Fernando Alonso was the victor of a thoroughly
entertaining European Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, the Spaniard
becoming the first driver to enjoy repeat wins in the 2012
Fighting his way up from 11th on the grid, Alonso took maximum
points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and an emotional Michael
Schumacher, who celebrated his first podium since his return to
Formula One with Mercedes.
An all too familiar sight last year, the race began with pole
sitter Sebastian Vettel racing away from the pursuing pack, his Red
Bull four seconds ahead of second placed Lewis Hamilton after only
three laps. The German's luck however, for once, ran out, as an
alternator failure caused an early retirement and opened the door
for his rivals to vie for first place.
Lewis himself endured a difficult afternoon, with another pit stop
problem costing him valuable time before a contentious move by
Pastor Maldonado in his Williams two laps before the end curtailing
the Brit's race.
His frustration was evident, Hamilton punching the steering wheel
repeatedly before throwing it from his irreparably damaged McLaren.
Maldonado appeared to strike the side of Lewis' car in returning to
the circuit after being squeezed out, and further action could be
taken by the race stewards.
In contrast, Alonso's afternoon could not have gone better, after
a sensational start wiped out any lingering disappointment of
Saturday's lacklustre qualifying session.
He moved up to eighth on the first lap, before overtaking Force
India's Nico Hulkenberg on the 12th time around the circuit. He
fought his way up to fourth before the safety car was deployed,
passing Hamilton in the pits and Romain Grosjean on the restart.
Vettel's retirement saw him promoted to first, and from there he
delivered a performance worthy of a championship leader.
A hectic final few laps saw Schumacher in his Mercedes, pursued
by the Red Bull of Mark Webber, powering into third place - though
the latter was unimpressed by the German's alleged use of the DRS
system whilst the yellow flags were being waved.
Romain Grosjean retired with the same problem that caused Vettel's
race to end early, after a promising start - the highlight of his
afternoon a fantastic move on lap one that saw him take third place
ahead of Raikkonen and Maldonado.
Paul di Resta, who looked so quick in his Force India during
Saturday's qualifying session, enjoyed a solid drive, but was
deprived of a sixth place finish by the Mercedes of both Schumacher
and Nico Rosberg, and Mark Webber. The Scot eventually finished
seventh, ahead of Jenson Button in a gradually improving
Nico Hulkenberg finished in fifth in what was a good weekend
overall for Force India, with Rosberg a place behind in sixth. The
top ten was completed by the Sauber of Sergio Perez in ninth and
Maldonado, his Williams bearing the wounds of his controversial
collision with Hamilton.
Alonso moves back to the top of the championship standings with
this win, ahead of a persistent Mark Webber. Having entered the
race as championship leader, Hamilton lies third in the table - 23
points behind his former McLaren colleague - and will rue departing
Spain with no points in such avoidable circumstances. It is strange
that such a manic race could bring us so much clarity in a
compelling title race.