Five races and five different winners. Who will have scripted that at the beginning of the 2012 Formula One season? It has been a truly remarkable start to 2012 and I only hope it continues.
Will Monaco see a sixth different winner this year? With the way things are going, I wouldn’t back against it. The Pirelli tyres are once again playing their part and you would be a very brave person to predict who will come out on top at Monaco.
Considering how dull previous Spanish Grand Prix’s have been, this years race was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Before I talk about Pastor Maldonado’s excellent win my thoughts are with the mechanics who were injured in yesterday’s horrific fire that occurred in the Williams pit garage.
Three Williams team members were taken to a local hospital with one believed to have been suffering from burns. It was great to see team personnel from different teams helping to put the fire out and it just shows you Formula One is united.
All the teams may be competing against one another on the track but off the track they are united and yesterday was an example of just that. I speak for everyone in Formula One and hope those injured in the pit fire make a speedy recovery. We are all behind you.
An Eight Year Wait
Williams’ eight year wait for a race win came to an end on Sunday with Pastor Maldonado putting in a brilliant performance to take his maiden victory in Formula One. Pastor became the first Venezuelan to win a Grand Prix.
The last time Williams tasted race victory was back in 2004 at Brazil when Juan Pablo Montoya came out victorious in his last race for the team. No doubt Maldonado’s victory in Spain will be one the Williams team personnel will remember for many years to come.
Pastor’s win will have also been a perfect birthday present for Sir Frank Williams. It was obvious up and down the paddock that everyone was delighted for Williams.
Although he lost the lead on the opening lap, Pastor kept his cool and was able to get past Fernando Alonso during the second stage of pit stops.
The Venezuelan went on to win the race and was able to hold off the challenge of Alonso to take his first ever victory in Formula One. Thoroughly deserved and it was great to see Williams back on the top step of the podium.
To bounce back as they have done this year has been incredible. However there is a long way to go and everyone at Williams will be looking to stay on their feet and not get too carried away.
If Lewis Hamilton was not stripped of his pole position, perhaps we would have had a different result on Sunday. But take nothing away from what Maldonado and Williams achieved.
Ferrari and the Rest
Finishing second in front of his home crowd will have felt like a win for Fernando Alonso. The start he made to this years race was reminiscent of the start the Spaniard made in last years race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Fernando was overtaken in the second stage of pit stops by Maldonado and lost the lead. He was not quite able to get past the Venezuelan but Alonso shouldn’t be disheartened by coming home in second place.
It is ironic that Ferrari don’t have the best car and yet Alonso is tied on 61 points with Sebastian Vettel leading the Drivers Championship. The great thing about Alonso is that he is always consistent and has always been able to get the best out of a car even if it is not at its best.
The pressure will be building on Felipe Massa after the Brazilian could only manage a 15th place finish. Massa does need an upturn in form and if things do not improve he might not even last the season.
Lotus had yet another solid weekend with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finishing third and fourth. Eric Boullier should be delighted with the way both his drivers have performed this season and I would not back against them picking up another strong result in Monaco.
The Enstone based team could have won in both Bahrain and Spain but they should not be disappointed by the way they have performed. I have been very impressed with how well Raikkonen has performed on his return to the sport. But at the same time I have also been equally impressed with Grosjean.
Romain has been given a second chance and the Frenchman has so far done himself proud. Ending up on the podium in Bahrain and finishing fourth in Spain will have delighted Grosjean and he has every right to be pleased with how his season has gone so far.
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi had a great day at the office as the Japanese driver finished fifth. Again I have been impressed by the start Sauber have made to the 2012 season and both Kobayashi and Sergio Perez have done a great job. Could Sauber spring a surprise in Monaco? You never know.
After Free Practice on Friday you would have backed Red Bull to score big points in Spain. But come Sunday, Sebastian Vettel could only come home in sixth and Mark Webber finished outside the points in 11th.
I really cannot put my finger on what went wrong for Red Bull and I guess the only saving grace for them was McLaren not scoring big points either. Red Bull have enjoyed recent success at Monaco and it would not surprise me if they were to bounce back in Monaco. But based on what we have seen this season it is unpredictable as to who will win the next Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg finished seventh for Mercedes with team-mate Michael Schumacher retiring from yet another race. Schumacher not surprisingly received a five place grid drop for causing a collision and going into the back of Bruno Senna. I totally agree with the stewards decision and there is no arguing that Schumacher was at fault for the collision.
Had Lewis Hamilton not been stripped of his pole position, I reckon the Brit would have gone onto win the race. To be forced to start at the back of the grid was harsh in my view. Having said that the McLaren pit crew should take responsibility for what happened on Saturday.
But give credit where it is due. Lewis was able to make his way through the field from 24th to finish the race eighth. Hamilton did a great job and it was a shame he was not able to hold off Vettel for seventh.
Jenson Button will have been in a buoyant mood after being quickest in the second Free Practice session on Friday. Button is one of those drivers who is able to make his strategy work well and look after his tyres. But for some reason he was not able to do that this time round in Spain.
Finally Nico Hulkenburg defended brilliantly from Mark Webber to finish tenth and pick up a point for Force India. It has not been a strong start to the season for Force India but yet they are picking up points.
Paul di Resta did a great job at Bahrain coming home in sixth. We have yet to see the best of Force India and the way they have started this season reminds me of how they started last season.
2011 was a slow start for the team but in the second half of the season they started putting in more consistent and stronger performances. I genuinely believe Force India have been surprised by how well the likes of Sauber and Williams have done. But there is still a long way to go and there are plenty of points to play for.
I am looking forward to Monaco and I really cannot predict who will come out on top. But I am loving Formula One this season and long may the unpredictability continue.