Spanish GP 2010
MAY 10, 2010
Race Report - Webber Makes It Four Winners In Five Races
Mark Webber completed a perfect Barcelona weekend when he dominated the Spanish Grand Prix, round five of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, from starting lights to chequered flag.
Webber's winning margin was 24s, from Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and then Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel, who had a troubled afternoon.
"We had a lot of cars around us that were quick in a straight line and the run to Turn 1 was vital," Webber said. "Seb and I had a good battle into there, I got through in front and then settled into a rhythm, looking after the option tyres. We thought they'd be okay but you never know, we're still learning about the rubber and I made sure they were in good nick. We had a clean pit stop and after that I had Lewis Hamilton behind and we just controlled the gap and got the car home."
Red Bull's massive qualifying superiority was not as apparent in race trim and Vettel found that he was unable to keep pace with Webber and even ceded a place to Hamilton's McLaren at the first round of pit stops.
"It was a surprise that I couldn't run a better pace," the young German said. "All afternoon the circuit didn't seem to be in such good shape and the lap times were slow. In the first couple of laps everyone is always all over the place anyway but after that I found that I lost ground continuously and sometimes it wasn't possible to get away from Lewis. It was just an all-round lack of grip and then I lost the position at the pit stop.
"I think maybe we came in too early. We thought Lewis was coming in too, but he stayed out and then I had to wait at my pit for Alonso to drive by for his stop, and Jenson, who was stopping at the box in front of us. That meant Lewis was able to pass us and it was interesting when he came out. He had the inside, it was a bit critical with a lapped car and I went wide to avoid contact. After that it was a bit boring having to just follow Lewis."
Life became more interesting again for Vettel when he suffered a brake failure going into Turn 7 with 12 laps to go. "Something felt strange, flew off and after that the car was pulling to the right. I thought that was it, went into the pits and they had a quick look and fitted a new set of tyres. I went back out and they told me to come in again and retire but I asked if I shouldn't just try to salvage some points. I was thinking one or two but I'd had quite a gap and I was still able to finish third without proper brakes. I was lucky to get the car home and score a podium today."
Investigations by the team revealed a delaminated brake disc.
After a stronger race than expected after qualifying, Hamilton suffered a tyre deflation going into the quick Turn 3, his McLaren sitting down at the left front corner before ploughing across the gravel trap and into the tyre barrier on the penultimate lap. Hamilton's loss was Fernando Alonso's gain as the home hero picked up another position and finished in second place, meaning that despite his three chaotic races in Australia, Malaysia and China, the Spaniard is still just three points behind championship leader Jenson Button's 70 points, with Vettel on 67 and Webber, 53.
Initial investigations into Hamilton's problems suggest that debris caused rim damage, which led to the sudden tyre deflation. It means that the '08 champion is now sixth in the title chase, 21 points adrift of his '09 champion team mate.
Button had to be content with fifth place in Spain, losing out to Michael Schumacher's Mercedes, which stopped to swap to Bridgestone's prime tyre two laps earlier. McLaren reckoned that Jenson would have held onto the position had it not been for a dragging clutch at his stop.
From that point on Schumacher resisted every move Button made in characteristically robust fashion and despite a Mercedes that was not on the Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren pace, managed to hold onto fourth place and the best result of his comeback. Team mate Rosberg had a poor start and could only manage a lapped 13th.
Felipe Massa brought the second Ferrari home in seventh place after damaging his left front wing while lapping Karun Chandhok's HRT, with Robert Kubica's Renault, Rubens Barrichello's Williams and Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso completing the point scorers.
A delighted Webber, always one to keep his feet on the ground and with an appreciation for every aspect of the F1 scene, threw his crash helmet into the crowd because "they don't always get the best deal." He then jumped up onto the podium, where he was joined by Red Bull's chief mechanic Kenny Handkammer, as well as Alonso and his team mate.
"It was great to have Kenny up there because he's been in F1 a long time and has won a lot of races as chief bolt. It's been a fantastic effort from the whole team, starting with everyone being out of place coming back from Shanghai. It's meant the factory working through bank holiday and then, trackside this weekend, Kenny and his soldiers have practically had their eyes popping out of their heads with the hours they've been working. It's been a fantastic effort from the whole team with a faultless qualifying and then a well-executed race."
Thoughts now turn to Monte Carlo, an entirely different kind of circuit, just seven days on. Despite Red Bull and Webber's win in his own back yard, Alonso is confident that over the season he can still challenge for a third world title. "We have steps coming to the car in the next few races, different types of tracks which will play to the strengths of different cars and I still think I can be in contention," he told his home faithful.