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The best moments of 2012 F1 season
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Dec 2012   |  1:09 pm GMT  |  115 comments

On the last day of 2012 it seems an appropriate time to look back on the events of the year and pick out some highlights for discussion.

It was a very good year of racing with some fantastic on-track moments and some significant ones off track too.

Here are some of my personal favourites; let us know in the comments section below what you found the best moments of 2012.

Hamilton wins the duel in Austin
A great race in a great season and one that reminded everyone that Lewis Hamilton should have been fighting for the world title, but for reliability and operational issues at McLaren. In Austin he hunted down pole sitter Sebastian Vettel, taking his one and only opportunity to overtake when Vettel lost some ground behind a back marker in the high speed curves leading to the back straight. It was a great battle for the lead and reminiscent of Nigel Mansell’s classic opportunist pass on Ayrton Senna in Hungary in 1989.

Fernando Alonso – The start in Valencia
Alonso’s best race in a stunning season. Although the Ferrari was a poor qualifying car it raced pretty well, so Alonso and Massa had a lot of work to do at the starts. Alonso made up places at 14 of the 20 races. In Valencia he started 11th on the grid, but with the advantage of new tyres saved from missing Q3, he gained three places off the start line, fought his way through the field in the opening stint, took the opportunity offered to him by another pit stop problem for McLaren to pass Hamilton. He passed Grosjean for second place around the outside of Turn 1 after a safety car restart then took the lead just after half way through the race.

Kimi Raikkonen – “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”.
The classic line from the Lotus F1 star as he steered the team to its first win under the Lotus name and Genii ownership in Abu Dhabi. Raikkonen had developed a reputation for being short with his engineer, who he considered to be telling his granny how to suck eggs, but this was the funniest line of the year over the radio. To prove his style, he made some T shirts with the message on it for the team.

Vettel’s car survives a hit from Senna’s Williams at the start in Brazil
When you are leading the world championship on the final day and you find yourself facing the wrong way on lap 1 having sustained a heavy hit to the left side of the car and then another smash into your left rear suspension, it’s reasonable to think that it’s all over. But Sebastian Vettel survived that and a series of hair-raising moments to collect the points he needed to clinch his third world title. For people who criticised him for having things too easy, 2012 was the counter-argument and nowhere more clearly expressed than in that moment.

Massa’s comeback from forced gearbox penalty in Austin
Felipe Massa has under performed badly for almost three years, but in the second half of the 2012 season, with his career hanging by a thread, he rediscovered form and in Austin he also showed the character we saw at times during his 2008 campaign. He out qualified Alonso in Austin and was then forced by his team into taking a gearbox penalty to allow the Spaniard to start on the clean side of the track. It worked, as Alonso got onto the podium, but Massa’s strong drive to fourth, from 12th on the grid, showed his spirit.

Sergio Perez takes second in Monza
Sergio Perez won the lottery in 2012; he went from Sauber to a McLaren drive and a chance at the big time. He did it thanks to three stunning podiums, but the Monza result was the standout because of the pressure he was under that weekend. It was already clear that Lewis Hamilton was serious about leaving McLaren, Perez was well down the road in discussions with the team about replacing him, while Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had said that Perez (a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy) wasn’t ready for the big time. He charged through the field on a reverse strategy after another poor qualifying (he failed to make Q3 in 13 out of 20 attempts this year), passed both Ferraris and finished second. Within a few weeks he had a McLaren contract.

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Kimi over take Schumacher in Spa

Vettel third champion.


My favourite moment was that other Kimi quote :

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. I’m doing it all the time. You don’t have to remind me every second.”

Priceless !


Vettel beat Alonso because he had a better car, he beat Hamilton because he was better supported and his car was more reliable. Nothing about this year suggests that Vettel won because of driving skill.


An interesting article as usual but is it possible to “under perform badly”. There is a double negative in there surely!


