F1: Spanish Grand Prix liveblog 2010

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, May 9th, 2010

 
 

The saying goes that, in F1, you can be fast or you can be reliable. The thing that marks out champions is being both.

Now, there’s no question that Red Bull are fast. All you had to do was look at the shocked faces up and down the pitlane after their qualifying lock-out to understand just how fast.

But are they reliable?

It’s arguable that the team have already thrown away one title bid and compromised a second on the back of its persistent, perennial reliability problems.

They’ve qualified on pole or the front row again and again so far this year, but their drivers are fifth and eighth in the standings and the team is fifth in the constructors.

Is today the day they turn it round?

The quote “to finish first, first you have to finish” is attributed to Ron Dennis and recently he said he’d rather make a fast car reliable than a reliable car fast.

By that measure Red Bull are more than halfway there. But can they seal the deal?

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has already said that his team are not competing on the same playing field as the Milton Keynes squad and Jenson Button is not very well-placed following qualifying.

But Lewis Hamilton is right behind them and seems determined to be on hand to collect whatever chances fate throws his way this afternoon. That appears unlikely to include rain, however, despite some showers in the vicinity this morning.

And Michael Schumacher appears to finally have a car he likes and to have pressed the reset button on his comeback. What surprises can he spring?

Stick with us as we live-blog the action, leave comments or find us on Twitter as @britsonpole. Hit refresh to see the latest below this line.

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Post-race: Alonso being greeted like he’d won – how many races will Mark Webber win and find he’s being ignored afterwards? Happened to him when he won in Brazil and Button took the title.

Scholars of F1 trophies will note that these look like chromed dentists’ drills.

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Lap 66: Webber through the final corner and home. Alonso second and his pre-race pessimism seems rather unjustified. Vettel has got his car home for third. Schumi is fourth, Button fifth. Next are Massa, Sutil, Kubica Barrichello and Alguersuari. Liuzzi’s car has given up right at the end and is parked up by the side of the track.

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Lap 65: Hamilton is into the wall and out! Vettel back on the podium if he can just hang on. Hamilton’s tyres have come back to haunt him yet again. When will he learn to look after them? After a brilliant drive… Interesting to see where he will be classified.

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Lap 64: Great lights-to-flag job by Mark Webber. Massa is catching Button up but has slight opportunity to make that count now.

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Lap 63: Vettel will be OK if he can drive round to the end – he’s got more than 20 seconds on Michael Schumacher. If he hangs on points-takers will be Web, Ham, Alo, Vet, Sch, But, Mas, Sut, Kub and Bar. Great result from Barrichello there.

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Lap 62: Vettel’s brakes have not failed yet but the onboard camera reveals that his car is a terrible handful. Schumi has got a couple of seconds off him with less than four laps to go but is not challenging him.

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Lap 61: Webber easing off ever so, ever so slightly at the front. Rosberg taking a look at Liuzzi but he’s nowhere near enough yet. Kubica looking to grab a point or two off Sutil.

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Lap 60: Schumi putting personal best times with six laps to go but is still slower than Vettel.

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Lap 59: The spectre of Vettel being retired seems to be receding. Equally he seems to stand little chance of passing Alonso. Listen up, now he’s being told to be extremely careful of his brakes, which are about to go. We’re off to place a bet that young Seb is driving with someone else next season.

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Lap 58: Alonso is faster than Hamilton but not able to leverage that into a second place at the moment.

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Lap 57: Red Bull said to be clearing a space in the garage in case Vettel needs to retire. However, he is putting in very fast lap times. Webber’s car entirely unaffected. However, this team can go as fast as it likes – but until it sorts this stuff out it will not be constructors’ champion.

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Lap 56: Order is now Web, Ham, Alo, Vet, Sch, Button. Can Vettel’s new tyres help to repair some of the damage?

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Lap 55: Vettel has taken an incredibly rough-handling car in for new tyres. He’s back out but he won’t be on the podium now. Alonso has inherited third. Looks like his wheel was coming loose.

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Lap 54: Oh no! Vettel has gone over the gravel and the Red Bull mechanics are out. Why on earth did we bloody say that?

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Lap 53: We’re about 13 laps from the end now. Are the Red Bulls really in line to shake off their reliability demons and take first and third? Meanwhile, Hamilton could be very pleased with second, keeping him in touch with the drivers’ championship. Whatever you think of him personally it’s in all our interests that this is a close, exciting fight that lasts all season.

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Lap 52: Much like identifying which dog has disgraced itself while visiting a beautifully-manicured garden, we learn that the bit of discarded bodywork out on track belongs to Hispania, and not McLaren. Fetch the rolled-up newspaper.

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Lap 51: Webber looking at a lead of around 16 seconds now and Rosberg has found his way past Hulkenberg.

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Lap 50: Jock Clear advising Nico Rosberg that he might be able to get Hulkenberg through the apex of corners when he is at his slowest. Horrendous great lump of red and silver bodywork on the track.

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Lap 49: See previous lap.

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Lap 48: On that last lap, everyone drove round the track without incident. Given this is the Spanish Grand Prix, we’ve had remarkably few laps like these so we won’t complain too much.

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Lap 47: Live timing back. We offer this for your consideration: Webber is driving this race like Schumacher used to. Schumacher is driving this race like Webber used to. Discuss.

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Lap 46: Whoops. Live timing has gone down on the pitwall. That’ll put a spanner in the works. Macca said to be using GPS to track cars. Old-timer Brundle recommends a man with a stopwatch.

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Lap 45: Schumi is more than 30 seconds down the road from Alonso. Meanwhile Buemi is pictured as in the garage and out of the car.

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Lap 44: Order is Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Schumacher, Button, Massa, Sutil, Kubica, Barrichello, Alguersuari, Petrov, Kobayashi, Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Buemi, Trulli, Glock, Di Grassi.

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Lap 43: Still a GP2-style battle between the two Nicos – Hulkenberg is still ahead of the faster Rosberg, however. Vettel has a minor car problem that prevents him making adjustments but won’t affect him much. Attempts by the BBC to talk to Nick Fry and the chaps at Mercedes have reportedly been rebuffed – the atmosphere in the garage said to be awful

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Lap 42: Rosberg using his new tyres to take a look at the back of Hulkenberg. He’s about a second and a half per lap faster than the Williams driver. Backmarkers on the pit straight prevent a straightforward overtake.

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Lap 41: Now we’re waiting to see if Alonso will risk a tyre change and whether it will shake up the top of the race.

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Lap 40: A strong feeling that, if nothing intervenes, we know who’s filling up the podium.

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Lap 39: Rosberg flying on his new tyres. Mark Webber gets himself a sub-1:26 lap. He’s almost 12 seconds ahead of Hamilton who is two and a half seconds down the road from Seb.

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Lap 38: Rosberg has rejoined in 15th place having changed onto soft tyres to see what effect it has. This was a bit of a canary in the mine moment – if he’s off like a rocket ship expect a few more to take the plunge, especially Alonso.

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Lap 37: Rosberg is in the pits for his second stop. He emerges back on track without incident and into clean air. Nick Heidfeld pictured watching the race from the Mercedes garage.

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Lap 36: Mark Webber puts in a fastest lap in the low 1:26s. He’s more than half a second faster than Hamilton and nearly 12 seconds down the road too.

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Lap 35: Alonso is told on the radio that he has the same pace as the drivers ahead of him and that Schumacher, behind him, is doing him all kinds of favours by backing up the field. This means there might be the leeway for a tyre stop if he needs one.

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Lap 34: Hulkenberg has pitted and clearly Williams and Sam Michael, who has come right up to the car, do not like what they are seeing. Just over half way and now Alguersuari has a drive-through for knocking Chandhok’s nose off. It’s a good thing racing doesn’t work like domestic motoring or Toro Rosso would have several invoices in the post.

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Lap 33: Main focus of the race director is Hulkenberg’s, Petrov’s and Kobayashi’s battle for 12th to 14th. They are doing their very best to replicate a GP2 race, but it’s just not the same.

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Lap 32: Pedro DLR, interviewed back in the garage, says he doesn’t even want good luck – just the normal sort of luck that other people have. Webber’s lead over Hamilton is 11.5 secs, Vettel less than 2 secs behind him.

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Lap 31: The balance of power is shifting in the Schumi – Button – Massa fight. Instead of harrying Schumi Button must now turn his attention to keeping clear of Massa.

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Lap 30: And Chandhok pictured beached in the gravel. That’s the end of his race.

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Lap 29: Chandhok pits. Camera showing Alguersuari overtaking him, cutting back in too swiftly and taking his front wing straight off. If that happened on the road, the insurance adjusters would have no problems deciding who was paying.

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Lap 28: All gone a bit quiet again, with not even Jenson’s metronomic attempts to overtake Schumi at exactly the same spot on each lap providing any entertainment. Webber lapping in the mid 1:26s. He’s currently got about 11 seconds on Hamilton.

