The 2012 F1 season was one of the most competitive and entertaining seasons in recent history, with multiple race winners and a drivers’ championship only settled at the final round. Although Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel were dominant in this era, it is nothing compared to the current Mercedes reign that sees us look to who will line up third on the grid and finish there. The top two spaces are seemingly always occupied by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in varying formations, with occasional interjections.
Why we Need a Season Like the 2012 F1 Season
There are several aspects that made the 2012 season what it was. Firstly, there were 12 teams on the grid. Not all were competitive with the likes of HRT and Marussia always at the back, but within the midfield there was always close competition, with extra excitement added during a retirement-heavy Grand Prix with focus turning to the now defunct Caterham F1 team and whether they could score points.
Up ahead, although Red Bull and Vettel seemed to leap away with the drivers’ and constructors’ championship, it was a much closer fight between the Milton Keynes squad, Ferrari, McLaren and even Lotus than it is now. The grid looked full compared to how it is now. Hopefully the new for 2016 Haas F1 team will be the start of getting back to a 24 car grid which provided some great action in 2012.
The drivers themselves also provided intense on and off track action. There was the bitter rivalry between Mark Webber and Vettel, similar to Rosberg and Hamilton now, although the Aussie was never afraid to upset his team. Sauber’s two drivers, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, provided some exciting track action and produced Sauber’s best season in years, both picking up podiums. What’s more, Williams F1 returned to competitiveness with Pastor Maldonado scoring his and the team’s first win since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004. The Senna name also returned to the Grove squad; Ayrton’s nephew, Bruno, drove for the team, finishing the year with more top ten finishes than his team-mate. On top of that, six drivers’ champions made up the grid including the returning Kimi Raikkonen and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
Another key factor that puts the 2012 season up there with some of the best years F1 has had was the fact that the first seven races were won by seven different drivers.
R1 Australia — Jenson Button, McLaren
R2 Malaysia — Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
R3 China — Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
R4 Bahrain — Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
R5 Spain — Pastor Maldonado, Williams
R6 Monaco — Mark Webber, Red Bull
R7 Canada — Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
In total, the championship leader changed eight times between Button, Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. In the end, Vettel only won the championship by a mere three points, something we could have only imagined at the end of the 2015 season.
Of course it is near on impossible to replicate the season exactly, and that would be boring even if that were possible. Nevertheless, Formula One is relying too much on its heritage at the moment to keep fans loyal and encourage new ones. The 2017 regulations are currently being hotly contested as to whether they would encourage better racing than that of the current ones. If Formula One were to go back to 2012-style regulations with Pirelli’s unpredictable tyre compounds, the dwindling viewership would surely increase. Louder engines might be nice as well, but that’s less important.
At the end of the day everything revolves around money in F1 and at the moment, the financial situation within the supposed pinnacle of motorsport is hurting the racing, which is the ultimate reason why people pay to watch a Grand Prix.