Alonso Takes Easy Win in Spain As Tyres Dominate Race

Fernando Alonso took a very popular victory at the Circuit de Catalunya, giving the Spaniard a second race win of 2013.

In a Spanish Grand Prix dominated by tyre-wear, in which there were a total of 82 pit stops, Alonso made a four-stop strategy work well to win by 9.3 seconds.

Kimi Raikkonen tried to challenge Alonso by using a three-stop strategy, but could not compete with the pace of the lead Ferrari.

Felipe Massa grabbed his first podium of the season by taking third, ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Mark Webber crept home to an anonymous fifth place, ahead of pole-sitter Nico Rosberg. Paul di Resta was the best performing Brit, just as in Bahrain, as he claimed seventh place.

Jenson Button was eighth, one place higher than his McLaren teammate Sergio Perez. Daniel Ricciardo took the final point in tenth.

Eleventh-place man Esteban Guttierez actually led the race at one point, and came away with the fastest lap. He also finished one-place higher than Lewis Hamilton, who had a race to forget.

Hamilton’s shocking afternoon began as soon as the lights went out. While pole-sitter Nico Rosberg got away well of the line, and maintained his lead, Hamilton had lost places to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso by the fourth corner.

It quickly became clear that Rosberg and Mercedes did not have the race pace of the other front-runners, but DRS did not help Vettel to find a way past the race leader.

This led to a train forming behind Rosberg forming in the early laps. Vettel and Alonso were sat behind the German, whilst Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were sat behind fourth-place man Hamilton.

On Lap 7, Raikkonen managed to overtake Hamilton, allowing him to get up onto the tail of Alonso. Massa found his way past the Brit on the next lap.

Right after this move Massa came into the pits for his first stop of the afternoon, becoming the first of the frontrunners to stop. Alonso came in one lap later, followed by Hamilton.

Alonso’s pit stop appeared to be the sign for everybody to make stops of their own. Robserg, Vettel and Raikkonen – the top three by this point – all came in at the end of Lap 10.

These three emerged from the pit lane in the same order as when they entered, but whilst Rosberg kept ahead of Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen were not so lucky.

Meanwhile, Esteban Gutierrez was leading the race from Rosberg, albeit by virtue of not yet making a stop.

But soon it was not Rosberg who was behind the Sauber of Gutierrez – it was Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard clearly had a faster car than the German’s Mercedes, and he was soon past him, much to the delight of the crowd.

Vettel overtook Rosberg a few corners later, as did Massa.

When Gutierrez dived into the pits, Alonso took over the race lead. Vettel was second, Massa third, and Raikkonen was soon past Rosberg to take fourth.

Massa came into the pits for his second stop of the afternoon on Lap 20 of 66, indicating that the Brazilian was on a four-stop strategy.

Alonso pitted on the following lap with his lead over Vettel at around four seconds. The pit stop was not quick: 3.8 seconds.

Vettel made his second lap at the end of Lap 24, three laps after Alonso. This gave Raikkonen temporary lead of the grand prix until he pitted two laps later, when Alonso re-took the lead.

Vettel lost a place to Massa in the second round of pit stops, leaving Ferrari looking on course for a one-two finish, with Vettel third and Raikkonen fourth.

The start of Lap 34 saw Raikkonen find a way past Vettel to get up to third place.

Fernando Alonso came into the pits at the end of Lap 36, and was followed in by Felipe Massa. The Ferrari pit crew serviced both cars without problems.

These stops from the two Ferrari drivers gave Raikkonen the lead. It was now time to see if the Finn could do just three stops without losing too much performance. If so, the three drivers still had just one more stop to go.

Unfortunately for Raikkonen, Alonso was back into the lead within just a couple of laps. The Spaniard used DRS to full effect on the pit straight and, once in clean air, began to set personal best lap times.

Vettel made his third stop, pitting from third, at the end of Lap 39.

Raikkonen made his final lap of the race on Lap 46, and re-emerged nearly 30 seconds behind Alonso, who still had one more stop to make.

And he made that stop at the end of Lap 49, emerging comfortably ahead of both teammate Massa, and Raikkonen. Alonso now had the win in the bag!

Massa and Vettel made their fourth and final stops of the afternoon at the end of Lap 51. Massa re-emerged behind Raikkonen in third place, and Vettel retained fourth. With all stops completed, the top four held position to the chequered flag.