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Lap 27: Ferrari not showing any signs at the moment of bringing Massa in for a new wing. Rob Smedley on the team radio advising him to stick with it. Button still on the wrong end of Schumacher. A touch of the cloth-capped Metro-driving pensioner holding up the boy racer?

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Lap 26: Webber has a nice little lead of 10 seconds now over Hamilton.

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Lap 25: Backmarker Chandhok has let through Schumi and Button but then closed off Massa, almost causing the Ferrari driver to crash. Massa’s got front wing damage, whether from this incident or not is not clear. Button still monstering Schumi, Schumi replying by asking: “Am I bovvered? Do I look bovvered?”

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Lap 24: Button still unable to thread the needle and get himself past Schumacher. This battle is approaching some traffic on track.

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Lap 23: Schumi backing up Button so that Massa is now on the back of the battle. Drive-through penalty announced for 16th-placed Sebastien Buemi, for overtaking in a run-off area. Alguersuari overtakes Hulkenberg for 11th place after a bad pitstop knocked him out of the top 10.

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Lap 22: Battle between Button and Schumacher is the big game in town right now.

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Lap 21: Pedro DLR has retired. Telly reporting some drama regarding Lewis Hamilton’s pitstop and a wheelnut.

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Lap 20: The top six have all pitted and the order is Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Schumacher, Button, Massa, Sutil, Kubica, Bar, Hul, Alg, Pet, Kob, Liu, Bue, Ros, Tru, Glo, Cho, DiG, DLR. Hamilton is the fastest car on track – but possibly at the expense of the longevity of his tyres.

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Lap 19: Hamilton on his radio moaning about Virgin. Button tries to take Schumi and fails. They are in fifth and six and Button is persevering with a look at the Merc at every corner.

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Lap 18: Webber comes in for what is expected to be his only stop. Untroubled. Hamilton pits and comes out in front of Vettel, shouldering him violently aside to get the place. All this not helped by the presence of a Virgin backmarker trying to let them past and practically stopping on the racing line to do it. But the result is that, with both cars pitted, Hamilton has taken Vettel.

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Lap 17: Vettel and Alonso both in the pits. Vettel’s stop more than two seconds slower than Alonso, Button also pitted and has lost a place to Schumacher as a result. Those two are in ninth and tenth.

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Lap 16: Order of top 12 is Web, Vet, Ham, Alo, But, Sut, Alg, Kub, Hul, Bar, MSc, Mas.

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Lap 15: Ferrari and Mercedes mechanics out – Schumacher and Massa, currently in direct competition, are due in. Both stops are good ones, no changes from that. Schumi slots in behind Hulkenberg, Massa behind him. Meanwhile Rosberg’s pitstop has been royally messed up after his front right wheel was not properly attached. They caught it before he had gone 10 yards, luckily.

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Lap 14: Liuzzi pops the pitstop cherry by coming in from 14th for Force India. After a slow stop he comes out into the path of Buemi overtaking Trulli and forces him practically off the track to avoid being overtaken himself on cold tyres. Final result of all this is Liuzzi, Buemi, Trulli in 16th through to 18th.

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Lap 12: On the BBC Jonathan Legard says: “Jenson Button’s Barmy Army is out in force.” Great news – not least because, if they start that chant so beloved of the Barmy Army’s cricket brigade, we won’t be able to hear them. Result!

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Lap 11: Webber’s lead is now only just south of three seconds. Meanwhile Hamilton is hanging onto the back of Vettel as Alonso falls back into the clutches of Button. Although there is some evidence that he is starting to arrest the decline and pull away again. Kubica can’t find his way past Alguersuari.

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Lap 10: Bruno Senna, interviewed by Lee McKenzie: “I got carried away and I paid the price.” Refreshing honesty from the young Brazilian. Brundle diagnoses frustration with his slow car.

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Lap 9: Webber has increased his lead over Vettel to two seconds and is gaining at the rate of up to a couple of tenths per lap. This is great for him as far as the chance to pick his pitstop strategy is concerned. Kovalainen has had to retire – he and Senna are the only retirements so far.

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Lap 8: As you were.

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Lap 7: From now until the pitstops is your chance to put the kettle on – unless Kubica tries something daft to get past J-Alg. Alonso falling back from Hamilton. Commentators remarking that he seems to be getting a noticeable psychological advantage over Massa at Ferrari.

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Lap 6: Mark Webber’s lead is 1.7 seconds over Sebastian Vettel. Renault’s Robert Kubica in tenth is eyeing the back of Alguersuari. Massa getting the hurry-up from Rob Smedley over overtaking Schumi.

