Your 2012 F1 season predictions revisited

2012 F1 season review

Guest writer @Greg-Morland has crunched a huge amount of data to bring you this look back on how well we predicted the 2012 season.

One word regularly used to describe the 2012 F1 season was “unpredictable”.

With eight race-winning drivers, seven pole sitters, six winning teams, thirteen drivers on the podium, a string of thrilling races and a title decided by just three points, it was certainly a breath of fresh air after the somewhat sterile 2011 championship.

But was it really so unpredictable? Before the first race of 2012 back in March, almost two hundred F1 Fanatic readers answered a pre season questionnaire on the upcoming season, and their responses offer an intriguing insight into how we thought the campaign would pan out.

Best surprise of the season

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Hungaroring, 2012The revival of Lotus was foreseen by the F1 Fanatic readership, with the team and lead driver Kimi Raikkonen widely backed to shine. But while Mercedes? first race victory as was widely anticipated, their otherwise dire season came as a surprise to the large numbers who voted for the team and their two drivers to excel in 2012.

Force India were tipped to enjoy a breakthrough season in 2012, yet only four people predicted Sauber, the stand-out midfield outfit of the year, would shine. Race winners Williams too received little backing, while Caterham were widely expected to make progress.

Only four people suggested the returning United States Grand Prix would be the highlight that it was, while @TommyB89 deserves credit for having the audacity to predict that the Valencia street circuit would finally host an exciting race.

Worst surprise of the season

Ferrari???s dreadful pre-season form ensured they were a common nomination, but Fernando Alonso ended up taking the battle for the drivers’ championship down to the last race.

Of course, Ferrari were in no position to challenge for the constructors’ title thanks to Felipe Massa’s disappointing campaign, which is perhaps why so many readers feared he would be handed another new contract for 2013. Ferrari took their time over it, but eventually rehired Massa for 2013.

There were widespread doubts over the futures of Force India and HRT. Both completed the season despite financial concerns, but while the former have been promised a cash injection by owner Vijay Mallya, HRT?s lack of funding proved terminal.

And, thankfully, the widely predicted loss of an annual Grand Prix at Spa did not come to pass after the circuit secured a new three-year contract.

Winning teams

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012Six teams – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes and Williams – took race victories in 2012, the most different winning constructors in a season since 1983 while Sauber and Force India both came close to their first ever Grand Prix success.

Such close competition for victory caught out the readers, more than three-quarters of whom had expected four or fewer winning teams, with just 4% correctly predicting six.

First failure to qualify

For the second consecutive year, both HRTs failed to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix in March having missed the entire pre-season testing schedule.

Surprisingly, although both HRTs had been more than 7% off the pace in the two previous season-openers they had taken part in, only a small minority of readers anticipated Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan would fail to make the cut again, with almost half of the readers choosing instead to single out the latter.

Rookie Charles Pic received significantly more support (32%) than de la Rosa to fall at the first hurdle, perhaps reflecting Marussia’s inability to get their 2012 challenger on the track in official pre-season testing.

Alonso’s victories

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2012Alonso may have taken his world title tilt all the way to the final weekend of the season, but it was a challenge based more on a relentless stream of podiums – 13 in 20 races – than race victories, of which he took just three.

But given how low expectations were for Ferrari after the winter testing struggles, he overachieved in the eyes of F1 Fanatic readers. With a third of the vote, most people expected him to win twice. More people tipped him to fail to win all season (17%) than to win more than three races (11%).

Raikkonen’s best result

Kimi Raikkonen?s fine comeback year was expected by most readers – 84% predicted he would make it onto the podium, and just over a third expected him to win for Lotus.

Interestingly, though the question asked only for the result, many readers took it upon themselves to suggest Raikkonen?s best result would be at Spa! Although he was unable to take a fifth career victory in the Ardennes, he did finish on the podium.

Caterham’s finishing position

Heading into the penultimate race of the season it looked as though the one person who predicted Marussia to beat Caterham to tenth in the constructors’ championship had it right.

But that all changed when Vitaly Petrov overtook Pic with four laps to run in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. That netted the vital 11th place which restored Caterham to tenth in the constructors’ standings, where 60% of those polled predicted they would finish.

While this last ninth or higher in the standings, but the team seldom had the pace to challenge even the tail end of the midfield.

