Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

50 things that made the 2012 F1 season great

2012 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

At the end of another terrific season here are 50 things – some big, some small – which made it special:

Bravery in Spain

The pit fire that broke out in the Williams garage in the aftermath of their Spanish Grand Prix victory had the potential to be a very serious incident.

That no one was killed and injuries were mostly limited to smoke inhalation was thanks to the quick-thinking, selfless actions of members of several different teams who set about the blaze with whatever fire-fighting apparatus they could get their hands on.

What might have been a tragedy instead became an example of the F1 community at its best. Williams’ competitors, mere hours after being beaten by them on the track. even offered to loan them equipment for the next race at Monaco.

Kimi Raikkonen’s comeback

Making a comeback as a world champion is a tricky thing to get right – just ask Michael Schumacher.

But Kimi Raikkonen was swiftly up to speed at Lotus, was back on the podium within four races and emulated Niki Lauda’s feat of winning a Grand Prix in his comeback season.

Love him or loathe him, Raikkonen’s distinctive personality brings variety to the field. Not to mention he’s a cracking racing driver.

A splash of national colour

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2012

Cars in nation’s sporting colours may be a thing of the past but Australia’s distinctive green-and-yellow kerbs proved there is still room for patriotic paint schemes in Formula One.

The Circuit of the Americas took it a step further with their imaginative stars-and-stripes run-off areas. Sadly Bernie Ecclestone ordered them to be removed before the F1 weekend began, to avoid upsetting advertisers.

Jamey Price’s Barcelona testing pictures

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

One of my favourite galleries of the year was the brilliant selection of photographs by Jamey Price from testing at Circuit de Catalunya. Jamey’s work has featured on F1 Fanatic before and his work is imaginative and bursting with colour.

He later achieved his ambition by shooting the United States Grand Prix weekend. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more pictures from him in the future.

Ferrari conquer their Twitter phobia

Until last year Ferrari prevented their drivers from joining most of the rest of the grid on Twitter. But that’s all in the past now and Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have taken advantage of the opportunity to communicate directly with their fans.

Alonso has taken to it particularly well, sharing lots of pictures with his fans and firing them up with idiosyncratic samurai references. It must be working, because he’s already overtaken the McLaren drivers to become the most popular active F1 racer on Twitter.

Pre-nosejob MP4-27

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012

This year’s F1 cars were never going to look great, with regulations forcing them to use bizarrely out-of-proportion front and rear wings. Worse, a rules change for 2012 led most designers to incorporate an unsightly step in the front of their cars.

McLaren were a notable exception – front the first four races, at least – with a much more aesthetically pleasing solution for their car. It was the closest thing F1 had to a genuinely good-looking car all year.

Silverstone’s Sunday sunshine

Lashed by seemingly incessant rain, the British Grand Prix crowd were a soaked and bedraggled bunch by Sunday. Some had even failed to make it to the track the day before as a truly rotten British summer turned car parks into quagmires.

Sunday brought the spectators much-needed relief as, against expectations, the sun finally broke through. And we were treated to an excellent race as well.

F1 Fanatic milestones

I was very pleased to see F1 Fanatic reach its milestone 10,000th article during the 2012 season.

This year also saw the 400,000th comment published on the site – and were hurtling towards the half-million mark as I write this.

Seven different winners in the first seven races

It was a first for Formula One as the year began with seven different victors in as many races: Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.

By the end of the year we had an eighth as well, Kimi Raikkonen winning in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull’s Faces for Charity livery

Red Bull Wings for Life charity livery, Silverstone, 2012

Red Bull put pictures of thousands of fans on their car at the British Grand Prix to raise money for their Wings for Life charity.

Todfod passing on his Predictions Championship prize

F1 Fanatic reader Todfod did superbly well to win last year’s Predictions Championship and, with it, a pair of tickets to the British Grand Prix.

Unfortunately he was unable to attend the race and kindly offered to pass his prize on to another reader!

Fans’ F1 videos

With more F1 fans heading to races and sharing their videos online, F1 Fanatic began a new series of features this year selecting the best videos from each race.

The highlights from the season included several on-track moments which were missed in the television broadcast. And there was also this footage of Schumacher keeping his Mercedes covered up in Australia.

Nico Rosberg’s first win

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2012

A first-time winner is always something to cherish and Nico Rosberg joined their ranks by scoring his first win at 111st attempt in China.

