Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso put a poor qualifying performance behind him to win an entertaining 2012 European Grand Prix in Valencia.
It was an unlikely result — Alonso had started in a lowly 11th place but made important passes and took advantage of a number of retirements by his key rivals.
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen came in second and Lewis Hamilton crashed with two laps remaining, hit by Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. Michael Schumacher came third, claiming his first podium position since returning to F1 in 2010. Red Bull’s Mark Webber came from 19th place to finish an impressive fourth.
Alonso’s victory came in unlikely circumstances as rivals Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus all looked to have superior pace. However some fantastic driving and a series of dramatic incidents meant Alonso could make his way through the pack in front of an ecstatic Valencia home crowd.
The race had started as many had expected, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel storming ahead. The reigning world champion had been lapping around one second per lap quicker than everyone else and built a lead of around 20 seconds over Romain Grosjean before mechanical failure caused the Red Bull car to stop out on track. Grosjean later had to retire when his alternator failed.
Despite the terrible luck suffered by three of his main rivals, Alonso’s victory will go down as one of his best. He was aggressive throughout the race, made important passes when he needed to and eventually built a lead of around four seconds on Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race.
Hamilton will have had designs on catching Alonso, but his tyres began to go off in the closing stages, which meant Raikkonen could make an easy pass. This then put Hamilton, struggling for rear tyre grip, at the mercy of Pastor Maldonado, who T-boned the McLaren driver when returning to the circuit after running wide.
The full driver classification is as follows:
1 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
2 Finland K Raikkonen Lotus
3 Germany M Schumacher Mercedes
4 Australia M Webber Red Bull
5 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
6 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes
7 Great Britain P Di Resta Force India
8 Great Britain J Button McLaren
9 Mexico S Perez Sauber
10 Venezuela P Maldonado Williams
11 Brazil B Senna Williams
12 Australia D Ricciardo Toro Rosso
13 Russian Federation V Petrov Caterham
14 Finland H Kovalainen Caterham
15 France C Pic Marussia
16 Brazil F Massa Ferrari
17 Spain P de la Rosa HRT
18 India N Karthikeyan HRT
19 Great Britain L Hamilton McLaren
20 France R Grosjean (ret.) Lotus
21 Germany S Vettel (ret.) Red Bull
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Sauber
23 France J Vergne (ret.) Toro Rosso
24 Germany T Glock (ret.) Marussia