Feature image: talkingaboutf1.com
The 2012 season was a real rollercoaster. Sebastian Vettel clinched his third world title in dramatic fashion, leaving it to the final race of the season at Interlagos and beating Fernando Alonso by three points. This all stemmed from an unforgettable opening seven races to the season, which saw seven different drivers taking the chequered flag. We start in Melbourne…
1. Australian Grand Prix – Jenson Button
The McLaren-Mercedes duo locked out the front of the grid for the first race of the season with Button in P2 and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton just in front of him. From the drop of the lights, Button had a much better start and beat Hamilton to the first corner, promoting him into the lead where he would stay for the entirety of the race. This was Button’s third victory at Albert Park in four years and gave him the top spot of the championship after the first round.
2. Malaysian Grand Prix – Fernando Alonso
Alonso took the win in a race which had it all, it was like a movie. With the torrential rain bringing out a red flag before the lap counter had hit double figures, no one knew when or even if the race would be restarted. An hour later, the safety car led the drivers out and we were back to racing. An excellent strategy call by Sergio Perez in the Sauber saw him hunting Alonso down in a race where the Mexican shone.
3. Chinese Grand Prix – Nico Rosberg
Three weeks later, Nico Rosberg became the first German driver to win a Grand Prix for a German team in his maiden victory at the Shanghai International Circuit in China. He beat Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton in their Mercedes powered MP4-27 and it was the first time that a race had been won by a team other than Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull since Rubens Barrichello’s win with Brawn GP at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix.
The win was also Mercedes’ first win in Formula One since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix which saw the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Piero Taruffi take a 1-2 in the final race of the season. It would be another two years until Mercedes would replicate the 1-2 of Fangio and Taruffi at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2014.
4. Bahrain Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel
After a difficult first few races, the reigning World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, finally got his first win of the season in a race which was overshadowed by anti-government protests and was branded ‘the most controversial [race] in the history of the sport’ by The Independent. In a dominant weekend, the German took pole position and the fastest lap on his way to taking victory ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean in the two Lotus-Renault’s.
5. Spanish Grand Prix – Pastor Maldonado
After a four-day test at Mugello at the start of May, the next race was at the Circuit de Catalunya and it produced the biggest surprise of the season. Pastor Maldonado was bumped up into the first pole position of his career after Lewis Hamilton was forced to start from the back of the grid and the Venezuelan didn’t disappoint. He temporarily lost the lead at the first corner to Fernando Alonso but an undercut on the Spaniard shocked the home fans and he re-took the lead.
Alonso and Maldonado battled it out for the remainder of the race, with the Williams driver taking the chequered flag only three seconds ahead of the Ferrari in a memorable victory. The heroics for the Venezuelan didn’t stop there, ninety minutes after the conclusion of the race there was a fire in the Williams garage which saw thirty-one people injured. Maldonado ended up rescuing his 12-year-old cousin from the blaze who had broken his foot.
6. Monaco Grand Prix – Mark Webber
At the seventieth running of Formula One’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’, Michael Schumacher showed us all he still had it after taking the final pole position of his decorated career. However, he was bumped down to P6 for the race after he was given a five-place grid penalty for causing a collision at turn one with Bruno Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks before.
Mark Webber took the opportunity and converted starting at the front of the grid into a race win, with some pressure from his team-mate Vettel. This win created a new record for the sport as there had not previously been six different winners of the first six races. In typical Lewis Hamilton fashion, he had to join in with the record-breaking process…
7. Canadian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel started at the front for the second time of the season in a race which was overshadowed by student protests yet again. Lewis Hamilton started just behind the German and had to fend him off as well as Fernando Alonso in a thrilling race in Montreal. Alonso led most of the final third of the race but suffered a lot with tyre wear in his Ferrari F2012 and ended up falling to P5.
Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez joined Hamilton on the podium to round off the seventh race with a seventh different victor, and Formula One hasn’t seen anything like it since. The win took the Brit to the top of the standings on 88 points, with Alonso behind with 86 and Vettel with 85. Kimi Räikönnen would go on to win the Abu-Dhabi Grand Prix towards the end of the season, becoming the eighth different driver to win and the sixth different constructor in his Lotus E20.
[This was originally posted in January 2021 on DriveTribe.com]