Pastor Maldonado’s first win

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

Pastor Maldonado did the same two races later for Williams after an intense battle with Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton’s picture of the drivers in Germany

Narain Karthikeyan, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna, Hockenheim, 2012

Lewis Hamilton got a lot of flak for his use of Twitter in 2012, not least for swearing, Tweeting a picture of his team’s telemetry and mistakenly having a go at his team mate.

But this picture he took during the German Grand Prix weekend was a gem.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Leyton-House CG901B, Goodwood, 2012

Always a highlight for me, this year’s Goodwood Festival saw the first appearance by current world champion Sebastian Vettel. Plus stacks of great F1 cars such as this Adrian Newey-designed Leyton House CG901 from 1990.

Caption Competitions

The Caption Competitions were a new addition to the site which proved very popular and kept me chuckling on non-race weekend Saturdays. Look out for a selection of the best coming soon.

The new podium

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2012

A controversial choice? Quite a few people complained about the new-style podium ceremony following its debut at Silverstone.

However I think the basic concept of doing a post-race interview with the top three drivers in full view of the spectators is a good idea. How well it was executed depended on who was wielding the microphone. Mario Andretti and Jackie Stewart had the winning combination of credibility within the sport and ability to conduct a good interview – others such as Placido Domingo did not.

Cardboard Lotus E20

Cardboard Lotus E20 by Andae23

Lotus came up with a great idea to keep fans entertained during the summer break by producing a cardboard version of their F1 car to print out and build.

It proved very challenging to construct but one F1 Fanatic reader was up to the task – have a look at @andae23’s effort above (with bonus rear wing sponsor).

Six world champions

The 2012 was the first time six drivers’ champions competed on the track together. But with Michael Schumacher retiring we’ll be back to five next year.

24-car field

Something else to enjoy while it lasted. F1 has not had a full 26-car grid since 1995, and with HRT dropping out we’ll move further away from that next year.


Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Mugello, 2012

The value of moving one of the pre-season tests to May was debatable. However it did allow F1 to return to the brilliant Mugello circuit.

Though Ferrari were keen to test there it was a curious choice of venue with few similarities to most modern F1 tracks. But that was part of its appeal: fast, flowing and scenic, it was warmly received by many of the drivers – with the conspicuous exception of Vitaly Petrov.

F1 Fanatic Supporters

It’s just over six months since F1 Fanatic’s Supporter programme was launched to give readers a means of contributing to the site regularly while receiving an ad-free browsing experience in return.

After an initial burst of sign-ups the number of Supporters has been growing steadily and the contribution they have made to the site so far has been very gratefully received.

Thanks very much to everyone who’s signed up so far. If you’re interested in doing so you can sign up and find more information via these links:

Jacques Villeneuve driving his father’s Ferrari

Jacques Villeneuve, Ferrari 312T4, Fiorano, 2012

To mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari invited his son – and 1997 world champion – Jacques to drive a 312T4 of the type his father raced in 1979.

Alex Zanardi’s Paralympic feats

The irrepressible Alex Zanardi, who last raced an F1 car in 1999, had a superb summer in the Paralympic Games. Zanardi, who lost his legs in a crash in a Champ Car race at the Lausitzring in 2001, scooped two gold medals in individual events and a silver in a team event.

He’s since tested a DTM car and may make a return to touring car racing in the series next year. Even more excitingly, he’s considering racing in the Indianapolis 500.

20 races

F1’s longest-ever calendar packed 20 races into 37 weeks. But it was gruelling work for the teams – especially the final stint of six fly-away races in eight weeks.

Pirelli tyres

The second year of ‘designed-to-degrade’ tyres produced – for the most part – more of the exciting racing enjoyed in 2011.

As was the case last year the teams increasingly got on top of the tyres as the season progressed. When more conservative tyre selections were chosen the intensity of the action dropped – underlining the fact that gimmicks like DRS alone are not sufficient to enliven the racing.

Sauber’s sliced F1 car

BMW-Sauber F1 car sliced in half

One of the more interesting projects embarked on by a team this year was Sauber’s 2008 F1 car sliced in half. It gave an unusual insight into how a Formula One machine is put together.

Driver of the Weekend

The Driver of the Weekend debates have been some of the most interesting and lively on the site this year.

For me, they get to the heart of some of the most challenging questions in Formula One, such as how you compare the efforts of a driver who has a great car with another whose car is not as competitive. Above all, they have shown that it’s not just the efforts of drivers who win races who are appreciated.

The results of the last two Driver of the Weekend polls will appear soon.

Ben Edwards’ BBC commentary

There’s not a lot to choose between the UK’s two F1 broadcasters when it comes to their race commentary teams. But I was particularly pleased to see Ben Edwards make a return to F1 commentary this year.

I enjoyed his commentaries on CART for Eurosport and on the BTCC for ITV. As someone who grew up watching Murray Walker commentating on the BBC, I find Edwards’ commentary has a bit of that trousers-on-fire passion that F1 needs, especially on days when the racing isn’t quite up to scratch.


It’s fair to say my expectations for an animation by an F1 team featuring their two drivers was not very high. “It’ll be all sponsors’ logos and lame jokes,” I thought.

I was more than pleasantly surprised by McLaren’s Tooned. It’s genuinely funny – I particularly liked the historical jokes in the fifth episode and the way they set up Lewis Hamilton’s departure in the finale. I’m looking forward to more next year.

Kimi Raikkonen using James Hunt’s helmet…

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Monaco, 2012

Very appropriate.

…and Jean-Eric Vergne using Jean Alesi’s

Jean-Eric Vergne's Monaco Grand Prix helmet, 2012

Another Monaco special. Jean Alesi’s helmet was based on Elio de Angelis’s, but Vergne wore this in recognition of Alesi racing in the Indianapolis 500.

Alonso turns cameraman at Monza

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monza, 2012

Alonso’s podium appearance at Monza was warmly received by the crowd – particularly when he borrowed this from a cameraman.

Schumacher’s fitting farewell

Schumacher’s return to F1 retirement looked likely once it was revealed Hamilton would move to Mercedes. When he made the announcement in Suzuka, he drew a curtain on his final year in the sport by striking a suitably humble and reflective note.

In the past six years I have learned a lot, also about me, and I am thankful for it: for example, that you can open yourself up without losing focus. That losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning; something I had lost out of sight sometimes in earlier years. That you have to appreciate to be able to do what you love. That you have to live your convictions. I have opened my horizon, and I am at ease with myself.

RTL’s goodbye to Schumacher

German F1 broadcaster RTL marked the end of Schumacher’s F1 career with a specially-commissioned rap by German duo Kunstrasen. See the forum thread below for the lyrics in English.

Williams-Renault winning again

One of F1’s great chassis-engine combinations returned to winning ways in 2012. Will we see more next year?

Mark Webber’s outspokenness

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2012

Mark Webber usually stands alone as the driver with the intellect and the courage to tell it like it is in Formula One.

When it came to the vexed subject of Bahrain, Webber was one of few drivers to confront the matter: “There should be no real celebrations today,” he said after the race. “We can leave. We saw the size of the crowd today.”

When asked for his views on topics as diverse as gambling or the quality of modern F1 tracks, they came back plain and unvarnished. You may not always agree with what he has to say, but he deserves respect for saying it.

Super-quick pit stops

F1 teams hit new heights as they pushed their performance in the pits even harder in 2012. In Germany McLaren whisked the wheels off Jenson Button’s car and replaced them in a scarcely believable 2.31 seconds.

Helmet cameras

They seemed to disappear halfway through the season, but the in-helmet cameras sported by several drivers at the beginning of the year brought a fascinating new dimension to onboard footage. Here’s hoping they make a return.

More team radio

Another major improvement in race coverage this year was the increased use of team radio via FOM’s Pit Wall channel. It revealed much more of what was going on in races and enlivened some of the more processional events – such as when Red Bull spent the final laps in Korea pleading with Sebastian Vettel to look after his tyres.

A closely-matched field

During pre-season testing it looked as though we were in for a close season. And happily that proved to be the case.

On average the top six teams in 2012 were covered by less than 1% over a single lap. It’s one of the ways F1 has become much more competitive over the last ten years.

Maldonado’s Venezuela prang

An unfortunate comic moment for Maldonado, who did not do his reputation for being crash-prone much good when he damaged his car during a demonstration run in Caracas.

Circuit of the Americas

Has F1 finally found a true home in America? It seems that way. The Circuit of the Americas produced an excellent race and a huge crowd which will hopefully serve as a starting point for F1 to finally establish itself in the USA.

Pirelli stetsons in Texas

Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Circuit of the Americas, 2012

The icing on the cake.

Driver market shock

There’s nothing like a good silly season surprise and we got just that in 2012 when Hamilton confirmed he was moving to Mercedes. The news was treated with considerable scepticism when it was first broken by the BBC’s Eddie Jordan, but he proved to be right on the money.

