Hello there, you’re listening to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, we are on to day eleven! So far we’ve traversed through the early part of the season, with races and politics, accidents and penalties. Today we’re moving on, with Day Eleven - Taken out.
Up to and including the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was enjoying a spectacular run of points finishes that actually dated back to the previous season. It was Canada 2011 that saw Alonso’s last non-points finish, the only retirement of that season. Since then, he had four victories, six second places, four thirds, and points in the rest of the races.
Going into the Hungary weekend, the accumulation of constant top ten finishes in 2012 meant he was leading the championship by a strong 34 points to second place Mark Webber. Once again, Red Bull were having to react to a regulation change, outlawing something on their car that they had pushed ahead with - this time engine mapping.
It was neither Red Bull nor Ferrari that dominated the Hungarian GP weekend, though, with Lewis Hamilton rocketing his McLaren to pole position, four tenths of a second faster than the surprisingly quick Romain Grosjean. Hamilton had also been fastest for both sessions on the Friday, showing off just how well the McLaren suited the Hungaroring.
Elsewhere in qualifying, Mark Webber missed out on the top ten shootout, whilst Sebastian Vettel did the best he could to take third on the grid. Mercedes were struggling with Michael Schumacher only managing to secure 17th place, and Nico Rosberg not that much higher up in 13th.
Their poor form would continue to the race with Schumacher having what can only be described as a shocking afternoon. Video evidence proves that he pulled up to the wrong grid spot, stopping two places back on the 19th space rather than the 17th. Then we’re not 100% sure what happened, but the engine was turned off, leaving him sitting on the grid unable to join in the formation lap.
The team pushed him into the pitlane, from where he had to start the race. Except, he managed to break the pit speed limit and earn himself an immediate drive through penalty, he picked up a puncture on the first lap and had to come in for an unscheduled stop before serving the penalty, and then he later retired from the race - probably simply to halt the bad luck!
Lewis Hamilton was having no such turn of form, leading the way from pole position. Romain Grosjean challenged him briefly at the start of the race, and Kimi Räïkkönen towards the end - the Lotus drivers swapping positions after a fierce battle out of the pitlane. The pair finished on the podium with the McLaren, picking up a haul of good points for Lotus.
Fernando Alonso finished the race in fifth place, after a reasonably quiet afternoon. It was to be the last of his run of consecutive points finishes, as he was knocked out of the Belgian Grand Prix in the first corner. He’d also retire in Japan, but for the coming races where he got to see the chequered flag, he would remain in the points, desperately trying to keep a hold on his championship challenge.
Teammate Felipe Massa didn’t have such a good start to the year, beginning with a retirement in Australia and then picking up the odd points here or there. For him, however, Hungary proved to be a turning point for the better. He finished the race ninth, to begin a string of his own consecutive top ten results - including a highlight second place in Japan. His championship chances had long since fallen by the wayside, but things were looking up for the Brazilian.
That’s all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, thank you, as always, for listening. The next episode will see us rushing headlong towards the halfway point so I hope you’ll join me then.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2012
Filed under Mini Series
References Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Hungaroring, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber
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