F1 Classic Races – 2013 Spanish Grand Prix

Although the statistics may not demonstrate this, the 2013 Formula One Season was quite close at the front on of the field; even if Sebastian Vettel went on equal Michael Schumacher’s record of most Grand Prix wins in a season (13) for Red Bull-Renault.

For that year’s Spanish Grand Prix, it was a Mercedes front row lockout, with Nico Rosberg on pole (1:20.718) with teammate Lewis Hamilton second. Defending champion Vettel third with Kimi Räikkönen’s Lotus-Renault in fourth and the home favourite, Spaniard Fernando Alonso fifth for fifth.

However, despite the pace demonstrated by the Silver Arrows in qualifying, the team had been struggling with race pace and tyre wear, something Rosberg echoed in a post-qualifiying interview: “Recent experience (in Bahrain) has been from pole to ninth and that’s not a really nice thing, it’s not really enjoyable. I doubt at the moment we can fight for the win and the podium could even be difficult”.

Despite qualifying on Pole Position, Nico Rosberg wasn’t feeling particularly confident about his Mercedes race pace.

Image Source: BBC Sport

Further down the field, Williams were experiencing a contrast in fortune as then rookie Valtteri Bottas qualified 16th, whilst winner of the 2012 race Pastor Maldonado could only manage 17th in the Renault powered car.

Strategy would be crucial as the compounds provided by sole supplier Pirelli were high in their tyre wear. As a result, teams were expected to make three or four on the avaliable medium and hard tyres.

Graining on the tyres, notably on the front left tyre, was an issue for many drivers during the race, as demonstrated in these slow motion replays of Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault, top) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).

Image Source: BBC Sport

At the start of the race, Rosberg manages to maintain his lead into turn 1, with fellow compatriot Vettel in second. Alonso moves up to third, with what was regarded as one of the overtakes of the season, by going around the outside of Hamilton and Räikkönen at turn 3. Further down the pack, Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa, who started ninth with a three place grid penalty for blocking Red Bull-Renault’s Mark Webber, had climbed to sixth place, whilst Force India’s Adrian Sutil had a brilliant start, making up seven places on the opening lap to move from 15th to eighth.

Both of the Mercedes drivers are fighting to stay in contention from the get go,knowing they’ll be making three stops due to their lack of raw pace. However, proves to be fruitless as Hamilton concedes fourth place to Räikkönen at turn 10 on lap seven. At the end on the same lap, Webber is the first of the front runners to put, putting on a fresh set of hard tyres.

A lap later, Massa also pits for hard tyres, having also passed on his in lap. Meanwhile, the Lotus of Romain Grosjean suffers rear suspension damage caused by a mechanical failure, causing the car’s rear right tyre to begin to turn and subsequently forcing the Frenchman into retirement. In addition, Sutil experience brakes issues during his stop, costing him valuble time and reduced hus excellent start to nothing.

Romain Grosjean’s day didn’t last too long, with suspension damage leading to the Frenchman’s retirement on lap eight.

Image Source: BBC Sport

Back at the front, Alonso and Hamilton both make their first pit stops at the end of lap nine as Webber sets the fastest lap of the race with a 1:29.767. On lap 10, Rosberg and Vettel are bought in for hard tyres, as is Räikkönen, who instead goes for the Medium tyres, the faster of the two compounds. Williams’ small chance of scoring points is ruined by Maldonado receiving a drive through penalty for sppeding in the pit lane during his first put stop.

After 11 laps, in which most drivers had pitted, Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber-Ferrari) had yet to do so and took temporary charge of the lead. Rosberg was second, with Alonso third, followed by Vettel, Massa (who’d set the fastest lap of the race; 1.28.778), Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes; yet to stop) and Räikkönen, whilst Webber, Sergio Perez (McLaren-Mercedes) and Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) rounded up the top ten.

After Guiterrez eventually made his first stop, Rosberg regained the lead but failed to pull away due to his car issues with the tyres, causing a train to develop behind him. 

Rosberg’s lack of race pace caused many of competitors to close right up to the German and give him a hard time.

Image Source: BBC Sport

On lap 13 however, Alonso eventually broke free, overtaking Rosberg around the outside under braking for t1 with the use of the DRS (Drag Reduction System) to take first place to the delight of the adoring crowd. As the Ferrari begins to pull away, Vettel and Massa also get passed Rosberg’s Mercedes on the same lap to demoted the German to fourth, before Räikkönen overtakes Rosberg on lap 15.

The day was going just as badly, if not worse for Hamilton, as Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) overtakes the former world champion for ninth, as both of the Silver Arrows continue to slide down the order. The young Aussie continued on, passing Di Resta for eighth position on lap 19.

