It was a fairy tale story for Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso last weekend, as the driver took victory on home soil at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
After qualifying in fifth place the Spaniard left himself it all to do, but kicked off with a brilliant start to take third place by the end of the third corner, driving round the outside of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes man Lewis Hamilton in the long turn three.
He later picked off the current world champion Sebastian Vettel and pole sitter Nico Rosberg to take the lead. From there it was a Ferrari walkover as Alonso finished over nine seconds ahead of Raikkonen, with plenty of pace to spare.
Rounding off the podium was Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian qualified sixth but started ninth after being handed a three-place grid penalty for blocking Mark Webber in qualifying.
Massa drove a brilliant race though, gaining places off the start and coming home in third to make it a strong weekend for the Italian squad.
It proved that the season won’t be a Red Bull white wash either, as the two cars of Vettel and Webber struggled for pace, qualifying third and eighth respectively, but finishing in fourth and fifth positions, over half a minute behind the leader.
Following aerodynamic improvements to the car, our local boys just down the road at Woking showed advances in qualifying. Unfortunately, Button struggled slightly with his McLaren and didn’t make it through to Q3, however, Sergio Perez proved the car has pace, qualifying ninth in the McLaren, ahead of Force India’s Paul Di Resta.
That was where the Mexican driver ended up finishing, one place behind his McLaren team mate Jenson Button, who improved six places on his qualifying performance, starting 14th and finishing in a respectable eighth.
It’s all moving in the right direction for the Surrey-based team, but there’s still more work to be done to see McLaren consistently back up at the sharp end of the grid where it belongs.
It was a disappointing show from the second pair of silver cars – having qualified first and second, locking out the front row of the grid, Mercedes ended up finishing sixth and twelfth.
Rosberg held the lead for a few laps until Alonso passed him – spurred on by the electric atmosphere from the home crowd – at which point the Mercedes driver began haemorrhaging positions.
Hamilton’s car, too, looked like it was short on performance, as he slipped down the order, eventually finishing behind the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez – atoning for his grid slot penalty in qualifying to score an 11th place – and Daniel Ricciardo who came home 10th.
The 2013 Formula One World Championship moves to Monaco next weekend, as the most prestigious form of motorsport on the planet takes in the glitz and glamour of the famous jewel in the crown of the F1 calendar.
Just as it was an exercise in tyre management at Barcelona last weekend – controlling the high degradation rates of the Pirelli rubber – the tyre situation should mean good overtaking on the tight and twisty street circuit of the principality, a place where it’s notoriously hard to do so.
Hopefully, McLaren can improve one step further again, and the confined track will play to its strengths.