Monday, May 20, 2024

Still your favourite race after 10 years: Can anything top the 2012 Brazilian GP? F1 history

For the past 15 years, RaceFans has invited readers to rate every Formula 1 race during the season. In that time we’ve built up a fascinating index of your favourite grands prix, as well as the most disappointing ones.

But over the 10 years nothing has displaced the championship-deciding final race of the 2012 season from the top of the list. That year’s Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was the race which seemed to have everything.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso facing off to see which of them would be the first to take a third world title. Lewis Hamilton bidding farewell to McLaren in a race-long scrap for victory with team mate Jenson Button and – astonishingly – Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India.

Michael Schumacher bowing out of F1. The minnow teams fighting over the final prize money place in the championship. A rain-affected race full of spins, incidents and even – thanks to Kimi Raikkonen – a moment of absurd comedy.

Will we ever see another race to rival the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix for drama?

Title favourite Vettel was knocked into a spin on lap one

Vettel and Red Bull team mate Mark Webber occupied the second row of the grid behind pole-winner Hamilton and the other McLaren of Button. But the Red Bull pair started poorly and came under attack from behind.

Webber gave his team mate little room at turn one, which Vettel did not forget, while the Ferraris attacked. Felipe Massa split the McLarens for second while Alonso, crucially, moved ahead of Vettel.

It got worse for Vettel as they reached Descida do Lago. Braking cautiously for the corner, he was almost hit from behind by Kimi Raikkonen who took urgent evasive action. Then as Vettel ambitiously went for the apex from the outside, he crowded Bruno Senna and was knocked into a spin by the Williams.

Vettel rolled backwards, kept his engine running, then motored off in pursuit of the rest of the field. But the left-hand side of his car’s floor had taken a hefty hit, and his afternoon had just got a lot more difficult.

Start, Interlagos, 2012

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2012

Alonso passed two at once as lap two began

It got worse for Vettel soon afterwards. While his team mate attacked Massa, who had fallen back to third, Alonso launched down the inside of the pair of them.

Hulkenberg put in a remarkable performance for Force India

Alonso’s grip on the podium places did not last, however. Hulkenberg was flying in the Force India, taking fourth place away from Webber, then grabbing third as drizzle started to fall and Alonso skidded off at the Senna S. But the Ferrari driver was still 16 places ahead of his championship rival.

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