Race Review - European Grand Prix
Welcome to the PureF1.com race review for the European Grand Prix.
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Only 23 drivers would line up on the grid for the 2012 European Grand Prix in Valencia, after Timo Glock was advised not to race thanks to a stomach bug which had also left the German driver unable to compete in qualifying. Marussia were disappointed to announce the news on Sunday morning and would only have Charles Pic to battle against the team’s main rivals. Sebastian Vettel had qualified on pole for the race, whilst Lewis Hamilton lined up beside him in second. With Valencia being considered a “boring” race, would the 2012 grand prix bring excitement?
Five red lights went out and the battle into the first corner was underway. Vettel had a flying start, taking a great lead after the first corner, whilst the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton was under pressure from Maldonado and Grosjean. Kobayashi had a good run and gained a few places after cutting through battling cars. Nico Hulkenberg also managed to get in front of Fernando Alonso on the first lap, pulling a good lead from the Spanish driver.
The second lap saw, Alonso fighting back for eighth position giving something for his home crowd to cheer about as he put on a great show. Kobayashi was also giving the fans some entertainment when he overtook Pastor Maldonado for forth.
Whilst the battles continued up front, Charles Pic in the Marussia began putting pressure on the HRT’s of Karthikeyan and de la Rosa.
Felipe Massa was in battle with Paul di Resta, fighting for ninth place. Making a move into turn 12, the Ferrari driver was unable to pass the young Scotsman as he defended his position.
Pic in the Marussia, tried making his move on Narain Karthikeyan but made light contact with the Indian driver and remained in P23. Despite losing his front wing endplate, Pic continued as did Karthikeyan and continued to battle for P22.
Vettel began pulling further away from the rest of the field, as a train began forming behind Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was under pressure as Romain Grosjean was all over the back of the McLaren driver, using DRS he closed the gap lap over lap and it wasn’t long before the Lotus driver got passed.
On lap 13, Charles Pic pitted for a new front wing and some fresh rubber, hoping to get the undercut on the HRT driver. On the same lap, Kimi Raikkonen was battling with Maldonado but failed to pass the Williams driver after attempting to pass with the assistance of DRS and later in the lap on the straight.
Despite having clear air, Romain Grosjean couldn’t match the pace of Sebastian Vettel who had an almighty lead over the French driver. The Lotus driver had fallen 12.5s behind the Red Bull. Whilst Grosjean was in clear air, his team-mate Raikkonen was still battling with Maldonado, finally passing the Williams at turn 13.
The pitstop window was open and Hamilton was first to dive into the pits and after a quick stop from the McLaren team re-joined the track back in P12. It wasn’t long before he was followed by others, including Massa, Raikkonen, Kobayashi, Maldonado and Hulkenberg. As the front runners began making their stops, Hamilton on the fresher tyres soon began moving back up the order.
Another battle formed at the back of the grid, after the HRT cars had pitted, Charles Pic managed to pass Karthikeyan for P22 and was on the hunt for Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa for P21.
A massive scrap for sixth place took place after Schumacher had a train of, Senna, Webber, Alonso, Raikkonen and Kobayashi forming behind the Mercedes car. Schumacher was yet to stop, so it wouldn’t be long before the five drivers behind would released.
Bruno Senna was caught up in a battle with Kamui Kobayashi, which soon ended with Senna in a spin and needing a new nose. It was handy work by the Brazilian driver to stop his car from spinning into the barrier. Kobayashi had also received damage on his front wing during the incident. Both drivers pitted for a new nose and a fresh set of tyres.
A few laps later, Senna was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Kamui, despite the fact he was ahead.
On lap 29 the safety car was deployed after Jean-Eric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen. Both drivers had punctured tyres, but only Kovalainen was able to continue after making back to the pits. The Toro Rosso team weren’t able to allow Vergne to continue.
Under the safety car, Hamilton had a terrible pitstop after they dropped the car without the front tyre being fitted properly. Another disappointing stop from the McLaren team.
It was Vettel from Grosjean, Alonso, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Hamilton as preparations were made for the restart, all that was left for the frontrunners was to wait as de la Rosa, Pic, Kovalainen, Senna and Karthikeyan unlapped themselves.
The safety car came in and we were racing again in Valencia. Behind the frontrunners many began swapping positions and battling with one another for the highest possible position available within their battle.
Two laps later there was trouble for Vettel as he began slowing down, the crowd went crazy as the German came to a stop and Alonso took the lead. A technical problem had left the Red Bull driver with no choice but to bring an end to his race. The restart also brought bad luck for Kobayashi who had retired with suspension damage after contact with Massa.
Race leader Fernando Alonso pulled a decent gap from second place man Grosjean, who a few laps later soon stopped out on track with his own mechanical problem, moving Hamilton up into second place.
With many dropping out or receiving damage, the Caterham team were all smiles when Vitaly Petrov was running in P10 and in a points scoring position with just over 10 laps to go. His chances of getting points were only a dream after Schumacher made an easy move on the Russian driver.
A few laps later the Caterham driver made contact with the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver had gone to make a pass on Petrov by cutting back against the Russian and made contact, which left Petrov without a front wing and Ricciardo with facing the wrong way. Both drivers were able to continue.
In the closing laps, not only were the front runners and mid-field fighting, the backmarkers were also in their own battle. Charles Pic had passed Pedro de la Rosa for P16 and was soon only 2 seconds behind Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari after Vitaly Petrov had made his move on Massa. With only a few laps remaining, Massa made a dash into pits promoting Pic into P15 making it equal to his highest finish in Australia at the start of the season.
Schumacher had made his way through traffic and he and Webber were soon fighting with Nico Hulkenberg for fifth place whilst Hamilton was under pressure from Maldonado.
Maldonado went to make the pass on Hamilton, who had been passed by Raikkonen on the previous lap, but made contact with the McLaren driver. Whilst Maldonado had gotten away with just a damaged front wing, Hamilton ended up in the barrier. It was frustrating end to Hamilton’s day.
Out in front, Fernando Alonso had kept a cool head and a decent gap. The Ferrari driver made his way around the final corner, sending the Spanish crowds into cheers meaning only one thing, Fernando Alonso had won the 2012 European Grand Prix in Valencia. Alonso had won from Raikkonen and Schumacher, who was on the podium for the first time since his return to the sport. It was an emotional end for the Spanish driver and an exciting grand prix for all that had finished.
Author: Rick McCabe
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