Sebastian Vettel showed he is class apart in 2012 F1 season


Sebastian Vettel showed he is class apart in 2012 F1 season
NEW DELHI: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettelstamped his class by becoming the youngest triple Formula One champion at 25 after a gripping battle with Fernando Alonso, which was followed by the great Michael Schumacher bidding adieu to the sport for one final time in a dramatic 2012.

It took the German fourth race of the season to record his first victory and he was trailing Ferrari's champion driver Alonso in the first half. But a dramatic turnaround in the post-break season -- when he won four races on the trot -- catapulted him back to the title contention. 

Vettel is not only the youngest to have won three F1 drivers' titles, he is also only the third in history to have won three in a row after Juan Manuel Fangio and Schumacher. 

Alonso was amazingly consistent throughout the season and the Spaniard had even built up a 40-point lead by the mid-season summer break. He had also outscored Vettel in the final three races by 10 points. 

But Vettel was a notch above with his sheer class and the indomitable spirit, with which he even defeated not only his rivals but also certain situations that had almost spelled doom for him. 

The Abu Dhabi result, where he began from the back of the grid to finish third, was a perfect example of that spirit. He did not give up and luck too smiled on him. 

Even till the last race in Sao Paulo, title could have gone to either Vettel or Alonso but the young Red Bull driver defended his title when McLaren's Jenson Button won and Alonso finished second. 

Vettel edged past Alonso by just three points with a grand total of 281 at the end of an excitingseason, which threw seven different winners in the first seven races. 

Alonso almost pulled off a sensational championship win despite an inferior car compared to Red Bull and McLaren as he performed extraordinary in races, defying poor qualifying all through the year. 

Finn Kimi Raikkonen was also consistency personified as he finished third in the drivers' championship despite winning just a single race and that too towards the end at Abu Dhabi. 

The 'iceman' walked up to the podium seven times. Lewis Hamilton, too, had a good season but misfortune struck him too many times and that threw him out of the calculations. Thrice he had to retire from pole positions and twice he finished third from pole positions. That made a huge difference to his points tally. 

Poor McLaren car also hurt Hamilton's chances in the first half as there were numerous technical failures. All the potential demonstrated by a dominant victory for Button in the season-opener in Australia and two consecutive poles for Hamilton was thrown away by a series of operational failures in the early races and the poor reliability later on. 

Button became the first and the last winner in the calendar, which was the longest campaign in motorsport history with 20 races. 

From the Indian point of view, Sahara Force India had a reasonably successful season after a strong second-half although the team finished seventh in the constructors' table, one position below as compared to the 2011 season. 
Michael Schumacher to retire at end of current F1 season


SUZUKA: Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One for the second time and at the age of 43 on Thursday after failing to rekindle his old Ferrari magic in a disappointing comeback with Mercedes.


The team had already announced last week that the seven-times world champion, winner of a record 91 races in a career that started in 1991, would be replaced by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton for the start of the 2013 campaign.


Schumacher told reporters, packed into the confined space of the tented Mercedes hospitality at the Suzuka circuit ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, that his decision came as a relief.


"I have decided to retire by the end of the year, although I am still able and capable to compete with the best drivers that are around," he declared, reading from a statement.


"But at some point, it is good to say goodbye. And that is what I am doing here... and it might this time even be forever," he smiled.


Schumacher's first retirement came at the end of 2006, after he had won five titles in a row with Ferrari from 2000 and two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.


That departure proved premature, with the most successful driver in the 62-year history of the sport unable to resist the allure of a return with Mercedes when the Stuttgart-based manufacturer bought the title-winning Brawn GP team in 2009.


The move reunited him with friend and former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, now the team principal, but together they were unable to roll back the years and regain the heights of old.

Race - Webber beats Alonso to Silverstone win


SILVERSTONE: Mark Webber claimed the ninth win of his career on Sunday when he swept to a dramatic and perfectly-judged victory in an incident-filled British Grand Prix.


In a race run in welcome, if rare, dry conditions, the 35-year-old Australian steered his Red Bull through 52 laps of complex tactical and strategic racing to overtake pole sitter nad lontime leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari close home.


