x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

How the 2012 Formula One teams performed

Graham Caygill assesses the performance of the teams which made up the grid in 2012 - and looks ahead to their future prospects.

The Red Bull Racing pit crew tend to Sebastian Vettel's car at Interlagos
The Red Bull Racing pit crew tend to Sebastian Vettel's car at Interlagos

With the 2012 season now over, Graham Caygill assesses the performance of the teams which made up the grid this year - and looks ahead to their future prospects.

 

Red Bull Racing
Constructors championship: 1st
460 points / Seven wins / Eight poles / 14 podiums

Not as dominant as in 2011, but still the same result as the Austrian team retained the drivers' and constructors' titles.

They did not have the raw pace advantage of previous years and this was unquestionably the hardest title earned for both Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

The team's hard work in developing their package throughout the year paid off as they found their form in the final third of the season, with Vettel's four wins on the trot between Singapore and India proving decisive in the end.

This was the best of Vettel's title seasons. In 2010 mistakes, from him and the team, left him trailing and needing his Abu Dhabi win when in truth he should have won the title comfortably.

In 2011 he dominated, but he did not have that competitive edge this year, with arguably the McLaren-Mercedes the fastest car over the season.

Yes, he had a performance advantage for a period late in the season, but he had needed to scrap earlier in the year to be in a position to take advantage of that when things did finally come his way.

Second place in Australia, sixth in Spain, fourth in Monaco, second in Belgium, third in Abu Dhabi and then sixth in Brazil were all hard earned, and while Fernando Alonso was magnificent for Ferrari, Vettel's efforts should not be underplayed.

Teammate Mark Webber won twice in Monaco and Britain, on both occasions his form being majestic. But he lacked consistency and too often disappeared in races.

It was a much better year than 2011 for the Australian, but finishing more than 100 points behind Vettel after being ahead of him by 16 points after the British Grand Prix in July will be galling.

 

Ferrari
Constructors championship: 2nd
400 points / Three wins / Two poles / 15 podiums

The F2012 has been much maligned, and deservedly so, considering the resources that Ferrari have at their disposal.

But 400 points and second place in the constructors' race should not be sniffed at.

While not as fast as its main rivals, it was at least better in the races, with the F2012 preferring a heavy fuel load to being light in qualifying.

There is not much that has not been said about the excellence of Fernando Alonso's season. He got the limit, and more, out of the car, and 13 podiums and three wins was a fantastic effort, given on occasion, the Ferrari was fourth or fifth fastest car on track.

Ferrari feel Alonso was robbed due to his innocent involvement in accidents in Belgium and Japan, that denied him of at least 30 points.

That is true, though the Japan incident did come because he cut across Kimi Raikkonen, giving the Finn nowhere to go.

But that isn't a fair game to play as Vettel lost 35 points due to mechanical problems and Lewis Hamilton lost a heck of a lot more.

Alonso's second place was an achievement in its own right and deserves to be lauded.

Felipe Massa raised his game to retain his seat for 2013. There are a number of conspiracy theories as to why Ferrari stuck with him, given his poor form in the first half of the season.

But in the Brazilian's defence he stepped up in the second half of the year - scoring 99 points in the last 10 races compared to just 23 in the first 10.

Indeed he was arguably the quickest Ferrari in both the United States and Brazil, but demonstrated once again what a team player he is by sacking off his own aspirations to aid Alonso.

Realistically, unless he wins the title in 2013, next year will be Massa's last for the team.

 

McLaren-Mercedes
Constructors championship: 3rd
378 points / Seven wins / Eight poles / 13 podiums

In years to come this will be viewed as one that got away for McLaren-Mercedes.

The British team were consistently fast all season, only really put in the shade by Red Bull for a three-race period in October.

Indeed they won the same number of races as Red Bull, yet finished off 82 points adrift in the final standings.

How did that happen? Well awful unreliability hurt the team, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both missing out on high finishes due to mechanical failures.

Hamilton was leading both Singapore and Abu Dhabi when he had to stop and if you factor in the fuelling error that led to him being disqualified from qualifying in Spain after he had taken pole position, then that is three victories lost.

Bungled pit stops also lost places in races, and given their speed, it is a massive underachievement they finish below Ferrari.

Hamilton was superb after an average 2011, and he won four times, and as said above, could have easily had another three, and that is before we get on to him being taken out in Brazil by Nico Hulkenberg.

Whether he deserved to be world champion is open to debate, but the 2008 champion, should have still been in the hunt going to Brazil, and the fact he was not is through no fault of his own.

McLaren will miss him next year as he heads to Mercedes-GP but the Briton is sure to be questioning his decision too.

Teammate Jenson Button had a strange year. He book ended the year with wins in Australia and Brazil, and then he put in one of the most dominant displays in Belgium to triumph.

But huge problems tackling Pirelli's tyres midseason and the fact he did not quite have the raw pace of Hamilton meant he was never a realistic title prospect.

Will be expected to challenge for the championship and lead McLaren in Hamilton's absence next year.

 

Lotus
Constructors championship: 4th
303 points / One win / No poles / 10 podiums

Most improved team of 2012. The only regret arguably they did not win more races.

The Lotus had a significant advantage in that it was very good on its tyres, giving it an edge in races.

The drawback was they were often off the pace in qualifying, leaving Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean too much to do on Sunday afternoons.

Raikkonen was fantastic all year and fully deserved his race win in Abu Dhabi, and he came close to triumphing in Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary as well.

Grosjean showed great pace too, and he was a genuine contender too in Valencia and Hungary.

Sadly his inability to avoid other cars on the first lap, sometimes through no fault of own, proved too costly, and his reckless behaviour in Belgium, that led to him crashing into Hamilton deservedly ended with a ban.

