2012 F1 Driver Rankings #1: Fernando Alonso

2012 F1 season review

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It’s hard not to admire a talented driver working wonders in a sub-par car. Watching Fernando Alonso grapple with the F2012 during qualifying in Melbourne, struggling merely to keep the thing pointed in a straight line, I doubted we’d see him on top of the podium any time soon.

Of course I was quickly proved wrong. At the next race the Sepang International Circuit was doused by a rain storm, and having qualified 1.3 seconds off the McLarens in the dry Alonso now had the pace to win. He seized the opportunity and never put a wheel out of place as Sergio Perez bore down on him.

This looked like a great win at the time and when the next two rounds supplied further proof of how far off the mark the F2012 was, the feat Alonso performed in Malaysia shone even more brightly. Heading back to Europe he trailed Sebastian Vettel in the championship by just ten points and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren by six.

Beat team mate in qualifying18/20
Beat team mate in race17/17
Races finished18/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate1011/1081

For all Alonso’s skill, it is doubtful he could have remained in contention for the championship had the Ferrari remained that bad all year long.

After testing at Mugello, the team arrived in Spain with a significantly improved car, which they continued to hone over the following races. Having been 1.5% off the pace over the first four races, the deficit was cut to less than half that over the next four.

Alonso immediately delivered on the upgraded car’s potential. Having previously averaged a starting position of 9.5 he lined up second on the grid in Spain, gaining one place thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s penalty. He took the lead early on, but finished second behind Pastor Maldonado.

From this point on Alonso could usually count on the McLarens and Red Bulls being quicker, and often Lotus as well. Yet with a little luck, a little help from his team mate, and a lot more speed and tenacity, he remained in contention for the title until the last lap of the season.

In Valencia he outstripped even his Malaysian Grand Prix success. Having started 11th he picked off several rivals early on, gained a few more places in the pits and put a sublime pass on Romain Grosjean after the safety car restart. Vettel’s retirement handed him a fortunate but hard-earned victory.

He exploited wet qualifying sessions in Britain and Germany, taking pole positions in each despite a lurid spin at Silverstone. Mark Webber picked him off in the dying stages for victory in Britain but in Germany he resisted pressure from Vettel and Button to win again.

That was his third and final triumph of the season. As Red Bull and McLaren grew stronger Alonso relied on a series of podium finishes to stay in the hunt.

His efforts were stymied by a pair of no-scores in Belgium and Japan while Vettel amassed 43 points in those two races. While Alonso was clearly blameless for the collision in Belgium, he could have done more to avoid his first-lap retirement in Japan, and indicated he viewed the collision as a racing incident.

Vettel took the lead on points in Korea but Alonso was straining every sinew to keep in touch. He came home second in India after passing both McLarens and the KERS-less Webber. Abu Dhabi offered a great opportunity and Alonso capitalised about as well as he might have done by taking second.

But the balance of power at Ferrari shifted surprisingly in the final two races. Alonso had comprehensively seen off Felipe Massa for much of the season but his team mate gradually recovered his form and out-qualified him on merit in America and Brazil. Ferrari remedied the former by deliberately incurring a penalty on Massa’s car.

In Brazil Massa not only out-qualified Alonso but also jumped ahead of him in the race, before predictably giving the position back quickly. Second place was the best Alonso could expect here, even if he hadn’t gone off twice when the rain fell, and it was not quite enough to keep Vettel from the championship.

It would be easy to exaggerate Alonso’s driving this year. It was not faultless, just as his car was not a shopping trolley with a lawnmower engine. Acknowledging the reality of his performance this years gives us a view of it that is more impressive for being authentic.

Yes, he might have given Raikkonen a bit more room at Suzuka, he might have got the restart right in Abu Dhabi and not gone off while trying to pass Maldonado in China. And it is surprising that Massa took over as Ferrari’s pace setter in the final races.

But this imperfect season was still a tremendous effort, and one which came within four points of being a truly stunning achievement. For that, he has to be F1 Fanatic’s driver of the year.

What F1 Fanatic readers said about Alonso

Here’s how F1 Fanatic readers viewed Fernando Alonso’s season:

Without doubt the driver of the year, to take a car which began the season 1.5 seconds of the pace and was on average the fourth-fastest on the grid to within three points of a world championship shows Alonso is the class of the field. Surely a third world title can’t be too far away – assuming his team can match his talents.

I feel his season has been a bit overrated by some, and his car wasn’t as terrible as he would have us believe, but it was a fantastic season Alonso’s had nevertheless. With his usual relentlessness he got everything out of the car and consistently delivered.

Great opportunism allowed him to secure three very impressive victories and his race craft was amazing all through the year. It’s always a shame when a driver’s season of such incredible driving is not awarded with the title.

He hasn’t put a foot wrong all season, and the only reason he missed out on the championship was a slow car at the start of the year. He’s had some phenomenal drives this year, and he did everything he could to try to win.

I think the championship was lost when he pushed too hard at the start in Japan and caused himself to crash out. But that was the one and only mistake of the entire season for him, and he’s proved without a doubt to be the overall best driver this season.

There is no doubt that this was Alonso’s strongest season to date. His racing talent was never under question, and this year he showed three characteristics which show his unique strengths – focus, intelligence and opportunism. If you add those strengths to his already strong race pace and overtaking ability, you have a formidable opponent regardless of his machinery.

His car was not a championship winner.. in fact far from it. Yet he never gave up and he came incredibly close to creating history – winning a championship in the third or fourth-fastest car. His first half of the season was spectacular, and he was a class of his own… it’s unfortunate that his only slight slump in form came during the last two races but I doubt it would have made a difference anyway.

Although the Ferrari wasn’t an HRT throughout the year, it certainly wasn’t the class of the field. Alonso’s campaign saw some intelligent and mature driving from the wily Spaniard. Like all great champions, Alonso enjoyed some luck as his Ferrari car never failed him. However, the fact that he was battling Vettel for the championship to the very end cements his status as the number one driver in F1.

