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Immaculate Alonso becomes first two time winner, comeback pair on podium
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jun 2012   |  3:04 pm GMT  |  490 comments

Fernando Alonso became the first two time race winner in 2012 with a stunning victory in the European Grand Prix.

It was a very valuable win as both his main title contenders did not score points; Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both fell by the wayside, giving Alonso the chance to open up a relatively big points lead. He has 111 points with Webber on 91, Hamilton on 88 and Vettel on 85.

After a dramatic final dash to the line, the two comeback kings got great results; Kimi Raikkonen finished second ahead of Michael Schumacher. It was Schumacher’s 155th podium and the first of his three year comeback.

Starting 11th on the grid, but with the advantage of new tyres saved from missing Q3 yesterday, Alonso gained three places off the start line, fought his way through the field in the opening stint, took the opportunity offered to him by another pit stop problem for McLaren to pass Hamilton. He passed Grosjean for second place then took the lead just after half way through the race.

The race looked to be Sebastian Vettel’s for the taking, the only time he had any company all afternoon was at the start and then mid-race, when the safety car was deployed.

But Vettel pulled off the track soon after the restart and into retirement.

“Difficult to express the feeling, winning a home Grand Prix, ” said Alonso. “It’s unique. To win here in Valencia with this special team, I’m feeling very proud to be a Spanish sportsman. It’s probably my most special victory.

“Yesterday we had a tough moment, we were sad not being in Q3, but we didn’t give up. Anything can happen, today we had an amazing race a good start, 6 or 7 overtakings. We have to enjoy this.”

On the grid, Schumacher, Webber, Perez and Vergne went for the medium tyres, a clear indication that they were planning a one stop strategy. But their decision to pull out of this and switch to two stops late in the race gave Webber and Schumacher great results.

At the start, Vettel got away well, with Hamilton in second, but Grosjean squeezed past Maldonado for third place. Button lost four places to 13th and Rosberg fell to 11th.

Grosjean attacked Hamilton, while Raikkonen had a go at passing Maldonado for fourth, the Finn went off the track but couldn’t get past.

Vettel put in a very strong opening couple of laps to be well clear of the DRS zone by the end of lap two and after seven laps he had an eight second lead over Hamilton.

With Grosjean feeling that he was losing time behind Hamilton, Lotus needed to review their strategy options. But Grosjean passed Hamilton for second place on lap 11 and set off after Vettel. Grosjean’s pass was around the outside after the DRS zone. Grosjean dropped Hamilton by almost two seconds on the first lap in clear air.

Kobayashi had got himself up to fourth place, while both Ferraris gained three places from their grid slot, with Alonso eighth in the opening stint and Massa 10th.

Raikkonen passed Maldonado on lap 13 for 5th place, a great move around the outside again. Both Lotus drivers were very committed in their moves.

Hamilton pitted for mediums, while the other front runners mainly went for another set of softs. Hamilton was suffering from overheating tyres.

Alonso rose to 3rd before his pit stop and he rejoined 9th, just ahead of Raikkonen, who had been two places ahead of him in the opening stint. Alonso passed Webber and then Alonso and Schumacher had a great battle, the Spaniard squeezing past on lap 19 using the extra grip of the new tyres.

Kobayashi made contact with Senna as he tried to come through on new tyres, it put Senna into a spin and Kobayashi needed a new nose.

On lap 24 Di Resta pitted for a set of medium tyres and rejoined 14th.

The top three cars were very spread out with Vettel over 20 seconds clear of Grosjean, who was almost 10 seconds clear of Hamilton. Approaching half distance Alonso started to reel in Hamilton.

On lap 29 the safety car was deployed for debris on the track from an incident between Vergne and Kovalainen. Grosjean, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg pitted immediately. Hamilton had a problem with a front jack and another long stop meant that Alonso passed him, as did Raikkonen. Hamilton dropped to sixth place.


Vettel pitted a lap later and rejoined in the lead. Now all the front runners were on the same medium tyres of the same age, which threatened to take away from the drama of the final laps on varying tyres. Although Daniel Ricciardo kept the interest alive by staying out on very worn soft tyres after the restart.

At the restart Alonso forced his way past Grosjean for P2, a move which turned out to be a very important move as a few moments later Vettel pulled off the track with no drive to retire, leaving Alonso in the race lead. An overheating alternator was blamed for the retirement.

