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F1 Advent Calendar 2012 (Day 10) - 100 and out // A brief recap of Silverstone and Hockenheim, where the rain came tumbling down

Published by Christine Blachford

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Hello and welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012. We have reached double figures in our mini series of bitesize episodes reliving the highs and lows of the season just gone. It’s time to return to the racing, with Day Ten - 100 and out.

The British Grand Prix sailed past in a mist of rain and champagne, with Mark Webber snatching victory from the grasp of Fernando Alonso. Red Bull and Ferrari were beginning to stake their claims at the top of the championship tables, with Alonso stretching out a small lead in the driver standings, and Red Bull taking firm control at the top of the team table.

After the drafty days at Silverstone, it was on to Hockenheim... where the rain continued. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was celebrating his 100th Grand Prix weekend, was deep in contract discussions with his team, and desperately hoping they could deliver more this weekend than they had on the previous outing.

Eighth and tenth for Hamilton and Button respectively was a very disappointing weekend for McLaren at Silverstone, particularly at their home event, and there was little else to blame than the pace of the car which was missing. For the race in Germany, McLaren had brought several new upgrades, including noticeably different sidepods. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh was keen to instill hope in the McLaren fans, saying: “F1 changes very quickly.”

For Red Bull, it could have been a change for the worse as, once again, they found themselves in a storm of controversy regarding the rules. The FIA technical delegate Joe Bauer pointed out an engine mapping problem with the car to the stewards, in his belief that it was against the regulations. The stewards clearly weren’t happy with Red Bull’s interpretation of the rules but had to admit they weren’t in breach of any of them. More clarifications were on the cards, of course.

The team were allowed to keep their second and third places in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel just pipping Mark Webber, both being beaten by Fernando Alonso. Webber subsequently dropped down the order due to a gearbox change, as did Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg in a penalty heavy grid. Jenson Button managed to outqualify Hamilton, securing seventh on Saturday, to Lewis’s eighth place.

It was to get no better for Hamilton on Sunday, who found himself caught up in some first lap action, picked up a puncture and fell backwards. He struggled with the balance on the car for most of the rest of the race, and retired on lap 58. Before disappearing from the action, however, there was just time for the Brit to cause some havoc, unlapping himself from Sebastian Vettel, which held the Red Bull driver up a bit and helping out Jenson Button who was challenging the German for podium position.

Vettel afterwards branded the move from Lewis as stupid, he said: “That was not nice. If he wants to go fast he should drop back and find a gap. It was stupid as he was a lap down. I didn’t expect him to attack because I didn’t see the point.” The flip side to that being, of course, that if Hamilton was genuinely faster, there’s no reason he shouldn’t unlap himself just because the car in front is getting comfortable.

Whether Hamilton helped out his teammate on purpose remains to be seen, but it was a disappointing end to his 100th race.

At the front, Fernando Alonso had led from pole position, never quite a comfortable lead but enough to take the chequered flag and his third victory of the year. Jenson Button was sitting second until the penultimate lap, when a determined Sebastian Vettel came barrelling past and overtook him. After the race was over, however, the stewards handed Vettel a post-race drive-through penalty, for overtaking with all four wheels off the circuit, or as they put it “gaining an advantage when he rejoined the track.” The 20 seconds that were added to his time dropped Vettel from second place all the way down to fifth, moving up Button and Kimi Räikkönen, with Kamui Kobayashi also benefitting with a fourth place.

Where Hamilton had suffered a disappointing afternoon, Button had made up for it with a second place finish and a handful of very useful points. McLaren were starting to look more handy again, and their upgrades were starting to work. It was still Alonso leading the championship, though, with Mark Webber behind him.

That’s all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, thank you for listening this far with me. So far, Ferrari seem to be doing pretty well in this championship, but how long can that last for? Join me for Day Eleven and we’ll see what happens next.

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