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Sebastian Vettel's record-breaking Formula 1 career continued in Brazil last weekend, with the German becoming the youngest ever triple World Champion. GPUpdate.net reflects upon his rollercoaster season, starting with rounds one to ten...
Round 1, