2012 Qualifying & Race Reports: Rounds 1-6
|Choose a Race Report Below|
|Round 1: Australia - Melbourne|
|Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur|
|Round 3: China - Shanghai|
|Round 4: Bahrain - Sakhir|
|Round 5: Spain - Catalunya|
|Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo|
Round 1: Australia - Melbourne
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 58 lap race and the race start time is 0600 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren.
So, the 2012 F1 season gets underway in Australia. In qualifying, Lewis Hamilton got Pole Position with Jenson Button lining up 2nd on the grid. Hamilton put in a time of 1:24.922 which was 0.152 seconds faster than Button. Both of the Red Bull drivers, Vettel and Webber could only manage 5th and 6th places respectively. Romain Grosjean pulled off a brilliant lap as he managed to put himself 3rd on the grid for Lotus-Renault. Michael Schumacher for Mercedes GP managed 4th place on the grid. McLaren were hoping to have a good race and stay in front and try to get their first 1-2 of the season in Melbourne. So far so good for McLaren, it looks like the car this year could win a title, which one, if any?
On to the first race of the season in Melbourne where Hamilton is lining up 1st on the grid as he was hoping that he could stay in that position into the first corner. Lights out in Australia! Hamilton got a good start but Button beat him into the first corner and started to pull away. Hamilton stayed in 2nd place until the Safety Car came out and somehow Vettel managed to overtake him, Vettel went into the pits and was able to finish in 2nd place. Webber finished in 4th place ahead of Fernando Alonso who finished in 5th place. Button finished in 1st place with a gap of 2.1 seconds between him and 2nd place Vettel. Overall, McLaren dominated the weekend, I know Hamilton finished in 3rd but let's be honest, Vettel got lucky with the Safety Car.
Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start time is 0900 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Jenson Button in his McLaren.
After dominating in Australia, McLaren were hoping that they could continue to do so in Malaysia. In qualifying they done exactly that. McLaren again getting a 1-2. Hamilton posted a time of 1:36:219 with Button close behind setting a time of 1:36:368. Schumacher claimed 3rd on the grid with Webber behind him in 4th. Vettel could only manage 6th place. Massa was the under achiever here, he didn't get into Q3 and started in 12th place. Lotus had a decent qualifying session, Räikkönen managed 5th place and his team-mate Grosjean managed 7th on the grid for both of the Lotus-Renault drivers.
You never know what the weather will do in Malaysia, and this year was no different. After a short period of time, the race was Red Flagged due to heavy rain and after around 35 minutes the race got under way with the Safety Car leading the drivers out. After a few laps the Safety Car went back into the pits and the race resumed at full speed.
Things changed in the race. Alonso built a seven second lead after the race resumed but as the track started to dry out Perez was closing the gap to Alonso. With a few laps to go he was right behind him, but then Perez ran wide and that was his chance of winning the race over. Button didn't have a good race at all, after colliding with Karthikeyan his front wing was damaged and he had to come into the pits. Button finished 14th. It wasn't a good day for Vettel as well, he also collided with Karthikeyan which resulted in him getting a puncture. Hamilton had a solid race and finished 3rd after getting Pole Position.
Round 3: China - Shanghai
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start time is 0800 local time, Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren was last years winner beating Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
First thing I have to mention is that Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty because McLaren had to change his gearbox. Hamilton would start no higher than 6th this weekend. After a very interesting race in Malaysia, it was China's turn to entertain us all. In qualifying, that's what happened. With all the major teams getting through Q1, Q2 is where things started to get interesting. Vettel and Massa didn't post good enough times to get through to the top 10 shootout. That resulted in Vettel starting 11th on the grid with Massa behind him.
On to Q3 then. Again, Hamilton was looking the favourite to get Pole as, so far this year he has been in excellent form. He managed a post a time of 1:35.626 which put him at the front of the grid after his first run. However, Rosberg in the Mercedes put in a faultless lap and posted a time of 1:35:121 which was half a second faster than Hamilton. Schumacher also posted a very good time and starts 3rd on the grid. Kobayashi starts 4th with Räikkönen in 5th and finally Button, 6th on the grid.
Lights out in China! Rosberg was hoping he could stay in 1st place, he did. After a few laps he started to find a gap. With many teams on different strategies no-one knew what would happen in the race. Rosberg was still pulling away. When Button went into the pits he was hoping that when he had a new set of tyres on he could catch Rosberg, we will never know, a delayed pit stop for Button which resulted in him stopping in the pits for a full nine seconds, his hope for a China win had gone. Hamilton was now catching Button but he didn't get past him. Vettel who started in 11th place went on a two-stop strategy and finished 5th with his team-mate Webber finishing in 4th. Rosberg was far ahead after what happened to Button in the pits. He won the race with ease finishing 21 seconds in front of Button. Hamilton finished 3rd. After the race Hamilton stated that he could of been up there with Rosberg fighting for the lead if he hadn't of received a gearbox penalty. So, not a perfect weekend for McLaren then but I think they are the team to beat at this current time.
Round 4: Bahrain - Sakhir
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 57 lap race and the race start time is 1600 local time. Last year, the race was postponed due to the Bahraini uprising.
Many people were debating if this race weekend should of taken place, it did, and no major problems occurred during the race. With heat being a major part this weekend with the track reaching 40°C it was tyres that would cause problems this time round. On to qualifying then, Schumacher was hoping that he could continue to make progress but he didn't. He didn't post a good enough time and was out of qualifying and would start 18th on the grid. Ferrari also had a difficult session as both of their drivers didn't make it through to Q3. McLaren and Red Bull were looking strong here.
