Santander Spanish F1 GP 2011
After 10 consecutive pole positions, Vettel was beaten by team mate Webber with Alonso very pleased with himself in 4th place, splitting the McLarens. Qualifying turned into a strategic game with some choosing not to run for a high place to save their soft tyres as the prime tyre was running at 2sec a lap slower.
With the longest run to the first corner of the season the Red Bulls nearly tripped over themselves and Alonso used all his skill and KERS to make it into first place with Vettel and Webber kicking himself as the pole sitter had always won the past races. Alonso was slowing the Red Bulls down so on lap 9 Vettel chose to pit for tyres coming out into traffic. Due to his brand new option tyres he was able to pass both Button, who had had a terrible start from 5th to 11th, and Massa within three corners. Alonso and Webber both pitted on the next lap leaving Hamilton in the lead until he came in the following lap. Button took an extra 2 laps before pitting even though he was around 1.5sec a lap slower. He was on a 3 lap strategy.
A new set of option tyres was put on Vettel’s Red Bull on lap 19. This was a good strategy as Alonso covering on the next lap was unable to come out of the pits before Vettel passed. Hamilton, in first place was flying in clear air and Webber was catching Alonso. Hamilton was able to pass these two into 2nd place when he pitted on lap 24.
There was some excitement on lap 30 when Alonso and Weber both pitted and were side by side along the pit lane with Alonso managing to keep 4th place. Button also pitted for his second set of tyres, being new options coming back into 5th and began reeling in Webber, who had overtaken Alonso on lap 35 but over braked and Alonso retook 3rd place. Button is able to pass Webber with the use of his KERS and DRS on the straight and then passes Alonso 3 corners later.
There was plenty of action going on lower down the field with Heidfield enjoying his brand new tyres from last place on the grid for not taking part in qualifying, due to a fire in the morning practice. He managed to finish in 8th place ahead of Petrov in 11th and almost catching Rosberg who was having a race long duel with his Mercedes team mate, Schumacher having his best race of the season.
Webber was circulating faster than the leaders prior to pitting on lap 48 for his hard prime tyres. The other leaders also were on prime with Vettel on lap 49 and Hamilton on lap 50 and they continued to battle hammer and tongues all the way to the end. Hamilton with the faster package using KERS unable to benefit due to Vettel’s speed through the high speed bends. It was exhausting work for them both with 0.6sec between them at the finish with Button maintaining 3rd followed by Webber and Alonso. A yellow flag incident left a sour taste and a review of the rules needed when Hamilton, Button and Webber were too fast on fresh tyres in a corner where Kovalainen had gone off into the barrier.