Fiesty Fernando Storms To Spanish Grand Prix Victory

Fernando Alonso has won the Spanish Grand Prix, becoming the lowest starting driver to win at the circuit. Kimi Raikkonen finished second for the third consecutive race while Felipe Massa joined his team-mate on the podium, his first podium finish since last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes were the big surprise on Saturday.  Having focused on long runs during the free-practice sessions, they were essentially ruled out for the top spot on the grid. The sandbagging ended with a stunning lap set by Lewis Hamilton in Q2, bettered again by Nico Rosberg’s Q3 lap to make it three consecutive Silver Arrow pole positions.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez were both dropped for impeding – Massa slowing Webber in T12 while Gutierrez essentially parked on the apex into the T14/15 chicane. So the top five consisted of Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and local-boy Alonso.

Lights out and the Rosberg stormed off the line, followed by Sebastian Vettel who had jumped Lewis Hamilton into T1. Fernando Alonso made a fantastic move around the outside of Hamilton to demote the Briton fourth while Webber dropped down to twelfth and fourteenth placed Jenson Button dropped down to nineteenth.

Rosberg brought back the infamous ‘Trulli Train’ over the next few laps, leading Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa while trying to save his tires. Raikkonen eventually tried to throw the order up, passing Lewis for P4 while Webber made his first stop to try to make up for his poor start.

The yellow flag came out on lap 9 and it was for Romain Grosjean whose Lotus was running with suspension damage. Replays showed that the suspension had seemingly just buckled while racing against Adrian Sutil who too came into the pits with issues. Force India mechanics crawled under the VJM07 and eventually got the German going again, but after a huge delay.

Different pit strategies paid off for Alonso as emerging from the pits, he had jumped Vettel and was challenging Rosberg for second – essentially the lead as Gutierrez was in the provisional lead having not yet pitted. Maldonado was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane as Felipe Massa passed the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel passed Rosberg for P3. Soon Massa demoted Rosberg to fourth and into the clutches of Kimi Raikkonen as the Mercedes’ pace had just evaporated overnight.

Daniel Ricciardo was flying, passing Paul di Resta and then Lewis Hamilton – who had started second and was now eighth. Hamilton may have been disappointed, but not as disappointed as Giedo van der Garde who lost his rear left wheel between T10 and T11. The Dutchman managed to make it back to the Caterham garage but the damage to the undertray was too substantial to continue racing and he became the second retirement of the Grand Prix.

Another round of pit stops saw Fernando Alonso leading team-mate Felipe Massa up front while Kimi Raikkonen attacked – and passed – Sebastian Vettel for the third place on the podium. Lewis Hamilton came on the podium to reluctantly report that he had just been overtaken by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. He did make it back past the Venezuelan on the following lap, but it was still an embarrassing incident for the front row team.

There was more drama in the pits, this time Nico Hulkenberg was let out of the pits behind Jean-Eric Vergne. The Toro Rosso went to move into his pit slot but found a Sauber blocking his way and the two made contact. Hulkenberg showed no apparent damage, and whatever damage Vergne had picked up could be rectified straight away while in the pits. Nonetheless, it was a silly move which put Sauber under investigation for an unsafe release, eventually culminating in a ten second stop/go penalty for Hulkenberg.

Alonso and Massa pitted and left Raikkonen leading the race. Despite setting a fastest lap while Alonso was in the pits, the Spaniard was soon only 1.5 seconds behind the Finn and made short work of the 2007 World Champion.

Vergne was in the wars again, his rear tire delaminating again, as di Resta’s tire did during FP2 on Friday. It’s the latest in the string of issues for the tire supplier but so far Pirelli have blamed all issues on debris on track. New pair of boots for the Frenchman and he was back out on track but his team were soon back on the radio to tell Vergne he has to box to retire with damage on the STR8 thus making him the third retirement of the race.

Both McLarens were in the top ten with ten laps remaining while Rosberg for Mercedes was fending sixth from Paul di Resta. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand, was far down in twelfth in what will be a race to forget for the 28-year-old. One last surprise for the race as Esteban Gutierrez grabbed the fastest lap of the race when he pitted late in the race for a fresh set of boots.

Last lap of the race and Fernando began his lap of glory at his home race, cruising across the line to take the second win this season. Kimi Raikkonen came home in second for the third consecutive race while Felipe Massa made it onto the podium for the first time since Suzuka last year.

The two Red Bull’s finished fourth and fifth while Rosberg dropped from pole to sixth in sixty-six laps. The McLaren’s were looking somewhat stronger than Saturday, Button eighth and Perez ninth while Ricciardo rounded up the top ten.

  1. Fernando Alonso
  2. Kimi Raikkonen
  3. Felipe Massa
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Mark Webber
  6. Nico Rosberg
  7. Paul di Resta
  8. Jenson Button
  9. Sergio Perez
  10. Daniel Ricciardo
  11. Esteban Gutierrez
  12. Lewis Hamilton
  13. Adrian Sutil
  14. Pastor Maldonado
  15. Nico Hulkenberg
  16. Valtteri Bottas
  17. Charles Pic
  18. Jules Bianchi
  19. Max Chilton
  • Jean-Eric Vergne
  • Romain Grosjean
  • Giedo van der Garde

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