New contract for Schumacher?

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2012One of the more contentious questions in the survey was whether Michael Schumacher would extend his F1 comeback.

The majority view was that he would be back again in 2013, with the remaining 38% tipping the 2012 season to be his last – and few foresaw who would take his place when he did hang up his helmet.

FOTA teams

There was little expectation amongst readers that FOTA would be bolstered by the return of former members during the season, with only 4% expecting the group to contain all 12 teams by the end of the campaign.

FOTA ended the season as it began it – a seven-team alliance, as was predicted by 31% of voters. Fingers crossed that sense will prevail and the teams are able to reunify for the good of the sport in the future.

First driver to lose his seat

In a season of uncharacteristically few driver changes, every driver who entered the opening race of the season was still on the grid when the curtain closed on the campaign in Sao Paulo.

In the intervening races, Romain Grosjean was the only driver to sit out an event, the Italian Grand Prix, after the FIA threw the book at him for causing the infamous first corner shunt at Spa. Grosjean?s departure – though surely not the reason for it – was predicted by just two readers.

Over three-quarters of those questioned predicted that one of the HRT drivers would be first to lose his seat. Of the two, Narain Karthikeyan was thought to be in most danger, with 65% tipping him to depart the Spanish team mid-season for the second consecutive year.

First replacements

Jerome D'Ambrosio, Lotus, Monza, 2012With so many votes for Karthikeyan and De La Rosa to lose their places at HRT, it was inevitable that the most popular choices for the vacant role were drivers affiliated with the team. HRT test driver Dani Clos was backed by 35%, while a further 20% predicted Vitantonio Liuzzi would return to his former team.

Liuzzi was not the only driver dropped in 2011 tipped to make a comeback. Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil were all well-backed, and one person thought Rubens Barrichello would make a return from IndyCar.

But in the end it was Jerome D?Ambrosio, dropped by Virgin at the end of the previous season, who was handed a cameo appearance at Monza while Romain Grosjean was confined to the naughty chair. Congratulations to Hamilz0rs, the only person to predict this.

Most penalties

Given their erratic form in 2011, it was no surprise that Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado dominated the poll for the most-penalised driver. Over a third of voters predicted Hamilton would extend his much publicised feud with F1 judiciary into 2012, with a further 27% choosing Maldonado, who narrowly pipped Hamilton at the top of the penalty table the previous season.

However, while Hamilton upped his game and gave the stewards a wide berth in 2012, Maldonado?s undimmed penchant for trouble saw him penalised no fewer than ten times over the course of the season, far more than any other driver.

Return for Kubica?

By some distance, the most unequivocal agreement of the poll was that Robert Kubica would not make a return to the grid in 2012. The 93% who predicted he would remain on the sidelines were sadly proved right.

Though doubts remain whether he will ever be fit and strong enough to return to F1, Kubica’s slow and steady recuperation is putting him behind the wheel of a racing car more and more regularly. A future in rallying looks likely providing his recovery continues.

First retirement

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Melbourne, 2012Picking the first retirement of the season is largely an exercise in guesswork, which explains why all but one of the twenty four drivers to start the season were tipped by the readers to take the first DNF of the season. The one exception, Michael Schumacher, succumbed to a gearbox failure after just ten laps.

But he was beaten to the ignominious accolade by Nico Hulkenberg, who crashed out on the first lap of the Australian Grand Prix for the second time in as many appearances. His early demise was predicted by five readers, one of which, Browny, deserves extra credit for correctly naming the cause of his retirement.

The most popular choices were Maldonado and Pic, who each took 16% of the vote. While debutant Pic made it to the chequered flag, Maldonado crashed out on the final lap while hounding Alonso for fifth.

United States Grand Prix winner

Unsurprisingly, the five drivers to have won every race of the 2010 and 2011 seasons – Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso – dominated the poll, with over 90% of the vote between them.

Vettel and Hamilton, who fought a race-long duel for victory at the Circuit of the Americas, were as closely matched in the poll as they were on the track. The pair took 28% of the ballot each, with Vettel pipping Hamilton by a single vote yet losing out to him by 0.7 seconds on race day.

Biggest political story

Start, Bahrain, 2012In an uncharacteristically quiet season off the track, the controversy surrounding the Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be the big political talking point of 2012, just as it had been the previous year.

