European Grand Prix rated best race of 2012 so far

2012 European Grand Prix

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The first four races at the Valencia street track gave little cause for optimism about how good this year’s would be. They all ranked inside the bottom 15 races since F1 Fanatic’s ‘Rate the Race’ began in 2008.

But last week’s race, which saw Fernando Alonso clinch victory having started 11th, was rated the best of the year so far and the third-best so far.

Its average score of 8.784 is only behind last year’s Canadian and Chinese Grands Prix.

The race also saw Michael Schumacher make a late surge to claim his first podium since 2006, followed home by Mark Webber who had started 19th.

Here’s what F1 Fanatic readers had to say about the European Grand Prix – amid much surprise at just how good the race had been:

I can’t believe I’m saying this about this circuit, but what a race! One of the best this year in my opinion.

Despite the boring first half with Vettel’s dominance, the racing back behind him kept it exciting.
Travis Humphery

I am not sure if this is real, but this was best race of the season. In a way, it seemed to combine old school races full of retirements with recent overtaking wave.

DRS spiced things up enough, but not too much to have the moves completed easily. Plus this podium is just so six years ago.

S.J.M also reflected on the quality of racing:

That race was everything that we all wanted to see, proper racing, great overtakes, heartaches and ultimate triumph.

It’s taken Spain so long to have such an exciting race as good as that and probably will take a long time to reproduce one. Great stuff and if it’s a prelude to Silverstone, then I can’t wait!

Smifaye put the excitement down to strategy and qualifying:

There was some great racing due to different strategies, and with people like Webber and Schumacher out of place it was great to watch them come through the pack.

And Damon pointed out not everyone has had the same view of the Valencia track in the past:

As a long time fan of the Valencia street circuit, I couldn’t be more happy with the race.

This track is beautiful and offers great overtaking opportunities. Now you all know it!

Alonso’s post-race celebration was appreciated by many:

Lots of incidents, passing, talking points, a home winner and finally one of the greatest F1 celebrations in recent years.

And the scale of Schumacher’s achievement was not lost on Bibah ru:

He stood on the podium in Piquet Snr, Senna and Prost’s generation, he stood on the podium with Hill, Hakkinen and Villeneuve, he stood on the podium in the generation of Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa and now he once more stood on the podium among the new kids like Grosjean, Vettel and Hamilton.
Bibah ru

What did you think of the European Grand Prix? Do you agree it was the best race of the year so far? Have your say in the comments.

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2012 European Grand Prix

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Image © Williams/LAT

50 comments on “European Grand Prix rated best race of 2012 so far”

  1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    2nd July 2012, 20:22

    I never thought that I would use the words Valencia GP and exciting in the same sentence, but then again I never thought I would see the words GP winner and Maldonado in the same sentence either.

    1. I have only two things to say: Thank you Pirelli and thank you alternator(s).
      In a circuit where overtaking is not possible they manage to gives us a great race with lots of passing and an unpredictable finish.

      I also have two wishes: the big 4 have to react and do something fast, because Vettel and RBR will magically transform 2012 into 2011 in the second half of the season. Finally let’s hope that the new hard tires Pirelli is bringing to Silverstone will not be a compromise for Michaels and marketing sake.

  2. Wow shows how bad f1 has got in 2012, with it’s new no attention span ‘the show’ viewers.

    1. BAD… F1… 2012… ?

      Really, mate?

    2. What are u on about? Bad racing? New viewers? Clearly your driver didn’t win mate….

    3. So why do you think it’s “bad”?

    4. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      2nd July 2012, 22:50

      new no attention span ‘the show’ viewers.

      Surely if a sport is to survive and prosper though the ages, it has to attract NEW fans?

      1. @tmcs88 that’s what I sort of figured…..I vaguely remember being a new fan. I question the “short attention span.”

        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          2nd July 2012, 22:58

          Precisely! We were all new fans at some point.

          1. Fairly ridiculous comment in the first place in all fairness. And I don’t get the watching for the show thing? Even as a long term fan Georgie Thompson was always going to be a positive, but even she isn’t that anymore; she’s barely on, she does nothing and she doesn’t know a lot. Still, she’s learning. There’s hope!

