Spanish fans go wild as Alonso dominates in Barcelona
Ferrari is definitely back and Fernando Alonso delivered a dominating victory to win the Spanish Grand Prix Sunday as his throngs of hometown fans cheered him on.
"We have only had five races and there have been some ups and downs but we know we have the car to fight with the top cars," Ferrari's Alonso said on the podium.
"If we (continue to) do well we can compete for the championship."
As ever in 2013, and arguably even more so this weekend in Barcelona, the race was all about managing the heavily degrading Pirelli tires.
As predicted by many in the paddock, qualifying dominators Mercedes reversed down the grid in the race as they burned through the Italian rubber.
Pole sitter Nico Rosberg finished sixth, and Lewis Hamilton scored no points at all.
"We both went backwards," Hamilton told the BBC, "but I went back a long, long way, and I don't know why. We have got a lot of work to do."
"It was an experience that I don't really want to go through again," said Hamilton.
"Today I was doing absolutely everything the same as I did in Bahrain.
"But I had no grip, I couldn't push, and if I did, the tire just went off immediately.
"I'm absolutely lost today. I don't know what went wrong."
Four pitstops per driver, and nursing the disintegrating rubber in between, was the order of the day on Sunday, which added up to well over 80 pitstops for the entire race.
"I've had enough of the 'T'-word," said Sky commentator and former driver Martin Brundle.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "When you are telling drivers not to push because we are saving tires, it isn't great for the sport or for the fans.
"We need to push the drivers harder and allow them to drive properly."
Indeed, immediately after the checkered flag on Sunday, Pirelli's Paul Hembery acknowledged the problem and hinted changes are on the way.
"Today was too many stops, we got it wrong, too aggressive," he wrote on Twitter.
"We will make changes, probably from Silverstone."
Vettel insisted he was content with fourth place in the circumstances.
"I think we can be happy with fourth - or at least we have to be," he said.
"The first three cars were a little too fast for us and in looking after their tires they did a better job today."
He is confident there is no lack of raw pace in the Red Bull.
"If you talk about race distances, then it's a different game," Vettel said.
"I think the car is quick enough, but there's something we do to the tires to make them wear more.
"Three people did better today so we need to catch up. We are not going to the pace of the car, we are going to the pace of the tire."
Vettel also believes Red Bull make a strategic mistake by initially trying to pull off a three-stop plan before resorting to four.
"I think we tried to hang on to the three-stop for too long in the race and had to admit towards the end we wouldn't make it," he said.
Sebastian Vettel (4th): "I think we can be happy with fourth today. The first three cars were a little bit too fast for us and regarding looking after the tires, they did a better job. We need to catch up; we're not going the pace of the car, we're going the pace of the tires and obviously we do something to make the tires wear more. We got some good points today, although of course we wanted more. The start was good, we then tried to hold on with a three-stop strategy, but had to change to four stops."
Mark Webber (5th): "We were struggling for the range and a bit of pace today, to be honest. The Ferraris and the Lotus were in a bit of a different league and that made it hard for us to compete today. I think we got the most out of what we had, particularly as by the first corner I was probably 14th or 15th, so to come back with that result was pretty good. We managed to get back in to the scheme of things, but we were always a little bit on the back foot in terms of tire wear and ultimately pace. If you don't have the pace, then you can't have the magic strategy. I was happy with how I drove and we got some points, but it wasn't the result we wanted."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A tough race. Fourth and fifth places obviously weren't the target going into the race, but the way it panned out it was obvious that tire degradation was going to be a key factor. We didn't quite have the pace today but we still managed to score some strong points. We made four pit-stops with both cars, saw some great work in the pit lane and recorded a succession of very fast stops. It was a good recovery after a difficult first lap for Mark."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We would have liked to have finished the race a couple of positions higher of course, but this year it is difficult to be aggressive as you have to manage tire wear throughout the race. This in turn limits how you configure the engine and the options available to you. All the same, it was positive to finish fourth and fifth, which gives us a decent points haul from the weekend."
