Our Formula 1 reporter TOM WILKINSON reviews one of the most exciting F1 seasons in years and nominates his Team of the Year.
With 12 teams on the grid in 2012, it would have been so easy to award this to Red Bull. After all, they are champions for the third year running. But I haven’t as the success of the team has been predominately down to one man, Adrian Newey. As this is a team award, I have given it to the team who I think have done the best job in terms of improvement, consistency and results. My 2012 F1 team of the year is Lotus GP.
Lotus GP have a strong team of people who are all highly experienced in Formula 1. Many team members have been there from the early Benetton days in the 1990’s. This experience has built up successful Benetton and Renault teams in the past, producing champions in Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
The driver line-up in 2012 was in Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, both wanted points and wins. Kimi won the F1 title back in 2007 with Ferrari, his experience has helped the team understand the car out on track. While Romain Grosjean was young, he still had a lot to learn as we all have seen.
The results have been steady for Lotus. In the points at every race throughout the season, the consistency has been impressive considering the financial situation of the team.
Car development has been good, improvement in the car was clear to see. The pace was just as good as the top teams throughout the season, the team celebrated their first victory in Abu Dhabi as Kimi Raikkonen drove a brilliant race. Romain Grosjean was an impressive driver at times, however there were also some highly unimpressive moments.
At the Belgian Grand Prix Romain caused an enormous accident at the start of the race. Fernando Alonso was lucky to escape without injury. The FIA banned the Frenchman for one race, it was the first race ban for over a decade. There were more errors too, however I believe many people were too harsh on Grosjean.
I believe he has learnt from his mistakes and he will improve. Lotus have now demonstrated their faith in him by confirming him as a driver for next season.
I visited Lotus GP at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this year. I was shown around the garage and the cars. Formula 1 is such a fascinating sport, seeing it from the garage moments after Qualifying was terrific. Everyone was discussing the results and plans for the race, preparing the garage for the race, it was brilliant to see it all. Talking to many team members including the great Sir Jackie Stewart, everyone was excited for the race. The people in the team are not just members, they are fans like you and me, they have passion and they want to win.
The team have been under financial strain and they have overcome this with great team strength and belief. There were even times when they were waiting for their salaries to be paid. Thinking about this, the way that everyone has performed together, the way the car has developed and the results that have come, this is a real team success and it’s the reason I have awarded Lotus GP with my 2012 F1 Team of the Year Award. The improvement and development has impressed me this season.
If you missed our Driver of the Year Award, click here
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