Felipe Massa’s recovery in the second half of the season was excellent, he definitely would have been shown the door if he hadn’t picked it up, and he managed to get it together and show us why he nearly won the championship back in 2008. On form Massa and Alonso in a competitive car is a very formidable line-up, if they can get the car together.

Pirelli’s board meeting when they decided how to make the tyres.

Hamilton’s pass on Vettel in Austin.

Can we get a full feed from Kimi’s team radio next season?


Sorry I should have said ‘won’ not ‘one’.


For me the best moments of the year was to see Alonso drive his heart out and produce his best performances despite not having the best car. I also liked the way he has matured in his attitude in comparison to previous seasons. If Schumacher had not moved aside and allowed Vettel to pass so easily in Brasil (and therefore influenced the outcome of the championship), Vettel would have not caught up and passed kobayashi and the greatest driver would have one.

Colombia Concalvez

It got to be Lewis in Barcelona from P24 to P8, he obliterated Button who started 14 places infront of him and the double overtake on both the Toro Rosso’s show’s that Lewis is the best on the grid. He does not need his team mate to be penaltilised so he can benefit from or No1 status like the other dude

And Canada Lewis, look how Lewis lapped Button and the won the race in style, absolute stunning


1. Maldonado winning in Spain.

2. Valencia GP. Best race of the year. It was nice to see some emotion in Alonso’s post-race celebrations as well.

3. Brazil GP. Second best race of the year.

4. Hamilton in Austin. Superb.

5. Kimi’s radio messages in Abu Dhabi.


7 winners for the first 7 races set the scene for a terrific season, capped off by an enthralling Brazilian GP.

Loved Kimi telling his engineer to bugger off too!


The Abu Dhabi race and Brazil are two of the best races of the year.

To see the three champions and best drivers on the Abu Dhabi podium is the most memorable moment. And yes, I loved the true colours (including the swearings) on the podium interview.


Maldonado returning Williams to the top step in Spain, having come from behind and beating Alonso in a genuine head-to-head battle was magic! The feel-good moment of the year for me.


Have been reading your excellent year book James. For things like this, “best moments” etc your book is second to none. It is easy to look back at a season and pick the good bits but what your book gives is the feeling in the F1 world at the time. Something I would add to the best moments is Alonso’s win in Malaysia, not the greatest grand prix and win in the world but if you dig deeper and remember just how awful the Ferrari was in Melbourne and how down the team was it was an amazing result, that is the kind of reflection your book gives. Please keep up the good work with the year books!

I would also add Schumacher’s pole at Monaco, proved the old man still had it. It will be interesting to see how is comeback is viewed 5 – 10 years down the line, I think a big part of it will be how well Hamilton gets on next year. If Hamilton drags it onto the top step a few times and trounces Rosberg then it will not look so good on the old man.

Whilst not a success I don’t think Schumachers return was a complete failure, his 2011 season was pretty poor but this year he was generally pretty competitive relative to Rosberg and suffered some horrendous luck. I think his symbolic passing of the batton to Vettel at Brasil was a nice bit of closure on his career that he did not get the first time. His second shot did not do his reputation as a driver much favours but it definitely made him much more likeable.


Thanks, glad you like the book!


Hi James, what about books for top 10 winners in Your competition ? You`ll send this book ?


James, thank You very much. I have got it today:


Yes it was sent out in December.


Has to be the Canadian GP.This was LH at his best! The whole thing was a measured win for the Mcl team and LH, got to throw in that he lapped his team mate!!!


1)Vettel’s penalty in Hockenheim. Unfortunately, it was a rare occasion, but for once the rules were respected by the stewards.

2)Raikkonen’s radio messages in Abu Dhabi.

A driver rejects babysitting attempts and talks no rubbish on the podium. Such guy getting airtime can only be good for F1.

“I am here to race. All the other bullshit I can do without..” Great.

3)Nothing really. Perhaps forming the grid for the Brazilian GP could be a worthy candidate. All teams that started the season, were still present.