Fernando Alonso (1st): "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, tire management. At the start, I had to make up some places but after passing the halfway point on the straight, there was no more room to do so. So I switched off the KERS, so as to use it in Turn 3, where I realized, after watching the GP2 race, that it was possible to attack around the outside. We had to bring forward the final stop because of a slow puncture which meant the left rear tire was losing pressure in the final part of the lap, but fortunately, that had no effect on the final outcome. 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."
Felipe Massa (3rd): "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 tires. Right to the very end, I thought it might be possible to fight with Kimi, but when I fitted my last set of Hard tires, 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."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "I am really happy with this great team result! We did a great job, both here at the track and back in Maranello. It was a very tense race, in which the slightest little detail could make a big difference. On this front, we read the race very well, when one considers how tire management and calling the pit stops today made the difference and I can say without being presumptuous, that the team of engineers didn't put a foot wrong. I think that is down to Pat Fry, even he wasn't with us today on the pit-wall. These forty points taken in Barcelona are very important: Fernando yet again drove a great race, aggressive at the key moments and conservative when he had to manage his lead, making up ground on all his main rivals. I'm pleased we have closed the gap to all our closest rivals. I am also particularly happy with Felipe's performance, because on this track, to start ninth and finish on the podium is not easy. He was in the fight right to the final moments and this result is very well deserved. After the way qualifying went yesterday, this result is the best we could have hoped for. We held our own against very strong opposition, but we know there is much to do to improve our car for Saturday afternoons, as we have said many times before, if we want to ensure we start from further up the order."
Jenson Button (8th): "That was an interesting race. The lap to the grid was very slow, which hurt us, and my start wasn't great. I had no grip, so Turn One was a mess. I was unlucky to end up 17th at the end of lap one. We took the same approach as in China, adopting a different strategy from the others. To finish eighth show what a good job the team did with the strategy. I don't know whether we've improved our package or not, but we certainly beat some cars that we possibly shouldn't have beaten. Still, it's a positive that both cars finished in the points, and hopefully this'll be the start of an upward trend. We gathered a lot of useful information today, and we'll be working on that over the next few races in order to continue developing MP4-28. I want to say a big thank-you for all the support I've received from the British fans this weekend. It's great to see so many Vodafone 'rocket red' caps and T-shirts in the grandstands. Hopefully, we'll have a full house at Silverstone and we'll be stronger there. There's still a lot of work to do. It's tough at the moment, but I'm pleased that we're making the best of what we have."
Sergio Perez (9th): "That wasn't the race I'd hoped for. It's so difficult to manage these tires. We didn't do a perfect job, and, like many drivers, I required four pitstops. So I didn't maximize the full potential of our car today, so I wasn't happy in that respect, but, having said that, I think it's been a stronger weekend overall for us. Our car is still improving, and I think we can do a slightly better job at Monaco. After that I hope we'll be able to gradually close the gap to the cars in front of us over the next few races."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson drove a typically classy race to work his way back from a very unlucky start, which saw him drop almost to the back of the field, all the way through to eighth place at the finish. To do that, on this circuit, where overtaking is notoriously difficult, and in this car, which we know is not yet as competitive as we need it to be, was a seriously impressive feat. And to do it on a three-stop strategy, managing the tires with impeccable care yet still keeping the pace consistently strong while so doing, was more remarkable still. By contrast, like most drivers here today, Checo opted for a four-stop strategy - but, like Jenson, he also drove a very good race, finishing in ninth place not far behind his far more experienced team-mate. At the end of the race Checo's tires required diligent nursing, but like Jenson he managed the situation very capably. We scored six world championship points today, and of course we aren't satisfied with that. Nonetheless, to score points with both cars in what was a decidedly technical race is a very creditable achievement, and constitutes a solid platform from which to move forwards from here on in. Next we go to Monaco, a grand prix that McLaren has won a record 15 times in the past - and, although we aren't predicting a 16th McLaren victory on those famously tortuous streets this year, we'll be doing our utmost there to score as many world championship points there as we possibly can."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "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."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Rear Suspension): "I made a poor start but after that I was on the pace and we know we're able to produce good race strategies, so there was potential for a strong result today. The car was feeling pretty good until we had an issue with the rear suspension which meant I had to return to the pits and retire from the race, which is a great shame. It's always disappointing for everyone when something like this happens but there's no-one to blame; it's just a part of motor racing."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “Firstly, we need to investigate what happened to Romain’s car. I feel sorry for him and for the team. Equally however, I’m delighted for the team to achieve another second place with Kimi today. Once again he drove fantastically and we were able to give him a great car with a good strategy. We took points from Sebastian in the Drivers’ Championship, but we have lost out a bit in the Constructors’ Championship. It was a good job by the entire team today.”
