The 2012 European Grand Prix (officially the 2012 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe) was the eighth race of the 2012 Formula One Season. It was held for the fifth time at the Valencia Street Circuit, Spain and was the 22nd running of the European Grand Prix as a standalone Formula One event. The race took place on 24 June 2012. It was the last F1 race to be held at Valencia before it was dropped from F1.
The race was won by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso from 11th on the grid, a deserved victory after a string of overtakes earlier in the race. Second was Kimi Räikkönen for Lotus, with Mercedes veteran Michael Schumacher completing the podium. This was Schumacher's first podium since his return to Formula One in 2010. Sebastian Vettel led up until lap 33, when an alternator failure on his Renault engine forced him to stop. Lewis Hamilton was third with two laps to go, but crashed with Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado received a 20-second penalty for his part in the crash, and lost a point as a result.
Red Bull arrived at Valencia with a major set of upgrades expected to greatly improve their performance after a disappointing result in Canada. Amongst other teams making minor bodywork changes were Ferrari with new aerodynamic parts and Lotus with a new front wing design.
The Valencia Street Circuit remained unchanged from the 2011 event, however the double-DRS zone which was used the previous year was reduced to a single DRS zone on the long back-straight between the swing-bridge exit (turn 10) and the braking zone for the tight right-left chicane (Turn 12). This posed potential difficulties taking the left-kink (Turn 11) with the DRS activated.
Following an unsuccessful practice, Marussia driver Timo Glock was forced to withdraw from the event on doctors' advice, as he was feeling unwell. The team chose to leave the number 24 car-slot vacant for the race, rather than allowing reserve driver María de Villota to compete in the race, as de Villota lacked the Super Licence required by the FIA to race.
The full entry list for the 2012 European Grand Prix is shown below:
The session started relatively quietly, without much driving taking place in the first half hour, and with no incidents. Like in Canada, Jenson Button's McLaren was having issues, first with his KERS, then front locking and brake balance issues. Despite this, Button set the fourth fastest time of the session. But the quickest driver was Pastor Maldonado, who set a time only eight hundredths ahead of second-placed Sebastian Vettel, who in turn was only about one hundredth ahead of his Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber. The top thirteen drivers were all within one second.
Unlike FP1, Free Practice 2 had some incidents. First, 25 minutes in, Michael Schumacher suffered an engine problem, he was soon back out on track. Then, just after 40 minutes into the session, Pedro de la Rosa had a accident, crashing into the barriers, and this brought out Yellow Flags for five minutes. Also unlike FP1, the drivers completed a lot of laps, with Heikki Kovalainen doing the most laps (38). Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets after being second quickest in FP1; but surprisingly was backed up by Nico Hülkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi. The top 15 were covered by one second, tighter than in FP1; and also of note is that Vitaly Petrov's FP2 time would place 2nd in comparison to the FP1 times.
In an uneventful session, out-of-form Jenson Button surprising set the fastest lap time, ahead of the two Lotus's, with Romain Grosjean ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. The Force Indias came fourth and fifth, Nico Hülkenberg beating Paul di Resta. Mark Webber only completed four laps in the hour session; all at the start, as his suffered brake problems. The only near-crashes were Pedro de la Rosa, who spun at the final corner, but kept his car out the barriers; and Sebastian Vettel, who went off at turn two with minutes to go.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||2||1:40.973||1||1:39.334||13||1:39.434|
|11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||6||1:41.105||6||1:39.700||5||1:38.892|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||19||1:42.777||18||1:41.121||17||1:40.134|
|22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||22||1:44.996||24||1:44.260||21||1:42.758|
Pastor Maldonado topped the first session, which saw Mark Webber return to the track after problems with his brakes. However, his DRS was not working, and as a result he was unable to progress to Q2, despite using the softer tyres. His place in Q2 was taken by Heikki Kovalainen, who beat the time of Jean-Éric Vergne on his final lap to advance out of Q1 for the first time this season. Behind Webber, Vitaly Petrov was 20th, the two HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan were 21st and 22nd. Charles Pic qualified 23rd, and Timo Glock did not take part in the session.
The second session of qualifying was very tight. Romain Grosjean was fastest, setting a time of 1:38.489 at the end. Felipe Massa, who was 13th, posted a time of 1:38.780, under three tenths of a second slower than Grosjean. Fernando Alonso qualified 11th and Michael Schumacher qualified 12th, the two biggest scalps of Q2. Bruno Senna was 14th, with Sergio Pérez 15th. Another surprise was that Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen beat the time of Daniel Ricciardo, to qualify 16th.
