Is it just me or did I see one of the best races of the 2012 Formula One season on Sunday? Who would have thought Valencia would serve up a terrific Grand Prix.
Drama from start to finish, plenty of overtaking manoeuvres and incidents galore. What more could you ask for. A brilliant Grand Prix and I have to admit I was dreading this one.
I would be right in saying that previous races at Valencia have been pretty dull. Did I expect to see an entertaining race this time round? No is the simple answer.
Again you have to give Pirelli credit for what they have done. And tyre degradation has played its part in what is proving to be a fantastic season for Formula One.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso delighted the home crowd and Tifosi by taking victory in an absorbing Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen came home in second and massive congratulations to Michael Schumacher.
The seven-time World Champion ended up finishing the race in third. This was Schumi’s first appearance on the podium since his return to the sport.
Ferrari and Alonso
Qualifying might not have gone to plan for Fernando Alonso and Ferrari. But the Spaniard drove a brilliant race to take his second win of the season.
How often have we seen drivers who have not made it into the top ten and yet they have been able to pick up strong results. Look at Sergio Perez in Canada. Qualified 15th and the Mexican finished the race third.
Does getting into the top ten of qualifying matter? For me it does and it always will. However not making it into Q3 is not the end of the world. But lets not take anything away from Fernando.
Alonso pulled off some brilliant overtakes and his move on Romain Grosjean after the safety car went in was outstanding. OK Sebastian Vettel and Grosjean retired but Alonso’s victory in Valencia was down to genuine pace and the Ferrari has been improving race by race.
It will be interesting to see whether the double World Champion can repeat his European Grand Prix heroics at Silverstone. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Alonso is in contention for the race win.
For Felipe Massa it was yet another frustrating weekend and I really hope he picks up a strong result at the British Grand Prix. With the way things are going I can’t see Massa at Ferrari next year.
The Brazilian’s race was more or less over when he had a collision with Kamui Kobayashi. Had that not occurred, Massa would have been in with a shout to score some points. Felipe is capable of stringing results together but his luck this year has been rotten and sometimes when things go wrong, they can go from bad to worse.
It could have been so much better for Lotus had Romain Grosjean’s car not suffered an alternator failure. But Kimi Raikkonen managed to bring the car home in an excellent second place.
Despite the DNF for Grosjean in Valencia, I have been very impressed by how well the Frenchman has performed this year. He has proven to be more than a match for his more experienced team-mate.
I personally think it is only a matter of time before Romain takes his first win in Formula One. He has been given a second chance and boy has he taken it. I can only run out of superlatives to describe how well Romain has done in 2012 so far and he is a star for the future.
Kimi was one of the drivers to benefit from Grosjean’s retirement and having got past Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race, the Finn was able to score 18 points for second.
Raikkonen has performed admirably in my view on his return to Formula One but it was obvious from his interview with Lee McKenzie that he wanted more than second place. The win was just out of reach but Kimi can be satisfied with how the race went for him.
I do believe Lotus will win a race this season but I’m not sure where that race victory will come at. Will it be at Silverstone?
When Michael Schumacher crossed the finishing line on Sunday in third position, I was so happy for him. The German has endured so much bad luck in 2012 through no fault of his own but this could be the result that kick-starts his season.
Schumi was able to hold off Mark Webber for the final podium place and this result saw Michael on the podium for the first time since his comeback to Formula One. The Mercedes car has improved significantly compared to the previous two seasons and I just get a funny feeling Schumacher could actually win a race this year.
Michael pulled off some decent moves and being on the fresher tyres at the end helped enormously. Finishing third in Valencia will give Schumi an extra spring in his step but he now needs to build on this result and string some points finishes together.
Nico Rosberg drove a decent race to finish sixth. Rosberg did get off to a poor start but in the end he was able to make his two stop strategy work and get past Paul di Resta in the final stages of the race.
Sebastian Vettel would have been on the top step of the podium had he not suffered an alternator problem. The German had the race up his sleeve and looked on course to record his third consecutive win at Valencia.
The neutral will have been delighted to see Seb retire but it was clear Vettel was not a happy bunny after climbing out of the stricken Red Bull. Who wouldn’t be? After leading the race for so long and doing all the right things, then for an alternator to fail will have been heart-breaking for Vettel.
However he will bounce back from this and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the podium at Silverstone or even win the British Grand Prix. Red Bull in recent years have done well at Silverstone and I can see both Seb and Mark battling for a race victory.
After a torrid Saturday, Webber did a great job on Sunday to finish fourth. Its not the first time Mark has made his way through the field after a miserable qualifying and going out in Q1. Remember the Chinese Grand Prix last season? Started 18th and the Aussie went onto finish third.
Things did look bleak after qualifying but Mark certainly turned it around on race day and he wasn’t far behind Schumacher come the end of the race. Webber is right up there in the Drivers Standings and don’t rule him out of this years battle to be crowned World Champion.
He won in Monaco and he has also been consistent so far this season. Plus there have also been times this year where he has got the better of Sebastian.
Once again McLaren make another mistake in the pit stops. Are they ever going to learn? I wouldn’t like to be in those high pressure situations and I know for a fact I would make mistakes.
But the fact that McLaren have made so many errors during the pit stops this season is frustrating for the drivers and for the fans. McLaren are one of the best teams in Formula One and these pit stops should be perfect.
The team need to realise these mistakes are costing Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button points. Hindsight is a beautiful thing but had Hamilton’s second stop not taken so long, perhaps he would not have been hit by Pastor Maldonado.
Lewis did what he could and even finishing third would not have been a disastrous result. I guess the consolation for Hamilton was the fact Vettel didn’t score any points either.
My thoughts on the Hamilton – Maldonado incident: Maldonado’s fault and he was lucky to only be given a 20-second penalty which meant he dropped out of the points and finished 12th. I personally would have given him a five or even a ten place drop for what he did.
It was inevitable Pastor would get past Lewis but there was no need for the Venezuelan to do what he did. Had Maldonado rejoined the track once Lewis had got past Turn 13, the Williams driver will have had another opportunity to get past the Brit on the next long straight.
Maldonado drove brilliantly at Barcelona earlier this season to take his first ever win in Formula One. But there have been times where he has been erratic and yesterday’s collision was not the first time both Lewis and Pastor have collided.
As for Jenson he could only manage an eighth place finish and he is not exactly in top form. Scoring only six points in five races is not Championship winning form and Button does need a strong result at Silverstone. Who knows a win could get his season back on track.
I do believe Button will bounce back from this bad spell and don’t count him out of the Drivers Title. There is still a long way to go and anything can happen.
And finally one team who will have been delighted with their weekend’s work were Force India. Nico Hulkenburg came home in a brilliant fifth place with team-mate Paul di Resta finishing seventh.
In Free Practice both Hulkenburg and di Resta were impressive and Qualifying went pretty well although di Resta felt he could have done better than tenth. It was a big weekend for the team and with both Williams and Sauber not scoring many points, Force India were able to take advantage.
Scoring 18 points at Valencia meant Force India are only one point behind Williams and 16 behind Sauber in the Constructors. Silverstone is a track that should suit the VJM05 and Force India always seem to perform well at high speed tracks. Watch out for Force India at the British Grand Prix and I don’t know why but I have got a feeling they could surprise one or two people.
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