The end is near
Yas Marina 2017
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Formula 1 2012 season wrap up
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Nov 2012   |  6:52 pm GMT  |  251 comments

And so an exceptional year of F1 came to an end with an appropriately thrilling conclusion.

I said at the start of the 2012 season that with six world champions in the field whoever won the title would deserve it. That view was underlined after the first seven races were won by seven different drivers and the final round just confirmed it.

This season was a pleasure to cover; light(ish) on politics, strong on racing and on characters. I liked the ebb and flow of the year, the fact that different teams had a chance to shine, with Williams winning in Spain, Lotus in Abu Dhabi, Sauber challenging for the win in Malaysia and Force India leading in Brazil. It was a season, which showed that the cast of characters in F1 is deeper than just the leading two or three teams.

You had to feel for Fernando Alonso; he has given his all like a gladiator, but just one with a smaller sword than his opponent. Alonso was on a higher level this year than at any other time in his career. He slipped a little in qualifying later in the season, eclipsed by Felipe Massa and giving himself a lot of work to do on race day in the final few rounds.

But his starts and his race management were exceptional all year. It would be wrong to say that Ferrari didn’t develop their car, after all it was over a second off the pace in Melbourne. But they didn’t develop it enough and that began to tell in the final third of the season.

But that’s not the only reason why Alonso lost the title. He lost it because of his two non-finishes in Spa and Suzuka, where he tangled with a Lotus driver. One of these was not his fault, the other he risked a lot and lost out. Such are the fine margins.

Sebastian Vettel also had his non-finishes this year, but these were due more to reliability. Yes he had a tangle with a backmarker in Malaysia, which meant he didn’t score any points there, but his alternator failures robbed him of a win in Valencia and points in Monza, so it evens out in the end.

The Red Bull was the fastest car at times this season, notably the Asian races in October, but not the fastest car of the season. That honour goes to McLaren, it’s just that they were unable to exploit it. Lewis Hamilton should have won the 2012 world championship. His driving this year was of the highest standard, gone were the errors and anger of 2011, to be replaced by some sublime speed.

The McLaren was the fastest car at the start and end of the season and in the middle too. It was eclipsed by the Red Bull in early summer and in October, but apart from that it was the car of the year. However operational errors and reliability failings in the Autumn cost Hamilton over 100 points and his shot at the title.

Take nothing away from Sebastian Vettel’s success, he deserved it and put in several performances of which his detractors thought him incapable. I was particularly impressed with his drive in Brazil. After tangling with Bruno Senna on the opening lap (see photo at top), losing his radio and suffering confusions among his four pit stops, he still managed to hold his nerve and get the result he needed to win the title. It’s hard to overstate how tough that is mentally. He had a lot to lose on that final day of the season. It helped that Alonso didn’t have the pace to challenge for the win, but it was still a lot for Vettel to deal with and he proved himself a worthy champion.

Other talking points from the season were the crashes involving Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Grosjean was at it again in Brazil, trying to force his was past Pedro de la Rosa when both were on a hot lap in qualifying. Already on a final warning after his ban for the Spa pile up, he was fortunate not to be penalised by stewards for that.

He crashed on race day; a violent 9g impact, summing up his season. Kimi Raikkonen has carried the Lotus team, scoring in excess of 200 points and with a more consistent performer in the other car, Lotus might have been able to challenge Ferrari and Lotus for second and third places in the table.

Maldonado, like Grosjean, wowed us with his speed in qualifying at times this year but his race performances were also inconsistent. The Williams was one of the best cars of the year and for the team to end up down in eighth place in the standings with it is a bitter disappointment.

Perhaps in recognition of this, both Maldonado and Grosjean were still waiting for confirmation of their seats for 2013 as the F1 circus left Sao Paulo.

For 2013, with no major rule change from this year, I expect the McLarens to start and continue strongly, but I wonder if the drivers will be able to qualify strongly enough and consistently enough to mount a title challenge.

Red Bull must be favourites again with Vettel, but with the effort they put in takes a lot out of the race team, especially the mechanics, who were exhausted after another punishing year of late nights. Adrian Newey cars are very fast, but also complex to work on and the risk for Red Bull is motivation and fatigue. This is what Christian Horner and his management group must guard against.

Meanwhile Ferrari and Alonso should challenge again, but cannot afford to produce another car, which misses the mark. Motivation is high at Ferrari, but the inspiration is lacking and this will be a very high-pressure winter in the technical department at Maranello.

And what of Lotus and Mercedes? Lotus built a good car in 2012 and Kimi Raikkonen did a wonderful job with it, can they raise their game to win consistently? Team boss Eric Boullier signed off yesterday saying that Lotus goal in 2013 is “fighting for podiums”, nothing more.

And can Mercedes produce a car for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to get regular wins? All the pieces are in place now, but the worrying lack of progress on fundamental issues like tyre wear in 2012 raise doubts. The engineers know that with Hamilton in the car they will be shown up if they don’t come up with something special.

Winter is coming on, but Like Maranello, the technical department in Brackley will be feeling the heat.

* The season may be over but we will have a steady stream of great new content throughout the winter, to prevent you from getting withdrawal symptoms.

And don’t forget to order your copy of our book, looking back on the 2012 season – JA on F1 2012 – The Year of Living Dangerously is published on December 7th priced at £10.99; its a 256 page large format paperback with stunning Darren Heath images and signed copies are available to order by clicking this link

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It's a field of contenders but you seem to have forgotten about 4 or 5 teams...

And no major rule changes for next year? You think the DRS, exhaust and flexibility year changes are inconsequential to, hmm, lets say Red Bull?!


Reward yourself. Order the new JA book and read more about the other teams. I have 🙂


Think the limitation of the drs in quali will level the field a bit... Hopefully it will deter from another aero arms war with people trying to come up with more powerful rear flaps.

Not sure where we stand on passive drs systems tho.

Stick the red bull back in the pack and it will be a more interesting fight next year!


Do you think the DRS limitations in quali will will affect the Red Bulls slightly more than the other front runners? It might compromise their traditionally high downforce/lower straight line speed setups in qualifying.


Thanks for that Luca! The load transfer stability under braking is something I have often wondered about, especially when braking into a corner at any sort of turn angle. Sounds like it could be a significant factor in their qualifying.


well the RB had a well powered DRS flap - but in SGP when they introduced their double DRS (now banned for 2013) they were able to run higher downforce during the race, as during quali, the DRS shed most of that downforce with the flap being open.

Also, the DRS flap and the way it attached airflow back to the car going into braking zones appears to have been better balanced than others, from reports i have read, which gives better stability.

Its fine if you get on the front row of the grid and then pull out a lead.

Now, without the double DRS banned and limited use of DRS, they will have to find another way to pull out such good quali laps.


Wonder if Alonso would have gotten it if he qualified better last few races. His Q3 performances have been pathetic by his standards. When you look at it that he only needed 3 points to match, maybe he could have found it with better quali.

I think there is no huge changes. That nose is gone. The DRS will be used in DRS zones only, I think there was something else...oh yes - I think the double DRS is banned too.


@ Fireman. 'It’s confusing that the Lotus pioneered system is also referred as DDRS in the media'

I totally agree, most of the media kept referring to the Lotus system as part of the DRS but it has nothing to do with it. It annoys me that the 'experts' get this wrong.


It all goes against Red Bull...


He needed 4 points, actually.


Actually the double DRS isn't completely banned - teams will still be allowed to use a non-DRS related way of stalling their wings at speed... something Red Bull introduced in Singapore this year.


I believe the Mercedes design stalling the front wing is banned, the lotus pioneered rear wing DDRS that stalls the rear wing by taking air down from above the airbox in a tube is also out, but Red Bulls all built in to the rear wing DDRS is OK...


Lotus pioneered Drag Reduction Device (DRD) is legal 2013. In short, it stalls the rear wing in certain speed. Stalling isn't triggered by DRS as with Mercedes pioneered Double DRS.

Lotus never raced with DRD in 2012. Mercedes, Toro Rosso and Sauber also tested DRD in 2012, but they never raced with it either.

And just to be clear, the Red Bull DDRS introduced in Singapore was also triggered by DRS as was Mercedes pioneered DDRS. They are both banned 2013. No other team raced DDRS.

It's confusing that the Lotus pioneered system is also referred as DDRS in the media.

For more information, check out the links below.

Lotus DRD info:

Mercedes DRD info:

Red Bull DDRS info:


Intersting. I'm thinking here of the Mercedes design of stalling front wing when rear DRS is open. I think that's banned, right?

How are teams stalling their wings without DRS engaged? "Flexing"?

Bring Back Murray

Personally I'd much prefer James to give a detailed account of how the HRT's faired all through the season!


Absolutely. Heard they had to take overdrafts for transportation of the cars!


This is a fantastic, open, honest and insightful round-up, JA, thanks. Congrats on your site, by far and a way the best there is with the highest standards of journalism, a complete lack of sensationalist clap-trap and info' that others just can't or won't provide.

Congrats to us, the community, also! The standard of Posts here is better than anywhere else on the web too! Another good season of verbally sparring with the regulars and some new names. Great opinions and thoughts all round - although Hamilton is the best driver in the world ever, a great humanitian, role model and abrilliant dancer and if you disagree you are wrong 😉


I agree on the reporting and lots of great posts in the comments section!

James Allen: Would be great to see a post about how Ferraris focus on Alonso has hurt Massa.

When Massa has a car to his liking he is blazingly fast, think 2007/08. But since Alonso joined it would seem that the car is developed to suit Alonso 100% and Massa not so much.


Kimi+Massa 1+2 Championship titles, Alonso+Massa 0+0??????


I agree with what you are saying but then again, give a masterful driver like Hamilton an understeering car and I am sure he will underperform. There are lots of details that can mess up the game.

I just think there is a great story in this and it could give insight into the complexity of competing consistently at podium level.


I think we can see that Massa is a fast driver when conditions are right, on the other hand Alonso is an all rounder who can produce results with a bad car and win races with a good car. 07 & 08, Ferrari had a competitive car from word go that’s why Massa shined from the beginning. I think Ferrari know this fact and focused on Alonso where they could get a good car performance benchmark and once the car performs, Massa naturally became competitive. Whether this is sustainable for contractors champ, it’s point of debate...