It was Webber's second win this year, after triumphing at Monaco, and his second at Silverstone in three years.


"Great day for us and a great day for me," he said over the team radio.


Webber's Red Bull team-mate and defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel came home third to ensure the champions had two men on the podium.


Webber's win was watched by a capacity Silverstone crowd of 120,000 spectators who had braved torrential rain for most of the weekend.


Alonso's second place enabled him to stay on top of the drivers' title race with 129 points ahead of Webber on 116.


Felipe Massa finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of his former Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus colleague Romain Grosjean.


Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes finished seventh ahead of home favourite Lewis Hamilton who produced some spectacular racing on his way to eighth for McLaren.


Bruno Senna finished ninth for Williams and Jenson Button was 10th in the second McLaren.


Alonso made a near-perfect start in the rare dry conditions when the lights went out.


Briton Paul di Resta was the first victim of the conditions and the traffic when, on the opening lap, Grosjean collided with him.


Russian Vitaly Petrov had also been forced to retire before the start when his Renault engine failed in his Caterham.


Vettel was the first of the leading men to pit after 11 laps when he came in from fifth, rejoining 15th.


One lap later, Massa threw his Ferrari past Schumacher at Stowe in one of many close battles before the German pitted and Pastor Maldonado appeared to lose control of his car and crash into the Sauber of luckless Mexican Sergio Perez.


Both cars spun and the resultant damage left Perez forced out of the race while Maldonado, frequently involved in collisions with other drivers, steered his damaged Williams back to the pits.


The stewards announced that the incident will be investigated after the race.


Perez was livid with his fellow Latin American and said: "He doesn't respect other drivers. I was already in front and he should have given space not to crash, but he tried to push me all the way.


"I don't understand why he drives like that and I hope the stewards do something. It is not first time he has damaged my weekend. This guy will never learn if they don't do something. He could hurt someone. Everybody has concerns about him."


Alonso pitted after 16 laps and rejoined ahead of Webber, but Hamilton stayed out on his hard tyres and inherited the lead which he fought to retain during a remarkable battle with the Spaniard on lap 19.


First, Alonso passed the Briton, then Hamilton responded and regained the lead only to be re-passed by the Spaniard again in thrilling fashion.


By lap 21, Alonso led Hamilton, who pitted to allow Webber back into third place.


Hamilton was fast again, but as the leading cars pitted again for fresh tyres amid a flurry of fluctuating strategic decisions which also saw Alonso dash in for his set of compulsory soft tyres, 14 laps from the finish, after 38 laps.


One lap later Japanese Kamui Kobayashi clattered into his own mechanics when he made a major error as he rushed into the pits.


Alonso, on fast-wearing tyres, was left to struggle to preserve them in the closing laps as the field closed up and Webber moved within reach of the Spaniard, finally diving past him to take the lead at Brooklands on lap 49.


That set up a thrilling finish with Webber pulling away ahead of Alonso in the final laps.

Honda's Casey Stoner wins Dutch MotoGP

Netherlands: Australian Honda rider Casey Stoner won Saturday's Dutch Moto GP here after a terrific battle with Spain's Dani Pedrosa, also on a Honda.

Stoner started on pole but soon found himself behind Pedrosa before retaking the lead with nine laps remaining and surging clear to win by a comfortable margin.

Italy's Andrea Dovizioso finished third ahead of Ben Spies, the American who won here last year.

However the race was overshadowed by an early crash involving Alvaro Bautista and Jorge Lorenzo that forced the world championship leader out of the race and denied him the chance of a fourth successive victory.

Fernando Alonso wins thrilling European Grand Prix

VALENCIA: Ferrari's Fernando Alonso won a thrilling European Grand Prix on Sunday, the Spanish driver becoming the first repeat winner of a wide open season.

Alonso, who drove a superb race from 11th on the grid, said: "I can't express in words my feeling at the moment, to win my home grand prix is a unique feeling, and with the football I'm feeling proud to be Spanish right now."

Alonso, who picked up a Spanish flag to wave on his victorious slowing down lap, came home first ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and third-placed seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 43, of Mercedes.