A Dash of Eau Rouge – Oscars 2012

The Class of 2012…how did they all fare?
Driver of the Year

Fernando Alonso. Driver of the Year

1. Alonso: A surprisingly easy pick given the variety of race-winners and the fact that the drivers’ championship went down to the wire. His brilliance, passion and sheer iron-willed determination shone out race after race as he pushed his Ferrari to way beyond its limits to achieve some astounding results. He may not have won the title but this was his finest season in Formula 1 by far.  

2. Vettel: Slightly harder to choose the runner-up but it has to be Seb – he hauled himself back into the title race and ultimately triumphed to become the youngest Treble Champion in F1 history. Ok his resurgence was in no small part due to Adrian Newey’s game-changing upgrades but he still had to seal the deal. Vettel’s drives in Abu Dhabi and Brazil from the back of the field were championship defining.

Kimi Raikkonen at Monaco. Old school.

3. Räikkönen: A very close call between Kimi and Lewis Hamilton but Kimi squeezed onto my podium for these reasons: (1) This guy hadn’t raced in Formula 1 for 2 years and it was as if he had never been away. In his first season back, he finished 3rd in the Drivers Championship, ahead of both McLarens, a Red Bull and a Ferrari. Yes the Lotus was good but not in the same league as those other cars. (2) They don’t make drivers like Kimi any more – a racing demon on track and cult-hero off it, largely for refusing to be a media-sponsor-friendly cyborg. Kimi is currently kick-starting his winter break with some snowmobile racing. (3) Kimi wore a retro ‘James Hunt’ helmet at Monaco. Actually this alone propels him into my top 3!
Team of the Year

The Red Bull Dream Team

1. Red Bull: A hugely likeable and impressively cool-under-pressure team boss in Christian Horner, a genius designer in Adrian Newey and  blindingly fast driver in Vettel. Its safe to say after 3 winning seasons that Red Bull + Vettel is one of the all-time great car/driver combos. After a distinctly lacklustre start to the season, they came roaring back with a vengeance. The perfect package.

2. Lotus: Remember all the debate at the start of the season whether the New Lotus were the true (or illegitimate) heirs of Colin Chapman’s Lotus or the offspring of the former Benetton/Renault team (not to be muddled with Team Lotus which is now Caterham)? Doesn’t seem important now. This team confounded all expectations by mixing it with the big boys with ease.  Their tactics and strategy need a bit of fine-tuning but overall a superb season.

Kobayashi’s brilliant podium at Suzuka

3. Sauber: Just pip a couple of other worthy contenders (notably, Force India) by their string of excellent results particularly in the early part of the season. Three podiums for Perez (before the wheels came off after his move to McLaren was announced) and an emotional podium for Kobayashi was a great return. They were desperately unlucky not to capitalise on their 2nd and 4th place qualifying positions at Spa.  The future looks bright in 2013, not least because Hulkenberg is coming on board.
The Best Race of the Year

The Brazilian GP 2012

1. Brazil: A spell-binding race where the title hung in the balance from the start to the finish. Cram-packed with crashes, breathtaking driving and constant drama. The spirit of Senna lives on at this magical track. Interlagos should get the final race gig every year.

2. Valencia: One of my favourite F1 races ever. A stunning drive from Alonso to win the race after qualifying 11th, Kimi was 2nd and most brilliantly of all, Michael Schumacher was 3rd. Without a doubt, the best podium of the season.

Schumacher at Valencia, 2012

3. Abu Dhabi: I feel terrible at leaving out the fabulous inaugural United States GP (well at the Circuit of the Americas) but for once the race was as spectacular as its setting. Carnage on the track, banzai overtaking, dramatic retirements, a phenomenal drive from Vettel to finish 3rd from back of the grid and a Lotus’ first win (courtesy of Kimi-Matias Räikkönen) since 1987.
The Most Coma-Inducing Race of the Year

1. Korean GP: Vettel took the lead at the start and led for all 55 laps. Psy didn’t even do the podium interviews. Presumably because he had passed out with boredom.
2. Indian GP: Vettel won after leading from start to the finish. For whatever reason, F1 in India isn’t working.

3. Singapore GP: Vettel won. You get the idea. The most exciting thing was the appearance of the Safety Car.
The Ayrton Senna Award for the Best Qualifying Performance of the Year

Schumi bossing Monaco for one last time!

1. Michael Schumacher at Monaco: The moment when Schuey snatched pole at the death at Monaco was without a doubt my BEST moment in the entire season. They all said he was past it. Well boo sucks to the doubters and haters. At the track which most rewards the raw talent of a driver as opposed to the raw speed of the car, Schumacher rolled back the years in electrifying fashion.

