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Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Sunday, 22 May 2011 16:21 UK

Spanish Grand Prix as it happened


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By Oliver Brett

1621: As BBC red button coverage comes to an end, the "top driver" as voted by you marvellous people reading this website, is revealed to be Lewis Hamilton. David Coulthard put his performance equal with Sebastian Vettel. But Eddie Jordan says: "I would probably give it to Jenson Button - a very good drive in a very difficult set of circumstances." Cheerio. The next race is one of the big daddies, Monaco, next Sunday.

Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen on Twitter: "Bad race today, poor call on the 1st stop, was left out for too long losing a lot of time, had to push to limit the damage, went off..."

1604: More stuff now from Sebastian Vettel, who's been grabbed by the BBC team for a final interview: "People were saying today would be a boring race. But at turn one these people got very small and silent. At the end [Lewis Hamilton] and I were sliding like crazy, finding our way on the limit of our tyres. It was extremely tough, but good fun."

Michael Schumacher (Mercedes, sixth): "The start and going through the traffic to the first corner worked out very well. It was a bit tight because having cars to the right, left of you, you never know where they are going to go next and you have very little margin to avoid them. But then I got into trouble with the balance of the car, probably as quite a few other people, oversteer was the main issue I had to fight with. We got the maximum with what we had available. I can't say the car is a more comfortable ride in this race, compared to where we have been in qualifying it was more reasonable in terms of balance. I don't know what was going wrong but definitely we lost out on performance for today compared to what we had Friday."

1600: All four drivers are reprimanded over the yellow flags incident, with no further punishments applying. Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren's team boss, says: "They felt a reprimand was appropriate. I think they took a sensible view, we have to make sure we stay out of trouble. It was in a part of the race where they weren't on throttle."

1557: As we begin to wind down our coverage of the Spanish GP, an opprtune time to tell you that the final round of matches in the Premier League kick off in three minutes, with BBC Sport's Sam Lyon bringing you all the goals from 10 matches.

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal: "It was a full-on race. Fernando changed the dynamics of the race completely getting into lead. He did not have fantastic pace but it was very hard to overtake. We managed to get Seb past with the undercut and he made that really work for him and hang on. McLaren gave us a tough run today. The race is a different challenge [to qualifying] and these tyres you have to nurse through different stages of the race. At one stage we were considering a five-stop. It's a matter of managing the tyre and not abusing the tyre but in saying that McLaren pushed us pretty hard with Lewis today and they were a big margin ahead of the rest. It was fantastic from Seb, the DRS is pretty powerful on this long straight here and he had limited use of the system into the last third of the race. In the first couple of sectors he could pull out a bit but Lewis could just stay within that DRS zone. Seb just had enough in hand to make sure Lewis never got close enough to have a serious challenge."

1550: Interesting little observation from BBC F1 analyst Eddie Jordan, who suggests Fernando Alonso's long-term future at Ferrari may not be assured, despite his new contract with the Maranello concern. Jordan says: "Where is the motivation for Fernando? Can he really win world championships at Ferrari? At the moment I don't think he can."

Mark Webber: "I don't think the start was hideous. Fernando got a phenomenal one, he got down the inside and I was a bit compromised and then Seb was on the outside. It was not the start we had planned and then it was just chess from there. People covered each other off stops. At the end of the race I finished 40 seconds behind Lewis and Fernando finishes a lap behind the leader. Interesting day today and it goes to show you how fine the margins are when you are off a little bit on strategy. If you can't clear people at the right time, you get exposed. At certain stages I was quick, other stages I wasn't."

1540: Correction - we are hearing that Jaime Alguersuari rather than Timo Glock is involved in that investigation. Ted Kravitz says in his view the McLarens should be in the clear based on telemetry results of the two cars.

Jenson Button on the incident: "It was the first time I've heard of anyone called up for not slowing down under yellows in a race. If you see an incident and you lift and you take avoiding action you still might go faster because you are going faster in the other sectors. We'll see what they say."

