Can Mercedes convert front row into victory?

2013 Spanish Grand Prix pre-race analysis

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Cataunya, Barcelona, 2013So far the Spanish Grand Prix has had the hallmarks of recent race weekends in 2013.

The Mercedes pair are quick over a single lap and have annexed the front row of the grid. But in Bahrain and China they lacked the race pace to rebuff the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus.

Will the same be the case again on Sunday? Or will the harder tyres Pirelli have brought this weekend and Mercedes’ concentration on getting the most out of them pay off?

The start

Fernando Alonso has taken the lead at the start of the last two Spanish Grands Prix. In 2011 that involved propelling himself into first place from fourth on the grid.

It’s going to be tricky for him to pull off the same from fifth on the grid this weekend but the Ferrari is particularly fleet at the start and the straight run to turn one is the longest of the year.

In front of him are several drivers he needs to take some points off. First among which is Sebastian Vettel, who Alonso cannot afford to get separated from as they try to work their way past the Mercedes.

Alonso would have been able to rely on having team mate Felipe Massa alongside him not trying anything risky at the start. But Massa’s penalty means he now has the far less predictable and worryingly quick Romain Grosjean next to him at the start.

Strategy

“I think this race will be mainly dominated by tyre wear,” said Paul di Resta after qualifying, “and our car is normally very good at that.”

“Certainly when I see the tyres in parc ferme at the end of qualifying ours look quite healthy.”

Pierlli have toughened up their hard tyre compound for this race to extend the life of their product and expect to see the drivers making three pit stops tomorrow. Today’s running passed without a repeat of the tyre failure suffered by Di Resta during practice yesterday, and hopefully that will remain the case during the grand prix.

The harder tyres should help Mercedes in what has previously been their key weakness. But having taken pole position Rosberg wasn’t getting carried away with his prospects for the race:

“I?m not going to sit here and say I?m very confident that I can go for the win tomorrow,” he said in the press conference after qualifying.

“No, the target needs to be a little bit less than that I think ?ǣ maybe a podium ?ǣ but there are so many unknowns for tomorrow because the situation is completely different again, with graining. ”

Here’s the data from qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix:

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’21.913 1’21.776 (-0.137) 1’20.718 (-1.058)
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’21.728 1’21.001 (-0.727) 1’20.972 (-0.029)
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’22.158 1’21.602 (-0.556) 1’21.054 (-0.548)
4 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’22.210 1’21.676 (-0.534) 1’21.177 (-0.499)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’22.264 1’21.646 (-0.618) 1’21.218 (-0.428)
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’22.492 1’21.978 (-0.514) 1’21.219 (-0.759)
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’22.613 1’21.998 (-0.615) 1’21.308 (-0.690)
8 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’22.342 1’21.718 (-0.624) 1’21.570 (-0.148)
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’23.116 1’21.790 (-1.326) 1’22.069 (+0.279)
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1’22.663 1’22.019 (-0.644) 1’22.233 (+0.214)
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’22.905 1’22.127 (-0.778)
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’22.775 1’22.166 (-0.609)
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’22.952 1’22.346 (-0.606)
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1’23.166 1’22.355 (-0.811)
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’23.058 1’22.389 (-0.669)
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’23.218 1’22.793 (-0.425)
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’23.260
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’23.318
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’24.661
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’24.713
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1’24.996
22 Charles Pic Caterham 1’25.070

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Nico Rosberg 22.625 (5) 30.262 (2) 27.738 (1)
Lewis Hamilton 22.758 (8) 30.329 (5) 27.795 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 22.644 (6) 30.313 (3) 28.097 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen 22.512 (1) 30.365 (7) 28.283 (7)
Fernando Alonso 22.536 (3) 30.314 (4) 28.249 (6)
Felipe Massa 22.556 (4) 30.224 (1) 28.328 (8)
Romain Grosjean 22.530 (2) 30.367 (8) 28.411 (12)
Mark Webber 22.841 (9) 30.345 (6) 28.216 (5)
Sergio Perez 22.756 (7) 30.732 (10) 28.100 (4)
Paul di Resta 22.877 (11) 30.692 (9) 28.378 (10)
Daniel Ricciardo 22.864 (10) 30.833 (12) 28.430 (13)
Jean-Eric Vergne 22.877 (11) 30.879 (13) 28.410 (11)
Adrian Sutil 23.027 (14) 30.971 (16) 28.348 (9)
Jenson Button 22.880 (13) 30.931 (15) 28.544 (15)
Nico Hulkenberg 23.053 (15) 30.803 (11) 28.533 (14)
Esteban Gutierrez 23.185 (17) 30.909 (14) 28.598 (16)
Valtteri Bottas 23.227 (18) 31.083 (17) 28.812 (17)
Pastor Maldonado 23.057 (16) 31.329 (18) 28.932 (18)
Giedo van der Garde 23.314 (19) 31.758 (19) 29.589 (20)
Jules Bianchi 23.446 (21) 31.776 (22) 29.491 (19)
Max Chilton 23.503 (22) 31.772 (21) 29.721 (21)
Charles Pic 23.388 (20) 31.765 (20) 29.846 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 318.5 (197.9)
2 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 317.3 (197.2) -1.2
3 Sergio Perez McLaren 317.0 (197.0) -1.5
4 Jenson Button McLaren 316.9 (196.9) -1.6
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 316.3 (196.5) -2.2
6 Paul di Resta Force India 315.2 (195.9) -3.3
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 314.1 (195.2) -4.4
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 313.6 (194.9) -4.9
9 Jules Bianchi Marussia 313.6 (194.9) -4.9
10 Max Chilton Marussia 313.4 (194.7) -5.1
11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 313.1 (194.6) -5.4
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 312.6 (194.2) -5.9
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 312.2 (194.0) -6.3
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 312.2 (194.0) -6.3
15 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 312.1 (193.9) -6.4
16 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 310.8 (193.1) -7.7
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 310.7 (193.1) -7.8
18 Charles Pic Caterham 310.7 (193.1) -7.8
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 306.9 (190.7) -11.6
20 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 306.2 (190.3) -12.3
21 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 306.1 (190.2) -12.4
22 Mark Webber Red Bull 305.7 (190.0) -12.8

Over to you

Do you think Mercedes will finally score their first win of 2013 this weekend? If not, which of their rivals will take it from them?

Share your views on the Spanish Grand Prix in the comments.

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

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Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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31 comments on Can Mercedes convert front row into victory?

  1. Young One said on 12th May 2013, 0:15

    LH did less laps during Q3 and I saw him conserving tyres at Sec 1 n 2. So poor NR will be in trouble from Turn 1.

  2. Umar Majid (@um1234) said on 12th May 2013, 2:10

    The lotuses need to improve their starts, have not been good enough these last few races. Any one from the top 5 can win tomorrow should be a cracker, cannot wait for light out

  3. Rigi (@rigi) said on 12th May 2013, 8:35

    depends on how well they do on their tyres, remember that lotus had almost no degradation in the long runs on friday? hell, they may even be able to pull of a one-stopper! my money’s on lotus!

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