European Grand Prix – Valencia
Classifications - Preliminary
Pit Stop Summary
Official Starting Grid
formula1.com: Alonso triumphs in Valencia
formula1.com: Race – selected team and driver quotes
formula1.com: Sebastian Vettel Q&A – I'm disappointed but confident
2012 European GP – Valencia
A Doublemint Race sans the minty taste
Two disclosures as I start this race ramble.
I am a tifosi but Alonso leaves me cold. I am a huge Vettel fan and have been since his first F1 race for BMW filling in for Kubica after his horrific accident.
I really like the city of Valencia. It may not be my favorite spot in Spain but I have enjoyed my time there. I really hate the race held there. I wanted to like it when it was added to the F1 Calendar but since watching the second practice session of the first race I have thought it the pits. The 2012 edition has done little to change my opinion.
The 57 lap 2012 version of the European GP neatly breaks down into two 28 lap races. Sebastian Vettel was the run away winner of the first 28 lap sprint but walks away empty handed after retiring on lap 34. Alonso won the second half and took the top step of the podium to become 2012's first repeat winner.
Vettel dominated the first half of the half of the race. After winning the race to turn three he consistently added a second a lap to his lead. He gave up a few seconds during his pit stops but began adding them back again when he would return.
Webber, Vettel's Red Bull teammate, started the race in P19 but steadily moved up the standings finishing in P4. Newy's improvements to the RB missile for the Valencia race made it a break away car in race trim.
The first 2012 Valencia race ended with Vettel holding over a thirty second lead on P2 as he dove into the pits as the safety car was deployed after an incident between Kovalaenen and Vergne. To this point Vettel had set some fast laps but was not the fast lap holder at the time. His dominate lead was built on consistent lap times. His lead would disappear when he returned to the race and assume the lead of the parade behind the safety car.
Race machines are fragile things and F1 cars particularly so. They are pressed hard on the track and only really slow for a few seconds in the pits. Often they will hold together just fine in race conditions until they are forced to cool down behind an extended yellow flag. This was the case for Vettel in Valencia.
When the safety car pitted Vettel was able to win the race to the first turn but shortly slowed and yielded his lead to Alonso as he retired in disgust from the race. Alonso assumed the lead on lap 34 and held it to the end. In the process he became the first repeat winner of the F1 2012 season.
The tufosi in me wants to say something along the lines that it was a 57 lap race and Ferrari was in P1 at the end of the race. Did the best car win the race? I can't get a couple things out of my mind. Vettel and his Red Bull were able to open and build a lead lap after lap. Alonso was able to establish and defend just under a four second lead in the second half. Webber's race from P19 to P4 reinforces my doubt. At the end of the day I just don't have that doublemint fresh taste in my mouth after the race.
However you second guess or slice and dice it Alonso and Ferrari were the victors in Valencia.
Grosjean in a Lotus was tipped by many to be the eighth different winner for 2012. However, it would be Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus that would take the second step of the European GP podium. A solid effort by both and fans have to wonder when a Lotus driver will take the top podium step.
Micheal Schumacher may go to bed tonight feeling like the Valencia victor. He finished. That alone is an accomplishment for the former champ. He finished P3 and in the process took his first podium.
Red Bull leaves Valencia leading the Manufacturer Championship standings. In the Driver Championship Vettel drops to fourth after retiring and leaving Valencia empty handed. Webber on the strength of his P4 finish moves to P2 in the driver standings.
Alonso opens up his lead in Driver Championship while Ferrari remains in fourth in the Manufacturer Championship. This standings divergence puts more pressure on Massa. Massa and Kobayashi tangled during lap 33. Kobayashi retired his Sauber and will take a five position grid penalty at the start of the British GP. Massa never fully recovered and finished P15 one lap down to his teammate.
Force India delivered on the pre race hype. Hulkenberg finsihed P5 and di Resta P7 putting both Force India cars in points paying positions.
Who gets the final point for P10 is in doubt as I write this. Williams will get the point but the question is will Maldonado or Senna deliver it for to the team. In the closing laps Maldonado and Hamilton were dueling for position. The two touched and Hamilton was driven into the barrier and retired from the race. Race stewards announced they would investigate the incident after the race. It is very likely the standings will shuffle.
The discussions about money and rules taking place off track take on added importance. Seven different manufacturers placed cars in the top ten points positions. The time spread on the times shown on the results is not fully indicative of the fights taking place during the race that lead to the results. Teams tighten up as a formula nears its end. The current formula is no exception. In the process it has taken eight races to get a repeat winner and the racing behind P1 has been aggressive and close. The new F1 formula rules and budgets continue to be worked on. Lets hope they don't screw the action up in the process.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is the next stop for the Formula One circus.
Formula 1: 2012 Race Calendar | Results Season/Team/Driver
fia.com: 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship - Race Information & Event Starting Times for the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship