A round-up of comment after an enthralling Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya
FerrariFernando Alonso, 5th "The best bit of the race was obviously the start. We have worked so much on this area and you could see the outcome. It was fantastic to see the crowd cheering in the grandstands! I tried to do the maximum, keeping the quickest ones behind me for around twenty laps, but after that, there was nothing I could do. It was very stressful having them filling my mirrors all the time and we tried as much as possible to copy or anticipate their moves. That meant doing over the half the race on the hards, which penalised us heavily and made the gap bigger than it is in reality. We lack aerodynamic downforce: here we did not have a wing that suited this track. We must analyse carefully the behaviour of all the modifications we brought to this Grand Prix and understand why, in the space of two weeks, we have lost ground to Red Bull and McLaren. Now we head off to Monaco immediately for what is a special race on the calendar. Anything could happen there. Sure, we know the amount of downforce required at this track is the highest of the year, but that was also the case last year and we were competitive. I am definitely not thinking of giving up on the championship after just five races: the gap in the classification is very big, but everything can still happen, I'm sure of it."
Felipe Massa, DNF "Towards the end of the race I could not select the gears and I had to stop at the side of the track: it was a fitting end to a terrible weekend. Luckily, we can start again immediately, with the Monaco race, which is something of a second home race for me, given that I live in the Principality. Also luckily, we will not have the hard tyres we had today that really did not work for us. When we went from the option to the prime we began to suffer more and more: there was no grip and I was struggling to keep the car on track. Thanks to the strategy, we had managed to pass the Mercedes and Petrov's Renault, but it all came to nothing in the end. We did not have enough aerodynamic downforce to get the hard tyres to work properly, as indeed we have already seen at other races, but here it was even more of a problem."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal "There is no denying that being lapped hurts. It's even more painful after seeing a driver of Fernando's calibre putting on such a breathtaking display at the start and then fighting like a lion to keep drivers with clearly faster cars behind him for almost twenty laps. We need to provide him and Felipe with a car with which they can fight all the way to the end of a race and not just in the first part. On a track that favours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce, ours are lacking in this area and that was glaringly obvious, especially on the new hard tyres brought here by Pirelli. We never managed to get this type of tyre to work and our pace was at least two seconds off that of the first four. What to do now? Continue to work on improving the car and finding the aerodynamic downforce that is lacking. We now go into a run of three races which will see the use of the soft and supersoft tyres: we will see what happens and assess the situation at that point."
Pat Fry, deputy technical director "Yesterday, a fantastic lap from Fernando had seen us for the first time get a place on the two front rows of the grid. Today, the Spaniard did it again with an incredible start, which took him into the lead, putting him into a position that was clearly superior to the objective worth of our package. On the soft tyres we could keep the best cars behind us, but then on the hard we did not stand a chance and we could only think of defending our position. Here, Red Bull and McLaren were clearly quicker than us and it was only down to Fernando's talent that we managed to hold them off in the first part of the race. We did not have enough aerodynamic downforce for this circuit and we could see that right from the start of the weekend, but clearly we did not expect to be this far off in terms of race pace. There is a lot to do to make this car more competitive: we have made a step forward but it has not been enough to let us fight all the way to the end for the top places. From a strategy point of view I think we made the right choices, trying to cover our main rivals throughout the whole race. Sure, it put the pit stop guys under a lot of pressure, pushing it to the limit, usually with a rival car in the pit lane at the same time: all in all, they did a good job."
Paul Di Resta, 12th "I think we can go away quite satisfied with the result today, especially after making up four places on our grid position. We compromised our qualifying by saving tyres yesterday, which was definitely the right approach, but we were just missing a bit more pace to do any more. I also got stuck a few times behind the Toro Rossos in the first, second and third stints, without which I probably could have finished a bit higher up. Still, there are a lot of positives because we made the strategy work, the pitstops went well and I think this result is the most we could have expected without the cars ahead of us running into problems."
Adrian Sutil, 13th "The end result today is about where we expected to be. I did the opposite strategy to Paul by starting on the prime tyres, which were very slow to start with and the first stint was not that easy. Then, as I ran the options, the race started to come to me and I was able to move forward gradually. It was quite easy to overtake today because when the car ahead of you is struggling with the tyres there is such a big speed differential. In the closing laps the car felt good, but I could have done with two or three more laps to maximise my strategy and probably make up some more ground."