The third and final session was dominated by one lap from Sebastian Vettel. He beat Lewis Hamilton by 0.324 seconds, with one the best qualifying laps of his career. Behind Hamilton was Pastor Maldonado, showing some of the form he had last time he was in Spain. Fourth and fifth were Lotus teammates, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen. Sixth was Nico Rosberg, and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi was seventh, another good qualifying performance from the Japanese driver. Eighth was Nico Hülkenberg, who beat McLaren's Jenson Button. After a mistake on his fastest lap, Paul di Resta was tenth, completing a disappointing return for Force India, considering their strong performance in the practice sessions.
Sebastian Vettel's pole was the 33rd of his career, putting him equal third in the all-time table with Jim Clark and Alain Prost. He was, however, still 32 poles behind Ayrton Senna, who has the second-most amount of poles (65).
The stewards gave Timo Glock special dispenation to take part in the race, but after taking medical advice, he chose not to.
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||14||1:39.626||4||1:38.530||1||1:38.086||1|
|8||12||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||3||1:39.009||9||1:38.689||8||1:38.752||8|
|10||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||2||1:38.858||3||1:38.519||10||1:38.992||10|
|17||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||16||1:39.924||17||1:40.358||17|
|18||17||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||18||1:40.203||18|
|19||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||19||1:40.395||19|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||21||1:42.171||21|
|24||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||24||no time||24*|
|Paul di Resta||______________|
|22||Pedro de la Rosa|
* Timo Glock was unable to participate in qualifying, due to a stomach bug, and though he was allowed to race, he decided against doing so.
At the start, Sebastian Vettel made a strong start and held onto first place. Lewis Hamilton made a poor start, but managed to hold onto second. Kimi Räikkönen made a good start, but was blocked by Pastor Maldonado, and then Romain Grosjean took Maldonado's third place. Kamui Kobayashi, meanwhile, sneaked into fourth place. Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa also made good starts, both making up three places. Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button did the opposite, making poor starts; Rosberg fell to 11th, and Button finished the lap 13th.
Vettel then drove away from a slow Hamilton at about two seconds a lap. Hamilton was being pressured by Grosjean. On lap 10, Charles Pic lost a bit of his front wing trying to overtake Narain Karthikeyan at turn 2, who was lucky to avoid a puncture. On lap 11, Grosjean attempted to pass Hamilton at turn 12, completing the move by turn 13. On lap 13, Alonso passed Nico Hülkenberg for 7th, and Räikkönen managed to pass Maldonado for fifth.
Hamilton then pitted, as did Räikkönen, while Alonso passed Maldonado what had become third. On lap 15, Alonso pitted. On lap 16, both Vettel and Grosjean pitted, and after Grosjean got pass Rosberg and Paul di Resta, they were in first and second again, but the gap was about 20 seconds. Hamilton had held onto third after the pit stops, with Alonso in fourth after a few overtakes. Räikkönen was fifth, ahead of Maldonado.
On lap 20, there was contact between Kobayashi and Bruno Senna at turn 8, and Senna managed to spin on the following straight, before correcting the spin with a fine piece of car control. Senna picked up a puncture in the incident and then received a drive-through penalty.
On lap 27, Jean-Éric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen collide, after Vergne pulls an overtake on Kovalainen, but then Vergne's right rear hits Kovalainen's front left, and the safety car is brought out as damage is shrewn all over the circuit. As a result, Vergne was forced to retire his Toro Rosso.
Under the safety car, Alonso got past Hamilton, the McLaren driver being the victim of an awful pit stop. Daniel Ricciardo found himself in fourth place, behind Alonso, but ahead of Räikkönen and Hamilton.
After the restart on lap 34, Vettel held onto his lead, while Alonso managed to get past Grosjean. Kobayashi and Massa touched, leaving Massa with a puncture and Kobayashi was forced to retire his car with terminal suspension damage. Then on the run-up to turn 10, Vettel lost drive, with an alternator failure, and had to stop his car. This, amazingly, left Alonso in the lead from 11th on the grid.
Hamilton overtook both Räikkönen and Ricciardo to take third place on lap 35. On lap 37, Schumacher overtook Ricciardo for fifth; and since the restart, Rosberg had lost seven places, to Schumacher, Webber, Maldonado, Hülkenberg, Di Resta, Button and Sergio Pérez. Webber pitted after losing places to Maldonado, Hülkenberg and Di Resta.
On lap 41, Grosjean is forced to retire as his car had an alternator failure, similar to the one that ended Vettel's race. This left Alonso ahead of Hamilton by three seconds. Räikkönen was promoted into the final podium place, with Maldonado fourth. Schumacher pitted on the same lap as Grosjean retired, after quickly losing three places, and he emerged in front of Webber again, this time in 11th place. But more surprising was that Vitaly Petrov had made his way up to tenth place.