Notes on how the rankings are produced

The F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings are my personal view on how the drivers performed across the entire season. Drivers such as Jerome D’Ambrosio who only competed in a small part of the season are not included.

Each drivers’ performance in all of the race weekends are taken into account and summarised. For more detailed views of how they fared in each weekend refer to the notes produced for each Driver of the Weekend article and the driver form guides.

A selection of F1 Fanatic readers’ views appear alongside the rankings. The full rankings will be published in seven parts, with individual articles for the top five drivers, after which there will be a vote for Driver of the Year.

Over to you

What do you think of Fernando Alonso’s season? Have your say in the comments.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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124 comments on “2012 F1 Driver Rankings #1: Fernando Alonso”

  1. I know why Keith says Alonso is the 1st in his standing, because he wrote that article in one minute (between this article and these of Hamilton) lol.
    Or maybe because everyone said it… autosport… team principals… alonso himself

    1. @jayfreese I laughed out reading your comment

      1. @kimrogue, Thank you mate it was made to. Not sure our man Keith shared the same feeling.

  2. This is the first season in 30 or so following this sport that I’ve been hoping for a Ferrari to win/succeed. And all because of this driver, who I never appreciated until his successes in this underwhelming car. I have a tendency to support underdogs, and to think of a two-time world champion in a Ferrari as an underdog may be a bit of a stretch, but that’s how it seemed this year.

    1. I’m with you on that. I’ve never been a Ferrari fan, but watching Alonso this year has given me a new level of respect for him (and I already considered him to be one of the very best).

      1. Abdurahman (@)
        15th December 2012, 6:09

        I third or fourth it. I have never ever liked Ferrari, they are like the NY Yankees of F1 to me (but have always respected them to the highest level for their history and commitment to F1), and never cared for Alonso either. But he was on another level this season. Plus it seems like just about every driver save Seb the Kid have said he is the best man out there. Clearly him in a Red Bull or McLaren and he would have cleaned up.

      2. thank you guys for supporting ALO this year. For his supporters has been amazing to watch all the F1 together saying that he is one point up the rest. I think Fernando had a lot of bad luck last 5 years, think it in perspective… 2007,2010, 2012. Watch it now, what had lost mclaren , FOR ME THE BEST SINCE SENNA

  3. I do agree it was a good, if not, his best season at times… However, I do still feel taking himself out at Suzuka and struggling with the car in the second half of the season while his supposedly average teammate was able to get more out of it cost Alonso the Championship. It was slower than Red Bull in dry conditions, yes, and Alonso did capitalise on certain situations well, but, by a small margin, I still believe Hamilton was better. If he has any chance of the title in 2013, he will need to up his game, and will not be able to afford to be outqualified and outraced by Massa as was the case towards the end of the season.

    1. I think its an exaggeration to say he struggled in the final 10 races of the season compared to his team mate.

      As Kieth pointed out, Massa only began performing better than Alonso in two or three races – one of which was Massa’s best and home track (Brazil). Of twenty races, it is not unusual (trend wise) for a driver to be beaten by his team mate in a few races during the season. Web beat Seb on occasion and Button beat Lewis on occasion. The other aspect to consider is Alonso had a lot to lose and an incredible amount of pressure to deal with in the latter races. There is no doubt that the pressure combined with Alonso driving slightly more cautiously would have played a role in him not dominating his team mate in two or three races of the total of twenty…

      1. Agree 100%, people slag him for not betting Massa in the last few races. It happens he’s human, Massa is no slouch.

    2. Exactly my thoughts. No doubt, he drove the wheels off that Ferrari in most races and did things that shouldn’t have been possible. His dogged perseverance was impressive. But…he did come up short at the the sharp end of the season when it mattered most. And there’s no denying that he had his fair share of luck.
      Was he the best driver of 2012? May be. But that is just because we couldn’t get to see what Lewis was capable of.

      1. Did he come up short or was Massa just faster than usual?

        1. @infy my assessment was purely based on his performance, not with Massa as the benchmark. In Abu Dhabi and Brazil, he seemed like a shadow of the guy who turned up in Valencia.

        2. @infy – it is completely excusable that he may have had a few races where he wasn’t completly on it. Brazil for example, where he ran wide into the Senna Esses and under-preformed slightly in qualifying. Perhaps that was due to pressure, perhaps that was in part due to dampened spirits or a car lacking his personal tastes – whatever the reason though he just didn’t seem to be the guy that turned up in Valencia as @kimrogue said.

          1. Perhaps that was due to pressure

            That was due to the fact that he was absolutely on the limit

          2. @tifoso1989 – …and beyond. Was he pushing just too hard? Vettel definitely did that in qualifying which caused him to ruin his flying lap, perhaps Alonso did a similar thing?

  4. Fernando was incredible this season, no question. But you have to wonder what happened at the crucial end of the season when he was being out-paced by Massa. It was a bit surprising.

    1. I think it’s more to do with Massa returning to form. Back in 2010, I expected Alonso and Massa to be close, with Massa beating Alonso occasionally. It seems like this is only just beginning to happen.

    2. I think people are reading way too much into that. Felipe Massa is still the same driver that out-scored Kimi Raikkonen as team mates and at times was faster than Michael Schumacher in the same car. An on form Felipe Massa is a match for anyone so people shouldn’t be too surprised if he beats Alonso every now and again. In fact I’d say the fact that Alonso spent 1011/1081 laps this season ahead of Massa says more about Alonso’s season than the few times where Massa was faster.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        14th December 2012, 16:37

        Well, the point is that Massa could have scored more points if the team wouldn’t have altered the order in some races. That’s what teams do, like Webber opening the door for Vettel in the final Brazilian laps… but what really angers people (and Massa’s supporters, who can be some bunch) is that Massa is never permitted to get closer to Alonso, when Webber, for example, almost finished Vettel’s race (and championship) when he tried to make a double overtake on Kobayashi and Vettel (luckily the move didn’t finish in an accident for any of them). @ads21

        1. Massa would be allowed to race Alonso if he was challenging for the title, and has benefited from team orders in the past at Ferrari. The only times team orders were at all needed or relevant this year was well after it was clear Alonso was Ferrari’s only title contender. It’s pretty much common sense stuff from Ferrari. I’d be far more concerned by the Red Bull/Torro Rosso inter-team orders.

        2. In this respect, Massa is much better than Webber. Imagine if Webber did take Vettel out? I sometimes think Webber loses the thread a bit. (And a podium or even a win is meaningless if it costs your teammate the world championship — that’s just pure childish ego…)

    3. I’m not sure it is fair to blame Massa’s increase in speed on Alonso. Was Alonso slow or was Massa just fast?

      You could even argue that in the final races when Alonso needed Massa the most, Alonso could have setup Massa’s car for him.

      1. Before people climb on and attack me for that… I was only speculating and don’t actually believe that to be the case.

      2. @infy
        You make an interesting point. It was fortuitous that Massa got it together just when ALO needed him the most. I dont know about the “setup sharing” as I would guess Ferrari being a “Team First” organization would have explored that option early on. From my armchair, it seems Massa must have had some problem with the F2012 before the upgrades. I seem to recall him receiving a replacement chassis early on in the season. He probably a bit of a confidence/personal problem as well. Ive always had a soft spot for Felipe, am very glad he was able to return to relevance on track, and ernestly pleased we will see him in RED again next year.

        1. It feels to me like FM stepped up his form when he was re-signed for another year at Ferrari.

  5. Alonso drove an incredible season, and that does take me to the next question, can the same sort of driving repeated next year? And the year after? If Ferrari cannot cut down the 6/10th deficit from redbull soon enough, I am afraid we will not get a new 3 time world champion in 2013

  6. We need a caption comp on the Valencia podium pic, for sure.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      14th December 2012, 12:57


  7. In all the forums Alonso is nr 1, team principals says Alonso is nr 1 (269 points out of 300 possible…),his colleagues says Alonso is nr1, he is the most followed driver in twitter, he drive the legendary Ferrari, he has the same amount of championship in his age as Schumi had (and drive the same car)…it’s a matter of time when Ferrari will produce a winning championship car, and when it will happen we will have some fun (especially me as a Ferrari fan)

    I’m not a driver fan but in my personal opinion Fernando Alonso is the best driver ever existed on Earth.

    But i think that the humanity will always avance physically and mentally …so in the future better driver than him will come.
    ohh just forgot, he has also a hot girlfriend..:)

    1. I Love The Pope
      14th December 2012, 17:33

      The best driver who has ever existed? Fanboydom has reached a new height here.

      2 championships and probably none more. He is not the best of all time.

      1. “Fanboydom has reached a new height here”

        Fell off my chair laughing at this comment. Spot on!

    2. @fanser

      he is the most followed driver in twitter

      Lets stop that pesky points system from ruining things for Alonso. Formula X factor is the future. And with SMS votes at 50 pence, Bernie could make an even larger fortune each weekend!

    3. I’m not a driver fan but in my personal opinion Fernando Alonso is the best driver ever existed on Earth.

      You’re on your own there mate.

  8. The one thing Alonso should keep from this year is that he may lost the title but his Legend grew significantly, just like Senna’s in ’93 or Schumacher in ’98.

    Massa well and truly outperformed him in Korea, US and Brazil but a) It is 3/20 compared 6-7/20 for Webber/Vettel and b) it is no secret that Massa transforms into a top class contender in CCW circuits.
    As for those who disagree, Massa’s and Webber carreers are quite comparable (both good in qualifying, put together one solid title bid) but where Massa just edges Webber in my opinion is that in Brazil 2008 Massa was sublime whereas Webber in Abu Dhabi 2010 was a journeyman.

    1. it is no secret that Massa transforms into a top class contender in CCW circuits.\

      good observation, he was also blindingly quick in Istanbul Park

    2. @philby, and yet reading this article made me realise that Vettel owes his 3rd, WDC to his team mates winning pass at Silverstone.

      1. @hohum
        Or to Grosjean, or to Kimi, or to Button. Just like, had Alonso won the championship, he would have owed it to Karthikeyan, and the good folks at Magneti Marelli. Or even to Hulkenberg who knocked both him self and Hamilton off the podium in Brazil. There are several people involved in a F1 championship season. And it has been like that for the last… 62 years. You could even call it a tradition for people to come in the way of each other when they race.

        1. and the good folks at Magneti Marelli

          Magneti Marelli had nothing to do with the alternator failures on the Red Bulls, it’s wrong to accuse them. Renault even asked for Marelli’s support in trying to solve the issue but there was little Marelli could do because Renault had modified the design. Red Bull’s repeated alternator failures can be blamed on Renault and Red Bull’s insufficient cooling. Also, Grosjean’s and Vettel’s retiremens in Valencia were of different natures.

        2. Yes I realise that there are multiple permutations, this particular incident though was not an accident, it was not from an unrelated team, it was a deliberate ( and yes,self-serving ) pass that denied Alonso a win and 7 points by the team-mate of the ultimate championship winner, much has been said about the advantage Alonso had with a totally compliant #2 driver, I just want to point out that a competitive #2 driver can be just as effective.

          1. @hohum “much has been said about the advantage Alonso had with a totally compliant #2 driver”

            More can be said about the advantage Vettel had with a totally complaint #3 and #4 driver. And In Brazil even a compliant countrymen as a #5 driver.

          2. @francuis

            the Schumacher pass gets way over played by the media. Vettel was going to pass him regardless, and pulled out 5 or more seconds after passing him. Schumacher didn’t want to lose time because his REAL battle was keeping Kobayashi behind him, since Sauber still had an outside chance of passing Mercedes in the constructors race. In fact, KK was in position to pass MSC just the following lap (or 2–I’d have to go double check).