But Grosjean hadn’t given up on the idea of a race win. lap after lap he stayed with him, matching his lap times and biding his time.

Mark Webber had climbed to sixth, but in a few corners on lap 37 was passed by Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Di Resta. He was another driver who made a late second stop for soft tyres and made great use of them; ending up fourth, from 19th on the grid.

The stewards investigated Hamilton for passing under yellow flags, but cleared him. However they penalised Kobayashi for a collision with Massa, five grid places at the next race.

On lap 41 Grosjean pulled off the race track into retirement, leaving Hamilton in second place and Raikkonen third with Maldonado and Hulkenberg giving chase.

With 12 laps to go, the top three started to close up; Raikkonen was told that if he could get ahead of Hamilton he’d have a chance of winning as Lotus expected the Ferrari to struggle on the tyres at the end.

In the closing stages Di Resta on his one stop strategy was vulnerable as Schumacher and Webber went past him on fresher tyres. Schumacher had been trying to do one stop, but a late stop for soft tyres gave him a chance to attack in the closing stages.

Raikkonen attacked Hamilton with two laps to go and passed him for second place. Maldonado tried to follow the Finn, but Hamilton defended robustly despite rapidly fading rear tyres.

Hamilton refused to allow Maldonado through and as he resisted he and Maldonado collided, Maldonado coming back from outside the race track, in a move most commentators saw as Maldonado’s fault – putting Hamilton out of the race. The enmity between the two from last year was clear to see and won’t have been improved by this incident.

Maldonado saw it as Hamilton’s fault, “He tried to put me off the track,” he said. “He didn’t leave any room for me to stay on and do the corner side by side. I jumped over the kerb and I couldn’t avoid the accident. I don’t know why he drove like that. He was struggling too much with the tyres. He was completely lost and at that moment I was getting very good pace. He tried a very aggressive move on me.”

This allowed Schumacher to come through to take his first podium of the comeback.

Hulkenberg finished fifth, despite not having KERS from lap seven, which is quite an achievement when considering how important KERS is in both passing and defending.

EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX, Valencia, 57 laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h44:16.449
2. Raikkonen Lotus + 6.421
3. Schumacher Mercedes + 12.639
4. Webber Red Bull + 13.628
5. Hulkenberg Force India + 19.993
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 21.176
7. Di Resta Force India + 22.886
8. Button McLaren + 24.653
9. Perez Sauber + 27.777
10. Maldonado Williams + 34.630
11. Senna Williams + 35.900
12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 37.000
13. Petrov Caterham + 1:15.871
14. Kovalainen Caterham + 1:34.654
15. Pic Marussia + 1:36.565
16. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
17. De la Rosa HRT + 1 lap
18. Karthikeyan HRT + 1 lap
19. Hamilton McLaren + 2 laps

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1

Late comment… but more proof we are all privileged to be watching one of the most complete drivers of all time. Regardless of winning due to retirements, Alonso is in league with the very best.

2

I’m a bit late to the party, but here goes…

When I was watching this live, I was excited to see the wheel-to-wheel moments, especially between Maldonado and Hamilton…

However, after they hit, I was quickly reminded of how much attitudes have changed. Remember the epic Villeneuve-Arnoux battle?

Does anyone on the grid today have the discipline to fight “cleanly” the way they did?

3

If Massa didn’t already know for sure that he is finished, he certainly does now. Finishing 16th a lap behind your team mate who wins the race. He should be replaced immediately.

I reckon they could bring back Fisichella from GT Racing and he would do a better job than Massa has been doing of late.

4

Great race, I really enjoyed alonso laughing to himself over the radio and stopping the car near the grandstand with the Spanish flag and the Marshall trying to give alonso a teddy bear with a cape on it, alonso didnt take it, so the marshall put it on the front of the Ferrari this was hilarious, I really think F1 needs to relax the rules so drivers can really enjoy the win, do a few donuts or something

5

Seeing Alonso, Kimi and Schumacher on the podium… Nostalgic!!!

6

The comments made here on the Ham/Mal incident tally up as decisively against Maldonado by a wide margin. I am a fan of neither driver, or any driver – in the sense that I choose to see things as faultless to my favourite driver irrespective to circumstances.

I saw this crash as a setup by Hamilton in forcing the issue with a driver/team with less to loose than Ham/McLaren. There is no incentive for Maldonado to back down.

Maldonado was even to slightly ahead of Hamilton on corner entry.