Hamilton’s move to Mercedes paved the way for another surprise switch: McLaren snatching Ferrari development driver Sergio Perez.

Red Bull’s 360-degree interactive camera

Red Bull showed off this impressive piece of technology during a demonstration run in Norway. Imagine being able to watch from one of these during a Grand Prix…

The weather in Sao Paulo

Brazil served up another spectacular championship showdown and just like in 2008 the weather kept us on the edge of our seats until the final lap.

Chipping in for Kobayashi

Having lost his place at Sauber for 2013, Kamui Kobayashi is unlikely to remain in F1 without some backing. He reached out to his fan base for support and at the time of writing has received over ??161m (??1.2m).

It’s likely to be some way short of what he needs to compete next year, but it is remarkable to see how committed his supporters are to see him remain in Formula One.

Tributes to Sid Watkins

The Formula One community responded as one to the death of Professor Sid Watkins in September.

A minute’s silence was held on the grid at the next race in Singapore in recognition of a man who worked tirelessly to make F1 racing safer.

Over to you

What there the best and worst moments of 2012? Add your suggestions here:

2012 F1 season review

Browse all 2012 F1 season review articles

72 comments on “50 things that made the 2012 F1 season great”

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  1. A great article, to end a great season. Yes, though it didn’t end with Alonso as champion (college mates aren’t letting me forget this) as I had hoped, in no way does it take anything from Vettel’s achievement.

    All of this, from first time winners, to driver tribute helmets, celebrating Zanardi’s epic wins to McLaren’s cartoons, just helped make it the season, one which I am honored to have stood witness to.

  2. 51. F1 Fanatic!

    1. @tdog @idr Ah, you’re too kind! Thanks guys :-)

      1. @tdog – Spot on!

        Seriously Keith, one of the easiest decisions I’ve made this year was whether to become a paying subscriber to your blog.
        Your site is one of those rare independent contributions to the internet that is up there with the greatest commercial efforts from any of the majors. Across all subject matters, not just F1 or motorsports. Brilliant and mostly objective content (it’s the fact that it’s your blog and are thus entitled to some personal opinion that makes it truly great.)


        1. one of the easiest decisions I’ve made this year was whether to become a paying subscriber to your blog.

          I feel exactly the same.

          The new additions have made it even better!

    2. +1, fantastic insight into F1 this year, your site is awesome! (it will become my home during the winter months as it does every year – its the only way i can cope with no races for 100 days!)

    3. +1 !!! With F1Fanatic and my subscription to Autosport I have all the essential motorsport coverage I need. Thanks Keith!

    4. +1. I mean I probably value this site more than any other F1-related ones bar the official site’s live timing and first-hand materials.

      1. +1. Seriously the best site of its kind out there, by a mile. If you’re wondering whether or not you should become a paid member, just do it – this is a site well worth supporting. Thanks @keithcollantine

  3. Wow! That cardboard Lotus Renault is amazing! :)

    1. Unfortunately it got a bit squashed by some books :( Still, nice to see the F1Fanatic-Renault KC01 in its glory days. Thanks Keith!

      1. It sounds like @andae23 ‘s KC01 failed a static load test – I thought from the picture they looked like flexible wings.

        1. @jerseyf1 Excellent! :-)

        2. Yeah, with the more strict static load tests next year, we here at F1Fanatic-Renault might need to reconsider our choice of material for the KC02 :P

    2. that car is awesome – my procrastination task at work for me today found! – now for some Card!

  4. @keithcollantine . Thanks for the mention Keith! Its an honour to be among the 50 things that made this season so great.

  5. Great stuff, this place is definitely making some mark specially when we crave for F1 bits in this zero commotion period.

  6. 51. The stream of great post-season material appearing on F1 Fanatic daily! You are almost single handedly keeping the off season blues away!

    1. +1 But that’s number 52. 51 is the F1Fanatic coverage through the season(see @tdog post above) :)

  7. What a year! Thank you Keith, and everyone who visits this site :D

    This year will go down as one for the ages.

  8. Fantastic selection Keith!

    I will add one more: turning on the TV expecting to see the most boring races of the season and instead getting the “edge of the seat” stuff at Barcelona, Valencia and Abu Dhabi

    1. Joey Zyla (@)
      7th December 2012, 7:42

      You expected a boring race at Abu Dhabi? I can’t remember the last time that there was one at that track…

  9. Finally someone else you likes the podium interviews! Yes it depends on the MC but normally they are so much better than the boring press conferences in which we have to put up with the same old, “I’d like to thank the team for a great race.”