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: “We’re very happy with a podium. Losing out to Fernando in the first corner was a blow, and being held up behind first Lewis [Hamilton] then Sebastian certainly hampered our progress, but even so I don’t think we quite had the pace to take the win today. Unfortunately for Romain, and through no fault of his own, a rear suspension failure curtailed his race very early on. The cause of this has yet to be determined and we’ve completed many, many kilometers with this suspension configuration, so it’s difficult to pinpoint what might have occurred. We’ll be sending the parts back to Enstone to have a good look at what went wrong and avoid any recurrence.”
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: “A very good result for the team to bring Kimi his third consecutive, and fourth podium finish in five races. Managing the tires was again crucial to the result and is an area we work on very hard with the team, as delivering engine smoothness through the apex and exit of corners can really help the stability of the car; particularly in the heavy braking zones. It is a shame Romain could not go any further, but we have shown that we can be competitive on all types of track this season.”
Nico Rosberg (6th): "I had a very tough race this afternoon. The start was good and I managed my first stint well to keep some of the quicker cars behind me. From there, I had to drive my own race and we began to go backwards as it made no sense to destroy my tires by trying to stay ahead. We didn't have the pace of the quickest cars today and there's a growing gap to three teams ahead of us which we need to get on top of. We have a very quick car but we have to make it work for us in the race."
Lewis Hamilton (12th): "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 tires 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."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We endured a very difficult afternoon and the comparison between our competitiveness in qualifying and in the race was particularly disappointing. Nico did an excellent job managing the tires to make just three stops and his level of performance showed what our car is currently capable of on tracks like this. Lewis didn't have a good balance at any point and that simply made a critical situation worse, which forced him to convert to a four-stop strategy midway through the race. We must find the key to why we are losing performance on Sunday afternoon and find the right solutions to improve."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Today's race showed a similar pattern to what we have seen with our team in recent seasons: we have a quick car but it works the tires too hard. The drivers experienced the reverse situation to what happened in Bahrain: Nico drove a very controlled race and was able to make a three-stop strategy work, while Lewis was forced to stop four times because he simply didn't have enough grip at any point through the race and the car was sliding around. It is very clear that we have not yet found the right compromise between our performance on Saturday and Sunday and that we will need a lot of hard work to get it right."
Esteban Gutierrez (11th): "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 tire management was critical. At the beginning of the race I was quite surprised about how much I could get out of the tires. The last two stints were a bit more difficult, but this is a step forward."
Nico Hulkenberg (15th): "We knew that it would be a difficult race today. The start went well and, until the incident in the pit lane, we looked quite good. We planned for a three stop, but then had to convert to a four stop. But then we had the incident, which ruined the race for us. Obviously the timing wasn't quite right, but we are a team, so we have to look into it and make sure it does not happen again. Overall the car still felt quite difficult to drive, and I think we still have some homework ahead of us."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "To finish a race without points is always disappointing. Nevertheless there were also some positives we could take from this weekend, for instance the better understanding of our car and the measures we had taken before coming here. We didn't expect to make a huge step forward, because we knew that other competitors would also have improvements. However, our updates worked as expected, which is positive. Nevertheless, we know we have to further improve. The analysis of this weekend will help to make bigger steps in the future. Nico was in a strong position, but then the incident in the pit lane, which resulted from an early release, ruined his race. Esteban delivered a very strong performance, we are happy about it and we hope this will give him confidence."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Both drivers had a strong start to the race. Unfortunately with Nico the incident in the pits cost him the chance of a good result. Esteban drove a very strong race and worked well with the engineers to get the most out of the car. Although he started from 19th, he missed tenth place by less than half a second. Our race pace was stronger today than in previous races, so we can take comfort from that, and we can look forward to the race in Monaco."
