Martin Brundle on the Spanish Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel

The Spanish Grand Prix was positively wild and unruly, given that it was at a track associated with processional racing.

It was not quite as outrageous as China and Istanbul from my point of view but nonetheless there was plenty of action all through the field, and the podium positions were all up for grabs until the final few laps.

The long run down to the first corner generated a surprise leader in fourth-place starter Fernando Alonso.

The Ferrari driver's instinctive reactions, determination, and sheer bravery as he ducked around and past the two Red Bulls and Lewis Hamilton were spellbinding.

And yet through the afternoon Alonso would lead 18 laps, have no contact or mechanical issues and finish fifth, having been lapped.

There were nine changes of leader and 77 pit stops in a frantic 66-lap race, eventually won by dominant championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull's Mark Webber, who beat his team-mate to pole position, had a relatively tardy start and would also find himself behind three stopping Jenson Button's McLaren by the flag.

Red Bull thrashed the field in qualifying with an advantage of around a second per lap.

In the race this had all but dissolved, and Alonso leading the pack initially scuppered Red Bull's plans all round.

However, the McLaren appeared a match for the charging Bulls on race pace, especially in the hands of Lewis Hamilton while Button was recovering from an awful first lap where he dropped to 10th.

I suspect that Red Bull's DRS rear wing, which can be freely used in qualifying, is more effective for single lap pace than McLaren's.

In the race, the DRS can only be deployed on the pit straight when within a second of another car at the detection point, therefore negating the advantage.

Added to that, the McLaren-Mercedes Kers power boost system is more effective and certainly much more reliable than Red Bull's.

This gave Hamilton a power advantage in the race. But despite superior top speed, the 'ultimate overtaker' was never able to mount a serious move for victory.

Vettel was placing his car well, and seemed totally oblivious to the immense pressure.

It must be said that Hamilton never really went for it on the few occasions he had half a chance. I wonder if he was nervous of contact and blowing 18 valuable points.

Those cars making four stops would need five sets of tyres for the race, meaning using all three allocated sets of soft compound and two sets of hard compound (a fact I was slow to express in commentary - apologies for that).

The harder tyre was new for Spain and had been up to two seconds slower in practice, and cars with more downforce were 'switching them on' better.

Ferrari slumped horribly on those tyres in the second half of the race and those who started on them were struggling too.

Fernando Alonso

Vettel and Hamilton, in particular, aced it and were out front by half a minute.

You may therefore be as surprised as me to learn that the fastest lap of the race was delivered on a new set of hard tyres by Hamilton.

Spain clearly demonstrated that it is the tyres which are making the racing unpredictable, far more than the DRS and Kers.

The layout of the corners meant that the pit straight DRS zone did not work as effectively as in China and Turkey.

I actually found myself wishing DRS was working better as Hamilton forlornly tried to get alongside Vettel. Shame on me!

Renault's Nick Heidfeld finished a strong eighth - which could easily have been sixth with another couple of laps to sweep past both Mercedes - from the back of the grid having used no tyres in qualifying.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi did a similar thing in the previous race in Istanbul.

The price we are paying for exciting races with high tyre degradation is less and less action in qualifying.

It will not be the same in Monaco this weekend for the obvious reason of limited overtaking options, but we will shortly be witnessing drivers celebrating getting booted out in the first part of qualifying one while stroking their beloved fresh tyres.

Tyre allocation for qualifying may well need a tweak for 2012.

Other strong performances in Spain came from Sauber with Mexican rookie Sergio Perez in ninth and Kobayashi, who had a puncture on lap one, recovering to 10th, and this time they did not lose their points as they did back in Australia.

Hopefully somebody can halt Vettel's charge in Monaco this weekend before he runs off with the championship long before the summer holidays finish.

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