Welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, a series of shows picking out the key moments - highlights and lowlights - of the season just gone, what made it good, bad and otherwise. So far we have covered the first seven races of the year, with some testing talk thrown in as well, now it’s time to move on again. Today is Day Eight - Double trouble.
Seven different winners in the first seven races was a bizarre and incredible start to the 2012 season, testament to the unpredictability of the Pirelli tyres and the lack of a natural pecking order. Just to keep track, the winners were: Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. It was a run of results that couldn’t last forever, though, and the European Grand Prix, held at Valencia, would deliver our first multiple winner of the season.
At the other end of the field, the Marussia team had a difficult start to the weekend, with Timo Glock falling ill with a stomach bug. The German driver completed just seven laps in first practice on Friday, and then had a nap between the two sessions. The restorative powers of sleep helped a little and he managed 21 laps in afternoon practice.
On Saturday, however, he was forced to miss qualifying completely - 16 laps in the car during the final hour of FP3 pushed him over the edge and the team were forced to issue a statement saying he was not well enough to participate and they were seeking medical guidance. The stewards gave Glock special dispensation to race despite not qualifying, but by Sunday morning, he was still no better and forced to miss the race completely.
Whilst Glock was watching from his sickbed, Sebastian Vettel secured pole position, with Lewis Hamilton and a resurgent Pastor Maldonado third. Vettel streaked away into the lead, as Kimi Räikkönen closed up alongside the Williams driver of Maldonado. The pair were so busy concentrating on each other that they allowed Romain Grosjean to move past them up into third. It was only ten laps in before Grosjean closed up to Hamilton and used his DRS to get past, now running second.
Through the first round of pit stops, the racing continued as normal, but midway through the safety car was called. Jean-Éric Vergne made a move on the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen and the pair collided, with debris scattering all over the track. With the safety car closing up the field, Vettel’s lead was quashed, and those behind opted to make their pit stops. McLaren suffered some front jack issues with Lewis Hamilton’s car that lost him a significant amount of time, and his second place position.
After the race restarted, Sebastian Vettel continued to lead, until his car slowed to a halt and he lost power. This promoted Alonso to the front, with Romain Grosjean behind him, but it wasn’t long before the Lotus car was also retiring with a similar issue to that of the Red Bull.
Hamilton was pushing hard to regain the positions he had lost in the pit stop bungle, but collided with Pastor Maldonado on the second to last lap of the race. Hamilton was knocked out of the race, although was classified 19th due to the distance run. Maldonado finished 12th. Fernando Alonso took the victory, his second of the season, with Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher joining him on the podium. It was Schumacher’s first podium since his comeback, and much needed after Rosberg’s earlier win in China and second place in Monaco.
Meanwhile, Red Bull investigated the issue with Vettel’s car and found it be an alternator failure, placing the blame squarely at Renault’s door. It was a similar issue on the Renault-powered Lotus, with the alternators presumably reacting badly to the overheating under the safety car conditions. This was the first instance of the Renault alternators failing but it would not be the last.
That’s all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, as always, thank you for listening. There’ll be more to come, so I hope you’ll join me again next time when we look behind the door of another top 2012 moment.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2012
Filed under Mini Series
References Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Jean-Éric Vergne, Jenson Button, Kimi Räikkönen
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