He has outqualified Alonso the past two races and showed signs that he could have beaten Alonso in these races if they had been racing on equal terms too.

For all we know Massa could have been put on test programmes to support Alonso all year, thus hampering his possibility of getting a decent setup for the race.

It is obvious that Ferrari is putting all their resources behind Alonso this season and probably has so since he joined the team.

I just wander if Massas performance looks worse because of poor backing from the team. It is the only reasonable explanation to why they haven't replaced him.


Massa hasn't been consistently "Blazingly fast" since 2007/8. Thats 5 years ago. What matters is who is fast today..NOW. Alonso is the man of today. Massa is the man who maybe, could have, should have.... but never did.


Next year I want a year without blown difusers, holes in floors, engine mappings, flexi wings, rubber wings etc!!

Just honest to good clean racing....


All those things are what make F1 interesting. Bring on the rule stretching and innovation. Need more of it.


Fully agree!


If you look into it, I suspect every facet of every championship has been full of exploitation, regulation-pushing and rule-bending.

It's just the freedom of information brought about by the internet that means it's more readily available for us to digest.


Hear hear. Imagine, for example, what the 94 season would have been like with the Benneton alleged traction control, etc furore if there was the accessibility internet and social media we have today.


And still Vettel & Horner claim "dirty tricks" from the others...


The only guy I do not like in F1 is Horner and it is because of not walking the talk.


you're looking at the wrong sport if you don't want innovative ideas!


You'd be better off looking elsewhere, I'm afraid.

F1 is about pushing the rules and regulations to breaking point, finding those tiny fractions that other teams don't and exploiting the most obscure loopholes in the rules.

The development race is as big a part of the story as the on-track activity.


James, like you I thought it was a fantastic season for F1. To my knowledge, only Schumacher and Prost (both multiple champions themselves) correctly predicted that Vettel would win his third WDC. Presumably they spotted long ago that this boy has what it takes to become a true 'champion'.

As for Alonso, he put up a brave fight and his chance may yet come again. Kimi has shown us all that he still has got what it takes. Third in the table isn't a bad result for someone who's spent a couple of years out of F1. And Lewis and Jenson did us proud, good middle order drivers that they are. And hopefully will remain.

Yes, all in all, a good year for F1. Perhaps it really was Sebastian Vettel's year 'of living dangerously'.

ps. why don't you change the driver image on the front cover of your book to Sebastian.


Lewis sells better.


And his racing this year fits the title better. Valencia, Spa and Brazil were all cases where he was taken out by other peoples errors, but Hamilton had the choice to not be in the situation as he saw the situations coming.


If Hamilton was blessed with that kind of foresight, he wouldn't have bothered getting into the car in the first place. But if he can predict that Grosjean would drive across the front of him or that Maldonado would leave the track and then rejoin into his sidepod then I'd like to ask Lewis, here and now, for Fridays Euromillions numbers.


lol, very funny.... Particularly middle order..not seen front of book, but have a pretty good idea who'll be on it...


There's a picture of it at the top of this page...?? Been on most pages of this site for some time!


Last book had RedBull all over it..a change will be good!


An excellent summation of the year, James, and one that really covers my own views very closely. It was a year about the racing, the drivers and teams. The stars and the supporting cast shone, with the spotlight moving often unpredictably among them.

It was sad to see Schumacher retire as the only one of the six world champions on the grid not to score a win, especially after Mercedes early season form suggested better results were on the horizon.

The question of driver penalties needs attention, as there have been some howlers committed this year. Charlie Whiting's mooted penalty system seems sensible but will need consistent application and will need to operate alongside the existing punishments - and not over-shadow them - in order to avoid an escalation in 'professional fouls'.

Vettel and Red Bull were the fastet car/driver combination, so the championships probably went to their rightful recipients, even if Alonso was consistently outstanding and undeniably deserving. I cannot help but feel that if he had triumphed, there would have been a feeling that perhaps the others, especially McLaren and Renault engines, had lost it. Not for the first time, the correct World Champion and the 'driver of the year' are not the same man, which sounds absurd yet somehow also sums up the complexity of F1.


Quite an excellent way of putting it, that Vettel is deservedly the WDC while the so-called "driver of the year" is Alonso. Pretty much sums up my feelings about this awesome season. Best season that I've had the pleasure of watching in a few years.

As always there are some "winners" and some "losers" at the end of the season, but this season really feels just to me. As though most drivers end on a note that is appropriate for the circumstances, Vettel becomes a three times world champion (which was always only a matter of time), Alonso can say that he gave 100% and is proud of what he accomplished, Lewis is off to a team that might be able to deliver when he needs it as Mclaren has failed miserably to do this year, Button ends with a win that is emblematic of his new role at Mclaren, Webber finishes in his usual misery, Massa completes an end of season resurgance to quite the skeptics......and then there's the rest of the field 🙂

I do have to say that I pray for mercedes to up their game next season, and potentially make it 5 top teams. It wasn't very cool to see Vettel (or anyone) make their way from last place deep into the points multiple times this season. I can't help but feel that if the mid-field was a bit closer it would be harder to fight from the back.

Finally, I hope the youngsters grow up and learn how to control their car as well as the drivers up front. It's pathetic how many incidents the mid-field drivers have when you watch the guys up front race wheel to wheel with their cars centimeters apart with no issue.


Perhaps I should have said Vettel and Red Bull were the fastest and most reliable driver/car combination. Hamilton and McLaren were arguably just the fastest but, as Ayrton Senna and Lotus-Honda proved, all the speed in the world is no use championship-wise if you do not finish the races.



Don't count out Massa for 2013.



Please mark my words and I think this is certain. In Feb/March timing, LDM will say that he is 100% confident that it will be a read year!


Why you blame the guy?

Their wind tunnel were telling them the car had good performance in it. It was only when they hit the track they realised what a dog of the car it was.


I thought LDM was the Ferrari 'Wind Tunnel'!! 😀


Did their wind tunnel also tell him how good other cars are going to be? Also, if you are wise, you better do not scream too loud, wait and see. If it will be a red year, it will be a red year, no need to say anything. Did you hear Red Bull saying that they will definitely win the title?


I would think that prior to testing everybody is comparing the wind tunnel results to their own car from previous year. Of course taking into account any rule changes and how that affected the performance of their car.

RedBull didn't need to say anything about their performance. Their car was 1s faster than everyone else at the end of 2011.

In which sport have you ever heard the best guy/team saying "We'll be winning and beat everyone" ?

Why aren't you picking on Caterham who also said they will be fighting on the midfield but have rather fallen back and almost lost 10th place?

Why aren't you picking on Force India who said they were looking at 5th place in constructors but have rather had to settle with 7th.

Given the performance the Ferrari had in the last 2-3 years, of course the team needs a positive attitude. Saying it's going to be a red year, LDM is putting pressure on his team publicly. And to be fair, it was a red year. Maybe they have not won any of the titles, but they were in the media's articles all year and not for the wrong reasons (except at the begining of the season).

Just my 2 cents


Racing truly was at the front this year. In my mind, the clear top 4 drivers of the season were Sebastian, Fernando, Kimi and Lewis, and so little separates them that I find it very hard to put them in any order as far as their racing quality this year is concerned. Really makes a difference to have so much talent on the grid!


That onboard video of Vettel pointing the wrong way and rolling backwards was just unbelievable.

Extreme F1 photography at it's best!

Now listen here Sebastian, next season if you're dominating I want you to add to that backwards start by finishing a race backwards in reverse gear somehow.


What about upside down like Burt Reynolds in Stoker Ace? Webber showed the Red Bull does upside down well at Valencia 2010.


The driver of the year for me has to be Kimi. After two years away and to finish every race and third in the standings is outstanding. I'd love to see Lotus challenge for the title next year.


Finishing every race is at least shows he didn't crash. Vettel would have finished every race if he didn't have alternator failures.

In a way, two years away from the sport is an excuse for not being at that top of his game. Kimi's qualifying performances were relatively poor in the first half of the season, regularly behind Grosjean. This put him further back in the race than desirable. If he could have started second in Hungary, Lotus' tyre wear should have won him the race. His excellent race there was compromised by a poor qualifying. Possibly the race performance came from making the car more understeering to look after the rear tyres in the race and hence slower in qualifying, but there was a general sense that Lotus could have had better results if the car started further up the grid.

There were a few anonymous races, and then there was Monaco, which was a wasted opportunity with critical setup time lost over the steering ratio that Kimi refused to drive with in P1 rather than have it changed between sessions. Treating your engineers like idiots over the radio isn't very motivating either.

To me there is a large degree of the unknown with the true performance of the Lotus. Some of Kimi's drives were similar to Perez's, just in a faster car. The general view is that Perez is at McLaren on a mix of talent and Telmex...

For me Kimi would be 4th on the list of drivers over the season. I've got Fernando slightly ahead of Lewis and then Sebastian.


Both lotus and sauber are conditional dependent to be quick. Not even great when the conditions do not met. Especially for Lotus during the 2nd half of the season, the car development stucked when their passive DRS failed to perform. Kimi drag that car to consistent top5 finish and keep his title pursue alive. Until Abu Dhabi that lotus get their coanda working and kimi win the race.

Also Lotus 's strategy has been a shocker, cant choose the right timing to pit and right compound to switch. Slow pitstops means that they cant perform undercut strategy properly...


A bittersweet season in my eyes.

Spectacular start with seven different winners and tyre unpredictability, but at the end Pirelli got the shivers and removed the single biggest performance variable, favouring the strongest cars of the moment.

It seems like some drivers & teams run out of steam at the end (is a 20-race season too much?) and robbed us of the grand finale that the first half promised. Imagine what could have been with better McLaren reliability, better Ferrari development, and a strongest Alonso in the last two races, all spiced up with more aggressive tyre choices.

Having said that, the racing was spectacular all year. One can count the "boring" races with one hand. Finally, a highlight in F1 history: not only we had 6 champions on the grid, but all except Schumacher and maybe Button drove at their highest level ever. 2012 was vintage Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen. Are we lucky, or are we lucky?