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Lap 5: Mark Webber has just set a fastest lap that leaves him a tenth of a second quicker than second-placed Sebastian Vettel. Kovy in the garage with his car in bits.

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Lap 4: Replays reveal Rosberg’s current misfortunes stem from running wide at the start. Alguersuari has made his way into the top 10 thanks to a fantastic start and familiarity with his home track.

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Lap 3: Kobayashi has held Trulli behind him and Barrichello is up to 12th chasing Rosberg – their fortunes changed quite a bit from the grid. Bruno Senna does not appear to be running.

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Lap 2: Yellow flag and both De La Rosa and Buemi have pitted. No official explanation – “it’s none of our business” as our US Twitter friend Pressdog would say. Hamilton looks – at this early stage – to have hung onto the back of Vettel while Alonso is getting dropped. But it is early days yet.
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Lap 1: Red Bulls have held the lead while both Alonso and Hamilton try to go round the outside and snatch the lead. Neither manage it and the top six is unchanged. Massa has gained two places, Sutil for Force India has gained three. Rosberg has dropped a long way back. Barrichello has gained five places and overtaken his team-mate for 13th.

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Parade lap: Everyone is away safely. Hold up – no they’re not. Heikki Kovalainen’s back in the Lotus garage with a gearbox problem. Hopes that he will race, but a lap or two down. Top 10 are all using soft tyres. Ron Dennis pictured in the McLaren garage.

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12.53 Martin Whitmarsh says his team is under no illusions about just how hard Red Bull will be to beat, but says McLaren intends to try. Fernando Alonso says of his car setup: “There is something wrong with me.”

12.50 Pedro de la Rosa is interviewed about the experience of racing in his home town, which is good to see. He talks us through the circuit which, after his years of testing with McLaren, he knows like the back of his own hand. He talks about the experience of racing in front of family and friends – and the extra time he found in qualifying yesterday certainly backs up the theory that it’s given him a boost.

Lee McKenzie suggests he draws the track with his eyes closed, in the manner of IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv3KYRwPKAo) – he does a decent job but not as good as her freakishly impressive performance. Still, he autographs the finished result.

12.43 Grid walk: Brundle fails to hunt down either Button or Schumacher and starts the inevitable progression towards the back of the grid. Ross Brawn is rejected on the grounds that he’s already been interviewed. Nico Rosberg is sheltering under his umbrella and takes off his sunglasses immediately, the little media star. He denies the car suits him less than Schumacher, saying that’s not a productive way to think about things, and adds he can live with the car.

Hamilton due to start on the clean side of the track, let’s hope he keeps his head. Brundle talks about the McLaren responding well to race trim and mentions that Lewis isn’t so keen on doing race interviews. Bernie flits by, trying to promote interviews with people we’ve never heard of. Denied the chance to speak to Alonso by the queue formed by the entire Spanish media (when did Spaniards ever do queues before this?) Brundle is trying to find, contain your excitement, the Ferrari driver’s gloves to check the padded back of the right-hand one.

Mark Webber, bless him, is happy to talk to Brundle and in a very chatty mood. He smiles at the notion of Vettel nicking the lead and says: “Jenson got done off pole last year, it’s a long, long run with a headwind. But I’m going to fight like hell for the lead.” Brundle mentions Alonso and the straight-line speed of the Ferrari and Webber says he’ll be watching out.

12.36 Telly showing brooding shots of Alonso backed with flamenco music. You almost expect him to throw his arms up and start dancing a lively zapateado. ¡Baile!

12.32 Jenson on the Freedom of Frome: “I heard I can take sheep through the town centre.”
Interviewer: “That’s handy.”
Jenson: “Yes.”

Also, the BBC has found his driving instructor, which is comedy gold.

12.26 Interesting interview with Christian Horner talking about Adrian Newey and his working methods. But, as Jake Humphrey points out, the polesitter has not yet won a race. On the subject of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn says he’s happy with the car but unhappy with the pace of the Red Bulls. He says the key to it is getting the tyres to work well – something that Red Bull and almost no-one else has achieved.

11.55 Pre-race: We’re DC-less today after he failed to make it back from the Mille Miglia. Now he’s got his feet up in front of the telly in Monaco watching the F1 coverage. It’s a terrible life he leads, isn’t it?

Yay! And mention of the most famous Italian road race brings us footage of Sir Stirling Moss looking very much better after his accident. Great to see him getting on so well.

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