On to the final shootout then. Most of the drivers put on brand new Soft tyres which meant that they would only be able to complete one hot lap when the tyres were at their best. Vettel had set a time of 1:32.422 putting him in Pole for the time being, Webber next, he could only post a time of 1:32.637 putting him in 2nd place. Then we saw Hamilton cross the line, he had split the Red Bull's setting a time of 1:32.520, only one tenth behind Vettel. Button starts 4th on the grid with Ricciardo pulling off a great lap in his Toro Rosso and starts 6th.
Lights out in Bahrain, Vettel made a good start and built a 2.5 second lead after two laps, we were all thinking, that's it! The race is over, Vettel had built a lead. How wrong were we. Half way through the race Räikkönen had caught up with Vettel and was battling for the lead. Hamilton had a shocking race, none of it was his fault, but we can certainly blame his pit crew. His first pit stop was 9.9 seconds with the same problem that Button had last race, his wheel nut not coming off, Hamilton's second pit stop was even worse, 12 seconds was how long he was stationary for. This cost him a huge amount of time and put him back down the field. Hamilton finished 8th and Button retired as he had a problem with his exhaust, he had a puncture as well. Vettel won his first race of the season with Räikkönen finishing in 2nd place.
Round 5: Spain - Catalunya
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 66 lap race and the race start time is 1300 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren.
Many times so far this season tyres have had a massive part, this weekend it was the same. Pirelli brought the Hard and Soft tyres. (Notice a gap in the tyre selection.) After the testing at Mugello, Ferrari were hoping that the changes to their cars would make a difference and they would be able to close the gap to the likes of McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus, all three teams looking fast in the practice sessions. Q2 is where things started to get interesting. Button, Webber and Massa were all knocked out of Q2.
On to Q3 then where the top 10 cars would fight for Pole. As tyres were to play a massive part in the race, three out of the 10 drivers didn't set a time so they could save a set of brand new tyres. Williams looked very strong in Q3 and Maldonado set a time of 1:22.285 to put him in 2nd place. Then Hamilton crossed the line and put in a brilliant time of 1:21.707 which was a half a second faster than Maldonado. Alonso was to start 3rd on the grid with Vettel down in 8th place.
So Hamilton again getting Pole, think again. On his in-lap we heard on the team radio that Hamilton was to stop the car on track. The problem wasn't immediately revealed. Then after around six hours of waiting it was revealed that Hamilton didn't have enough fuel in the car needed for testing after the qualifying hour. This was looked at by the stewards and they decided to disqualify him and he was to start from the back of the grid in 24th position.
On to the race then, this was going to be a good race, you could just tell. Lights out in Spain! Maldonado lost the lead to Alonso into the first corner and continued to lead through the first pit-stops, he had a lead of 3.4 seconds after lap 12. Maldonado wasn't giving up though. He closed the gap to Alonso to 1.5 seconds by the time it was lap 21. Hamilton, starting from the back, climbed a good few places within the first lap. McLaren were looking to change the strategy that Hamilton was on, they decided on a 2-stop and it worked rather well. Hamilton finished in 8th place with his team-mate Button behind him finishing in 9th place.
Back to the front then, towards the end of the race we still had Maldonado and Alonso fighting for the lead and Räikkönen who was in 3rd place was catching them to his newer tyres. Both Vettel and Massa were issued drive-through penalties because of overtaking under the Yellow Flag. Maldonado kept in front and won his first ever Grand Prix with Alonso finishing 3.1 seconds behind him, Räikkönen also closed the gap to Alonso to 0.7 seconds by the time the race had finished. Maldonado finished 1st, Alonso 2nd and Räikkönen finishing in 3rd place.
Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo
This year, Pirelli brought the Soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 78 lap race and the race start time is 1300 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.
Let's move on to Q2 and skip Q1 because that is when things started to get interesting. Button didn't set a good enough time to get through into the top 10 shootout. On to Q3 then where we have the top 10 cars fighting for Pole Position. Hamilton was looking for another Pole Position and set a time of 1:14.583 which was good enough for 4th, Rosberg set a time of 1:14.448 which put him 3rd on the grid. However with the flag waving telling us it was all over Schumacher crossed the line and set a time of 1:14.301 and gave him his first Pole Position of the season. Webber started 2nd on the grid. Last race Schumacher got a five grid penalty for driving into the back on Senna and would be given a five grid drop penalty for this race. So, although Schumacher was the fastest car on Saturday he was to start 6th on the grid. Vettel didn't set a time in Q3 so he starts 9th on the grid for Red Bull.
So, here we are at the most exotic place on the F1 calendar, Monaco. Webber starts on Pole due to Schumacher's grid penalty. Lights out in Monaco! A great start from Webber and Rosberg, Hamilton had a bad start but they kept all their positions into the first corner. After a few laps Webber had a two second lead over Rosberg and he had a two second lead over Hamilton. Rosberg was the first to come into the pits (a 1 or 2-stop was the strategy here) on lap 27 whilst Webber and Hamilton pitted on lap 29. However, Alonso stayed out for one more lap and managed to set a very good lap, he pitted, and managed to pull out in front of Hamilton towards the first corner.
However, we can never count out our current back-to-back Champion, Vettel managed to squeeze 46 laps out of his Soft tyres and joined ahead of Hamilton after pitting. Towards the end of the race the top six stayed very close together but in the end no positions changed and Webber won at Monaco. It's the first time in F1 history that we have had six different winners from the first six races. A quick word on Button. He had a shocking race. He was stuck behind Kovalainen for a long period of time and retired after a spin.