I'd much rather have the hard charging races of Abu Dhabi and Texas than the tyre preservation "lap delta" races of 2011 and the first half of the season.


It wasn't Pirelli so much as the teams understanding the tyres much better. The only factor was Pirelli going relatively hard. This created issues in Austin and was largely irrelevant in Brazil with the rain.

I suspect that in Texas, Ferrari got its mix of aero upgrades wrong on Alonso's car as he was running a different spec to Massa. What was picked on Friday didn't work with the track evolution. In Brazil, the wet setup for Alonso hurt in qualifying - more understeer - and the race wasn't wet enough to have much benefit. I would be marking Massa up for those races, not putting Alonso down.

Kimi would be my pick for 4th in the driver rankings this year, but I'd take the 2005 version. The qualifying speed wasn't there this year.


Your point about Pirelli is quite right


Alonso finished 3rd and 2nd in the last two races. I really don't see how could he, only through more "better" driving (as if it wasn't the best already), have finished US GP in front of Lewis or Vettel, or finish Brazil GP in front of Jenson. You could put Senna and Alonso into one driver, and they still wouldn't be able to come better then 3rd and 2nd in the last two races. The laptimes even on the race pace were clear indication of that. The difference was too big.


How are you so sure about that? Senna would most likely had started from pole, while Fernando wasn't even able to beat Massa on the qualy. Was that also due to how superior the McLaren and RBR cars were compared to the Ferrari?


What I meant is, pace-wise Massa was faster in both races and the team sacrificed him to give Alonso a better chance, which was the right thing to do of course. But I wonder if Alonso could have done better if he had had Massa's pace.


The problem was Ferrari missed the set up for the two last races (Pat Fry admitted it), Massa's car was faster that Fernando's one. Now you can wonder if Alonso could have changed the set up or it was all his engineers choice, but as far as pace is concerned, Alonso was as good as the rest of the year.


James I don't get why you assert that Vettel's non finishes and Alonso's non finishes "even out". I completely disagree when people say that. DNFs because of reliability are not the same as DNFs for a racing incident. Often times we have seen that faster cars may be more fragile, that is part of the package and what the team makes. How is a collision comparable to a reliability issue? They are 2 entirely different things. My guess is if you told Alonso he could start the year in a Ferrari or a car that was capable of pole and winning races but that would DNF twice, he'd choose the latter. I just want to address the difference between the two as I feel it's entirely unfair to compare them as though similar.

Even if it was, Alonso was at no fault for the first one and the second was 50-50 and a racing incident. Compare the touch Alonso had then with Raikkonen to Vettel's collision with Senna this weekend. In my opinion Vettel closed the door not realizing Senna was there. His collision was much harder than Alonso and Raikkonens tangle, but guess what, Vettel's car was fine to continue. So James, does it really even out? In my opinion things aren't even and if they were Alonso would be champion this year.

Does Alonso deserve the wdc? I believe so...but does Ferrari? Absolutely not. Red Bull were the best constructor this year again and I cannot begrudge them that.


I fail to grasp the logic. The car that had two DNF's for mechanical failures deserves to win the constructor's championship and the driver who rides it does not deserve the individual prize?


+1 I also cannot fathom this 'logic'


If you look at car pace this term it goes as follows:


Red Bull



But Reliability wise?



Red Bull


Fernando benfitted massively from a supremely reliable car; picking up 10's of points as his McLaren and Red Bull rivals had issues. So yes Fernando did well in a 'slower' car, but lets not dress this up to be something it isn't; he gained massively when others cars failed, and that's what his season was built on. Qualify in 6th or 7th, use his best starting car on the grid to make a position or two, then wait until others have issues.

Ferrari were like the Tortoise; McLaren the Hare. Red Bull somewhere inbetween.


I agree somewhat but not entirely Paul. Fernando did mot benefit from McLaren and RedBull technical DNFs. Those cars never finished the race on their own and therefore did not deserve points. So he didnt benefit from them. If Ferrari built the fastest car next year and Alonso leads every race next year but the car dies on the last lap...scoring zero points... are we gonna say everyone else benefited including the champion lol? It is very clear, to finish a race first you must finish. If you don't finish because of mechanical failure it is your fault. Should F1 teams ignore the number of laps then and just hope a fast car lasts? He didn't gain massively, he got the points he deserved. The only problem is he DNF'd twice, not getting points that he and Ferrari deserved then. In my opinion both were thru no fault of his own. This is the difference.


Did Fernando get points from those DNF? If yes he benefited, if no he did not.


I couldn't agree more. For some people, when Ferrari builds a 100% reliable but slightly slower car (though with higher top speed that makes them beat the RBR on the straights), that benefits Vettel, but when RBR builds a slightly faster yet a bit unreliable car, that also favors Vettel.

The only reason Ferrari didn't win the WCC was the dismal start of the season Massa had. It was not the Ferrari cars that lost the WCC, it was Massa's performance.


I also agree with you. Vettel did not finish because of his own team and Alonso did not finish because of other driver crashing on him.


Finally someone with some sense. I must say I was disappointed that James wrote it off just like that. That's pretty amateurish way of looking at things.

Mechanical DNFs are not divine intervention or something like that. It's just "bad" engineering. The fact that is supported strongly in the series of the same failures on Renault's alternators.

It would be like saying, it's just bad luck that Ferrari's wind tunnel wasn't calibrated correctly.

You, James, should know better then posters on this forum, that it's all part of the package.

Grosjean on the other hand, certainly isn't part of the package. If you wanna give Suzuka incident some "equalization" it was probably closest to Vettel's brush with Narain in Sepang. It wasn't clear cut, but could have been avoided in hindsight.

Other that that, Alonso was flawless. If it weren't for Grosjean at Spa, where Vettel got 18 points over Alonso, Alonso would have probably outscored him there, which means around 20 or more points swing towards Alonso.

Just to make that clear, and I do hope I find your answer on this point of mechanical DNFs.

So my point is, Alonso would have won even with "a smaller sword", which would be poetic justice that you unfortunately don't really see in real life.

Having said that, it could have been all (Spa incident) irrelevant if Ferrari managed to bring more to the table regarding the car.

In my opinion, this year Vettel became 3x champion, but Alonso became a legend.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees this. I expect a sort of ignorant logic from some who might assert the DNFs are one and the same, but there are some intelligent posters and James I was sure you'd not fall into the category. And some are highlighting Ferrari's reliability... Alonso's contact with Raikkonen was minor and he was out. Vettel just a couple of races ago crashed into a car damaging his wing then crashed into a speed marker and carried on fine... In this race he crashed again and carried on fine. Alonso's one touch with Raikkonen put him out. So is the Red Bull actually even fragile??? It's simply a component issue that gained them an advantage but failed in 2 races, they should have caught it in testing. What test program prepares for Grosjean flying at your head at 100mph?

It's moot anyway, guess I just wanted to hear why James would say such a thing. Through the years we've heard countless times.. Would you want a fast fragile car or a slow bulletproof car? The answer has always been the latter, but this year apparently all is forgiven. I understand it would be disserving to postulate a champion was somewhat lucky or that there was a more worthy champion but I am stunned that a lot of F1 sites have put out editorial pieces trying to justify Vettel as a worthy champion. Let's not insult anyone's intelligence here, red bull were the best constructor, but as I stated above Vettel was in 2 collisions in 3 races and was able to drive on. He could have easily, like Alonso, been out in just one collision. It's strange that the commentators on Star Sports, the entire panel, basically admit that the best driver was not Vettel, but often we read about DNFs equal between Vettel and Alonso. Come on. I know any intelligent fan must believe if your car component fails it's entirely your fault. Otherwise why do we even have different constructors?


Its simple maths. They even out, because Alonso and Vettel both lost valuable points in 2 races. Regardless of whether it was due to mechanical (teams fault) or other drivers mistakes.


But James they are compared when you say the DNFs even out. They aren't the same, they don't even out. For the 2 Red Bull DNFS red bull would have had serious back and forth with Renault to prevent the failures. For Alonso's DNF Ferrari could do nothing. You could say the non finishes even out if the Ferrari car failed to finish 2 races mechanically, or if Vettel was just punted by an accident thru no fault of his own. What you are comparing here are race failures vs race DNFs. These two should never even out since one is entirely under the control of a team, and the other entirely out of control. I understand you are saying it is irrelevant to the championship outcome, but you are basically saying Ferrari lost because of 2 DNFs one of which they had no control over which evens out with Vettels 2 DNFs, except Red Bull and Red Bull alone are responsible for those. A good wrap up article nevertheless.


The DNFs are the same in that they cost points.

No-one is comparing the "quality" of the DNFs or the reasons, that's irrelevant to the championship outcome


Totally agree with Honkhonk about the different types of DNFs.

So, while I understand what James was saying, as I *think he was referring to the simple math of the situation, I agree with honk in the sense that Alonso definitely suffered more from 'non team/driver related' DNFs

Having said all that, I was pulling for Alonso until Ferrari got up to their old tactics of non sporting interpretations of the rulebook.

Even tho Alonso said he was 'proud' of the team for this. I really don't think he had much of choice to state anything other than that.

Loved seeing Kimi back, he became my favourite driver. Hope Lotus puts a rocket under him next year. He will deliver!



Do you think Lotus will continue working on the 'passive rear wing stalling device'?

Could be a big advantage with DRS banned in qualifying...and with winter testing they surely have enough time to calibrate it.


yeah... theirs is DRS. LOTUS' isnt. hence 'passive wing stalling device'... you dont press a button.. it works all the time!!!! Jesus some journalists no nothing about the field they are in


As RBR got so much out of theirs - yes!


Fernando, Sebastian is faster than you !!!


Jajaja great comment!! Completly agree.

You may say that it wasnt fair, but what about vettel winnig the wdc without a teammate helping him out!!!!


Not only his team mate helped him. Both Toro Rosso cars and Schumacher helped him too in Abu Dhabi and Brazil


Or having a car which is class above its competitors. Ohh wait, he did have it!!