1536: Lewis Hamilton is asked for his reaction on the news that a number of drivers are being investigated over possible speeding under yellow flags. Hamilton says: "I understand that a few of us are under investigation. The racing was incredible today. We all abide by the rules, and we slow down for the yellow flags, but you have to do that without losing any time."

1533: And now the most eagerly-awaited news of the day. Lewis Hamilton is voted today's top driver, with a whopping 38.3% of votes cast. Jenson Button (16.1%) is second with Sebastian Vettel (14.1%) third.

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren, second): "We can't be disappointed with today. The team did a great job with the pit stops and throughout the weekend. I did not get the best start but I was able to keep up with the Red Bulls. As the race went on we clearly had some serious pace but it was very hard to get past Sebastian at the very end. His downforce was incredible, it was clear for me to see. I gave it my all."

1527: Apologies for one or two technical issues which meant Andrew Benson's report has only just gone live. It's definitely worth a read.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Mostafa, via text: "If the tyres degrade this much on a normal track does this mean the end of fighting it out in quali? And what are they going to be like next week in Monaco and in Canada?
Good points. Nick Heidfeld started last, finished eighth. Mark Webber did something similar in China.

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari, fifth): "The start was good. I think we were missing some good starts this year, but it finally came right today. Here you have the opportunity to take the slipstream as well. We were not quick during the weekend then after lap one we were first. But it wasn't our position. It looks a little bit sad when you lose positions but we must understand that P1 is not our position at the moment. We were not competitive at raw pace, we were too slow with hard tyre. There are clearly two teams ahead of everybody and at the moment we need to change the situation."

BBC F1 analyst Eddie Jordan: "It is the same man at the front and he keeps going up in everyone's estimations. He was under intense pressure and he responded. Kers is not working correctly. Full marks to Hamilton and Vettel, but Vettel just edged it."

Winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull): "It was pretty tough. At the beginning of the race I had a good start but I don't understand where Fernando Alonso came from. He was leading after the first lap and we could not get close enough in the DRS zone to pass him but we got him at the pit stop. McLaren were very strong, Lewis in particular. The last few laps I felt like China, with my tyres falling away. He was always getting in the DRS zone but in the last few laps I got a good run in the last sector to make it stick. I sometimes had Kers on, sometimes off. It was not an easy race. McLaren gave us a hard time. It was quite a big release when you cross the finish line. I am very happy. It was a great result. It is another confirmation that we are very strong."

1508: I bring you some BREAKING NEWS - Webber, Hamilton, Button and Glock under investigation for not slowing for yellow flags.

Christopher White: "Despite the excitement during the race, and some individual battles, it was tyres and pit strategy that determined overtaking and result."

1502: Here's a quick reaction from Jenson Button, who finished third: "I was able to pick them off with a fantastic strategy this race. We made the three-stop work. Two weeks ago it wasn't the right call, but this time it was."

Press Association reporter Ian Parkes on Twitter: "A 41-point lead now for Vettel over Hamilton. It's starting to look very ominous despite the latter's best effort in that race."

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "That was superb driving under immense pressure from Vettel. There's not enough superlatives to describe his driving this season."

1456: The vote is still open for you to pick your best driver of the race. Tight one, but how about Jenson Button? He was dropped to 10th at the start but worked his three-stop strategy brilliantly to reach the podium ahead of Webber and Alonso. You've got until 1515 to vote.

Just Dan on Twitter: "Alonso's start was amazing. Didn't get him anywhere though except one lap down."

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "Vettel did not buckle under the pressure and wins from a charging and sensational drive from Lewis Hamilton. That must be one of Vettel's hardest wins. It was a tremendous drive. That was a tough grand prix. He didn't lock up the brakes, he measured it brilliantly. I still think McLaren will be thoroughly satisfied with pushing Red Bull all the way home."

