One Of The Greatest Drivers In One Of The Greatest Races
What an incredible race we had this weekend just gone in Spain. Typically known for producing boring races over the past four seasons, Valencia provided fans with an absolutely cracking race, combining enough drama and excitement to put it amongst the greatest ever events in Formula One history.
Formula One has seen many a fantastic race, whether it was through sheer dominance like Donington 1993, Spain 1996 or Silverstone 2008, whether it came from crashes, causing mixed up fields, safety cars and un-predictability or whether an underdog took a victory he should never have taken. Valencia finally gave us an exciting race with a mixture of brilliant overtaking, differing strategies, ever changing positions, un-expected retirements crashes, safety cars and many gasp inducing moments.
After Vettel’s 2011 style dominance in Qualifying on Saturday, few people expected anything but the same during the race. He didn’t disappoint as he clocked up a lead, comfortably in control of the race.
Grosjean used the DRS and held on around the outside to pass Hamilton. Meanwhile, Alonso had calmly moved through the field from 11th position taking three positions on the opening tour and passing three cars – Webber, Senna and Schumacher – within the space of single lap.
Kobayashi crashed into Senna, Grosjean began matching Vettel, Hamilton fell back into the clutches of Alonso and Räikkönen who had both passed Di Resta with ease. Jean-Éric Vergne had a moment of utter madness and swiped infront of Kovalainen, causing a puncture for the Finn and damage for the partially sighted Frenchman. This caused a Safety Car intervention and flipped the race on it’s head.
Vettel’s 20 second lead was erased, McLaren had yet another poor pit-stop which allowed Alonso and Räikkönen through in the short Valencia pit-lane. Alonso made yet another place on the restart, positioning his car perfectly behind Webber’s out of the final corner, before passing him around the outside into turn one.
Felipe Massa had further back luck when he was taken out by the error prone Kobayashi. Surprise then hit, as the usually reliable Red Bull stopped at the side of the track, handing the lead to Alonso and seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher made his final stop and re-joined in 11th.
Alonso maintained the gap at the front, before Grosjean retired in a similar fashion to Vettel. Schumacher was now on the move, along with Webber behind him, overtaking everyone up to fifth and sixth places respectively.
WIth just one and a half laps remaining, Hamilton was under pressure from Maldonado, who proceeded to overtake him, before running out of road, rejoining and taking the British driver out of the race. A 50/50 moment, but both investigated.
Schumacher was now in a podium position, his first since he returned in 2010, while Alonso eased his Ferrari home to win on home soil with a completely un-expected victory.
For me at least, the race goes down as one of my favourite ever Grand Prix. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 102 minutes. Total excitement from start to end and up their with the greatest races of all time.
Speaking of the greatest, his campaign so far and particularly the win in Valencia must surely put Alonso even higher up the list of the all time great drivers. There aren’t many who could have done what Alonso did on Sunday. Not from the current crop of drivers, or the past. It’s results like these that make drivers great and Alonso keeps doing it. Who would have thought he and his F2012 would be leading the World Championship after eight races?
Certainly not me.