Valencia GP 2012

This race is approached with caution; it’s far from a fan favourite, and more outspoken drivers are reluctant to bestow a warrant upon it. Why it is still on the calender is a mystery, but the hosting fee and contracts have something to do with it. Widely regarded as a tough place to overtake qualifying is everything, as the drivers lined up on the grid no one had won here who had lined up before third, but hopes were high that the eighth winner would be crowned here anew. Lotus and Mercedes run well in the warm so when temperature began to rise Grosjean became the favourite.

But this is 2012, anything can happen. And today it did.

Super Seven Moments:

1. You look familiar

Good day at the office

The sport missed out on extending its record breaking stint on new winners today but when Fernando Alonso eventually climbed onto the top step (after putting on a show of appreciation at turn 20 for the fans) there wasn’t an overwhelming feeling of disappointment, but that may be uncovered once the dust of Maldonado v. Hamilton settles.

Regardless of that the Spanish driver demonstrated exactly why he is so highly thought of, failing to make it into Q3 by the smallest of margins seems like a disaster on Saturday, but when he is called upon he delivers. He can deliver in a poor car, and now he’s delivering in a quickly improving car. Striding out into the front of the championship with a 20 point lead Alonso is cautious, but one must question, do the other drivers have the stamina and consistency to chase him down?

Familiarity also spread across the whole podium, Schumacher is into his third season since he ‘un-retired’ and today he graced us with his presence in third place. Even the most ardent anti-Schumacher Formula One fan can’t begrudge him that.

2. Mario Kart, War of attrition, Destruction Derby

On the highway to hell for Hamilton fans

Take your pick, the sheer ludicrosity of some moments in the race had everyone asking ‘what’s going on?’What was going on was drivers trying their hardest to create overtaking opportunites, creating a safety car that bumed off two race favourites. From shock retirements to silly mistakes the race result as a whole was determined by these rather than ‘racing’ proper. Although Alonso proved that you can indeed overtake at Valenica, and the hunting pair of Schumacher and Webber punished the one-stoppers in the final stages.

 

  • Lap 20: Senna v Kobayashi at corner 5/6. Senna manages to collect himself but is penalised with a drive through.
  • Lap 26: Vergne v Kovalainen. Rookie overtake attempt, Kovalainen’s front left clipped by Vergne’s rear right. 10 place grid drop for Vergne at Silverstone.
  • Lap 26: Vergne out.
  • Lap 33: Vettel out.
  • Lap 33: Kobayashi v Massa. Front right puncture for Massa, and a mixed set of tyres for Massa slows his stop down. Front wing damage for Kobayashi. 5 grid place drop for Kobayashi at Silverstone.
  • Lap 33: Kobayashi out.
  • Lap 40: Grosjean out.
  • Lap 55: Raikkonen overtakes Hamilton and Maldonado sets himself up next, going wheel to wheel Maldonado is pressured off the track, rejoining he T-Bones Hamilton off at turn 13. Maldonado loses front wing but bring car home in 10th. 20 second post race penalty.
  • Lap 55: Hamilton out.

3. Advantage tough qualifiers

Good things came to those who wait…on Sunday

Looking at the final result compared to where the winners qualified, it was an advantage to start further back on the grid on Sunday, ironic considering how tough it is to overtake in Valencia.

  • Alonso, started in P11 finished P1 (+10)
  • Schumacher, started P12 finished P3 (+13)
  • Webber, started P19 finished P4 (+15)
  • Perez, started P15 finished P9 (+6)
  • Ricciardo, started P17 finished P11 (+6)

Casting a glance over some of the big gainers, substantial leaps were made, in part helped by the high attrition of the front runners. But nonetheless this is another race where what we thought we knew has been disregarded.

4. Peak Performance

Taking on the bigger boys

For a heart swelling moment Petrov was running inside the points, in P10 hopes were high that with three sneaky stops he could hold on long enough to open the Caterham championship account. It wasn’t meant to be today, however it showed that Petrov has found pace in the car and that maybe, just maybe, they will fulfill their promise.

Force India made a lot of noise this weekend, a brilliant qualifying session got people interested in what they could do in the race. After what has been a very quiet season so far, Hulkenberg was quiet during the race but controlled himself and the tyres to secure a great P5. Di Resta did a Perez and only dipped into the pits just the once and brought his one stopper home in P7. Ricciardo was another driver making a bit of noise for himself today too, completing outshining his team mate in one of the fiercest intrateam battles going.

5. Did we get the right result?

Without a safety car Vettel would have surely taken the win, he streaked out from his well worn pole position (taking his 33rd equallying Jim Clark and Alain Prost) and earned himself an unassailable 20.5 second gap to the rest of the grid at the peak. But on lap 33 his car grinds to a halt, coasting to a stop reporting later that his engine stalled and switched off, since confirmed as the alternator failing. This same failed befell Grosjean, who after Vettel’s retirement looked set to become a welcomed eighth, but on lap 40 his similarly powered Renault alternator gave up too. With Webber’s running hot throughout the race, Renault will be trawling through piles of data to ensure this doesn’t happen at Silverstone.

With Grosjean out and Alonso charging towards a home win, Hamilton was left to duke it out with Maldonado. The driver with polar results each weekend, alternating between hero and zero, winner and sinner, collided with Hamilton to punt the driver out on the penultimate lap.

6. Congratuwelldones

Despite the fears we were in for a snorefest Valencia shocked all, they may not want the burden of two races but Spain had produced top entertainment this season.

7. Ohnonotagains

It looked so good, Hamilton’s pitstop was a blink and you miss it 2.9 seconds, McLaren fans rejoiced, the curse was broken! But, there always seems to be a but when we talk about the British outfit this season, when Hamilton skipped down the pitlane expecting the same service the second time he was hit with a huge 14.1 stop (the whole pit lane experience in Valencia is usual around 16/17 seconds). As the first front jack self released the standby was required, then to compound his bad luck the first failure stilted the front left change.And despite Button looking resurgent on Saturday, Sunday was a return to disappointing form when a tough start was marred by yet more rear end balance problems.

Awesome-o-meter:

Race Stats:

Qualifying Vettel Hamilton Maldonado
Pole S Vettel  1:38.086 (Red Bull)
Laps 57
Weather Dry
Safety Car One (Laps 29-33)
Results 1. Alonso Ferrari 1:44:16.649
2. Räikkönen Lotus 1:44:23.070
3. Schumacher Mercedes 1:44:29.288
Fastest Lap Rosberg Mercedes 1:42.163
Retirements Vergne Toro Rosso [26] Accident damage
Kobayashi Sauber [33] Accident damage
Vettel Red Bull [33] Alternator
Grosjean Lotus [40] Alternator
Hamilton McLaren [55] Accident
Penalties Karthikeyan Speeding in pit lane Drive through
Senna Collision with Kobayashi Drive through
Kobayashi Collision with Massa 5 grid place drop next race
Vergne Collision with Kovalainen 10 grid place drop next race and €25000 fine
Maldonado Collision with Hamilton 20 seconds added to race time
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