• Red Bull Racing driver Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, leads the pack at the start of the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race take place over a street circuit surrounding the city's port. (Ap Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)
  • Ferrari's Fernando Alonso from Spain, centre bottom, drives his car in between the pack during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race take place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Red Bull Racing Team Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel from Germany, bottom, steers his car followed by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button, right, during the qualifying practice session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. Vettel made the pole position. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP photo/Fernando Hernandez)
  • Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Weber, bottom, steers his car followed by Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg, from Germany, right, and Sauber Kamui Kobayashi, during the qualifying practice session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP photo/Fernando Hernandez)
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, from Germany, steers his car during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. Alonso made first, Raikonen second and Schumacher third. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)
  • Lotus Kimi Raikkonen from Finland drives his F1 racing car during qualifying session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Sauber's Sergio Perez from Mexico drives his F1 racing car during qualifying session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • McLaren Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton from Britain drives his F1 racing car during qualifying session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Williams's Pastor Maldonado from Venezuela drives his car during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race takes place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Mercedes' Michael Schumacher from Germany drives his F1 racing car during qualifying session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during qualifying session at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Saturday, June 23, 2012. The race European Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday over the street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP photo/Alberto Saiz)
  • Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen from Finland drives his car during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race takes place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 24: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives on his way to winning the European Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on June 24, 2012 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes in the pit stop during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race take place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. Alonso made first, Raikonen second and Schumacher third. (AP Photo/ Waldrin Xhemaj, pool)
  • Red Bull Racing Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel steers his racing car in the pit lane during a qualifying session at the Valencia street circuit, in Valencia, Spain, Saturday June 23, 2012. The 2012 Formula One Grand Prix of Europe will take place on 24 June. (AP Photo/Valdrin Xhemaj, Pool)
  • British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes drives in the pit lane during a qualifying session at the Valencia street circuit, in Valencia, Spain, Saturday June 23, 2012. The 2012 Formula One Grand Prix of Europe will take place on 24 June. (AP Photo/Valdrin Xhemaj, Pool)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso from Spain steers his car during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race takes place over a street circuit surrounding the city's port. (AP Photo/ Alberto Saiz)
  • Ferrari's Fernando Alonso from Spain drives his car during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race takes place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
  • Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa makes a stop in his team box during the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race takes place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. Alonso made first, Raikonen second and Schumacher third. (AP Photo/ Waldrin Xhemaj, pool)
  • Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, from Spain, celebrates his victory at the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)
  • Ferrari's Fernando Alonso from Spain poses celebrating his victory after the European Formula One Grand Prix at Valencia street circuit, Spain, Sunday, June 24, 2012. The race take place over a street circuit surrounding the city�s port. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Never has there been a season in Formula One as hotly contested as this one. Not only does the field contain an unprecedented six world champions -- accounting for a whopping fourteen titles between them -- but each of the seven grands prix so far this year has been won by a different driver. And each time the leaders play leap-frog in the standings.

The question has been how much longer this could possibly go on. Surely one driver would emerge as the clear frontrunner take a second checkered flag home on Sunday. Right? Keep reading to find out.


Qualifying on Saturday placed defending champion Sebastian Vettel on pole position, with arch-rival Lewis Hamilton lining up beside him. The surprise was Pastor Maldonado, the relative rookie with the erstwhile troubled Williams team who followed up on his exceptional victory in Barcelona with a third-place qualifying position, out-pacing Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta. Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa all qualified just outside the top ten, with Mark Webber all the way down in nineteenth. Timo Glock sat out this race due to illness.

Once the race got underway, Vettel and Hamilton held onto their places at the front, but Grosjean quickly overtook Maldonado for third. Kobayashi took Rosberg for fifth and Raikkonen dropped back. The real action was with the Ferraris, however, which were charging up from the middle of the grid.

Meanwhile, Vettel opened up a commanding lead that only widened the gap to Hamilton behind him, who was holding up Grosjean.




On the thirteenth lap, both Raikkonen and Alonso squeezed past Maldonado, and by the twenty-second, Alonso took fourth from di Resta. Not bad for someone who started eleventh.

A collision between Kobayashi and Senna saw the Brazilian spin, pit and then re-pit with a drive-through penalty, followed by another collision between Verge and Kovalainen that brought out the safety car. In the ensuing flurry of pit stops, Hamilton suffered from a malfunctioning tire jack that cost him dearly.



The green flag only waved again on lap 32 as Vettel lead Grosjean and Alonso. The Spanish champion soon passed the young Frenchman, but the bigger news soon followed as Sebastian Vettel retired trackside from the lead with an apparent (and clearly frustrating) mechanical issue.

With Alonso leading, Schumacher hit the pits, rejoined with fresh Pirellis in eleventh place, and diced his way through the field. All the while Raikkonen and Hamilton duked it out for second place as Grosjean dropped back. Kimi would emerge the winner of that battle as Schumacher closed in one car at a time, showing the brilliant form for which he was once celebrated.




Misfortune struck Hamilton, however, on the penultimate lap when Maldonado hit his McLaren sending him into the wall and out of the race. Schumacher slipped into third.

Across the line on the final lap, Alonso claimed an impressive victory in front of his home crowd in Valencia, having started way down in eleventh. Raikkonen took second to match the same result in Bahrain - his best since returning to the grid. The real surprise, however, was Schumacher, who may not have won as Pirelli predicted, but took his first podium since coming out of retirement.

Webber, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, di Resta, Button, Perez and Maldonado claimed the remaining points. Senna, Ricciardo, Petrov, Kovalainen, Pic, Massa, de la Rosa and Karthikeyan all finished outside the points, as Hamilton, Grosjean, Vettel, Kobayashi and Vergne watched the end of the race from the pit wall.



And just like that, Fernando Alonso takes a commanding lead in the standings with 111 points (ten times those of his teammate Massa), ahead of Mark Webber with 91. Hamilton trails with 88 but Vettel is down to fourth place with 85 points. Red Bull still leads the constructors' standings with 176 points to McLaren's 137, Lotus' 126 and Ferrari's 122.

Will the win go to another new driver at Silverstone? Will Alonso further cement his lead? Or will another previous race winner take his place? Tune in in two weeks for the results from the British Grand Prix to find out.


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