Vettel to Hamilton: "That was crazy, crazy man, you were coming, coming, coming." Hamilton: "You had so much downforce." Button: "At least he made it harder for you." All very jovial, now the German national anthem.

1447: Vettel does his signature salute to the crowd, the extended right index finger. The crowd are... muted, in the extreme... but then there's a ripple of applause and few hugs for him from the Red Bull crew.

1445: "Ring-ding-ding-ding-a-ling," goes Vettel. David Coulthard wonders if that's the Crazy Frog tune from the German. How out of date is that? But it was a brilliant defensive effort from Vettel. He was under huge pressure from a charging Hamilton and kept on pushing him away.

FINAL ORDER OF TOP 10: Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Webber, Alonso, Schumacher, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Perez, Kobayashi.

Chequered flag
VETTEL WINS SPANISH GP: That's four wins in five for the German!

FINAL LAP: Last few turns for Hamilton to try to do this job... Unlikely. Just not getting quite lose enough. Vettel defending so well.

Lap 65: Hamilton is nearly a second behind Vettel, you'd think only an error by the German will deny him the win.

Lap 65: Kers is off on Vettel's Red Bull, last chance for Hamilton to pass him. McLaren have told Hamilton "not to nurse the car home". But there's only one more lap after this one.

Lap 64: Behind the front two, Button is still holding off Webber for third, but by barely two seconds.

Lap 63: Schumacher has quietly had a very effective race, taking his Mercedes from 10th to a current position of sixth.

Lap 62: The gap between first and second remains at 0.7 seconds. Hamilton needs to start mounting another challeneg now, time running out for him to try to get past Vettel.

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "Vettel and Hamilton are on the limit of trying to keep or gain position without killing the tyres."

Lap 61: Massa is in the gravel now, game over for him. Vettel is pulling away a fraction again from Hamilton, but there's no way that battle is coming to an end yet.

Lap 60: Ferrari's race has been like a slowly-deflating balloon. Perez overtakes Massa to drop the Brazilian to 10th, while Alonso is going to do no better than fifth.

Lap 59: Eight more laps left for Vettel to keep Hamilton's McLaren behind him. This could be a watershed moment for the season.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Fernando and Felipe are struggling: let's see what we can do to bring home at least some points."

Lap 57: Vettel is defending his position stoutly, while Hamilton is being instructed to "save Kers" for the start-finish line.

Lap 56: Hamilton, using Kers and DRS at every opportunity, is swarming around Vettel's rear end. What will happen now?

Lap 55: Jarno Trulli gets his Lotus in the way of Vettel, and that allows Hamilton to get ever closer to the leader.

Lap 54: Alonso has dropped out of the battle for third spot, though looks secure in fifth (very slim consolation for him). Hamilton is within 1.1 seconds of Vettel, but the German could be keeping something up his sleeve.

Lap 53: Hamilton puts in a really fast lap now. He's not given up on the top step of that podium.

Lap 52: Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen slams into a big tyre wall - that's the second retirement of the race, after Vitantonio Liuzzi's race also ended earier on.

Lap 51: Red Bull are telling Vettel his Kers is OK to use once again. That could dash Hamilton's chances to challenge for the win, but let's not assume anything right now.

Lap 50: ...and Hamilton completes the set with his final pit-stop. His stop wasn't quite as fast as Vettel. If it had been that little bit quicker he'd be right up the Red Bull man's exhaust pipe now.

Lap 49: Button also pits. He comes out in third again.

Lap 48: Red Bull pit both their drivers. Vettel and Webber both take on hard tyres. A very fast stop indeed for Vettel.

Lap 47: This is getting a little bit fascinating at the head of affairs. Hamilton is nagging away at Vettel again, just over one second behind him. Nick Heidfeld, who started this race last, is 11th, and ahead of his Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "Alonso is paying the price for coming in early to fend off Webber with the undercut. Button, Webber and Alonso are on completely different concepts of how to finish this race - and it will be fascinating to see who gets on the podium."

Lap 46: Vettel's got some Kers issues. There's some "do not discharge" instruction on the team radio. McLaren have relayed that info to Hamilton.

Lap 45: Remember to vote for your driver of the day using the links on the right-hand side of this page. Vettel's lead over Hamilton goes from 1.4secs to 1.8 after the McLaren gets a little stuck in lapped back-markers.

Lap 44: Button is third having had two stops, Webber is fourth after three stops, and Alonso fifth after four. It's very hard to call which of those is favourite for the final podium spot.

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Mark Webber's engineer has been on the radio saying that we can let Jenson go as he will have to run the slower tyre in the final stint."

Lap 43: Schumacher pits from seventh position. There's a tight little battle going on betwen him and his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Lap 42: Alonso is going to be on hard tyres all the way to the end of the race, which will make him "slower than a slow thing" according to Martin Brundle.

Lap 41: Alonso is in the pits from fifth postion, and Vettel's lead over Hamilton is coming down. Webber is showing some pace finally. Can he grab a podium spot after all?

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "This fight between Webber and Alonso might just put Jenson Button on the podium."

Lap 39: Further down the field, Schumacher is sixth, Rosberg seventh, Petrov eighth, Massa ninth and Buemi 10th.

Lap 38: At the front, Vettel's lead over Hamilton is 2.7 seconds. Unless something very odd happens one of those two will win this race. Button is 18 seconds behind Hamilton.

Lap 37: Button's on fire! He absolutely creams past Alonso now. And the McLaren team radio say: "Fantastic, Jenson, that's brilliant."

Lap 36: Vettel leads again, as Hamilton comes into the pits this time. Button tries to overtake Mark Webber for fourth position - and he does it! Nice move from the Briton and Webber's having a dreadful day at the office.

Lap 35: Martin Brundle says DRS isn't really helping drivers overtake here in Spain, so no wonder Webber's struggling. Vettel pits - and Webber nearly manages an overtake on Alonso, but just can't keep ahead when the corner straightens out.

Lap 34: Vettel has pulled out half a second again, and considering his tyres are older than Hamilton's that's a good effort. Webber keeps on nibbling about at the rear wheel of Alonso, but just can't execute an overtaking manoeuvre.

BBC Radio 5 Live summariser Karun Chandhok: "It's still very much race on here because of Vettel's tyre situation. Watch Hamilton start to reel in Vettel over the next five laps!"

Lap 32: Hamilton's gap to Vettel in front of him is down to 1.6 seconds. Webber is having a little look at Alonso as he tries to reclaim third.

Lap 31: Vettel's lead is only two seconds over Hamilton, so you never know... Button pits for his second stop in a three-stopper.

Lap 30: Webber is in the pits, so too is Alonso. Crikey, they almost come together exiting the pits - and Alonso has come out in front!

Lap 29: Hamilton is getting quite close to Vettel again. We shouldn't lose sight of this, he's slowly gaining time on the race leader.

Lap 28: What's happening with the Mercedes men? For once, Michael Schumacher is running ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg. He's sixth at the moment.

Lap 27: Quite a few pit-stops in the mid-division happening now. Button is running an interesting race. He's quite far behind fourth-placed man Mark Webber but he's looking after his tyres quite well and McLaren are quite pleased with the three-stop strategy he's doing.

Lap 26: Hamilton is about four seconds behind Vettel, who is already looking primed to bang in his fourth win in five this season thanks to superior team strategy, on this occasion.

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "McLaren believe Lewis Hamilton is racing Fernando Alonso. They think the Red Bulls are too far ahead in the final analysis."

Lap 25: Time for a breather? Phew. Nice little scrap for third at the moment, with Webber less than half a second behind Alonso. The Spaniard will be desperately disappointed to have lost the lead.

Lap 24: Hamilton pits from the lead, taking on another set of soft tyres. The British driver returns to the field in second place, ahead of Alonso and Webber.