Robert Fernley, deputy team principal "I don't think there's any doubt that our decision to save tyres yesterday was the right one and the fresh rubber certainly helped us optimise the strategy today. Both Paul and Adrian did an excellent job - pushing hard and coming through the field. Adrian lost a little bit of time during one of his pitstops, but apart from that I think we got the most we could reasonably expect from the race.
"However, we know we have plenty of work to do before next week's race in Monaco and we still need to find some speed if we want to stay at the front of the midfield battle. Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso are all very closely matched at the moment and we need to establish our position at the head of that group and pushing the top ten."
HRTNarain Karthikeyan, 21st "It was a very hard race. The tyres were degrading a lot, especially the rear ones making it very difficult to drive. The first few laps were all right but then the rear started giving me a lot of problems. I also had some trouble with my seat, I burnt my back and at times the pain was unbearable. The positive aspect was that I finished the race although we didn't get much out of it. We need to find out why we were off the pace, we thought our race pace would improve this weekend but that has not been the case. Qualifying was good but our race pace wasn't good unlike in previous races. Perhaps this is because of the drastic difference between prime and option compounds which made the setup very difficult and resulted in massive oversteer. So we now need to work on this."
Vitantonio Liuzzi, DNF "I had a great start to the race passing a few cars into the first corner just like at the last grand prix. Everything was going fine, the balance of the car was good, I was ahead of both Virgin cars and pulling away in the first stint. This confirmed the step forward we'd predicted from the last race. After the first pit stop, with the second set of tyres we lost some grip in the rear just like in qualifying. I also started feeling issues with the upshift, it was getting worse and worse and eventually had to stop. We have to investigate why this happened but it's still too early to say what the reason was. It's a real shame because without this issue we could've had better pace for the second stint and fight with the Virgins until the end. Narain finished the race which is always positive because it means we can have more data but it's now time to start thinking about racing and not just finishing because we're growing and must try and get ahead of Virgin."
Colin Kolles, team principal "Tonio started the race very well, he was in a good position, improving lap by lap and creating a bigger gap with the cars behind him. Unfortunately, after the first pit stop, we noticed that the gear box wasn't running properly so we had to change the gearbox mode. We started losing pressure and had to stop due to a gearbox failure. We don't know what happened on Narain's car, we will have to look into it and assess the situation but getting over the finish line is positive. Tonio's start to the race is proof that we have made the next step and can compete with our closest rivals on the track."
Jarno Trulli, 18th "The race was really good. It was another great start for me, another strong start this season, so that was very positive. I gained a number of positions and was right in the race in the beginning. Obviously with soft tyres our car was looking better than it did with the hard tyres and that gave us a very good first couple of stints. Unfortunately towards the middle of the race I felt I had a problem with the exhaust which affected the rear end of the car and meant that my performance was not as good as earlier. But all in all, it was a very good race for me. I fought like a lion and I'm happy with myself and felt that I really got the best out of the car today. There's still a bit of work to do to catch up with the guys in front, but it's fantastic that we've lapped the guys behind us once again. The overall aero package is good - we just need to focus on developing that for the future and increase the gap even more from the guys behind, and keep on closing the distance to the cars ahead."
Heikki Kovalainen, DNF "It's a real shame my afternoon came to an end like that. I made a mistake on the entry to turn four and went off but up until that point the race was pretty good. Both Jarno and I were right in the mix early on and we were fighting in the midfield for a lot of the race but then the tyres started to go off and the early pace wasn't there for the later stages of the afternoon. Maybe we should have pitted earlier on but we've still learnt a lot from this weekend and can take that to Monaco where I think it will be a very interesting weekend for everyone."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "That was a long hard race that was all about managing the tyres. Both drivers started well but Heikki suffered some damage to his front wing that helped Jarno get past. From then on the pace was good. We were trying to stay on three stops and maybe stopped a little late in the first stint, but in the end it was a shame we were not able to get both cars to the flag. Heikki made a small mistake on lap 52 and then Jarno had a cracked exhaust which meant we had to keep an eye on that, but overall we have made real progress this weekend and have amassed a great deal of data on the new package that will help us learn how to get the most out of all the changes, so it is another positive weekend for the whole team."
McLarenLewis Hamilton, 2nd "I was pleasantly surprised by how fast we were today. In race trim, I actually think we were quicker than the Red Bulls, except through the really high-speed stuff. I pushed as hard as I could all afternoon, and I'm really happy with the result - a few more laps and it might have been a different order at the front, but I just ran out of time at the end. Despite DRS, it's still very difficult to overtake at this track - you can't follow through Turn Three or Turn Nine, so that makes it really hard. Also, I was in Sebastian's [Vettel] dirty air and the car was sliding a lot - it was incredibly tough behind him. We're probably still losing out a bit too much in qualifying, but our race pace is right there. So, as you'd expect, we'll be looking at ways of improving our qualifying pace. I was also really happy to see Jenson come through and finish on the podium - it's a great result for the team. Now I'm already looking forward to Monaco - it's a circuit where high-speed downforce is less critical and where the driver can make a difference, so it should be a strong track for us."
