The annual F1Zone.net awards were met with over 500 responses from across the globe. Here’s how you rated the 2012 season…
Driver of the Year
3 | Kimi Raikkonen – 23%
Raikkonen took 23% of the vote as he enjoyed a successful F1 comeback after a couple of seasons in the World Rally Championship. Driving for Lotus, the 2007 world champion finished third in the points, claiming victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and a further six podiums.
2 | Sebastian Vettel – 26%
World champion Sebastian Vettel took just over a quarter of the vote as he won his third world title after a thriller in Brazil. Vettel claimed five victories and six podiums to usurp Ayrton Senna as F1’s youngest triple world champion.
1 | Fernando Alonso – 42%
The runner-up was the clear winner of F1Zone’s Driver of the Year with 42% of the vote. Alonso finished just three points shy of Vettel, claiming 3 wins and a further ten podiums. He also took two pole positions in the wet at Silverstone and Hockenheim.
Drive of the Year
3 | Fernando Alonso, Malaysian Grand Prix – 14%
With 14% of the vote, Alonso’s surprise win comes third in the drive of the year category. Alonso started from the lower end of the top ten, but rain came into play in the race and the Spaniard maximised his chances to keep Sergio Perez at arm’s length and take an extraordinary win.
2 | Lewis Hamilton, United States Grand Prix – 15%
Hamilton and Vettel were in a league of their own throughout the weekend in Austin. Hamilton dropped to third at the start but soon passed Mark Webber and stayed on the tail of Vettel’s RB8. When Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT backed Vettel further into Hamilton’s clutches, the Brit used DRS to sweep past his German rival. It was a race without tyre lotteries and it proved to be Hamilton’s final McLaren victory… for the time being.
1 | Sebastian Vettel, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – 27%
Christian Horner went to visit pit lane starter Vettel an hour before the start of the twilight race. His young charger was playing on an electronic drum kit and simply informed his team boss that he would finish on the podium. A few hours later, Vettel had survived a couple of hairy moments and was standing alongside a perplexed Alonso in third place on the rostrum. His race also included an exquisitely judged move around the outside of Jenson Button. It was a classy drive that destroyed myths about his inability to race.
Team of the Year
3 | Lotus – 11%
After their abortive 2011 campaign courtesy of the forward facing exhaust system, Lotus was back to being a contender in 2012. The hiring of Kimi Raikkonen was an inspired move, as the team claimed their first win since 2008. The development may have tailed off towards the end of the season, but considering the budget and the workforce, it was a huge improvement on 2011 and sets them up well for 2013.
2 | Ferrari – 14%
Ferrari started the year with a car that was barely capable of making the final segment of qualifying, but they rallied round and remained in the hunt for the championship. Their continued support of the beleaguered Felipe Massa was justified when the Brazilian ended the season with a string of ten points finishes.
1 | Red Bull Racing – 63%
With almost two-thirds of the vote, Red Bull is F1Zone’s Team of the Year. The Milton Keynes based team secured their third successive Constructors Championship in Austin and followed it up with the double a week later in Brazil. Vettel and Webber combined to take eight pole positions and seven victories, including the only 1-2 of the year in Korea.
Car of the Year
3 | Lotus E20 – 6%
The 20th car to be produced at Enstone – hence the name – proved to be a winner. The car was fundamentally quick throughout the year, although it lacked those final few tenths in qualifying, allowing wins to slip through their fingers in Bahrain and Hungary. Nevertheless, the car enabled Raikkonen and Grosjean to take the team to fourth in the championship.
2 | McLaren MP4-27 – 33%
It started the season as the best car and ended it that way as well, but throughout the year it was too unreliable for Hamilton to mount a title challenge, while Button struggled to understand the tyres. Certain wins were lost through issues in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, while a myriad of other problems left the team with a lot of soul searching to do over the winter.
1 | Red Bull RB8 – 53%
Was it as dominant as the RB7? No. Vettel and Red Bull spent much of the season searching for a way of getting the RB8 to the German’s liking, so that he could use the exhaust to his liking. They worked hard and finally found a solution in time for the Belgian Grand Prix, with Vettel annihilating the opposition after the Singapore Grand Prix. Adrian Newey receives all of the praise, but there’s a strong team behind him.