Lap 23: Felipe Massa pits, but he's well down the field now. Hamilton has a 14-second lead over the field, that won't be nearly enough to keep him in front of the others after he stops.

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "If you come in early like Vettel had done, you have a better set of tyres and you come out with a clear track - you will go faster. The guy on the track cannot respond as he is still on the old tyres. The next few laps until Lewis Hamilton makes his stops are crucial for Vettel."

Lap 22: We're only a third of the way through this race but my goodness it's busy out there. Hamilton will have to pit soon as his latest lap was pretty slow on worn rubber.

Lap 21: Hamilton sets a new fastest lap. He needs to build a lead to put the frighteners on the Red Bulls. That early second pit-stop for Vettel worked very nicely.

Lap 20: Hamilton leads as Alonso comes into the pits, so does Webber. Vettel is second, ahead of Alonso and Webber. That's bad news for the home fans, and particularly Alonso, for whom everything was going so well.

Lap 19: Brand new softs for Vettel as he becomes the first of the leading drivers to go for a second pit-stop. Will Ferrari react immediately? That's Martin Brundle's question.

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "At that stop, Vettel put on an old set of soft tyres, Webber used his only set of new ones so he can go for a bit longer. Vettel will have to come in around lap 21/22."

Lap 18: Further evidence that Button is on a three-stopper comes via a McLaren radio exchange. If only he had had a decent start...

Lap 17: Hamilton is getting quite close to Vettel, which is interesting. This race is not going entirely according to plan for Red Bull at the minute.

Lap 16: Vettel cannot get close enough to Alonso to even contemplate overtaking - with the first pit-stops come and gone, the gap remains a defiant 0.6 secs. Di Resta pits from sixth. Button overtakes Schumacher to take fifth place. His day is getting a bit better.

Lap 15: With news on the Red Bull radio suggesting that Vettel's Kers is fully operational, Hamilton sticks in a new fastest lap, and it appears Button (pitting now) might be on a three-stopper. That leaves Paul di Resta as the only man in the top-10 yet to pit.

Lap 14: Alonso's day is getting better and better as he slam-dunks the fastest lap of the race. Ferrari joy.

BBC Radio 5 Live summariser Karun Chandhok: "I think we've got a great race on our hands, any one of the first four guys could win it. They're all matching each other's pace."

Lap 13: So where has everyone slotted back in? Alonso leads, from Vettel, with Hamilton third and Webber fourth. Button has still not pitted and is fifth.

Lap 12: Button overtakes Massa, I reckon that puts him about sixth. Lewis Hamilton pits from the lead. Massa also pits, in fact loads of back markers are doing the same.

Lap 11: Vettel overtakes Button and Massa, while Mark Webber comes into the pits, so too does Fernando Alonso.

Lap 10: Sebastian Vettel pits, switches to softs, and comes back behind Button in ninth position. The BBC team reckon the Red Bull man is on a four-stopper.

Lap 9: Pastor Maldonado has done a routine stop, while Sergio Perez has switched to the hard tyres. The Sauber driver is thought to be on a four-stop strategy.

Lap 8: Button is closing up a little on Felipe Massa in the battle for eighth position. BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard says: "Jenson had too much wheel spin at the start and he lost that momentum. He was then pushed wide on the marbles at the first corner which compounded that poor start."

Lap 7: BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "McLaren believe Lewis Hamilton will end up fighting Fernando Alonso for a podium position in this race, but they did not expect that start from the Ferrari driver.

Lap 6: Alonso is maintaing his lead of around 0.6secs to Vettel. Petrov is more than six second behind Lewis Hamilton now.

Lap 5: Actually the driver who is well detached from the leading pack is Vitaly Petrov in the Renault, runnnig in fifth place. Hamilton is doing OK, not miles behind Webber as yet. Button moves up one place into ninth following his horrendous start.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle on the start: "While the Red Bulls were covering each other, Alonso came through and took the lead. You have to wonder if Vettel had any Kers there. A sensational start."

