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That Fernando Alonso even found himself in with a shot of taking the 2012 F1 world championship title at the final round of the season was something of a miracle, but helped confirm the Spaniard’s status as one of the best on the grid. Ferrari’s F2012 was difficult from the start of testing and, save for a couple of races mid-season, always appeared to be trailing McLaren and Red Bull. An unexpected triumph in the wet at Sepang was joined by others in Valencia and Germany, and a remarkable knack for grabbing podiums and scoring points kept Alonso out front in the title race until Suzuka. A start-line error there, however, allowed Vettel to shave 25 points off his 29-point advantage and the writing was on the wall as RBR proved the team to beat as F1 traversed Asia. In the top three in seven races around his Japanese DNF underlined Alonso’s fighting qualities – the Spaniard having adopted a Samurai persona via his Twitter account – and it was only the smallest of margins that eventually denied him a third title.