Surprise of the Year
3 | Schumacher claims pole in Monaco – 11%
The W03 was a strong car in terms of qualifying pace at the start of the year, but by Monaco their star was beginning to wane. It was going to be a tight affair, with just a few tenths separating the top ten in Q2. Rosberg had taken top spot, only to be eclipsed by Monaco specialist Mark Webber. All of a sudden, Schumacher exits the final corner and his name shoots to the top of the twenty-four man field. He may have dropped down the grid due to a penalty, but on that day, a 43 year old still showed the current young guns how it’s done.
2 | Maldonado wins in Spain – 32%
Pastor Maldonado had demonstrated pace in his rookie season and the FW34 was a quick car. He qualified a stunning second on the grid, which became pole position once Hamilton was penalised. Few expected him to remain at the front, doubly so when he lost the lead into Turn One. But he regained the lead and ended Williams’s eight year win drought in spectacular fashion, resisting home hero Fernando Alonso.
1 | Kimi Raikkonen’s comeback success – 48%
Be honest. Who would have predicted that Kimi Raikkonen would return from the WRC and finish ahead of both McLaren drivers in the championship and finish every single race? Exactly. Raikkonen’s comeback was a success for all involved as the Finn finished third in the title race with a win in Abu Dhabi. It was as if he’s never been away.
Overtake of the Year
3 | Fernando Alonso on Romain Grosjean, European Grand Prix – 11%
Surprisingly, Massa’s move on Senna in Singapore failed to make the top three, but his team-mate makes an appearance on our list. A safety car period for debris had bunched up the field and upon the restart, Alonso challenged Grosjean for second place around the outside of Turn 2. Alonso braked late, gave his rival just enough room and took the inside line for Turn 3. It was a bold move and when Vettel retired before the end of the same lap, the win was his.
2 | Nico Hulkenberg on Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton, Korean Grand Prix – 18%
Hulkenberg was battling with Grosjean and an ailing Hamilton for sixth place late in the race. Approaching Turn 4, he went around the outside of Grosjean and took the inside for the right hander of Turn 5 to move ahead of the McLaren. It was a move that secured Hulkenberg one of his best results of the season.
1 | Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Belgian Grand Prix – 48%
Was it as good as Mark Webber’s move on Fernando Alonso in 2011? Probably not. But was it brave? Oh yes it was. Raikkonen was suffering from a straight line speed deficit and was struggling to get past Schumacher’s Mercedes. Exiting La Source, Raikkonen got a good run on Schumacher and forced his way inside at Eau Rouge on his way to the podium.
Race of the Year
3 | European Grand Prix, Valencia – 8%
Narrowly eclipsing the United States Grand Prix, the European round at Valencia saw Alonso climb from eleventh on the grid to claim his second win of the season. Vettel retired after an alternator failure, while Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado collided on the final lap. Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher completed the podium.
2 | Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit – 24%
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix exceeded all expectations as Raikkonen claimed his only win of the year. Vettel raced from the pit lane to the podium, while midfield shenanigans eliminated several drivers in a race that will be remembered for the winner’s radio messages.
1 | Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos – 50%
With half of the vote, the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix was F1Zone’s Race of the Year. Vettel miraculously survived a Lap One collision and raced through the field to sixth place in a race that ebbed and flowed to decide the outcome of the world championship. Wet weather played a major role in enabling Nico Hulkenberg to lead the race, although he dropped to fifth after a collision with Hamilton. McLaren team mate Jenson Button won the race.
Summary of winners
- Driver of the Year – Fernando Alonso
- Drive of the Year – Sebastian Vettel, Abu Dhabi
- Team of the Year – Red Bull Racing
- Car of the Year – Red Bull RB8
- Surprise of the Year – Kimi Raikkonen’s comeback success
- Overtake of the Year – Kimi Raikkonen, Belgium
- Race of the Year – Brazilian Grand Prix
Thank you to everyone who voted in the F1Zone.net awards 2012. Keep checking the site for all of the latest news and features as we reflect on 2012 and build up to the 2013 season.