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Alonso cheers, Pirelli relieved

2013-05-13 10:45

WIN, WIN SITUATION Fernando Alonso's win at the 2013 Spanish GP gave Pirelli some hope that its tires would stop being overly criticised Image: AFP

ALAN BALDWIN

ARCELONA, Spain - Fernando Alonso and the army of Spanish fans cheering on his home 2013 GP victory owed Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli a debt of gratitude on Sunday (May 12) even as others cursed the tyre-maker.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "Alonso wouldn't have won with 2013's tyres today because he had a puncture and it would have deflated. If he'd had that type of debris into his tyre last year, it would have deflated."

TOO MUCH TYRES

Pirelli has strengthened 2013's tyres with a high-tensile steel belt beneath the tread, a change which means the tread strips away but the tyre remains inflated

Critics say the tyres are having too much influence on race strategy, necessitating multiple pit stops and putting a premium on managing wear and tear rather than outright speed.

Alonso was able to make the fourth and final stop without a problem and went on to celebrate his second win in five races that moved him into third place in the championship.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said its data had shown a slow puncture on the rear left but the issue had not caused any major concern.

The Spaniard, now 17 points behind Red Bull's leader and triple champion Sebastian Vettel, had to make four pitstops in a race where three was the exception and one driver - Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg - made six visits to the pit stops.

Over the 66 laps, there were 77 pit stops and two drive-through penalties.

Hembery said four pit stops a driver was too many and Pirelli would look at the tyre compounds to try and ensure drivers had to do no more than three in a race.

"We aim for two or three. We only had four once in the past and that was in Turkey in 2011,” Hembery said.

The victory for Alonso, who also won in China in April, was a big relief after a mixed start of the season with a retirement in Malaysia and then a problem with the DRS rear wing system in Bahrain. He had arrived on home soil 30 points behind Vettel and needing a decisive move to ensure his rival did not move further ahead.

The Spaniard surged from fifth on the grid to third through the third corner, passing Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), and was leading by lap 13 while Vettel had trouble managing his tyres. Hamilton, who started on the front row, finished 12th.

Alonso, a double champion who won at Barcelona with Renault in 2006 and in Valencia in 2012, said: "It's very special winning at home. It doesn't matter how many times you can do it, it's always like starting from zero and you have very emotional last laps. We knew we had the pace on the long runs and we wanted some clear air to exploit the car's potential. We did it. Everything worked perfectly. I'm happy for the team, for the fans - I hope this is not a one-off.”



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