Reflections on the Spanish GP 2013

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso vanquished the opposition at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday. Hugh Podmore looks at the biggest stories from the weekend’s action.

Alonso in charge and with momentum
Fernando Alonso has looked like a man possessed with one ambition this season – to win the world title. Whether it was winning commandingly in China, charging back to eighth in Bahrain after his DRS failed twice, or even carrying on death-or-glory-style with no front wing in Malaysia, he looks almost psychotic in his pursuit of the championship this season. But Spain is out front in terms of performances – that wondrous move round the outside of Raikkonen and Vettel at turn 3 on the first lap. He found grip where no one else would dare look, and thereafter had speed in his pocket to cover off the chasing Raikkonen. If he can continue in this vein he will be fearsomely hard to beat.

Ferrari and Lotus kinder to tyres than the others
Tyres are the story of this season so far, even more so than in 2012. Catalunya’s periods of soporificity has again opened Pirelli to charges that they have gone too far, and that strategy and preserving rubber has become the name of the game in place of racing one’s rivals. Whatever the truth of the matter, these are the circumstances; and it’s who plays the cards they are dealt best that counts. At the moment, that’s Ferrari and Lotus, with even the famous Red Bull seeming less happy.

As for Mercedes…
Has there ever been a team with such a wide discrepancy between qualifying pace and race pace? Hopes had been high that they had solved their Sunday degradation and graining issues, but what transpired could not have been further away from that. Lewis Hamilton, who these days does a creditable imitation of a man who has suddenly been put in a formula he is totally unfamiliar with, is worst affected. His style rinses tyres at the best of times, but seeing him battle with lowly Williamses is the nadir. He had always had his eyes on 2014, though…

Punching above their weight
…were Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Paul di Resta and Jules Bianchi. Rosberg did very well in a car that, as has been noted, cannot be easy to drive. Ricciardo was outstanding and although Vergne has now retired twice in two races, the Australian is beginning to get his nose in front. There’s pace in that Force India and a little more dynamism from di Resta would have seen a big haul of points. Bianchi does a fantastic job at the back of the grid. Evidence? His hanging on manfully to the race leader (granted, after having been lapped) Fernando Alonso, when no one else could. Watch that man – Ferrari seat next year?