 yesterday and come away with a seventh place today. The result shows the consistency that we have had since the start of the year and that we can perform each weekend." - Paul di Resta
When Nico Hülkenberg came to the pits for his third pitstop of the day, it didn’t go as planned: the team let him leave dangerously as he was right next to Daniel Ricciardo who was coming in for his stop. Ricciardo had to move to the left to get into his tyre change and Hülkenberg hit the Toro Rosso’s rear and caused a front wing damage to his own car. He came back to the pits on the next lap to change his nose. Hülkenberg received a Stop-and-go penalty from the stewards, and a good day so far turned upside down for Sauber.
Alonso came in for his third stop and took the option tyre. At the same time on the track, Räikkönen was chasing Felipe Massa but didn’t need to do that for long as the Brazilian came in from the same lap as Alonso. Räikkönen went to the lead, but. Alonso was fast with his much newer set of tyres than Räikkönen so the Finn couldn’t make a big gap to the Spaniard and took the lead from the Finn who was still out with his options and was yet to make his third and last stop.
Räikkönen came in for his last pitstop on the lap 45 and took the prime tyre and was all set to finish the race with that set. Alonso came in 4 laps later and also took the prime tyre. Räikkönen’s strategy in the end wasn’t enough to beat the Spaniard, but it was enough to bring home the second place, which was the Iceman’s third second position in the row.
“I had a really poor start off the line, with a lot of wheelspin and, to be honest, the first few laps of the race I really struggled with front grip and locking the front brakes. I tried to be patient and eventually it improved and I could see the cars ahead of me were not pulling away so much. It was disappointing to lose ground like that, but the pace itself was not too bad. At the first stop, we made quite a few changes in terms of wing settings and tyre pressures and that helped, so the next two stints were quite good and I made a few passing moves, so it was certainly not a boring race. But then, towards the end of the race, our pace began to fade again. It wasn’t easy to get tenth, even if we looked on course to get more than the one point earlier in the race, so it’s better than nothing.” - Daniel Ricciardo
Alonso won the race in front of his home crowd and picked up a Spanish flag to celebrate the home victory. The act didn’t please FIA though and the Spanish driver was called to the stewards after the race. He didn’t receive a penalty, though. It was a good race for Ferrari as Massa took the 3rd place. Vettel finished 4th and Webber 5th. Rosberg survived well in the end with his Mercedes and grabbed some points on 6th place. Di Resta continued Force India’s positive start of the season and took 7th place, while the McLaren double Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were 8th and 9th. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo took the last point even though he had the unwanted collision with Hülkenberg on the pitlane.
“Strategy was again at the forefront of the Spanish Grand Prix, which as usual was very demanding on the tyres because of the unique characteristics of this circuit. This is why we saw high levels of degradation, which should not be seen again to this extent for the rest of the year. Our aim is to have between two and three stops at every race, so it’s clear that four is too many: in fact, it’s only happened once before, in Turkey during our first year in the sport. We’ll be looking to make some changes, in time for Silverstone, to make sure that we maintain our target and solve any issues rapidly. - Paul Hembery