  3. 2011 European Grand Prix 3.871
    2012 European Grand Prix 8.784

    Amazing :)

    1. There is no way the 2011 European Grand Prix was worse than the previous three. We actually (almost) had a fight for the lead!

  4. i was gonna say ‘surely not’, but when comparing it to the other brilliant races this season (all of them) i have to say yes, it was the best race of the season so far.

    1. I enjoyed Canada more myself. After both Vettel and Grosjean retired from strong positions, the rest of it felt a bit artificial. The lead of the race was only inherited, not fought over, like it was in Montreal.

      I tried posting words to that effect a couple of times on the “rate the race” page, but the site was having some problems at that time (heavy traffic, maybe?) and I suppose it didn’t get through.

      1. @estesark I dont think the win was inherited. F1 is a team sport where man and machine must work together. When a driver wins, I see it as a win for the engineers who designed it. A car retiring due to a bad component is same as driver making a mistake and crashing.

        1. Well, as convincing as your use of bold type is, I don’t feel the same way.

          I agree that F1 is a team sport, but an alternator failure on two separate cars that share the same engine suggest that the problem could not be controlled by the teams. If every team produced their own engine then you would have a point, but they don’t.

          I simply can’t equate the failure of a component which was bought in by a team from an engine manufacturer with a driver crashing.

  5. Wow….Who’d a thunk it??

  6. And thus my point is proved! I have felt that since I started watching Formula 1 that the circuit does not dictate the race as much as I’m led to believe. So, so many variables go into making a Formula 1 weekend and I don’t think any one factor can be singled out as being the make-or-break situation. Sure, some tracks are more conducive to overtaking than others but for a start, who tunes in JUST to watch overtaking anyway? It’s hardly THE best thing about F1.

    I honestly think that the quality of a race is just down to how things go on the day. Saturday helps I guess.

    1. I completely agree mate. We blame the tracks for the processional races but that’s not the complete truth.

      Wow! Monaco GP, the lowest. Can you believe it? I think it will remain the least in 2012.

  7. I Love the Pope
    2nd July 2012, 22:12

    If Michael wins this year, he may move alongside Senna as my top F1 driver of all time.

  8. Nick.UK (@)
    2nd July 2012, 22:23

    It was sod’s law that it was the best race so far. What with the media and fans, generally, predicting and joking about how boring the race would be; even some drivers were stating their dislike of the track. It certainly set the race up well.

    My experience of the race was marred with highs and lows. The thrill of seeing Vettel retire, Caterham hold a half decent position and Alonso sythe through the pack… only to see Grosjean retire as well and Maldonado crash Hamilton off.

    I still rated it a 9 though.

    1. The thrill of seeing Vettel retire

      Don’t you think that’s a tad schadenfreude (couldn’t think of an English alternative to “taking joy in the misfortune of others”)? Although in fairness I thought it to be some consolation when Hamilton was unduly eliminated by Maldonado…

      1. Schadenfreud. Those Germans have a word for everything.

        Shamefull joy is the best translation Ive heard.

        1. @thecollaroyboys – yes they do! It’s a shame most of the words are unnecessarily long and complicated

    2. I don’t think the thrill had anything to do with Vettels misfortune per se, at least for me. After seeing Vettel slip away a second per lap, I started to get the feeling that the season is going to end as the last one started, but Vettels failure proved that this year they have to really push the car to the limit (and in this case even beyond it) to provide the same performance, so there is hope yet. Also, Vettels retirement paved the way for the rest of the late-race action, so one could understand the thrill of it.
      I was genuinely disappointed with Grosjeans bad luck though, but Hamilton and Maldonado once again managed to create more drama and excitement, which ultimately lead to a much more satisfying podium then a Vettel-Webber-Grosjean train heading to the finish on rails, which might have been a very real possibility, had there been no misfortune for anyone.

  9. who's better who's best
    2nd July 2012, 22:38

    Excitment at vallencia? Really? Guess I must have missed that!

    I think people have voted because of the result here…not the race

    1. I think people have voted because of the result here…not the race

      That’s very amusing – previously we had people complaining that races are rated more highly when McLaren do well. Now you presume everyone has shifted their allegiance to Ferrari?

