May 12, 2013

Alonso Beats The Odds

In the past 20 editions of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, the pole sitting driver has failed to win only four times (2011, 2000, 1996, 1994) and the only other win from anything but the front row on the grid had been Schumacher's win from P3 in '96. Nobody had ever been able to win from a third row start on a track notorious for its snooze inducing races.

Enter Pirelli and suddenly even Catalunya becomes exciting. Yes there has been much bellyaching about the tires, mostly from teams who have not been able to figure out how they work and how to set up their car to make the best of what, after all, is the same for everyone. Ferrari and Lotus (or better, "Renault" as Mark Webber referred to them as in a grid interview) seem to have figured out a way to deal with them, Red Bull, Mclaren and especially Mercedes, not so much.

"I don't think I can drive any slower" said a miffed Lewis Hamilton only halfway through the race when his engineer asked him to look after the tires more. Mercedes again went after Saturday headlines setting up for single lap speed vs race pace.  Playing this compromise correctly is now the single most important part of a race week end. Ferrari nailed it, Lotus almost had it with different strategy.  Given this it's bizarre Mercedes managed a sixth place with Rosberg on a three stopper.

Red Bull was never convincingly in it. While Webber had his usual horrible start, Vettel tried to make a go of it but could not get to the front early and make a run for it.  After that he had a fairly anonymous race, much like in China.

Alonso was a hammer, his first lap pass on Raikkonen and Hamilton will be on highlight reels for years and once he dispatched Vettel with a better pit stop and in/out laps, he was untouchable.

Fernando was clever:  if you look at onboard replays from his car you can see that, just before turn one at the start Vettel has a burst of speed, KERS no doubt, but Fernando saved his KERS for an attack he planned for turn 3, an idea that came he said from watching the GP2 race.

Alonso race was not problem free, Ferrari had to make the final stop early because of a slow leak in one of the rear tires.

So tires, tires, tires but enough about tires. Yes Pirelli has to get their act together because delamination like have occurred this past week end are simply not acceptable but everyone has the same burden, they are not going to change much and we had a Spanish GP that was not boring.

It's not all bad is it?

Results - 66 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                  Time/Gap
 1.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1h39m16.596s
 2.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault             + 9.338s
 3.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                  + 26.049s
 4.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault         + 38.273s
 5.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault         + 47.963s
 6.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes               + 1m08.020s
 7.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes   + 1m08.988s
 8.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes       + 1m19.506s
 9.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes       + 1m21.738s
10.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         + 1 lap
11.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari             + 1 lap
12.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes                   + 1 lap
13.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       + 1 lap
14.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault           + 1 lap
15.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari             + 1 lap
16.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault           + 1 lap
17.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault           + 1 lap
18.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth         + 2 laps
19.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth         + 2 laps


     Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         52 laps
     Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           21 laps
     Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault               8 laps

World Championship standings, round 5:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel         89        1.  Red Bull-Renault          131
 2.  Raikkonen      85        2.  Ferrari                   117
 3.  Alonso         72        3.  Lotus-Renault             111
 4.  Hamilton       50        4.  Mercedes                   72
 5.  Massa          45        5.  Force India-Mercedes       32
 6.  Webber         42        6.  McLaren-Mercedes           29
 7.  Di Resta       26        7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          8
 8.  Grosjean       26        8.  Sauber-Ferrari              5
 9.  Rosberg        22       
10.  Button         17       
11.  Perez          12       
12.  Ricciardo       7       
13.  Sutil           6       
14.  Hulkenberg      5       
15.  Vergne          1       
All timing unofficial


  1. Meh I thought this was a terrible race from a spectator's pov. The beginning had it's moments but soon it was clear when they were stopping on lap 8 that it was another weekend of coasting around a track trying to save tires. So what if they're the same for everyone? Racing should be about bringing a car to the limit and how well you can keep it there. The F1 cars of this season don't ever get close to the limit. Also having Alonso investigated by the stewards because of grabbing the flag is utterly ridiculous. Get rid of that rule altogether or at least use common sense. Obviously there was no way they were going to give him a penalty so why even investigate it. Let's stop alienating the fans who pay for the sport and start bringing them back into it. You listening Bern?
    This is the first race in years I almost turned off.

  2. I thought that Alonso had saved kers for turn 3, but, if what is shown by the camera car is true, he uses kers only when he is already in front of Hamilton. This makes the overtakes even more amazing.


    1. Check out the video I just added, you can see Vettel squirting across Alonso and to the left of HAM. Alonso is foot to the floor so it has to be KERS. I think ALO used a squirt at the exit of turn 2 to get by Kimi and then that carried him by Lewis.



  4. Lotus set the early season tone, take it easy and save the car for the end. I think that Ferrari sent the message that there is another approach. If the rest of you are going to conserve we are going to push and change tires as needed, try and keep up.

    Imagine if there was no limit of tires used during the weekend. It would be interesting to see everyone running a push, pit, repeat strategy.

    1. yes, that would be one solution, couple of extra sets per week end.

  5. I think Mateschitz said it best. Folks lets not kid ourselves. We're not watching auto racing here, we're watching a tire strategy competition. Sebs gettin' screwed. I feel sorry for Alonso knowing that even though he did win his home GP, he won it not because he was the best driver on the day, but because of these stupid Pirelli's. And Pirelli has openly admitted that they have been asked to rig the game. They say "we were asked to make F1 more interesting to watch." I smell somethin'. I wish it was Petra Ecclestone's ass, but instead, it's Bernie's ass I smell...all over this deal. Fire Pirelli. Bring back Bridgestone. Bring back Goodyear. But lets do something different.

    1. Well Meteshitz is only complaining because RBR have not been able to make it work as well as Lotus and Ferrari, Don't fall for that line. Keep in mind Ferrari and Alonso went out and said, these tires don't last? great we'll drive fast and just do as many stops as we need. It's a mystery why Mercedes had a fast car but chose to do a three stop race, why not drive faster and do a four stopper? Alonso said he drove 90% the whole race , that's not bad. What Pirelli does need to do though is make sure their tires do not fall apart like they have been.

  6. From Will Buxton:

    Here's what he saw:
    "So ask yourself. What did Ferrari do on Sunday?

    Did they drive to a delta? Did they try and make one fewer stop than their rivals? Did they hell. They went out and they pushed. Every. Single. Lap."

    Sorry, if you guys want to watch a procession where the winner is determined by the quali, go watch some F1 re-runs. The show takes tweaking but they're getting damn close.

    RB went for the tire saving route, they failed. Ferrari and Lotus pushed hard and ran mediums. And it paid. This is racing. If you're still complaining, then you don't get it.

    I hope Pirelli doesn't change a thing.

    1. Yep, Vettel even admitted that RBR was trying a 3 stop early on before giving up in the later stages of the race for a 4 stop and compromising the beginning of his race trying to save tires. They outwitted themselves. That "Big Bad Tire Saving Lotus" has RBR frazzled. If RBR was making podiums with a 3 stop race and their competition was doing 4 stops they wouldn't be stirring the pot as much I would think. For once in the past 3-4 years they don't have the clear advantage with a technical element and they're throwing a temper tantrum while atop both the Championship standings.


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