Monday, 25 June 2012

2012 European Grand Prix Review

An incident-packed race in the end, although for much of its duration it looked like being a relatively comfortable victory for Sebastian Vettel, even allowing for a safety car period.  I think that some of the appraisals of the race as a spectacle have been a little over the top.  There were a few fallow periods, particularly before the pivotal safety car interlude.

Fernando Alonso may have profited from Vettel's breakdown, but this race did not just fall into his lap;he went searching for it, ekeing out every possible advantage at pit-stops, and via a series of overtaking manoeuvres, some crisp, some decisive, and some audacious.

In the title chase, the two big losers in Valencia were Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.  The reaction of Adrian Newey after the German's retirement was very telling.  Vettel appeared to have the measure of the field, even allowing for the safety car, and this could have been a straightforward race win, something which is likely to be a rarity in 2012....

Hamilton will be particularly frustrated, not just by the manner of his exit from the race, but also because it occurred in a race where Vettel had been affected by a rare mechanical failure. The penalty handed out to Pastor Maldonado seemed fair, on balance.

The quantity of incident and general mayhem was not unexpected, because of the nature of the circuit, and the closeness of this season's racing.  The track puts me in mind a little bit of the Detroit venue of the 1980s, although with more generous run-off areas!

Another man denied a good result was Romain Grosjean, who continues to impress with his sheer confidence, and a refusal to be intimidated by reputations and the giddy heights of the front of an F1 field.

Lotus were fancied by many to fight for a win in Valencia, but they just seem tantalisingly short of what is required. It is difficult to know whether the shortfall is purely strategic or performance-related, or whether it is merely a case of waiting for the cards to fall their way.  Kimi Raikkonen's podium finish was no doubt much welcomed, even if it was not the top step.  Incidentally, I think that insinuations that Grosjean has "out-psyched" or massively eclipsed the Finn are a little wide of the mark. Kimi should have it within himself to cope or respond.

Another forgettable outing for Jenson Button, although the vibes emanating from the Englishman seemed slightly more optimistic at this race.  The comments from Martin Whitmarsh on BBC TV before the race offered sympathy and support, if not totally unconditional. It seems that it remains a case of working hard, plugging away, and seeking a breakthrough.

It was good to see Michael Schumacher back on the podium.  If his third-place owed a little to good fortune, it is difficult to begrudge the German this success, in view of his misfortunes and dramas thus far in 2012.

Just a quick mention of Sergio Perez.  The TV coverage contained plenty of onboard shots from his Sauber, and it was a privilege to watch the technique and skill of an emerging talent.  Most impressive....

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