Hamilton did not close the door on Maldonado, there was no door to close. Maldonado was already alongside.

Hamilton corner exits pushing Maldonado off track. Hamilton is not aggressively defending by closing the door by sweeping wide, as had been done by Rosberg’s example earlier this season. Hamilton NASCAR’s Maldonado off track.

Maldonado will not be bullied so he does a Ayrton-like “screw you” move to push back on the track in retaliation. Only Hamilton does not move right to avoid the crash.

If Hamilton possessed just half the intelligence & racecraft of Alonso and 1/5 less testosterone, he would be a driver to be truly feared.

7

He’s already feared because he will crash into you, regardless of whether or not he’s being passes or doing the passing.

Hamilton doesn’t crash into people on purpose (like Maldonado has inexcusably done in the past), but he causes racing incidents– all of the time.

He causes them by not thinking about who he is racing against. Going for gaps that aren’t there. And not taking his time.

Compare Hamilton’s bash-log against Alonso’s or Kimi’s.

8

When drivers are told to ease off and coast there is little doubt that the mechanics of the car are not stressed to 100% of design.

I wonder if engine manufacturers are getting frustrated that all their effort does not appear to be producing a meaningful difference in the race.

9

Yesterday we’ve seen not only the best race of the season so far but also the best of Alonso. He reminded me of some great races that Ayrton Senna did. Of course, many would say he was lucky and he benefited from Vettel’s retirement and Hamilton’s problem in the pits, but, hey, isn’t luck part of life? I always insisted that F1 is a team sport and the driver is the team’s captain. Alonso played the role brilliantly yesterday to lead his team to victory.

Vettel was bloody fast but… should we ask the question from a different angle? Was Vettel that fast or was Hamilton slower than usual? I wonder whether Vettel could have built such a massive advantage if Grosjean was second.

As for the incident between Maldonando and Hamiton, it was Pastor’s mistake but then Hamilton should have not insisted to regain his position because it was crystal clear than he was slower and he had no grip in his tyres. And, Hamilton’s fans, please do not argue that Lewis is a fighter and his move was instinctual because sometimes in life you just have to put your hands up and say… “I was slow today, it wasn’t my day, Pastor was faster, he was right to pass me for third”.

10

Just had a look at footage of the Hamilton v Maldonado crash and it was definitely PM’s fault. PM should have backed off the throttle when he was he was heading off the race-track, furthermore he rejoined the race-track in an unsafe manner. If PM had been half a car’s length ahead of LH, LH should have given him more room. Clearly PM has skill but he is too reckless (a bit like LH last year), he caused both drivers not to finish in the points. I agree with the contributors that PM has not been punished enough. MS was given a 5 place grid drop for his collision with BS and I think PM’s mistake was worse. Although I do think the punishment MS got was too severe. I hope PM gets his act together as he can maybe win another race and that will not only be good for him but Williams. I do appreciate it was a last lap tussle but I think both drivers especially PM (as I think LH has wised up a bit) need to be given a stern talking to.

11

you mean he’s a pastor, and his teammate is a sinner?

12

What does Maldonado have to do to get a race ban? I can count three occasions where he has intentionally driven into another driver (ham at spa, perez at Monaco and ham at Valencia). There are plenty more examples where he was at fault for causing an accident.

I believe that he has the potential to cause someone an injury and if the accident was done on purpose there will be many questions to his previous accidents. As he has only so far received normal race penalties it would look badly on F1.

For example the Monaco accident with Perez where he gave him a tap on the front left. Later in qualifying Perez had an accident which I believe was due to an issue with the front left (either turning or suspension). If this accident happened elsewhere on the circuit and Perez was injured or even worst… How many people would be asking questions about the earlier accident? How many conspiracy theories would be a result?

13

I wonder the same. For the incident he caused, what he received is minimal.

I think FIA are taking the accidents he causes too lightly, and may take another serious injury before they hand him some heavy-duty penalty like a year ban or something.

14

Why is the FIA lenient with Pastor? Because his manager is Nicolas Todt?

15

I know that Villeneuve talks a lot of rubbish sometimes but maybe there is some truth to his latest comments about a lack of ‘respect’ in some of the newer drivers. Perhaps its because they have not experienced how dangerous the sport can be.

http://www.formula1blog.com/2012/06/07/villeneuve-young-drivers-have-videogame-approach-lack-respect/

16

nice to see an All-Ferrari podium lol 🙂

1 current and 2 ex-employees

Cheers 😀

17

Hi James,

I was wondering, what is the drivers on podium combination (irrespective of finishing positions) that has appeared most frequently in F1 history?

