The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix was not the best ever but it did give us some close racing and a brand new race winner.
Pastor Maldonado qualified (Q) 2, race result (R) 1
Bruno Senna Q P18, R DNF
Well, both Saturday and Sunday provided very different results for both Williams drivers.
The Williams Team went to the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix having made their best start to a Formula One season for years. After a very successful Mugello test the team looked like a serious contender for a strong qualifying performance.
Pastor Maldinado’s speed was evident from the start, but Bruno Senna never seemed to get started. Whilst his team mate sat comfortably in P1 at the end of the first qualifying session, Senna was languishing down in the elimination zone.
Senna pushed his car to the limit and made a small but costly mistake on his last lap. His Williams clipped the corner going into turn one. This unbalanced the car and sent Senna off into the gravel trap and out of Q1.
Maldinado battled on into Q3 and was only beaten to pole in the dying seconds by a super fast time from Lewis Hamilton. However, we later learned that McLaren had not put enough fuel in their car and Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying. This elevated Maldinado to his career first pole position.
The race provided similar dual fortunes for Willimas F1. Maldinado got off to a decent start and quickly moved to cover Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into turn one. However, Alonso had better position going into turn two and took the lead to the sound of roaring fans.
Senna got off to a decent enough start, but his race was terminated on lap 13 when Michael Schumacher drove straight into the rear of the Williams as the two cars took to turn one.
Senna was driving cautiously after a collision with Roman Grosjean at a similar point the previous lap. Schumacher simply wasn’t concentrating and ended both drivers’ races.
Meanwhile at the front Maldinado did all he could to keep up with Alonso and after some superb laps and an excellent strategy from his team the hard work paid off. Williams choose to pit Maldinado earlier than Alonso for the final two pit stops and this meant that Maldinado found himself in better positions when rejoining the track.
It was close at the end but Maldinado managed his tyres excellently and held on for William’s first win since the 2004 Brazilian GP.
Fernando Alonso Q3, R2
Felipe Massa Q17, R15
Nobody quite knew what to make of Ferrari going into Spanish qualifying. The team placed a lot on their test in Mugello, but an unfortunate crash led to very mixed results.
It looked to be business as usual in the early stages of qualifying as Felipe Massa struggled for survival whilst being completely outperformed by his team mate.
So, it seems strange to write, but when Massa dropped out in Q2 it wasn’t exactly a surprise. However, it became clear that the final session of qualifying would provide very little running as teams desperately tried to save their new tyres for the punishing race.
This gave Alonso a really good shot at P1. The fight for Pole was close and exciting but Alonso couldn’t quite beat the speed of Maldinado or Hamilton. Still, Alonso’s P3 was Ferrari’s best qualifying result of 2012 and that surely must show some improvement.
The start of the race was good for both Ferraris. As I said earlier Alonso was able to power into P1 after a superb start and Massa too was able to gain some places off the start.
However, as the race developed Massa dropped off the pace and despite being involved in the odd overtake here or there, a final result of P15 was really pretty poor from Massa.
At the front Alonso did his best to hold onto P1, but he simply couldn’t hold on to his tyres in the dying stages of the race. It looked like the Ferrari man might overtake his Williams rival who was on older tyres, but in Maldinado’s dirty air, Alonso’s pace simply fell away.
Nevertheless, Alonso’s P2 was phenomenal and only strengthens his position as the best driver in F1 right now. Despite having a below par car, he heads to Monaco joint first in the Championship.
Kimi Raikkonen Q5, R3
Romain Grosjean Q4, R4
Lotus-Renault continue to build on their excellent 2012 performance. A great, but quiet qualifying session set the tone for a similarly strong but uneventful race.
Roman Grosjean had a few little knocks during the race but eventually finished where he started in a very strong points position.
Kimi Raikkonen lapped consistently and never looked as though he’d be giving up his third place. He added some great excitement at the end of the race when he demolished the front two drivers lead having stopped much later than Maldinado and Alonso. Given a few more laps he certainly would have taken P2 on his far superior tyres. Raikkonen is never happy and his Spanish result provided no exception, but Lotus now sit third in the Constructors’ Championship… surely that’ll give Kimi something to smile about!?
Kamui Kobayashi Q10, R5
Sergio Perez Q6 R DNF
Like Williams, many expected big things from Sauber in Spain. However, whilst Maldinado set times worthy of pole, Sauber just wern’t good enough.
Kamui Kobayashi provided some entertainment with some great overtakes but he only came away with one point and Sergio Perez’s race was cut short when one of his tyres was fitted incorrectly.
Sebastian Vettel Q8, R6
Mark Webber Q12, R11
Red Bull made a huge mistake with Mark Webber on Saturday when they kept him in the pits for the dyeing seconds of Q2. The team thought Webber’s time was good enough for survival but it wasn’t and this led to a shock early exit for last years pole sitter.
Sebastian Vettel made it to the final session but opted not to set a time to preserve tyres.
Neither driver set the world on fire on race day but Vettel remains in the top spot of the Drivers’ Championship after some easy overtakes on better tyres towards the end of the Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg Q7, R7
Michael Schumacher Q9, R DNF
Mercedes seem to have dropped off the pace after a decent start to the season. Neither driver set the world on fire in qualifying and neither made mutch of an impact on race day.
Rosberg finished where he started and as I reported earlier Schumacher ended his race early with a foolish error.
Lewis Hamilton Q1, R8
Jenson Button Q11, R9
McLaren will want to forget about Spain. Jenson Button struggled with his car all weekend and dropped out of qualifying earlier than expected. He did a reasonable job on Saturday but P9 for the driver who won the opening race of the season was far from acceptable.
Lewis Hamilton fell victim to yet more McLaren team blunders when he was disqualified from qualifying. The rules of Formula One state that you must have enough fuel in your car to finish your final lap of qualifying and provide one litre of gasoline to the sports governing body for analysis.
McLaren under filled Hamilton’s car and discovered that they could not pit him after he set his pole position time and have enough fuel for the required one litre. The team decided to stop Hamilton out on track believing it was more important to provide the sample than finish the lap.
The rules require you to do both and Hamilton was demoted to the back of the grid.
The McLaren man did well to fight his way up the standings but he will be very conscious of the fact that his team are costing him a shot at the title.
Nico Hulkenberg Q14, R10
Paul di Resta Q13, R14
There really isn’t much to write about Force India’s weekend. I think Paul di Resta hit the nail on the head when he said his team were scratching their heads. Last grand prix Force India were fighting with Williams for position, but in Spain whilst Williams battled at the front, Force India were stuck firmly in the mid field.
Jean-Eric Vergne Q15, R12
Daniel Ricciardo Q16, R13
Not a great race for Torro Rosso. I guess you could find positives in the fact that they made up places but P12 and 13 are ultimately pointless positions (if you catch my drift!).
Heikki Kovalainen Q20, R16
Vitaly Petrov Q19, R17
Literally the only thing worth mentioning about this team is the fact that Petrov managed to out qualify his teammate for the first time this season.
Timo Glock Q22, R18
Charles Pic Q21, R DNF
This team just made up the numbers.
Pedro de la Rosa Q23, R19
Narain Karthikeyan Q24, R DNF
You can’t help but take your hat off to these two drivers as the Spanish Grand Prix illustrated just how difficult their car is to handle. Even the simplest curve is a real battle and both drivers show incredible car control to hold on, but ultimately this team could be beaten by almost anything else you can imagine!
So as we head to round six of the Formula One season are we headed for our sixth different winner in a sixth different car? If so, my money is on Lotus!
Drivers’ Championship Top Three
Constructors’ Championship Top Three
Red Bull 109