Standings: Vettel 4, Webber 1
Sebastian was once again streets ahead of Webber, though not by as much here as he was in Bahrain. A strong qualifying lap was enough to sit the German third on the grid and he was ahead of Hamilton and chasing Rosberg soon after the lights went out. He fell off Alonso’s pace after the first stint and progressively fell further and further away from the rostrum, but fourth and fifth was just about as good as Red Bull could have expected here. Webber suffered a characteristic poor start and fell to 13th when the lights went out. Though he appeared compromised early on, the Australian did well to recover to a mere ten seconds behind Vettel at the chequered flag. Mark was trading times with his team-mate during the second half of the race and it was an important improvement on his Bahrain pace. Red Bull haven’t yet mastered the 2013 Pirelli rubber and it hurt them greatly in Barcelona. The Milton Keynes squad have dominated in Monaco the past three years – can they continue the trend in a fortnight?
Standings: Alonso 4, Massa 1
Another brilliant drive from Alonso secured his second victory of the year in even more commanding style than in China. It was an important victory for the Spaniard who had been disappointed with his results so far in 2013. Alonso closed the gap to Vettel by 13 points in Barcelona and he’s now only a further 17 behind and if Ferrari continue the form they’ve shown in two of the last three races, Fernando looks as if he’s got his best opportunity at nabbing a third title since 2007. The Felipe Massa of old was back in force in Barcelona and took his first podium of the season, albeit 26 seconds behind his team-mate. It was an important result for Ferrari and could signal the beginning of their 2013 challenge. Just as they look to be on top of the tyres, Pirelli have announced they’ll be providing revised tyres from Canada onwards. With Monaco between now and then, the Scuderia will be hoping to take full advantage of their position before the new tyres threaten to mix the grid once again.
Standings: Button 4, Perez 1
Though Button was embarrassed to be so far behind his team-mate after qualifying, it was Jenson who had the last laugh on Sunday. While Perez looked to have the race pace in hand, it was his team-mate who took a surprise triumph with a three-stop strategy. After the disappointment of Bahrain Jenson needed a solid result ahead of his ever-improving team-mate and is now five points ahead in the standings. McLaren are struggling to improve their 2013 car and while the MP4-28 is trundling around in the low-points positions, Force India equalled their similar-engined rival’s points with one driver. If McLaren can’t start showing their superiority over Force India soon, it’ll start to become an embarrassment to the top dogs in Woking. Though their two drivers are supposedly easy on their tyres, they aren’t able to make up for a poor car.
Standings: Raikkonen 4, Grosjean 1
For the third race in succession Kimi Raikkonen was able to come home in second. It was a drive that showed the value of the Finn, who closed the gap to Sebastian Vettel to a mere four points. As a team that is yet to have shown the pace to suggest they have the fastest car, Lotus will need to put everything behind Raikkonen if they have any hope of winning the title in 2013. The ever-consistent Raikkonen always seems ready to take advantage of the faster teams’ mistakes. Grosjean was disappointed to suffer a suspension failure early in the race after qualifying less than two-tenths off his team-mate, but he now has only 30% of Kimi’s score and will need to pull some strong results out of the bag soon if he has any intention of retaining his seat for 2014.
Standings: Rosberg 1, Hamilton 4
Nico responded to the criticisms of his Bahrain race by securing the third pole position of his career – and the second in as many races. His pace on Saturday was in fact so strong his first lap (of two) was quick enough to finish the session on top. As expected, the Mercedes pair fell back in the race sooner rather than later with Rosberg ending sixth and Hamilton even more disappointed in 12th. It was the first time Lewis has taken the chequered flag outside the points since the 2009 German Grand Prix. Nico put his first result against Hamilton on the board with his Barcelona performance and will need more drives like on Sunday if he wishes to claw back the 28-point deficit to Lewis. The Mercedes is quick over one lap – what are the odds of a Silver Arrow on pole in Monaco?
Standings: Hulkenberg 4, Gutierrez 1
Welcome to Formula One, Esteban Gutierrez.
