2012 Qualifying & Race Reports: Rounds 14-20

Choose a Race Report Below
Round 14: Singapore - Marina Bay Street Circuit
Round 15: Japan - Suzuka
Round 16: Korea - Yeongam
Round 17: India - New Delhi
Round 18: Abu Dhabi - Yas Marina
Round 19: United States - Austin
Round 20: Brazil - São Paulo

Round 14: Singapore - Marina Bay

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 61 lap race and the race start time is 1300 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Jenson Button in his McLaren.

Qualifying

Here we are in Singapore, the only race that takes place at night, and possibly the most exhausting race on the calendar as it lasts around two hours. So, in Q1 we had the Lotus cars as well as the Marussia and HRT cars out of Q1. There was also one person who stood out and that was Kobayashi. He didn't set a good enough time. On to Q2 then, Hamilton and Vettel looked very quick here, expect a good fight between these two for Pole Position. Räikkönen who is currently 3rd in the Championship was out in Q2 as he didn't set a quick enough time.

On to Q3 then, Grosjean was back after serving his one race ban for causing the pile-up at the start of the Belgium Grand Prix, he only set a time which puts him 8th on the grid. Both of the Mercedes drivers went out on a set of tyres but didn't set a time, Schumacher starts 9th and Rosberg starts 10th. Ferrari didn't look competitive here, that showed as Alonso, the current Championship leader set a time of 1:47.216 which put him 5th on the grid. Button starts 4th on the grid with Vettel in front of him in 3rd. Maldonado put in a brilliant time of 1:46.804. He starts 2nd on the grid. Who haven't I mentioned yet? Oh yes. Hamilton. He starts on Pole as he put in a flawless lap of 1:46.362, half a second faster than Maldonado. What a race we have lined up! Hamilton is in fantastic form at this current time, now is the time he can cut down Alonso's lead.

Race

Lights out in Singapore!! Hamilton got a good start as Alonso bogged down and fell back a few positions. No incidents into the first corner. Vettel overtook Maldonado in the first corner. The tyres were going to play a big part here, teams were aiming for three stops but two stops wasn't out of the question. Hamilton and Vettel were opening the gap in front. Then on lap 23 we saw Hamilton driving at a low speed. He was the man to beat here. He had a gearbox issue and on the team radio we heard his engineer saying "I'm really sorry about that, we did everything we could yesterday". That means it was a known issue, why didn't McLaren fix this?

Vettel was now in the lead and increased his lead over Button. We had a few Safety Car's deployed, this resulted in having a timed race of two hours instead of completing the 61 laps. We saw Schumacher collide into the back of Vergne, he now has a 10-grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix. Towards the end of the race, Vettel was in control and cruised to victory for his 2nd win of this season. Button finished 8.9 seconds down the road and Alonso wasn't far behind in 3rd place. A bad day for Hamilton then, he said he was "cruising" to victory until he had the gearbox issue. But again, we have Alonso who is very consistent and keeps grabbing them points. with six races to go, it's Japan next.

Round 15: Japan - Suzuka

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 53 lap race and the race start time is 0700 local time, Jenson Button in his McLaren was last years winner beating Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

Qualifying

Here we are in Japan, the Red Bull's looked quick here, the same couldn't be said for the Ferrari's. McLaren looked good too. In Q1, nothing exciting happened, we will move on to Q2. Both of the Mercedes didn't set a quick enough time to get into Q3, Massa missed out too. Massa needed a strong race here to secure a seat at Ferrari next season. In Q3, Pole was surely going one of the Red Bull's. Hamilton could only set a good enough time which placed him 9th on the grid. Hamilton said a change in set-up cost him in qualifying. Vettel set a time of 1:30.839 which put him on Pole Position with his team-mate Webber behind him. Button starts 3rd on the grid but drops five places due to a gearbox change. Kobayashi set a very good time which put him 4th (3rd as Button drops down five places) on the grid for his home grand prix.

