Circuit de Catalunya
Vettel wins high-speed Spanish duel at Barcelona
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has won a tense high-speed duel at Barcelona, beating McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in a hectic race to the chequered flag, with the two separated by just a handful of seconds from start to finish.
Such was their pace, using a combination of Pirelli’s new PZero Silver hard and PZero Yellow tyres, that with 20 laps still to go they had already lapped everybody up to sixth place with just 1.5 seconds between them. After their final stops, they emerged less than two seconds apart with 16 laps remaining.
The McLaren driver, who like Vettel stopped four times, set fastest lap using the new PZero Silver hard tyre to challenge his Red Bull rival all the way to the flag, ending the 307.104-kilometre race only 0.6s behind. The duo battled with less than a car length between them for the last 10 laps, providing one of the most memorable finishes to a grand prix this season as they carved through the traffic together.
At exactly the same time, there was an equally close fight for the final podium place between their team mates Jenson Button and Mark Webber. Button eventually claimed third thanks to a three-stop race strategy.
Webber started the race from pole using the PZero Yellow tyre, but the new harder PZero Silver tyre came into its own at the end of the race. The leading runners all chose to use the new hard tyre at the end of the race, due to the performance gap compared to the rapid soft tyre, as had been planned. This however provided an increased range compared to the previous version of the hard tyre, with the potential for the new tyre to run for up to 25 laps.
The extra durability was demonstrated by Lotus Renault’s Nick Heidfeld, who was forced to start from the back of the grid after failing to set a time in qualifying. Heidfeld began the race on the new PZero Silver tyres, switching over to the softer PZero Yellow tyres on lap 21 as part of a three-stop strategy that took him to a points-scoring eighth place from last.
Just behind him, the Sauber team also ran a different strategy to the others, using the hard PZero Silver tyres during their middle stints and finishing the race on the soft tyres. This tactic also proved successful, bringing both cars home in the points. Underlining the importance of strategy, this was the first time that the Spanish Grand Prix had not been won from pole position since 2000, when Mika Hakkinen won while Michael Schumacher started from pole.
And it was thrilling to see such an amazing start to the race from Fernando Alonso
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: “It was certainly a dramatic finish to the race, with the battle between Vettel and Hamilton going down to the final lap once again, using our new PZero Silver tyres. Both of them drove magnificently, treating us all to a fantastic spectacle, and it was thrilling to see such an amazing start to the race from Fernando Alonso and Ferrari as well. Further down the field we also saw several other interesting variants on strategy, notably from Lotus Renault and Sauber.
While it was a great race, we’re still not happy with the idea of having four pit stops as three is our target. This was caused by the performance differential between the hard and the soft tyres, which prompted the teams to opt for a sprint strategy, as can be seen from the sheer pace of this grand prix – although it’s interesting to note that the fastest lap was actually set on the new hard tyre. We’ll be looking at that again in future but for now we’re excited to be moving onto a completely different challenge: the street circuits of Monaco and Canada with the introduction of our new PZero Red supersoft tyre.”
PIT STOP SUMMARY – 2011 SPANISH GRAND PRIX
|Driver||Grid||1st Stop (lap)||2nd Stop (lap)||3rd Stop (lap)||4th Stop (lap)||Total Stops|
|Vettel:||SU||SU (9)||SN (18)||HU (34)||HN (48)||4|
|Hamilton:||SU||SN (11)||SU (23)||HU(35)||HN (49)||4|
|Button:||SU||SN (14)||SU (30)||HN (48)||-||3|
|Webber:||SU||SU (10)||SN (19)||HN (29)||HN (47)||4|
|Alonso:||SU||SU (10)||SU (19)||HN (29)||HN (39)||4|
|Schumacher:||SU||SU (10)||SN (26)||HN (41)||-||3|
|Rosberg:||SU||SU (11)||SU (27)||HN (42)||-||3|
|Heidfeld:||HN||SN (21)||SN (36)||SN (50)||-||3|
|Perez:||SU||HN (7)||SN (29)||SU (47)||-||3|
|Kobayashi:||SU||HN (1)||SN (25)||SU (44)||-||3|
|Petrov:||SU||SU (11)||SU (26)||HN (41)||-||3|
|Di Resta:||SU||SN (15)||SN (32)||HN (51)||-||3|
|Sutil:||HN||SN (13)||SN (30)||SU (48)||-||3|
|Buemi:||SU||SU (9)||SN (25)||HN (42)||-||3|
|Maldonado:||SU||SU (8)||SU (20)||HN (36)||HN (53)||4|
|Alguersuari:||SU||SN (11)||SU (24)||HN (36)||HN (50)||4|
|Barrichello:||HN||SN (11)||SN (23)||HN (35)||SN (54)||4|
|Trulli:||SN||SU (15)||SU (29)||HN (43)||-||3|
|Glock:||SU||SN (16)||SU (38)||HN (53)||-||3|
|D’Ambrosio:||S||S (20)||H (34)||-||-||2|
|Karthikeyan:||SU||SU (14)||SU (28)||HN (47)||-||3|
|Massa:||SU||SU (11)||SU (21)||HN (36)||-||3 (NC)|
|Kovalainen:||SU||SU (16)||SU (28)||HN (41)||-||3 (NC)|
|Liuzzi:||SU||SU (16)||1 (NC)||-||-||-|
The first column denotes the tyres the driver started the race on.
S = Soft compound
H = Hard compound
N = New compound
U = Used compound
NC = Not classified