A Year to Remember - The 2012 News Review 21 Dec 2012
The first 20-race season in Formula One history brought with it plenty of intriguing headlines, both on and off the race track. Now, as 2012 draws to a close, we look back over the biggest stories to emerge from a remarkable year of racing that saw Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull crowned world champions for the third time
The success starts early in 2012 for Red Bulls acclaimed chief technical officer Adrian Newey as he is named on the UKs New Year Honours list which rewards achievement or service to the country. Newey receives an OBE (Officer of Order of the British Empire) for services to motorsport, while 1992 Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell picks up a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to children and young people in his role as president of charity UK Youth.
Its announced that a special race helmet worn by Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi at the 2011 season finale in Brazil raised US$19,000 at auction with the funds going to help victims of the previous years Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The helmets one-off livery had been personally designed by Joe Hahn, producer and member of US rock band Linkin Park, after the band had met the Japanese driver at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa take a trip to the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio for the Italian teams annual pre-season media gathering. But while they enjoy a spot of skiing, one man not appreciating Januarys wintery weather is injured racer Robert Kubica. The one-time Formula One race winner, out of action since sustaining serious injuries in a rallying accident in February 2011, re-injures his right leg after falling on ice near his home in Italy.
There are a number of interesting recruitments in January. Ferrari sign Hirohide Hamashima, formerly Bridgestones director of motorsport tyre development, to their technical line-up for the forthcoming season in a bid to improve the interaction between the teams new car and Pirellis 2012 tyres.
Meanwhile Williams add Bruno Senna, nephew of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, to their 2012 driver line-up. It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton, says the Brazilian.
Williams also establish a new partnership with Michael Johnson Performance Inc (MJP), a company founded by Olympic gold medallist and 400 metre world record holder, Michael Johnson. The company are brought in to devise a training programme for the British teams pit crew.
On the driving front, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen gets back behind the wheel of a Formula One car for the first time in two years. The Finn tests a 2010-spec Renault at the Spanish circuit of Valencia in a specially-arranged test designed to help him reacclimatise to F1 ahead of his return to the sport. I'm happy because I was pretty quick to get back in the groove, Raikkonen says afterwards.
Caterham end the month by becoming the first team to unveil their 2012 car, doing it via the pages of F1 Racing magazine. It gives fans the first glimpse of the controversial stepped noses.
February sees the launch of most of 2012s cars, with McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Sauber, Mercedes, Force India, Lotus, and Toro Rosso all taking the wraps off their new machines. McLaren show off the new MP4-27 at their factory in Woking, but Ferraris plans to unveil their 2012 challenger, the F2012, at their Maranello base are scuppered by heavy snowfall. Sauber, meanwhile, announce the departure of technical director James Key just three days before the launch of the C31.
HRT have a busy February. Not only do the team announce Narain Karthikeyan as Pedro de la Rosas team mate for 2012,they also declare that the teams base will switch to Madrid. However, its not all good news as the launch of their new car is delayed because of a failed crash test, a problem that Marussia also suffer later in the month.
Pre-season testing gets underway at Jerez in Spain with Lotus looking quick, although their programme is later hit by a problem with one of their new E20 chassis.
Elsewhere, Caterham end speculation over their 2012 driver line-up by signing Vitaly Petrov. The Russians arrival signals the end of Jarno Trullis Formula One career. It was not an easy decision to bring Vitaly in to replace Jarno, says team principal Tony Fernandes, but it was one we made to ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and with a realistic eye on the global economic market.
In other news, Lewis Hamilton adds Didier Coton, the man best known for helping steer Mika Hakkinen to Formula One success, to his management team, while Williams announce former driver Alexander Wurz as a driver mentor to work with Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna.
I grew up in a family business of driver training and naturally I enjoy helping fellow athletes to operate at their best, says Wurz. Im really looking forward to using my expertise to help Williams at this important stage in its history.
The month begins with news that Williams team founder Sir Frank Williams is to step down from the board of Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC. I turn 70 in April and I have decided to signal the next stage in the gradual but inevitable process of handing over the reins to the next generation, says Frank Williams. Williams does, however, remain as majority shareholder and team principal, while daughter Claire joins the board as director of marketing and communications.
Marussias and HRTs new cars both pass their final crash tests and are unveiled, although both have limited running ahead of the season opener in Australia.
The FIAs World Motor Sport Council agrees to a series of minor changes to the sporting regulations ahead of the new season, the most notable of which is that the race director is given the power to prohibit the use of the DRS adjustable rear wing if he feels visibility is too poor in wet conditions. This move is made as a result of safety concerns over large speed differentials between cars.
In other news, Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone announces that he has reached commercial agreements with most teams for 2013 and beyond, former team boss Eddie Jordan is awarded an honorary OBE (Order of the British Empire) in recognition of his services to charity and motor racing, and Pirelli sign former Toro Rosso racer Jaime Alguersuari as a test driver. Marussia also add a new tester - Maria de Villota, daughter of ex-Formula One driver Emilio de Villota.
The 2012 season gets underway with Grands Prix in Australia and Malaysia and the action proves to be hugely competitive - in Malaysia nine of the 12 teams have at least one car finish in the top ten.
The month ends as it began with more news from Williams - chairman Adam Parr leaves the team.
Continued in Part Two
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