Race

Lights out in Suzuka!!! Most of the cars got a good start, Vettel lead into the first corner. Räikkönen touched the grass and as he came back on he tapped the rear of Alonso's car which resulted in Alonso spinning out and getting a puncture, he was out! The Championship table may look very different after this race. Webber also span, Grosjean hit him and received a 10 second stop-and-go drive-through penalty, another collision caused by Grosjean. Hamilton stated yesterday that a big change in set-up cost him a good result in qualifying, this too, showed in the race. Perez overtook him into the hairpin with ease. Hamilton put up no fight. While this was going on Vettel was cruising. Vettel's pit-stops were very quick and he didn't have any problems.

Massa was in 2nd place, was he on for a podium after two years without one? He certainly was. Vettel cruised to victory cutting the gap to Alonso by 25 points as Alonso didn't pick up any points. Massa did finish 2nd, does this performance secure a seat at Ferrari next season? At the end of the race Kobayashi was in 3rd place being chased down by Button. Button couldn't do enough, he finished 4th with Kobayashi grabbing a podium at his home Grand Prix. Hamilton didn't have a brilliant race, he finished in 5th place. Had he not changed his set-up before qualifying he might have been higher up on the grid. Vettel is now only four points behind Alonso, the Championship is hotting up! Korea next, only a week to wait!

Round 16: Korea - Yeongam

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 55 lap race and the race start time is 0700 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren.

Qualifying

Here we are in Korea, such a unique track in my opinion. It was quite an interesting session, in Q1, we had Hamilton in 17th place, he just got through into Q2, very close there. In Q2, Button didn't set a good enough time to get into Q3, he just missed out. Traffic was an issue here especially in the last sector. Paul di Resta got caught up in the traffic and his time wasn't fast enough to get into Q3. Both of the Sauber's were also out.

On to the final session then, the Red Bull's looked very quick in practice, could anyone beat them here? After his podium last week Massa was into Q3 too. He starts 6th on the grid with his team-mate Alonso two places in front of him in 4th place. There was only one McLaren in Q3 and that was Hamilton, he set a time of 1:37.469 which put him 3rd on the grid. Who was in front? The Red Bull's. However, it was Webber that put a very fast time in, a 1:37.242 which did put him on Pole with his team-mate Vettel behind him. In his last flying lap Vettel put in a poor first sector, that, probably cost him Pole as he was looking very quick here.

Race

Lights out in Korea! Webber, Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton got good starts, Hamilton was weaving to get past but Alonso had the inside line into the second corner leading on to the massive straight. The tyres were to play a big part here, graining was certain to happen. Vettel got the jump on Webber into the first corner and built up a lead. Massa was also up there showing what he can do in a Ferrari, surely he has a seat with them next season. Button was out after Kobayashi ran into the back of him into the fourth corner. That wasn't good for McLaren in the Constructors' Championship. Hamilton was struggling and pitted, this didn't help.

In the second stint of the race he suffered from a anti-roll bar failure. Hamilton dropped down in positions and eventually finished in 10th place. Not a good day for Hamilton. Meanwhile, up the road, Vettel had won his 3rd race in a row with his team-mate Webber behind him followed by Alonso. We now have a new leader in the Drivers' Championship. The latest Red Bull package/upgrades have made them look like they are the team to beat now with only four races left. It is now between Vettel and Alonso for the Championship, Hamilton conceded that it's now out of his reach.

Round 17: India - New Delhi

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 60 lap race and the race start time is 0930 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Jenson Button in his McLaren.

Qualifying

So, for once, this weekend it looked like that pure speed will decide who will win the race. In Q1, as normal, we had the usual drivers that were knocked out. We will move on to Q2. Vettel looked very quick here and the Red Bulls looked like they were going to be hard to beat. McLaren didn't look as fast in qualifying but their long pace looked very good for the race. All of the top drivers set good enough times to get into Q3. Grosjean, Schumacher and di Resta were out though.

Q3 then. Who would grab Pole here in India? In Vettel's first run we saw him make a mistake, he then set a time of 1:25.282 which did put him in Pole Position. Webber starts 2nd on the grid as he set a time of 1:25.327. Hamilton had a decent session as he will start 3rd on the grid with his team-mate, Button behind him. Alonso, didn't have the best session as he starts 5th on the grid with his team-mate, Massa behind him. This could be an interesting race, a one-stop is certainly possible but two-stops is probably what most teams will go for.

