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GP Week : Issue 117
28 Button three-stops to Spanish podium ‘Madman’ Heidfeld recovers to eighth NICK Heidfeld beat his team-mate in a grand prix for the third time this year, after coming from last place on the grid to finish an admirable eighth, as Vitaly Petrov struggled to 11th despite starting in sixth. Heidfeld jumped seven places off the start, immediately putting him ahead of the slowest runners. He pitted three times during the race, and had a meteoric final stint which saw him close to within four tenths of Nico Rosberg in seventh. With one more lap he could well have gained one or two places, but had to settle for eighth. “I pushed like a madman, but the race was one lap too short,” he wrote on Twitter after the race. A nasty fire during the final practice session on Saturday, caused by a cracked exhaust pipe, ruled him out of qualifying. He therefore had to start from the very back of the grid, but had six new sets of tyres at his disposal for the race. “I’m satisfied with eighth after starting from last position,” Heidfeld told reporters. “Just like in Turkey, with one or two laps more I could have gained one or two more positions from the two Mercedes, but it’s still a good result if you look at where I started and everything that happened to the car over this weekend. “I had a good start then I had to fight through the field with many overtaking moves so it was good fun for me behind the wheel. It’s always encouraging to put in a strong performance, and I’m more happy and relaxed heading to Monaco.” McLAREN’s Jenson Button scored his second podium finish of the year in Spain after making a three-stop strategy work well to hoist him fifth on the grid to third place at the chequered flag. Despite having failed to make the three- stop strategy work in Turkey a fortnight ago, he persisted with the plan for the Spanish Grand Prix and was rewarded with 15 valuable points. He didn’t make it easy for himself however, after losing five places at the start. But as those ahead of him all pitted early on their four-stop strategies, he was able to climb back up the order. “I had a terrible start and was on the outside into Turn 1 and Turn 3, where I lost further places. I was down in 11th at the end of the first lap, which was extremely disappointing,” said Button. “After that, I didn’t think third would really be possible, but as the others all made their pitstops so early, and as my tyres still felt good, I started to think it might be on. After Turkey, it was really fantastic to make the strategy work for me today.” Key to his podium finish though were two overtaking manoeuvres on Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. While Webber was struggling behind the ailing Alonso, Button was able to pull clear and opened enough of a gap to make it a comfortable race to the finish. “ We stayed on the Option for as long as possible and I did three stops to the others’ four – and the result was that I had a great race,” he continued. “I overtook Mark and Fernando within a lap of each other. I knew I wasn’t going to catch the first two, but I pushed as hard as I could just in case something happened ahead of me. “ Tyre life with these Pirellis is like a switch – once you lose the rears, the lap-times just drop. We got it just right today – and, when I finally got onto the Prime, the circuit was in a good condition and the tyre worked pretty well. I really felt like I raced today.” F1 SPAIN >>