2011 Spain Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: The blown exhaust issue could come to a head very soon, and the repercussions will go beyond just the effect on the championship.
EVENT: Spain continues to do well as long as Alonso does well.
QUALIFYING: It's starting to look like the days when cars would sit in their garages until the final minutes leaving an empty track for the majority of qualifying. That's one of the reasons they went to this format. One simple way to solve the urge for teams to save tires for the race is to allocate one more set of the prime tires to be used for qualifying only.
RACE: More of the same which is a plus for race fans.
TRACK: Circuit de Catalunya was a prime test of the new tires and regulations as this is typically a processional. It passed with flying colors as passes were made throughout the field, including areas never thought possible in the past.
START: Alonso sends the crowd into a frenzy, Webber blows his moment, Schumacher shoots through, Button drops like a rock.
VETTEL: Sebastian's best race of the year, holding off a faster Hamilton.
WEBBER: So much for that pole position. So much for using Spain to turnaround his season like last year. So much for any hope left for this season.
RED BULL: Well, they didn't come together, but their insistence ... no, obsession ... to fight amongst themselves could have cost the race.
HAMILTON: Once again, perfect strategy, timely pit stops, and excellent driving put Lewis in contention for the win. Heck, he was the fastest car at the end, except in the one key corner where he needed to set up the pass.
BUTTON: The circumstances were right for Jenson's driving style to milk the tires to a podium.
MCLAREN: They have found something in race trim over their rivals. Will it be enough to salvage the season?
ALONSO: Fernando went from leading the race in his native country to falling a lap down in an inexplicable fifth place. What a huge letdown.
MASSA: It's been awhile since Felipe made a dumb mistake.
FERRARI: Done in by the hard compound.
SCHUMACHER: Jumped ahead of his teammate at the start and held him off the rest of the way. A rare occurrence.
ROSBERG: Nico can take heart in his three fastest laps being faster than any lap his teammate turned and was being held up at the end by said teammate.
HEIDFELD: Actually expected Nick to move up the field a lot quicker. But, he did wind up an excellent eighth after starting from the back, beating out his teammate. More importantly, he survived quite the inferno during practice.
PETROV: A very disappointing race for Vitaly after an impressive qualifying performance.
SAUBER: Both drivers in the points for the first time this year. Legally.
WILLIAMS: Continue to fade away.
KOVALAINEN: Heikki should just skip the Spanish GP next time.
SUTIL: James Hunt must be rolling over in his grave at the thought drivers can now be held accountable for their barroom antics.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Exhaust.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 4 -- The number of pit stops the leaders have settled on with these new tires, more than anyone wants to see.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: This is the eighth time a German driver won the Spanish GP in the World Championship era. Michael Schumacher won six times while Jochen Mass took the 1975 race. Before 1950, Rudolf Caracciola was the only German to win, in 1935.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner summed it up the best, "It's all about the tire. The encouraging thing for us is that we've been to five different types of circuit, and we've been competitive everywhere."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Mark Webber brings up a very interesting point about a negative effect of all the tire degradation, "We need to be careful in F1 with our long run pace, that we don't get too close to the other categories in terms of lap times. We still need to be the pinnacle of the sport and have strong lap times. Some of my laps towards the end were 1m30s, which was only about eight seconds quicker than the GP3 cars, and I think the budget's a little bit different..."
SCHEDULE: Off to Monaco where tires and qualifying will play the key roles in the race. With McLaren apparently better at handling the tire wear and Red Bull the fastest cars in qualifying, it could make for a very, very interesting race.
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