I have to say that I just loved Kimi’s reply when asked if he would get over missing Pele’s presentaion in Brazil
‘Yeah, I was having a sh*t”


Two things stood out for me

1) Alonso’s starts and his first lap racing in general were brilliant. He knew exactly were to attack and gained a lot of places.

2)Hungary – During mid race , vettel comes on the radio and tells his team to ” do something “.Meanwhile , kimi paces himself and then just lets rip fastest lap after fastest lap. Rare to see a driver gain 3 positions in the pits in the “undercutting” era of pirelli.Vettel and for that matter hamilton still lacks the shrewd racecraft of alonso & kimi.

Colombia Concalvez

Hamilton is way ahead of Alonso and Kimi, Hamilton does not need No1 status and teammate to be penaltilised so he can benefit from. Alonso is simply overrated


For all his incidents just remember that Grosjean had started just 7 GP’s prior to this season and was 3rd on the grid for the first race in Australia..this guy is quick and thats what really matters.He will win in 2013.


How did he do in that first race? Accident.

Will he win in 2013? Maybe.

Will he crash out? Well no one likes to prempt accidents but he is better than even money given his track record. Being quick is not enough.

To finish first, first you have to finish.


A crash… with Maldondao of all people!

The guy seems quick, quicker than Kimi many times through the season, he is just a little rash in certain situations. Having said that, it is not as if Vettel and Hamilton for example have been angels their entire career, and Massa can still be a bit erratic even now.

The media have been to harsh on him imo. His first penalty for a crash was his ban at Spa, and the majority of the incidents were simply incidents if not someone elses fault entirely.

He does need to calm down though, the speed is clearly there.


many times? he is lucky kimi had to cope with an incompatible steering wheel in first half of the season. Even so, kimi blew Romain away on Race pace alone. Since summer break, kimi generally trash him both sat and sun.


Fair comment, I think he can become a very great driver, once he gets more experience and settles down. Very impressed with Romain so far, that’s for sure.


No 1. F1 Forums around the world are shutting down as James Allen’s website is the place to be.

No 2. Kimi’s return to F1 was wonderful to watch.

No 3. Midfield the Hulk stood out for me.

Negative. The desperate young drivers doing stupid things. There is even a name for it now, ‘doing a Grosjean’.


I do race at online competitions and it’s true…

If somebody crashes in the first or second corner, than he is doing a Grosjean.. XD

Ontopic, i agree with your list James, but Schumachers Monaco pole should have been up there as well..

It doesn’t change how you look at it, that too was a remarkable achievment… Also the Rosberg/China win.. He dominated that weekend at an unseen level that we havn’t previously seen before from him.

All the best for 2013.. Cheers!


Roll on 2013! Only 35 days until testing 🙂


Kimis drive in Bahrain shocked the world by how quickly he closed down a Red Bull – I had the biggest smile cause I knew he could fight for victory but not so quickly.

Pastors win was a fantastic surprise for F1 and for all – those whole liked him and even those that thought he was a loose canon.

Sergios drives for podium were a welcome relief. I was geniunly angered by his engineer telling him to be “careful we need this position” – on his second to Fernando in Spain!- this also highlights the need for Kimis radio messages in Abu Dhabi and why drivers need to stop being babied as he could surely have won that race!.

But above all things I shall never forget Kimis driving this year – his epic battles with Mercedes, Force India , Mclaren are the stuff of legends . His Hungary drive setting purples times every minute, to fighting a loose car at his favoured Spa- passing then having to repass, to his unrivalled reflex avoidance sills at the start of most races. For anyone wanting to fill in some time just google Kimi for some fantastic YouTube onboards- fantastic.


There’s been some great wheel to wheel overtakes through multiple corners this year. A number of them have involved Kimi, Jensen, Alonso.

I don’t remember so many cases where drivers were so fair whilst racing at such high speeds within an inch or two of each other’s wheels in previous years, someone would force the other off the track or touch and crash.

Seeing that skill and respect between the drivers has been a highlight for me.


Absolutely agree with this. Jenson and Kimi both are especially good at close racing.