Lap 4: Webber sets the fastest lap of anyone to stay well clear of Lewis Hamilton.

Lap 3: Now, can Vettel get into the DRS zone? Not yet, he's still over a second behind Alonso. This is brilliant from the Spaniard. How long can he keep his lead?

Lap 2: Webber dropped two places at the start, so Vettel is second, with Hamilton running in fourth position. Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber is in the pits, possible puncture.

Lap 1: Unbelievable start from Fernando Alonso, the crowds are going insane. He's taken the lead from fourth on the grid, while Jenson Button has dropped from fifth to 10th.

1303: Yellow flags waving gently as the drivers prepare to start this race. And they're off!

1300: It's time for the formation lap. Nobody's stalled on the grid. (Used to happen quite regularly, you know). Michael Schumacher is starting on new soft tyres from 10th on the grid.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Aware of criticisms that the racing - while fabulously entertaining - may also be a little confusing following this year's rule changes, tyre manufacturer Pirelli has said this weekend it is aiming to produce a tyre that allows two-stop races. That will not be the case here in Spain, though. The teams will be split between three- and four-stop strategies. If drivers stop before laps 12 or 13, that almost certainly indicates a four-stop. If they can stretch their first stints to lap 15 or so, they can do three. As to which one will be best, that answer only becomes clear in the race."

Sebastian Vettel on his Kers problems: "We have changed the batteries, charged them, so it should be fine - but I can't give you a guarantee. But the race is not just to the first corner, it is 66 laps."

1256: "The Bulls are about to be let loose in Barcelona," according to a dramatic voiceover on BBC1. "It's time to go racing," says BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle. "Who can stop Red Bull?" he continues. "Will it be Lewis Hamilton with a determined charge to the first corner or local hero Fernando Alonso? There's been so much winter testing they know this track like the backs of their hands."

Force India driver Paul di Resta: "On the installation lap, it's vital to gets the tyre temperatures up for the start, also the brake temperatures, and to make sure you have enough Kers to get down to the first corner."

A celeb has been spotted
1253: Celebrities in Barcelona include local lad Cesc Fabregas, and MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who's also Spanish of course. Indeed, it is often said Spaniards much preferred motorsport of the two-wheeled variety until a certain Snr Alonso turned up.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Lewis Hamilton is not especially optimistic about beating the Red Bulls in the race. 'At the end of the day they have a faster pace in the race," said Hamilton, who starts in third. 'We'll do our best but it's going to be tough.' He knows his best chance is the start: 'We've got to go out and do the best job we can with what we have. If we can somehow sneak ahead of the Red Bulls, or one of them, we'll do the best we can to hold them up as long as we can. It could be a good day.' "

BBC Sport online F1 editor Andrew Benson on Twitter: "Pit lane grandstand filling up as tension builds. Temperature up to 27C. There's nothing in the world like the start of a grand prix."

1245: Fifteen minutes to go... if you want to follow this race using our driver tracker, then please be our guest.

1240: Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan, both wearing trademark open-necked shirts, are pacing about the grid, and look who they've bumped into! It's former Denmark and Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. (Except Jake thought it was Michael Schumacher!) Schmeichel says: "I can't fit into any of these cars." Me neither, buddy.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "There has been a lot going on behind the scenes here this weekend, and one of the biggest issues is the ongoing row over the 2013 engine regulations. Only Renault is fully behind governing body the FIA's new rules, which will introduce four-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbo hybrid engines. But at a meeting on Saturday FIA president Jean Todt was immovable on his determination that the engines will happen - although Bernie Ecclestone has said that the Frenchman made a compromise suggestion to run the new engines alongside the current 2.4-litre V8s in an equivalency formula in 2013. There will be another meeting to discuss the subject further next week in Monaco at the Grand Prix."

