Over the weekend Formula One returned to Spain for the second time this year on the streets of Valencia and the talk of the weekend remained the phenomenon of seven different winners in seven races. With Sebastien Vettel throwing down a blistering fast lap during Qualifying and taking the pole position most were starting to think the 2011 champion would end the streak. When the race started Vettel had an excellent start and returned to old form as he shot out and built a hefty lead over Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean. It was starting to look like Vettel was going to indeed become the first two time winner of the year until his car mysteriously shut-off on lap 34 of 57 in a rare mechanical failure which ended his day.
Vettel’s mechanical issues allowed hometown hero Fernando Alonso to take the lead in front of an absolutely roaring crowd, but he faced serious pressure from the Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Grosjean was hard charging and chasing Fernando down until his car also shut-off on lap 41 which took an immense amount of pressure off the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Over the radio the Lotus team informed Romain that the alternator failed which caused an electrical failure, thus shutting down the motor. Since Lotus runs a similar Renault engine set up as Red Bull, it was speculated that the alternator was possibly the culprit in Vettel’s shut-down as well. With Romain out, points leader Lewis Hamilton took over second place but had a four second gap to Alonso. While Lewis was figuring out how he would close on Fernando, his rear view mirrors were full of the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen who was smelling blood, or more likely the quickly degrading tires of both Hamilton and Alonso.
As the race closed in on the last 10 laps Lewis was stil working on closing that 4 second cap on Alosno but Kimi began to ease off of Hamilton, perhaps he was worried about pushing too hard and having the same alternator failure as his teammate. As the race got down to the last 6 laps McLaren was hoping that Fernando’s tires would begin to fail, which would allow Hamilton to steal the win in the end. However with Lewis suffering his own tire troubles Kimi Raikkonen took Hamilton down and grabbed second place on lap 55 of 57. Lewis then almost lost third place to Pastor Maldonado right after falling to Raikkonen but Lewis held him off for a few turns until Pastor got a little too aggressive and punted Lewis Into the wall with only two laps remaining. The hit took the front wing off Maldonado which put him out as well allowing Michael Schumacher to take over third place and Mark Webber moving up to fourth.
At that point it was all she wrote as Fernando Alonso finally won in Valencia becoming the first two-time winner of 2012, followed by Kimi Raikkonen taking second place, and the great one Michael Schumacher grabbing third.
Fernando’s win shoots him up to first place in the points, with Mark Webber moving up to second past Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel. Now the F1 grid gets about a month break as next on the schedule is the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim starting July 20th.
To get another take on the European Grand Prix check out the SPEED post-race report.
[Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images]