ALO and VET were both great but one can't help but feel gutted for Alosno (as a Ferrari fan). It's true Ferrari developed the car. But again they hit in the crucial moment those wind tunnel correlation problems they thought they had solved. You can hardly blame Alonso for that...

"He lost it because of his two non-finishes in Spa and Suzuka"

That's true as well, but if you have a very fast car you can bounce back. Ferrari lost the development race in the second half of the season. I somehow knew that from Japan on it was all over. They were being left behind. It looked as though RBR had streched their legs with Ferrari out of breath and stumbling over plus Vettel drove perfect races - after all it still takes a diver to deliver (though it would be foolish not to amdmit that the car made his job a bit easier)

The fact ALO was so brilliant makes Seb's title even greater.

A lot of drama in the final race - a classic season few will forget.

Feel sorry for Lewis, he should have been in the title race unitl Brazil (though I still think his best season was 2007).

Roll on 2013! Hopefully Ferrari will sort out their problems and Lotus build a title contender for Kimi and Grosjean (also Hulk in Sauber sounds pretty good).

(I think the refueling ban was the best idea)


I'm still struggling to understand how McLaren managed to throw it all away this year - as you note, they had the fastest (or 2nd fastest) car all season, two of the three most recent world champions and topped the league of fastest pitstops, setting a new world record enroute.. yet to finish only 3rd in the constructors and 4th & 5th in the drivers championship is surely a cause for facepalm?



Monza and Spa summed it up for me. JB wins and Lewis Hamilton, through no fault of his own, fails to finish in Spa. Fast forward 7 days, Lewis Hamilton wins and Jenson Button fails to finish, again through no fault of his own! As JB summed it up after Spa when he said "it's feast or famine for McLaren"

I'd actually forgotten about the Valencia DNF for Lewis until I started thinking where the 100 points lost came from? You mentioned the fastest pitstips, but we (I say that as a fan) went through some pain to get there! Throw in JB's poor form around Monaco and Canada and McLaren must be wandering if they'll ever have an opportunity like this again. Still I can live in hope.

And now it's count down until Australia. In the meantime it head down in JA's book and turn on the Sky+ and review my favourite races.

James, I hope you've got plenty planned for us, three months is a long time!


I should buy your book about the 2012 season, but you said all here:

"Lewis Hamilton should have won the 2012 world championship. His driving this year was of the highest standard, gone were the errors and anger of 2011, to be replaced by some sublime speed".

I would just say that the sublime speed was always the case for LH, just some errors on the other years. But this year was none.



Thanks you for caring about my f1 withdrawal symptoms.



Personally i want Webber to take the fight to Vettel.

Maybe next year they will drive the same car. We will see.


Webber had a chance to asert himself at the start of the year when he seemed to like the car more than Vettel. And so he came 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th and 4th.

They rightly backed the other driver cos Mark is not up to it.


That won't happen. After this season he will now be considered even more of a number 2 than ever. Webber should have taken the Ferrari drive when (and if) it was available. If one was going to be a number 2, one would rather be that number 2 at Ferrari than anywhere else.


+1 3 straight championships for Vettel, Webber is finished as a championship contender.


Oh, come on, you must be kidding...



Ferrari's lightening starts were such a big part of their race day package, I'm surprised it hasn't been more deeply analysed.....


I totally agree, how the h*ll they allways gained positions at the start? There has to be something illeagal.


So it's not just two very experienced drivers and a car that has very good traction?

Whereas the Mercedes-powered cars often kicked out wheelspin and Red Bull had clutch problems (usually Webber), the Ferrari gear might just put the power to the road better.

Don't take this down the road of 'I'm wearing a tinfoil head-dress, therefore they must have traction control'.


I think on his return, Kimi has done a better job compared to the likes of Alonso. If it wasn't for Grosjean's crashes, he too would have been up there.

Both Vettel and Webber had issues with their cars at different stages but Vettel has done a better job. Not everything is down to Newey as some people would like to believe.

It is a shame Schumi had to go without a single win. But I am sure he has done enough to develop the 2013 car.

Where exactly did Ferrari go wrong? Many reasons.

• First they need to get rid of the 'thrones' they have given the drivers and get them to mingle with the other team members.

• Give both drivers equal cars and equal opportunities. (On equal cars Massa is beating Alonso).

• No team orders and no grid or race manipulations.

• Make clear who the boss is. No driver is above the team.

• Give proper credit where it is due. Everything is not down to one driver.


I agree, it is such a shame the schumi/bruno incident happened. Otherwise Michael would have 99% won Monaco, which would have been fantastic.


nice one


Good analysis James, I like the Alonso comparison with a Gladiator, despite not winning is 3rd WC what he has done this season will be well remembered by the true F1 fans, surely more valuable that many other championships won with dominant cars, like 2011.

Quoting the film Gladiator: "What we do in life echoes in eternity".

I have just ordered your 2012 book, my plan was not buying it unless Alonso grabbed the WC but the season has been just too good and your contents and insight superlative as always.

Thank you for another great year of work James, you make following this sport even more interesting.


If I was Lewis I'd be extremely concerned with Mercedes inability to fix a tyre wear issue over a 3 year period. It looked as bad at the end of 2012 (in the dry) as it did at the start of 2010.

Lewis is saying publicly that he expects to struggle next season, however I'm sure in reality he has so much belief in himself that deep down he's expecting to drag the car around the track faster than either Michael or Nico managed to. That's not a criticism - i'd be disappointed if he didn't think he could do something special, but it's highly unlikely. Mercedes really need to build a much better car for 2013.

I might be wrong but I don't think Lewis will be able to 'keep his head down' in the way Michael has the past three years - if the car is bad again i'm expecting him to start voicing his frustrations publicly pretty quickly. Michael was the epitome of a team player, no matter how disappointing the team turned out to be.

As for the 2012 season, it was very good, but once Red Bull sorted out their car there was a sense of inevitability about the outcome. Alonso did a brilliant job of making it as difficult as he could for Vettel, but in the end the result was as expected.

Vettel is a three-time world champion at a very young age, and the luckiest driver i've ever known. He is quick i'm sure, but boy is he a jammy sod. He also does a good job of appearing to be a nice guy... as long as things are going his way.

Lewis at Mercedes, Perez at McLaren... that's what I'm looking forward to in 2013. It's a shame Massa didn't get a multi-year contract - he clearly drives better when his future is secure, so it could go badly again next year until Ferrari decide if they want to keep him in 2014. You have to feel for him sometimes, because he obviously has the speed when he's in a good place mentally.


'Vettel is a three-time world champion at a very young age, and the luckiest driver i’ve ever known. He is quick i’m sure, but boy is he a jammy sod. He also does a good job of appearing to be a nice guy… as long as things are going his way."

I could not have put it in a better way.


All of Alonso's wins this year were lucky.

1. He would not have won in Malaysia if it had not chucked it down, as the Ferrari has proved on a number of occasions this year to be quick in the wet (better tyre warm up)

2. Valencia- Vettel broke down from definite winning position. And so did Grosjean. So he would have been 3rd there.

3. And again, if it hadn't belted it down in quali at Hockenheim, he would not have got pole and would not have been able to win the race.


He has had A LOT of luck, although this seems to go straight over the BBC's heads. at least Vettel won races in normal circumstances, not by weather flukes.



Wet weather results mean no flukes

The greatness of driver is even more fantastic when it comes to wet races

Do you know how difficult is driving in wet conditions ?

Vettel simply choked in malaysia (No Karthikeyan fault at all) and again in silverstone beaten by webber comfortably

In germany termed hamilton as Idiot when lewis unlapped himself an overtook button off the track later got punished rightly.

Look at the facts not alonso hating stories or rants

There are plenty of examples for a non biased F1 fan to point at vettel's driving this season (Including webber got the better of vettel in quali 9-11)


Red Bull was still quicker or at least as quick as the Ferrari in the wet. Look at Q3 times and you will see. Alonso won Malasia and Germany Fair and square. And Valencia... drive of the year no doubt.


Valencia - He was already well ahead of Grosjean before Grosjean's car broke down.


Look forward to the next 60 races with Vettel winning 20 or so, and Hamilton struggling for a podium, I hope Hamilton will break his Merc contract and replace Webber 2014/15.


This season has proved that there is a quartet that presently rules F1: that is made up of Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Riakkonnen. They are a class above the rest of the grid. The no.2's like Button, Webber, Massa can beat them occasionally, but not consistently enough. These four drivers are all modern 'greats' of this F1 era. Instead of arguing who is better, why does cookie tast better than cake, why is the damn moon so far away etc. Let's just enjoy the modern F1 greats as they are - knowing at the end of the day, the best car-driver combination wins the titles.

On another note, as I am a fan of all these drivers, I would like to point out just how unlucky Hamilton has been this year, as some people think he was not in the running due to his own failures. I know James has done one already, but when you analyse each and every incident, you realize how much actually went against Hamilton. Consider this:

- Hamilton is the ONLY driver to have had two mechanical failures while leading (Singapore and Abu Dhabi).

- Hamilton is the ONLY driver to have been taken out by three other drivers (Maldonado, Grosjean and Hulkenburg)

- Hamilton is the ONLY driver to have suffered two suspension-related failures and both were back-to-back (Japan, Korea)

- Hamilton had the slowest pitstops, on average, of ANY driver in the first half of the season (Malaysia, Bahrain, Monaco and Valencia)

- Hamilton is the ONLY driver to have been stripped from pole this year and sent to the back of the grid (Spain). Honorable mention to SV sent to back of the grid in Abu Dhabi from 3rd.

- Hamilton was the ONLY driver to receive a puncture in Hockenheim at the turn where the debris was scattered, this led to his eventual retirement (strategic call by Mclaren). Everyone else got through fine.

- Then there other little things which were just horrible bad luck: the clutch issue in Australia and SC allowing Vettel to get the jump, the gearbox penalty in China, slow pitstop in Monaco allowing Alonso through as well as Mclaren failing to tell Hamilton that Vettel was gaining on him (which meant that Vettel jumped Hamilton again).

