One of the pivotal moments of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona was when Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was held up by traffic at a crucial moment just before his second pit stop which allowed Pastor Maldonado to take the lead of the race.
"We were a little bit unlucky," said Alonso after the race, pointing specifically to the moment when Charles Pic impeded his progress and failed to comply with the blue flags being waved at him. "Hopefully people start to understand that they need to respect the rules and today again they didn't," he said.
Pic was later handed a drive-thru penalty for his actions, but that did nothing to repair the damage done to Alonso's race: "They paid the penalty, [but] it's more of a penalty the penalty we paid – maybe the race win," he pointed out.
"Once again, Fernando drove an extraordinary race, fighting for the win from the first to the last lap," said Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali. "There were some unfortunate incidents, getting past Pic for example, but we must always admit that."
Having failed to get into the lead during that phase, Alonso made a determined effort to catch and pass the Williams after the last round of pit stops instead. All seemed to be going according to plan, but after several laps harrying Maldonado at every opportunity, Alonso suddenly fell back and never recovered, instead finding it all he could do to keep second place from the charging Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
"With seven laps to go, I suddenly lost grip at the rear," explained Alonso. "I asked the team if something was broken because the handling of the car changed from one moment to the next, for no apparent reason. However, in the final stages, the Williams was still very quick and, right at the end, we were also lucky to hang onto second place as Kimi was coming back at me."
"The fight with Maldonado was very close," added Ferrari technical director Pat Fry. "Maybe some incidents played a deciding role, such as at the time of the second stop and in the final moments of the race, when Fernando suddenly felt a drop in performance, the causes of which are not yet clear."
The situation for Alonso's team mate Felipe Massa was more evident - a drive-thru penalty for ignoring yellow flags - but Massa himself was not happy and failed to understand just what he was supposed to have done wrong.
"My race was affected by a penalty that I had to take on lap 28. Honestly, I don't think I did anything wrong," he said. "I was in the middle of a group of cars and I definitely did not try to overtake anyone."