Fernando Alonso hails a 'perfect weekend' after claiming his second Spanish GP win
Ferrari star says strong start was crucial in setting up victory
By Mike Wise and James Galloway in Barcelona. Last Updated: 13/05/13 7:05am
It was another "perfect weekend" for Ferrari according to Fernando Alonso, after he won the Spanish Grand Prix from fifth place on the grid.
No driver had previously won at the Circuit de Catalunya from so far back - but then Alonso has made quite a habit of making up ground.
Armed with an F138 that always seems to come good on Sundays, he was in the lead by lap 13 and overcame the challenge of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen to win his home race for the second time.
Speaking after qualifying, Alonso expressed the hope he could banish the record the race had of producing winners who had qualified on the front row. Only once - Michael Schumacher, who qualified third in 1996 - had a driver taken the chequered flag after starting further back.
"We weren't so fast yesterday but we knew we had the pace on the long runs," Alonso said. "We wanted some clear air to show the potential of this car and we did everything perfect. I'm happy for the team and the fans."
It had appeared that Raikkonen, who was running a three-stop strategy to Alonso's four, might challenge midway through the race.
The Lotus driver pitted for the final time on lap 46 but when Alonso made his last stop four laps later, he held a solid lead.
Even so, the double World Champion admitted that he only felt in control "after the last stop. Up until that point we'd had an easy race in terms of traffic and we knew Kimi was on a different strategy. We didn't know how the tyres were going to behave but we pitted two or three laps later than Kimi and we were first".
Alonso had the 95,000 home crowd on its feet on the opening lap: having been thwarted at the first corner, he passed both Raikkonen and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in a brave - and crucial - manoeuvre.
Pit strategy moved him past Sebastian Vettel on lap 11, with Alonso passing race leader Nico Rosberg around the outside into Turn One two laps later.
"We knew that if we were going to win the race we had to pass people at the start," Alonso explained. "The start was very good - it was very narrow and we didn't have the space to move a little bit, so I waited for a better opportunity.
"It came straight after Turn One. I saw Kimi and Lewis run a little bit wide there; I passed Kimi and then I thought, 'Why not Hamilton?' I had a little bit of KERS saved for Turn Three and I used it to pass Hamilton.
"That was a moment in my race. Also when I exited the first pit stop, we undercut Vettel but not Rosberg. So I had to overtake him on the straight; that was also very close."
In a race that was, once again, dominated by tyre wear, Alonso also expressed sympathy for fans who might not be able to keep track on the unfolding race.
In total, drivers made no fewer than 82 pit-stops and Alonso admitted that, if he was sat in a grandstand, he might find Formula 1 "impossible to follow".
"Here, it's probably been difficult to overtake and starting from the front row was half of the race. But now with this year's degradation and tyres, the races keep changing all the time. Whatever car keeps the tyre alive is on the podium at least, or winning the race," he added.
"Here it's good because you have the tower and you can see who is first and second. But on some other circuits, if I was sitting in a grandstand without any information, you only see cars passing."