Sir Jackie Stewart has said he feels the 2012 F1 season was 'as good as year as we could have had' after a dramatic campaign that ended with Sebastian Vettel taking his third successive title.
No fewer than eight different drivers won races over the season, with six world champions in action – more than at any stage in the past.
In the end, it was defending champion Vettel who came out on top after seeing off the challenge of Fernando Alonso in the season finale in Brazil and Stewart said the season was one that would be remembered for some time.
"It was a great season, as they have been for the last two or three because we've had really top racing drivers - the best the world's ever seen,” he told Sky Sports F1
. "I don't think there's been a better collection on the grid than there were maybe in the late 1960s, early 70s when there was Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme and myself for example.
“There was a real battery in those days and for whatever reason that kind of disappeared for a while. For example, McLaren had Senna and Prost together but there was a little bit of a draft until Schumacher came along, and then there was a real draft of other competitive talent.
"There was a while where it just wasn't there. This period, you've got Vettel and Alonso, but you've also got Webber, Hamilton and Button and a few other really top guys. The teams are getting closer too. So this year is as good as a year as we could have had. To go to the last race and for the last race to be as complicated as it turned out to be was a fantastic finale."
The former title winner added that either of the top two would have been a worthy winner of the championship crown having produced impressive campaigns for Red Bull and Ferrari respectively.
"The right man? It would have been either Alonso or Vettel,” he replied when asked if the most deserving driver had been crowned champion. “I think, no doubt, the car of the year ended up by being the Red Bull - but actually the car of the year for a long time was the Lotus, which only won one race but should have won three races.
"The McLaren came on, as did the Ferrari, but the Ferrari never came on as well as the McLaren and never came on as much as the Red Bull did. The Red Bull at the beginning of the season was not in good shape.
"So I think for that reason it was a more exciting season because everybody thought Vettel for once hasn't got the best car. It turned out pretty damn good in the end, but he drove the last race with a car that I don't think many people would have been able to take round the track because of the damage, which was not so obvious, but was there.
"In fact the drier the track became the worse that car would have become in comparison to the other cars. He could compensate for the wet a little better perhaps because of his skill but I think if either Alonso or Vettel had won either of them would I think have been celebrated as being terrific for this season."