The 2012 Formula One season is proving to be unpredictable and incredibly difficult to call with six different winners from the first six races, not to mention ten different drivers on the podium from seven different teams. Considering only five drivers won in the whole of 2011 with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari dominating the podium (apart from two secured by Renault) the two seasons are already incredibly contrasting even though there has only been just over a quarter of 2012. Already a number of pundits are stressing that “consistency” in a year like this is key, and that it is – Fernando Alonso has consistently scored points in every race so far and leads the championship. Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to score at every round, but a couple of eighth place finishes and no wins, mean that he sits in fourth place and lags behind Alonso in the championship by thirteen points at this stage. But, how do you go about winning a race in this crazy season? The answer is simple: keep a low profile. Don’t believe me? The evidence is all there.
Race winner: Jenson Button
Pre-season testing as usual presented the F1 world with a number of questions about the form of the teams. Who would come out on top? Who would struggle? McLaren certainly seemed like the team to beat going into round one and they started the season with a front row lock-out in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton on pole position. All eyes were on Hamilton to take the first win of the season but it was his team-mate who availed with Sebastian Vettel rising from sixth on the grid to take second while Hamilton slipped to third. It was the right team that won, but not necessarily the expected driver.
Race winner: Fernando Alonso
After a strong showing in Australia, McLaren were definitely the favourites going into the Malaysian GP. The Ferrari on the other hand looked to be a real handful, despite the fact Fernando Alonso finished the Australian GP in fifth. If anyone predicted the race result for this race, well they should be playing the lottery, because that is exactly what it was. Alonso won with Sergio Perez in second. A Ferrari and a Sauber on the top two steps of the podium, with Lewis Hamilton (who was once again the lead driver in a McLaren front row lock-out) in third. No-one saw that coming!
Race winner: Nico Rosberg
For the first two rounds Mercedes looked fast in qualifying, but their race pace seemed to disappear. Fernando Alonso had won last time out, and despite the fact that Ferrari felt the damp conditions had flattered their car, there was still talk of whether or not they could do it again. McLaren were still there or there abouts with Lotus threatening to be quick, but it was Nico Rosberg who snatched pole position and lined up beside his team-mate (because of a Lewis Hamilton gearbox penalty). Rosberg went on to win the race, despite rumblings of dismissal from people who thought that once again Mercedes’ form would fade.
Race winner: Sebastian Vettel
With three different race winners from three races, predicting the next winner became increasingly difficult. After a win for Nico Rosberg in China he was the prime candidate to make it two wins. 2010 and 2011 world champion Sebastian Vettel was languishing a bit further down the order than he was used to and had been beaten by his team-mate in qualifying. He took a surprising pole and went on to win the race to make it four different winners from four races – not an entirely unexpected win, but not exactly the driver that had been touted for Bahrain.
Race winner: Pastor Maldonado
Lotus secured a double podium in Bahrain, with Kimi Räikkönen coming close to a race win, but not quite close enough. During free practice for the Spanish GP, Sky commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson confidently stated that Lotus were the fastest car in terms of race pace and would be the team to beat, for sure. What happened? Pastor Maldonado took pole (after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid) and he won the race – despite assumptions that Fernando Alonso would easily jump him and win. Räikkönen was on the podium but it wasn’t a win.
Race winner: Mark Webber
After his win in Spain and because he stated that Monaco was his favourite race, people were touting Pastor Maldonado for a second win of the season. Other names in the frame included Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, and Romain Grosjean. Red Bull had won the last two Monaco GPs but it was generally reckoned that it would probably be a Lotus or McLaren victory. Who won? Mark Webber. Grosjean and Maldonado failed to complete a lap, Hamilton slipped to fifth, and Räikkönen finished a disappointing ninth. Once again the victor was not who everyone expected.
Race winner: ???
Not long after the chequered flag fell in Monaco I saw a headline stating Jaime Alguersuari had said Lotus were the team to beat in Canada – that’s them out then. Lewis Hamilton has won twice here before (including his first ever F1 win) so he probably won’t win. Michael Schumacher has won in Canada seven times, drives car number seven, has seven world championships and this is round seven – yeah, he probably won’t win either. Red Bull’s floor was deemed to be illegal so they’re changing it – they’ll probably win amidst the controversy. Or not now that I’ve said it. Who knows?
So there you go – don’t become a ‘favourite’ for the win and it seems that you then win. Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from the six drivers who have won already. All of their wins were great in their own ways. This is just a general observation, and really a little bit of fun. The season has been thrilling so far and it would be great to see more drivers win!