Jenson Button, 3rd "I had a terrible start and was on the outside into Turn One and Turn Three, where I lost further places. I was down in 10th at the end of the first lap, which was extremely disappointing. After that, I didn't think third would really be possible, but as the others all made their pitstops so early, and as my tyres still felt good, I started to think it might be on. After Turkey, it was really fantastic to make the strategy work for me today. We stayed on the Option for as long as possible and I did three stops to the others' four - and the result was that I had a great race. I overtook Mark [Webber] and Fernando [Alonso] within a lap of each other. I knew I wasn't going to catch the first two, but I pushed as hard as I could just in case something happened ahead of me. Tyre life with these Pirellis is like a switch - once you lose the rears, the lap-times just drop. We got it just right today - and, when I finally got onto the Prime, the circuit was in a good condition and the tyre worked pretty well. I really felt like I raced today. Finally, I want to say a big thank-you to the team today - we chose a fantastic strategy, the pitstops were perfect and we made everything work. This was the result of a superb team effort."
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "Jenson was edged down to 10th place on the first lap, and from then on he was always going to be playing catch-up. But, using a three-stop strategy hatched in response to that setback, he did just that. He caught up superbly, in fact, balancing the need for speed with the equally crucial requirement that he look after his tyres, and the result was that he ended up on the podium alongside Sebastian and Lewis. It was one of those drives that marks out a true world champion. As for Lewis, he drove another storming race, taking the fight to Sebastian from lights to flag. It's probably fair to say that Red Bull are still a little quicker than us in qualifying, but Lewis showed this afternoon that in race spec we're now able to match them every inch of the way. Indeed, Lewis was looking for a way past Sebastian in the final few laps - their battle must have made for a thrilling finale for TV viewers and trackside spectators alike - but in the end he just couldn't pull it off. Nonetheless, as I say, he drove brilliantly. In summary, then, we scored 33 world championship points today, which is another decent haul. But we want to win and we intend to win, and that's exactly what we'll be doing our damnedest to do on the famously challenging streets of Monte-Carlo in just a few days' time."
MercedesMichael Schumacher, 6th "We managed to make the most out of our possibilities today which is good news, especially for our guys who I am happy for. I had a good start; going right through the middle was tight but fortunately it worked out. Then the race was about holding position from there. We can be happy with the result but other than that, it was just tricky with oversteer, tyre degradation and poor balance to deal with. Still we achieved what we could have, and I look forward to going to Monaco."
Nico Rosberg, 7th "It was a difficult race for me after I lost radio communication with the team early on which was tough, and my DRS was not working properly which made any overtaking almost impossible. I had fun in the battle with Michael for P6, although I wasn't able to attack him fully and was therefore stuck behind him for most of the race. I'm now looking forward to my home Grand Prix in Monaco. I love the track and I'm sure we can be closer to the front there."
Ross Brawn, team principal "It was a tough race today but we achieved everything that we could have with sixth and seventh places. We opted to start Michael on the option tyres as his reconnaissance laps at the start showed the grip levels were marginal. Both drivers had good starts, particularly Michael, and credit to the team for that. Then we had a pretty controlled race with good work on the strategy and in the pits. Obviously we have ground to make up on the cars in front and we will keep working hard."
Norbert Haug, motorsport director "We achieved the result that was possible for us today with Michael in sixth and Nico in seventh place. Michael had a great start on new options and gained four places which was the foundation of his final result. Nico suffered from various problems; from a radio which did not work to a rear wing malfunction. Our strategy and our pit stops worked very well but our speed was not where it needs to be. The fact that everybody behind Red Bull and McLaren Mercedes was lapped today shows that there is a lot of work to do for the rest of the field. We are now looking forward to the great Monaco race next weekend."
