In the last of 4 articles, I rank the 25 drivers from the 2012 season in terms of their performances.
This final section deals with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen – but in which order? Let’s find out…
3rd – Kimi Raikkonen
Previous ranking: 5th
Previous quote: “Overall he has been hugely impressive, and I am tipping him as the dark horse for the 2012 title.”
While he was unable to keep up the pressure for the world title, Raikkonen did a hugely impressive job this year, establishing himself as one of the sport’s finest drivers.
Victory could have come as quickly as his third race since his return, but Kimi initially appeared rusty in racecraft. This cost him a well-deserved win, and was his only major flaw across the entire year.
If it wasn’t for his tyres falling off the cliff in China, he would have finished every single race in the points. Not spinning and making a slow recovery in Brazil would have meant that he would have completed every single racing lap in 2012. These are very impressive feats from a driver only just returning to the sport.
Kimi only got more impressive as the season progressed. He took three podiums in a row from Germany to Belgium, then a string of good finishes kept him within striking range of Alonso and Hamilton. A worthy win followed up in Abu Dhabi, but it was too late to keep him in contention for the title battle.
Raikkonen appears perfectly at home within Lotus, a team that actively encourages his laid-back behaviour. Is it a match made in heaven? I think it might just be.
2nd – Lewis Hamilton
Previous ranking: 2nd
Previous quote: “2012 has seen a new evolution in Lewis Hamilton”
Hamilton’s 2012 title challenge will go down as a failure, forgotten within only a decade or two. However, this doesn’t do justice to what was a magnificent flourish in form for Lewis.
From the offset, he was quick. He deserved wins immediately, but luck was not on his side – being passed by Button in Melbourne, Alonso and Perez in Malaysia, and crucially, a series of disastrous pit stops.
McLaren are entirely to blame for Hamilton losing the championship. Once they had sorted out their horrifically slow pit stops, the car began to fall apart. Technical failures robbed Lewis of good results in Germany, Korea, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
Nevertheless, we were able to see how good a driver he really is. Outstanding victories in Canada, Hungary, Italy and USA were a joy to watch – when the team and car allowed him, Lewis was unstoppable. After announcing his move to Mercedes, he was freed from the shackles of a restrictive contract, and the next few seasons will show if he is legend material.
Will 2013 yield any results at Mercedes? I doubt anything will come just yet. But it will be hugely interesting to watch – if Hamilton can transform the team like Schumacher did to Ferrari, he will go down as one of the best drivers of the modern era.
1st – Fernando Alonso
Previous ranking: 1st
Previous quote: “For Alonso never to get a third title would be a tragedy.”
To put it simply, Alonso’s performances this year have been nothing short of astounding. I would even suggest that this is the best season performance we have ever seen from a Grand Prix driver.
By pre-season testing, it was already clear that the Ferrari was several seconds off the frontrunner’s pace. Yet Fernando managed to drag the car into 5th by the first race. When the opportunity arose in Malaysia, he grabbed it and never looked back. He battled tooth and nail with Pastor Maldonado in Spain, never giving up despite the Williams’ speed advantage.
At no point in 2012 did Alonso have the fastest car. Yet he managed 3 wins and another 10 podiums, more than any other driver on the grid. If it wasn’t for crashing out on the first laps of Spa and Suzuka, he could have taken 9 podium positions in a row.
His determination and raw speed throughout the season cannot be underestimated. It is something of miracle that he found himself battling Vettel until the final lap of Brazil, but he somehow pulled it off. A mere 3 points separated him from the greatest championship victory in the history of the sport.
Fernando has already said that he can never recreate this season’s performance again, and to an extent I believe him. In 9 years of watching F1, this was the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen.