NGK Spark Plugs entered the world of Formula One for the first time with Honda in 1964. The following year they achieved their first Grand Prix victory in Mexico with the American driver Richie Ginther.
Following their success with Honda Formula One, NGK spark plugs were soon were fitted in many other Formula One engines. In 1978 another American driver, Mario Andretti, won the Formula One World Championship in the Lotus 78 sparked by NGK.
In 1998, a car with a Mercedes engine fitted with NGK spark plugs took NGK to its 100th victory in Formula One, and in 2007, cars fitted with NGK spark plugs achieved wins in all 17 races, stretching the total to 200 wins.
In 2012 season, NGK is supplying spark plugs to two engine manufacturers, Mercedes and Ferrari who in turn supply engines to six Formula One teams .
The forces at work within a Formula 1 engine place massive demands on every component. Vibration and heat being two of the major factors that seeks out any potential weakness. For NGK this environment provides the ideal proving ground for the ultimate test of spark plug performance.
Barcelona Grand Prix Race Report
April 22, 2013
Hola Alonso! NGK sparks Fernando to victory at his home Grand Prix
As the teams go pit stop crazy, Alonso sails to a well earned victory in Barcelona, while Mercedes once again lose out after a commanding performance in qualifying.
The Grand Prix season’s first race in Europe is always waited for with anticipation as it usually marks the first round of major upgrades in the season. And the teams came to Spain with new parts aplenty and hopes high for a performance step. For the likes of McLaren, a step that couldn’t come to soon.
As practice unfolded, it was hard to judge exactly where the upgrades had been made to greatest effect but Ferrari looked strong throughout with Red Bull threatening as ever. The dark horses at Lotus continue to deliver consistent performance, particularly with a car that is remarkably gentle on its tyres. An attribute many teams would like to emulate.
Come qualifying however, it rapidly became apparent that the Mercedes boys had been sandbagging all through practice as they stormed to claim a front row lock out with Nico Rosberg on pole. Jostling for position behind them were Sebastien Vettel and of Kimi Raikkonen with Ferrari locking out the third row with Massa pushing Alonso hard. Grosjean and Webber took seventh and eighth while Perez took ninth ahead of his team mate Button, who was languishing down in 14th. Paul di Resta meanwhile took the last of the top ten positions.
Which left two questions to be answered. Could Mercedes maintain their qualifying performance for the race? And how many pitstops would be needed to last the distance? Three for sure. Four for many. And possibly even five for the less fortunate few. The pit crews where definitely going to be earning their keep come Sunday…
When the lights went out, with Alonso fired up in front of his home crowd, everyone held their breath as the grid stormed down the straight into turn one. While Rosberg held station up front, Vettel slid in behind. But needless to say Alonso was on it from lights out as made a brilliant pass down the outside of Raikonnen at turn three (and not a lot of people do that to the flying Finn), then slipped passed Hamilton at turn three.
The cascade of pit stops started on lap eight with Massa making the first dive for the pits, Alonso following suit a lap later. As the pack reshuffled, it found the Sauber of Gutierrez leading, though not for long. Alonso started making his move for the front on lap 13 when he passed Rosberg. A move which signalled the beginning of the backward slide which is becoming an unfortunate feature of Mercedes’ team race performance.
On lap 14 the Sauber pitted which left Alonso exactly where he and the home crowd wanted him to be. And he never looked back. Vettel never really looked capable of threatening the Ferrari as he was obviously worried about the tyre degradation that seemed to follow any major overtaking move.
The only man in the race who seemed to be a possible contender was Raikkonen who stalked the Spaniard from afar knowing that he probably would have a pit stop in hand over Alonso. And indeed he did. But it wasn’t enough to close down the gap Fernanado who took the flag some nine seconds ahead of the Lotus.
Behind Kimi, Massa has a great race as he fought his way up to take the last podium position but some 26 seconds shy of his team mate. Fact is though the race was constant round a visits to the pits for fresh Pirellis. In total 82 pit stops were made the race next to impossible to follow for most viewers let alone the drivers. Paul Di Resta’s question to his pit wall summed it up when he asked “Can anybody tell me what’s going on?” The answer was too complicated to countenance giving, let alone understanding.
Talking of understanding, that is one thing the Mercedes team seem a long way off in terms of getting to grips with their race performance. Rosberg faired better than Bahrain by finishing sixth. But Hamilton was in a very dark place as he was overtaken by a Williams who too are struggling desperately to get some speed in their car.
The McLaren’s salvaged a little pride by bringing their cars home in eighth and ninth but Button’s patience does seem to be wearing a little thin. Perez however, not withstanding his car’s problems, does seem to be showing the promise that attracted him to McLaren in the first place.
For Red Bull the afternoon was a relatively low key affair with Vettel in fourth leading Webber home in fifth. Paul Di Resta had another points scoring finish in seventh which Keeps Force India above McLaren in the constructors table.
With Raikkonen just four points behind Vettel, and Alonso a further thirteen points behind the Finn, the winding streets of Monaco beckon. How the Pirellis will perform around the streets of the Principality is anyone’s guess, but a four stopper has surely got to be out of the question. Or has it?