2. Kamui Kobayashi at Spa: An absolutely mesmerising performance to take P2 on the grid and a tragedy that Kamui’s race was abruptly ended in the first lap carnage.

3. Pastor Maldonaldo at Barcelona:Stuck the Williams on the front row in 2nd place. An absolutely stunning feat.
The Nigel Mansell ‘Il Leone’ Award for the Individual Best Drive of the Year

Vettel at the Abu Dhabi GP

1. Vettel in Abu Dhabi: From the crushing disappointment to be demoted to the back of the grid, he stormed through the field to finish 3rd.

Alonso at the European GP

2. Alonso in Valencia: A truly stunning drive to win the race after qualifying in 11th place.

3. Perez in Monza: Mesmerising drive to finish 2nd after qualifying in 13th place.
Honourable mentions:
Vettel – Brazil
Hamilton – United States
Button – Spa
Kimi – Hungary
Hamilton and Grosjean – Canada
Maldonado – Barcelona
Perez – Malaysia
The Random Celebrity at a Race Award

Matt Le Blanc at the United States GP

1. Matt Le Blanc at United States GP:Take a huge bow. You charmed the pants off us at the United States GP and didn’t even flinch when Martin came out with the ‘how you doin’ catchphrase that you must have heard like oh a trillion times.

2. Hugh Grant at British GP: Even by Eddie Jordan standards, it was an utterly bizarre interview? Have we heard any Oscar buzz surrounding Hugh’s film where he plays six small evil parts. Somehow I don’t think Daniel Day-Lewis (PLEASE can Bernie invite DDL to a race!) will be losing too much sleep. But Hugh we do love you and if we’re going to have a posh toff as PM, it might as well be you!

3. Owen Wilson at Malaysian and Brazil GP: Despite his blanking of The Pitlane Legend that is Martin Brundle, for some reason (as yet unfathomable!) I have to include wee Owen Wilson. Perversely, I’m looking forward to some more Owen sightings in 2013 and the giddy heart-stopping prospect that he may even deign to share a few words with the nation.
The Inaugural Best Use of Social Media Award

Lewis: What, you mean you never followed me? Ooops my bad.

1. Lewis Hamilton: There could only ever one possible winner! From tweeting confidential telemetry data to bagging out his team-mate for unfollowing him (when Jenson had never followed him anyway!), Lewis was on fire with his communications to the Twitterverse. Lets hope Ross and Norb don’t put the kibosh on all our fun next year. Can you imagine how fantabulous Lewis’s rants could be about the 2013 Mercedes?!

2. Fernando Alonso: A total revelation. Funny, controversial and passionate. The Samurai sayings were brilliantly bonkers. Oh and Nando, I am loving your work on Instagram!

3. Fake Charlie Whiting: So scarily believable that even the Real Charlie Whiting was impressed enough to bestow an invitation on his doppelgänger to attend the Canadian GP as his guest. When F1 meets the real world with surprising results!
The Time to Call it a Day and Move to Nascars Award

Narain, I’m sorry to say but you’re fired.

1. Narain Karthikeyan: Please forgive me Narain, but it hasn’t really gone too well has it? He’s definitely not one of the top 10024 best drivers in the world.

2. De La Rosa: Way past his sell-by date.

3. Mark Webber: Very controversial (there are definitely less talented drivers) but he is such a waste of a prime seat at a title-winning team. Totally chucked his season away (again) and doesn’t even help his team-mate much. Fail.
Biggest Disappointment of 2012

1. Mercedes: Need I go into detail. Probably the hardest thing to take was that the season promised so much at first and then totally and utterly imploded. Bitterly, bitterly disappointing. The only way is up but it’s a freaking long way.

The Williams fire

2. The Williams fire in Barcelona: After the euphoria of Maldonado’s win for Williams (and the team’s first win in 8 years), it was almost like watching a Greek tragedy unfold to see fire breaking out in the Williams garage post race.

3. Singapore, Japan, Korea and India:An absolutely horrific quartet of races. The biggest borefests imaginable that luckily I have pretty much managed to block out thanks to the stupendous final 3 races that followed India.

Brundle – A master at work

The Murray Walker Broadcasting Award is awarded to Martin Brundle. A seamless transition over to Sky. His #MartinsGridWalk is already a legend in its own lifetime (and you only appreciate how brilliant his pitwalks are when you sit through the awkward almost-car-crash gridwalks over on the BBC). Martin Brundle is the shining star in Sky Sports F1’s firmament and the biggest reason by miles that we watch the races on Sky. 
Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded (posthumously) to Professor Sid Watkins. This truly remarkable man proves that not all legends in Formula 1 need to race cars. The Prof did more than anyone else to call time on Formula 1’s ‘killing years’ and was one of the greatest men ever in motorsport history. 

The Prof and Ayrton


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