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Eighth wonder // The record-breaking start to 2012 could continue in Valencia, but will it?

Published by Christine

2012 has so far provided seven different winners from six different teams for the first seven races. That makes it a record-breaking start to what is turning out to be a fascinating, if unconventional, Formula One season. There's plenty of talk over whether we can see an eighth different winner, and whilst I don't believe it's going to happen this coming weekend, there are still some drivers left who have a shot at taking their first win of the year.

Already, there are those who are questioning whether so many different winners is a good thing. I'm happy with the results so far, particularly considering what they have done to the championship standings - so close and still so much to play for! I don't think we'll see another new winner in Valencia, but, with thirteen races still to come, I do think that there is the possibility of another new face getting to the top in 2012.

Former champion chances

Keeping cool with Kimi
Keeping cool with KimiCredit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

Kimi Räikkönen is top of many fans to-win-next list, perhaps partly out of pure hope, but also as the Finn has shown some of those fabled flashes of speed. He, and teammate Romain Grosjean, have finished on the podium a few times already this year, and it wouldn't take too big an upset to promote one or other of them to the top spot. The team have already admitted they need to work on their qualifying performance, get higher up the grid on a Saturday, which can only help them finish higher on a Sunday. If they can get their act together, a win could be on the cars. It would be a disappointment to Michael Schumacher, who has still yet to take a victory despite a much-heralded comeback in 2010.

Schumacher has had more than his fair share of bad luck so far this year

Talking of the über-champion, Michael Schumacher has had more than his fair share of bad luck so far this year (although some would say it is payback for previous misdemeanours). He showed great pace qualifying on pole position in Monaco - a grid slot that was taken from him due to... previous misdemeanours. I'm sensing a theme here. Nevertheless, Nico Rosberg already secured one victory this year, becoming the first driver to get Mercedes to the top step this millennium. Schumacher must surely need a win this year to keep any form of motivation to continue alive.

Potential in Pérez

Taking things in your stride, Pérez style
Taking things in your stride, Pérez styleCredit: Sauber Motorsport AG

Along with the usual suspects, drivers who have won previously and are just waiting for a chance to return to their trophy-hunting days, there is also potential for a debut winner. Rosberg has picked up his first F1 victory in 2012, as has Pastor Maldonado, but there are still drivers throughout the field who could spring a surprise. Both Romain Grosjean and Sergio Pérez have been semi-regular visitors to the podium, both making strategies work out for them and showing consistency when those around them are struggling. It would have to be something of a mixed up race, but it wouldn't take a lot to see a repeat of Maldonado's surprise victory. The tyres would need to be working well, at the right track, with a driver that is on it. I'd bet on Pérez succeeding before Grosjean, but both are practically neck and neck.

Dark horse

Then, of course, there is Felipe Massa. We know he is in a car capable of winning race, although the pace of the Ferrari seems to vary week on week. Massa has had an exceedingly difficult start to the year, and speculation continues to swirl over who could possibly replace him - either next year, or part way through this one. However, the Brazilian has shown better form recently, performing really well in Canada. He knows how to win, but it has been a long time since we've seen Felipe on the top step of the podium. Can he remember how to do it, and would it change his prospects at the team if he did?

I don't think we'll see an eighth winner this weekend in Valencia. I think it will be one of the usual faces claiming victory - a Red Bull or McLaren driver - but there is definitely still scope for this season to deliver some surprises, and we may yet see an eighth different winner as the year progresses.