2012 European Grand Prix
Which F1 driver had the best race weekend in Valencia?
Compare all the drivers’ performances below and vote for who you think was the best driver of the European Grand Prix weekend.
Sebastian Vettel – On top form right up until the moment his car let him down. Produced a superb lap to claim pole position by over three-tenths of a second – a feat which seemed impossible after Q2. Scorched off into the lead and was 20 seconds ahead of the field after 22 laps. The safety car removed that margin, but it was alternator failure which denied him what looked set to be an emphatic victory.
Mark Webber – Had his share of Red Bull’s technical maladies in final practice and qualifying, leaving him 19th on the grid. A patient recovery drive and several cool passes saw him recover to fourth place in the race.
Jenson Button – Looked much more convincing in practice but stumbled in qualifying, falling to ninth. Still didn’t quite have it together in the race but was at least able to take eighth after passing Perez on the final tour.
Lewis Hamilton – Was surprised to put the McLaren second on the grid and it showed from the word go as it plainly lacked the pace to compete with Red Bull. Nonetheless it was a slow McLaren pit stop (yet again) which dropped him behind Alonso, costing him a shot at victory. Quickly passed Raikkonen and Ricciardo and the restart but his tyres went off badly in the final laps and Raikkonen took second place off him. Was blameless in the incident with Maldonado which knocked him out of the points.
Fernando Alonso – Wrote off Ferrari’s chances of finishing on the podium after failing to make Q3 on Saturday. But he drove superbly from 11th to get in position to take advantage of Vettel’s retirement. This included a brilliant string of passes on Webber, Schumacher and Senna followed by the coup de grace – a fabulous opportunistic move on Grosjean which, by the end of the lap, put him in the lead of the race. Held his nerve as the tyres began to wilt in the closing laps for a richly deserved win.
Felipe Massa – Mimicked Alonso’s good start, gaining three places to hold tenth. But thereafter didn’t make the same progress through traffic as his team mate. Perhaps didn’t expect Kobayashi to make a passing attempt at turn ten where the pair tangled, leaving Massa with damage that ruined his race.
Michael Schumacher – Things finally came right for Schumacher in Valencia, though it didn’t seem like they were going to when he qualified 12th. Made strong progress through the field after his final pit stop and the Maldonado-Hamilton collision handed him a podium that was some recompense for his poor fortune earlier this year.
Nico Rosberg – Also had a strong run at the end of the race but left it even later than his team mate. Having been 11th with two laps to go he finished an excellent sixth.
Kimi Raikkonen – Out-qualified by Grosjean again and dropped back a place at the start despite getting off the line well. Passed Maldonado in the first stint but a slow getaway in his first pit stop cost him a further place to Alonso. Hamilton passed him at the restart but Raikkonen took the place back in the dying stages for second. Said the car lacked the pace to win.
Romain Grosjean – Didn’t get off the line well on the slippery side of the grid but made a bold move on Maldonado at turn two to take third. A few laps later he was past Hamilton for second but seemed unable to challenge Vettel. Should have been more alert to the threat from Alonso at the restart but in the end it only meant his alternator failure cost him second place instead of a win.
Paul di Resta – Got the most out of a questionable one-stop strategy. The safety car probably helped him more than it hurt as he lost fewer places than he might have and had chance to preserve his tyres. Demoted to seventh on the final lap.
Nico Hulkenberg – Qualified and raced strongly, taking his best career result so far with fifth place. Had his KERS been working, he might have stood a better chance of holding off Schumacher and Webber to claim the final podium spot.
Kamui Kobayashi – Translated seventh on the grid into fourth by the end of lap one, but a slow first pit stop robbed him of much of that progress. Made a rather optimistic attempt to pass Senna on lap 20 which resulted in the pair tangling. His move on Massa later on was similarly ambitious and earned him a five-place penalty for the next race.
