Hello and welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, our quick rundown of all the important moments that shaped the season just gone. We’re rapidly moving through early season testing and racing, with the number of new winners just racking up. Let’s see if there’s another one on Day Six - Risky Business.
Red Bull, and more specifically Adrian Newey, are well known for pushing the limits of the regulations, always striving for that little bit of extra speed, even if it means putting a design of questionable legality on the car. The team had faced a slow start to the 2012 season, particularly coming off the back of Sebastian Vettel’s super-dominant championship campaign the year before, but they weren’t just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. Development was going on apace, and at Monaco, we’d see the first of a few regulation squabbles involving the Red Bull car.
Following the practice sessions, held on a Thursday in Monaco, Mark Webber raised his concerns that the Red Bull duo may not be able to challenge for pole position on the Saturday, saying: “We didn’t get to do as much running as we would like. That’s the way it went today, Monaco is like that.”
As it turns out, Webber needn’t have worried too much. Sebastian Vettel did struggle for pace, getting through to the final top ten session but opting not to run in Q3 and settling for tenth place. Webber, meanwhile, managed to post the second fastest time - just pipped to the top spot by Michael Schumacher, who pushed his Mercedes to go just eight hundredths of a second faster than Mark’s lap time. For Schumacher, it was all in vain, however, as the German was subsequently dropped five places for his collision with Bruno Senna at the previous race in Spain.
Webber was promoted to P1, but after qualifying it became known that three other teams weren’t happy with some innovation going on with the Red Bull floor. It was reported that McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari were questioning a hole in the floor that was just ahead of the rear wheels - with the regulations stating there can be no holes in the floor in those areas. With both their cars potentially breaking the rules, Christian Horner had to choose whether to start the drivers from the pitlane, make some changes to the car and race through the field in the safe knowledge that they were legal, or take up their positions on the grid and risk exclusion from the event after the race was run. Well, we know what Red Bull are like.
Thus, Webber lined up at the head of the grid, and led the field away for the Monaco Grand Prix. The first lap incident came courtesy of Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean. The pair clipped wheels, which sent Romain into a spin and into the way of other drivers. Vettel brushed against the Lotus but avoided major damage, but Kamui Kobayashi was less fortunate. He was sent flying up into the air, coming down with a bang. The Sauber managed to continue on for five laps but ultimately had to retire. Grosjean was also out of the race, along with Pastor Maldonado and Pedro de la Rosa.
The two had been involved in their own separate incident when Maldonado crashed into the back of the HRT driver. He had been dropped ten grid places in qualifying due to a crash with Sergio Pérez in practice, and then he had a subsequent five place drop as well for a gearbox change. From the back of the field, he braked too late, hit the HRT and both retired from the race.
The Safety Car made an appearance as the first lap tangles were sorted out, and the restart saw Webber leading from Nico Rosberg. They made it to the chequered flag in the same order, with Fernando Alonso joining the pair on the podium, just pipping Sebastian Vettel to third place. That promoted him three points ahead of the German in the championship standings. And if you’re following along at home, Webber’s win made him the sixth different driver to win, a fresh face on the top step of each event of the 2012 season so far. Red Bull risked being excluded from the results, but the FIA allowed them to keep their points, if not the illegal floor. More on that next time.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012. Six episodes in, there’s plenty more still to come as we relive the 2012 season. Do join me again next time where we’ll see what highlight is hidden behind the window of Day Seven.
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Filed under Mini Series
References Adrian Newey, Bruno Senna, Christian Horner, Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi
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