Surely ALO, MSC and RAI would be quite high on that list.

18

Maybe Prost/Senna/Mansell?

19

Hakkinen, Coulthard, Schumacher would be my guess.

I’ll get my stats guy to look at it.

20

I’m no Alonso fan, particular after the shenanigans at McLaren.

So it pains me to say, and I never thought I’d say this, but he does seem to be an incredibly good racing driver.

21

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqhiYXP0KNE

The Hamilton v Maldonado incident for everyone to review again.

22

If you look at the video, Maldonado was ahead before Hamilton forced him out.

I think that’s the reason Maldonado rushed back on track so forcefully with Hamilton not giving an inch of space to race.

Overall, I’d say 90% racing incident, 6% Maldonado’s and 4% Hamilton’s fault.

It’s bit disgusting that how easily people put the blame on either driver when the essential point of F1 is racing – Then the same people wonder “why there’s not more overtaking?”, “Why do we need the magic overtake button?”, etc..

23

I’m glad we’ve had a 2 time winner too, I was starting to get a bit bored of the build up to every race being “will we see an xth different winner in x races” 🙂

24

Who will be the 2nd 2nd time winner!

25

As amazing as the race was, and as happy as I am about the result, I simply can’t help but wonder about “what could have been” in terms of entertainment between Alonso and Vettel, surely that would’ve been a sight to see; Alonso on the charge all race with a much more reliable car than in the past, behind Vettel thanks to great racing and a safety car, and Vettel driving insanely well, dominating from the start until his car ruined his race. Oh what could have been.

26

It was telling to see how Newey reacted when Vettel stopped. His signature unreliability seems to be creeping back. It looked as though he knew full well there was a possibility of this happening due to him pushing some philosophy or another too far.

27

Why is alternator trouble anything to do with ‘Newey’s signature unreliability’ ?

Since Grosjean suffered the same problem on his also Renault-engined Lotus, maybe they should be speaking to the French company.

Is the car designer guilty of every fault that occurs?

28

It has always always been a trait of his designs.

Go all the way back to 1998. New rules, Newey designed a brand new dominant McLaren that won Hakkinen and the team WDC & WCC. 1999 not quite as successful but nonethless got WDC for Hakkinen. Since then his designs just go downhill costing McLaren and Kimi lots and lots of chances of grabbing the titles due to unreliability.

I think it’ll take another new book of rules for Newey’s cars to shine again.

29

It was good to see Hamilton actually defending on these Tyres, and proving it is possible (if Maldo doesn’t smash into you).

I think he’s the only one in that position to have really bothered defending. Although, to be fair to other drivers, when they went off the cliff it has usually been with a few more laps to go until the end of the race; so they had a lot more to loose by defending and further burning out their tyres.

30

Top three finishers have all driven for Ferrari. No wonder LdM wishes to field 3 cars 😀

32

Thanks, this race will be remembered for ages!

33

Thanks dude!

Who cares about world titles when you can have moments like these!

34

Cheers for the vid.

Are you the original uploader? Can do with a higher quality vid, very blurry there 🙂

35

Caterham got change to score 1 point because both Toro Rosso Driver hit them..

Looking forward Caterham Silverstone package next race..

36

lets be real here folks. the tires are crap. every announcer, every driver, even Pirelli are all saying… the races are contrived for television. So, forget racing, we now have NASCAR on road courses ..When I used to go to Watkins Glen in the 70s I never imagined F1 would become such a farce. And by the way…. huge Schuey fan but I’m sick and tired of ‘tyre management.’

37

Maldonado penalty and explanation I hope shows people here their illogical reasoning. He needs a dressing down by the stewards (more so than Lewis did last year ) .

More importantly for Williams he needs to be spoken to, because this is costing them big time . That car can be winning races not acting as a smash up derby car!

38
Stone the crows

What an exciting race, and to think there were a couple of groups in Valencia who were petitioning Alonso to not participate in the race to show solidarity with his fellow Spaniards who have fallen on hard times. I think he did his countrymen more good today than anyone imagined. I was wondering about track condition today James, from the feed it looked as if the track was remarkably clean. Or maybe the camera didn’t show the marbles as clearly as other tracks.

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