    Drivers seem to be more natural and open on the podium. Plus we got great moments, like Massa’s heartfelt speech to his fans and when Kobayashi translated what Vettel said on the podium into Japanese.

    1. The impromptu stuff made the new podium celebrations worthwhile.
      I’m just concerned that FOM will try and water the interesting stuff down once they have a process in place.

    2. I fully agree with that as well. Sure, theres some things still to improve (the flags, choice of who does the interviews, making sure they are really shown and sounds played on the circuit, for the fans there as well), but we have already seen some great moments, like the podiums @tommyb89 mentioned, and the the Alonso moment, as well as the stetsons with Andretti there.

    3. @tommyb89 I really like them as well. Sure, they’re not always perfect and a bit hap-hazard but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing for a sport that’s usually so clinical and perfect.

  10. I’m not sure if Australia can get too much credit for the national-coloured kerbs, other countries like Italy and Brazil started that trend first I think.

    1. I believe the Interlagos green-yellow kerbs are because of their sponsor, Petrobras. But yes, Monza introduced their tricolore kerbs last year already.

      1. And Monaco’s kerbs have been red and white for decades! ;)

        1. Good one. :DD

          And yeah, I just wanted to mention Interlagos – only to find out that it is due to sponsorship rather than national sentiment. And yep, Monza could be added to the list though.

          1. Joey Zyla (@)
            7th December 2012, 7:43

            Valencia does it also I think, with yellow and red. Belgium also added yellow-orange and red kerbs this year, but I think it’s for Shell.

      2. Originally, it was because of sponsor ABN Amro (dutch bank). I thought about it last week how nice that they found a matching sponsor.

    2. I don’t think Keith’s saying that the organisers of the Australian GP invented it, just that it’s good to see when races proudly display their national colours and he used the kerbing at Albert Park as an example.

  11. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    6th December 2012, 13:12

    Great read Keith!

    No joke, i laughed so hard when i saw Maldonado crash in the Venezuelan demo run. ahah

    1. And maldonado says he has no fears … sounds a bit dangerous …

  12. Don’t forget the battle till the end…. and Kimi getting lost in Interlagos LOL

    1. Joey Zyla (@)
      7th December 2012, 7:44

      Yeah, Kimi getting lost should definitely be on this.

  13. I’d have included a lot of delighted Japanese fans shouting “Kamui – Kamui!” after Kobayashi nabbed 3rd at Suzuka. That gave me goosebumps. Also Alonso stopping on track and soaking up the atmosphere of a home win in Valencia was very special. I loved seeing him interact with the marshals and the crowd.

    1. I agree, the Japanese GP podium should be on the list. Not only because of Kamui’s first (and unfortunately most likely only) podium and the reaction by the amazing japanese spectators, but also because Massa finally found its way back to the podium.

      This is the second year in a row that Japan becomes one of the most emotional races of the year. Last year’s race after the tsunami, with Jenson winning the race (with his japanese style helmet, and japanese girlfriend) plus Vettel crying after watching the video of 2-time champions, was also one of the highlights of the year.

  14. That’s the first time I’d seen Pastors crash in Caracas – how embarrassing! I did something very similar in a Ford Focus a few years ago!

  15. “Leave me alone, i know what im doing”…………………this piece of TR message brings in revelation on fans putting more interest on TR sessions =0

    1. Actually, in the team radio if you listen carefully he said “Leave me alone, I know what to do”. Wonder why people (including his team) decided to change the last part.

      1. It just sounds better in English that way – and slightly funnier?

  16. Great review of some varied events but number 1 has to be Alex Zanardi’s Paralympic feats… inspiration to all, whether F1 fan or not.

  17. I will say that Seb Vettel helmet at Singapur was a highligh of the season…

    1. @celeste – I liked it’s originality but persoanlly I found it to be a bit…feminine!

  18. Without doubt the greatest moment of the season was the response to the William’s fire. To see the rivalries between teams put on hold and the whole paddock to united is a great image for the true definition of sportsmanship. That event could’ve had much more serious implications but with the selfless acts of all the team members disaster was averted.

    I salute each and every crew member who helped out that day!

  19. 52. The unique 2006-esque podium of Michael, Kimi and Fernando at Valencia and the long-awaited Hamilton-Alonso-Vettel podium at Austin.

    1. +1. Both were fantastic.

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