Many will argue that this driver should be at the top of this list. However, this driver’s season wasn’t faultless and, in the end, he just missed out on the world championship. He clearly out drove his car at the beginning of the season, but I don’t think his car was nearly as bad as he made it out to be by mid-season, by which time he had won the most races out of any driver.
2. Fernando Alonso
Testing was absolutely horrible for the F2012. It proved inconsistent and not very easy on its tires.
So, hopes weren’t high for Australia. Indeed, the great Alonso only managed 12th place on the grid after spinning late in Q2. He most likely would have just slipped into Q3 had that not happened. In the race, Alonso made a blinding start and made up several places. He drove like a man possessed to finish 5th.
Ferrari were in damage limitation mode in Malaysia. They were just riding out the first four races until the test at Mugello before the Spanish Grand Prix. Alonso made Q3 and qualified 8th. The F2012 proved handy in the wet and made progress once the rain started bucketing down. Soon after the end of the red flag session, Alonso found himself leading the Grand Prix. However, since the track was drying, the weaknesses of his Ferrari started to show, and the Sauber of Sergio Perez was catching him fast. Alosno kept him at bay and took the most surprising race win of the season.
Alonso was back at the lower ends of the top-10 on china and Bahrain, taking 9th and 7th in those races, respectively.
In Spain, the F2012 was much improved. Indeed, he proved this by qualifying 3rd. This became 2nd with Hamilton’s penalty. With the F2012’s race pace better than its qualifying pace, hopes were high for the race. Alonso made another great start on Sunday and took the lead into the first corner. However, the pace of his rival, Maldonado, was too good and the Spaniard had to settle for 2nd at the end of the race.
In Monaco, Alonso qualified 5th and made good progress in the race considering the track characteristics. Good strategy helped him jump Hamilton in the pits to take 3rd place.
Canada seemed to be a good track for the Ferrari as Alonso qualified 3rd. He was easily in the hunt for the win when he was leading for much of the race. His car however, couldn’t handle the one-stop strategy the team was attempting. He was left powerless in the last few laps and dropped from 1st to 5th by the checkered flag.
In another unexpected race in Valencia, Alonso qualified 11th. There wasn’t too much hope for the race, as passing on the street circuit is not easy. Nevertheless, Alonso made another great start and was up to 8th by the end of the first lap. He spent the race making fantastic overtaking moves and when Vettel and Grojean retired, Alonso found himself leading the race! He held back a charging Raikkonen towards the end of the race to become the first repeat winner of 2012.
A wet qualifying session in England helped Alonso to his first pole of 2012. On a dry race day, Alonso had his work cut out for him. He led for much of the race but found himself on the wrong tires at the end of the race. Webber took advantage of this and passed Alonso a few laps before the end. 2nd place was still a great result.
Alonso took pole again in Germany, but this time he held his ground against huge pressure from Button and Vettel to take his 3rd, and last, win of the season.
In Hungary, without the aid of rain, the F2012 was on the back foot in qualifying, going 6th. He did well in the race and finished 5th.
In Belgium, Alonso had another underwhelming qualifying, taking 6th on the grid again. He was, however, and innocent victim of the accident caused by Grojean at the start, and his race was immediately over. Alonso’s 40 point lead in the championship was cut down to less than 30.
In Italy, the Ferrari was very strong. Alonso felt sure he would have taken pole, but a mechanical problem held him back in 10th. Surprisingly, Alonso’s Q1 time would have been good for 3rd on the grid. Fernando made another great start and soon set about passing cars to get up to the lead. He was running 3rd when Button retired and seemed set to finish in his new second place. This was important given that Vettel retired from another alternator failure in this race. A charging Perez, however, was too much for Alonso to handle, and he had to concede 2nd place to the Mexican.
In Singapore Alonso took another solid podium in 3rd place after Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton retired.
In Japan, with his points lead under serious threat from an improving Vettel, Alonso was desperate to get better results. From a disappointing grid slot, Alonso made a great start, but tried to hard to get past Raikkonen and touched his wheel to the Finn’s front wing. Alonso’s tire went down and his race was over. This was his first huge mistake of the season. Considering Massa’s finishing position (2nd), one can only imagine what Alonso could have done in the race.
Two more runs to the podium in Korea, where he finally lost his points lead, and India, kept him in the title race.
In Abu Dhabi, Alosno had a great race to second place. This was overshadowed, however, by Vettel’s amazing drive from the pit lane to 3rd place. Alonso expected to take a lot points from Vettel, but in the end he only gained three.
In Austin, the Ferrari wasn’t quite on the pace with the Mclarens and Red Bulls, but he finished in a distant 3rd once Webber retired with an alternator failure.
In Brazil, 13 points down in the championship, Alsonso did all he could to take the win. He kept his wits about him in the tricky weather. Vettel’s first lap spin gave Alonso some hope, but in the end, 6th place was enough for Vettel to take his third consecutive world title as Alonso took 2nd in the race and the championship.
It is very clear that Alonso out drove his car for most of the season, and to stay in the fight for the championship until the last race was a remarkable feat. However, in the race, the F2012 was just as quick as the other cars and in Alonso’s hands, the car did amazing things. However, a few small mistakes throughout the season and his huge one in Japan have kept him from the top of this list.