The Spanish Grand Prix was a coming-of-age race for the Mexican who showed twice as much talent in a single race than he had in the four previous combined. He was disappointed to just miss out on points in the end, after having been stuck behind Daniel Ricciardo for the last handful of laps of the race. None the less, it was a race that showed us his first real attempt at making an impact on the scene. Though he struggled against Hulkenberg in qualifying, Esteban made the most of his opportunities during the race and finished strongly in the mid-field. Nico was involved in a clumsy incident with Jean-Eric Vergne in the pit-lane and the penalty that followed denied us the opportunity to see what the German could’ve done in the Sauber C32. After four races of disappointment, Esteban was the clear star in the Sauber garage this weekend.
Paul di Resta
Standings: di Resta 4, Sutil 1
di Resta once again showed his worth in Spain, pushing himself into a solid seventh position before the end of the race. He was involved in an exciting battle with Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo mid-way through the event and suffered with a DRS miscommunication initially in the Rosberg battle, but eventually finished less than a second behind his Mercedes rival. Adrian was struck again with the perennial Force India pit-stop issues and much of his race was compromised as a result. His return to Formula One in Melbourne, and his subsequent front-running drive, seems so long ago now; his Scottish team-mate has secured points in the last three consecutive races and Adrian will need to quickly regain the confidence of Force India if he wishes to continue past 2013.
Standings: Maldonado 3, Bottas 2
It’s hard to imagine Williams pulled out a surprise – but convincing – victory this time last year. Flash forward 12 months and the pair finished 14th and 16th. If that wasn’t contrasting enough, the team that started the 2012 race on pole had both its drivers eliminated in Q1 this time around. Williams entered pre-season testing this year with high hopes and it’s early-testing form suggested that their optimism was warranted. But it’s been a disastrous start to 2013 for the Grove squad and Monaco can’t get any worse. The team has been struggling to find a strong sponsorship commitment for a number of years now and results like these aren’t going to interest anybody. If the team doesn’t turn around soon, there’s a good chance it could mean the end of the team within the next few years. It’s a disappointing reality, but that’s Formula One.
Standings: Ricciardo 4, Vergne 1
After running in sixth/seventh for much of the mid-part of the race, Ricciardo was disappointed to end the event in tenth. The drop-off in pace was a result of the team being forced to use a worn set of hard tyres during the final stint and it nearly cost them the final points position. Nevertheless it was an important drive for the Australian who needs every result he can achieve if he wishes to be an option for the 2014 Red Bull seat. Jean-Eric was first the victim of a pit-stop incident with Hulkenberg and then, shortly after, tyre delamination. The season hasn’t been easy for Vergne so far, but he showed on Friday just how handy he is in the wet. The pair nearly made it into Q3, but set themselves up strongly at the start of the race. Ricciardo has urged the personnel at the factory to put everything into the 2013 car and the pair won’t shy away from aggressive driving if it means moving up to the main squad for next season.
Giedo van der Garde
Standings: Pic 4, van der Garde 1
Caterham came out in Spain with their most convincing performance yet. van der Garde out-qualified the Marussias (and his team-mate) before Pic took the reigns on Sunday to finish a lap ahead of the highest-placed Marussia of Bianchi. Giedo was ahead of his team-mate when he lost a wheel in the back section of the track and looked as if he might hold that position for the duration of the race. In fact, the Dutch driver got as high as 13th place before falling progressively further behind the established midfield. Pic will be disappointed to have been shown up by his team-mate so convincingly and will be looking to take full advantage of his Formula One experience in Monaco next round. van der Garde has historically done will in Monaco in his junior career and will want to show to the Caterham pit wall he’s just as important to the team as Charles.
Standings: Bianchi 5, Chilton 0
Max had one of his strongest qualifying session of the year in Barcelona, but was still well adrift of his team-mate. While Chilton fell further back during the race, it was Bianchi who was securing Marussia important television time as he kept pace with the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. The fact he was able to do so was either a sad indictment of the Pirelli compounds or a positive appraisal of Bianchi’s skill. Marussia looked all out of sorts this weekend and will need to do some serious searching in the break between now and Monaco if they hope to regain their advantage over their closest rivals. Bianchi and Chilton both have solid history in the Principality and both will be looking to get one up on their team-mate at the sport’s most prestigious venue.