He is a future race winner for sure, but he must cut out the mistakes if he is to progress.

 

Mercedes-GP
Constructors championship: 5th
142 points / One wins / One pole / Three podiums

The good news was Mercedes won for the first time since 1955 in April when Nico Rosberg won in China.

The bad news was they peaked early and the season tailed off from there.

The car was very quick early on and Rosberg was a contender at the opening four races, and then in Monaco.

But as their rivals progressed, Mercedes stood still as their development stalled.

Michael Schumacher's podium for third place in Valencia in July proved to be the last of 2012 and they only scored six points in the last six races.

Rosberg showed that given the equipment he can win races, and he will want better next year.

Schumacher retires for a second time now. This was the best of his three years, with his pace good, and the real tragedy was he was quickest in Monaco qualifying, but a penalty from Spain meant he started 11th rather than at the front.

A 92nd win in his final year would have been a fitting end to the career of the most successful driver in F1 history.

Mercedes must now prepare for the arrival of Hamilton, knowing they must improve greatly if they are to satisfy the 2008 world champion.

 

Sauber
Constructors championship: 6th
126 points / No wins / No poles / Four podiums

An impressive year for the Swiss marque. Often in the midfield battle, when the opportunity arose they were able to fight at the front and four podium finishes was the best haul in a season for them.

Sergio Perez arguably should have won in Malaysia given he was faster than Fernando Alonso, before a late mistake as he ran wide curtailed his bid.

Second place there was great, and third in Canada and second in Italy were equally brilliant drives.

If the season had ended in Italy then Perez's reputation as a star of tomorrow would be unquestionable.

But a series of mistakes in the final races let him down and he heads to McLaren-Mercedes with plenty still to prove.

Kamui Kobayashi's future in F1 is unsure with Sauber not keeping him on. He was shaded by Perez over the season but still had his moments.

Finishing third in Japan, beating both McLaren drivers fair and square along the way, was sensational, and qualifying on the front row in Belgium was impressive.

Hopefully he still has a future in the series as he is certainly good enough.

 

Force India
Constructors championship: 7th
109 points / No wins / No poles / No podiums

Improved as the season progressed and racked up 63 points in their final nine races.

Nico Hulkenberg was one of the stars of the season, and it was a real shame that his magnificent drive in Brazil, where he led for 30 laps, ended in such disappointment as he slid into Hamilton.

He dominated his much hyped teammate Paul di Resta in the second half of the season and goes to Sauber for next season knowing a good season could open up opportunities with a top team for 2014.

Di Resta had his days, with fourth in Singapore his highlight, but for the second year on the trot he was bested by a German in the same car.

Last year it was Adrian Sutil, this year Hulkenberg. The Briton must prove he has what it takes to be a future race winner by beating whoever his teammate is next year.

 

Williams
Constructors championship: 8th
76 points / One win / One pole / One podium

This was the British team's best year since 2004 as Pastor Maldonado gave them an unexpected victory in Spain.

It really should have been more in terms of points, but Maldonado and teammate Bruno Senna's inability to avoid trouble cost them a lot.

Maldonado is very fast and he seemed to mature as the year went on and his fifth place in Abu Dhabi demonstrated that.

His low point had been Valencia when he ran into Hamilton on the penultimate lap as they battled over third.

The Venezuelan, with his tyres in a much better state, was considerably quicker, and really should have shown more patience in to when he was going to overtake his struck rival.

Senna was better than his 31 points, but his poor qualifying and contact with other cars let him down and he will be fortunate to remain in F1 next season, given he is set to lose his Williams seat next year to Valtteri Bottas.

 

Toro Rosso
Constructors championship: 9st
26 points / No wins / No poles / No podiums

The car was not quick and more often than not it was either Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne who went out in the first part of qualifying along the six drivers from Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

Both drivers showed good pace when afforded the opportunity, particularly when it rained, but neither ever really had the chance to shine.

Vergne can probably be the happier, beating his more experienced teammate in the points standings 16 to 10, but there was really nothing in it in terms of speed.

Both need to find more, and hope for a better car next year, especially if next year is Webber's final season at Red Bull Racing, leaving a vacancy at the other team owned by Dieter Mateschitz.

 

Caterham
Constructors championship: 10th
Zero points / No wins / No poles / No podiums

Vitaly Petrov's 11th place in Brazil ensured the team edged out Marussia for 10th, giving them extra prize money.

An unremarkable season, the car improving, but was still not quick enough to be a midfield runner.

A strange development was the drop off in form of Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn was superb for the first half of the season, but it was Petrov who had the edge in the final races.

Charles Pic is confirmed with the team for next season and Kovalainen's chances of staying in F1 seem slim, which is a shame given how quick he had been for the team the previous two and a half seasons.

Petrov will also have a nervous wait to see if he will be on grid for 2013.

 

Marussia
Constructors championship: 11th
Zero points / No wins / No poles / No podiums

Like Caterham showed glimpses of form, but are still, three years into their existence, yet to score a F1 point.

Timo Glock is too good to be that far back on the grid, and it was no surprise to see him mixing it in the midfield in the rain in Brazil with faster cars.

But in F1 the driver can only do so much, and the Marussia really was not good enough.

Pic did an OK job for a first year in F1, beating Glock on a couple of occasions, but it is unlikely he will be able to do much more with the Caterham next season.

 

HRT
Constructors championship: 12th
Zero points / No wins / No poles / No podiums

With financial difficulties plaguing the team it is questionable if they will be back.

While it is sad to see anyone struggling it is unlikely Hispania Racing Team will be missed in F1, with very little progress been achieved in three seasons.

They were slowest when they came into the sport in 2010 and still are 58 races later.

Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan did the best they could, but their main role was ensuring they did not block traffic when being lapped.

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