The end of lap 20 marked the beginning of the second of pit stops, as Massa and Webber pit for another set of hard tyres. A lap later, race leader Alonso pits, rejoining in fourth behind Rosberg. As Massa demonstrates the Scuderia’s pace, by setting another fastest lap of the race with a 1.28.132, Alonso quickly disposes Rosberg for third.

Near the tail end of the grid, Geido van der Garde (Caterham-Renault) loses a wheel on the exit of turn 10. Despite bring the car back to the pits, sufficient damage to the brake caliber causes the second retirement of the race. 

Giedo van der Garde (Caterham-Renault) loses his rear wheel and retires from the race. 

Image Source: BBC Sport

Vettel pits from the lead at the end of lap 24 and release Räikkönen into clean air – who had been considerably quicker -allowing the Finn to push before his next stop. Red Bull opt to give their world champion another set of hard tyres and he rejoins in fifth behind Rosberg. Before long, Vettel passes by for third.

Hamilton pits on lap 25, having dropped four places over the previous two laps. He takes on another set of hard tyres and rejoins in 14th. He makes his engineer aware of his understandable frustration later on, stating “I’ve been overtaken by a Williams” when overtaken by Maldonado, with the climate of the track making it difficult to fight back.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG, left) struggled to challenge all race. Here he is being passed by Pastor Maldonado (Williams-Renault) for 14th place.

Image Source: BBC Sport

At the end of the following lap, Räikkönen pits for another set of mediums and cruically rejoins ahead of Rosberg into fourth place, beginning his pursuit of Vettel. In response, Mercedes bring Rosberg in for his second stop, and drops to 11th behind Perez.

The rear view camera of Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault demonstrates a charging Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) on his tail.

Image Source: BBC Sport

In clean air once again, Räikkönen hunts down Vettel in the knowledge that he needs to pass quickly in order to have a change of catching the Ferrari’s and challenging for the race win. He does so on lap 33, gliding his way passed for third and continue his assult to the front. Near the tail end of the points, Ricciardo continued to showcase his potential by taking ninth place of Perez. 

Noticing that Räikkönen is gaining on them, Ferrari pit both of their drivers on lap 36, this time going for the faster medium tyre, rejoining and fourth, with Vettel now up to third. Webber also pits from fifth, dropping to ninth. On lap 39, Alonso reclaims first place from Räikkönen. Now on fresher tyres, Alonso to pull away to put the win beyond Lotus’ capabilities. Behind them, Vettel pits for mediums and loses a place to Massa’s Ferrari.

Aerial shot of Fernando Alonso (right, Ferrari) retaking the lead for Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)

Image Source: BBC Sport

On lap 45, Räikkönen makes his final stop of the day, putting on the hard tyres. He concedes second to Massa, and rejoins thirty seconds behind Alonso. Four laps later, Alonso pits for hard tyres and comfortably maintains the race lead. On lap 51, Massa makes his last stops and falls third behind Räikkönen, whilst Vettel also pits and stays fourth.

After the final of pit stops, the on track action died down, with Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) retiring near the end from 18th due to an issue with his rear tyre. 

Because of this, Alonso cruised over the finish line to win the Spanish Grand Prix, his second after winning the 2006 race for Renault. It was also his third race win in Spain, having won the previous year’s European Grand Prix which took place at the Valencia Street Circuit.

Räikkönen took second for Ltous whilst Massa rounded up the podium in the sister Ferrari. Vettel was fourth ahead of teammate Webber. Rosberg held off di Resta for sixth, with the McLaren’s of Button and Perez eighth and ninth and Ricciardo beating Guiterrez to the line for tenth a lap down.

To date, Fernando Alonso has yet to win another Formula One Grand Prix.

Image Source: BBC Sport

In the post race interview on the podium with former team owner Eddie Jordan, Alonso spoke of how much the race win meant: “Definitely fantastic emotion and really (it) helped because you feel the support from everybody. Every single member of the team taking care of every detail because we want to do well here in front of our fans, in front of so many people supporting Ferrari. So we did it we happy for that, but we don’t want to stop here obviously”.

Räikkönen felt positive about his performance despite missing out on first place: “I don’t mind you know, I’m here only to do as good races as we can and obviously we want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second. But sometimes we have to take what we can get and, like I said, I don’t mind if people don’t notice us we do our work and we happy what we do and always try to achieve the big goal in the end”

Massa discuss the challenge of moving up the field for fight near the front: “It was a little bit disappointing yesterday after the qualifying losing three places, but the race was very good for us, our car was fantastic, so very aggressive strategy. Straight away I gain back the position, I think maybe the first lap I was already sixth. Then (I was)overtaking cars, struggling a bit on the tyres, you know, to make it survive every stint in a good way but I think the race was very good for us”

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