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Race - Alonso storms to victory in Spain 12 May 2013

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 leads at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has a great start and moves into third with an around-the-outside move on Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes at Turn 3 Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen battles hard to get around the outside of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull for third place Caterham's Giedo van der Garde loses his left rear wheel. He returns to the pits but retires shortly afterwards because of damage Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo is having a good race and he moves himself up to 8th with this move on Force India's Paul di Resta Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton struggles with tyre wear and is passed by Williams' Pastor Maldonado as he falls back down the order The right-rear tyre of Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso lets go, sending the Frenchman to the pits Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013

Fernando Alonso drove a perfect race to give his adoring countrymen the result they dreamed of in in Sunday’s Formula 1 Gran Premio de España 2013 at Barcelona.

The Spaniard had to bide his time after failing to get past either Nico Rosberg's Mercedes or Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull at the start, though a brilliant lunge around the outside took him by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and then the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3.

Ferrari were the first of the front runners to make the switch from Pirelli’s medium tyre to the hard, first with fifth-placed Felipe Massa on lap eight, then with Alonso one lap later.

Rosberg and Vettel stopped on the 10th lap, leaving Esteban Gutierrez temporarily in the lead for Sauber as he had yet to pit, and though Rosberg resumed in second place behind the Swiss car, Alonso was able to slot into third ahead of Vettel.

That was Alonso's first crucial move. The next came on lap 13 as he overtook Rosberg. That triggered a fateful slide from second place to fifth for the German as Vettel and Massa also overtook him.

Alonso became the leader on the road on the 14th lap when Gutierrez pitted, and thereafter he managed his race brilliantly, taking a set of medium tyres on his second stop on lap 21, mediums again on lap 36, then more hards on lap 49.

Vettel had no answer this day, and slipped back as his similar four-stop strategy failed to pay off. Thus Raikkonen was left as Alonso’s only serious challenger.

Lotus had the Finn on a three-stop strategy, which began with mediums, and stayed that way in his stops on laps 10 and 26. Not until his third and final pit call on lap 45 did he switch to hards.

By the time Alonso made his last stop (which, it was later revealed he did with a puncture), four laps later, the gap between them was eight seconds, but on his fresher rubber Alonso initially pulled away until they reached stalemate on the 59th circuit. Their lap times then were three-thousandths of a second apart, and thereafter the Lotus was fractionally quicker, but the gap remained around 12s until Alonso backed off on the final lap and crossed the line 9.3s ahead in a race that was vital to his title aspirations and which put Ferrari right back on track.

To make it a great day for the Scuderia, Massa fought brilliantly from ninth on the grid after his penalty for impeding Mark Webber in qualifying dropped him three places, and took a well-deserved third, 16.7s adrift of Raikkonen. Vettel and Red Bull, well beaten for the first time in a long time, had to be content with fourth and fifth, as Webber battled back from a terrible start to follow his team mate home.

In the wake of the top five finishers, the remaining positions down to 13th were in doubt to the flag. Rosberg’s three-stop strategy earned him sixth on another tough and deeply disappointing day for Mercedes, whose tyre wear remains problematic.

He just held off Paul di Resta who yet again was Force India’s better runner. The Scot drove another great race for seventh, ahead of the duelling McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. The Englishman languished way down the order for a long time but it emerged as the race unfolded that he was on a three-stop strategy.

The Mexican, meanwhile, made an excellent start and ran sixth initially before being passed by Massa. Thereafter he was always in the hunt for points, but after his fourth pit stop he closed in on Button but did not make quite the same robust attempts to overtake as he had in Bahrain. Six points for McLaren were a welcome bonus, after all their troubles in practice and qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo drove a superb race for Toro Rosso and just managed to hold off Gutierrez, who had his best Grand Prix so far for Sauber with a feisty drive in which he seemed likely to score his first points. He missed out by three-tenths of a second.

In 12th place, Lewis Hamilton had what must rank amongst the worst races of his F1 career. He was beaten off the line by Rosberg and overtaken by Vettel and Alonso in quick succession, ending the lap fourth. Soon he tumbled down the order in a car that just lacked speed. His four-stop strategy never paid out as well as team mate Rosberg’s three, and he looked like an also-ran all afternoon. At one stage he was down in 15th and he was lapped on the 55th lap, but he managed to salvage 12th after holding off Adrian Sutil’s Force India by less than half a second by the finish.

Williams also had a hugely disappointing day, especially on the 43rd lap when 2012 winner Pastor Maldonado was lapped by Alonso, the man he beat last year. The Venezuelan got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and finished a lapped 14th, while team mate Valtteri Bottas ran ahead of him for a long time but had to be content with 16th behind Nico Hulkenberg, whose race was ruined when Sauber unsafely released him into the path of incoming Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.

Hulkenberg needed another stop for a new nose, and made a sixth to serve a 10s stop-and-go penalty. The Frenchman eventually had a right-rear tyre puncture as a result of the collision, and later retired because of the damage that ensued.

Caterham seemed set for their best race in a long time as Giedo van der Garde battled with the Williams early on, but the left-rear wheel was improperly secured in his pit stop on lap 20 and he soon lost it trying to return to the pits. The team were subsequently fined €10,000 for unsafe release. In the other Caterham, Charles Pic came from the back of the grid to beat the Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.

Besides Vergne and Van der Garde, the only other retirement was Romain Grosjean, with a rear suspension problem on his Lotus.

Vettel still leads the points table with 89 to the consistent Raikkonen’s 85, while Alonso’s win moves him up to third with 72 from Hamilton on 50, Massa on 45 and Webber on 42. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 131 from Ferrari on 117, Lotus on 111 and Mercedes on 72.

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