A Home Race for Alonso
Sunday sees the 44th Spanish Grand Prix take place at the Catalunya circuit and for Scuderia Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso it’s his home race. A year ago he triumphed here after a winning drive, that was partly down to a very on-form F138, which also helped Felipe Massa make it to the third step of the podium.
Since the Spanish Grand Prix was first held in 1951 at Pedralbes, Barcelona, Ferrari has won the race 12 times, which is a 28% hit rate. The first victory came here in 1954, courtesy of Mike Hawthorn. When the race returned to the calendar in 1968, it was held at Jarama on the outskirts of Madrid. Here in 1974, Ferrari won thanks to Niki Lauda who, at the wheel of a 312 B3-74 also took pole position and the race fastest lap.
The last time the Spanish GP was held at Jarama, it produced one of Gilles Villeneuve’s greatest performances. At the wheel of a 126 CK, he drove an incredible race, holding up a whole train of cars that were faster than his in the corners, but not on the straights, where the Ferrari managed to hold its own. In the Ligier, Jaques Laffite pulled alongside him several times through the turns, but on the straights, Villeneuve managed to keep ahead of the Frenchman. The race result paints an accurate picture of the race, as the top five all finished within 1.240 seconds.
In 1986, the Spanish Grand Prix made Jerez de la Frontera its home. Ferrari put its name on the winner’s trophy in 1990, with Alain Prost first past the flag, which opened up the title fight again with Ayrton Senna, who had to retire his McLaren.
The Grand Prix’s current home is the Catalunya circuit, at Montmelo, on the outskirts of Barcelona. Ferrari and Michael Schumacher racked up a lot of wins here, including the German’s first ever victory with the Scuderia, when he was majestic in atrociously wet conditions in 1996.
The Schumacher-Ferrari combination also triumphed in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2007, victory went to Felipe Massa. On that day, Fernando Alonso got away well in the McLaren, with the Spaniard trying to pass the Brazilian at the first corner. However, Felipe never lifted off, the F2007 and the McLaren collided and Alonso ended up in the run-off area. The following year, victory went to Kimi Raikkonen, with Massa completing a one-two for the Scuderia.
In its time, the Spanish GP has also been held at the Montjuich street circuit, again in Barcelona. Tragedy struck here in 1975, when five people were killed by Rolf Stommelen in the Hill. The race was also notable as it is, to date, the only time a woman driver has finished in the points, that honour going to the Italian Lella Lombardi, who was sixth in the March.
Source: Ferrari Media