            So MSC can play the old master passing the baton to his predecessor, but the reality was that wasn’t his fight and this had been the first race of the year, he more than likely would have done the same thing.

            Regarding the Toro Rossos just rolling over for Vettel — you realize that JEV was the most passed driver for the year? He rolled over for quite a few people. I know folks look at JEV letting Seb through in Abu Dhabi, but later on he did exactly the same thing with MSC. He knows there is no point in fighting and losing time holding off faster cars.

    3. I don’t think that either Alonso (22 poles in 197 starts) or Massa (15 poles in 172 starts) can be described as especially good in qualifying. Even prior to Hamilton and Vettel coming on the scene Alonso’s qualifying was far from Sennaesque, and I believe he has something like eight poles in five years since those two entered F1.

      1. No I didn’t say Massa is a qualifying hero is that his qualifying speed was always one of his best assets, much like Webber and Trulli as they managed to beat more often than not more heralded opponents.

        In Massa’s case for instance he beat Raikkonen in their 2,5 years at Ferrari when it is obvious who is overall the better driver.

  9. Alonso was amazing this season. He seemed to gain a lot of respect from those who didn’t “get it” before. Alonso has been the best driver in Formula One for a long time, and this year he showed us again why he is.

  10. Agree with the top 5. Nice to see Alonso 1.

  11. Glad to see Alonso get the credit he deserves. Its a pity Massa refound form (on a track he has traditionally been very good on) because gives a false impression that Alonso did something wrong or slowed down.

    Alonso is getting old and his time is running out. The next two years will probably be his last chance to secure another WDC.

    1. No I dont think his time is running out, remember Schumacher scored his third while he was 31, and he won his last at 35. Given that logic Alonso does have some time left.. :)
      However I do believe the level of competition is much higher though

      1. Well, that and Ferrari don’t have technical vetoes anymore.
        Unless there is an unprecedented cessation of internal politics at Ferrari I fear Alonso may struggle to win another title when Red Bull and McLaren are building faster more innovative cars. I mean, have Ferrari come up with a real breakthrough innovation recently?

  12. I agree with every word of the articles on the top 3 in rankings.

  13. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    14th December 2012, 13:08

    Well, he was “THAT” good for sure. Luckily he didn’t grab the championship. I wouldn’t have been able to hear Luca’s bragging and Alonso’s bragging and other people’s bragging about his third over V3ttel in a “terrible” car… hahaha bad car a HRT, Ferrari improved that car a lot, probably so much that Massa found himsel on form .I’d love to see Massa getting the best of the next Ferrari and keeping Alonso honest next year (and keeping the team honest about sealed gearboxes).

  14. Alonso had a remarkable season, but he did make more mistakes than Hamilton.

    His car was not that bad, and its not like he out raced Vettel and Hamilton, rather he was there to pick up the pieces.

    My impression is that Hamilton was #1 by a distance, as close to perfect as I can imagine, but that is a personal impression, probably biased by personal preference, like everyone.

    Even our esteemed host Keith Collantine seems slightly biased as shown by these two interpretations of the Grosjean Spa demolition derby:

    Alonso – “While Alonso was clearly blameless for the collision in Belgium.”
    Hamilton – “Hamilton might have avoided being caught up on it had he made the same set-up decision as his team mate”.

    The Hamilton article is basically a description of him being almost faultless all season, and the victim of external forces, and any slight error (conservative tyre change) phrased as a weakness. It cost him 1 place.

    The Alonso article rightly reminds us that the Ferrari was not so bad, and that Alonso did actually lose quite a few points through unforced driver error – something that cant be said of Hamilton – so seems odd that they are ranked in this order.

    Ive learnt a lot reading these articles and all your comments, so thanks to all.

    1. @switchbacker Regarding Spa my point was that Hamilton should not have been in seventh on the grid in a car that was capable of qualifying on pole position. The same cannot be said of Alonso.

      1. @keithcollantine Yep I got that, but the spin you put on it, IMO, shows a preference.

        On reading your excellent summaries it did feel like you wanted to jusitify Alonso at #1, despite the content actually pointing more to Hamilton’s almost faultless season. I also recognise you know a lot more about F1 than I !

        1. @switchbacker Of course I have preferences. Everyone does. Opinion pieces are the correct place to express those preferences and that’s what I do.

          1. @keithcollantine Yes indeed, and much to your credit. That was the point I was making, in the face of those proclaiming to know the absolute truth.

    2. Alonso out-drove Hamilton in Monaco. And Valencia. And I’m sure there are other examples.

  15. I can not understand how true lovers of Formula 1 are praising today a driver (Alonso) who did not hesitate to arrange hit his teammate (Piquet) against a wall in order to win a race (Singapore 2008). Formula 1 is not a fairy tale, but an unsportsmanlike conduct and even criminal like Alonso and his team principal should not be accepted by anyone, much less forgotten.

    1. So have you got any proof that Alonso helped arrange Piquet’s crash in 2008?

      The FIA looked at it & found no evidence that Alonso knew anything about it & Piquet Jr. told the FIA that Alonso knew nothing.

      If you have any proof that Alonso was in on it then maybe you should give it to the FIA?

      1. Ha, yeah sure, only evidence is that him and Briatore were caught on camera talking about it post race, Briatore looking at the camera guiltily and gesturing to Alosno to be quiet. Apart from that yeah nothing. How likely is it that the whole team knew, but not Alonso, whose race strategy was built around it? Seriously, come on.

        1. @switchbacker, it certainly stinks but remember that the desperation at the route of this ploy was said to be a clause in Alonsos’ contract that Renault supply him a car capable of winning races, in this I see the possibility of Alonso being left out of the loop but not stupid enough not to recognise afterwards what had happened.

