Fernando Alonso won this weekend’s Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix that took place in Barcelona, Catalunya in what happened to be a perfect weekend for the Ferrari driver; the Spanish pilot finally managed to win his own country’s GP again – the last time was in 2006.
Qualifying – Sat May 11th
Alonso dominated and looked extremely comfortable in his Ferrari at his home circuit during free practise. His only threat ostensibly came from Lewis Hamilton, and many thought the two would duel it out throughout qualifying. Like most predictions in sport, this was not to be, for both Mercedes were mighty and Nico Rosberg pipped Hamilton for pole, whilst the Flying Fin, Kimi Raikkonen nabbed third, Vettel forth, and the favourite fifth. This won’t stop the homeboy from fighting for a win though – watching the ever-determined Alonso trying to slice his way through the field should be an interesting and thrilling prospect for the thousands of Spanish fans packed into Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Race Day – Sunday May 12th
Alonso was certainly determined when the lights flashed green – he shot off the line and passed third-placed Kimi Raikkonen into turn 1. Looking fired up and extremely racy, he then executed an amazing move on Lewis Hamilton, taking him on the outside of turn 3 – the stands erupted into a frenzy heard over the engines.
As they headed into lap 2, Felipe Massa also made brilliant progress, taking two places at the start and then making a pass on Sergio Perez down the start-finish straight for sixth place. Up front, Nico Rosberg had his hands full with Sebastian Vettel, with a possessed Alonso closing in.
By lap 4 Sebastian Vettel looked frustrated, his gap just 0.5 seconds between him and Rosberg. Mercedes’ engineers came on the radio telling Rosberg to “look after the left rear tyre”. Meanwhile, teammate Lewis Hamilton also struggled, his lap times half a second slower than the race-leading Mercedes. This gave Kimi Raikkonen an extremely close view of Hamilton’s gearbox.
A few laps later and Nico Rosberg was doing a good job at the front, holding off a clearly faster Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso was only 0.6 seconds behind, keeping the race alive and close. Lewis Hamilton was clearly holding up Kimi Raikkonen, with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa looming large in his mirrors.
After a few menacing laps of pure pressure, Kimi finally passed Lewis Hamilton, throwing his Lotus down the inside for fourth place. The Ferraris looked like the fastest car, and it didn’t take long for Massa to take Hamilton around the outside for sixth, although he pitted at the end of the lap.
The first of the front-runners pitted on lap 10, both Alonso and Hamilton needing fresh rubber. Unlucky for Grosjean as he suffered rear suspension damage and retired.
Both Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, running one-two, pit together a lap later, and after quick stops, Rosberg just got out in front to maintain his position. They rejoined the track just as Alonso came storming down the pit straight. Again, the crowd go ballistic as their hero Alonso passed Vettel to move into net second place, as Esteban Gutierrez led not having yet stopped.
Not quite managing to pass Rosberg when he passed Vettel, Alonso finally took the lead as he passed Rosberg on the outside on turn 1 – the Ferrari garage and fans all erupted into rapturous applause.
In the first quarter of the race, Alonso led from Sebastian Vettel, with Felipe Massa third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Having started from pole, Nico Rosberg was down to fifth, and Lewis Hamilton down to tenth.
Fernando Alonso showed lightening performance as he extended his gap on Vettel, with Massa close behind. Meanwhile, The Flying Fin punched in a series of fast laps, closing in on the threesome upfront.
Several laps later, Alonso pitted, promoting Vettel into the lead, with Kimi second and Rosberg third. It appeared the Mercedes were trying to do a three-stopper, whilst Ferrari were going for four.
Race leader, Vettel then pitted, which meant Raikkonen led; however, second placed Alonso was the fastest man on the track by some margin – he set the fastest lap with a 1:27.731 compared to Kimi’s 1:31.5. Kimi then pitted, and Alonso led the race by 8 seconds over his teammate, Massa. Whilst the Ferrari’s were storming, a frustrated Hamilton really struggled with Pastor Maldonado, both fighting for thirteenth place – “Now I’ve been overtaken by a Williams,” Lewis Hamilton moaned over the team radio.
Another great overtake took place on lap 33 when Kimi managed to outbreak Vettel for third. Kimi Raikkonen then set fastest lap as he continued to haul in the Ferraris, both running first and second. Meanwhile, a crash took place in the pit lane as Sauber released Nico Hulkenberg into path of a Toro Rosso. The German smashed into the back of the Toro Rosso, breaking his front wing.
On lap 39, more excitement as Alonso passed Raikkonen at turn 1 to retake the lead. Both drivers needed to make one more stop, so if the Lotus driver wanted to win, he’d need to do his best to stay with Alonso despite being on older tyres.
Alonso extended his lead by 6.4secs, with Massa in third. The race’s second retirement saw Caterham’s Van der Garde out after losing a rear wheel out on track. Kimi Raikkonen then pitted for the final time from second place, where a great stop from the Lotus team got him out ahead of fourth-placed Vettel, who has yet to stop again.
With 12 laps to go, Alonso pitted, the Ferrari crew performing a slick stop, sending their car back out in the lead. Felipe Massa was second but still needed to pit, and after another lap, he does, leaving his pit box just as Vettel headed into the pits for the final time. All this action saw Kimi Raikkonen move into second, nine seconds behind Alonso.
Felipe Massa, on fresh rubber, set the fastest lap time, lapping in the high 1m 26s. The gap to second placed Raikkonen was 13.8 seconds, 11 laps to go.
Felipe Massa started knocking a second a lap off of Kimi Raikkonen, but the Fin managed to maintain the gap. Meanwhile, Alonso looked very comfortable with his 13.5-second lead over Raikkonen.
Esteban Gutierrez, who put in the fastest lap of the race, was in 11th and not too far down the road from Daniel Ricciardo, the final points scoring position.
With the fans on their feet and roaring their driver home, Alonso took the chequered flag, with Kimi second, Massa third, and Vettel forth. Mark Webber finally came in fifth, with pole sitter sixth, di Resta seventh, the McLaren boys, Button and Perez eighth and ninth, and Ricciardo fending off Gutierrez for the final point.
This was Alonso’s second home win, and a marshal presented Fernando with a Spanish flag, which he waved as he cruised around the track, acknowledging his legion of fans.
Ferrari are back in the game… next stop, Monaco.