Alonso takes magnificent home victory in chaotic European GP

By on Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fernando Alonso has taken a magnificent home victory in what turned out to be a chaotic European Grand Prix, after Sebastian Vettel suffered a rare mechanical issue on his Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen picked up his third podium of the season, whilst Michael Schumacher completed a late surge to take his first podium finish since 2006.

The opening lap was amazingly relatively incident free, as Romain Grosjean shot up to 3rd place from 4th on the grid. However, at the front Sebastian Vettel glided into the distance, opening up a stupendous four second lead by the third lap. By lap 10, Grosjean pulled off an amazing overtake on Lewis Hamilton for 2nd, however by then the Red Bull of Vettel was cruising at the front.

With tyre wear the major talking factor of the weekend, it was on lap 11 that Jenson Button made his first stop for new tyres along with Sergio Perez. The rest of the field then subsequently decided to make their stops, with Hamilton pitting on lap 14 and the leading duo of Vettel and Grosjean both pitting on lap 17.

Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi then touched through turn 7, which pitched the Brazilian driver into a spin. Miraculously Senna managed to avoid the barriers, as he gingerly made his way back to the pits for a new nose cone. The stewards then decided to penalize the Williams driver, for allegedly causing the incident.

It was on lap 29 that the race was truly tipped on its head, when Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Eric Vergne touched. Kovalainen was forced to pit for a new nose, whereas Vergne was forced into retirement as his puncture destroyed the rear suspension of his car. However, with lots of debris now strewn across the track, the safety car was called upon to control the field as the marshals set to clearing the track.

Many drivers immediately peeled off into the pits, with Romain Grosjean sensing an opportunity to attack Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton’s stop was frustratingly slow, as McLaren’s issues in the pits returned. This demoted the Briton down to 6th place from 3rd, as Sebastian Vettel also pitted under safety car conditions yet retained the lead.

Upon the restart, Fernando Alonso streaked past the Lotus of Grosjean for 2nd as the Spaniard set his sights upon catching race leader Vettel. Whilst Alonso was being competitive at the front, his team-mate Felipe Massa collided with Kobayashi, which forced the Brazilian to pit with a puncture.

Whilst this was happening further down the order, there was utter disbelief when Sebastian Vettel was seen slowing down on track as local hero Alonso breezed into the lead. The Spanish fans couldn’t believe their fortune, as their hero stormed into the lead. Lewis Hamilton had fought his way up to 3rd, with Raikkonen close behind in 4th. However these two were momentarily under investigation by the stewards for ignoring yellow flags, allegations which were dropped shortly after.

As if Sebastian Vettel’s technical issue wasn’t enough, Romain Grosjean was the next driver to be seen cruising to a halt from 2nd position. This promoted Lewis Hamilton to 2nd, and Grosjean’s team-mate Raikkonen to 3rd. Whilst all this was going on, Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher were two of many who opted to stop again, with the intention of picking up some valuable points towards the end of the race.

This plan worked a treat for Michael Schumacher, as all the drivers in front him began to suffer greatly with tyre issues. Eventually, the German was a contender for podium finish as Lewis Hamilton began to suffer with tyre wear. This enabled Raikkonen to pass the Brit for 2nd, before Pastor Maldonado made a desperate lunge around the outside of turn 12. The inevitable happened and the two collided, with Hamilton being shunted into the wall. With Maldonado minus a front wing, Michael Schumacher rose steadily to 3rd whilst Fernando Alonso dominated in the lead.

After all this excitement had ended, Alonso was already on his final lap. The Spaniard was untroubled by any opposition as he crossed the line to take a memorable and emotional home victory. Lewis Hamilton subsequently failed to score any points, and drops to third in the Drivers’ Championship. Fernando Alonso now heads to the British Grand Prix back in the lead of the Championship with 111 points.

P    Name            Gap  Int Time     Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ps Lap  57
1  5 F. ALONSO       LAP   57 1:48.930 27.8     48.9     32.1      2
2  9 K. RAIKKONEN    6.4  6.4 1:47.865 28.7     48.4     30.6      2
3  7 M. SCHUMACHER  12.6  6.2 1:44.474 27.7     47.5     29.2      2
4  2 M. WEBBER      13.6  0.9 1:45.286 27.8     47.8     29.5      2
5 12 N. HULKENBERG  19.9  6.3 1:50.570 28.3     51.1     31.0      2
6  8 N. ROSBERG     21.1  1.1 1:45.312 27.8     48.0     29.4      2
7 11 P. DI RESTA    22.8  1.6 1:49.177 28.7     49.2     31.2      1
8  3 J. BUTTON      24.6  1.7 1:47.932 28.7     48.5     30.6      2
9 15 S. PEREZ       27.7  3.1 1:51.829 30.0     50.2     31.4      2
10 18 P. MALDONADO   34.6  6.8 2:00.743 34.7     52.0     33.9      2
11 19 B. SENNA       35.9  1.3 1:45.721 27.7     47.9     29.9      2
12 16 D. RICCIARDO   37.0  1.0 1:45.206 27.8     47.7     29.6      2
13 21 V. PETROV      75.8 38.8 1:46.066 27.6     48.5     29.8      4
14 20 H. KOVALAINEN  94.6 18.7 1:54.123 29.3     51.7     33.0      2
15 25 C. PIC         96.5  1.8 1:49.153 28.8     49.4     30.8      2
16  6 F. MASSA         1L   1L 1:47.738 27.3     49.0     31.3      4
17 22 P. DE LA ROSA    1L  9.0 1:54.065 30.4     51.4     32.0      2
18 23 N. KARTHIKEYAN   1L  9.2 1:54.865 29.6     53.0     32.1      3
19  4 L. HAMILTON      2L   1L          29.0     STOP               2
10 R. GROSJEAN     17L  15L          27.7     STOP               2
1 S. VETTEL       24L   7L          28.2     49.7     STOP      2
14 K. KOBAYASHI    24L  4.3 RETIRED  23.0 L14 25.7 L20           3
17 J. VERGNE       31L   7L RETIRED           21.3 L17           2       

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