And who said there wasn’t much overtaking at the Spanish grand prix?  This year’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya took the rule book, had a brief look at it, and duly threw it out the window (at 300 km/h, of course).

But it was Alonso who, having started the race down in 5th place, made all the right overtaking moves off the starting grid to put himself in the position to take a brilliant win on home turf. No one on the grid could have deserved the win more than Alonso today.

For Mercedes, however, it was certainly a race to forget. It’s hard to see how 1st and 2nd in qualifying translates into 6th (Rosberg) and 12th (Hamilton) on race day. These days it seems like the key to grand prix success is mastering the art of looking after the geriatric-grand-aunt-like Pirelli tyres, and the Spanish grand prix was no exception.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Before the race Bernie Ecclestone put his money on Alonso for the win, despite the Spaniard being down in 5th on the grid. Sure, Bernie is pretty daft at the best of times (anyone remember the sprinkler idea? You get the point) but this time he was right on the money: Alonso had a storming first lap to take 3rd just behind Rosberg and Vettel.

Before we knew it, the first round of pit stops had begun – the vast majority of the field pitted on laps 9 and 10. Sadly for Grosjean it was a retirement on lap 9 due to suspension failure. A smokin’ Force India did not bode well for Adrian Sutil, but he managed to limp on for the rest of the race, eventually finishing in 13th place.

As Vettel and Rosberg rejoined after a nail-bitingly close pit stop battle they were joined suddenly by Alonso, who grabbed the opportunity to snatch 2nd place from Vettel. Then on lap 13 the crowds began to roar as Alonso stormed past Rosberg to take the lead.  It’s the sort of sound you don’t often get to hear in Formula 1 over the ear-deafening sound of the engines. Superb moment.

Then, somewhat inexplicably, Rosberg became a sitting duck as Vettel and Massa sauntered past his Mercedes. It wasn’t long before Renault’s Raikkonen pushed Rosberg down into 5th place. Van der Garde sent a rather panic-stricken radio message back to his team as he discovered that he was suddenly driving on 3 wheels, not 4. Handy, that. Amazingly, he made it back to the pits but unfortunately the car couldn’t be fixed.

“Now I’ve been overtaken by a Williams”

Nomination for F1 Insult of 2013 (according to Lewis Hamilton): “Now I’ve been overtaken by a Williams”. Hamilton, sounding distinctly like a stroppy teenager, then went on to say to his team that he couldn’t “drive any slower” as the team repeated a call for him to look after his tyres.

Mid-way through the race we heard some words of encouragement from race engineer Rob Smedley to Felipe Massa. Everyone needs some Rob Smedley in their lives – I would personally pay good money for an app of motivational phrases from Rob Smedley (sadly it doesn’t yet exist – trust me, I’ve checked). Raikkonen showed his mettle on lap 33 as he overtook Vettel and then sped off into the distance.

There was contact in the pit lane between Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne on lap 36. Somewhat embarrassingly, this led to Hulkenberg making another stop on the next lap to replace his damaged front wing from the incident. Epic pit lane fail.

Who knows what happened to Hamilton during the course of the race. From a stellar qualifying session …. to a race performance barely worth the title of lacklustre.  Race pace is definitely still the achilles heel of the Mercedes team. Even Button managed to overtake Hamilton in his reasonably dire McLaren in the final phase of the race.

But the real show stopper was Alonso. Before the race he toured the track to meet and greet all the Spanish fans – he seemed supremely confident, despite his 5th place grid spot, and the crowds loved him. As he turned the final corner of the Circuit de Catalunya the fans were on their feet, Spanish flags waving, and Alonso gave a little wave, completed the corner and drove magnificently across the finish line.

And then the crowd went wild.

We love stats

DriverCarTeamGridFastest LapRace TimePoints
1Fernando Alonso3Ferrari5No time1:39:16.59625
2Kimi Raikkonen7Lotus4No time+00:09.33818
3Felipe Massa4Ferrari9No time+00:26.04915
4Sebastian Vettel1Red Bull3No time+00:38.27312
5Mark Webber2Red Bull7No time+00:47.96310
6Nico Rosberg9Mercedes1No time+01:08.0208
7Paul Di Resta14Force India10No time+01:08.9886
8Jenson Button5McLaren14No time+01:19.5064
9Sergio Perez6McLaren8No time+01:21.7382
10Daniel Ricciardo19Toro Rosso11No timelapped1
11Esteban Gutierrez12Sauber191:26.217lapped0
12Lewis Hamilton10Mercedes2No timelapped0
13Adrian Sutil15Force India13No timelapped0
14Pastor Maldonado16Williams17No timelapped0
15Nico Hulkenberg11Sauber15No timelapped0
16Valtteri Bottas17Williams16No timelapped0
17Charles Pic20Caterham22No timelapped0
18Jules Bianchi22Marussia20No timelapped0
19Max Chilton23Marussia21No timelapped0
20Jean-Eric Vergne18Toro Rosso12No timeretired, 52 laps0
21Giedo van der Garde21Caterham18No timeretired, 21 laps0
22Romain Grosjean8Lotus6No timeretired, 8 laps0