Fernando Alonso (Q. 5, R. 1)
Fernando Alonso and Ferrari took victory completely unopposed in a fashion similar to Schumacher in the Ferrari ten years ago. It was the second dominant performance in three races by the Spanish driver, who must surely have himself as the early-season favourite for the title. The Ferraris were split by 0.001 in qualifying, but Alonso surged ahead in the race, eventually finishing nearly half a minute in front of his Brazilian team-mate. Even with two wins under his belt, the 2005-6 World Champion will still need to overcome the ever reliable Sebastian Vettel who, despite having only been on the podium once in the past three races, has conceded only five points to his Ferrari rival.
Kimi Raikkonen (Q. 4, R. 2)
For the third race in succession, Kimi Raikkonen graced the second step of the podium. The Finnish driver has been a strangely consistent distance from the victor at the chequered flag in the past three events; nine seconds behind at both Spain and Bahrain and ten behind after 56 laps in China. Despite not having taken a victory since the opening round, Raikkonen has maintained a strong contending position after leaving Malaysia with a mere six points and has scored an equal number of points as Fernando Alonso in the past three races.
Giedo van der Garde (Q. 19, R. RET)
Giedo impressed on Saturday when he managed to out-qualify team-mate Charles Pic by four tenths of a second. The Dutch driver’s race was cut short when an improperly-fitted tyre slipped off its corner half-way round the track. Despite carefully navigating back to the pit lane, he was forced to call it a day after having conceded a substantial amount of time to his rivals. Caterham showed in Spain their new updates had improved the competitiveness of the car and they looked faster than Marussia all weekend. If van der Garde can maintain the same level of performance in Monaco, Caterham might yet be forced to focus on the Dutchman.
Esteban Gutierrez (Q. 19, R. 11)
The Spanish Grand Prix was a coming of age for Esteban Gutierrez who had, until now, looked worryingly out-of-place in Formula One. Despite the shaky start to his season, the Mexican pushed aside a grid penalty to come within seconds of his first points in the sport. If it weren’t for a spirited defence by the much-slower Daniel Ricciardo lasting the final six laps of the race, the 21-year-old might yet have put his name on the board. His composed race made established driver Nico Hulkenberg look decidedly amateur after the German made unnecessary contact with Jean-Eric Vergne in the pit lane.
Mercedes (Q. 1, 2. R. 6, 12)
After such a dominant performance in qualifying, Mercedes – as expected – fell through the order soon after the lights went out. While Rosberg held first until lap 10, he was in fifth place three laps later. Hamilton faired even more poorly, losing out at the start and falling to fourth by the end of the first lap, eventually finishing over a lap behind Alonso. It was the first time Lewis has crossed the line out of the points since the 2009 German Grand Prix and it doesn’t bode well for Mercedes’ chances of challenging for the title in 2013. The F1 W04 has secured pole the last three consecutive races, but has only 33 points to show for it. If the team carries its one-lap pace into Monaco, we could yet see a Mercedes setting the fastest time in Q3 in the principality for the second year running. But the narrow confines of the Mediterranean track won’t be enough to hold the team’s rivals behind if they struggle like this again in Monaco.
Nico Hulkenberg (Q. 15, R. 15)
In a race where Esteban Gutierrez began to show his worth, Nico Hulkenberg cost himself possible points by making contact with Jean-Eric Vergne in the pit lane. You can’t be sure what the German was trying to achieve when he failed to slow down in response to Vergne’s reduced speed, but it was a momentary lapse in concentration that resulted in a drive-through penalty. Hulkenberg will have learnt from his lesson, but Sauber won’t be pleased with this result. It could be tight in the midfield later in the year and the points lost here could cost the team millions.