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How Vettel beat Alonso to the 2012 title – Pt.1

27 November 2012

The Brazilian Grand Prix brought the curtain down on an astonishing F1 season as Sebastian Vettel beat Fernando Alonso to the crown – becoming the youngest triple champion in the history of the sport in the process.

Here, Crash.net takes a race-by-race look at how Red Bull's German racer overturned a 44 point deficit at the half-way stage of the season to take the title away from Alonso and Ferrari…



Australia:
Jenson Button wins the season opener for McLaren with Vettel making the most of a Safety Car period to make his final pit-stop under caution – allowing him to jump ahead of Lewis Hamilton to finish second. The podium comes after Vettel can only qualify in sixth after mistake on his final flying lap in the session.

Alonso meanwhile fails to make it past Q2 after spinning into the gravel at turn one after his first timed run and he admits Ferrari has work to do, despite battling his way to fifth place in the race.

Standings:
2. Vettel 18
5. Alonso 10 (-8)

Malaysia:
Alonso secures a stunning victory at a sodden Sepang in a race that has to be halted for nearly an hour due to the extreme conditions on track. Making the most of the conditions, Alonso comes from ninth on the grid (having suffered KERS failure in qualifying) to earn his first success of the season but warns Ferrari that nothing had changed in terms of how much Ferrari has to do.

Vettel starts from fifth place and is on course to finish just off the podium until a late clash with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan causes a puncture that drops him down to eleventh – and means he leaves Malaysia having failed to score.

Standings:
1. Alonso 35
6. Vettel 18 (-17)

China:
Nico Rosberg takes his first F1 win for Mercedes in a race where both Vettel and Alonso fail to make any sort of impression on the end result. In a close qualifying session, Vettel fails to make Q3 for the first time since Brazil 2009 and can only qualify eleventh - dropping further places with a slow start when the lights go out. A two-stop strategy sees him run as high as second but fading tyres see him shuffled back to fifth at the finish.

Alonso meanwhile starts from ninth spot and spends the entire race dealing with traffic and also runs off track while trying to pass the Williams of Pastor Maldonado; meaning he takes the chequered flag in the same position in which he started.

Standings:
3. Alonso 37
5. Vettel 28 (-9)

Bahrain:
Vettel opens his account for the 2012 season as the German qualifies on pole position and then takes victory in the race having managed to see off the challenge of a charging Kimi Raikkonen as Lotus impress in the Gulf state.

Alonso's pre-race comments that Ferrari will struggle in Sakhir proves to be correct as he qualifies in ninth; electing not to run in Q3 in order to save tyres for race day. Although he gets up to fifth, the Spaniard struggles for pace on race day and can only finish seventh after losing out in a battle with Rosberg and Paul di Resta.

Standings:
1. Vettel 53
5. Alonso 43 (-10)

Spain:
Barcelona produces a shock winner as Pastor Maldonado takes his first F1 victory, while Alonso returns to form in front of his home fans to follow the Venezuelan home in second. The Ferrari man qualifies third before being promoted onto the front row thanks to a penalty for Lewis Hamilton and leads early on before losing top spot in the first round of stops. Despite pressurising Maldonado for the remainder of the race, Alonso is left to settle for second.

Vettel meanwhile starts seventh having not run in Q3 to save tyres but a troubled race sees him forced to take a drive-through for a yellow flag infringement and also sees him need to change his front-wing; the end result being he can only cross the line down in sixth spot.

Standings:
1. Vettel 61
2. Alonso 61 (0)

Monaco:
Mark Webber becomes the latest winner in 2012 after keeping a five-car train at bay on the streets of Monaco, with Alonso and Vettel both in the mix for victory. Ferrari had been tipped to qualify strongly in Monte Carlo but Alonso finds himself sixth on the grid and is lucky to escape from a clash with Romain Grosjean going into turn one – with the Ferrari man eventually finishing up third.

Vettel meanwhile starts ninth having elected not to set a time in Q3, which means he can start the race on a different tyre strategy to the cars ahead. A long stint on the soft tyre moves him up the order and ensures that when he finally makes his stop, he is able to resume a place behind Alonso in fourth.

Standings:
1. Alonso 76
2. Vettel 73 (-3)

Canada:
Lewis Hamilton becomes the seventh winner in seven races as Canada provides more drama in the title race. Vettel takes a dominant pole position and leads early on before being jumped in the first round of pitstops. The German tries to complete the race with just one pitstop but is forced in again late on and ends the race in fourth.

Alonso meanwhile qualifies third after a mistake in the final sector costs him the chance of pole and he runs in the top three until the final stages when, having also tried to complete the race on one stop, he is powerless to prevent cars behind on fresher tyres from demoting him down to fifth spot.

Standings:
2. Alonso 86
3. Vettel 85 (-1)

Europe:
Alonso becomes the first double winner of the season with an unlikely, and astonishing, success on the streets of Valencia. The Ferrari man can only start eleventh after missing out on a place in Q3 by just 0.004secs but some strong driving and good strategy from the team allow him to move up to third place behind Vettel – who qualifies on pole – and Grosjean's Lotus.

Alonso gets ahead of Grosjean on a restart to sit second and then inherits the lead when Vettel suffers alternator failure. A similar issue for Grosjean leaves Alonso with a clear run to the flag as he retakes the championship lead.

Standings:
1. Alonso 111
4. Vettel 85 (-26)

Britain:
Webber wins at Silverstone following a dramatic end to the British Grand Prix, with Alonso and Vettel joining the Australian on the podium. A wet qualifying session sees Alonso on pole for the first time in more than a year and he leads for much of the race until his decision to wait until the final stint of a dry race to run the soft Pirelli tyres leaves him powerless to keep Webber at bay just four laps from home.

Vettel meanwhile qualifies in fourth but loses a place early on before putting early for his first stop; a call that will help him move up to third. Closing in on Alonso late on, he is unable to follow Webber past the Ferrari and settles for the bottom step of the podium.

Standings:
1. Alonso 129
3. Vettel 100 (-29)

Germany:
Alonso takes his third win of the season, having taken pole in a wet qualifying session the day earlier. The Spaniard doesn't have it easy however as he is forced to fend of the challenge of both Vettel and Button all the way to the finish – admitting afterwards that he felt he had the slowest car of the leaders.

Vettel qualifies alongside Alonso on the front row of the grid and runs second until the final phase of pit stops, when Button is able to get ahead. The German reclaims second at the hairpin on the penultimate lap but is later hit with a penalty for running off track while doing so that demotes him down to fifth.

Standings:
1. Alonso 154
3. Vettel 110 (-44)

To read part two, covering the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, CLICK HERE.


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