By Pete Vack
All photos courtesy and copyright Ferrari Media
Ferrari has the new—well, seven-month-old—F2012 well sorted out. Pirelli has introduced new tire compounds. And Alonso is proving to be the driver of the year, a champion of champions. All is well in Maranello.
Massa again struggled, having to replace the nose after a first lap collision. In the pits there were rumors that Vettel and Ferrari are talking as Vettel’s contract is up in 2014. Red Bull is not always one happy family. If there is to be a move, Ferrari would be a likely recipient. Can one imagine Alonso and Vettel on the same team?
To recap the grid, it was Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Button, Hamilton and Webber filling out the first four rows. Qualifying was in the wet with everyone on full wet tires. Newbie Grosjean had a bad weekend, qualifying 19th. Hamilton suffered a flat tire due to the Massa incident and was only a factor in the race as he tried to unlap himself. Alonso took to the lead like Vettel used to, followed by the German and a born-again Button.
By lap ten the tire games began. Most teams started on the softs, including the leaders. After Lap 17 Alonso, Vettel and Button all switched to the medium compounds as if they were reading each other’s minds. Position remained largely unchanged while Kobayashi and Di Resta had a good go for 6th. Schumacher was again doing well while teammate Rosberg was not. Here tell Shumi may be signing on for yet another year with Mercedes.
On lap 42 Alonso and Vettel pitted at the same time; Alonso retained the lead and Button stole second from Vettel, much to his pleasure we would imagine. The leaders were now on the harder compounds hoping to make them last for the remaining laps.
We watched as Alonso actually increased his lead over Button…but again, would his tires hold out? Ten laps to go…and still hanging in there. By lap 64 of 67, Alonso had a three-second lead over Button. Vettel then passed Button, but did so very clearly with all four tires off the track…and the pass was ruled illegal and he was dropped to fifth overall. Best run of the day as we see it was Kobayashi who worked himself up to fourth.
With a great sight of relief on our part, Alonso won his third race of the season and is now 34 points ahead of Webber in the chase for the title. Given almost perfectly similar tires and tire strategies, Ferrari and Alonso pulled off a remarkable and well-deserved victory. But we are only half way there.
|9||HULKENBERG||Force India-Mercedes||+ 48.1s|
|11||DI RESTA||Force India-Mercedes||+ 59.2s|
|15||MALDONADO||Williams-Renault||+ 1 lap|
|16||PETROV||Caterham-Renault||+ 1 lap|
|17||SENNA||Williams-Renault||+ 1 lap|
|18||GROSJEAN||Lotus-Renault||+ 1 lap|
|19||KOVALAINEN||Caterham-Renault||+ 2 laps|
|20||PIC||Marussia-Cosworth||+ 2 laps|
|21||DE LA ROSA||HRT-Cosworth||+ 3 laps|
|22||GLOCK||Marussia-Cosworth|| + 3 laps|
|23||KARTHIKEYAN||HRT-Cosworth||+ 3 laps|
|24||HAMILTON||McLaren-Mercedes||+ 11 laps, puncture damage|
Note – Vettel originally finished second, but had 20s added to race time for leaving track and gaining advantage. Grosjean, Rosberg, Webber were penalised five grid places for unscheduled gearbox changes; Perez was penalised five grid places for impeding.
Driver’s Championship Standings
|13||DI RESTA||Force India-Mercedes||27 Points|
|15||HULKENBERG||Force India-Mercedes||19 Points|
Constructor’s Championship Standings
|8||FORCE INDIA-MERCEDES||46 Points|