          1. Yep good point, they introduced enough doubt to convince many, but personally I don’t buy it for a second.

        2. I think its amazing that you could think Alonso was in on that @switchbacker . The team did that to persuade Alonso to resign and by letting him in on the conspiracy would have made it a completely pointless exercise.

          The supposed camera footage could have been about anything. We all know how secrative F1 teams are about their inner workings and so it should very obvious that there could have been a thousand topics of discussion which could have returned that very response. Do you really think that if Alonso knew about the conspiracy, he would have gone and discussed it right after the race with his team? No… he wouldn’t. It is more likely that he had been suspicious about it prior to the race and once it had happened, he might have asked questions about it. Being under contract, he would have been barred from speaking about it without hard proof.

          Pique was in on it and as we all know, actions speak much stronger than words. He executed the plan knowingly and even during the mud slinging where I’m sure all sorts of lies were spoken, Pique nor the team nor the investigators even mentioned Alonso.

          Anyways, we’re beating a dead horse now. The issue has been proven time and time again and the judges (or whoever ruled on it) declared that Alonso had no part in it.

        3. only evidence is that him and Briatore were caught on camera talking about it post race,

          If that was the case then why did the FIA not penalize Alonso & why has nobody else ever brought it up?
          Also Hamilton, Rosberg, an FOM camera operator & FIA personnel were all in that room, Again none of them said anything about Alonso & Briatore discussing anything which showed Alonso knew anything.

          Also again nobody ever incriminated Alonso & that includes that anonymous source from within the team. Surely if Alonso was in on it there would be clear evidence or one of those who did know would have said that he was yet there is no such evidence.

          1. Even in criminal courts judges make mistakes, and are corrupt.
            As much as I love F1 it is notorious for its politics, and the FIA are far from being beyond suspicion either.
            As I said I don’t buy it, but that dosnt affect in any way that he drove like a master this season.

    2. Well I can’t understand how so many people are praising Vettel when his car was clearly not conforming to regulations. Oh, wait, but Red Bull then changed the car to comply to the regs, right? Ok that’s good, very sportsman-like of them… and they gave back those points that they earned with an illegal car, right?… didn’t they… give back….those points … that they earned…. illegaly….?

      1. @marciare-o-marcire Red Bull pushed the limits of the rules and never broke them. Is Alonso complaining about that? No he’s telling his team to do the same. Because that’s the way F1 is.

      2. Yet again people are simply lying in a pathetic attempt to relieve their jealousy. Perhaps you should not be complaining about Red Bull pushing the rules and start pleading Ferrari/McLaren etc. to push them more to, with the hope they may be able to take the titles from Red Bull Racing.

    3. Agreed. Alonso is a “Whatever it takes” kind of driver- just like Michael Schumacher was. Not a big fan of those, as talented as they are.I feel unconfortable when people put Senna in the same level as those .2 Senna was a driver that wanted to beat his opponents on the track fair and square.. Senna was “an eye for an eye” (Suzuka incidents)”, not “If I can’t win so can’t you”. Senna was a driver that wanted “fair” competition. If you see his interviews as well as of his racing conduit throughout his career, he is consistent with this message- the same can’t be said of the other 2.

      I was a big Alonso fan when he appeared- his talent made him challenge the mighty Michael Schumacher- he “slayed” the supposedly unbeatable “winning machine”. In the process, however, he turned into another “Schumacher”, Probably not in the way of crashing into his competing title rivals- Alonso is a fair racer on track- but on the behind the scenes politics of the sport, on the “mind games”. In the grid there are some drivers that excel on this to prevail, Alonso is clearly one of them. What I like about Hamilton is his genuine way of expressing himself (albeit annoyingly childish at times with his telemetry tweets), like Kobayashi or the no blush#t Raikkonen. F1 is a ruthless sport, but it should be that : a “sport”. These whole politics, mind games , schemes and winning on the secretariat moves are an aspect I really dislike of F1- but, do I ? Maybe that part is what makes the racing even sweeter- its the “plot” beyond the 2 hours approx. of a race…

  16. Mr. 110%, he beats physics in every aspects , he even knows a shorter distance between two points than a line! He is really superb, he is really great, but it’s so obvious that Massa was Ferrari’s guinea pig for too long this season. He could have risk more during the last stages of the year but I guess they never really thought that RedBull will be that reliable in the finals. I think Alonso just couldn’t handle the pressure at the end.

  17. Both Alonso and Hamilton did their best season so far.

  18. @keithcollantine
    While people may or may not agree with your rankings from 2- 23, i am pretty sure no one would dispute Alonso as no 1 and Karthikeyan as 24!
    Great stuff!!

    1. About 50% do according to the poll ;)

      1. True. :) But thats jus fans vote. If Jerome D’Ambrosio gets 3 % votes as the best driver of 2012, then we can guess how accurate that poll is. People generally tend to vote for their favourite driver and not necessarily the best driver.

        1. @1abe

          People generally tend to vote for their favourite driver

          Let’s put that one to the test.

          At the moment the most popular driver on F1 Fanatic is Jenson Button. So by your reasoning he should be winning the poll by miles.

          How many votes does he have so far? Zero.

          1. Great to see your reasoning for choosing each driver. I have accused your before for being impartial. You proved me wrong.

            I wonder though about the voters Impartiality. You said many times before, that most of readers are truly international and I understand that. I just wandering about when it com down to those who actually vote, how many of the are actually British and or is that truly international. I am asking because I see that Fernando only got a 49% vote on your site and on other web sites it is much higher, on average about 20% to 30%.

            It always seems to me, as an Alonso fan, I am more up against it on this blog more than others. Maybe that is the reason, the charm on why this is my preferred site. So many options !!!.

            Thanks for doing a great job.

  19. Yet with a little luck, a little help from his team mate ..

    He had a LOT of luck and LOT of help from his teammate. If there was a “Luckiest Driver of The ear Award”, Alonso would win it hands down. The typical Alonso race this year consisted of him running fifth or sixth, and then moving up to a podium spot when drivers ahead of him broke down or crashed out. Brazil was a typical Alonso race in that respect.

