Spanish Grand Prix gets lowest rating of 2013 so far

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

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Start, 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona,The 2013 Spanish Grand Prix provoked fresh debate over whether Pirelli’s ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres have gone too far.

For F1 Fanatic readers the spectacle of drivers making around four pit stop each made for the least entertaining of the five held so far this year. It received an average score of less than six out of ten.

Chief among the complaints was the perception that a lot of the drivers were not driving at the limit of their potential.

Fernando Alonso stamped his authority on the race early on and took a very popular victory with the local fans despite a puncture scare and the possibility of a post-race penalty for picking up his national flag on the way to parc ferme.

Meanwhile Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid but fell back dramatically during the early phase of the race, Lotus failed for the first time to score with both cars after Romain Grosjean suffered a suspension failure and the Caterham team were hit with a hefty penalty for sending Giedo van der Garde’s car out without one of his rear wheels properly attached.

But the debate after the race kept coming back to the extent by which modern F1 is dominated by tyres and DRS:

We have probably the best set of drivers on the grid ever. I want to see them racing at the limit of their cars not having a chat with their engineers about how fast they are allowed to go. Teams have always had to build cars with the tyres in mind but not to this extent. I?ll be hoping for a wet race every weekend from now on. At least the racing will be about driver skill.

Turned the coverage off when it was obvious that no-one other than the little guys at the back was actually racing. The front runners were competing in a tyre saving competition which was interspersed with a pit stop time competition. Get rid of DRS and limit pit stops to necessary repairs/adjustments only and let the drivers race.

The track that was boring already had been ruined by the most rubbish final sector on the calendar except Abu Dhabi. The balance is wrong tyre-wise. Not much at all was right at this race.

It gets as high a grade as this, purely because some drivers did all they could to spice it up. Some great performances, notably by Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa and a great steal of a point by Ricciardo, who is really overachieving with that car. Webber also had a good race after an awful start, only lost 3.8 seconds to Vettel from the end of lap one to the end of the race (9.7 in total), despite being in traffic more.

Some were mystified by the negative views on the race, though some may have been labouring under a misconception about how hard Alonso was pushing:

Why did this get rated so low? The team that pushed to the maximum and went for the extra stop won. They did not conserve, they went all out from the beginning and won. I thought it was the best race of the year so far.

I rather liked the first half, it became a bit of a procession after the third-ish round of stops.

It was great to see the top six stick together over the first stint and then Raikkonen and Alonso being able to go like the clappers for once.

I think some of this tyre talk’s a bit coloured by fans supporting Mercedes and Red Bull ?ǣ those cars may have gone backwards but Ferrari, Lotus, Toro Rosso and McLaren seemed to be rather good.

And not for the first time this year some were bothered by the limited coverage of what was going on behind the leaders:

I’m going to say it was boring, but maybe not for the same reasons as everyone else. Well, OK, it was certainly boring in terms of the ultimate result, which seemed determined by the first set of pit stops.

However, whatever excitement there might have been was robbed by the TV directors again. I thought we?d seen some improvement of late but today we were back to looking at the front runners speeding in clean air while interesting stuff further down the field was being ignored.

I’ve still no idea how Perez was within DRS of Button for about ten laps and didn’t get past on fresher tyres. All the stuff around eighth to twelfth looked (from the timing screens) to be pretty tight all race, but we could have seen a lot more of it.

So based on what I was allowed to see, a very boring race. Based on what we might have been allowed to see, possibly better.

Pirelli’s black circles were not without their supporters:

I fail to see how Pirelli tyres are disregarding talent. If anything, the talent is even more apparent currently as drivers can?t mindlessly push 100% all the time but have to consider everything thoroughly: when to push, when to conserve, when to battle, will they just keep on doing the same thing if it doesn?t deliver or if to change driving style, the way you approach corners and the way you exit them. In Sam Michael’s words: “it?s a thinking man?s game.”

If you think it’s any easier to win races this year than it has been in the past just look at how many of the top five finishers are world champions at every race this year.

But as this comment shows, we can expect the debate about how the tyres, DRS and circuit design affect the racing to go on:

A complete borefest, as most races at Barcelona are. Tyres are very bad. I actually don?t think DRS was an issue this race, most of the highway passes were down to the tyres, not the DRS (as was demonstrated in the opening laps with Rosberg and Vettel).

