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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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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!


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!


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.

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 ….


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!


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.


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.


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


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!)


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


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.


Bernie’s comment before qualifying said it all:

BBC: ‘Who deserves this title?’

Bernie: ‘Lewis’


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)


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.


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.



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.



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


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!


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

Thanks very much.


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


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


title of the book I meant


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.


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..?


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?


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.

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