Circuit de Catalunya
Alonso battles brilliantly in Barcelona, Felipe has to retire
Montmelo, 22 May – Fernando Alonso thrilled the Spanish crowd with a fantastic demonstration of driving skill today at the Catalunya circuit, but in the end, the superior car performance of our two closest rivals meant he had to settle for fifth place. Felipe Massa had a difficult afternoon which came to a premature end, when he retired with a gearbox problem a few laps from the flag. Sebastian Vettel took his fourth win of the season and was joined on the podium by the two McLaren drivers; Lewis Hamilton second and Jenson Button third.
As the lights went out second placed Vettel was all over his pole starting team-mate and with the two Red Bulls fighting and thanks to a great getaway off the line, Fernando was able to rush into the lead, to huge cheers from the partisan crowd and the Ferrari 150º Italia led the first two stints of the race, that saw all the front runners, with the exception of Button, making four stops to change tyres.
As expected, the DRS was not so effective here as in Turkey, which helped Fernando keep the others behind him. Vettel then tried to get ahead by pitting one lap earlier, but it was not enough to get past the Ferrari, while Fernando and Webber came in at the same time, maintaining that order as they left. It was not until the second stops, on lap 18 for Vettel and 19 for Webber and Fernando, that the German took the lead. Hamilton had a long second stint coming in on lap 23 and that proved a key moment as it got him ahead of the duel between the Spaniard and the Australian and into second place. From then on, the Englishman put the reigning world champion under huge pressure all race long.
The two leaders pulled away from Fernando who was doing all he could to keep Webber behind him but this duo was passed by Button, who had the advantage of being on the soft tyres at this point, which did not seem to be suiting the Ferrari. When it came to the final stops, Webber got ahead of Fernando by staying out a few laps longer and that is how it ended at the flag.
As for Felipe, he seemed to suffer even more than his team-mate on the hard tyres, survived a spin, but gradually slid out of the points zone, before having to park the car at the side of the track with six laps to go. At the end of the 66 laps, only completed by the top four, with the rest of the field being lapped, the two Mercedes came home behind Fernando with Schumacher sixth and Rosberg seventh, with Heidfeld, Perez and Kobayashi taking the remaining points.
If one has a bad race, the best thing to do is go racing again as soon as possible to try and do better. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and the other teams will not have long to wait, as everyone will be back on track this coming Thursday for the first day of practice for the sixth round of the championship, the famous Monaco Grand Prix.