Red BullSebastian Vettel, 1st "It was pretty tough today. At the beginning of the race I thought I had a good start, I didn't understand where Fernando came from! He started behind me, 16 metres behind, and half way down the straight he was already side-by-side. He went on the inside of Mark and I went on the outside, so he was leading after the first corner. We couldn't get close enough to use the DRS, but we got him with the pit stop. Fairly early, everyone was getting the options out of the way, so there was half the race left on the hard tyres. It looked like the McLarens were very strong; they stayed out longer on a different strategy, which bought them up to second behind us. From then on I knew that it would be very, very close; going into the last 10 laps felt the same as in China. My tyres were going away from me and I prayed the same was happening to Lewis, as he was catching up and they seemed so much quicker, especially on the last sector. At the end of the straights he would be right in my mirrors, so you don't know if you should defend or not. It was very close, but on the last two laps, I could make it stick. KERS was on and off, which meant I was playing around with brake distribution a lot. McLaren and Lewis especially gave us a hard time today. It's quite a release when you cross the line and you know that you made it, so I'm very, very happy. It was a great result and after yesterday a good confirmation that we are strong but, as expected, McLaren and Ferrari are giving us a hard time and are pushing hard - I'm very happy today."
Mark Webber, 2nd "I don't think my start was hideous, but Fernando got a phenomenal one. Obviously from then on it wasn't the start we had planned and it was a bit of a chess game. People were covering each other's pit stops and I really didn't do much racing on track. At the end of the race I finished 40 seconds behind Lewis and Seb. It was an interesting day today and shows how fine the margins are; we were frustrated by Fernando who seemed to pit every time I did! At certain stages I was quick and at others I wasn't - that's the way it was today."
Christian Horner, team principal "A really exciting race. I think we were all surprised to see Fernando come through at the first corner in first position and that changed the dynamics of the race. He didn't have great pace at the front and it boxed the rest of them up behind. We managed to undercut with Sebastian, but couldn't do it with Mark because Ferrari could see what we were doing. It was a combination of team-work and strategy. Sebastian had to make the passes on Jenson and Massa to make his strategy work, it was a real risk, but he went for it and made it happen, which is what it's all about. Unfortunately for Mark, he spent the first half looking at Fernando Alonso's exhaust and to get him ahead in the end we did a dummy which they fell for. Otherwise it was frustrating for Mark and the complete result would be to have him right up there as well."
Vitaly Petrov, 11th "I am naturally disappointed not to make better use of my grid position and not pick up some points. It seems that my qualifying position had little effect for the race today, so we need to analyse in detail exactly why that happened. I managed to start ok and move up a position into fifth, but it was then difficult to get to the leading pack, which is where we want to be. But, this is one result and one result only and I want to put things right in Monaco, where qualifying will be extremely important. Of that there is little doubt. At least as a team we picked up some more points with Nick, so we must take the positives and move forwards."
Nick Heidfeld, 8th "I'm satisfied with eighth after starting from last position. Just like in Turkey, with one or two laps more I could have gained one or two more positions from the two Mercedes, but it's still a good result if you look at where I started and everything that happened to the car over this weekend. I had a good start then I had to fight through the field with many overtaking moves so it was good fun for me behind the wheel. It's always encouraging to put in a strong performance, and I'm more happy and relaxed heading to Monaco."
Eric Boullier, team principal "I think frustrated is the right word to describe Vitaly's result, because yesterday he could have been even faster on his qualifying lap. And then today, even when he was in a promising position at sixth on the grid, he dropped down some places, which was not what we expected. On the other hand, we are happy for Nick who came from the back of the grid to finish in eighth. He was chasing both Mercedes in the final lap, and he almost finished ahead of Nico (Rosberg), so all in all he had a good race."
Alan Permane, chief race engineer "Our strategy with Nick paid off. We decided to run the prime tyre first, the hard tyre which we ran for 21 laps which was our target, then we had three relatively short sprints on brand new options. Nick was a little bit unlucky as one more lap he would have had both Mercedes. Unfortunately Vitaly didn't have a great race. His first stint was very good and he was pulling away from the cars behind, but then he seemed to struggle on his second and third sets of tyres so we have to investigate and understand what went wrong for him. Our pit stops weren't as slick as they should have been today, so ultimately we could have done a better job."
Sergio Pérez, 9th "It was a tough race today and a hard fight for points. I'm really happy we made it. My first points in Formula One are obviously something special for me, and it is good for the team that Kamui also scored. The team had a very good race strategy and did a perfect job at the pit stops. I feel that for me today is a turning point in this season. We will continue well and score more points."
Kamui Kobayashi, 10th "I lost a lot of time on lap one today. After the start I was pushed into the gravel and then another car touched me, which resulted in a left rear puncture. I had to pit and was relegated to last, which of course cost us a very good set of the soft tyres. I had to do quite a long stint on the harder tyres, which was not easy, but overall the race pace was okay. I'm happy to have scored for the fourth time in a row, and think we are going in the right direction."