      If you look at the highest-rated races by readers on the site you’ll find they all have one thing in common: They were all entertaining races. Funny, that.

      1. @keithcollantine haha..great observation Keith

      2. for me an exciting race means cars dancing wheel to wheel on track…not alternators over-heating and tyres falling apart

        that’s now 2 races in a row ruined because the rubber ain’t up to the task…and don’t try and tell me it is, otherwise pirelli wouldn’t be trying to expand the operating windows would they

        seriously…i think some are a little too easily pleased…just imagine what you would be saying if the safety car had not come out? exactly!

        perhaps we should do away with DRS, go back to bridgestone and just toss a coin to see what lap the safety car comes out to close the field up and produce some opportunity’s to overtake

        1. Sure, the Safety Car helped, but you can say that for many other races too. Thing is, Pirelli made those tyres because they were asked to. It’s the same tyres for everyone, they have to figure it out.

          On DRS, I agree with you. But they did hit the sweet spot of balance in that race (which they rarely do) – taking the turbulence out of the equation, but not making it too easy.

    2. True F1 fanatics enjoy a great race even if their favourite driver retires or doesn’t do well. I’d trade a Mark Webber win (my fav driver) for a race like Valencia anytime, mate.

      1. --- (@brazil2007)
        3rd July 2012, 17:12

        I would trade a race like Valencia for my driver winning anytime. That’s because I’m a Kimi Räikkönen fan :)

    3. Are you sure you did not see a rerun of last years race then “who’s better and who’s best”?

  10. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    2nd July 2012, 23:04

    I think the fact that everyone was expecting a borefest made the result all the more stunning. If the same result occurred at say, the Canadian GP for instance, I don’t think people would have reacted with such amazement.

  11. I thought less highly of the race than many; I’d give it a seven. The main reason for such is that I believe Vettel & Grosjean were cruely robbed of a fanatstic opportunity for the top 2 steps on the podium. However in retrospect Alonso, Schumacher and Webber in particular all drove fanatstic races and capitalised well on the misfortunes of Vettel, Grosjean (and to a lesser extent Maldonado & Hamilton). And it’s nice to see that the old dog can still compete with the new boys!

  12. Third best-rated race? An awesome one indeed, but surely not better than Brazil 2008?

    1. @enigma
      Ahhh but a bit of context is required. If brazil 08 wasn’t a championship deciding race like Valencia would it have been as entertaining? I would say no.

      Being a championship decider adds an extra element to the race making it much more exciting to watch, keeping you on the edge of your seat.
      Valencia didn’t have that extra element but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. Whereas if Brazil didn’t have that extra element, it still would have been a good race, but not a great one.

      But of course, it would be silly to discount brazil 08 this way. (I am just nit-picking for the sake of this discussion.)
      But hows this for a thought…

      Imagine of Valencia was the final race of the year and would have decided who won the championship (just like Brazil 08).
      Now that would have been a truly epic race!!

      1. Imagine of Valencia was the final race of the year and would have decided who won the championship (just like Brazil 08).
        Now that would have been a truly epic race!!

        Oh. My. God. I might have had a heart attack in that case.

      2. @julian That’s a fair point, obviously the championship made that race fantastic rather than just good. But that’s a part of it, and we vote on how much we enjoyed the race and how exciting we think it was.

  13. I watched it again today and it was even better the second time. Silverstone can’t come soon enough!

  14. Despite the boring first half with Vettel’s dominance, the racing back behind him kept it exciting.

    I think Vettel’s dominance is precisely what made the race exciting.

    When you look at the season as a whole, there tends to be a story to it, a thread of narrative that conencts each race to one another. Sometimes, these stories last a few races (like Button’s run of poor form), or half a season (like Hamilton’s problems last year).