As a Hamilton fan I love your first choice. But I think that Lewis’s drive from 24th(not his fault) to 7th and ahead of his teammate in Catalunya needs to be on this list.


The highlights I will take from the 2012 season include:

7 different winners from the first 7 races (which is a record within itself)

The teams not having a clue what was going on with the Pirelli tyres in the first half of the season

Schumi’s pole lap in Monaco proving that the street circuit is really a driver’s track

Alonso crying after winning the Valencia Grand Prix in addition to the fact he joined a very select group of drivers to have a perfect season

V3ttel once again tossing his trophy in the air at the Japanese Grand Prix podium (this always amuses me)

The light comedy moment provided by Kimi when he got lost at the high tension Brazilian Grand Prix

The cowboy hats at Austin after a storming race and the pleasure of getting to see the top 3 drivers all on the podium together after so many seasons.

The pleasant surprises provided by Valencia and Abu-Dhabi historically, the races to miss on a calendar.

Alonso achieving more podiums than Senna did and only one victory shy of Mansell’s total tally

The mighty first lap scrap between Alonso, Jenson and Lewis at the Indian Grand Prix plus the four car drag race between Kimi, Lewis, Alonso and Webber at the Korean Grand Prix

The Japanese fans chanting Kobayashi’s name and then Kobayashi speaking Japanese (brought a tear or two)

Maldonado’s win at Barcelona and the very unusual podium of Maldonado sitting on the shoulders of Kimi & Alonso (for once I was glad Lewis was no where near the the podium)

Lewis proving at Barcelona that really he isn’t the tyre shredder most people think he is

Rosberg giving the Mercedes works team their first win

And last but not least, Lewis’ performance to score Mclaren’s hardest fought out point in it’s entire history (Whitmarsh’s words) when he came home 10th at the Korean Grand Prix.

All in all, was a great season, only disappointment being the rain interrupted race weekends were happening on the wrong days i.e. Fridays


I’m really going to pay more attention to your stats and predictions… keep posting them, they usually become true


@ Brad

Cheers mate!

As they say, history repeats itself.


I think Vettel’s run of championship wins must be about the easiest on record. That’s not to say Vettel is no good quite the contrary he is amongst the best on the grid, but I feel that the drivers championship these days is hardly that when so much is dependant on other factors. I think Hamilton should have won this year and had he the support Vettel has in Red Bull it would have been so. On the other hand had Alonso had a better car he may have also have won it. The point I make is that Vettel won because of the car whereas Alonso almost won in spite of the car. Beyond that because the cars are so aerodynamically dependant it is hardly apprpriate any more to call it a drivers championship because the outcome is decided by other factors than pure driving skill. I think it is a pity that the aero is not being limited in 2014 as that would put more emphasis on the driver rather than the designer.


Nothing like the easiest on Record. If anything Vettels championships have come in a time when F1 is more competitive than I can remember in my 30 years of watching the Sport. We had the possibility of drivers from 5 different teams to win races last year. Roll back 10 or 20 years and it’s completely dominated by 2 teams.

The Red Bull wasn’t as fast as the McLaren this season, but more reliable, but the Red Bull was less reliable than the Ferrari which allowed Alonso to pick up big points by not having KERS, gearbox, alternator or engine issues that plauged McLaren and Red Bull. You only have to look at the number of overtakes Alonso made on the top drivers to see it was the reliability of his slower car that enabled him to be anywhere near the Championship battle. That’s not to say Alonso wasn’t fantastic.


Well that’s too much of a broad statement, and it’s more complicated than that, but for the larger proportion of the year the McLaren car was faster. – It’s a pity they were not able to take advantage of it with all the operational errors and poor reliability. The Ferrari was reliable, but was also better in the race than in qualifying. It was also a quick starting car and Alonso made up most of his ground at the start. If anyone deserved to win he did as what he did was magnificent.

