Welcome to the fifth round of the 2013 Formula One World Championship season at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain. After a three-week break, the teams are ready to kick off the European leg of the season starting with the Spanish Grand Prix.
Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel leads the field with 77 points heading into Spain. Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton currently occupy second and third places, with 67 and 50 points respectively. Fernando Alonso sits in fourth position with 47 points and Mark Webber is in a distant fifth having only secured 41% of team-mate Vettel’s score.
Previous winners at the Circuit de Catalunya include Pastor Maldonado (2012), Sebastian Vettel (2011), Mark Webber (2010), Jenson Button (2009), Kimi Raikkonen (2008, 2005) Felipe Massa (2007) and Fernando Alonso (2006).
Bahrain Grand Prix Recap
Sebastian Vettel strengthened his lead in the World Championship by taking a dominant victory ahead of the Loti of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Raikkonen’s second place strengthened the Finn’s runner-up place in the championship standings, while the final position on the rostrum was by far Grosjean’s best performance yet in 2013.
Paul di Resta left Bahrain disappointed to have missed out on a podium place after having run strongly throughout the weekend. Nonetheless, the Scot secured his equal-best result in Formula One with a fourth place.
Lewis Hamilton came back from a pre-race penalty to secure fifth place. While it wasn’t the podium he’d have been hoping for, it was a solid damage limitation drive from the Brit who looked worryingly uncompetitive early in the event. Pole-sitter and team-mate Nico Rosberg struggled for pace throughout the race and finished a disappointing 9th, 41 seconds behind the race winner.
Sergio Perez launched back onto the main stage for the first time in 2013 while battling aggressively with team-mate Jenson Button. While Jenson wasn’t pleased with his stablemate’s actions during the 56 laps, Perez proved he had reason by finishing in sixth and four places ahead of Button come the chequered flag.
Mark Webber finished a disappointing seventh place, some 37 seconds behind his team-mate. A pre-race penalty relegated him to seventh on the grid and the Australian never looked as if he would make much progress during the event. He lost 19 points to Vettel in this race.
After two DRS malfunctions, Fernando Alonso came back to secure four important points. It was a disappointing result for the Spaniard, but he’s lost three World Championships by as many points in the past. Come Brazil, the Ferrari driver may just be happy he brought the car home in the points here.
Hembery said earlier in the week,
“We introduced a revised version of the hard tyre for the Spanish Grand Prix in 2011, which was our first year in the sport. We expect the medium tyre to still be significantly faster and this is the one that the teams are likely to qualify on.”
“The hard is likely to be the preferred race tyre.”
The Hard-Medium pairing has been used two times so far this year: at Bahrain and Malaysia.
The 4.655-kilometre track contains 16 corners, mostly right-handers, putting the emphasis on the left tyres in particular, which do most of the work.
Nine out of the last 10 races at the track have been won from pole position.
Drag Reduction System
The Drag Reduction System will once again be available to drivers at two points in the lap throughout the weekend: Between turns 16 and one, as well as nine and ten.
The Circuit de Catalunya has typically been a venue with less on-track action and the inclusion of a second DRS zone in this year’s race should provide drivers with a greater opportunity to overtake their rivals. This theory was applied in Bahrain, but with little success. The second DRS zone at the Spanish Grand Prix begins at the exit of one of the circuit’s highest-speed corners and may provide more opportunities than in Bahrain.
Teams will be glad to know predictions suggest consistent temperatures will feature at this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, meaning there will be fewer unknowns entering Sunday’s race. Though cloud cover is expected on both Friday and Sunday, rain isn’t forecast to influence actions during the weekend.
1. Pastor Maldonado started last year’s Grand Prix on pole, but who set the fastest lap time in Q3?
2. Which driver was involved in a major crash at turn 9 in the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix?
3. Name two other venues to have previously hosted the Spanish Grand Prix.
4. Who has won more races at the Circuit di Catalunya: Williams or McLaren?
5. Which Formula One returnee bowed out of the sport forever after the 1995 Spanish Grand Prix?