Uncertainty over the status of the event overshadowed much of the early part of the season, and put F1 under the scrutiny of the world’s media for all the wrong reasons. And with Bahrain back on the calendar in 2013, the whole sordid affair is likely to be repeated again next year.

The new Concorde Agreement negotiations proved the most common choice in this category, with around a third of the readers suggesting it could prove contentious. Thankfully, against all expectations the discussions have for the most part remained civil and have seldom diverted attention from the on track action. Car legality disputes too were generally low-key despite many readers? expectations of more technical bickering.

Other predictions which did not come to pass included another bout of inter-team data theft, the sacking of Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicalli, and even a return to F1 for Flavio Briatore.

The corruption allegations against Bernie Ecclestone continues to develop in the background, and could well prove to be the big controversy of the 2013 season should charges be brought against the F1 boss.

Best race

The season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix was voted by readers as not only the best race of 2012, but the best since F1 Fanatic’s Rate the Race was introduced back in 2008. Yet, presumably because of the uncharacteristic dull races Interlagos served up in the previous two editions of the race, just 5% of the electorate had predicted this.

The two stand-out predictions for the best race were the Canadian and Belgian Grands Prix, with 37% and 24% of the vote respectively, though by their high standards neither event was particularly memorable this year.

Winning driver’s points

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea International Circuit, 2012Vettel won his third world title with 281 points, 72% of the points total he had managed in the nineteen races of the previous season. In stark contrast to 2011, though, most readers were able to predict the title-winning score with an impressive degree of accuracy: more than half of those polled were within a race win either side of Vettel?s tally.

However, not one reader predicted Vettel?s total correctly – commiserations to the nine people who chose either 280 or 282! Oddly, there was more than one suggestion of ’25’.

Constructors’ champion

Despite a stuttering first half of the season, with just five podium finishes before the summer break, Red Bull?s lateseason push saw them take a fairly comfortable constructors’ title, their third in succession.

However, despite their previous successes, only 38% of F1 Fanatic readers had tipped them for the title. With 55% of the vote it was McLaren who were backed for their first constructors’ success since 1998, but after a tumultuous season the British outfit slipped to an underwhelming third behind Ferrari, who had a mere 4% support in the poll.

Drivers’ champion

Interestingly, while McLaren were favourites amongst readers for the constructors title, Vettel was thought more likely than either of their drivers’ to win the other championship, with 35% of the vote compared to Lewis Hamilton?s 26% and Jenson Button?s 19%.

Although he was unable to prevent Vettel taking the championship, Alonso came agonisingly close to a third career title of his own, and one which few anticipated before the season – the Ferrari driver took just 8% of the vote.

Over to you

How accurate were your pre-season predictions? Look back on them here and have your say in the comments.

2012 F1 season review


Browse all 2012 F1 season review articles

Images ?? Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Williams/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Mercedes/Hoch Zwei, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Red Bull/Getty images, Red Bull/Getty images

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32 comments on Your 2012 F1 season predictions revisited

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th December 2012, 10:19

    Ha, I even predicted Valencia could be a great race (be it more in jest than seriously, stating rain to make it so). And I got Rosberg winning his first right.

    But otherwise, McLaren showed their uncanny talent for messing up too much to make good on the promise of a fast car, and otherwise this season was just so unpredictable, it was a whole lot of fun!

  2. Enigma (@enigma) said on 4th December 2012, 10:25

    I correctly predicted Maldonado to take most penalties, Rosberg to win a race, Kubica not to return, Hamilton to win Austin and I got within a point of the champion’s points tally. Quite pleased with that, even if I was far off in most of the other predictions.

  3. A perfect round-up of our predictions. Well done @Greg-Morland!! F1 fanatic has some true seers!!

  4. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 4th December 2012, 10:48

    My predictions weren’t too bad when I look back.
    – Caterham finishing 10th
    – FOTA teams
    – Maldonado’s penalties
    – US GP Winner
    – And I was only 8 points off of the correct points of the Driver’s Champion.

    What did surprise me was just how good Raikkonen and Alonso would be this year, and especially how many races would provide edge-of-the-seat excitement culminating in a titanic title battle in Brazil. But hey, no-one can complain about that!