    Of course consistent and error free driving is praiseworthy just as much as searing qualifying laps, and I give Alonso credit for those things. But his driving this year was simply not as spectacular as everybody is saying. Nor was his car as slow as many seem to believe.

    1. Part of being a racing driver is to be ready to pounce when other drivers have issues (by their own mistake or not). You can’t blame Alonso for being there to capitalize on his rival’s misfortune. He has to get himself into that position and he has done that this year by making excellent starts. In that respect Alonso is one the most calculating drivers on the grid.

      1. You can’t blame Alonso for being there to capitalize on his rival’s misfortune.

        I don’t recall blaming him. I simply pointed out that his consistent presence on the podium owed as much to good fortune as to skill. You can’t point to a lengthy list of impressive overtakes by Alonso this year because, for the most part, that’s not how he moved up. But luck and consistency are elements which any successful driver needs, so there is no “blame” attached to them in my view.

        1. You can’t point to a lengthy list of impressive overtakes by Alonso this year because, for the most part, that’s not how he moved up.

          Correct, the main reason he moved up the order was usually due to his amazing starts and picking his was through the first couple of corners.

    2. Nor was his car as slow as many seem to believe.

      You mean it was slower than it actually seemed to be but Alonso drove it so spectacularly and got 3 wins from a car that was alteast nearly 1 second slower than the fastest car in the begining of the session? Man, i agree with you!

    3. Yeah he was very lucky to have such a fast car…..

    4. There are people on this forum who have a better opinion than ex F1 legends (Stewart,lauda,Fittipaldi) ,team principles, journalists, current f1 drivers(Button,Hamilton,Webber)…..

  20. The interesting fact I got out of this article was that had Webber not made that pass to win at Silverstone, Alonso would have won the championship, not Vettel. Another reason to have a strong “2 Rooster” team and let them race! Another reason to justify the WDCs 3rd, ranking? I hope Vettel is suitably thankful for his team mates help.

    1. I don’t know what you are referring to. Fastest race lap data? Qualifying times? First practice? With judicious picking of specific data from specific GP’s I can make it seem that any driver you care to name had a slow car.

      1. Sorry, that was a reply to “Abe” above.

        1. @jonsan
          Sorry, I meant ‘season’ and not ‘session’ in my previous comment. I understand why you must be confused. I didnt refer any specific data for exactly the same reason you mentioned: “make it seem that any driver you care to name had a slow car.”

          But i took something simpler: the qualifying lap times for the first 4 races. Its clear to see that that car was slow compared to a McLaren or a Red Bull, teams with whom you would expect Ferrai to fight for championships. To drive a slower car in that sense and then to end up 40 points by the middle of the season was actually as spectacular as everybody is saying!

          1. As I said, “judicious picking of specific data”. Change that to “the qualifying lap times for the first 6 races” and you could just as easily argue that it was spectacular for Vettel to win the title in such a slow car.

            Alonso’s start position in those races – 12,9,9,9,2,6. Not good.
            Vettel’s start position in those races – 6,6,11,1,7,10. Not good either.

            But in both cases the qualifying times and position did not accurately reflect the speed of the cars. Everybody but McLaren struggled to get the tyres to work properly in qualifying at the start of the season.

  21. Here we go again overhyping Alonso, seriously this nonsense has to stop, Alonso did nothing special in my eyes, he failed to overtake Maldonado in Barcelona while the Ferrari was better then the Williams and don’t forget how often he was lucky as well

    1. Its not necessary to acknowlegde Alonso if you dont want to but you need to give credit where credit is due.
      And with all due respect, you say that ‘this nonsense has to stop’ and then immediately make a statement that is precisely what you wanted to stop!

    2. the Ferrari was better then the Williams

      Yeah right

  22. In 2005 and 2006, the Renaults that Alonso won his championship titles with wasn’t the fastest over the course of both seasons, but the most reliable. McLaren’s reliability nowadays seems to be back to the same level it was before 2007, the year Alonso joined them. In 2007 and 2008, McLaren’s reliability was as strong as Ferrari’s is now. Räikkönen lost the title in 2005 because of poor reliability despite having the fastest car, just like Hamilton did this year. And if you look at Ferrari’s reliabiliy in the past, it was not particulary good in 2005-2009 (especially bad in 2009). In the beginning of 2010 it wasn’t perfect either (remember Alonso’s great drive in Malaysia that year), but from then on it’s been pretty much faultless. All this makes me think Alonso wasn’t just lucky to have a reliable car this season as some people suggest, if there is one driver who has the ability to make sure his engineer gives him a car that he can finish every race with it is Fernando Alonso.

    His amazing drives this year that made Webber’s comment from before ths season “as long as Fernando has a steering wheel in his hands he’s there, so never discount Fernando” more relevant than ever was simply the best I have ever seen anyone do, without a doubt. perfection is extremely difficult to achieve, but Alonso was the closest to it that I’ve ever seen, putting a not-very-fast car in places where it didn’t belong in the beggining of the year by pushing like a maniac, yet still having the consistancy that he had and generally (apart from Suzuka) staying out of trouble – thank you Fernando for making this season great!

    1. if there is one driver who has the ability to make sure his engineer gives him a car that he can finish every race with it is Fernando Alonso.

      You don’t seriously believe that Alonso spends time in the engine wing of Ferrari advising them on the best materials to use in the engine bearings or how to optimize oil flow to the cylinder head?

      1. No I don’t, what I said is that, maybe, just maybe, it’s not a coincidence that he’s always had reliable cars. Maybe he tells his team to sacrifice the slightest amount of performance in order to be able to reach the finish line as often as possible.

        1. Maybe. I’ve noticed that Button’s cars seemed a bit more reliable than Hamilton’s during their years together at McLaren. Perhaps that’s luck, but I suspect that some of it is due to Hamilton pushing his car a little bit harder.

