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After a record seven different winners in as many races, Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton is looking to capitalize on his triumph in Montreal and break the unprecedented run of parity with another victory at this weekend’s European GP.
Besides keeping his eye on the most wide-open field of challengers ever seen, Hamilton will have to fend off Fernando Alonso’s improved Ferrari and two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, going for his third consecutive win at Valencia.
Hamilton leads Alonso by two points, and Red Bull’s Vettel by three.
The McLaren driver says “We may have won in Canada, but there’s an enormous amount of pressure. … So we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result.”
The 2012 Formula One season so far, ahead of the European Grand Prix on Sunday:
Australian Grand Prix – March 18
McLaren’s Jenson Button threw down the gauntlet to two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel as he relegated the German to second in a flying start to the season. McLaren had locked down the front row of the grid and it was Button who nipped past pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton at the start and went on to dominate. Vettel grabbed a giant slice of luck when a timely safety car intervention allowed him to steal second from Hamilton late in the race. Mark Webber was fourth for Red Bull and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fifth.
Standings: Button 25pts, Vettel 18, Hamilton 15
Malaysian Grand Prix – March 25
A nearly hour-long storm interruption threw the race into confusion and left drivers fighting just to stay on the track. Alonso emerged from the chaos at the head of the field and drove his unrated Ferrari brilliantly to win the unpredictable race, chased all the way by Mexico’s Sergio Perez who claimed a career-high second place for Sauber. Hamilton, heading another grid one-two for McLaren, was happy to settle for third again after an early crash left Button outside of the points alongside Vettel, who suffered a late puncture following a collision with Narain Karthikeyan.
Standings: Alonso 35, Hamilton 30, Button 25
Chinese Grand Prix – April 15
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg claimed what he termed an “amazing” first victory in 111 attempts as he led from pole position to take the Chinese Grand Prix in style. The German’s faultless drive in Shanghai saw him home more than 20 seconds ahead of the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, for what was also Mercedes’ first victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix. Webber was fourth and Vettel fifth after some frantic jostling for the other podium places. Alonso trailed in ninth.
Standings: Hamilton 45, Button 43, Alonso 37
Bahrain Grand Prix – April 22
Bahrain’s controversial race went off without incident after a week of angry protests away from the desert circuit that put the non-sporting focus on reform demands in the Gulf state. Vettel led from start to finish to claim his first win of the year to take over as leader of the title race. He registered his 22nd career victory with a near-flawless drive from pole position. In second came Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, and the Finn’s Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Standings: Vettel 53, Hamilton 49, Webber 48
Spanish Grand Prix – May 13
Pastor Maldonado became the first Venezuelan to win an F1 race by triumphing at the Spanish Grand Prix before going on to play an heroic role in a dramatic blaze in his Williams team’s garage. Maldonado’s win, in just his 24th race, was also the team’s first victory since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix and came on the weekend of team founder Sir Frank Williams’ 70th birthday. He later carried his young cousin to safety after the team garage was engulfed by flames. A total of 16 people were injured, one with severe burns, when the fire — believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in a fuel rig — broke out. On the track the Venezuelan produced a flawless race, holding off Alonso. Raikkonen was third.
Standings: Vettel 61, Alonso 61, Hamilton 53
Monaco Grand Prix – May 27
Webber steered his Red Bull to victory and claimed his first win this year and his team’s third successive Monaco Grand Prix victory. It was Webber’s second win in the race and the eighth of his career – it also meant six different drivers had won the opening six races of this season – the first time this has happened in the history of the Formula One world championship. Webber started from pole to finish six-tenths of a second clear of Rosberg with Alonso third for Ferrari. Vettel was fourth ahead of Hamilton and Massa in the second Ferrari.
Standings: Alonso 76, Vettel 73, Webber 73
Canadian Grand Prix – June 10
Hamilton made it seven different winners in seven races when he drove with flawless speed and control to win in Montreal. He produced a magnificently judged performance in a race that passed off smoothly despite a weekend of student protests and police action resulting in around 60 arrests, to seize his first win of the year. Grosjean of Lotus came home second after an equally well-judged race to finish ahead of Perez. Hamilton’s triumph came five years to the day after he had claimed his maiden victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It was his 18th career victory.
Standings: Hamilton 88, 2. Alonso 86, 3. Vettel 85