    If F1 can repeat this kind of excitement next year, then we’re in for one hell of a year! (Though I have to say it will be difficult to emulate it)

  5. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 4th December 2012, 11:09

    Funny how Force India had the first and last retirement of the season.

  6. Master firelee (@master-firelee) said on 4th December 2012, 11:10

    My correct predictions:
    2. What will be the worst surprise? – Caterham still no points
    6. What will Kimi Raikkonen’s best result be? – 1st
    7. Where will Caterham finish in the constructors’ championship? – 10th again
    12. Which driver will receive the most penalties? – Maldonado
    13. Will Robert Kubica start an F1 race in 2012? – no

    and I was pretty close on these:
    1. What will be the best surprise? – Force india score a few podiums
    3. How many different teams will win races? – 5
    15. Who will win the United States Grand Prix? Vettel

  7. Popcorn said on 4th December 2012, 11:27

    I shall now (sadly) predict that Nico Hulkenberg will never finish an Australian grand prix…

  8. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 4th December 2012, 11:43

    I genuinely look forward to this review of our preseason predictions! I’m surprised I managed to get in the ballpark of the winning driver’s points this year (290), I was a mile off last year.

  9. Ryan Williams (@ryanwilliams) said on 4th December 2012, 12:43

    1. What will be the best surprise? A return to form from Felipe Massa [Correct-ish]
    2. What will be the worst surprise? First win still eludes Rosberg [Incorrect]
    3. How many different teams will win races? 3 [Incorrect]
    4. Who will be the first driver to fail to qualify for a race? Pic [Incorrect]
    5. How many races will Fernando Alonso win? 2 [Close, but incorrect]
    6. What will Kimi Raikkonen’s best result be? 5th [Rather underestimated the Iceman on this one, incorrect!]
    7. Where will Caterham finish in the constructors’ championship? 9th [Incorrect]
    8. Will Michael Schumacher announce a new contract for 2013? Yes [Incorrect]
    9. How many teams will still belong to FOTA at the end of the season? 6 [Close again, but incorrect]
    10. Who will be the first driver to be replaced or substituted? de la Rosa [Incorrect]
    11. And who will take their place? Dani Clos [Incorrect]
    12. Which driver will receive the most penalties? Maldonado [Correct]
    13. Will Robert Kubica start an F1 race in 2012? No [Correct]
    14. Who will retire first in the Australian Grand Prix? Hulkenberg [Correct]
    15. Who will win the United States Grand Prix? Hamilton [Correct]
    16. What will be the biggest political story of the year? Teams departing from FOTA & continued dispute over Bahrain GP [Correct on the Bahrain issue]
    17. What will be the most entertaining race of the year? Japan [Incorrect]
    18. How many points will the winning driver score? Around 310 +/- 5 points [Incorrect]
    19. Who will win the constructors’ championship? Red Bull [Correct]
    20. Who will win the drivers’ championship? Vettel [Correct]

    Total Correct: 8/20

  10. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 4th December 2012, 14:07

    in the Q, ‘best surprise’ I had replied ‘podium for Force India’…..they came so close to it in Brazil. Looks like I jinxed it!

  11. matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th December 2012, 14:25

    The two stand-out predictions for the best race were the Canadian and Belgian Grands Prix, with 37% and 24% of the vote respectively, though by their high standards neither event was particularly memorable this year.

    Belgium was memorable for the start. And Canada was a fantastic race with lots going on.

  12. Fixy (@fixy) said on 4th December 2012, 15:36

    I’m happy enough to have guessed the two World Champions correctly!
    Here are the other questions I got right:
    1. What will be the best surprise? – Ferrari will reach the podium sometime
    2. What will be the worst surprise? – Caterham will remain 10th
    4. Who will be the first driver to fail to qualify for a race? – de la Rosa
    [although Karthikeyan joined him, he was out of the first race]
    7. Where will Caterham finish in the constructors’ championship? – 10th
    13. Will Robert Kubica start an F1 race in 2012? – No

  13. f1alex (@f1alex) said on 4th December 2012, 15:52

    Mine were:
    1. What will be the best surprise?
    Raikkonen being a title contender (Kind of correct, though it wasn’t the biggest surprise)

    2. What will be the worst surprise?
    Bahrain being cancelled.(Completely wrong)

    3. How many different teams will win races?
    4 (Wrong again)

    4. Who will be the first driver to fail to qualify for a race?
    Pic (Sorry Charles, dunno what I was thinking! Wrong)

    5. How many races will Fernando Alonso win?
    1 (No idea why I put this. Wrong yet again)

    6. What will Kimi Raikkonen’s best result be?
    1
    (Woohoo, finally got one right!)

    7. Where will Caterham finish in the constructors’ championship?
    9th
    (I thought they might improve even more.. Wrong.)

