Pole position and a solid race win: Mark Webber drove one of his best Fomula 1 races ever in Barcelona and gave everyone, his team-mate included, something to think about between now and Monaco in less than a week’s time.
The Red Bulls were clearly the fastest cars all weekend and despite other teams bringing various upgrades to the race, they will be left wondering what they can do to close the gap. Mercedes was quicker, and most notably Schumacher was faster than Rosberg throughout all practice sessions, qualifying and the race for the first time this season, but he was still over a second and a half adrift of Webber.
Catalunya isn’t known for its overtaking opportunities so all eyes were on the first corner, the McLaren of Hamilton that was third on the grid, and the Ferrari of Alonso that was fourth. Even with the relatively short run down to the first corner, both Red Bulls were wary of the F-Duct system and knew that they’d have their work cut out to stay in front. However, much to the joy of Webber, and much to the dismay of anyone hoping for an exciting race, the order of the top six cars stayed the same.
Hamilton drove another strong race and managed to jump Vettel during his stop. However, with less than two laps of the race remaining and a comfortable second place in his sights, his front left tyre blew and into the barriers he went. The crowd went wild as this promoted Alonso, the home favourite, to second and Vettel, who had to nurse his car to the end with serious brake troubles, to third.
Schumacher finished a credible fourth, while Button could only manage fifth. The seven-times World Champion overtook the ‘Frome Flyer’ when he emerged from the pits and Button then failed to get past him in the ensuing laps, despite having a much faster car. Schumacher blocked impressively, but to be honest, Button was never going to make too much of an impact by trying the same thing lap after lap: going round the outside of turn one, where Schumacher predictably shut off the inside line.
So well done to Mark Webber. Yes he had the fastest car, but even Vettel, with all his raw speed and talent, couldn’t match him. The other 11 teams are going to have to have a proper think about how to close the gap to Red Bull. If they can’t, we’re staring down the barrel of a rather predictable rest of the season…