Sunday 6 January 2013

My Favourite Things (about F1 in 2012)

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favourite things (about F1 in 2012):

Sebastian Vettel starting the year by passing Nico Rosberg at the unlikely scene of Turn 9 at Melbourne around the outside. Yet another nail in the 'Seb can't pass' coffin.

Credit: Morio / CC
Sergio Perez catching the leading Fernando Alonso at a rate of knots in the Malaysia race, with all of those expected in advance to be contending for the lead nowhere. Our first indication that 2012 was to be no ordinary F1 year.

Kimi Raikkonen trashing whatever doubts there were on the wisdom of his comeback by sailing up from 11th to very nearly win the Bahrain Grand Prix, thus ensuring he and all the associated benefits of his presence were to be back where they belong.

Williams showing in Spain that it hadn't lost its racer's instinct after many fallow years, adopting an aggressive pit strategy to seize its first victory since 2004 with Pastor Maldonado.

And after that race just about every team assisting putting out a fire in the Williams garage, and McLaren offering equipment to Williams for the next race. Despite everything, F1 remains a family.

Fernando Alonso's aggression in the opening corners and laps in Melbourne, Valencia, Monza, Abu Dhabi, Austin, indeed pretty much everywhere.

Michael Schumacher's pole lap at Monaco. It makes you wonder what he could have done had Mercedes provided Schumi with a car that goes like him with any regularity.

Sergio Perez and his Sauber C31 defying the laws of physics seemingly in moving through the field with astounding brio in Montreal and Monza. Oh for a few more laps in both...

Seb tearing up the season's script of close races by leaving the rest barely in the same postcode in the Valencia race. A portent for what would become more common later in the year.

Fernando Alonso defying convention by stopping on the slowing down lap after winning at home in that same race, and allowing himself some celebratory frolics in front of his rapt public. F1 has so much to learn from Moto GP on this front.

Credit: Morio / CC
Lewis Hamilton bouncing back after his nadir in 2011 to his formidable best in 2012. Evidence of this was seen just about everywhere, but none more so than in Barcelona and Austin.

Mark Webber at Silverstone demonstrating not for the first time that when he's really on it no one in the sport can live with him. Including Alonso and Vettel.

Jenson Button's 2.31 second pit stop in Hockenheim. The battle to shave fractions off pit stop times was almost as fascinating as that on track. And having taken its medicine early in the year McLaren became best of a very good bunch.

Felipe Massa's contented smile having finished second at Suzuka, his first podium finish in close to two years. And it all started a late-season run wherein he for the most part looked a lot like the guy who nearly won a world championship.

The local reaction to Kamui Kobayashi getting onto the same podium. If this season was the last we've seen of KK in F1, on this level at least it seems a pity.

Pastor Maldonado mending his ways from Monza onwards, demonstrating that drivers can do so without the need for witch hunts and punitive sanctions, as well as that there's more to Pastor than PDVSA cheques.

Fernando Alonso splitting the Red Bulls in India, on a day that no one had a right to be close to the Milton Keynes cars.

Lewis Hamilton's qualifying laps in Barcelona, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Valencia and Abu Dhabi providing two of the most entertaining races of the season. It shows that, just as with drivers and teams, we should never write off circuits.

Credit: Earl McGehee / CC
Everything about F1's return to America in Austin. A wonderful layout, a great facility, a massive turnout, and a classic mano-a-mano duel on the Sunday, showing that you only need two cars to make a great race.

Seb, facing the wrong way only four corners into the final race title showdown, calmly steering his Red Bull away from oncoming traffic. And then proceeding to move from last place to sixth in just the next seven laps.

Nico Hulkenberg's rise to celebrity in the year's latter part, culminating with claiming and then retaining the lead in Brazil like he's been doing such things habitually for years. The sport may well have its next star.

And last but not least: 'Yes, yes, yes, I'm doing that all the time. You don't have to remind me every 10 seconds.'

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