So, in conlusion, the saying 'luck evens itself out' is generally true, but there are exceptions. Kimi's 2005, Hamilton's 2012 and seasons are, sadly, testament to that.

P.S. For schumi fans, he had as much bad luck as Ham this year, but with the car he had he would not have been a contender. But he would of got many more points; I think this season he has been more than a match for Rosberg. The old man still had it 😀


Well said. The 'luck evens itself out' sentiment is ridiculous really, luck (by it's very definition) is random and therefore there is no reason it should ever even itself out.

People that say things like luck evens itself out or the even more ridiculous 'you make your own luck' clearly have no understanding of what luck is.



as I browse for a Kindle edition of your books, I find some but they're written by your alter ego, a more philosophical character it seems. Any chance of kindle edition of your prose?


Lovely summation.

In terms of car evolution, isn't the RBR at the far end of the scale?. Given that there are no major rule changes for next year, which cars would you say are on the early curve of their developments? With parity of the top 4 teams in terms of resources (human and financial) would you say this could play a role?


Just because the regulations aren't changing much, doesn't mean they're just going to run the same car and keep trying to develop it. The regs staying same-y mean that all they've learned in 2012 can be used to develop a better platform for 2013. If Red Bull turn up to Melbourne in 2013, rolling out the same car with a different nose, I'll eat several hats (although I don't own any, so they'll have to be other people's hats).


Yak, you wont have to eat any hats:). I recognize significant improvements are made within the context of an overall design philosophy dicated by the major rule changes. The top teams probably improve 1-1.5seconds over the course of the season. I believe this year's McLaren was an entirely new concept/design/platform, whereas the RBR is an evolutionary product of a platform 3 or so seasons old. Can RBR extract more out this platform to keep up with McLaren?


I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see Red Bull keep up next year. But at the same time, the McLaren in 2012 was a great car, just it was seemingly held together with post-it notes. And then all the pit screw ups on top of that. But... McLaren are losing Lewis, Jenson is now the definite no. 1, and he's been quite clear about the 2012 car not suiting him. There's still plenty of time between now and March next year for them to take a good car and ruin it. =)

If the RB philosophy of qualifying on pole and then controlling the race remains, they might still have a 4th good year coming. Jenson and Perez aren't typically great qualifiers. Ferrari will put out another average car, and I don't imagine Lewis will be much of a problem in 2013.

They've got a few months yet to come up with a good way of stalling the wings predictably without breaching the tech regs. =)


I think this year has proven they won't be able to - It was already a compromised iterative design that only became good once it could, as predicted, control a race from the front.

It didn't have the legs on the McLaren and it was always persistently the slowest car in a straight line and the speed traps confirmed it.

I don't think there's much more that can be done, since they already have a horsepower disadvantage and no matter what Adrian Newey does, I don't think he can shed enough downforce to solve it without compromising the rear-end grip that makes the car so drive-able in corners.

Granted, I'm probably wrong, but the relative stability of the regulations can be a curse as much as a blessing. The potential for an arms race is much lower, since the avenues are being/have been closed off until the spec-reset in 2014.




"Lotus might have been able to challenge Ferrari and Lotus for second and third places in the table"

You mean McLaren!


Book ordered! James' enthusiasm, Darren Heath photographs and a thoroughly enjoyable season. Win!


This last race has confirmed what has been my long-held view: Jenson Button is an elite top driver, comparable to FA and SV, KR. The fact that he has beaten Hamilton (who is considered to be the fastest driver in F1 - how overrated can one driver be?!) over three years is testament to his status as a true great. In fact, Jenson could have scored even more points this season had it not been for Mclaren's operational errors. In my view, the best drivers in F1 are Alonso, Button, Vettel and Riakkonnen. The rest aren't even close.


So add OJ to the "living in an alternate F1 universe" list.


I'm a Button fan but your comment shows the lack of balance of some the Hamilton fans that wind me up haha!

Hamilton has been deeply unlucky in his years with Button. It's clear he has the more natural talent - especially in qualifying. But you can't deny Button's 2011 performance; a period where Hamilton was clearly going through some 'life growing pains'.

The thing to comment on is not Hamilton's talents but how well Button has done over the 3 years given the expectations of him. Few would say he's more talented than Lewis but few could also deny Jenson is lot stronger than they anticipated.


Agree: talent and performance should be seperated. Talent can be wasted or nullified by circumstance. Its point scored that matters in the end.


Great comment, Craig, absolutely spot on.

I'm sure you will find, however, heaps of people that will deny Jenson is lot stronger than they anticipated simply because it suits their viewpoint to do so - hence the number of comments on JAonF1 excusing Lewis's race performances in comparison to JB's last year due to extenuating circumstances but then not affording the same courtesy to Jenson this year. If you're going to excuse one driver's poor performance, you have to do so for everyone else. Or just accept that, for that moment in time, those particular events happened and that outcome was the result.

The simple truth of the matter is that Jenson performed better than Lewis last year, and Lewis performed better than Jenson this year. The performance differential each time was broadly similar, even if the points difference was not.

Ultimately JB and Lewis were really quite evenly matched. However, their relative performances were derived through two very different skill sets.

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed their time as team mates over the last three seasons. Even at the last race of the year they were fighting hard and fair with each other, which has been great to watch. I live in hope that Merc give Lewis a decent car next year (which I think, contrary to popular opinion, they just might...) so we can see more of the same on 2013!




Maybe Brawn can give him a silver bullit next year..I really hope so. I fear he may have to wait til 2014


Yes, because operational errors in no way affected Lewis this year, did they?


Yes, they did. And so with JB. Both drivers lost out on the championship as they were pretty evenly matched (2 points remember) What I am saying is that over the three years, Button has out-perofrmed Hamilton (stats don't lie), no one else but pure fanboys would argue with that sentiment. Jenson bedded himself into the team in the first year (outclassing Hamilton in the first half of 2010), he then grew in confidence and smashed Hamilton in 2011 (43 points the difference). In 2012, Hamilton has been the superior driver, but only just. At the end of the day, there is no logical basis to say that Hamilton is better than Button, in fact, the stats lean towards Button as being a more consistent and better driver than Hamilton. It also explains why Mclaren gave Button a pay rise and Hamilton a lower salary, they learned that Button was a greater asset to the team. Hamilton couldn't handle the fact that there was less money on offer and he jumped ship. In my opinion, LH may well end up as another Jacques Villneuve, while Button will go on to become a multiple world champion, mark my words LH fanboys.


Button's lackluster performances..NOT DNF's like Hamilton:

Spain: 9th (Ham started last and finished 8th!)

Monaco: 16th

Canada: 16th (Hamilton won!!)

Valencia: 8th

Silverstone: 10th

Yep..real championship form there OJ, definitely the superior driver. WAKE UP! That is why they pay Button sod all compared to Hamilton. The team + engineers know... unlike you


It must be nice to live in your world.

Just out of interest, how do you explain Hamilton matching and beating Alonso in the same car? "Stats never lie" after all.


@Marcelo Leal

Jenson's win put him ahead of Lewis for 2012.


How many points for Pole?


You don't have a clue OJ. Jenson is paid about 10m whilst Lewis was offered in excess of 20m by Mclaren & Metcedes. Even Jenson has stated they will struggle to get ultimate pace out of the 2013 car as obviously Lewis finds it every time and pushes Jenson along.


Compare the poles between JB and LH over 2012. The numbers speak some truth.


Do you really believe what you are writing? If you put button in the same league as alonso and hamilton then you must be watching another F1 championship...come on the dude was fighting the catheram for position while his team mate sticks the car on pole. Buttonis good but next year he will be exposed as mclaren looks for the rare pole positions and occasional victories. Unfortunately next year will be 2011 all over again with vettel dominating even if mclaren is faster guess why.


What are you saying OJ??? Hamilton scored more points than JB in 2010, was out-scored in 2011 and scored more point than JB in 2012. That is the truth about the numbers. There is no such thing as summ two or three years...

If that was the case, Vettel would be WDC this year by a mile using 2011 and 2012 points. This is crazy...

Some people are trying to create this thing because everything related to LH sells, and this kind of stuff is disturbing. 😉

Every year has its history, rules, and must be analized this way. Imagine if in the next year f1 starts to count WDC points like 10000 for the first , 8000 for the second, and etc. Charles Pic could get a ninth place in one race, and claim that it has got more points than Ayrton Senna in his whole career. 😉

People insist in do comparisons between JB and LH, for those who just look at numbers maybe its ok, but for those who came here to JA, please you did watch the races (and qualifying I suppose).


I completely agree with you that Button is a world class driver. Give him a car that suits his style of driving and on his best day he is second to none. What I don't agree with however is that he will go on to become a champion for a second or third time over because I don't think he wants it as much as the other drivers. He doesn't push himself or the car to the same level as Alo, Vet or Ham and that is why he struggled so much early this season when he couldn't get the car to work for him. He is not prepared to take the same risks that can get the other three into trouble sometimes but also gives them the edge.

Lets wait and see but I predict another top 4 finish for Button next year unless he can improve his quali performances. It is going to be more competitive than ever in 2013.


We will see in 2013. One point worth reflecting on is that McLaren will be able to focus its energy on JB next year as Perez will be number two (although McLaren will never put it like that) so it will be interesting to see what he can achieve in that situation, driving development direction etc


Beating Hamilton over three years??? We'll all give 2011 to you, but this year Hamilton was on par with Alonso and Vettle. Its no secret he is regarded as one (maybe the most) talented and fastest drivers in F1 at the moment by many pundits and that's why James himself mentioned in the article that he should have won the 2012 championship. I presume you will get a lot of slack for your comment. Did you even watch the middle of the season, Jenson struggling with the car while Lewis eeked out the performance? Don't get me wrong, Jeson is a great driver and fully deserves to be in F1. He deserved the race win in Brazil (given the 60s advatage erosion by the safety car), but many will agree McLaren is on the back foot next year. Lewis did himself no favours in 2010 with Monza etc, he (and no-one else) didn't have a chance in 2011, but McLaren lost the championship this year, not the drivers. I really hope Mercedes can pull a rabbit out of the hat in 2013, and the best of luck to them. If he was, as you put it, "not even close", then they have some very dumb people at Mercedes forking out the tens of millions for his services, and many dumb people at McLaren too reportedly nearly matching the offer. The Ferrari and Red Bull doors were closed for obvious reasons. I think Lewis at Mercedes will have the same effect on him as Alonso with Renault (the second time around).


Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Button... they're all in the same league, they just all have different properties and abilities.

I would consider Vettel and Hamilton to be the more aggressive drivers - they find more out of the car when it's not really there, but that comes at a cost and doesn't always work. Button and Alonso on the other hand are just consistent. They're not on the edge, but they're always finding the high end of performance.

It's all situation-dependant as to which driver is going to get the better of the weekend.


Button didn't score a point for about 6 straight races, whilst Lewis was battling at the front. He's 'so smooth on his tyres'.. didn't pay off for him then did it


How was Button consistent this season???


You have to put Hamilton in that list too, despite any personal views.

Don't forget, as James clearly says, were it not for McLaren's errors and issues, he (and they) would have won the championship by a clear mile.


Sorry, I do not even remember Button driving this year. Last race yes, superb performance, but why did he take full year sabbatical?


An excellent season, with a fantastic finish!

Vettel, Alonso and Kimi proved that they were in different league than the others and proved it with their results. Still they finished in the order of their cars and perhaps not of their skills? I would love to see the three of them race in identical cars one weekend to see who really is the fastest...

The only really big issue that you didn't mention was how lucky Massa was that Ferrari kept the faith, and ultimately how lucky Ferrari were to have him. After his confirmation of a seat for 2013, he out drove several other "top" drivers and delivered the points needed to shut out Macca from the second place construction honors (and 10 million).

Lastly thanks for all the info and insights which makes a big difference to my season - and probably to many others.


For me, the most remarkable element of this season has been the influence of factors other than the car on the outcome of races. I genuinely believe that the driver has made a bigger impact on the results than at any time in the last 25 years. Perhaps ever, but I don't go back beyond 1988!

The top eight teams were all in with a chance of winning a race at some point this season. A well set-up, well-driven car with the right strategy could beat anyone. It's told us more about drivers themselves than any season I can remember; their strengths; their weaknesses; their attitude to racing.

I can't wait for 2013!


Perhaps it was those 2 DNFs that got Alonso in the otherwise almost perfect season. There was however one important mistake Ferrari made and that one lost them enough points as well to make a difference. Of all the tracks they chose Canada for their little tire gamble. The one where you absolutely have no chance of defending against even moderately faster car. Perhaps one can get away with a gamble like that on a track where overtaking is hard. But not Canada. That's from my point of view just about the only mistake this season.


Missing Alonso's set up for the last two races (pat Fry admitted) were big mistakes, just luck avoided it to cost them points.


This has been a stellar year! Valencia, Bahrein & Brazil being the highlights. We have been pampered with state of the art racing all year long. Man, these guys are true artists of speed!

Shame Mercedes denied us a Schumacher - Alonso - Vettel - Hamilton battle. It was heartbreaking to witness how Michael's car broke down race after race when the Silver Arrow was actually up there.

Here's hoping Kovaleinen returns to Enstone …


Sad to see Schumacher go as well, but that Mercedes was painful to watch.

Though I was happy to see him beat his replacement (Hamilton) in his last race. Did the same thing to Kimi in 2006.


Ssshhh guys! Don't let facts get in the way.


Haha... beat Hamilton in the last race? You've got to be in it to be beaten.


I could understand you being glad had Schumacher out raced him and ranking above him in the final race? But to be glad that Hamilton was punted out while Schumacher was miles behind? What sort of satisfaction does that give you?!!


Yeah good question! Its like..oh heaven forbid someone should actually do better than Schumacher in the same team- f/off what an idiotic thing to say.... Cause you KNOW it's going to happen!


Well considering Hamilton DNF, it wasn't much of a challenge. Anyhow, if the Mercedes happens to be a championship contender next year (unlikely), I will feel terribly sorry for Schumacher and I'm sure it would be excruciating for him to watch.


It occurred to me recently that in a season where several teams compete for race wins and the points are shared quite evenly, having a race-winning car becomes less important, and consistency and reliability is key. For instances from the past, 1982 and '83 were years where the winning driver won fewer races than some of his rivals and his team finished either 3rd or 4th in the constructors championship. The drivers, Keke Rosberg and Nelson Piquet had better reliability and consistency than their opponents and they didn't have a teammate who took points off them.

Similarly, in 2003, 2010 and 2012, Kimi and Fernando managed to stay competitive in the drivers' championship purely by virtue of consistency even though they had a race-winning car less often than their opponents. Such a situation would not have been possible in say the 1990s which usually had exactly 2 driver's title contenders who typically took nearly all of the race wins. If no clear pattern of competitiveness emerges from the first few races of 2013 as well, we might see consistent 4th and 5th place finishers fighting for the championship again.


But, in spite of all that, recent history has generally had the driver with the most wins taking the championship.


Exactly. I remember when the medals system was being talked about, there were very few recent differences in the champion and the driver who has the most wins. 2008 was the most recent example (Massa had 6 wins to Hamilton's 5), but before that you had to go back to the 80s.


A great summation James and I would agree with the majority of your conclusions too. This should have been Hamilton's year. The McLaren car was definitely the best of the season overall and for their two drivers to finish 4th and 5th with the team 3rd is definitely below where they deserved to be - thanks for mechanical failures late in the season they lost two dead cert wins and a second place which would have been a 1-2. With their operational errors earlier in the season they lost at least one win (Spain) and probably a number of much stronger results too. It's painful as a McLaren fan to see these results. I, unlike a number of very vocal people on these comments sections, do believe in their philosophy behind racing, but they have to iron out these problems. Certainly recruiting Sam Michael seems to have been crucial in turning around the operational disasters of the start of the season. I am a bit more optimistic about 2013 than you tho. I think Button is one of the top racing drivers in F1 and can be the match of Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen. He just needs the car to be exactly as he likes it - at races like Suzuka 2011, Spa 2012 and the first 6 races of 2009, he was almost untouchable. I think having a driver like Perez at McLaren who has a similar driving style and requirements could well be what Button needs so the car is to his liking for more than two-thirds of the season rather than less than half.


I fully agree, just for fun I tried to give Hamilton and Vettel the points they would have won without his mechanical failures, and adjusting down the points of Alonso and Vettel and others accordingly (some of this exercise is a bit subjective, you will never know what would have happened...), and I get both Vettel on 307 points with Hamilton on 306 !! and Alonso out of the title race by the US race (he has actually benefited more than Vettel from Hamilton retirements, as he was closer to the front on Hamilton retirements days !!!)


+1 - thanks for the analysis - quite agree - imagine if Hamilton had been challenging for the WDC at Brazil - and he was taken out by the Hulk!!!


Agree with you.


Couldn't agree more. The person I feel most sorry for this year was Lewis. His driving was absolutely sublime, he made Jenson look completely ordinary, and should have won the title by a mile, were it not for seemingly endless displays of incompetence from his team.


just for information, Vettel would have won it 91 points to 86 under the previous scoring system (10-6-4 etc) (he would have won it at the US race), and would also have won it under the 10-8-6 etc point system, but that would have been by 1 point only ! 115-114

also, people are arguing a lot about luck, reliability etc etc, I think this is useless, as it is entirely part of the sport – previous winners also faced the same

Many championships have been won and lost on reliability, accidents, good luck, bad luck – Schumacher engine failure at Suzuka in 2006 (he may have won the title without that), his broken legs in 1999, without that he would probably have won it (just giving him what Eddie Irvine scored the rest of the season)

You can’t rewrite the championships history in my opinion, just need to accept results as they are at the end of a season


Couldn't agree more. It is what it is.

F1 history is littered with what if's, Lauda at Fuji '76, Mansell Adelaide '86, Massa Singapore '08, Senna in '89 and Prost in '90 - I could go on all day!

Teams build cars to a fixed set of rules, exploit these to the maximum of budget, resources and push them to the edge of legality. Hire the 24 or so best racing drivers in the world, head off to 20 different circuits for 6 or 7 months, fill 'em with petrol, switch off a few red lights and see what happens.

How cool is that.


I have to say I'm very disappointed with the lack of rule changes for next year. I am still fuming over the fact that Pirelli's early suggestion for introducing low-profile tyres in F1 has been quietly (VERY quietly) forgotten. Since at least half the travel in a F1 car's suspension comes from the tyres, this would have been a colossal challenge for the teams.

The 2013 spec tyres we saw look even worse -- it's almost as if Pirelli and FIA have now started copying the proportions of Jim Bamber's cartoons!

At least the horrible stepped noses will be gone - although actually, the way the rule seems to be worded, I'm not entirely sure that they will look 'clean'.

All in all, Formula 1 looks like it doesn't know which way to go with the rules. I just hope 2013 is more like '12 and nothing like '11.


Many thanks James for greatly enhancing my enjoyment of the sport through your wonderful insight. Your site is one of the few I check every day. Enjoy the holidays and don't forget us armchair fans desperate for any info!


James, am I right that Murray Walker first used the names "Iceman" and "Flying Finn" for Hakkinen in 1998?

I was a Hakkinen fan, but I have to say the names are a better fit for the present Iceman.

IMO Kimi would never be reduced to tears behind the bushes under pressure of competition from Eddie Irvine, or anyone else. And I'm really not sure Mika Hakkinen would cut it against ALO, VET, RAI, BUT [at his best] or HAM.

The very best have ended up on top, in the right pecking order. VET made less errors than ALO, that's why he is champ.

RAI, so far as I can recall, made no errors on race day for a whole season. With a lesser car than the others he still ended up 3rd. {All his errors occured on Fridays and Saturdays.} I am fully signed up as a fan, and I look forward to his 2nd [should be 4th] title in 2013.


So you're saying that driving up a blind- ended escape road was a deliberate act, then, and not a mistake? You could be right, I suppose. He might just have been looking for an ice-cream...


That road used to be open.. so happened it was closed this year.


Well alright, ONE mistake then! But I reckon he had it on his mind to check that gate again after eleven years.


