Barcelona GP 2012

Back to the natural playground of Formula One, Europe has been sounding its siren call for months and finally we have returned. Barcelona, or more precisely Catalunya, played host to the first European race continuing its hospitality that it extended during the final stages of pre-season testing. Widely considered the benchmark circuit, it is supposed to give the most solid indication of form for the rest of the year, do well here and your season is looking up. If that is true then everything we saw in 2011 is irrelevant, teams that struggled last year are fighting back hard. Claiming podiums, snatching wins from the jaws of giants, turning Formula One on its head.

Super Seven

1. Meteoric Maldonado

Enjoying the win

This season has shown a very different Pastor Maldonado, last season he was widely condemned as a pay driver who replaced the talented Nico Hulkenberg (or Hulkemberg if you’re in Spain) thanks to the considerable cheque signed by the Venuzuelan government. This season has shown Maldonado at his best, despite a rough end to the Australian Grand Prix he put pressure on the front runners and even had Fernando Alonso sweating, something he continued in Spain. Inheriting his first pole position from a heavily penalised Lewis Hamilton he exploited his good fortune he ran from start to finish, and he did so in a measured and mature manner. It is a huge shame then that such a stunning win was marred by a garage fire.

2. One Team

Inspired by the unwavering support shown by various members of the grid I wrote this on how Formula One, the team, is the strongest one in the sport. To watch the events unfold was shocking enough as the speed in which the fire took hold was matched only by the rapid response of rival staff coming to Williams’ aid.

3. Attrition and penalties

Consistency is an issue in Formula One, and it’s not the surprise winners, it’s the stewards. Lewis Hamilton took pole position in Spain, confirming his great qualifying pace, but after being told to stop his car on track to ensure a fuel sample could be taken sparked a few concerned faces. In the rules drivers have to make their way back to the pits under their own steam for the time to count, not so on race days as we’ve seen. Penalised Hamilton was put to the back of the grid, and raced hard to take 8th after an exhibition of maturity in response to the decision that was missing last season.

The attrition rate was quite high for this race, Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna had a coming together on lap 12 which resulted in a very angry German throwing his very expensive toys out of his monocoque. It highlighted a trend that will continue, the vast difference between new boots and tyres that have plummeted off the cliff. Rookie Charles Pic, after being given a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, racked up his first second retirement of his Formula One career with a driveshaft problem. Sergio Perez’s great qualifying effort was foiled by a late transmission with Narain Karthikeyan stopping just after the pit exit 22 laps into a race he had to be cleared to participate falling short of the 107% rule.

Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were also handed drive through penalties for failing to slow enough for yellow flags and while the German was able to rescue an unchracteristically tough weekend in Barcelona with points, the beleaguered Brazilian just finished ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. And times are getting tough for the 2008 almost champion, with yet more pressure being put on him by his team via the media, Massa needs to make headway and discover the key to unlock the secret to a better season.

4. McLaren pitstop-itis

Little lift

And it’s catching, Hamilton may have worked his two stopper from 24th to 8th but what’s a 2012 race without a little drama from the British team? Still the rear left, but this time the issue wasn’t the wheel, well not the one that was attached on time. A wheel gun was left in the way and Hamilton ran over it as he left, pausing just past the lollipop he lost valuable time. Sauber too had a sticky moment.

5. Big guns, little bang

McLaren, Red Bull (mysterious front wing issue) and Mercedes were anonymous, Hamilton and Vettel put on a show for their fans but each was short lived. Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were background dressing where (last years) midfield provided the entertainment. This is not Formula One as you know it, this is anyone’s year.

But on the flip side Lotus again showed they have serious race pace under their carbon fibre, Raikkonen took the last step on the podium with Grosjean close behind. Raikkonen taking another title? Why not!

6. I can has pass?

When Kamui Kobayashi blasted onto the track in his rookie year he impressed everyone with his innate ability to go for the overtake, and in Spain we welcomed the crazy passmaster back! Stick around all year sir.

7. Cry me rubber tears

Pirelli have been credited with turning Formula One on its head and bringing back excitement and unpredictability to the sport. Last year it was all ticker tape parades and thumbs up, this year the criticism is rising to the surface in varying forms. Schumacher has lambasted the manufacturer and compared the tyres to driving on raw eggs, calling them too fragile. After a pointless Spanish Grand Prix Webber offered a tempered opinion, explaining that ‘when you push you have to pit’. However he credits the new rubber with upping the ante, “We would all love to have quicker laptimes and extremely consistent tyres like we did in the old days, but that wasn’t the most exciting thing for the racing.”

Awesome-o-meter

There really isn’t more to say apart from Go Williams Go is there?

Race Stats

Qualifying Maldonado Alonso Grosjean
Pole P Maldonado  1:23.380 (Williams)
Laps 66
Weather Dry
Safety Car None
Results 1. Maldonado Williams 1:39:09.145
2. Alonso Ferrari 1:39:12.340
3. Räikkönen Lotus 1:39:13.029
Fastest Lap Grosjean Lotus 1:26.250
Retirements Schumacher Mercedes [12] Accident
Senna Williams [12] Accident damage
Karthikeyan HRT [22] Mechanical
Pic Marussia [35] Driveshaft
Perez Sauber [37] Transmission
Penalties Massa Failed to slow for yellow flags Drive through
Vettel Failed to slow for yellow flags Drive through
Pic Ignored blue flags Drive through
Schumacher Causing collision 5 grid drop next race
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Comments
4 Responses to “Barcelona GP 2012”
  1. georgedenaeyer says:

    Schumacher complaining about the tyres is just him being a cry baby now that bridgestone aren’t making tyres speicifically for him. He’s spoilt.

    • rookief1 says:

      He certainly had a charmed career at Ferrari, something he’s not enjoying now. And I have a feeling that now that 2013 will be Schumacher-less judging by his performance compared to Rosberg’s in the same car following his return.

      • georgedenaeyer says:

        I hope so, would rather see a rookie or a younger driver in his seat.

      • rookief1 says:

        Me too, I commend him for returning as his input must have been invaluable for Mercedes. Perhaps Di Resta, his links to Mercedes are pretty strong and if he continues as he’s going a step up is definitely in the offing.

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