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GP Week : Issue 117
33 Team-By-Team: Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona A gamble to save tyres in qualifying failed to pay off for Force India, as they finished with no points for their third consecutive race. Di Resta was again the faster qualifier, and a great start allowed him to gain two places to put more distance between him and Sutil. The German ran with the hard tyre at the start of the race, allowing Di Resta to open a 15-second lead, but the gap was quickly eroded in the final stint when the Scot took on the slower hard, up against Sutil with the soft. The pair eventually crossed the line 5.8 seconds apart in 12th and 13th places. Despite running inside the top ten for a large portion of the race, both Buemi and Alguersuari ended well outside the points at the finish, having been comfortably beaten by Sauber and Force India. Buemi admitted he lost a lot of time while being lapped and also blamed his three -stop strategy for finishing down the field in 14th. Team-mate Alguersuari had to pit four times despite being able to go two laps longer than Buemi in the first stint and is still concerned about the high tyre degradation of the STR6. Sauber scored their first double points finish of the year as Perez and Kobayashi brought their cars home in the top ten. Kobayashi produced a brilliant comeback from last pace after picking up a puncture on the first lap, while Perez took ninth place despite pitting only seven laps in. Perez then embarked on a long stint on the hard, setting up two shorter stints on the soft to finish the race, before taking the flag in ninth, having lost a place to Heidfeld in the closing laps. Kobayashi’s achievement was even more remarkable given that it was a set of soft tyres he lost to the puncture, meaning he had to spend more time on the hard. HRT were able to take the fight to Virgin throughout the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, but had a gearbox failure on Tonio Liuzzi’s car to blame for failing to beat them in the race. Both Liuzzi and Karthikeyan outqualified d’Ambrosio on Saturday and Liuzzi was beating both Virgins early in the race. He lost a place to Glock as the gearbox problems set in and was then forced to retire three laps later while holding a 10-second lead over d’Ambrosio. Karthikeyan wasn’t able to replicate Liuzzi’s pace after struggling with tyre wear, and finished the race in last place, 5 laps down. Another two-car finish was the only note of optimism for Virgin, as they continue to slip further behind Team Lotus in the battle at the back. Even HRT were within striking distance in Barcelona, and Virgin could have finished behind the Spanish minnow had Liuzzi not retired with gearbox problems. Glock had 30 seconds to spare over team-mate d’Ambrosio, and both were pleased with their races. With the reliability of the MVR-02 now proven, focus turns to improving performance and staying ahead of HRT. Lotus are still searching for their first points after failing to get their Barcelona update package working at the weekend. Although they did make progress and were able to race with the midfield in the opening half of the race, their performance on low fuel and hard tyres saw them plummet down the field and well behind the more experienced teams. Kovalainen failed to finish after binning his T128 at turn 4, admitting to a mistake at turn-in. Trulli struggled with a cracked exhaust during the race, but not even that explained his 55- second gap to Williams’ Barrichello. F1 SPAIN >>