I'm shocked Kimi's millions of fans didn't rush down and open the gate for him.

Come-on Kimi fans - get off your arses!


"RAI, so far as I can recall, made no errors on race day for a whole season"

...apart from the last race, when he seemed to go off track every lap, including his excursion to the car park!

Absolutely love him though!


"his excursion to the car park"


They are fitting a GPS to the Lotus for 2013


he knew what he was doing..he did the same thing about 10 years ago lol Only this time the gate at the end was shut!


And China at the end. Tried too hard to resist being passed on worn out tyres and got loads of dirt on them, losing a points finish.


Yes that's of course his entire fault.. not his stupid team getting the strategy wrong. His tyres were finished anyway.. it would not have mattered getting dirt on them


The term "Flying Finn" goes all the way back to the early 20th century, and the Finnish long distance runners, later to rally drivers and then also to the F1 drivers. Nothing new there.

I believe you are correct about "iceman", though, that was Mika's nick name as well.


James, I note that you have mentioned a few times how difficult it is to work in an F1 team.

If you have not already, it would be interesting to hear a little more about this. I think the extreme pressure that the team is put under (inc. sleepless nights and lack of time at home etc.) is something that is not really properly appreciated.

It is amazing for me that whenever I see team members at races around the calender they always simply look exhausted.

Otherwise, thanks for a great year of analysis! It has really added to the show


James, are you planning to write a team by team report later on? A few key teams are missing here. For example with Sauber changing team principals, steady rules next year, Hulkmember in the car, Kamuis apparent goodbye, surely you can shed some light on how they went/will go? I found that team very impressive this year, the quiet overachievers even.

What about Caterham? They nabbed an extra few millions from the FIA in Brazil and I hear both drivers may be missing from the team next year?


Yes of course

This is just a wrap


This season was a classic! just wish it would've never ended, I'm even going to buy the end of season Blu Ray despite living in a different region only because it will be a nice addition to my collection 🙂


Thanks for the great article and coverage. I say this because you have very well observed and highlighted why top drivers/teams finished with respective position at the end of the season.


Hi James, I am not sure Alonso is going to like your metaphor about his sword, but a great summary. Cannot wait until March. I can see no reason why it will not be as close in 2013. I am going to go with the teams that have top tier drivers. Yes I know there will be the JB detractors:-





Mercedes ( go Lewis:-))


Hi James good wrap and look forward to your team by team review of the season.

Mercedes won their first race since returning then fell apart, Ferrari (mainly Alonso) pushed their bad car as far as they could up a hill but just didn't have the energy for that all important final push, Mclaren were made to look like fools at times, Red Bull won again but I do wonder what happened to Webber who seem to get left behind by Vettel after his win in UK, Kimi returned and wow us with his speed and his radio talk, Massa up his game after looking like he would be first out of a job and Williams won again... then spent much of the year picking pieces of their car from the track.

What for you was your favourite race of the year? so many to choose from I guess but would like to hear from you.


Vettel might be a three time world champion but that doesn't make him a 'Great' driver in my book. He needs to prove himself with inferior machinery. Put simply, Vettel is a very good driver in a great car. Alonso is a legend in an inferior car. Ferrari need to up their game next year to stop that annoying finger!


Excellent mate. You make complete sense. Someone indeed need to stop the annoying finger!


Funny thing is, Alonso is now saying that he lost the title last SPA and Japan GP's. But did'nt he say that he was 100% SURE he will win the title last Indian GP? Such a cry baby.

Making people think that he's better that what he really is has been always his game. I wonder if Ferrari and it's sponsors and growing tired of it. 3 years with the team and even with his "enormous talent" and "team leadership", still no championship. I hope Massa could be given a car suited to his driving next year, even just for the first few races...Let's see what he can do vs ALO...


He's not crying at all, he's reflecting on what happened. He got taken out at Spa by RG which took away a guarenteed podium and he had a retirement at Japan, the same race where vettel got a reprimand for blocking whereas others got grid penalties.

Do you honestly think that those two incidents didn't cost him?



Thanks again for a good season of cool info, stats and even gossip, can´t wait for next year to start

In the DOTD article you mentioned the possibility of not doing it anymore because of negative feedback and I would like to share some views with you

First, I am surprised myself by the "passion" of some bloggers who support this or that driver and this or that regulation and loose all objectivity, not to mention the conspiracy lovers (if everything is decided by Bernie anyway, why even bother to watch)

Very few "gray shade" comments , a lot of black or white

Second, you can't please everyone (and neither can FIA or Vettel or Alonso or even Santa)

Half of the fans loved Pirelli's approach to introduce a strategy element, and the other half hated it because it is artificial and drivers are not going full out (and the same for KERS or DRS)

Everything has a good and bad part to it, and either way it is the same tyres (rules, etc) to all teams and drivers

Third, since you are usually accurate and give facts, extremists on both sides hate it and accuse you of being sold to the other side

Just an occupational hazard for reporters, I guess, thank God you are doing F1 an not Middle East politics

Last, don't punish the rest of your followers because of some e-punks out there, better to "moderate" them out into virtual space

Regarding racing, I would have loved Alonso to win but I have to admire Vettel's driving, even if he had the fastest car, as some fans argue, because F1 is about cars, teams, reliability, tyre management, pit work, etc.

As for "luck", I think you can be lucky 1 or 2 races, after 20 races, luck affects all drivers both ways, after 3 seasons, Vettel's results are not thanks to luck IMHO

I do think he needs to mature and fall back to earth (and drive a bad car) before I put him up there with Clark, Senna and Schumacher, (and get my DOTD vote), but is definitely on his way

Wether his non-fans like it or not, statistics wise, he is past Lewis and percentage wise, past Alonso and approaching Clark, Senna and Schumacher levels

Thanks again



What a season indeed, the last race in Brazil sums it all.

I hope the excitement continue next season.

Thank you James, for another excellent coverage of the season!


Hi JA,

I have just ordered your latest book - looking forward to reading this over and over over the next 110 days before Aust GP!

Have you been able to find out if you have previous editions of the year in review books in stock in the warehouse, etc




Yes. We'll send you a contact email


I wouldn't mind one either James whatever you got


James, I think you may have missed the key point I took from this year's championship. Be it an evening of the playing field or dumb luck, this season more than any in recent history has seen more teams able to compete for outright wins.

From a fan's perspective, regardless of the colour of your t-shirt, this has been the best outcome of 2012.

Thanks for all your insight this year and for taking the time to read/respond to your readers.


Oh, and thanks for the great podcasts too!


Great season! Would like to salute the top three in the championship - Vettel, Alonso & Raikkonen!

Looking forward to seeing them in Istanbul!


I think this is one of the best season in F1 since I first follow it in 1994. The unpredictable first 7 races, then Alonso punching above the car's abilities, the great Vettel comeback and finally the most intense Interlagos GP I've ever witness.

I think it is unlikely that 2013 season can be as exciting. So I am really fortunate to have the privilege to follow the 2012 season as it happened.

Finally, it is sad to see Michael leave. Thank you for all those great races!

Mike from Colombia

Hamilton did not put a foot wrong in 2012. Superb driving and should have walked away from the title. Too many points thrown away as a result of issues that had nothing to do with him.

Alonso also drove absolutely superbly. He is a warrior full of confidence and truly leads Ferrari.

Let's hope that at some point we can see the Hamilton-Alonso battle that we have been waiting for since 2007.


Oh no, please let's concentrate on the front of the grid. I'm heartily sick of hearing about the middle order all the time (Alonso excluded)!


Both Red Bull and Ferrari are my least favourite teams. I'm at least glad the deserved winner took the title this year. Congrats to Sebastian Vettel. I'm fed up with Dominecali saying Fernando deserved it more !. Ferrari have used Felipe Massa a few times this year to get Fernando where he ended up - even at Interlagos whereas Mark Webber all but took out his team mate at the same race ! "They used every trick in the book and came short "!- bad luck move on - the better team & driver won!.

Sure Fernando drove brilliantly although he did struggle a bit the last two races. Lewis too drove outstandingly and I think he too would have been a worthy champion were it not for team errors. Raikkonen in his come back in overall 4th fastest car ended up 3rd in the points and surely must put him up with the over achievers of the year. I was very pleased to see some strong performances in the middle and back of the grid. Most notably Nico Hulkenburg and Charles Pic in an improving Marussia team bodes well for next year. Can we say The Return of Massa will also have a dramatic impact on Ferrari next year - I hope we see an even fight with Fernando-surely Ferrari can see the sense in allowing them a fair fight now!

James is there a push to have the same DRS zones in Quali as in the race ?. If so this will even things up a little and hopefully we see Lotus introduce their passive DDRS challenge the top teams.


Even I was surprised with what Stefano said. If he is implying that Vettel does not deserve the championship, he is bringing the sport into disrepute.


Haha, you totally ignore Bruno Senna James!


Vettel overtook a car under yellows. Why this investigated?


Because it was not yellows.


The video shows it was under yellows though, and it was mentioned in Sky as well and showed it in their own replay. I only watched half the race so I didn't see if it was cleared up, but seeing posts online, it seems like FIA just left it as it is, hence the question.


This was widely discussed and found Vettel did not do anything wrong. You may not like Vettel but you need to get your facts straight before making silly comments.


Who's silly now?

I think I've made a very valid, objective post for readers to discuss here. Thank you.


Can't you see me waving a green flag?


Silly comments?

I was curious about it thus I raised a question. There was nothing offensive in my post. Or maybe you just get offended too easily?

Looking back at my comment, I noticed a few words were missed out, probably my computer was being slow and didnt respond as quickly. Otherwise, maybe if you don't have anything that answers my question, feel welcome not to reply to it.


One would expect that next year Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus will be around the front, as they are evolving already fast cars.

Mercedes will be interesting to watch as they're pretty much starting from scratch. And you have to also assume Ferrari will be doing something similar? Evolving this years Ferrari can't surely be the right way to go, can it? I notice Pat Fry has been vocal about 'learning from mistakes'. His job must surely be on the line?


Would've liked to see few comments about the small teams and what the future will hold for them.

