Webber charges to victory in Spain

Mark Webber took a lights-to-flag win at the Circuit de Catalunya for Red Bull Racing, leading home local hero Fernando Alonso and team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the chequered flag.

It was a straightforward drive for the Australian after leading the field from pole position. Despite the problems affecting team-mate Sebastian Vettel including fading brakes in the late stages of the Spanish Grand Prix, there were no technical issues with Webber’s car. This was paid back for Mark Webber after missing out in Sepang and he takes his first victory of this season since Brazil in 2009.

Home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso finished in a popular second place although the Ferrari driver inherited the place due to a late tyre puncture from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. It would have been a well-deserved result from the 2008 world champion after gaining the initiative with a decisive pass on rival Sebastian Vettel after making a single pit-stop. Hamilton just managed to avoid the backmarker of Virgin Racing’s Lucas di Grassi as he exited the pitlane, exactly the same moment when Vettel was approaching the first corner.

Hamilton complained to the race stewards about the backmarker afterwards but that moment into Turn 1, with Vettel forced off the track to avoid making contact was the key moment for McLaren. What a real shame with two laps to the end Hamilton suffered a front-left tyre failure resulting him to crash at Turn 3 and lose second place.

Yet again reliability problems affected Sebastian Vettel despite the performance advantage from the RB6. With fading brakes in the late stages of the Grand Prix, the German still had enough of a time margin to finish in third. But the team really needs to stamp out these problems to prevent Vettel in losing yet more championship points.

With an upgraded car from Mercedes, Michael Schumacher drove his most impressive race this season to finish in fourth. The seven-time world champion did a solid job in defending his track position against the reigning world champion Jenson Button, despite the McLaren being quicker. Jenson might feel frustrated at not be able to get pass Schumacher in the race due to the lack of overtaking opportunities at the Circuit de Catalunya, but he still leads the drivers’ championship with a three-point advantage over Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished in sixth despite damaging his front-wing after tagging the back of Karun Chandhok’s HRT as the Indian was being lapped.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil took an impressive seventh, ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica who was unable to make up for a poor opening lap and had to settle for eighth behind the young German.

Rubens Barrichello finished in ninth for Williams while Jamie Alguersuari, taking part in his home race, scored the final point of the day after an eventful race. He made an exceptional start, gaining six positions to run ninth in the early stages. But he picked up a drive-through penalty after clipping Chandhok’s car, knocking the front wing off the HRT.

Outside of the points, it was a disappointing race for Nico Rosberg and the two Sauber drivers in particular.

The Mercedes driver, who came into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix second in the championship, was forced onto the grass at the start and dropped back, and then suffered a problem at his pitstop which cost him even more time.

Both Saubers had incidents on the opening lap, which dropped Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa out of contention straight away. While the Spaniard retired early on with a damaged car, his Japanese team-mate eventually recovered to 12th.

As for Lotus, Heikki Kovalainen’s race never started, with the Finn’s car being wheeled into the pits before the start of the Grand Prix.

So not the greatest race this season but in terms of the world championship, it sets up another tense battle in particular the drivers’ standings. Jenson Button still leads with 70 points, three ahead of Fernando Alonso and ten over Sebastian Vettel. While in the constructors’ McLaren leads over Ferrari by just three points with Red Bull Racing a further three.

Race results from the Circuit de Catalunya, 66 laps:

1.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           1h35:44.101
2.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +24.065
3.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +51.338
4.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1:02.195
5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +1:03.728
6.  Massa         Ferrari                    +1:05.767
7.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +1:12.941
8.  Kubica        Renault                    +1:13.677
9.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
10. Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
11. Petrov        Renault                    +1 lap
12. Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
13. Rosberg       Mercedes                   +1 lap
14. Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +2 laps
15. Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes       +2 laps
16. Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth          +2 laps
17. Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth             +3 laps
18. Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +3 laps
19. Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth            +4 laps

Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:24.357

Not classified/retirements:

Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari           43 laps
Chandhok      HRT-Cosworth                 28 laps
De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari               19 laps
Senna         HRT-Cosworth                 1 lap
Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth               1 lap

World Championship standings, round 5:

1.  Button        70
2.  Alonso        67
3.  Vettel        60
4.  Webber        53
5.  Rosberg       50
6.  Massa         49
7.  Hamilton      49
8.  Kubica        44
9.  Schumacher    22
10. Sutil         16
11. Liuzzi         8
12. Barrichello    7
13. Petrov         6
14. Alguersuari    3
15. Hulkenberg     1

1.  McLaren-Mercedes          119
2.  Ferrari                   116
3.  Red Bull-Renault          113
4.  Mercedes                   72
5.  Renault                    50
6.  Force India-Mercedes       24
7.  Williams-Cosworth           8
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          3

Next race: Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo. May 13-16.