Paul di Resta (7th): "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. There's more to come too, because there is more we can do to optimize the car with the new parts we introduced here, but this is definitely a big result for us."
Adrian Sutil (13th): "It's extremely disappointing to come away empty handed from this race because we were so quick today. My start was very good and I went around the outside of the first corner, which worked well because I was up in eighth by the end of the first lap. It was all going to plan until the first pit stop when there was an issue and I lost so much time. The team told me to switch the engine off while they sorted the problem, but it cost me the chance of points. For the rest of the race it was a case of pushing as much as possible because you never know what can happen. It's frustrating, but you have to accept these things. Hopefully it will not happen again."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's rewarding to come away with another seventh place for Paul and maintain our fifth place in the championship. Paul drove a very strong race and the calls from the pit wall kept him in the battle for sixth with Rosberg right until the last lap. On the other side of the garage there was bad luck for Adrian, who lost a considerable amount of time during his first pit stop when the right rear wheel nut cross-threaded. It was very unfortunate because he had an amazing start, moving up five places on the opening lap. His race pace was very impressive once again and he would surely have scored well today. As a team we will focus on the positives and head to Monaco confident that we can deliver a similar level of performance and get both cars in the points."
Pastor Maldonado (14th): "The pace was unfortunately not in the car today. We made one more pit stop than we hoped to because I was given a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane but overall we did the best we could. We now need to regroup, work hard and prepare for Monaco."
Valtteri Bottas (16th): "I couldn't feel the grip in the car and we were sliding a lot from the start which meant we were hard on the tires. We made a three-stop strategy work but in the end, Pastor switched to a four-stop race and that seemed to be better. We're not where we want to be, so there is still a lot of work to do."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We knew it would be a difficult race today but we can draw a slight positive from the three places Pastor gained from his grid position. We were suffering with high tire degradation and so made the decision to switch Pastor onto a four-stop strategy. We committed to a three-stop with Valtteri, but we then lost a lot of time. We need to check the data as the degradation on his car was unusual compared to the pace we had on Friday. Everyone at Williams knows what needs to be done to turn things around and we need to keep working hard. We'd also like to thank all our fans and partners for their continued support."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "We've worked hard this weekend to optimize the new parts on the car and it has been a small step forward. We will now put this information into the program for Monaco, which should play to the strengths of the chassis-engine package a lot more. Some of the advantages of the Renault engine are drivability and responsiveness and this is exactly what you need out of the slow corners at Monte Carlo. If we get a good result there it will really turn us round and kick start the momentum we need going into the next part of the season."
Daniel Ricciardo (10th): "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 tire 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."
Jean-Eric Vergne (DNF, Damage): "After a good start, I then had a lot of understeer and we had to keep adding a lot of wing at each pit stop, which didn't really help. The strategy we adopted was the right one and even with a damaged floor and wing I was able to do good lap times. Yet again I was unlucky and I hope that stops soon, because as I was coming into the pits, Sauber did an unsafe release with Hulkenberg who drove into me and then I had a problem with a tire, so it was one problem after another today. I plan to have a better weekend in Monaco in two weeks time. I haven't lost hope for the future, given the performance we had shown earlier in the weekend and it's just such a shame as that good pace should have allowed us to score points today."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "As expected, this race featured a lot of pit stops because of high tire degradation, so we knew that three or four stops was the most likely strategy and in the end, most cars did four. We had planned for three tire changes but switched to four as the race evolved. Unfortunately, Jev's race was ruined by the contact in pit lane with Hulkenberg's Sauber. He had to return to the pits on lap 38 when it was clear he had a damaged tire and then in the closing stages, we could see from the data that the damage to the rear of the car was getting worse and we called him in to retire in the pits. This incident had a serious knock-on effect for our other car, as we had to keep Daniel out for one more lap before a pit stop while dealing with Jev and, as his tires were well worn at this stage it cost him a significant amount of lap time. Nevertheless, he managed to fight off Gutierrez in the closing stages to pick up a point for tenth place. Without that earlier problem, we should have been much closer to the McLarens with a possible chance of attacking them in the final part of the race. We must take heart from the improvement in performance terms that we saw on Friday and Saturday and work to get more out of the updates that delivered this step forward."