Did Caterham 'deserve' the 10th spot in constructor's championship or was it really down to luck?

Finally, I'd like to thank James for by far the most interesting F1 site on the Internet. It's been a pleasure following the season here.

ps. One more thing:

"He crashed on race day; a violent 9g impact, summing up his season. Kimi Raikkonen has carried the Lotus team, scoring in excess of 200 points and with a more consistent performer in the other car, Lotus might have been able to challenge Ferrari and Lotus for second and third places in the table."

I think one of those Lotuses should be McLaren..?


I am a Ferrari fan, but I have to say congratulations to Red Bull and Seb for their titles. They fully deserved them. And although Alonso would also deserve the title if it had come his way, I have to admit that Ferrari did not deserve anything this year. I don't know what is going on in Maranello, but they haven't produced a fastest car for many many years, they haven't been the best in strategy, they still haven't solved their wind tunnel correlation issues, etc, etc. There just doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the (wind) tunnel... And if it had not been for Mclaren shooting themselves on the foot in 2007, a decade long championship draught would be approaching.

As for Alonso, he must be gutted no to have that 3rd WDC under his belt by now. And the fact that the new wonder kid does makes it even worse. But my guess is that this will make him even more motivated. I think the two most motivated drivers next year will be Alonso and Hamilton, who I have to admit impressed me with his mature driving this year. Both of them feel they should have more to show for their efforts up to now. The point is, will they have the machines to fight for it?


Yet another fan who wants to see middle order racing? Am I the only one who wants to watch champions in action, champions racing against each other wheel to wheel, time after time.


Absolutely nothing wrong with watching the very competitive racing in the middle order this season. Some of the best on track battles have taken place in the middle of the field and also at the back.


What? How do you deduct that from my comment? All I said was that Ferrari have been disappointing according to their standards, and that in my opinion Alo and Ham will be very motivated.


James, would you please explain the choice of the title ?


title of the book I meant


Yeah James you meant Mclaren where you mentioned Lotus twice in same sentence


Another great year of coverage, commentary and insights on the F1 season.

Thanks very much.


Once again a fantastic, open, honest, insightful and knowledgeable piece. I've been attending F1 for almost 30 years, and this was the first one that I followed with your blog an and tweets. You've been able to make it the one I enjoyed the most. JA, thanks. Congrats on you I always recommend your site to my friends.


That's really kind - thanks!



You should do a piece which compares Lotus pioneered DRD, Mercedes pioneered DDRS and Red Bull style DDRS, and explains why DDRS is banned in 2013, but DRD isn't.

Just a thought.


he doesnt understand the difference, I tried to make a point on it but he thinks its all the same like the red bull 1


Lewis showed some excellent racing maturity this year, less so with regards to public relations. In a way he reminds me of Mansell (bullying the car around the corners, and more than a little paranoid).

This is the championship that his team lost for him this year.


It's been a great season!!!

Congratulation to all the protagonists.

I'd like to point out that Kimi is the only driver who finished all the laps in this amazing season and scored in all the races but one (China).

Amazing job by James Allen as usual ( cant wait for the book to arrive)

Good bye Michael and it was such a shame that you couldnt drive in 2009 because of your motorcycle accident. That would have been the real test for you and Kimi also.



James, can't wait to read your book. But I hope you now include a section on winning the WDC three times in a row. Surely this is the biggest thing about this year, notwithstanding all the other puff publicity pieces.


One of my personal highlights of the season were the chants of 'KA-MU-I' at the Suzuka podium. Hairs on the back of my neck.


Let's all bring Kamui back next year. (btw - I'm not Japanese)


Bernie's comment before qualifying said it all:

BBC: 'Who deserves this title?'

Bernie: 'Lewis'


Hi James, best web site by far so keep up the great work. This has been one of the best years for formula 1 and can't wait for 2013. Please can you remove the countdown clock till the next race,just for a couple of months at least. The thought of a 109 day wait is just depressing!!

Any news on Kobayashi getting a drive next season? I really hope so as he is certainly a charachter that will be greatly missed if not.


Hi James

Would you agree that Ferrari/Alonso were overall the best combo of the season? The way I look at it, each team is responsible for the reliability and speed of both the car and the driver. So if an alternator breaks it is the team's fault. If the car is fast, credit to the team. Similarly, if a driver is at fault in tangling with a back marker, it is the team's fault but if a driver is quick, credit to the team.

Ferrari lost a lot of points due to factors outside of the team and driver's control(i.e. Grojean and Raikonnen crashing into Alonso). Properly considered, Vettel's reliability problems were not "bad luck" rather they were a result of bad engineering just like Ferrari's lack of speed was bad engineering. If you give each driver credit for the factors that hindered their title challenge that were outside of their or their teams' control, Alonso/Ferrari come out on top which demonstrates that Vettel won the championship as a result of better luck rather than better driver/team combo.

Interested to know your thoughts!



No I wouldn't because Vettel and Red Bull won the championship and more races.

Alonso was consistently outstanding, Ferrari also did well at pit stops, race starts and strategy, but not so well at making a fast car.

Winning in F1 is about man and machine in harmony and the push from the team behind. Vettel and Red Bull got across the line first so they were the best


James, I just want to thank you for the stellar year you've put in. Your site is brilliant - it's my "one stop shop" and sits at the top of my favourites list {of all my frequented sites} .

I look forward to coming here for all the off sreason news.

In regards to a comment you posted earlier, are there any 2009 yearbook copies still available to purchase?

I'd loved to get the full set.

Again, thanks for contributing to a great 2012 season.

All the best,




Ask about the 2009 book. There may be one in warehouse somewhere (or on their office shelf!)


Hey James:

You state that, "The Williams was one of the best cars of the year and for the team to end up down in eighth place in the standings with it is a bitter disappointment."

Any thoughts on Barrichello making a return in the Williams? Surely this past season, with Rubens in the car, Williams would have finished higher up in the final standings? Do you have any insight/comments?


With hindsight, they might agree with you.

Only that now they are heading for Maldonado and Bottas, not back to Rubens


I haven't read this elsewhere yet; maybe someone mentioned this in the comments. RAI braked hard and went offtrack avoiding VET. That could've been worse than VET's contact with SEN and ended his rear wing and race right there. Surprising to not hear about this from either RBR, Kimi or the press.


Hi James!

I've just read that Kamui has secured half a million pound from fan donations in just a few days! I think this is the first time a driver has tried this, if so do you think it opens a whole new avenue for all "pay drivers"? It could create a whole new Sponsorship (traditional) vs Talent vs Popularity dynamic in the driver market. Social media and fan engagement may take on an entirely new level with these drivers.


Not surprised, he's very popular with the fans!


JA, there were rumours in the Motogp paddocks this year at Indy when someone asked the HRC cheif if they will return to F1 again. The answer was "Honda is always open to new challenges" which many interpreted as Honda contemplating a F1 comeback within 2 years. If that really happens, i certainly see a role for Kamui,atleast as a test driver.


Hey James,

How can I purchase the book in the States? When I go to that link it doesn't give me an option to choose another country. I want to ask for it for Christmas.



It is there when you start filling in delivery details

We've sold load to the US!


Oh, I didn't know that. Thanks for the help! Excited to read it!

Val from montreal

Future of 2013 results : 1) Vettel and Red Bull will dominate the season just lije on 2011 ... That team will bring Vettel to 5 consecutive world drivers championships .... Vettel will win between 9 to 11 gps next year ... Perez will be a new revelation , he will surprise alot if people in the paddock next year ... Ferrari will fall back to 3rd in the teams order while ... Mercedes and Ross Brawn will continue to " Try and understand " their car as they have been doing these last 3 years , while Rosberg will outqualify Hamilton half of the time and will be faster than him more often than not , only for Hamilton to start whining to the media .... So the 2013 fight will be between Vettel vs Button .... Vettel will win his 4th wdc in a row ....


So most people seem to believe that Alonso is better than Vettel. That must be worrying for those Alonso fans, as I would think that Vettel being much less experienced than Alonso has more room for improvement..... How many titles could he have by the time he reaches his full potential


This year we saw that Vettel is more confident racing wheel-to-wheel than in the past (despite the occasional mistake earlier in the season), and better able to recover from a bad situation. So he’s definitely growing. I’m a big Alonso fan, but Vettel earned his championship (besides Alonso, Hamilton also had a year of great personal performances – any of the three would’ve been worthy champions, imo).

Obviously winning titles also depends on the car, which makes it hard to predict the future. Vettel struggled just as much as Alonso did during the pre-European third of the season.


Many will feel that Vettel does not deserve the championship, but he's a very clever young man IMHO. Sebastian is not just fast driver and he knows his lady(car) very well technically. As told many times, Vettel leaves the pit very late after the race going through telemetries and tech issues. Yes RB8 is a fast car but you still need a good pilot to steer it.

As for Alonso the pain is all Ferrari's fault for not being able to produce a winning car. Ok, maybe not a winning car but at least on par with McLaren and Red Bull. Nando's 3rd WDC is way overdue. 2012 highlight Nando's peak of his career as the best overall racer. I'll rate him as one of the 'greatest' in F1. At the final scrap for the last few races, what was left for him was applying mind games. What else could he have done with a third or fourth fastest car. He has truly outperformed the car beyond the limits.

Hamilton's exit from McLaren is very uncanny, like at the spur of the moment. He too drove very well this year after a rethink of his personal life and kept very focused too. Just hope Mercedes can produce a decent car amongst the top 3 teams. And I prefer Lewis with his shaved head than with hair now. Hamilton is a unique racer in F1 history. No rookie has ever missed a championship by one point. Another great racer.

As for Kimi - "I know what I'm doing', damn he drove into the old Interlagos circuit, lol. But he's my favourite driver of all time. Who cares about his public relation skills. Honest and very direct, I like. What a come back.

So much to be said for this season. I throughly enjoyed and it's historical for those of us who have absorbed it right through 2012. FANTASTIC!


I got VERY bored at work and worked out the championship table if it had have been scored according to the old late '90s 10-6-4-3-2-1 system that lasted a long time.













Means nothing though!

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