      2. No, but he does spend a great amount of time after hour at Marenelo and according to the mechanics, more than any other driver they had before, even more the Schumacher, and that I my add was in the days when their was and insane amount of testing days.

  23. My assessment of Alonso is the same as Alonso’s assessment of himself.

    “I might not be fastest, or the most technical but I am consistent.”

    That seems about right. His success as a driver has never been about talking a lot of poles and a lot of race wins, but about finishing well on a consistent basis. He does not have a lot of wins in his career, but he is third on the all time list of podium winners. He will probably pass Prost and move into second before his career is over.

    But there are drawbacks to that approach and they can be seen in 2007, 2010, and 2012. Three seasons where Alonso came up short in the last race of the season and by the narrowest of margins – by a point in 2007, by four and three points in 2010 and 2012. But allowing for the new points system we can say that all three were by the same tiny amount.

    Once is bad luck, but three times starts to look like a pattern. The Alonso style of “not the fastest, but consistent and error free” driving works well across a season but at the end of the day, you can’t trust to other drivers having problems. If you hardly ever have errors, perhaps it’s a sign that you’re just not pushing yourself and the car hard enough?

    A number of people here seem to give too much weight to how many mistakes a driver makes. Mistakes can be, if not a good thing themselves, at least indicative of a desirable degree of aggression in a driver. Ayrton Senna made plenty of mistakes – but they were frequently a result of his pushing himself and his car too close to their limits. I’d like to see Alonso do a bit more of that.

    1. I’d like to see Alonso do a bit more of that.

      then you have to re-watch some of the 2012 GPs

      1. Yeah, I know, Alonso was always driving at “110%”. Except for all those times when he was driving at 120%, or 130%, or whatever number popped into his head in describing himself during the press conference.

        He wasn’t fast enough. If he’s been as fast as Massa in the last eight races he’d be champion today. I don’t want to say he “choked” – that’s a schoolyard taunt. But he did not deliver when he needed to, just as he did not in 2007 or 2010. There are drivers who need to dial back their aggression: Alonso needs to dial his up a notch.

        1. That’s your opinion BTW did you asked yourself why all the F1 world (ex F1 champions current drivers team principles and journalists) has a different opinion to yours ???
          i think they’re wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        2. You don’t win championships by retireing from half the races

          1. Very true, but in 2010 Alonso proved you don’t win championships by racing for 4th. Vettel almost made that mistake in Brazil, but fortunately Alonso wasn’t racing to win, he was racing for a podium.

            It’s a quality I admire in Vettel and Hamilton – both go out to win knowing that everything else will fall into place. And that quality is perfectly in line with Senna (“Winning is the most important. Everything is consequence of that.” or “I just love winning.”)

          2. Of course there’s a balance to be struck there. But I’d suggest that Alonso’s three runner-up seasons indicate that he’s not getting that balance quite right.

          3. davidnotcoulthard
            15th December 2012, 3:41

            If that’s how he want’s to win the WDC surely he can learn from Rosberg! Ask Villeneuve about it!

    2. Thank you.

    3. And your assessment seems to forget about the fact that he never driven the fast car out right. Would he have lost the championship with his consistency if he had driven the Red Bull the last three years?

  24. Ferrari has been the third fastest car during this season. For Alonso, it hasn´t been a matter of “avoid mistakes”; it’s been a matter of “extract the maximum from what you have”. It’s astonishing how some people tend to ignore the influence of the car in the final result. If you don´t have the best car…if you shouldn´t wait for other’s mistakes…if you shouldn´t rely on consistency…how should you win? Exceeding the limits of the car? Exposing yourself to a crash? Making miracles?

    Alonso is not just a consistent driver; he is much more than that. That’s the reason why so many people consider him one of the very best drivers in history

    I can imagine the pressure Fernando has been dealing with. He got to Brazil without car/points advantage, he started the race 14 points behind Vettel and finished only 3 points behind… and the only thing some people seem to have seen is that Massa was faster than him and he couldn´t beat Button. Was Ferrari faster than Mclaren? Was Massa constantly faster than Alonso? Was Massa faster than Button? Was the pressure on Massa’s shoulders? Was Massa unable to beat fast drivers in the past?

    Maybe I’m wrong but I have the sense that Alonso’s 2012 season will be remembered… even though he didn’t win, even though Massa was faster than him in three races, even though he was benefited from other’s luck of reliability (others benefited from Ferrari luck of speed)

    Alonso is not a god and obviously he can´t make miracles. He is simply one of the greatest F1 drivers ever and I am here to give credit where it is due.

    1. I was trying to say ‘lack of reliability’ and ‘lack of speed’. It seems that I can´t avoid mistakes

    2. it’s been a matter of “extract the maximum from what you have”.

      There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I believe that if Massa had been able to drive his own race instead of shepherding Alonso in Brazil he might well have won with Button second. The same is true for some of the other instances where Massa sacrificed his race – it wasn’t a simple swap of third for fourth, Massa sometimes abandoned a real chance at second t take fourth.

      So I can’t agree that Alonso consistently extracted the maximum possible performance from his car. He drove well this season – very well in fact – but not as well as humanly possible, which is what his admirers are saying. He COULD have won the title if he’d driven as well as his teammate did at times. I believe if he’d matched Massa’s performance in Brazil Alonso would be champion today.

      That’s a very high bar to set, but it’s one that has to be met by “one of the greatest F1 drivers ever”.

      1. So in your opinion Ferrari was faster than Mclaren in Brazil… based on what?

        There’s no way of knowing for sure… but Alonso and Massa hadn´t the same diffuser in Austin…was Massa’s old diffuser better than Alonso’s new diffuser? was Massa faster because of that? this is the kind of reasoning any person can make when ‘there’s no way of knowing for sure’

        There’s no way of knowing for sure…Massa had nothing to lose in Brazil…Alonso everything…could this have affected them in some way? By the way, was Massa faster than Alonso lap after lap?

