2012 was one of the most fan friendly seasons in living memory. In stark contrast to the previous year, the competition was tight and went down to the wire. The Brazilian Grand Prix was the perfect backdrop for a thrilling finale; the country’s history with the sport is prestigious. Now one won’t just associate Brazil with the late great Ayrton Senna. Interlagos will be known worldwide as the place Sebastian Vettel made history and Michael Schumacher retired. Perhaps even for good this time!
After a dominant display in 2011, the pressure was firmly on the young shoulders of Sebastian Vettel. Acting as the target, all talk was on the preparation of the Red Bull affectionately nicknamed ‘Kinky Kylie’ by its driver. Previous champions wanted to beat him; Fernando Alonso had come so close, but in F1, so close is always too far.
Formula 1 fans flocked to Australia, sitting with anticipation. Months of waiting was finally over – the ‘Ice Man’ Kimi Raikkonen was to return, Bahrain looked set to finally host its Grand Prix and pre season testing had set up a thriller. Initially the Ferraris looked the slowest and the McLarens the quickest, to a certain extent the beginning of the season reflected this. What nobody expected was an unprecedented seven different winners from the first seven Grands Prix. Extraordinary! Button was victorious but his success was not sustained.
Alas Bahrain in April, the Grand Prix that almost wasn’t. A time when sports and politics collided with potentially devastating consequences. For once the pleas for increased driver safety were not speed related, instead sadly it was the chaos around them that made the front pages. It was Sebastian Vettel who kept his cool, victory was the German’s once again.
The drivers had survived the perils of the Middle East, next on their agenda? The tour of Europe, a continent where Champions and F1 come hand in hand. The sport plummeted into Barcelona, the peace of the city put into perspective the previous race. Williams would be victorious – I think a moment that the whole world shed a tear. It was not the Senna name this time (hard luck Bruno!) Instead the honour fell to Pastor Maldonado, the surprise victor. A fire in the garage would be their only bad luck of the race weekend, a sign that the danger of the sport is always hanging over the drivers and teams. The sportsmanship visible was a pleasant change from the battle that takes place on the grid.
The classic track of Monaco brought back the classic side of Formula 1. The wealth of the residents and the elitist nature of the sport have always complemented each other – in my opinion, no Formula 1 season would be the same without it. The track is Sergio Perez’s nemesis and Mark Webber’s track of glory, though regardless of who the champion might be Monte Carlo never fails to impress. In contrast, Valencia, still a relatively new addition to the racing calender, does not always guarantee this. 2011 was the first time I felt my love of Formula 1 momentarily extinguished. Thanks Fernando Alonso for your win from 11th and in front of an adoring home crowd made it a surprise favourite. More of that in 2013 please.
Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest completed the first half of the season. There is still no clear favourite. At this point it’s all to play for. Perhaps for the first time in this decade Sebastian Vettel could be beaten? It wasn’t until the end of the season that he proved us wrong again.
Spa saw numerous crashes, a stumble for Alonso and a race ban for Romain Grosjean. The always smiling Frenchman was not smiling now; not when Jerome d’Ambrosio made a return. This change was crucial. The halfway stage of the championship had been met with controversy at a time where updates are added and driver line ups for the next year are questioned.
The Japanese Grand Prix stands out in my mind – Kamui Kobayashi’s podium had all of Japan and Peter Sauber in tears. Not enough to secure a race seat in 2013 but still a sign that a mid field, independently run team can bring the necessary updates. This had been Sauber’s Achilles Heel until now. Similarly Abu Dhabi saw a change in the podium. Kimi Raikkonen was back on top, achieving what Michael Schumacher had always hoped to do.
If you ask me, we couldn’t have asked for a better ending. It was Brazil that crowned Jenson Button champion, the outcome of this title was less obvious. Fernando and Sebastian both hoped to make history. The people’s champion missed out, the German was now carrying the torch that Michael Schumacher so kindly handed him in the final lap. This is my only grumble – I do wish he had passed properly.
Besides from that, 2012 was a triumph. Just when we thought that Formula 1 couldn’t get better, it excelled itself. Is this really the golden era of Formula 1? Well I’m going to let you decide that one for yourselves. Let me know by commenting below – please note you do not need a WordPress account to do so.
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