The only thing that stopped the race from being a complete disaster was Alonso winning in his home country (and this is coming from a Hamilton fan).

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2013 Spanish Grand Prix

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    36 comments on “Spanish Grand Prix gets lowest rating of 2013 so far”

    1. The only f1 race i ever changed the channel for

      1. one of the only races i’ve switched over to footy during the race.

      2. One of the few races where I spent more time online complaining about it than actually watching it – it’s not like I was missing anything anyway! The only reason I really watched it until the end was invade something incredible happened like Alonso’s engine exploded and Massa won somehow – which sadly didn’t happen!

    2. I still think ridiculously long DRS zones are harming the sport much more than the tyres.

      Free passes are horrid!

    3. For me, Bahrain got it pretty dead on.

      And it also shows you CAN have a good race on a boring track with these tyres/DRS. They just got it right.

      I just fail to see how they can get it SO wrong with the DRS zones after their years of data collected.


    4. Circuit de Catalunya is a great F1-grade track, but the racing – which is what matters – is a often boring there.
      I’ve been to Montmelo afew times for races and test days, but F1 should stop racing on these borefest tracks or just give us back the real last sector.

    5. Let’s face it. Any race where Lewis isn’t in the mix is going to be less thrilling…

    6. Keith, you just poured some more gasoline on the fire! :)

    7. F1 Spanish Grand Prix race? what race? only a bad joke!

    8. I still say this is a massive overreaction. I really truly thought it was a decent race and I had no trouble following it. The 4 stops complaint has been completely debunked.

      1. Your avatar sums it up nicely.

      2. Well, perhaps if you take no issue with the best drivers and cars in the world tooling around at relative walking pace, and even the winner having admitting that he was never at more than 90%, then perhaps this is not really the sport for you? Next, we will be having ‘Fat American Stig’ being sable to do thees races, since the drivers are going so slowly now that are admitting you don’t have to be all that physically fit anymore. I hope that answers your question.

        1. You mean maybe it’s not the sport for YOU seeing as you’re the one complaining. I think NASCAR run flat out all the time….

          1. Well, you see, it USED to be the sport for me, when drivers could gain an advantage by going fast, rather than be hindered by this. Have you noticed that about 80% of F1 fans are complaining vociferously? Does it really not bother you that they are running F1 cars so far below their potential? It is precisely because these clown tyres are turning F1 into a sort of mix between WWF and NASCAR, which you mention, that people who are interested in actual RACING, are so annoyed!

            1. “80% are complaining”

              If you want me to take you seriously you’ll have to stop making up statistics.

          2. @spawinte Truthfully, you have no ground to stand on by assuming Formula 1 is ‘not the sport’ for @paulguitar. With all due respect, and I do respect your opinion as a fellow fan, we are all entitled to our own opinions, which is not the same as ‘complaining’. I am in 100% agreement with @paulguitar and appreciate his dedication to providing his sound, educated inputs on this farce of a racing season we have this year. If you are satisfied with the most powerful racing cars plodding around at 80%, the most talented drivers in motor racing hardly breaking a sweat, and being more concerned about tyre conservation rather than how fast they can turn into Stowe corner, may I suggest a trip down to a karting track to watch top speed 270cc karts go 58mph as 10 and 11 year old’s have a cautious drive around a circuit for the first time. Again, at the end of the day, we just want to see proper racing and the majority believe we are being robbed of that.

            1. Thanks for your support, hopefully between us we real fans of ‘racing’ might get heard……..

          3. Well, it is certainly a sizable majority. Whether you take me ‘seriously’ or not is completely irrelevant, what you should be taking seriously if F1 cars plodding around with the car equivalent of high-heels or Wellington boots. Well folks, apparently now ‘that’s entertainment’, and there will always be a few who are happy whatever they are fed.

      3. @spawinte the “hard to follow” comments are quite affronting and compete ** but the race was really very tedious and quite lacklustre. There wasn’t any racing and we were back pretty much to the refuelling situation where drivers just jumped each other on strategy mostly or were on such different strategies passing was a doddle.