1238: It really is a glorious day in Barcelona, even the artificial grass looks good. Spectators are wandering placidly up and down the footpaths around the stands. Parasols and sunhats everywhere.

Ben Stancombe on Twitter: "Hamilton to jump Vettel at the start, Vettel will be too focused on beating his team mate. Should be a cracker #BBCF1."

Red Bull pole sitter Mark Webber: "It does not hurt to get a clean run at the front and hopefully I can get away well. The tyres will play the biggest role again today. Someone will be in trouble with their tyres and you can either benefit from it or not get too hurt if it's you. They are incredibly sensitive and sometimes they don't like to be raced on. It is important to get out of the start cleanly. There are good guys at the front and we will see how we go."

1231: Engines are revving with almost indecent urgency. That means it's time for the cars to make the short journey from their garages to the grid.

Red Bull on Twitter: "A lot of topless fans in the Spanish heat. And some of the gentlemen should really cover up."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Red Bull's Achilles' heel, the reliability of their Kers power-boost system, has again reared its head here. Sebastian Vettel had to qualify without it, but I'm told that is not necessarily what made the difference in Mark Webber getting his first pole of 2011. Webber was 0.2secs quicker than Vettel and for most teams Kers is worth at least 0.5secs a lap here. But not Red Bull. So compromised is their system by its tight packaging - the root of its reliability problems - that it is only worth around 0.1-0.2secs."

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "The drop-off on tyres is the big issue. It's not where the tyres are after lap one, it's where they are after lap 10 that counts."

1225: Nobody's asked me what Andrew Benson ate in the Lotus garage. So Sarah Holt has called him and discovered that it was calamares (squid), followed by tiramisu. Now you know and I know that there are as many ways of serving squid as there are of skinning a cat but I cannot bring you any further details. Fried in batter? I'm guessing...

1222: What do the bookmakers reckon will happen today? Interestingly, Vettel and Webber are more or less joint favourites at about 5-4. Value obtainable if you fancy backing Lewis Hamilto (9-1) or Fernando Alonso (14-1). Not that I should really encourage betting or anything...

Oli Collins on Twitter: "Incredible intro for #bbcf1.. hopefully as dramatic as turn 1 will be today. Thinking first major incident of the season and Webber going to win"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Phil, via text: "I think we may see some unexpected results today, with the hard tyre coming in to play. Schumacher may be an outside bet for a podium."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "In 20 years on the F1 calendar, the Circuit de Catalunya has not exactly been known as a venue for brilliant racing - overtaking has always been very difficult because the first corner is comparatively quick. But there are expectations this will change this year following the introduction of Pirelli's rapidly degrading tyres and the DRS overtaking device. Jenson Button said: 'It's not going to be like the last few races. I think it's still going to be tricky and the degradation on the tyres is a lot less than we've seen before. But I still think there will be possibilities.' "

1215: ...always a danger of anything in Spain taking place on a Sunday afternoon turning into one huge siesta, but come what may I'll endeavour to stay awake at the very least.

Allan Clarke on Twitter: "Between DRS & KERS & the long pit straight surely this won't be the usual Spanish GP snooze fest."

1212: Fractionally delayed, but BBC1 F1 coverage is starting now. Let us know your views on the bull-fighting intro!

1210: Please bear in mind you are entitled to vote for your driver of the day, a clickable link on right-side navigation for those of you reading this on the more advanced web browsers. The first time we ran this, in Turkey, Fernando Alonso got your vote after steering his scarlet Ferrari to third position on race day.

McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett on Twitter: "It's a long run down to turn 1 at Barcelona so will benefit good starters and good KERS cars. Vettel maybe under pressure if no Kers still."

1205: Overtaking is considerably easier this season, so what will Renault's Nick Heidfeld do, starting last on the grid in a reasonably fast car and with all three sets of soft tyres available and unused? Meanwhile, I'll also be looking for a decent drive from Pastor Maldonado, ninth on the grid and looking to get Williams their first points of the season.