    Stories are only ever as good as their villains. It’s the reason why the likes of the Joker and Ernst Stavro Blofeld (with the exception of his breaking character in Diamonds Are Forever, but that film only makes sense if James Bond kills the real Blofeld at the start and the body double wants to force peace onto the world) are such everlasting antagoinsits. In 2012, the villain of Formula 1 has been the tyres. But after seven races, most of the teams were confident that they knew how to get the most out of the tyres, and so they stopped being a villain. As the circus arrived in Valencia, a new villain rose up: the threat of Vettel dominating the season again, and undoing all of the excitment that 2012 has offered.

    1. Diamonds aren’t forever though. One of them had to resign from Barclays today.

  15. I guess the fact that no one expected this race to be much good did a lot to get us to vote as high as we did. But even without that it certainly was a race that offered a lot, partly thanks to a couple of technical problems.

  16. Valencia is so boring. Nothing ever happens at Valencia.
    I thought this would never happen, but it did. When was the last time Valencia produced a more exciting race than the Canadian one? Never?

    1. Alain (@paganbasque)
      3rd July 2012, 7:53

      A better race in Valencia than in Canada, this must be the first sign of the end of the world. :)

  17. I still want rid of the track!

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      3rd July 2012, 16:46


  18. If you told me at the start of the year that Valencia would be a serious contender for Race of the Year, I would’ve laughed you off (this in Year 2 of Pirelli AND DRS and neither helping last year’s race). How they pulled that off I will never know. And goodness knows if they can pull that off again.

  19. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    3rd July 2012, 16:35

    So Valencia needs two alternator problems and a safety car to be exciting? It’s like the promise of rain that never came true in Monaco. That race was boring!!!
    I’m fan of Vettel, and well, it pinched me when he retired, but I was still expecting some excitement when Grosjean started to attack ALonso,… just to see the same problem in his car :(, well I tried to keep my interest in the race, then Hamilton starts going pretty well… and the jack cracked. COME ON is that an entertaining race? It’s just full of FLAWS and MISTAKES. ANd to make things even worse, Maldonado crashed Hamilton in the last lap. I gave the race a SIX. (And I’m proud of it) PLEASE SILVERSTONE COME SOON!!!

    1. I think I lean toward agreement with what you are saying @omarr-pepper…we are supposed to vote based on how entertained we were and how exciting we thought the race was. I am always entertained by an F1 race to at least some degree, and I’m always excited at the start not knowing how the first corner, let alone the race, is going to play out.

      Valencia for me was entertaining, but for the wrong reasons…a driver running away with the lead is not my preference, but nor is a safety car…at least this safety car bunched the field back up but I never like an interruption like that in a race. The two alternators and the PM/LH coming together, while adding to the entertainment, were unfortunate. Oh I know that’s racing and these things happen all the time, but it just seems to me that, as Omar puts it, if these things are needed to make for an exciting race, then we need to keep at the drawing board…

      Julian made an interesting point that if this was a race for the WDC then it would have been epic, but ‘if’ is the biggest word in the dictionary. It wasn’t for the WDC. And if it was, SV’s fans would have been hugely disappointed not to mention crying conspiracy at the safety car coming out, as would RG’s fans have been so let down by an alternator…perhaps many would have found it an anticlimactic way to end the season…LH would have had to do the same thing and risk everything to keep PM behind, only Whitmarsh would have backed him on it instead of second-guessing him in hindsight, and maybe many others would have understood LH’s refusal to relinquish the spot and PM’s desperation to take it in a no holds barred manner.

      So don’t get me wrong…I was entertained as always, so I don’t want to be labelled as whinging, but runaways, safety cars, broken cars, and DRS does take something away from it for me on most days. I was happy for FA nonetheless, and for NR who put in a blistering last 10 or 11 laps on spontaneously decided new tires to come 6th, within 10 seconds of MS, albeit both of them helped greatly by the losses of SV, RG, LH, and PM…

      I remain of the general feeling that the tires should be a little less ‘cliffy’ and DRS needs to go. While these two components exist, these races carry little asterisks for me as they carry too much weight in affecting the quality of the excitement level. Easy passes from DRS or from radical speed differences due to the tires are not that exciting nor as challenging as I think F1 drivers should have it. Of course the teams are challenged to nail setups and strategies to suit the tires, but once those tires are gone the drivers are practically passengers, as they are when being DRS’d by an approaching car.

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