Season review: July


Between November 29 and January 3, we’ll be reviewing the 2012 motor sport season month by month. Along with these features, Ed Foster will be assessing each Formula 1 team’s performance, starting with HRT. There will be galleries, competitions and Nigel Roebuck’s top 10 drivers. Finally, in the run-up to Christmas, each of our writers will talk about their highlight of the year, so keep checking back every day. This time we look at July.

Formula 1

A soaking wet Friday and Saturday at Silverstone allowed Fernando Alonso to take pole position in his still off-the-pace Ferrari. Starting from second was Mark Webber, and a miraculously dry Sunday set up a race-long duel between the two.

With five laps to go, Webber made his move and took the lead, leading Alonso home in second. Behind them was Vettel, but the real story at the front of the grid was Felipe Massa’s fourth place, his first really strong result for over a year and his first visit to the top four since Korea in 2010.

The McLarens seemed to have lost a step at this stage of the season, Hamilton finishing eighth, Button 10th. It was a disappointing result in front of their home fans, but Lewis said he had pushed as hard as he could and the car had no more to give.

At Hockenheim, Alonso took pole position without the help of the weather. The Ferrari, if not the fastest car on the grid, was now able to compete in the hands of the double World Champion. Not only that, the McLarens seemed to be getting back to where they belonged; not qualifying well, but in the thick of it during the race.

An early puncture left Hamilton lapped, after which he caused consternation at Red Bull by unlapping himself from Vettel. This hindered the German’s pursuit of Button for second place and when he finally reached his prey he made a flustered, hasty move to pass him while off the track. After the race, the stewards handed him a 20 second penalty demoting him to fifth. Alonso won, followed retroactively by Button and, lurking all the while, Kimi Räikkönen.

The Hungarian Grand Prix confirmed that McLaren were back on top with a pole position and win for Hamilton. The race looked to be Räikkönen’s in the closing laps, but a KERS problem left him powerless to challenge the leader. They finished in that order, with Grosjean a fine third.

Alonso now held a 30 point lead over Webber, with Vettel a mere two points behind his team-mate. The title was starting to look like Alonso’s to lose.


The Canadian leg of the 2012 season brought Ryan Hunter-Reay a third consecutive victory. Starting seventh in Toronto he worked his way up to lead most of the second half of the race around the city’s Exhibition Place. With Will Power finishing in 15th, Hunter-Reay was now propelled into the championship lead.

Power’s form improved in Edmonton, finishing third behind Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato. Hunter-Reay’s points from seventh place were enough to retain the lead in the standings, but Castroneves and Scott Dixon were muddying the waters with their strong finishes. It was now a four-way fight for the championship.


The German Grand Prix at the Saschenring brought Dani Pedrosa his first win of the year, followed by… surprise, surprise, Jorge Lorenzo.

At Mugello, the top two were reversed. Andrea Dovizioso finished third in Germany and Italy, making it look like it was Casey Stoner who would wilt first under the intense pressure.

Then at Laguna Seca he won – followed again by Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Seeing the same three riders or drivers dominate can often be a chore, but when there’s so little room for error, it can be fascinating. With 25 points for a win, all three were covered by 32: Lorenzo-Pedrosa-Stoner.

What we had to say

Shortly after Carroll Shelby’s death, Andrew Frankel remembered how excited he was about his newest Mustang:
“I’ve always been asked, ‘What is your favourite car?’ and I’ve always replied, ‘The next one’. Well, I’m taking that back tonight. This is my favourite car.”

Mat Oxley went to the Bikers’ Classic and it got him thinking about MotoGP:
“You could spend all afternoon in a MotoGP paddock and never see a motorcycle. After all, they wouldn’t want a noisy motorbike scaring the corporate guests into spilling their cocktails, would they?”

In the wake of Vettel’s Hockenheim penalty, Paul Fearnley thought of one of history’s great overtakes, ‘The Pass’ by Alex Zanardi:
“In 1996, on the last lap of the last race of his Rookie of the Year season in CART, he lunged down the inside of Bryan Herta at the top of Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew and somehow gathered it up at its bottom – but not before his four wheels had crossed the inside kerb.”

This year we managed to record a podcast at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, being joined by the likes of Tom Kristensen, André Lotterer, Marino Franchitti, John McGuinness, Brian Redman, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacky Ickx and Karun Chandhok.

What you had to say

John Saviano stressed moderation when it comes to run-off:
“I do agree that gravel traps that immediately cause the car to stop are no good. We want a penalty for leaving, but not a complete end to that car’s race.”

Chris B decided to stay home and miss the chaos at the British Grand Prix:
“Silverstone, you really have done a very good job but when the weather is just so awful – not forgetting the six or seven hours it used to take us to get out of Brands years ago – I’d rather watch you on TV while I can.”

C C didn’t let pragmatism get in the way of his imagination when it came to rumours of a London Grand Prix:
“I think at one point or another, every motor sport fan has looked at a map of their home city and imagined the best combination of streets to make a circuit. I know I’ve done it, and mine’s a belter, but requires nerves of steel. The pits will be next to York Station if it ever happens.”

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