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It is almost five months since Sebastian Vettel won a Grand Prix but he put that right under the spotlights of the night race at Singapore. The fact that he did it at the expense of Lewis Hamilton – who retired from the lead with transmission trouble – says everything about the continuing roller-coaster ride of the 2012 season as this much-needed victory keeps Vettel in the championship frame despite relatively few visits to the podium in the 13 races so far.
The trend continued at Monza. Not a trend saying Car A is more competitive than Car B or that Driver X is on top form and has the measure of contenders Y and Z. No, the continuing trend shows the 2012 season to be eventful but inconsistent and unpredictable.
A large chunk of the Belgian Grand Prix story was written within seconds of the start as a multiple accident took out four of the leading contenders. But that incident should not detract from headlines carved out by the man who led from start to finish. Jenson Button was clear of the chaos thanks to having taken pole position in the same commanding style he would use to control the 12th round of the championship.
In relaxed and dominant form throughout the weekend – fastest in two of the three practice sessions, on pole by a reasonable margin – Hamilton finally proved the worth of McLaren’s recent update package by leading all the way at the Hungaroring.
Fernando Alonso became the first driver to win for the third time this season but he had to work very hard for it. The result of the German Grand Prix was never certain until the Ferrari crossed the line 3,7 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull and the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Alonso did it with typically intelligent and forceful driving, stealing three places on the first lap and gradually moving into the top six, ready to make the most of circumstances that fell in his favour.
The first six cars were covered by just 6,1 seconds at the end of 78 laps. While this may not have been a gripping race if you want overtaking, it was a Monaco classic where victory went to the driver looking after his tyres, running the best strategy available in the evolving conditions
Pastor Maldonado’s win in Spain was earned the hard way; a battle from start to finish with Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. It was exactly the sort of victory Sir Frank would relish.
Where do you start with a race like this? Ferrari wins; Sauber finish second; Red Bull struggle; Mercedes, having threatened to take pole, scrape a single point; Bruno Senna, dead last at one stage, finishes sixth for Williams and Jenson Button, the winner in Australia, has a nightmare on his way to 14th. Just who would have believed any of that?