Well, to borrow the vernacular from another competition taking place later this evening, that was a game of a two halves. 30 laps in and the Sunday Afternoon sofa was set to witness something it hadn’t seen for a while; eyelids had drooped and were all set to close. So thank you Jean-Eric Vergne. Had you not taken a swipe at Heikki Kovalainen on lap 30, we might still be fast asleep and you might still be waiting for this.
Oh dear, it started out dull. But my, how it changed.
Up until the moment Vergne’s Toro Rosso made contact with Kovalainen’s Caterham and liberally seasoned the track with carbon fibre, Sebastian Vettel was just driving away from everyone. It looked very, well, 2011. Yet 27 laps later, Fernando Alonso was stopping on the track to grab a Spanish flag to go celebrate between two world champions who’ve returned to the sport. Yeah. Finally, after two and half seasons, Michael Schumacher has made it back to the podium, trailing Kimi Raikkonen home in third after some impressive strategic driving from 12th. (Alonso started 11th!)
It all caught fire after those few laps behind the SLS. Vettel failed to get away from and break the pack up, so in the jam that followed Fernando Alonso pulled off one hell of pass on Romain Grosjean who’d taken over duties chasing Vettel after McLaren screwed up another pit stop for Lewis Hamilton. How many is that? We’ve lost count.
Then, suddenly and without explanation Vettel slowed and stopped and got out and threw his gloves away. Red Bull enquires are currently centred around ingestion of some bit of Verge’s car. We had a race on. Grosjean was closing on Alonso who was now leading until his car broke (thus ruining our confident prediction from this morning). That left Hamilton to catch the Ferrari, only he was being caught by Raikkonen. All three cars, remember, had the same tyres of the same vintage, all three having stopped under the safety car.
Somehow it was Hamilton’s rubber that fell apart and, far from taking the fight to Alonso, fell first into the grip of Raikkonen and then Pastor Maldonado who had started fourth and seemed to spend the entire race there without once being caught on camera. Until the end. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. That one didn’t looked like Lewis’ fault.
So Alonso, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Webber, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Di Resta, Button, Perez, Maldonado. A more predictable result from a massively unpredictable race and, get this; though Fernando Alonso is now nearly a race clear, it’s Mark Webber he leads eight races in to the 2012 World Championship.