Petrov was overtaken by Schumacher and Webber on lap 45, who had started to carve their way through the field on fresh tyres. On lap 46, Rosberg pitted, and became the fastest driver on the track, Petrov pitted a lap later for a new front wing, after having made contact with Ricciardo. On lap 49, Schumacher and Webber got past Button, who had found his way to eight place; then the duo made their way past Pérez three laps later, then the one-stopping Di Resta the next lap. The pair had driven their way to fifth and sixth places.
Then, on lap 55, Räikkönen managed to find a way past Hamilton who then fell into the clutches of Maldonado. They ran side-by-side, but then on turn 12 of lap 56, Maldonado gets ahead, runs wide, then drives into Hamilton. Hamilton is forced to retire, while Maldonado completes the race minus a front wing; he finishes the race in tenth. On the same lap, Schumacher and Webber overtake Hülkenberg. Rosberg, in the fastest car on track with his fresh tyres, overtook Button, Pérez, Maldonado, and Di Resta. Button makes his way past both Pérez and Maldonado.
Alonso won the race, finishing six seconds ahead of Räikkönen, who in turn finished another six seconds ahead of Schumacher, who scored his first podium of his comeback. Schumacher was surprised when he heard of his third place finish, since he was quite far down the order with only a few laps to go. Schumacher was followed by Webber. Hülkenberg came an impressive fifth, and Rosberg had managed to charge up to sixth place. He was followed by Di Resta, who was ahead of Button. Pérez scored two points for ninth. Maldonado completed the top ten. Senna was about a second behind his teammate, who in turn was a few seconds ahead of Ricciardo. The two Caterhams of Petrov and Kovalainen were 13th and 14th, and Pic was the last driver on the lead lap, in 15th place. Massa eventually came 16th, a lap down. Pedro de la Rosa and Karthikeyan came 17th and 18th. Hamilton was classified 19th.
Pastor Maldonado was given a twenty second penalty for returning to the track in an unsafe manner, and as a result crashing with Lewis Hamilton. The penalty took him out of the pointscoring positions, and he was placed 12th. Bruno Senna, Maldonado's teammate, took the final point.
Jean-Éric Vergne was given a ten place grid penalty for the next race, the British Grand Prix, for causing an avoidable collision with Heikki Kovalainen. He was also fined €25,000 for driving dangerously with a puncture.
|2||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||57||+ 6.421 s||177.545||5||18|
|3||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||57||+ 12.639 s||177.369||12||15|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||57||+ 13.628 s||177.341||19||12|
|5||12||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||57||+ 19.993 s||177.161||8||10|
|6||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||57||+ 21.176 s||177.128||6||8|
|7||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||57||+ 22.866 s||177.080||10||6|
|8||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||57||+ 24.653 s||177.030||9||4|
|9||15||Sergio Pérez||Sauber-Ferrari||57||+ 27.777 s||176.942||15||2|
|10||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||57||+ 35.961 s||176.712||14||1|
|11||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||57||+ 37.041 s||176.682||17|
|12||18||Pastor Maldonado*||Williams-Renault||57||+ 54.630 s||176.749||3|
|13||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||57||+ 1 m 15.871 s||175.598||20|
|14||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||57||+ 1 m 34.654 s||175.079||16|
|15||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||57||+ 1 m 36.551 s||175.027||23|
|16||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||56||+ 1 lap||174.533||13|
|17||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||56||+ 1 lap||174.281||21|
|18||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||56||+ 1 lap||174.024||22|
|Ret||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||33||Alternator||172.181||1|
|Ret||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||33||Collision damage||171.981||7|
|Ret||17||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||26||Collision damage/Puncture||178.776||18|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||40||1:42.717||0.554||189.924||4|
|6||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||44||1:43.674||1.511||188.171||11|
|11||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||45||1:44.101||1.938||187.399||7|
|13||12||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||40||1:44.226||2.063||187.174||5|
|16||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||18||1:44.555||2.392||186.505||Ret|
|20||17||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||22||1:45.491||3.328||184.930||Ret|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||36||1:46.799||4.636||182.665||17|
Laps in the Lead
|1||Sebastian Vettel||1 – 33||33||178.827 km|
|2||Fernando Alonso||34 – 57||24||130.056 km|
|1||Sebastian Vettel||33||178.827 km|
|2||Fernando Alonso||24||130.056 km|
- Ferrari's 850th Grand Prix.
- Sergio Pérez's 25th start (26 entries).
- This was the first time for the 2013 season that there had been a multiple winner (Alonso).
- Michael Schumacher's last ever podium finish.
Standings after race