Spain analysis - and then there were five... 14 May 2012
Pastor Maldonado had been quick throughout final practice and qualifying, but few seriously expected him to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Those in the know were tipping Lotus for glory and the black and gold cars did ultimately prove quickest, just not - critically - over 66 laps. Instead Maldonado defied his critics - of whom there have been plenty since he entered F1 - with a faultless maiden victory. In a superbly balanced Williams FW34, the Venezuelan kept his cool after losing the lead to Fernando Alonso at the start of the race and then withstanding huge pressure from the Ferrari near its end. We review an immense race, team by team
Pastor Maldonado, P1
Bruno Senna, Retired lap 13, accident
What a fabulous day for Williams, as Maldonado had a trouble-free run to his first and the teams 114th Grand Prix victory, making him the fifth winner in 2012s five races. The FW34 performed faultlessly, and was the class of the field. Senna was nowhere near as competitive, having spun in qualifying, and was then taken out by Schumacher as they collided in Turn 1. That, and a fire in the team garage after the race, were not sufficient to spoil what was a wonderful day for one of the most popular teams in the paddock, which found itself back in Victory Lane for the first time since Montoya won in Brazil back in 2004.
Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P15
For a while it looked as if Alonso had it made after his lightning start, but tyre wear got him in the end after a valiant chase after Maldonado and he had to settle for second. Thats enough to move him to joint top position with Vettel in the drivers championship, though he was under serious pressure from Raikkonen in the closing laps and would likely have been overtaken had the race been over 67 laps. Massa had yet another miserable race, stuck in the lower midfield after getting a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags.
Kimi Raikkonen, P3
Romain Grosjean, P4
Lotus had great pace - enough for the two fastest laps of the race for Grosjean and Raikkonen - but it came far too late. Neither of them was able to go fast enough at the start, and Grosjean damaged his front wing in a first-lap clash with Perez which cost him further pace. They thus fell more than 20s behind Maldonado and Alonso by their final stints. Then they flew, but Raikkonen needed another lap to get Alonso. Third and fourth places, however, move Lotus to third overall in the championship.
Kamui Kobayashi, P5
Sergio Perez, Retired lap 38, transmission
Saubers high hopes took a dive when Perez collided with Grosjean between Turn 1 and Turn 2, and was delayed in the ensuing pit stop at the end of the opening lap. Later he dropped out with transmission failure. Kobayashi, however, was one of the men of the match, fighting past Button and Rosberg to take an excellent fifth place. He believed that had he been able to qualify better (he didnt run in Q3 because of a hydraulic issue), he could have been a podium contender.
Sebastian Vettel, P6
Mark Webber, P11
Both drivers needed to have their cars noses changed after sustaining damage to their front wings, though neither knew how they had incurred it. Vettel also got a drive-through penaltyfor ignoring yellow flags, so his eventual sixth was even more meritorious as on fresher tyres he caught and passed the McLarens and Rosberg in the closing laps. Webber fell into the lower midfield because of his nose change, and could not unseat Hulkenberg from the final points-scoring position. The teams performance bore out Christian Horners post-Bahrain suggestion that they would not necessarily dominate thereafter the way that they did in 2010 and 2011.
Nico Rosberg, P7
Michael Schumacher, Retired lap 13, accident
Rosberg fought hard on a strategy that called for two runs on soft Pirellis and then a long 26-lap stint on the hards, but by the end he was powerless to fend off Kobayashi and Vettel and just held off Hamilton. Schumacher was angry after his collision with Senna, and angrier still to learn the stewards have given him a five-place grid penalty in Monaco.
Lewis Hamilton, P8
Jenson Button, P9
McLarens strategy in putting Hamilton on a two stopper paid off handsomely, but only because he drove so delicately yet quickly even though he did a 31-lap run on hards at the end. He only just failed to grab seventh from Rosberg, which was superb given that hed started 24th. It was confirmation that he doesnt take as much out of his tyres as is popularly thought. Button had an awful time, stuck in the upper midfeld where the traffic and turbulent airflow ahead of him destroyed his tyres and promoted massive understeer. Eighth and ninth for McLaren counted as a disaster that compounded their problems in qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg, P10
Paul di Resta, P14
Hulkenberg emerged to grab the final point after an excellent drive, but thought he looked very strong at times a frustrated Di Resta had to be content with 14th, watching his mirrors for the attacking Massa in the second half.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P11
Daniel Ricciardo, P13
Both drivers put in strong performances which, in better circumstances, could have seen them contending for the final point. Instead, they suffered from being mired in a brutal fight with the Force Indias.
Heikki Kovalainen, P16
Vitaly Petrov, P17
Kovalainen won his race against team mate Petrov this week, as Caterham took a double finish. At one time the Finn was running in the top six as the varying pit stop strategies played out, before dropping back to the teams usual place. Both men felt they got the best from their machinery.
Timo Glock, P18
Charles Pic, Retired lap 37, driveshaft
Pic spun on the opening lap, and was later given a drive-through penalty for missing blue flags. He later retired with driveshaft failure but Glock brought his MR01 home 18th, suffering from the same rear-end stability problems that had troubled him in practice.
Pedro de la Rosa, P19
Narain Karthikeyan, Retired lap 23, wheel nut
De la Rosa kept the Marussias honest for a while. But Karthikeyan fell victim to a wheel-nut problem during his pit stop on the 23 lap, and did not finish his teams home race.
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