• Spanish Grand Prix

Driver-by-driver run down

Laurence Edmondson and Chris Medland
May 22, 2011

Sebastian Vettel - 1st - Of his four wins so far this season, the Spanish Grand Prix was by far Vettel's toughest. Rather than simply leading from the front, he had to fight his way past the fast-starting Alonso and then keep Hamilton at bay. In the end he did it to perfection, but when he took on his final set of soft tyres on lap 19 it looked marginal. He then had to ease off in the following stints to compensate, which allowed Hamilton to close and offered up a straight fight for the lead. Vettel coped with the pressure admirably, ensuring he was carrying enough pace onto the pit straight to keep the McLaren at bay in the DRS zone lap after lap. What's more he did it all with a tempremental KERS unit that was having a nasty effect on the car unde braking.

Lewis Hamilton -2nd - A reminder, if it was needed, of why Hamilton is so highly rated. He hauled a car that was a second a lap off the Red Bulls in qualifying to within just six tenths of Vettel over 66 laps. Had he been racing on a circuit with more overtaking opportunities he might have passed Vettel, but it wasn't to be.

Jenson Button - 3rd - When he dropped from fifth to tenth on the first lap he had no choice but to try something different. McLaren's pit wall swung into action and ordered him to drive to a three-stop strategy, which was offbeat with the frontrunning cars. It worked wonders and allowed him to carve his way through the field and take a well deserved podium.

Mark Webber - 4th - He was outmuscled into turn one by Alonso and Vettel and never really recovered. His priority was to pass Alonso, but when he went to change tyres the Ferrari pitted too and, much to his frustration, came out ahead. He finally got the better of the Spaniard at the final pit stop, but by that time any hope of a podium was another 20 seconds down the road.

Fernando Alonso - 5th - After his perfect qualifying lap on Saturday he got the perfect start on Sunday. But with four pit stops to deal with over the course of the race there was no way of defending from the quicker cars behind and he was gradually picked off by both Red Bulls and both McLarens. He held off Webber by matching the Red Bull for pit stops over the first three stints, but the Ferrari was not happy on the hard tyres and his pace dropped away significantly towards the end of the race.

Michael Schumacher - 6th - There will be some satisfaction that he proved his pre-race critics wrong, but Schumacher still struggled with the balance of his Mercedes. He made up most his positions but then spent the rest of the race defending from team-mate Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg - 7th - He was quicker than his team-mate ahead of him but a problem with his DRS meant he couldn't quite find the speed to make an overtaking manoeuvre stick into turn one. He also had radio problems from the start which made it very difficult to understand how the race was evolving around him.

Nick Heidfled - 8th - After a fire ruled him out of qualifying, Heidfeld put in one of the best drives of the day to finish in the points. It's becoming clear that saving tyres in qualifying provides a huge advantage in the race and the Renault driver had six sets of brand new tyres - three soft and three hard - available to him over the course of the afternoon. What made it even more impressive was that he finished just 0.4 seconds off the tight battle between the two Mercedes ahead of him.

Sergio Perez - 9th - He secured his first points in Formula One with a solid drive from 12th to ninth. After the race he said: "I feel that for me today is a turning point in this season".

Kamui Kobayashi - 10th - For the second race in a row he defied the odds by fighting his way into the points. In Turkey he drove from the back of the grid to tenth, but his performance in Spain was even more impressive. He pitted with a puncture on lap one, dropping him to the back of the field and costing him a set of soft tyres. However, a beautifully driven stint on hard tyres followed and left him with two sprints to the finish on softs. He carved his way through the field and finished just 4.7 seconds behind team-mate Perez.

Vitaly Petrov - 11th - It's hard to figure out exactly what went wrong for Petrov in Spain. He started sixth and was up to fifth by the end of the first lap but then spent the rest of the afternoon in freefall. He had no major problems and stayed out of trouble, but somehow finished nearly 40 seconds adrift of team-mate Heidfeld.

Paul di Resta - 12th - A respectable result from 16th on the grid. The car didn't quite have the pace to challenge for the points but beating team-mate Sutil will be some consolation.

Adrian Sutil - 13th - After gambling in qualifying he did the same in the race, starting on the hard tyre in the hope of making up time later in the grand prix. It worked to an extent as he made places late in the afternoon, but ultimately still finished behind his team-mate di Resta.

Sebastien Buemi - 14th - Unable to capitalise on a good start that saw him in 10th place running ahead of both Button and Massa. Admitted Force India was quicker than the Toro Rosso, but will at least be pleased to hold off Maldonado.

Pastor Maldonado - 15th - Couldn't convert his impressive qualifying performance in to Williams' first points, as the four-stop strategy didn't work in the midfield. A slow start was his downfall, as ninth on the grid quickly became fourteenth by turn three.

Jaime Alguersuari - 16th - Another to stop four times, Alguersuari was understandably guilty of over-driving in front of his home fans, and said his tyres were gone after 12 laps as he pushed hard early on. Tyre degradation remains his Achilles heel and will need to be resolved if he is to challenge for points.

Rubens Barrichello - 17th - Having a number of fresh tyres raised hopes of an exciting race, but a rear jack problem cost him dearly each time he wanted to put on fresh rubber. That problem still doesn't hide the fact that Williams was fundamentally slow in the race.

Jarno Trulli - 18th - Made a good start to get up to 15th despite not having KERS, and drove well to battle in the midfield for the first part of the race. Eventually finished the best part of a minute down on Barrichello as the pace fell away, but still lapped all those behind.

Timo Glock - 19th - Lost out to Liuzzi early on but showed improved pace after his first stop and was able to clear the HRT. Comfortably beat his team-mate, which is the only real reference point he has.

Jerome d'Ambrosio - 20th - His whole weekend was affected by a lack of braking stability, which explains the gap to Glock, but at least was able to comfortably beat Karthikeyan in the battle at the back.

Narain Karthikeyan - 21st - Struggled with oversteer as he found it difficult to set up a car for tyre compounds with such performance differentials. A seat problem meant he burnt his back so deserves credit for seeing out the race, although he was often slow to move aside for the front-runners.

Felipe Massa - DNF - Called it a "terrible weekend" and having got himself ahead of the Mercedes he then struggled to keep the Ferrari pointing the right way on hard tyres - an issue he blames on a lack of downforce - and slipped back behind Heidfeld and Perez before a gearbox problem ended his afternoon with seven laps to go.

Heikki Kovalainen - DNF - Seemed to struggle for pace more than Trulli as the race wore on, until a mistake on entry in to turn four saw him end up in the wall. A disappointing end after yesterday's qualifying boost.

Tonio Liuzzi - DNF - Started strongly to jump Glock's Virgin and even managed to pull away during the first part of the race. Gearbox issues struck after the first pit stops, so it's too soon to see if HRT can beat Virgin to the flag.