8 thoughts to “Webber charges to victory in Spain”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on the Spanish Grand Prix as taken from Autosport.com.

    Mark Webber is not convinced that Red Bull will be able to repeat its dominance in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix through the rest of the season, after the Australian cruised to victory at Barcelona.

    Webber and Sebastian Vettel locked out the front row for Red Bull, and while the German suffered several problems and could only take third, Webber was untroubled out front.

    Despite the RB6 having a clear pace advantage in Spain, Webber believes that Red Bull will not always be so far clear in the races to come.

    “It’s special – I’m absolutely wrapped, but it’s still very early doors,” said the winner. “We know there are some very competitive cars at the front, in particular Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, and with some pretty decent drivers as well.

    “There’s a long, long way to go, so we’re waiting to see how cars perform at different venues – cars are pretty sensitive at different tracks.

    “There’s a lot of things to see how it all shakes out over the next few months. You need to have a quick car and one that is always there for you.”

    Webber added that he was aware of the importance of the start after he lost out to Vettel on the first lap in Malaysia earlier this season.

    “It was a sensational weekend, we had a faultless grand prix,” he said. “It was an important part of the race to get out of Turn 1 in the lead. It was quite tight into Turn 1, then I settled into a rhythm, looking after the tyres in the first stint.

    “Then a clean pitstop, after which we had Lewis [Hamilton] behind, so we controlled the gap, needing to get the car home. When I saw that Lewis was in traffic I did some quick laps to open up the gap.”

    Fernando Alonso declared himself as extremely happy after securing second place in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

    The Ferrari driver looked set to finish in fourth, but he gained two positions after Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the race and Sebastian Vettel hit trouble with his brakes in the final moments of the event.

    The result allowed Alonso to move into second place in the standings, just three points behind championship leader Jenson Button.

    Alonso admitted the result was fantastic for him after not the best of weekends.

    “Now I feel extremely happy after the result today and when you gain two positions in last part of race, unexpected positions, it feels great, and you have a fantastic feeling right now,” said Alonso.

    “Overall the weekend has been so-so for us, but in terms of result fantastic weekend for us.

    “Fourth in qualifying, second in the race is fantastic for the team.”

    The two-time champion conceded, however, that Ferrari needs to improve in order to catch Red Bull, after Mark Webber dominated the race.

    “We need to improve, we know that,” he said. “We saw this weekend, we saw we need to improve in some areas in the car, especially for qualifying.

    “We learned some things this weekend. We worked again to maximise our potential. We know sometimes we will be third, sometimes fifth, sometimes first hopefully. As long as we do our best we can be satisfied.”

    Sebastian Vettel admitted Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was in a league of his own after his commanding victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Webber, starting from pole position, was never challenged and took victory by over 24 seconds from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

    Vettel had a day full of trouble and was lucky to make it to the end after his brakes were critical during the final laps.

    “A lot of things went wrong today,” said Vettel, who still managed to finish in third. “The start was okay, there was no chance to get past Mark and not worth taking the risk. It was quite slippery where he was so I didn’t want to go around the outside.

    “I was not quick enough. I struggled with the balance. Mark was in his own league today.”

    The German, now 10 points behind the championship leader, admitted he had mixed feelings about the result.

    And he said Red Bull has to work on its reliability after losing valuable points due to problems yet again.

    “I don’t know how to feel, third is not a bad position but I think we had a quite bad race today with quite a lot of things happening,” he said.

    “It’s good to take some points. We need to work and keep pushing. The car is fast, but you need to be able to use it every single time. It is a 50 per cent chance of getting through: Mark had a race without any problems so for me it was the other way around.”

