Fernando Alonso has won the Spanish Grand Prix for the second time in his career. The Spaniard, 31, took a commanding win after four pit stops to the delight of the home crowd. Kimi Raikkonen was second after another impressive outing in the Lotus ahead of Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was a distant fourth.
Alonso, however, was summoned to the stewards room after the race for breaching article 43.3 of the sporting code; “receiving an object after the end-of-race signal.” This was in regards to the Spaniard receiving a Spanish flag from a track marshal on the celebration lap. He escaped punishment.
The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had locked out the front row in qualifying but their race pace was to yet again their undoing. Rosberg started well and led from Vettel and Alonso until the Ferrari driver pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap eight.
Rosberg and Vettel both came in for new tyres two laps later, leaving rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez in the lead. Rosberg emerged from the pits in second ahead of Vettel, but they were instantly separated by the charging Alonso. The home favourite relished his second set of tyres and the stint would prove to be crucial to his race. He passed Rosberg on lap 14 and assumed the lead almost immediately when Gutierrez pitted.
Alonso went on to pit on laps 21, 36 and 49 and at no point looked unnerved by the threat posed by his nearest challenger; Raikkonen. The Finn had looked good to challenge for victory but his three-stop strategy – to Alonso’s four – proved too tall an order. Felipe Massa came home a strong third, his first visit to the podium since the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of last season.
The Mercedes challenge petered out entirely by mid-distance as Rosberg struggled his way to a hard-earned sixth place behind Red Bulls’ Mark Webber. Paul di Resta had threatened Rosberg’s position in the dying stages of the race but was unable to mount a serious challenge. It was, however, another solid performance from the young Scot who has now finished in the points in four of the five races so far this year.
Hamilton meanwhile had an afternoon to forget, his demure radio messages to his team confirming his dissatisfaction with a point-less 12th place. It was also a weekend to forget for McLaren, as drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez dragged their ill-performing cars home to 8th and 9th places respectively. The upgrades brought by McLaren to this weekends Grand Prix failed to make any notable impression on the cars performance. The Woking team will have plenty of work to do if they are to start winning races again.
Daniel Ricciardo silenced his critics with yet another strong performance, bringing his Toro Rosso home in the points once more.
The result means that Vettel still leads the championship title race on 89 points, but Raikkonen’s second place leaves him only four points behind on 85. Alonso sits in third place on 72 ahead of Hamilton in fourth on 50. Red Bull still leads the constructor’s championship on 131 points from Ferrari (117) and Lotus (111).