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie on Twitter: "At 1210 on BBC1 you can see my Schumacher interview where he talks about why or if Nico is getting more out of the Merc."

BBC1 1310 You can see my Schumacher interview where he talks about why or if Nico is getting more out of the Merc
Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Carl, The Port, via text: "Hamilton to take the lead on the first lap with Webber 2nd, Vettel 3rd and Alonso 4th. We can then see if Vettel is a driver or a racer... very fine driver so far, not much to suggest he can mix it up mid-field."

1154: Many of you have been asking where on the circuit the drivers will be able to operate the movable rear wing (DRS) device. The DRS detection zone is on the approach to the final right-hander (Turn 16) that leads on to the pit straight, with the activation zone beginning on the start/finish line. At 830m, it is the longest DRS zone of the season to date.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "The lap of the day in qualifying on Saturday was undoubtedly from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard, celebrating here not only his home race but also a new Ferrari contract that lasts until 2016, was nearly a second off the pace of McLaren - and two off Red Bull - in practice and the first two parts of qualifying. But he split the McLarens on the grid to line up fourth, whooping with delight as he returned to the pits. Jenson Button said: 'It was quite unexpected that he did that lap time. I think he obviously put in a blinding lap, not that we didn't. Ferrari are quicker in a race normally than in practice and qualifying. He is not going to be a walkover, definitely not. It's going to be a good little battle at the front.' "

Mike Beale on Twitter: "Mrs at work, rabbit fed, house clean, kids happy, #bbcf1 baby !!!!!"

1146: Your contributions will be invaluable today, especially in the hour leading up to the start of the race and the aftermath. So get texting on 81111 or send a tweet with a #bbcf1 hashtag or @bbcsport_oliver. Please.

1143: So when the five red traffic lights are switched off at 1300 today, 24 drivers (with Red Bull's Mark Webber on pole) will set off on the first of 66 laps, each one sending them on a snaking 4.655km around a course which, historically, is one of the hardest on which to exercise overtaking manoeuvres. With the drag-reduction system and the power-boost available through Kers this season, it should be a bit easier.

The sun is out
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Hello from the Circuit de Catalunya, where what has already been a fascinating weekend culminates with a grand prix full of intriguing possibilities. Under brilliant blue skies, in blazing sunshine, thousands of fans have been streaming through the gates this morning in the hope that their hero, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, from Asturias in northern Spain, can win his home race. Although he is starting fourth, not even Alonso realistically expects that to happen, so quick have the Red Bulls been this weekend. But the blue cars have their frailties, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - third on the grid behind Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel - is in typically feisty mood and, as he says himself, 'anything can happen'."

1135: Last night, I unexpectedly found myself tucking into several hours of boxing on BBC television - a charming documentary on the late great Henry Cooper and a Hollywood blockbuster featuring Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man. But the issue now is this: who can land a knockout blow on the brilliant Sebastian Vettel, going for his fourth win in the fifth GP of the season?

1130: A very warm welcome to race day at the Circuit de Catalunya in the Barcelona suburb of Montmelo. (Actually I'm in west London, but Andrew Benson - who has been invited to the Lotus garage for a spot of paella or other lunchtime treat - is at the track and I'll be bringing you some tasty scene-setters from him any minute now.)

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see also
Spanish Grand Prix race results
08 Mar 11 |  Results
Vettel pips Hamilton in Barcelona
22 May 11 |  Formula One
I'm committed to F1 - Schumacher
22 May 11 |  Formula One
Webber beats Vettel to Spain pole
21 May 11 |  Formula One
Vettel on top in final practice
21 May 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton challenges Red Bull pace
20 May 11 |  Formula One
Ecclestone mulls Indian GP move
20 May 11 |  Formula One
Ferrari open to two top drivers
20 May 11 |  Formula One
Alonso signs new Ferrari contract
19 May 11 |  Formula One
Sutil affected by legal complaint
23 May 11 |  Formula One
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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