Originally posted 24th June 2012
Whew! another classic Grand Prix courtesy of the plethora of ex-champions in the F1 Parthenon this year. I doubt many people out there expected to see eight different winners from eight different races after events in Valencia unfolded, but I must admit that I was slightly sad that Fernando Alonso scuppered the chances of someone like Schumacher, Massa etc etc to continue making history.
And on the subject of dear old Alonso, I am usually pissed off when the unusually-eyebrowed Spaniard triumphs. However even I was mesmerised by his incredible drive from 11th on the grid to victory at his home race. The Ferrari number one is clearly a great driver and proved it today; his emotions at the end of the race almost made me cry. Almost.
Valencia 2012 was by far and away the most exciting race at the Spanish street circuit since, well, forever. I recall the first one being so tragic I thought a funeral was going to break out. Things started off worryingly banal as Red Bull pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel dropped second-placed Lewis Hamilton off the start and by three laps in, the German was five seconds ahead. Vettel eventually succumbed to an alternator fault so we can move on from him. Hamilton looked solid all race, however things went awry after a collision between Torro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen prompted an appearance by the safety car. The former was given a £20,000 fine for his role in the incident.
The collision caused punctures on both cars and a spectacular delamination catapulted pieces of Pirelli all over the street circuit. After the safety car period, Hamilton was cursed with yet another pit stop cock up and rapidly fading tyres. He was running third – albeit losing bags of time – until an over-zealous and under-skilled Pastor Maldonado T-boned his Williams into Hamilton’s McLaren three laps from the end. Hamilton angrily retired and Maldonado limped to a 10th place finish. He was later handed a 20-second penalty for re-entering the track in a dangerous fashion, which demoted the Spanish GP winner to 12th.
Grosjean made excellent ground until his alternator broke too, however the same couldn’t be said for Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, two drivers who should really be delivering consistently by now. Massa was lapped in his Ferrari while Jenson finished an inauspicious 8th. He better buck his ideas up!
Amidst all the chaos on track, Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher were soaring through the field. Kimi finished second and Schumacher got his first podium since his return to F1. Three World Champions on one podium- smiley face!
What I loved even more were Eddie Jordan’s shirts over the weekend; on Saturday he was sporting a blue one (it looked a bit familiar) with the awesome Angelo Galasso logo on the lapel of the collar. And how many shirts have a lapel on the collar?! EJ’s Sunday best was a pale purple colour, matching nicely with a deep purple slim-fit worn by Coulthard.
So the BBC are the most stylish pundit outfit but Sky still provide the biggest laughs…
Martin Brundle was fannying around on the pitwall, following Pastor Maldonaldo for no reason (“I don’t have a question for him but I’ll think of one”) and then being able to direct the confused looking Venezuelan to the bogs.
At least Brundle admitted that hounding drivers before the race was “probably a bit annoying”; he related these events to his experiences as a driver at Le Mans last weekend (he finished 15th), mentioning that he didn’t like being followed. Finally, the penny dropped. Nevertheless, Brundle’s pit walk remains a bit of an institution; and if we are indeed faced with Alonso / Vettel dominance in the future, watching Martin piss off dignitaries on the grid will likely be the only thing on F1 worth watching!
Apart from scenes like the pool party overlooking the Valencia track. Bikinis, girls, sunshine and Red Bull may also keep me faithful to the cause.