Race

Lights out in India!! Webber got a better start than his team-mate, Vettel, but couldn't get past him into the first corner. Hamilton dropped one place as Button got past him. It was going to be pure speed that was going to win this race, in India the tyres seem to last a very long time so a one-stop was what most teams were aiming for. Vettel opened a gap between him and his team-mate. Alonso looked to close the gap on Vettel but he just wasn't fast enough.

Hamilton (in his own words) had a very good race as he finished in 4th place. For Hamilton's one and only pit stop we saw his pit crew change five wheels. On the warm up lap Hamilton complained that the radio quality was poor. In his pit-stop we saw Hamilton, in a flash, remove his steering wheel whilst a pit member replaced it. It was exceptional. Towards the end of the race, Hamilton was closing in on Webber, Webber had a KER's issue, but in the end, Webber kept his third place (Webber was overtaken by Alonso towards the end of the race), with Alonso securing second place. Vettel had a calm race which resulted in his fourth race in a row. The Championship is hotting up!

Round 18: Abu Dhabi - Yas Marina

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 55 lap race and the race start time is 1300 local time, Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren was last years winner beating Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

Qualifying

In the practice sessions Hamilton looked very fast along with Vettel. In Q1, as normal, the teams at the back were out and didn't make it into Q2. In Q2, both of the Force-India's didn't set a quick enough time to make it into Q3. Perez was also out, I'm sure McLaren were keeping an eye on him as he would be driving for them next year. In Q3, it looked like that Pole would be between Hamilton or Vettel. Alonso could only set a time of 1:41.582 which only put him 7th on the grid.

That wasn't what Alonso wanted as his title rival, Vettel, set a time of 1:41.073 which put him 3rd on the grid. Webber put in a good time of 1:40.978 which put him 2nd on the grid. Hamilton looked in a league of his own this weekend, he was 1st in P1, 2nd in P2 and 1st again in P3. He set a time of 1:40.630 which put him on Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton's team-mate Button could only set a good enough time which put him 6th on the grid which was six tenths behind his team-mate. On the in-lap Vettel was told to stop the car. We had no idea why.

Race

Firstly, let me update you on Vettel. Just as qualifying had finished, on his team-radio he was told to stop the car, around six hours later, we knew the outcome. Similar to Hamilton earlier in the year, the car didn't have the mandatory one litre of fuel needed for Parc Ferme, this resulted in Vettel being demoted to the back of the grid. However, Red Bull decided to start Vettel from the pit-lane so a few changes could be made to his car.

The race then! Hamilton got a very good start and led into the first corner. Webber didn't and was overtaken by Räikkönen into the first corner. Hamilton was cruising. Then on lap 20 we saw, yet again, Hamilton drive slowly, the problem wasn't known at that point but he was out of the race. This meant Räikkönen was now in the lead. Alonso also had a good few laps and made up a couple of places. Vettel who started from the pit-lane didn't have a good start to the race. He went to overtake Senna and clipped his front wing, eventually he pitted. Rosberg ran straight into the back of an HRT, this resulted in a lot of debris on the track and the Safety Car came out as a result. This was good for Vettel, the gaps between all the cars ahead of him had been closed.

Räikkönen stayed in the lead, and did win his first race of the season for Lotus and it was the first race win since his comeback. Somehow, Vettel was up to 4th (after another Safety Car was deployed) and was closing on Button, towards the end of the race, he did overtake Button and took the last podium place. Alonso finished in 2nd place and was probably wondering how on earth his title rival was up there with him on the podium after he started in the pit-lane. It was a fantastic race to watch, next, the debut race in Austin, U.S.A.

Round 19: United States - Austin

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start time is 2000 local time. This year marked the first inaugural race at the circuit, and the first time the United States Grand Prix had been held since 2007.

Qualifying

So, here we are in Austin. Vettel was fastest in all practice sessions but Hamilton was close behind. We will jump straight into Q3. Fernando Alonso needed to grab a good grid slot here in Austin to keep the pressure on Vettel, he didn't do that at all. He set a time of 1:37.300 which only put him 8th on the grid but he will in fact start 7th on the grid as Grosjean had to change his gearbox as he had a five grid penalty drop. Grosjean set a good time which put him 4th on the grid, but he will start 5th due to his penalty.

