F1 season review 2012: Vettel makes history

World Champion Sebastian Vettel at the Red Bull factory party Wednesday at Milton Keynes, England. The German now is the youngest three time world champion in history. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

If anyone could say that Sebastian Vettel could win the 2012 world title, many critics would have said that during the F1 summer break that this was impossible. However, many observers realized that just a year ago, Sebastian Vettel was on top of the world in the Formula One World Championship. The German from the region of Heppenheim had won nearly half of the races and achieved his second straight World drivers title with ease.

However, his attempt to try to be only the third driver in history to take a trio of championships did not go so well at the beginning of this year, as the first seven races had something that was unusual in any type of motorsports: seven different winners in seven races. Although Vettel had a contribution in winning the third race at Bahrain, the opening races were also won by Jenson Button in Australia; Fernando Alonso in Malaysia; Pastor Maldonado in Spain; Mark Webber in Monaco and Lewis Hamilton in Canada. Because of accomplishing steady finishes despite a car that had trouble from the start with bad set ups, Alonso led the championship and extended it further with a victory at his home ground in Valencia mid way through the season.

From this moment on, there was a driver who had won more than one race, and by the time Great Britain came around, Webber became the second winner of the season, with Alonso taking another victory in Germany. For the next three races, McLaren Mercedes began to find their rhythm, and in the last races in Europe were taken by Hamilton in Hungary and Italy, with Button winning his second race in Belgium.

Alonso retained his lead going into the last seven “fly-away” races of the year. However, what makes a great champion is being able to come back from being behind. And as soon as the F1 grid went to the only night race of the season in Singapore, Vettel won his second race, followed by three straight afterwards at Japan, Korea and India, now taking the lead for the first time over his Spanish counterpart.

By the time the F1 circus came to Abu Dhabi, everyone had seen victories by Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, but many wondered if anyone else could change that. On this circuit in the Middle East though, it did change as Kimi Raikkonen gave Lotus their first victory of the year. But Vettel had a problem by stopping his car before the garage with a fuel pressure failure that docked him to the rear of the grid on race day.. But in true Vettel fashion, the world champion worked his way back to the front of the grid, finishing in third, and keeping close to his challenger with two races to go.

The inclusion of the United States Grand Prix was a huge risk in a country that barely had any interest in the sport. But the race, this time in Austin, Texas, on a track especially made for F1 proved its critics wrong, as Hamilton, who by this point would be leaving for Mercedes, won his fourth race of the year, with Vettel and Alonso finishing in the next two positions, respectively, to give Vettel himself 13 points ahead with one race to go in Brazil.

But considering a huge try by Alonso in the final race, with Vettel spinning early on at the start of the race, it was not good enough for the Spaniard to take his third title since 2006, as Vettel finished in sixth and held on to win his third title by a mere three points, to become the third and youngest drivers to win three championships in a row along with Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.

Whether or not it was an exciting championship has to be judged by both the fans and the writers alike, but the 2012 season could be summed up by seeing the future of formula one moving along, with Hamilton leaving for Mercedes, replacing Schumacher, who tried to make a solid comeback which failed, and now is facing a second retirement. Mexican Rookie Sergio Perez, who will take his talents to McLaren is another driver that has a future. But for Vettel, it could be the birth of a new icon and superstar for the sport of formula one. But this could be the era of another dominant driver of the sport, and will be decided on whether or not, Webber, Alonso , Perez, Button or Raikkonen can challenge him.

Mark Gero

A 12 year veteran writer who has covered race weekends for RIS for three years. Also did the same for motorsport.com.For the last two years, I have been a member of AARWBA.

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Volume 2012, Issue 10, Posted 7:45 PM, 11.28.2012