Sebastian Vettel was back to winning ways at the Spanish Grand Prix as he took the Chequered Flag ahead of Lewis Hamilton, after holding off the resurgent McLaren for the last dozen laps of the race. Jenson Button came in third, ahead of pole-sitter Mark Webber in fourth and Fernando Alonso in fifth.
Michael Schumacher was sixth, ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg in seventh and Nick Heidfeld, who started the race from the pit lane, finishing eighth with the two Saubers of Sergio Perez & Kamui Kobayashi picking up the last points in ninth and tenth respectively.
The race sparked to life in the closing stages as Vettel was affected by KERS problems and Hamilton never more than a second or two behind him, it was a ding-dong battle between those two for the victory, which left everybody else trailing in their wake. It was such a dominant race pace for the leaders as all drivers from Fernando Alonso downwards in fifth place were lapped by Vettel & Hamilton. Ultimately, Vettel managed to hold off the challenge from Hamilton and romp to his fourth victory of the season.
The start of the race didn’t go as per plan for Red Bull as pole-sitter Mark Webber lost out on the lead as early as into the first corner and in trying to hold off Sebastian Vettel, he allowed Fernando Alonso to sneak up on the inside and take the lead. It was a tremendous start from Alonso, it has to be said, as he grabbed the lead from the Red Bulls and held them at bay for the best part of the initial laps. There were plenty of ups and downs across the grid as well, with Jenson Button dropping down, Paul Di Resta & Michael Schumacher moving up and Kamui Kobayashi suffering a puncture and an early pit stop as a result.
As the initial laps wound out, Alonso was manfully keeping the Red Bulls at bay and the high tyre degradation meant early pit stops for most of the grid, with the leading pack coming in as early as the tenth lap. The Red Bulls’ superior race pace combined with the attacking instincts of Vettel meant that he got the jump on Alonso at the second round of pit stops around lap 20, and when Lewis Hamilton pitted on lap 24, the race lead was all Vettel’s.
Whilst Red Bull’s strategy with Vettel paid off, Ferrari’s quite didn’t and since they had used up all their tyres in qualifying, they didn’t have any ‘new’ set left and that caused Alonso to cede third position to Mark Webber, which was ultimately usurped by Jenson Button as he looked after his tyres in the initial stints and used a 3-stop strategy to good affect.
Felipe Massa had a miserable afternoon in the second Ferrari and as his tyres deteriorated gradually, he steadily slipped down the order, before ultimately retiring on lap 61. He is joined among the retirements by the Hispania of Vitantonio Liuzzi and the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen.
The next race is the Monaco Grand Prix, in a week’s time. Hope McLaren and Ferrari get to stop Red Bull from going into the sunset with the title lest the season descends into the 90’s style mediocrity!