  2. Despite crashing out on the penultimate lap while in second place Lewis Hamilton was philosophical after his late retirement. Read the Autosport.com for his views on the race.

    Lewis Hamilton was philosophical following his retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix when he looked set to finish in second.

    The McLaren driver suffered a tyre blowout with two laps to go, something that sent him off the track and into the tyre wall.

    While second position would have moved Hamilton into second in the standings, his retirement dropped him down to sixth, 21 points behind team-mate Jenson Button.

    “It was [disappointing]. It was quite a good race for me,” Hamilton told the BBC. “I had really good fun out there. It was nice obviously to take a step forward and split the Red Bulls. The team did an incredible job.

    “It was great to come here with such a good step forward for us and it would have been perfect for the team in terms of the Constructors’ Championship and also for the drivers’ but these things happen.

    “I don’t know what it was. I just felt it was kind of unfortunate to have another tyre blowout, but I guess we’ll find out what it was. There’s many more races to go.”

    Hamilton was positive about McLaren’s performance in the race, but admitted he was “blow away” by his DNF.

    “I was just cruising to the finish line, really,” he said. “Obviously there was like 40 or so laps on those tyres so to keep up with Mark was impossible basically so I just wanted to maintain the pace and keep the spot.

    “It was great points for me but I’m absolutely blown away that it was the last two laps of the race that something happened, but this is motor racing and you just keep your chin up and look forward.”

  3. The reigning world champion Jenson Button was criticial of Michael Schumacher’s pass as the pair rejoined the track following the McLaren pitstop. Read on for Button’s view as taken from Autosport.com.

    Jenson Button says he was disappointed with Michael Schumacher’s move around the outside of him as he rejoined the track after his pitstop in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver lost time in his pitstop due to a clutch problem, and as he arrived at Turn 1 Schumacher swept around the outside of him to gain a position.

    “I didn’t really know where Michael was on the outside of me,” said the reigning world champion. “He turned in and if I didn’t back out of it we would have crashed.

    “So he didn’t really give me a lot of room there. There you go, you’d think with his experience he would know. It wasn’t really the right move.”

    The championship leader added that Schumacher then defended his place well for the rest of the race, despite Button mounting several attacks.

    “It’s tough to overtake here, and Michael’s not silly,” he said. “He knows where to put his car, so on a track like this you’re not going to overtake him.

    “He was putting it on the inside, and I couldn’t pass on the outside because he just pushed me wide every time. He didn’t make a mistake, so it was very frustrating.

    “Fifth place is okay, but it’s frustrating because the car was quick here. That’s a positive and a negative, because I didn’t get to use the speed.”

  4. Even though Michael Schumacher recorded his best result this season, the Mercedes GP driver has said that he is still not happy regarding the performance when compared to the other top teams in particular Red Bull. Read Schumacher’s views on the race as taken from Autosport.com.

    Michael Schumacher said there were not many reasons to be happy with his Spanish Grand Prix, despite his best result of the season so far.

    Although Schumacher finished in fourth position, the Mercedes driver admitted the pace of his car was nothing to be too pleased about after finishing over a minute behind race winner Mark Webber.

    He conceded, however, that it had been an entertaining race after having to keep Jenson Button at bay for several laps.

    “It was quite an entertaining race right from the start even if we knew from the beginning that there would not be a chance for us to compete for a podium place if everything goes as normal,” said Schumacher.

    “Still it was exciting for me to manage to keep the position that I gained but then, I am obviously not too happy as today we could only defend.

    “All we could do was to hope for reliability problems of others in order to make up positions and that’s not really what you want to do.

    “It was an interesting fight with Jenson but all I could do is try to not give him a possibility to overtake.

    “In the end the gap to the front is just too big to be really happy after this race. For Monaco, we hope that the characteristics of the track will suit our car better.”

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg completed a miserable weekend after finishing down in 13th position following a troubled race.

    The German insisted the upgraded car had not worked well for him.

    “The race didn’t go my way today and, of course, it is frustrating to have finished outside of the points for the first time this season,” Rosberg said. “We have a good upgrade on the car here which should be improving our performance but it just hasn’t worked out for me here.

    “In qualifying, I did the best that I could but starting from eighth position isn’t where we wanted to be this weekend. In the race, I had the situation with Robert at the start when I tried for the gap but he didn’t see me so I was pushed wide and then we had a problem at my first stop which dropped me back again.

