Fernando Alonso took everyone by surprise in Valencia on Sunday, as the Spaniard won the European Grand Prix, after Sebastian Vettel failed to finish the race.
Valencia Street Circuit is usually a rather non-eventful and boring race, with few overtakings, was completely transformed for the 2012 edition. Right from the beginning, the entire field was driving very close and tight and lap after lap, there were several close fight, often involving 7-8 cars battling out within half a second.
At first Vettel and Hamilton got away cleanly, while Maldonado made a move inside on Grosjean and took 3rd. Fernando Alonso made a great start, claiming three positions at first, and after 2 laps, he was 8th. Kobayashi also made a dream start to claim 4th, squeezing Maldonado back to 5th, while Raikkonen and Hulkenberg had to settle for 6th and 7th.
A few laps later Felipe Massa and Paul di Resta had a good battle, as Mark Webber had a nightmare of a first stint, fighting to stay in 17th.
On lap 9 Grosjean made a move on Hamilton, probably the smoothest overtaking seen in a long time, as Raikkonen overtook Maldonado on the outside at Turn 12. the race continued to throw up surprises and great racing, from pretty much every driver on the circuit.
Alonso fought and battled, so did Raikkonen and Grosjean against their respective opponents. On lap 20 Kobayashi and Senna touched, as Senna didn´t see Kobayashi coming from the back and the inside. Senna received a puncture and Kobayashi damaged a part of his front wing. However, Senna then received a drive-through penalty for his involvement in the accident, though I would say it was a joint effort.
And then it happened. Just as Button pitted from 13th, elsewhere on the circuit Jean-Eric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen had a difference of opinion on which way to point their cars. IN replays it looked as though Vergne veered off a little, probably because he thought he was clear of Kovalainen, but they touched and Vergne retired.
Safety car came out and completely changed the race from here on end. Running order under safety car was Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Rosberg, Schumacher, Webber and Maldonado. Deploying the safety car meant that di Resta´s strategy of one-stop failed, but on lap 34 the race was once again clear.
Alonso immediately took Grosjean for 2nd, Kobayashi and Massa touched at the bridge, and all of a sudden, Sebastian Vettel stopped his car on track, his race was over. Grosjean now started to hunt down Alonso, while Hamilton passed Raikkonen and then Ricciardo for 3rd.
fast lap after fast lap for Alonso in front, as Kobayashi retired, and completely out of the blue Grosjean´s Lotus stopped on track too. On lap 44 the race order looked like this:
Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, di Resta, Perez, Button, Rosberg and Petrov.
Schumacher took Petrov for 10th again, as Raikkonen came up from behind to battle with Hamiton, for 2nd. Petrov and Ricciardo had a little get-together, causing Petrov to pit for a new front wing, and ahead of them Schumacher passed Button on the inside of Turn 13, having attacked at Turn 12 to force Button wide.
On lap 51 Alonso was still leading Hamilton and Raikkonen, when suddenly Schumacher became the man on a mission. He takes Perez for 7th, then di Resta for 6th. Webber, who has had a very bad race was able to drive up to 7th, , and with just two laps remaining, Hamilton made a brake error, allowing Raikkonen past, to take 2nd. Hamitlon´s tyres were done, as he was now under pressure from Maldonado.
With one lap to go, Alonso was in control of the race and it looked as though that was it. But at Turn 12 Maldonado attempted to overtake Hamilton on the outside but Hamilton didn´t allow enough space and the two cars collided. Hamilton went into the barrier, while Maldonado was able to limb across the finish line to take 10th. As those two drivers missed important points, Schumacher was able to take Hulkenberg for 3rd, with Webber having a final shot to take Schumacher.
Unfortunately for Webber,he just missed the chance and ends up 4th, but what a performance.
Amazingly, the final results is Alonso wins the European Grand Prix, the first double winner of the season, Raikkonen takes 2nd and Schumacher 3rd, his first podium since China 2006. Webber is fourth from Hulkenberg, Rosberg, di Resta, Button, Perez and Maldonado.
Alonso has now taken over the lead in the championsip standings, with 111 points. Webber has 91, Hamilton 88, Vettel 85, Rosberg 75, Raikkonen 73, Grosjean 53, Button 49, Perez 39, Maldonado 30, di Resta 27, Kobayashi 21, Schumacher 17, Hulkenberg 17, Senna 15, Massa 11, Vergne 4, Ricciardo 2.