Soon after winning the 2012 Qantas Australian Grand Prix, former World Champion Jenson Button said: “Formula 1’s in a great place right now”. He might have been speaking about Melbourne, but he meant the sport itself – and events since March 18 have merely underlined his words.
2012 so far - history in seven steps
By the summer break the 2012 season had already made history. For the first time since the World Championship began in 1950, seven different drivers won the seven opening rounds.
Button’s victory for McLaren was his third in Australia and no great surprise. What IS surprising is Jenson’s failure to back up since then.
In Malaysia Fernando Alonso and Ferrari were back on top – so what were all those media murmurings about Maranello being off the pace? Alonso has his heart set on a third world title to match his idol Ayrton Senna; his sheer determination was carrying the car.
More history in China: Nico Rosberg scored his maiden Grand Prix victory at the 111th attempt, giving the ‘Silver Arrows’ their first World Championship race win since Fangio triumphed at Monza in Italy in the last race of 1955.
In the Bahrain desert reigning champ Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull back on top with the 22nd victory of his career and we waited for the floodgates to open.
No such thing, as the 2012 regulations hobbled Red Bull’s RB8. Spain gave us another name on the trophy – our first-ever Venezuelan victor. Pastor Maldonado’s was the unfamiliar name in question, making Williams familiar with the winner’s circle for the first time since 2004.
The boxing kangaroo pulled no punches in Monaco: for the second time in three seasons Australia’s Mark Webber utterly dominated the streets of Monte Carlo.
Montreal made Lewis Hamilton the man of the moment as McLaren’s other Brit scored his first success of the season – and the Magnificent Seven was complete.
Fernando flying again
Since then, no more new winners have emerged. By race eight Ferrari had got their act together; Alonso became the first double winner of the season when he thrilled Spanish fans on the tight street circuit of Valencia.
Then it was Webber once more: just up the road from his Buckinghamshire home, Mark hunted down Fernando at Silverstone to repeat his 2010 success at the home of the World Championship itself.
Alonso took the title race by the scruff of the neck when he won in Germany, where Hamilton notched up his 100th race; and at the next round in Hungary Lewis not only claimed the 150th pole position of McLaren’s distinguished history, he also won for the second time in 2012 to rejoin the Championship reckoning.
Spa-Francorchamps: bring it on!
Round 12 takes us to Spa-Francorchamps, the mighty Ardennes track where none but the best and the bravest can expect to win. Can anyone catch Fernando? Or is 40 points already a bridge too far for second-placed Webber and the pursuing pack?