Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Red Bull Racing Renault
Car: Red Bull RB8 (Abbey)*
Results: 5 wins, 10 podiums, 6 poles, 6 fastest laps
After two year of racing in World Rally Championship Kimi Räikkonen returned to F1 with Lotus. Therefore season featured a record 6 world champions on the grid. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Kimi Räikkonen (Lotus), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Jenson Button (McLaren) and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).
McLaren started the season with the best car while Ferrari were struggling. Over the winter Pirelli changed the tyre compounds which proved to be a major factor in the first half of the season, since teams found it hard to deal with new tyres. This is one of the reasons we saw record 7 different winners in the first 7 races: Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg (his 1st win), Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado (his 1st win), Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. McLaren should be leading both championships by now, but various operational mistakes (pit-stops mistakes and bad strategy calls) meant that Fernando Alonso was leading the championship half way through the season despite his Ferrari lacking speed. It was down to his good driving and taking advantage of most opportunities. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was scoring good points in a Red Bull but their performance was far from 2011 dominance.
The second part of the season again started with McLaren dominace as they won 3 races in a row. But then Red Bull found additional speed in their car and Sebastian Vettel won 4 races in a row, which meant he took the championship lead from Fernando Alonso. By now both drivers had 2 DNF’s. Vettel was let down by his alternator twice (once while leading the race), while Alonso was a two-time victim of the first corner crash. Despite great drives by Lewis Hamilton he was out of the championship fight due to early season mistakes by his team and reliability issues of his McLaren – he retired twice from the lead in the second part of the season. At about that time he also shocked the F1 world by deciding he will leave McLaren at the end of the season and join struggling Mercedes in 2013. This also meant that Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) was retiring for the second time – this time for good.
The last part of the season was fight between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to become the youngest ever 3-times world champion. McLaren again proved to have the fastest car, but that didn’t stop Red Bull from winning their third consecutive constructors’ title one race before the end of the season. Vettel entered the last race with healthy 13 points lead and Alonso needed at least 3rd place to stand a chance. But wet Interlagos once again staged a thriller race. Vettel had a slow start from 4th on the grid and dropped to last place after the first few corners following a collision with Bruno Senna. In a chaotic race through drizzle, light rain, then heavy rain and multiple pit stops, it was Vettel in a damaged Red Bull who emerged the man, coming home sixth to finish three points ahead of Fernando Alonso, who finished the race in 2nd place.
Vettel finished the season 1st with 5 wins, 10 podiums, 6 poles and 6 fastest laps.
Alonso was close 2nd with 3 wins, 13 podiums and 2 poles in a car that didn’t have the right to fight for the championship.
Raikkonen was 3rd in his very consistent comeback season with 1 win, 7 podiums and 2 fastest laps. He was the only driver to finish all 20 races, 19 of them in the points.
Hamilton only managed 4th with 4 wins, 7 podiums, 7 poles, 1 fastest lap, but 6 unlucky DNFs.
Button was 5th with 3 wins, 6 podiums, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap, but 4 DNFs.
Read also the season wrap up by James Allen
*Named by Sebastian Vettel