Start, 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona,

Spanish Grand Prix gets lowest rating of 2013 so far

2013 Spanish Grand PrixPosted on | Author Tom Taylor

Start, 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona,The 2013 Spanish Grand Prix provoked fresh debate over whether Pirelli’s ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres have gone too far.

For F1 Fanatic readers the spectacle of drivers making around four pit stop each made for the least entertaining of the five held so far this year. It received an average score of less than six out of ten.

Chief among the complaints was the perception that a lot of the drivers were not driving at the limit of their potential.

Fernando Alonso stamped his authority on the race early on and took a very popular victory with the local fans despite a puncture scare and the possibility of a post-race penalty for picking up his national flag on the way to parc ferme.

Meanwhile Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid but fell back dramatically during the early phase of the race, Lotus failed for the first time to score with both cars after Romain Grosjean suffered a suspension failure and the Caterham team were hit with a hefty penalty for sending Giedo van der Garde’s car out without one of his rear wheels properly attached.

But the debate after the race kept coming back to the extent by which modern F1 is dominated by tyres and DRS:

We have probably the best set of drivers on the grid ever. I want to see them racing at the limit of their cars not having a chat with their engineers about how fast they are allowed to go. Teams have always had to build cars with the tyres in mind but not to this extent. I?ll be hoping for a wet race every weekend from now on. At least the racing will be about driver skill.

Turned the coverage off when it was obvious that no-one other than the little guys at the back was actually racing. The front runners were competing in a tyre saving competition which was interspersed with a pit stop time competition. Get rid of DRS and limit pit stops to necessary repairs/adjustments only and let the drivers race.

The track that was boring already had been ruined by the most rubbish final sector on the calendar except Abu Dhabi. The balance is wrong tyre-wise. Not much at all was right at this race.

It gets as high a grade as this, purely because some drivers did all they could to spice it up. Some great performances, notably by Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa and a great steal of a point by Ricciardo, who is really overachieving with that car. Webber also had a good race after an awful start, only lost 3.8 seconds to Vettel from the end of lap one to the end of the race (9.7 in total), despite being in traffic more.

Some were mystified by the negative views on the race, though some may have been labouring under a misconception about how hard Alonso was pushing:

Why did this get rated so low? The team that pushed to the maximum and went for the extra stop won. They did not conserve, they went all out from the beginning and won. I thought it was the best race of the year so far.

I rather liked the first half, it became a bit of a procession after the third-ish round of stops.

It was great to see the top six stick together over the first stint and then Raikkonen and Alonso being able to go like the clappers for once.

I think some of this tyre talk’s a bit coloured by fans supporting Mercedes and Red Bull ?ǣ those cars may have gone backwards but Ferrari, Lotus, Toro Rosso and McLaren seemed to be rather good.

And not for the first time this year some were bothered by the limited coverage of what was going on behind the leaders:

I’m going to say it was boring, but maybe not for the same reasons as everyone else. Well, OK, it was certainly boring in terms of the ultimate result, which seemed determined by the first set of pit stops.

However, whatever excitement there might have been was robbed by the TV directors again. I thought we?d seen some improvement of late but today we were back to looking at the front runners speeding in clean air while interesting stuff further down the field was being ignored.

I’ve still no idea how Perez was within DRS of Button for about ten laps and didn’t get past on fresher tyres. All the stuff around eighth to twelfth looked (from the timing screens) to be pretty tight all race, but we could have seen a lot more of it.

So based on what I was allowed to see, a very boring race. Based on what we might have been allowed to see, possibly better.

Pirelli’s black circles were not without their supporters:

I fail to see how Pirelli tyres are disregarding talent. If anything, the talent is even more apparent currently as drivers can?t mindlessly push 100% all the time but have to consider everything thoroughly: when to push, when to conserve, when to battle, will they just keep on doing the same thing if it doesn?t deliver or if to change driving style, the way you approach corners and the way you exit them. In Sam Michael’s words: “it?s a thinking man?s game.”

If you think it’s any easier to win races this year than it has been in the past just look at how many of the top five finishers are world champions at every race this year.

But as this comment shows, we can expect the debate about how the tyres, DRS and circuit design affect the racing to go on:

A complete borefest, as most races at Barcelona are. Tyres are very bad. I actually don?t think DRS was an issue this race, most of the highway passes were down to the tyres, not the DRS (as was demonstrated in the opening laps with Rosberg and Vettel).

The only thing that stopped the race from being a complete disaster was Alonso winning in his home country (and this is coming from a Hamilton fan).

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Image ?? Mercedes/Hoch Zwei