Hello and welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012. This is our mini series taking a look at the highs and lows of the season just gone, the key moments that made it a pretty incredible year. Today we are moving towards the rear of the grid where an intense battle was playing out. This is Day Fifteen - Ten for twelve.
The talk from Caterham ahead of the 2012 season was all about moving forward and away from the other new teams they started their time in Formula One with. Two tenth place season finishes in a row had seen them with a cash injection, and the hope was for them to take a leap forward and start scoring points.
The double retirement in Australia wasn’t exactly the start they were looking for, but a 13th place in Monaco for Kovalainen and a similar result in Valencia for Petrov meant the team were keeping a comfortable hold on their tenth place.
Then came the Singapore Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton put in a pretty fabulous lap to secure pole position on the Saturday, whilst all eyes were on the Williams pair. Pastor Maldonado was proving his pace in the car by hauling the Williams up to second place on the grid, whilst Bruno Senna crashed out in second qualifying, finding his way towards one of those pesky walls. The Ferrari drivers were split, with Fernando Alonso up in fifth, and Felipe Massa in thirteenth.
Lining up on the front row of the grid, after a minute of silence paying tribute to Sid Watkins, Hamilton prepared for the lights to go out and the race to begin. Upon learning who was next to him on that front row, Lewis had said: “I am happy for Pastor, he’s taken a lot of heat through the year and he is obviously very talented. I don’t want to get in his way and hopefully he doesn’t want to get in mine.”
He needn’t have worried, as Hamilton zipped off into the lead, whilst Maldonado dropped back behind Vettel and Button. By the end of the first lap, Pastor was fourth, but he retired before the race was out due to hydraulic problems. Hamilton’s luck didn’t last either, as just over twenty laps in, his gearbox gave up and forced him to retire from the race, promoting Sebastian Vettel into the lead.
Narain Karthikeyan was another retiree, crashing out and causing a Safety Car, whilst Michael Schumacher went sailing into the back of Jean-Éric Vergne, ending both their races early as well. He apologised to the Toro Rosso driver, but was subsequently given a ten place grid drop for the next race for the crash. With five drivers out of the event, there was a chance for some of the backmarkers to move forward.
Heikki Kovalainen was up in 15th place for Caterham, but crucially, Timo Glock was all the way up in 12th. He opted for a two stop strategy compared to those around him, and held on to the position to the end of the race. As Vettel, Button and Alonso took to the Singapore podium, it was Marussia who were cheering the loudest.
The 12th place allowed them to move up to tenth in the team standings, jumping long-time rivals Caterham. Afterwards, Glock said: “An incredible race for us. We do need to hold on to tenth place until the end of the season still and I hope we can. Over the last four months we have really closed that gap to Caterham and this is a very nice reward to everyone in the team because it has not been easy.”
Marussia did manage to keep hold of that tenth place right up until the last race in Brazil. Sadly for the team, the mixed up race at Interlagos saw Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov finish 11th, moving them back up above Marussia in the championship. Although naturally a very disappointing result for the Marussia team, it does at least show that they’re not letting Caterham disappear into the midfield just yet, they’re keeping on and keeping up. Now, it’s not clear which of the two will be moving into the points first, and the battle begins all over again next season.
That’s all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, thanks for listening, and please do join me again tomorrow when we move on to the next important moment of the past season. I’ll be back with Day Sixteen.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2012
Filed under Mini Series
References Bruno Senna, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Jean-Éric Vergne
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