May 12th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - There was no hiding the poor race pace of this year's Mercedes in the Spanish Grand Prix, as Rosberg ended up over a minute behind winner Fernando Alonso and Hamilton suffered the embarrassment of being lapped. Perhaps even worse for Hamilton, he was soundly beaten by both McLarens, a complete turnaround from the first four races of the season where he seemed to have a clear edge over his old team.
Nico Rosberg started from pole position and managed to keep the lead until the first round of pitstops. After leaving the pits, however, Rosberg could not hold Fernando Alonso behind for long and was passed by the Spaniard into turn 1 on lap 13, before losing out to Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa later on the same lap. Raikkonen soon made his way past the struggling Rosberg, who would also lose out to Mark Webber by the end of the race.
But compared to Lewis Hamilton's race, Rosberg's sixth place was quite impressive. Hamilton started second, but was beaten into third by Sebastian Vettel into the first corner, before being passed by Fernando Alonso round the outside of turn 3. From there it was a backwards trip into the midfield and out of the points for Hamilton, who spent the race trying unsuccessfully to stop his tyres from falling apart. At one point, he was told by the team that his left rear tyre was overheating and responded irately, "I can't drive any slower." Hamilton ran as low as 15th and was passed by a Williams at one stage, before eventually recovering to 12th,
Nico Rosberg made his disappointment clear after the race, saying "We didn’t have the pace of the quickest cars today and there’s a growing gap to three teams ahead of us which we need to get on top of. We have a very quick car but we have to make it work for us in the race. Hamilton outlined the problems for Mercedes: "We were never really able to get the tyres working."
Three consecutive pole positions in the last three races may look impressive, but unfortunately for Mercedes there are no points handed out on Saturdays. Unless they can find a way to solve their tyre management issues, it's going to be a long and frustrating season.