Formula 1 is back this weekend as the fun and games comes to Europe and the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona after a three week absence following the Bahrain Grand Prix. Whilst it hasn’t perhaps started off with the bang that was last year, the action has been simmering just nicely to really take off over the next few races, and the level of intrigue remains high. So it is perhaps worthwhile recapping what has passed over the course of the first four races.
This is the moment which could ruin Sebastian Vettel’s hat-trick of Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship crowns.
Mark Webber took his second victory on the streets of Monte Carlo to become the sixth different winner in the opening six races of the 2012 Formula One season. Webber, who was granted pole after Michael Schumacher was demoted to sixth, drove faultlessly as he held back Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. Fernando Alonso took the final podium place and surprisingly leads the championship ahead of Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Webber, something few in the paddock would have predicted before the first race in March.
For the second time in three years, HRT will enter the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne having not tested their new car at any of the sport’s spring tests in Jerez and Barcelona. This year, after failing the last of the FIA’s 18 mandatory crash tests, Marussia (previously Virgin Racing) will arrive in Melbourne blind, too – their plan to run some light testing tomorrow, the day after the final Barcelona test ends, was nixed earlier this week by the sport’s governing body.
2012 is the third season in F1 for these two teams, as well as for Caterham F1 (until recently known as Lotus Racing). And yet, neither are anywhere near being competitive, and the failure to arrive at pre-season testing – a perennial issue for beleaguered and cash-strapped HRT, in particular – is just another indication that neither team has what it takes to develop into a legitimate F1 competitor.
“The Iceman cometh back”, screamed the headline of the October issue of F1 Racing. I picked my subscriber’s copy straight off the doormat and flicked through to the relevant article. I was mildly disappointed to read that it was probable the Finn would be signing with Williams. That would mean his glacial press conferences would be much more commonplace than his lightning speed.
Then Renault – sorry, Lotus – had a dreary end to the season, and someone at Genii Capital who’s probably never watched any F1 decided that neither erratic Russian Vitaly Petrov nor Brazilian Bruno Senna, who in fairness has yet to display anything other than good character and strong qualifying, had done enough to warrant a new contract. With Robert Kubica still resting the team’s future, and his part-severed right hand, following last year’s rally mishap, the French – well, English-French-Swiss now – outfit have plumped for Romain Grosjean (a questionable move) and Raikkonen (brilliant).