Sergio Perez – Soundly beaten by Kobayashi in qualifying but expected to have better pace in the race. Started on mediums but got stuck behind Senna so made an early pit stop. Didn’t have the same fiery pace seen in Canada and ended up ninth, struggling with tyre degradation.
Daniel Ricciardo – Briefly held third after the safety car period, and attempted a late second pit stop in the same vein as Schumacher and Webber. Although he didn’t have the pace of the Red Bull it might still have worked out well for him, but he clipped Petrov while passing the Caterham, losing time.
Jean-Eric Vergne – Beaten by Kovalainen in qualifying, he weaved towards the Caterham while passing it during the race, causing a completely avoidable collision. Justifiably handed a ten-place grid drop and €25,000 fine.
Pastor Maldonado – Demonstrated his best and worst qualities in a single weekend. Having cheered the team with an excellent qualifying lap for third on the grid, he slipped back during the opening stages but was within a shout of a podium at the end. He undid that good work by barging into Hamilton having gone off trying to pass the McLaren, ruining both their races and picking up a penalty. Topped it off by hypocritically blaming Hamilton’s defensive driving, which was no different to the tactics Maldonado himself employed during the race.
Bruno Senna – Well off Maldonado’s pace and fortunate to pick up a point after his team mate’s penalty. Perhaps hard done by with his drive-through penalty for the tangle with Kobayashi, which the Sauber driver could have done at least as much as him to avoid.
Heikki Kovalainen – Shone in qualifying but his race was ruined by Vergne’s impetuousness.
Vitaly Petrov – Finished in front of his delayed team mate after four pit stops, one of which to replace the front wing he lost colliding with Ricciardo.
Pedro de la Rosa – Out-qualified his team mate – and the sole Marussia – and finished ahead of Karthikeyan as well.
Narain Karthikeyan – Might have beaten his team mate had he not received a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits.
Timo Glock – Practiced but did not compete due to illness.
Charles Pic – Held the fort against HRT in Glock’s absence.
Qualifying and race results summary
|Started||Gap to team mate||Laps leading team mate||Pitted||Finished||Gap to team mate|
|Jenson Button||9th||+0.391s||0/55||2||8th||Didn’t finish on same laps|
|Lewis Hamilton||2nd||-0.391s||55/55||2||19th||Didn’t finish on same laps|
|Fernando Alonso||11th||-0.073s||56/56||2||1st||Didn’t finish on same laps|
|Felipe Massa||13th||+0.073s||0/56||4||16th||Didn’t finish on same laps|
|Paul di Resta||10th||+0.24s||9/57||1||7th||+2.873s|
|Pedro de la Rosa||21st||-0.356s||54/56||2||17th||-9.267s|
Review the race data
- 2012 European GP tyre strategies and pit stops
- 2012 European Grand Prix lap charts
- 2012 European Grand Prix fastest laps
Vote for your driver of the weekend
Which driver do you think did the best job this weekend?
Cast your vote below and explain your choice in the comments.
Who was the best driver of the European Grand Prix weekend?
- Sebastian Vettel (18%)
- Mark Webber (5%)
- Lewis Hamilton (2%)
- Jenson Button (0%)
- Fernando Alonso (52%)
- Felipe Massa (0%)
- Michael Schumacher (9%)
- Nico Rosberg (0%)
- Kimi Raikkonen (2%)
- Romain Grosjean (5%)
- Paul di Resta (0%)
- Nico Hulkenberg (2%)
- Kamui Kobayashi (0%)
- Sergio Perez (0%)
- Daniel Ricciardo (0%)
- Jean-Eric Vergne (0%)
- Pastor Maldonado (1%)
- Bruno Senna (1%)
- Heikki Kovalainen (1%)
- Vitaly Petrov (1%)
- Narain Karthikeyan (0%)
- Pedro de la Rosa (0%)
- Charles Pic (1%)
Total Voters: 738
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2012 European Grand Prix
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Image © Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Pirelli/LAT