Sunday, 12 May 2013

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

Well, the misgivings of the Mercedes drivers, and the suspicions of this correspondent, were borne out in no uncertain terms in Barcelona, as Rosberg and Hamilton's qualifying pre-eminence gave way to frustration and  mediocrity in the race itself. They were by no means alone in having to contend with the vagaries of tyre wear and performance, but detractors may point out that Mercedes seem, for a team aspiring to consistent success, to be disproportionately affected by such things.

The championship challenge posed by Ferrari is looking more solid and genuine by the race, and their confidence will be bolstered by the knowledge that this particular venue is seen as a reliable barometer of general form and performance.  In overall terms, they looked as consistent as anybody else out there.  It was nice to see Felipe Massa on the podium again.

Doubtless the debate about tyre degradation will rage with renewed vigour after Spain.  I share some of the disquiet about the way it is affecting the racing, but if it is deemed that matters need to be addressed then this is for the powers-that-be.  In the meantime, the competitors have to manage the situation as it presents itself, and adapt to the circumstances in which they find themselves.  The winner is still the chap who crosses the line before anybody else.  Of more concern is the recent batch of tyre failures....

Sebastian Vettel began to tread water, metaphorically speaking, around half-distance, unable to match the Ferraris and Kimi Raikkonen.  Frustrating for the champion, but at least some points added to his account.  I did expect Red Bull to go a little better here, I must admit.

Even by his own standards, Raikkonen was in feisty form today, combining that slick pace with the odd firm and audacious manoeuvre.  It seems odd to describe the Finn as "metronomically consistent", but that is how it looks at present. The trick once again for Lotus will be sustaining this level of intensity for the full duration of what is a gruelling season.

To discuss McLaren's current woes is almost painful, and it is perhaps a measure of their plight that getting two cars to the finish just inside the top ten was regarded as an achievement of sorts.  Whilst not exactly being resigned to their predicament, there are signs that the team recognises that it will be hard work from here on in, with any major short-term improvements unlikely.  All that can be asked is that the drivers, and everybody else, give hundred percent, and remain positive.

For all the talk of tyres and stereotyped racing, the next round, at Monaco, may well shake things up a little.

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