    “So it’s been a disappointing weekend and we need to look into the reason why we have been off our usual pace.”

  5. Yet again Felipe Massa struggled to match the pace compared to his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Brazilian could only finish sixth with the double world champion taking second. Read Massa’s view on the race as taken from Autosport.com.

    Felipe Massa says he is baffled by his lack of pace in recent races – and says he cannot understand why he is struggling so much to get comfortable with the 2010 tyres.

    The Brazilian has seen team-mate Fernando Alonso seize the upper hand at Ferrari in the last few grands prix, despite the pair having been evenly matched all winter.

    Massa thinks the state of affairs is the result of him not being able to work the harder compound tyres that have been used since the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

    “Definitely I am not happy because the whole winter in tests I was 110 per cent happy with the car and the way I drove,” said Massa after the Spanish Grand Prix, where he was beaten by Alonso all weekend.

    “Starting the first race I was 120 per cent happy with the car, and we did a great job in qualifying and the race. After, when we changed these tyres, we did all four races [since] with the same tyres, which is one harder than the tyres from Bahrain, I was struggling.

    “I couldn’t use the tyres as I want, especially when they are new. So it is something I need to understand. It is not that you finish a lap and you do what you did and were slow. I am outside what I have to be and we need to understand what the problem is.”

    Ferrari has vowed to do all it can to help Massa rediscover his missing form – as it insists it is not worried the Brazilian could see his performances slump if he loses confidence.

    “What we have to do on our side is to make sure that the car is one that he feels comfortable driving,” said team principal Stefano Domenicali. “I would say for the first time this weekend that was not really the case, because he started to complain about the level of grip of the car from the beginning, which never happened before. And for Fernando this was the first weekend when he was not so happy about it since the beginning.

    “This week is very important to go back and see what has to be done around maybe Felipe’s car, maybe in set-up, preparation and downforce level because if we give him a good car he is very good and strong. I am sure about that. It is up to us to give him the maximum we can.”

  6. Even though Fernando Alonso finished in second at the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari really needs to improve performance in order to challenge Red Bull Racing on a regular basis. See the Autosport.com story for the full details.

    Ferrari believes it urgently needs to bring more downforce onto its car if it going to be able to take the championship fight to Red Bull Racing.

    Although Fernando Alonso is second in the drivers’ standings, and ahead of both Red Bull’s men, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes the pace of the RB6 in Spain last weekend has acted as a wake-up call about its aerodynamic advantages.

    And with the F1 calendar now heading for a series of tracks where downforce is key, Domenicali reckons his team must find more aerodynamic performance if it is stop Red Bull seizing the initiative in points terms.

    “Red Bull did a step in terms of their own performance,” Domenicali said about the improved RB6 in Spain. “We saw it on Saturday and we saw it on Friday, but in all honesty we saw it in the race with the performance of Mark Webber. That is a reference for our side.

    “We don’t have to over-react to that, but it is something that we need to look at very carefully. They [Red Bull Racing] have improved the efficiency of their car, so they are doing a very good job.

    “If you look at the championship, they are really the quickest one because if I recall they have been on pole position since the beginning of the season, but they are third in the championship. That is a very important factor – don’t forget the reliability and don’t forget all the other things that are important for the package of the car.

    “This situation gives us a push to work very hard at home, mainly to try to find on the aerodynamic side more downforce on the car. That is the area where we have to do a step ahead, because there are some other tracks where this will be fundamental and we cannot run the risk of having a not very efficient car.”

    Domenicali also believes Ferrari needs to look closely as to why Red Bull appears to be so much better on softer tyres than the opposition – whereas its advantage is not so obvious on harder compounds.

    “Why is not so clear at the moment,” he said. “It is something that our engineers need to understand. And also the other thing that we need to really understand properly is that the behaviour of our drivers is different depending on the tyres or the compound that we are using.

    “So this is very effective on the performance of our package, and this is an area that we have to look at very carefully.”

  7. The reliability of the RB6 is still a major concern for Red Bull Racing despite Mark Webber winning the Spanish Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel suffered problems in the race including a front wing adjuster sensor failure and then an issue with the brakes. Team boss Christian Horner explains about the situation to Autosport.com and the full story is shown below.

    Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has defended his team’s reliability record after more problems struck the outfit in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Although Mark Webber delivered what Horner described as an ‘immaculate’ performance to win at Barcelona, Sebastian Vettel had a frustrating afternoon – losing time with a slow pitstop, struggling with a front wing adjuster sensor failure and then being slowed by brake issues in the closing stages of the race.

    Although the team has encountered costly reliability dramas already this season – with a spark plug failure and wheel problems robbing it of wins in Bahrain and Australia – Horner insists his team is no worse than other outfits.

    “I think when you are pushing the boundaries, things can happen,” said Horner. “But we have to understand what the issue was here – as McLaren has to do with their failure with Lewis [Hamilton].

    “Ultimately we have got two cars on the podium and were just three points off a maximum score. So I think the team managed the issue with the brakes very well.”

    Although Red Bull was unable to repeat the one-second per lap performance advantage it had in qualifying during Sunday’s race, Horner said there was little doubt that Webber was controlling the pace from the front.

    “It was an absolutely immaculate race by Mark,” he said. “Problem free from start to finish. He drove a very controlling race.

    “Obviously those tyres have to go a long way and when you are looking at doing 45-50 laps on one set of tyres, it was all about tyre management. Both the guys were doing a very good job of looking after the tyres.”

    UPDATE: Red Bull Racing has revealed that Sebastian Vettel’s brake problem in the Spanish Grand Prix was caused by a freak split of the front-left disc.

    Vettel was forced to slow in the closing stages of the Barcelona event with brake issues, but he was able to nurse his RB6 home to take third place.

    Investigations undertaken by Red Bull Racing after the event show that the issue was caused by a front left disc failure – something the team had not experienced before.

    “The problem was quite bizarre as basically the brake on the left hand side stopped working completely and the disc effectively split in half, straight down the middle of the spline,” explained Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.

    “You have just got a spacer in there and so he had only got three brakes, so all the bias was towards the rear and he was using mainly the aerodynamics to stop the car and built some huge margin into his braking zones.

    “With having fitted the option tyre at the end of the race on relatively light fuel load he actually did a purple sector in the middle sector with three brakes.

    “It was ironic as I was joking with Adrian (Newey) the night before about his first car being an Austin Allegro which only had three brake discs and unfortunately in the race Sebastian’s car turned out to be similar to that. But he managed it incredibly well and to get the car home in third place was a valuable and brave performance by him.”

  8. Yeah a pretty boring race all in all. Also so many teams know the circuit so well (and me thanks to Forza 3), they didn’t even do much practice.

    But really pleased for Mark Webber, and it really mixes up the driver standings, so long may the varied winners continue. Though I don’t believe this varied amount of winners will continue. Gladly it’s not Ferrari like winning like the Schuey years, but a few more races and I still see a team taking command a bit more. But, I have no idea who! I thought the Big Red Team would take much more of a command, but this has not happened.

    Like wise, it should be Red Bull in the driving seat, but boy oh boy, do they have problems at the moment. Something has seriously gone wrong backstage somewhere. Whether it’s design or cheap products, something has given them serious reliability issues, and it’s doing it’s best to stop them from winning the championship both drivers and constructors. I’d be finding out what and licking it’s/their ass. It’s not good enough to time and again throw away a one-two finish and a HUGE lead had it all gone plane sailing. I should hope Mr Horner is on the rampage!

    Lewis should have grabbed second but he wasted his tyres as usual.

    But good on Schuey! Thank god I don’t have to listen yet again to the usual “did he do the right thing coming back?” or “will Micheal actually be any good?” comments we have had at the beginning and end of every god damn race. He is obviously enjoying the new changes to the car!

    So Alonso is credited with a second place. Will it continue? Hmmmmmm dunno. Though they have certainly benefited from their F-Duct system. Their top speed was bloody huge! But they just don’t seem to be doing much. Then again, neither did Kimi what 3 years ago? Steady and controlled may be the winning way this year? With the new points system doing its thing at the moment, any team getting steady podiums or fourth even, and you’ll be surprised where it takes them.

    Anyways, well done Mark, a brilliant but steady drive to victory! Hmmmm what was I saying about being steady and controlled? 🙂

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