Peter Sauber, team principal "It is not easy in this very strong field to get points if you start 12th and 14th. Despite a puncture on Kamui's car, thanks to a good strategy we managed to get both cars into the top ten. Congratulations to Sergio for his first championship points, as after he lost those from Melbourne he has had to wait a while. Kamui has shown another good fight back from the tail end of the field. I am very happy the new aero package has had the effect that the gap to the top teams did not grow and the gap to those behind did not shrink. I want to send a thank you to Hinwil."
James Key, technical director "It was a difficult start to the race in many ways. We recovered well and I think both drivers did particularly good jobs to get into the points. It was quite eventful right from the outset when we think Kamui was pushed onto the grass on the first lap and then got a puncture. He ended up coming in at the end of lap one and so was last on lap two. It was a great effort from him to come back and score a point, rather similar to the last race in Turkey, but this time without any tyre advantages. Sergio also drove well. He came in early and then really pushed on the hard tyre. Then we had some reasonably good soft tyres at the end when he managed to get up to the people he was fighting with and overtake them."
Sebastien Buemi, 14th "I made a really good start, passing Massa, Button and Maldonaldo, but unfortunately, Button and Massa got by me again as they were quicker. I managed to run at a good pace, but I think we were a bit unlucky to lose a lot of time when I got lapped. Also our strategy was not quite perfect and on top of that, we were generally a little bit too slow and Force India and Sauber beat us fair and square."
Jaime Alguersuari, 16th "In general, this was not a good race for us. I did the maximum I could, pushing lap after lap, while trying to look after my tyres. After around 12 laps my tyres were gone, which is why I ended up doing a four stop race. Overall, in terms of my lap times, maybe this race was very slightly more positive than the last one in Turkey. We really need to deal with the tyre degradation and there is a lot of work still to do, if we are to be competitive and fighting for points."
VirginTimo Glock, 19th "I had a reasonable race - although it was a bit of a struggle going into turn one. Liuzzi got past me as he had a better line but I got past him after the first pitstop, which was good as it meant that we could then go at our own pace. In general I think we got the best out of the car today and we had a good strategy in terms of managing the traffic, so overall I'm quite happy with my day."
Jérôme D'Ambrosio, 20th "I think it was a pretty good race for me - better than qualifying yesterday. I had a pretty good first stint but of course when we hit the traffic it turns into a completely different race. Here you lose a lot of time, more than in Turkey, China or Malaysia, but for us it was a good race. We need to look at a small issue with the brakes but apart from that everything went smoothly. The team did a great job again with the strategy. I had some good stints with not too much traffic so overall I'm quite pleased."
John Booth, team principal "Timo got a particularly good start on the run down to turn one, but unfortunately Liuzzi got past on the outside. He struggled in the first stint with a set of tyres which had a small vibration issue. We picked this up after qualifying but since we needed to run all three sets of our Option tyres today, we elected to use that set in the stint which we thought would be most plagued by traffic. It looks in general that our pace was a little bit better than we thought compared to the front-runners and we also didn't see the traffic we expected in the first stint. After stopping for a new set of Option tyres Timo made light work of getting past Liuzzi and was able to run at his true pace for the rest of the race. Jérôme struggled a bit with his braking stability throughout the weekend and this seems to have harmed his pace in the race relative to Timo. However, overall, he completed his objective of moving ahead of the Hispanias. In terms of the team performance, another strong weekend in which we have completed the first five-race cycle on the gearbox, which is a huge improvement compared to last year. Now we have our reliability issues behind us, we need to focus on performance developments for the car."
Pastor Maldonado, 15th "It was a difficult race. We didn't have a great start, which is something we need to work on. We then struggled to keep on the pace and unfortunately our strategy didn't help us. But we finished the race and so we now have more data to work with. We need to push hard and concentrate on improving our race pace for Monaco."
Rubens Barrichello, 17th "I had a very tough race. Starting on primes meant the base wasn't good but we had the option so it should have been better at the end. Unfortunately, we had more problems today. First, during the pitstop and then with KERS again, which lost us a lot of time. That's another race with no points. We need to improve."
Sam Michael, technical director "Although our end positions don't look like it, we are improving but it is extremely tight in the midfield. If you don't get it right, you end up 15th instead of 10th. The main thing for us now is to keep focussed and to improve the upgrades we bring to the car. Over the next couple of races in particular we need to get the front and rear wings and the diffuser working. Today we had a problem with the rear jack on both cars so we will look into that before Monaco."