        Alonso has been driving a car that almost never was the fastest and even so he managed to finish 3 points behind the winner. My rational mind tells me that he was extracting the maximun of the car during most part of the season. In any case, what I was trying to say is that when you don´t have the machinery for being first, you have to fight for being second, or third, or whatever, but try to be up there constantly…summarizing, try to be constant.

  25. This was a no brainer to me. People can make arguments about which driver has made more mistakes, which drivers have been lucky, etc. but at the end of the day results are what count. Alonso produced big results this year in an inadequate car. That he came within three points of the championship is hugely impressive.

  26. Senna was a driver that wanted to beat his opponents on the track fair and square

    I love Ayrton Senna & please don’t consider this an insult to his memory because i simply want to correct something that i consider wrong
    Senna was never fair when it comes to beat his rivals he was absolutely ruthless with his attitude of “crash or let me pass” remember that he risked his own life and the one of Prost in Suzuka 1990
    I don’t know why but i think that maybe because we are “FANATIC” about our idols that we think that they are god and that they never make mistakes but there not they are humans and humans make mistakes

    1. @tifoso1989 Martin Brundle commented on a piece Top Gear did on Senna back in 2010. He said Senna would deliberately go for a gap that was closing and would result in contact if the other driver didn’t back down. It was a form of intimidation. Brundle also said that if a driver backed down then Senna would know that drive would always be that way.

      In one way it’s safe to bestow “greatest” on Senna, but if he were driving today, folks would be shocked — just look at the reaction Schumacher got in Hungary pushing Reubens Barrichello towards the grass/wall.

      Senna also made mistakes. I think everyone keeps nitpicking “mistakes” by drivers this season as a criteria to differentiate the top 3. Worse, we don’t see all the mistakes they make, only a few and we get very subjective about their importance. Take Abu Dhabi as a for instance – Vettel gets crucified for nicking Senna’s wing, but Lewis had a huge lock up and ran wide at the end of the back straight on lap 2 — if Kimi was closer, Lewis could have or would have lost a position. So Hamilton’s mistake didn’t cost him anything. Nor did Vettel’s. Alonso had a terrible restart after the first SC (a mistake) and was both skillful in defending and lucky Webber couldn’t take advantage of it. Vettel also made the mistake behind Ricciardo for which he paid a penalty, but that was incredibly random – 50 meters sooner or later and there would have been no contact. But stuff happens.

      For the record, Alonso had a great season and I have no qualms with him being selected the number 1 driver of the year. But I don’t think it’s a case that he made less mistakes or Hamilton/Vettel made more. He took the advantages his car gave him (great starts, bullet proof reliability, great operational team, and competitive race pace) and made hay when the sun shown. Alonso knows the value of scoring the maximum number of points in each race, whether its 1 point, 5 pts or a podium, so he pushed hard from the start of the year, and each lap. I think Vettel is another driver who understands the value of points – I think that’s why he was so angry with NK in Malaysia. Even 4th place (and 12pts) would be meaningful in the long run. I think Lewis is almost there (if he was I don’t think he would have defended against Maldonado so hard in Valencia).

      1. I saw that “Top Gear” segment with Brundle’s comment. Of course he would say Senna was ruthless and blame him- Senna completely dominated and outclassed him in F3. That was the only contact they ever made in F3. As for the Suzuka incident, people always “forget” what happened in 1989. Prost clearly slammed his car into Senna, wanting to put both out of the race. Senna won the race even having to go to the pits to change a nose and after staying more than 20 seconds stranded. Prost seeing all this happening went rushing to the Stewards to ask for a “ban” on Senna having “skipped” a chicane while reentering the race. This is well documented. Even Ron Dennis came in defence of Senna in that moment, discussed with the attitude of the also great Prost- Alonso somehow resembles Alain in many aspects- What Senna did in 1990 was a “retribution” for that, “an eye for an eye”. Was that a classy move? Not at all, and you could see in Senna’s face he wasn’t happy with that after the move- but it was the sign of a human being who searched for “justice” for something he felt he was robbed off. Tell me of a single moment Senna as done something like that after this incident? Exactly.

  27. The biggest thing I have been impressed by are his starts. Qualifying was the weakest aspect of the Ferrari this year, and to exploit good race pace you need to be out of the slower midfield. To do this, race after race, avoiding collisions in the midfield was pure class. This I feel gave him the edge over Hamilton this year, and Hamilton has said himself, for whatever reason the starts weren’t great for him. Other than that, very little to choose between the top 2.

  28. I think Vettel was best, then Hamilton, then Alonso.

  29. @keithcollantine

    Sir, you have gained a whole new level of respect from my part. It is worthy of applause. I know you are a RBR/Vettel fan (at least that is what it seems like from time to time) and reading this article, it is obvious you are a connoisseur! It is admirable that you can put your preffereces aside and give credit where credit is due!
    I know that I may have my “moments” that are not that appreciated by you but, I too know how to give credit where it is due… and this article is one of those moments.
    It really makes me feel even better than I already felt knowing that almost everybody, including yourself, can show respect towards a driver who had a majestic season even if it goes against their preferences.
    It´s true that Alonso may have lost his second title in 3 years at the hands of herr Vettel but even though 2010 was heartbreaking… 2012 is miles away from that… That is why I said on one of my moderated posts… Sometimes it´s better to come in second…
    Again sir…. my hat is off to you! I mean it from the bottom of my heart!

  30. yes Fernando was the best driver this season. But my respect for him is diminishing fast..he talks like he was driving around in horse drawn carriage all year. But Ferrari displayed competitive race pace at most races. spectacular no, solid and consistent yes. much like kimi just in a better car

  31. This is a much better evaluation of the driver who got the most out of his car than what Radio LeMans Nick Damon did in his podcast. His worship of Lewis is sickening. Alonso had much less of a car than Hamilton who gave away the championship in Valencia.

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