2012 Formula One German Grand Prix Review
How many of us expected Fernando Alonso to win the German Grand Prix of 2012? Most of us, I’d say. And indeed, had you seen him during Saturday qualifying, you definitely would have to be sufficiently blind to disagree. His final qualifying run in torrential rain, wherein he beat his own P1 time, when everyone else failed, was as outlandish as it could get – bordering on one of those instances which can be described in modern parlance as “epic”.
And Saturday was only a precursor to the sheer brilliance that is Fernando Alonso. As race day dawned amidst parting rain clouds, and the German fans thronging the Hockenheimring heaved a cumulative sigh of relief, the grid was set up for what turned out to be one of the most enthralling races of this season.
The moment the five red lights went off, the race spelled perfection for the Spaniard. He came under attack from Vettel midway into the race when his tyre wear started getting the better of him, and then later on, he had to hold his fort against Jenson Button: both of which he administered superbly to drive home his third win of the season. There never really was a moment when he put a wheel out of the line in his near text-bookish drive which saw him sail into a comfortable lead in the driver’s world championship tally – 34 points ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
For Red Bull, the race was a mixed bag of sorts. Sebastian Vettel went up on the podium with a well earned second placed, only to be handed a 20 second penalty by the stewards later on for a controversial overtaking maneuver on Jenson Button on the 66th lap. Rather unfortunate for the German, because he really didn’t seem to be consciously doing anything illegal while overtaking. He did run a bit too wide – but that did look like a move in the best interests of both, Vettel and Button. Risking a collision in the penultimate lap of the race would have been extremely foolish.
This penalty however, brought McLaren’s Underdog of the Season, Jenson Button up to second place – a breakthrough for the Briton, whose current season, since his win at Melbourne has been forgettable. And if anything was established as a result of Button’s strong performance, it was the fact that McLaren are serious about racing once more.
One wonders if the same can be said about Lewis Hamilton. McLaren’s seriousness, in all seriousness failed to rub off on him, and all that he did after a rather nasty puncture in the beginning of the race, was run around the track in an attempt to unlap himself, soliciting a lot of negative responses from drivers and spectators alike, before finally driving into the pit lane and retiring.
The unprecedented star team of the weekend however, was Sauber. Both Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez came quite strongly throughout Sunday afternoon triumphing at P4 and P6 respectively. Very impressive, given that they had started the race at P13 and P12. This also marked the Japanese driver’s best finish in his career and added valuable points to the ever improving Swiss team’s tally.
For Force India, Sauber’s traditional midfield rivals, Germany was a let down. The team had good positions in the grid to capitalise upon: Hulkenberg had even qualified to P4. But the race just didn’t seem to go right for either him or di Resta as both of them fell prey to the rest of the pack, finally wrapping up the weekend with just two points from Hulkenberg’s P9.
Michael Schumacher, the seven time world champion, had a similar story to tell. He just didn’t seem to have the pace where it mattered, and in spite of starting from P3 on the grid; in spite of setting the fastest lap time during the race, he ended P7. Incidentally, this was his first fastest lap since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Lotus, as usual continued their fine show of class. The rain during qualifying had raised doubts about their car setup, but the sunshine during the race did help them come strong. And Kimi went up the podium one more time this season – bringing his championship standing to 4th, and ahead of Lewis Hamilton. For Grosjean however, who began the race with a 5 place gearbox penalty, he drove a surprisingly lacklustre race and ended 18th.
The upsides of the race included a definitive direction to the driver’s championship. Alonso, with three race victories this season, can start eyeing his third world title now. Of course, the season is only half over, but we finally seem to have reached a state of equilibrium where in the general levels of unpredictability that this season has been synonymous with, are on the decline. Whether that is good or not, is a completely subjective matter.
Lastly, Button’s drive to second place, does prove that McLaren are back with a bang. The car looked sharp and it superbly delivered to each of Button’s overtaking maneuvers throughout the race today. Here’s hoping that one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history can put all of that glittering track record to better use during the rest of the season.
And the rest of the season? That’s not very far away either. Five more days and we shall be back right here with all the previews and inside stories. This time from Hungary. Watch this space!
(image credit : The Telegraph)
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