    8. Will Michael Schumacher announce a new contract for 2013?
    No
    (Woop another one right)

    9. How many teams will still belong to FOTA at the end of the season?
    7
    (Correct)

    10. Who will be the first driver to be replaced or substituted?
    Karthikeyen (Poor Narain, I didn’t mean it! Wrong.)

    11. And who will take their place?
    Liuzzi (He’s off racing touring cars now, so that might not be as likely as I thought it was. Wrong.)

    12. Which driver will receive the most penalties?
    Maldonado and Hamilton (Eh, at least I got one right)

    13. Will Robert Kubica start an F1 race in 2012?
    No (Sadly correct)

    14. Who will retire first in the Australian Grand Prix?
    Maldonado (Oh Pastor, why couldn’t you have just crashed for me? Wrong)

    15. Who will win the United States Grand Prix?
    Lewis Hamilton (I based this purely on the fact that he won the last USGP, despite it being at a completely different circuit, so I’m pretty happy with this guess. Correctemundo!)

    16. What will be the biggest political story of the year?
    Bahrain (Kind of obvious considering last year. Correct)

    17. What will be the most entertaining race of the year?
    Canada (Montreal, you’re such a disappointment! Wrong)

    18. How many points will the winning driver score?
    242 (Completely random guess… At least I didn’t put 25 I guess! Wrong)

    19.WCC?
    Mclaren (Wrong)

    20. WDC?
    Button (Wrong)

    End result: 7.5/10

  14. CarnivorousPope (@) said on 4th December 2012, 16:29

    1. What will be the best surprise? FELIPE MASSA! (Maybe)
    3. How many different teams will win races? 5
    6. What will Kimi Raikkonen’s best result be? 1
    17. What will be the most entertaining race of the year? Interlagos 100%
    18. How many points will the winning driver score? 287 Only 6 off! Not too shabby.

  15. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th December 2012, 18:40

    My predictions:
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/03/13/2012-f1-season-20-questions/comment-page-8/#comments

    1. What will be the best surprise?
    Lotus (Renault).
    Correct.

    2. What will be the worst surprise?
    Ferrari.
    Incorrect.

    3. How many different teams will win races?
    4
    Incorrect.

    4. Who will be the first driver to fail to qualify for a race?
    Narain Karthikeyan
    Correct.

    5. How many races will Fernando Alonso win?
    Only one.
    Incorrect.

    6. What will Kimi Raikkonen’s best result be?
    2nd.
    Close, but incorrect

    7. Where will Caterham finish in the constructors’ championship?
    9th, ahead of Williams.
    Incorrect.

    8. Will Michael Schumacher announce a new contract for 2013?
    Nope.
    Correct.

    9. How many teams will still belong to FOTA at the end of the season?
    6.
    Close, but incorrect.

    10. Who will be the first driver to be replaced or substituted?
    Narain Karthikeyan – Surprised?
    Yes, I am! Incorrect.

    11. And who will take their place?
    Tonio Liuzzi
    Incorrect.

    12. Which driver will receive the most penalties?
    Hamilton, of course.
    Incorrect.

    13. Will Robert Kubica start an F1 race in 2012?
    Sadly, no.
    Correct.

    14. Who will retire first in the Australian Grand Prix?
    Senna.
    Close, as he did retire, but incorrect.

    15. Who will win the United States Grand Prix?
    Sebastian Vettel.
    Close, but incorrect.

    16. What will be the biggest political story of the year?
    Ferrari to leave F1 after another dismal season.
    Lol. Nope.

    17. What will be the most entertaining race of the year?
    China.
    Somewhat correct. It wasn’t rated the highest but it was very entertaining.

    18. How many points will the winning driver score?
    271
    Close, but incorrect. Only 10 off!

    19. Who will win the constructors’ championship? RBR.
    20. Who will win the drivers’ championship? Vettel.

    Correct and correct.

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