But the lack of straight-line speed, and the overall poor performance of the F2012 would be something the pro-Alonso camp would use to validate his place as the moral victor. However, car development would be just yet another area in which Vettel would emerge as the rightful champion.
Formula One is still a team sport. Without a strong car and team behind the driver there are only those few moments over the course of the season in which a driver, even to the caliber of Vettel and Alonso, has to shine. But, to win a championship it takes those flashes of brilliance, and consistency, in order to actually pull it off.
Much would be made about the apparent superiority of the Red Bull RB8 to that of the Ferrari F2012, but there would be a couple of important things to keep in mind. Had the battle for the championship come down to either Sebastian Vettel and, say, either Pastor Maldonaldo or Bruno Senna with Williams, then it would be clear who the moral victor certainly would have been and the reason for that would simple—means. Scuderia Ferrari is by no means a small team in the Formula One paddock, and therefore, would have every opportunity Red Bull would have of improving over the course of the season. But that would be just the point.
Romain Grosjean would come barreling over the top of Fernando Alonso at the Belgian Grand Prix ruining his start from 6th place on the grid. However, Alonso would recover in incredible fashion in front of the Italian crowd. After starting 10th on the grid, Fernando would come away with an incredible podium, much to the delight of the Tifosi. Vettel's race would come to an end after starting 6th on the grid. As a result, Alonso would leave Italy having a 39 point lead over the German.
The simple fact of the matter is that Grosjean's spearing of Alonso did not bring his season to an end, nor did it destroy his lead in the championship. It certainly didn't help, but it wouldn't be as though he lost the lead as a result of the incident. And, given the fact Alonso would recover in fine fashion to finish 3rd in the Italian Grand Prix, it meant his season was still on a positive track.
But what about setbacks? Up through the Italian Grand Prix, Vettel had two retirements compared to Alonso's single departure in the Belgian Grand Prix. Right there was a maximum of 50 points that Vettel would have no opportunity to fight for. But in addition to the two retirements, Vettel would suffer a sliced tire in the Malaysian Grand Prix that would ruin a potentially strong points-paying position. Then, a penalty in the German Grand Prix would rob Vettel of yet another podium.
But then came the Singapore Grand Prix. Up until the Singapore Grand Prix Red Bull had been suffering an up and down year with a number of incredible low points for Vettel's championship hopes. Alonso would continue to amaze with his performances in an improved, but still, less than stellar F2012. The incredible consistency of the Spaniard, but also of the F2012, would keep him in the lead while Vettel's consistency would be off-set by the car letting him down.
But, as stated earlier, Formula One is very much a team sport and to carry on to a championship, whether in the Constructors' or Drivers' battle, requires teams continue to improve over the course of a season. And this, then, leads to the Singapore Grand Prix.
Throughout the first half of the season Red Bull's design team had introduced evolution after evolution. Not all of these would be met without controversy. Once again, Red Bull was the target. However, it was clear Newey and his team were determined to claw back something of what it had the year before. And then, in Singapore, it would all come together. From Singapore onwards, Fernando Alonso would not score another victory. In Vettel's case, however, he would go on a run, scoring four-straight victories. It would be this run, and the relative stagnation of Alonso's Ferrari, that would lead to the Spaniard falling some 13 points behind at the conclusion of the Grand Prix of India.
The team had come through for Vettel and his talent would be able to take full advantage of the advances. Interestingly, Alonso would take his three victories with an apparently under-achieving Ferrari. And, had it not been for the struggles of Vettel during the same period it is more than likely the German would have been at the top of the championship standings. Therefore, the string of four victories would be, in many ways, the team paying back Vettel for his early season misfortunes. The same could not really be said of Alonso and the vast army at Scuderia Ferrari.
It is undoubtedly clear that Alonso had to put together one special season in order to remain in the championship fight to the very end. However, could the season be regarded as any less special for Vettel after suffering all of the setbacks he did? Talk about having to dig deep. Even if there was a great deal of confidence about improvements made to the RB8, the fact remained Vettel suffered his second DNF right before the race in Singapore, so confidence could not have been all that high coming into the race at Singapore. Yet, with the team's, and his own, back against the wall, Vettel delivered.
Let me be clearly understood. Alonso put together one of the most incredible seasons. But to say that he deserved the title more than Vettel is to fail to give the picture a balanced look. And, having a balanced look at a championship fight, especially after one of those involved is the same man that a year earlier had one of the most dominant performances in Formula One history, can be difficult.
So let's try and look and things in a balanced frame of mind. And start with the dominant 2011 season. Red Bull itself could not have been much more of a contrast. While Vettel was securing victory after victory, Mark Webber, Vettel's teammate, would not be able to replicate the same kind of performance. It was clear Vettel had come to terms with the new Pirellis, and the car, much more quickly than Webber. This would lead to a number of times in which Webber would look as though he was driving anything but the same Red Bull chassis Vettel had around him.
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