Yes the field is extremely competitive, but if your team supports you well, you have the fastest car over one lap you put it on pole, and you clear the field at the start it’s most likely that you’ll win the race as the combination of high deg.tyres, and highly developed aero virtually guarantees it unless something goes wrong. I’m afraid it’s not really proper racing. Limit the aero and bring back durable tyres to reduce the articial aspect of the current formula.


I was just going to cmment on my own highlights but.. Oh please! 2010 should have been an easy season but was not primarily down to reliability issues, and also some rash mistakes from Vettel.

2011 looked easy for him, although the car was not as dominant as the 2010 car, if at all, and boy was he on it in every race. Particularly towards the end of the season the Red Bull’s apparant speed came from Vettel’s ability to utilise the blown diffuser better than the rest, not down to massive car advantage.

And 2012, easy? What? He had to ight for it in 2012, no question what so ever. His late season surge – suprise suprise – did not coincide with a massive upturn in performance from Webber, so clearly not only the car. Indeed towards the end of the season he was driving the thing like he did in 2011 which was probably the source of his speed.

Entire Brazilian GP from onboard cameras:

Watch that if you doubt Vettel’s talent (race start ~7:40 into video).

I would download Real Player and then rip the video from youtube for future viewing before it gets removed, as the original of that video and several duplicates already have.


My highlights are somewhat different. This season has given some incredible driving all around. I don’t just mean the top guys actually being capable of driving side by side (but seeing them all go at it at the starts and in the races was certainly brilliant), but overall quality of driving.

Go to the FIA’s site

And just watch some of the onboard videos. Australia (Hamilton) and India (Raikkonen) aside, they are all brilliant pieces of driving (Webber’s Monaco lap stands out in particular to me).

I spend hours on Youtube and whatnot watching onboard clips and, for what my opinion is worth, this season has probably seen the best driving in the last 12 years or so in my opinion.

That is my main highlight of the season.


Well I was going to say read what I say not what you think I’ve said, so I re-iterate that Vettel is in a small group of top drivers that all have their highs and lows, but Vettel’s sudden improvement was due entirely to improvement in the car. What Vettel has at Red Bull is a very good aerodynamicist/engineer in Adrian Newey and very good support from the team coupled with his own driving produces a formidable challenge and other teams will have to raise their game to match or improve on it.

2010 fortunate that Ferrari messed up!

2011 almost totally dominant!

2012 Fortunate that McLaren messed up big time, Ferrari could not improve their car sufficiently, and that Red Bull improved their car just at the right time. Of course this is motor racing to a large extent, but tyres and aero favour the leading car, and it’s high time aero was significantly limited to reduce the dirty air effect. The idea of running high deg. tyres and with current aero levels is absurd so I would prefer the more durable tyres in the Pirelli range to be used so that drivers can race properly.


Of course Vettel improved because of the car otherwise he would have done better earlier in the season. Webber improved but not to the same extent because the car was more suited to Vettel’s driving style, and because of that was more able to take advantage. Vettel’s fast and consistent, but not unbeatable. While McLaren may have been faster in some of the races, I believe fundamentally the Red Bull car was the better because of HOW it performed with greater agility because it achieved better balance with the tyres, McLaren quite often struggled with the tyres, but were just able to counter it in other areas at some of the races. In 2013 it seems that Mercedes are seeking to emulate the way the Red Bull car works by maximising downforce, and that combined with the Mercedes engine could potentially produce a very good car if they can make it efficient enough. – I certainly hope so!


Webber didn’t follow suit with the upturn in performance, not to the same extent. Even though the car got better, Vettel made greater use of it.

I don’t think switching the top drivers around would have changed much. Mclaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus all had great cars, just with differing strengths.

Vettel may have won driving the F2012, Alonso may not have won driving the RB8. Maybe not. Who knows. But I strongly disagree with the point that Vettel won due to the car. Webber came 6th overall. 6th. Yeah ok, pretty eratic season, but Webber is a very quick driver.

This year was more down to driver performance because the teams were so close.


Yes, Vettel’s car survival and everyone’s emotion during the momentum were epic.

Happy New Year, James!

Keep on perfecting the blog in 2013.

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