‘Magnificent Seven’ Ended as Alonso Takes the Flag in Valencia Grand Prix
In the previous seven races, there were seven different winners taking the first podium. Coming to the eighth round in Valencia, there had been a speculation whether there would be the eighth different winner taking the main trophy or not. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso ends the speculation as he snatched the finishing line first and became the first double victor in Formula 1 season 2012.
Alonso had completed 57 laps in the European Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit, Spain. He took his second win of the season despite starting only 11th place on the grid. He had been steadily climbing up since the start by jumping instantly into eighth on the first lap, and managed to take third by a swift pit stop when safety car was out. Alonso continued to charge up when the safety car came into the pit, hurriedly taking the second place from Romain at the second corner at the opening of the 34th lap. Meanwhile the pole sitter, Sebastian Vettel, even though he owned the race for the first 34 laps, he was forced into a halt due to alternator failure. Thus opened an easy way for Alonso to remain on top until the race is finished. Strangely, few laps after Vettel’s problem, third placed Grosjean in the Lotus also suffered the same trouble on lap 41 which shut down all the electronics on his car, leaving him limping back very slowly as he was searching an escape spot to park his dying car.
There were many incidents during the race. Contact between Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi at the opening laps was the first major crash in the race. Even though Senna had suffered enough with the spin and punctured right rear tyre, he was still given a drive-through penalty by the stewards. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne contact with Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen on lap 27 also a big one, it prompted the deployment of the safety car because of the scattered tyre debris all over the track. Felipe Massa also became the victim of Kobayashi’s aggressive move as he was suddenly shunt when came out of turn 10. On the closing laps, battle between Maldonado and Hamilton for the third place cost them both quite badly. Hamilton, who was under massive pressure from Maldonado, had tried everything he could to defend his position. But after gruesome battle on several corners they finally collided, leaving Maldonado front wing-less and even worse for Hamilton who jumped the back-end and crashed into the barrier resulting a broken suspension. He was out on lap 55 and gained zero points in the championship.
Not only at the race track, there was also an incident happened at the pit lane. McLaren once again made a blunder on Hamilton’s stop. The front jack man dropped the car when a set of fresh front tyres had not even been attached. Situation got even awful when the car was lifted again, there was also a problem with the left front wheel-gun that cost him 14 seconds delay in stationary position. A pity when McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael was boasting around before the race stating that McLaren had the quickest pit stop time among all teams.
Having the race at home, and even won it, Alonso made an interesting rare celebration. He drove very slowly on the celebration lap, waving to every fans on the grandstands who was overwhelmed by his winning. He was given the Spanish national flag by a steward and waved it along. All people expected him to continue cruising to the pit lane where he should have parked his car, yet he stopped few corners before the pit lane entrance in front of cheering grandstand, jumped out of the car, and did a very emotional celebration at the run off area by laying down the flag on the track as him stating “the track is mine.” Nevertheless, this long celebration and the parked winning number 5 Ferrari on the track meant Alonso had never been close enough to the Parc Fermé until he was picked up by F1’s medical car. He shed a tear and looked very emotional when Spanish national anthem played along as he was standing on the podium with the two former Ferrari champions, Kimi Raikkonen (2nd place) and Michael Schumacher (3rd place).
There had been some post-race updates following the incidents happened in the race. There are three drivers who get penalties due to collisions they have caused; Maldonado gets 20 second penalty for collision with Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne has been given a 10 place grid penalty for the upcoming British Grand Prix and handed out 25,000 Euros fine for causing a collision with Heikki Kovalainen, and Kamui Kobayashi is given 5 place grid penalty in the British Grand Prix as well.
Alonso is now leading the championship with 111 points, 20 points ahead of the second ranked Mark Webber with 91 points. The constructors’ championship is still being led by the Red Bull with 176 points, McLaren 137 points, Lotus with 126, and Ferrari 122 points.