It was a tale of two halves on Sunday as Fernando Alonso won an incident-filled European Grand Prix in Valencia.
The Spaniard recovered from 11th on the grid to become the first repeat winner of an unpredictable 2012 in front of his home fans. Post-race, he stood proudly on the podium next to two other former World Champions – Kimi Raikonnen and Michael Schumacher – as the crowd greeted his victory with raucous applause.
…told a different story…
Yet, the headlines might have told a different story were it not for the introduction of the safety car during lap 30.
After his 33rd career pole, Sebastian Vettel, had built an overwhelming 20 second lead until a collision between Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Éric Vergne forced the safety car, undoing the reigning champion’s early work. Proceedings only restarted six laps later and what followed turned the race on its head.
…engine suddenly stalled…
Alonso jumped from fourth to second and Lewis Hamilton moved into third. But Vettel’s engine suddenly stalled and his Red Bull slowly ground to a halt.
The German was left stunned and frustrated and declared that the problem was ‘unclear’. Roman Grosjean’s race then suffered a similar fate as his Lotus also slowed to a standstill.
…set for podium finishes,
At this point, the leading triumvirate of Alonso, Hamilton and Raikonnen looked set for podium finishes, whilst Schumacher and Mark Webber were advancing up the grid further back.
But there would be one more twist as Hamilton’s tyres lost all grip on lap 55 and Raikonnen overtook him. And the woes did not end there for the Brit as he collided with the passing Pastor Maldonado, subsequently retiring. Maldonado dropped to 10th and Schumacher claimed his first podium since 2006.
…leads the Drivers standings…
Alonso now leads the Drivers standings by 20 points from Webber, who is on 91. Hamilton, meanwhile, falls to third on 88.