Räikkönen set a time of 1:36.708 which put him 5th on the grid. Hamilton looked very quick in Q3, he set a time of 1:35.766, this puts him 2nd on the grid. Vettel set a time of 1:35.657 which did put him on Pole. Hamilton done very well. He was only one tenth behind Vettel. Hamilton said that the left hand side of the grid was very slippery so he's hoping he can get a good start.

Race

Firstly, let me tell you that Ferrari broke the seal on Massa's gearbox, this resulted in a gearbox change which pushed him down the grid but critically put Alonso up one position. Lights out in Austin! Vettel got a good start and led into the first corner, Hamilton lost out to Webber after starting on the dirty side of the grid. Alonso got a fantastic start. The Hard compound tyre could actually last the whole of the race but as you may or may not know both compounds of the tyre must be used in a dry race. On lap 4 Hamilton did gain the place back to 2nd after overtaking Webber. On lap 7 we saw Grosjean go off the track but did rejoin.

On lap 17 Hamilton was very close to Vettel and was keeping an close eye on him. Many times he got into the DRS zone and activated it but still he couldn't get past Vettel. Webber was out of the race, due to an alternator issue, Red Bull seriously need to sort this problem out. What if this happens to Vettel in Brazil? Anyway, Hamilton was still pushing Vettel to his limit and eventually on the back straight with 14 laps to go Hamilton took the lead from Vettel. Alonso finished 3rd after a very good race with his team-mate Massa behind him. Button finished in 5th place. So, the Championship goes down to the wire in Brazil, what a race we have on our hands! Who's your favourite, Vettel or Alonso?

Round 20: Brazil - Sao Paulo

Quick Preview

This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 71 lap race and the race start time is 1600 local time, Mark Webber in his Red Bull was last years winner beating his team-mate, Sebastian Vettel.

Qualifying

So, here we are in Sao Paulo for the last race of the season. Hamilton's last race for McLaren and Michael Schumacher's last race in F1. Hamilton was fastest in the first two practice sessions with Vettel close behind him. In the practice sessions teams were allowed to test out the Hard compound tyres that will be used in the 2013 season.

We will jump straight into Q3. The track had dried out after we had a short shower at the start of qualifying and drivers could now push the car to try and get the final Pole of the season. Hamilton's team-mate for next year, Rosberg could only manage 10th on the grid with Räikkönen in front of him. Alonso, who needed to finish on the podium this weekend to have a chance of winning the title this year could only manage 8th on the grid but it looked like Ferrari had set his car up for a wet race as he was slower than his team-mate Massa and nearly one second off the Pole-sitter who was Hamilton. He set a time of 1:12.458 that gave him his last Pole Position for McLaren with his current team-mate Button joining him on the front row. Vettel could only manage 4th on the grid as his team-mate, Webber set a time of 1:12.581 that put him in 3rd.

What a race we have on our hands. Ferrari are hoping it will rain here to at least give Alonso a slight chance of winning the title this year. A sad weekend for McLaren as they see, the best driver at the current time, leave and join Mercedes in 2013. I really hope Hamilton wins here.

Race

Lights out in the final race of the 2012 season!! Hamilton got a good start and led into the first corner. Alonso got a very good start as did his team-mate Massa, he was up to second place. Vettel didn't have a good start and fell back into the pack, into Turn four Vettel got hit by Senna and at that point we were all thinking, it's all over, Vettel was surely out, he wasn't. He span his car around and continued to drive. He had a little damage near his exhaust but wasn't out of the Grand Prix.

Hamilton unfortunately didn't finish his last race for McLaren as Hülkenberg collided into him at Turn one. He was out. Alonso had a very strong race and finished in 2nd place but that wasn't enough as somehow Vettel (after his spin and having damage on his car since the first lap) finished in 6th place. I feel Vettel was quite lucky, if, it was anybody else in the collision they would have been out of the Grand Prix, however, that's motorsport and we must accept it. My driver of the season is a tough one to call and I can't choose one driver. For me, it's Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton drove very well but due to a few reliability issues couldn't fight for the Championship. Then we move on to Alonso. What he achieved in that Ferrari was outstanding. At the start of the season the Ferrari was well off the pace and somehow Alonso managed to finish second in the Drivers' Standings. What a season we have had, I cannot wait till next year!