        What we really need is two stop races, with the possibly of one: that way you can still make up ground with alternative strategy but the others can still drive near flat-out. Ban DRS as well in its current form: it’s terribly boring watching passes halfway down a straight! It surely can’t be that difficult with how sophisticated the telemetry is on these cars to have it deactivated when they are alongside the other car? Or we could just have more KERS and no DRS altogether.

        1. Aerodynamic tricks are not the way to produce better racing. Various technologies in F1 have had their era and I think it’s time to admit that aero has gone far enough.

          Now I don’t want standard aero but I would like a doubling down on the aero restrictions that began in 2009 and perhaps a return of about 50 to 75 mm on the width of the car (road cars are getting wider) along with and extra 20 to 30mm on the tyre width??

          1. You are indeed entitled to your opinion. However I fear like many others you think this also means people must always respect your opinion and your opinion must be regarded to have validity merely because you hold it. A majority can be wrong you know.

          2. @spawinte agreed: aero has had it’s time and there is no real innovation anymore, so I’d like the onus to be on powertrains (I’d prefer if F1 became a manufacturer developing ground for Hydrogen technologies). If we just banned front wings, mandated single-plane rear wings and gave them some development under the car to keep them happy we won’t have the need for all these gimmicks.

      4. @spawinte, you want to see real racing watch MotoGP, no pit stops-no problem just great wheel to wheel racing, like F1 used to be a long time ago, of course you have to be older to have seen it and know that pit stops are not only unnecessary but are detrimental to good racing.

      5. I agree that the only thing making it worse for me was the coverage, and the almost constant droning of Brundle about how the tyres were making it confusing.

        By all accounts it was not a great race, but after some of the races I have seen, it would beat many of those I didn’t even bother look for 80% of the race, often at this same track!

    9. The only race i actually feel asleep watching. It was that bad. Far worse than last year; or any other year for that matter. The only saving grace as already pointed out, is how Alonso won it.

    10. With a rating of 5.9 for Spain, I still think some people are marking races too highly.
      5 is average, 4 is below average, 6 is above average. So 5.9 should be a pretty good race, whereas Spain really was . . .

      1. I voted a 6: I thought the race was bad (probably worst in years), but imo a Formula 1 race cannot be below a 6 – I love Formula 1, so any F1 race is a ‘pass’ by default. I guess more people think about it like that.

        1. @andae23 that’s what I usually go by, but honestly this was the first race in a long time I seriously considered turning off. I think it’s the first race I’ve rated below 5 since I joined this site!

    11. I really hope that we’re not going to be discussing tyres all season, I hate it when an issues goes on for too long. It’s funny, a few weeks ago I was sick to death of the prolonged team orders discussion and wished we’d move on to talk about something else. You should be careful for what you wish for I guess. Oh well, the teams always adapt to the tyres sooner or later, so with any luck the tyres will be a non-issue by the time we get to the season’s half-way mark. Really don’t want it to be hanging over the entirety of the season.

    12. I really hope that we’re not going to be discussing tyres all season,

      I’ve a feeling we will be because the 2013 spec tyres are simply far too extreme.

      we may not see another 4 stop race but were still going to see & hear far too much of the ‘hit laptime x’, ‘don’t race him’ ‘look after your tyres’ etc… & as long as were hearing all that & having to sit through drivers cruising around well off the pace & not bothering to race the cars around them then the sad state of the tyres will be the talking point.

    13. The pre-pirelli era races all scored lower than this one. That says a lot. Mind you, I agree with some commentators above, “marking up” seems to be a common phenomenon in the past year or two.

    14. Sums up my feelings about all the outrage after this race. :)

    15. Michael Brown (@)
      23rd May 2013, 0:28

      To be fair, that track was the hardest on tires. Although that showed that even Pirelli’s hardest tires are too soft.

    16. I thought it was a pretty good race.. but then again i may be slightly bias as an Alonso fan.

    17. Michael Brown (@)
      23rd May 2013, 2:17

      To be fair that track was the hardest on the tires so hopefully we won’t see another race like that except for Suzuka.

    18. It was a decent race. So much, so much, so much better than Bahrain.

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