Posted by Carrot on May 15, 2012 | No Comments
I have watched Formula 1 religiously for nearly two decades now, and I cannot remember a season as mixed up or unpredictable as 2012. We have had five races this year, five different teams have supplied the winning car and five different drivers have stood on the top step of the podium. Three former world champions and two first time winners have received the laurels for victory. What can be said about such a season? Well, I can certainly say this is only a quarter of the races we have scheduled for this year.
It is a popular win for Williams, the team has been years without a victory, but the team is well liked by both the paddock and the fans. It wasn’t a fluke win either, there was no rain in the race or in qualifying to mix up the order, Pastor Maldonado drove a race that you’d expect from a champion rather than someone in his second season who’s been tagged, on occasion, with the label of pay driver. If Williams will part with him, this week’s performance combined with his massive sponsorship portfolio will undoubtedly put him in the frame for the second Ferrari seat assuming Sergio Perez hasn’t already signed a contract. In the other car the race for Bruno Senna didn’t go so well, being punted off be Michael Schumacher. Michael can complain as much as he wants, I (as well as the stewards) saw it as Schumacher’s fault, for which he will receive a five place penalty. In truth it seemed like a carbon copy of the Mark Webber/Heikki Kovalainen incident in Valencia, slower car braking early for corner, you’d think the best drivers in the world would have realised that cars that are slower or on older tyres would need to brake earlier, wouldn’t you? The first year back with Renault and Williams are winning, and in the dry, it’ll certainly be interesting to see if they can continue to unlock the pace in this year’s design and challenge for the top step some more.
Fernando Alonso drove the wheels of that Ferrari (not literally) to challenge for the win. At home we don’t expect anything less from the former champ, but on a weekend where the other top teams dropped the ball in a big way it was an excellent result for Ferrari. The in-season testing has served them well, allowing them to hammer out the flaws with their car and début a new rear end to the car races ahead of when they would have otherwise been able to do so. Alonso had previously been using second rate equipment to best effect, these improvements will surely allow him to remain at the front when the other top teams return there. In the second car… did anyone see the second car? Apart from being a victim for other people’s progress that is? Alonso finished second having challenged for the win, Felipe Massa was a lap down, beating only the new teams. Even the most loyal fan of the Scuderia must be screaming for his to be thrown out of that cockpit. Alonso stands a chance of winning the driver’s crown this year, with Massa they have no chance of the team championship.
Third and fourth, in team order, came the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Depending on your point of view Lotus are either the success story of the season or the team that’s actually underachieved the most. To stay consistent and beat the top teams is certainly a massive step forward for the team, but this is the second race in succession they could have (and in the eyes of some, should have) won. Depending on what attitude they take will determine whether the team goes into a slump or forward with optimism. There’s certainly a lot to be optimistic about, the car is consistently fast and two drivers the are delivering the pace with seeming ease. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lotus became the sixth team to win a race this year, and Grosjean to be the third driver to win win his first race.
Fifth was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber. Not a double points finish for Sauber with Perez being forced to retire with mechanical problems, but still the team walked away with more points this weekend that Mercedes AMG, McLaren or Red Bull did. It’s a definite plus for them, but we know the top teams have the budget to come back into the fight. For them the goal has to match and outscore Williams and Lotus in the rest of the season.
Sixth came the only scoring Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, Webber finishing outside the points in eleventh. There’s not much to say, they’ll be disappointed and rightly so, there were a lot a points to be gained with Mercedes AMG and McLaren not doing well. Still with the leads in both points tables they won’t be complaining after their start to the season.
Seventh to tenth were populated by Mercedes powered cars, Nico Rosberg in the works team, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the McLarens and Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India. There have been two wins for Mercedes powered cars this season, but having a highest finish of seventh on a high speed track wasn’t what they were looking for. The story of these places was the McLaren duo, especially Hamilton beating his team mate even though he started at the back of the grid. Last season, and the seasons before, I’ve spoken about McLaren needing to get their act together and start the season with a fast car. This season they have, but there’s been an explosion of errors from the team that are going to cost them overall victory at the end of the season. If it’s not pit stops, it’s not putting enough fuel in the car to hold pole even though they took pole by half a second. For one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport they are acting like a bunch of amateurs, perhaps reiterating this fact will cause them to act like professionals again.
And now one of the most unpredictable seasons ever in the sports moves to Monaco. The glitz, the glamour and the track where any driver can make a massive difference. I couldn’t even begin to guess who will even be fastest in first practice, let alone win the race. This is the season Formula 1 fans have been crying out for since, well, forever. This is must see sporting action, we’ll see you in Monte Carlo.