Charles Pic (17th): "I'm really happy with today's performance. Finishing 17th doesn't really tell the whole story as we ended the race right behind one of the Williams cars which shows that we've made some good progress this weekend. The blue flags didn't help as without them I'd have had a much better chance of overtaking him, but it was still good that I could attack him in the last few laps. The car felt great for the whole race, particularly after my third stop when we went for a 25 lap final stint on the hard tires and I was able to manage the degradation levels well which meant I could push right to the flag. It's good to have a Sunday like this as I hadn't really been able to get the most out of the new package on Friday or Saturday, but it felt good right from the first lap today. There's still more to come from the parts we brought here, quite a bit more in fact, so we'll work on that back at the factory and see how much more we can extract for the next race in Monaco. That's obviously going to be busy for me and the whole team, but after seeing the pace we had today, more to come from the race five update and the fact the team has been strong there in the past, I think it could be a really interesting weekend for us."
Giedo van der Garde (DNF, Damage): "It's obviously such a shame that my race ended like it did today, but sometimes these things happen. I'd had a great start and was fighting with Button and both Williams cars through the first couple of stints The car felt great, really good and I was definitely having the best of the season so far. When I came in for my second stop I could feel that there was a problem with the left rear as soon as I rejoined the track. At some point the wheel came off so I tried to make it back to the garage to see if I could continue, but once the team had taken a close look it was clear I had to retire the car. As I say, it's a shame but it's another lesson for me and the team. Sometimes you don't have the luck, but we have a lot of positives to take from this weekend. The updates on the car are working well, and we have more to come. Our race pace is really good, strong enough to fight with a few cars ahead and my quali performance was easily my best this year. Next up we go to Monaco, a track I know well and one where I was on the podium twice last year in GP2, and in Formula Renault 3.5, so another qualifying performance like I had in Spain, and a race like I had until retiring today, and I think we can do well."
Jules Bianchi (18th): "I feel like I drove a really hard race today but there is not so much to show for it. I am obviously pleased to have had three strong middle stints but the damage was done in the opening few laps when I had to pit for a new nose. I think we recovered well from this and had we not had the extra stop we could have been fighting with Bottas today. Our lap time was much faster than theirs and I managed to get the gap down to eight seconds in the final stint, but pushing so hard stretched the tires too much and I had to back off to just focus on getting the car home. Another two-car finish is important to us. It was a race that demanded all my concentration and I certainly put all of the tire management experience I have gained in the first four races to good use today, so it was quite an exhausting day but one which also had some positive highlights. I will focus on these and hope for better things in my home race in Monaco in two weeks' time."
Max Chilton (19th): "It was disappointing to have such a problematic start to the race and then we had the pit stop issue, which was a further setback. What is encouraging is my lap time in free air today, which I'm pretty pleased with, and it's good to be able to demonstrate more of my outright pace than I've been able to over the past few races. If we can get on top of some of these problems we can really start to come into our own a bit more. The pace is there so we should be able to get back to closing the gap to the midfield. Next it's one of my favorite races and I'll be doing everything I can to prepare for my first time out in a Formula 1 car there. Hopefully we can enjoy a better reward for our efforts."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We leave the Circuit de Catalunya with mixed feelings about our Spanish Grand Prix weekend. On the one hand we have made clear progress with our development step for this race, not only coming into the weekend on Friday but also in the way we have optimized it session by session. We were hoping for better things in the race but we suffered a few setbacks with Jules and Max which overshadowed what should be the key take-out from today, which is our relative pace versus the cars around us. Both drivers were doing a good job of demonstrating that and having been forced to stop four times versus the planned three, and therefore having to complete the final stint on a scrubbed Hard tire, Jules' recovery was particularly impressive. With the benefit of a new tire he would have been able to keep pushing in the final stint and it could have been a different result today. The pace development has come as the result of some very hard work back in Banbury and we need to maintain the momentum into Monaco now, where we will have some further, albeit more minor, upgrades."
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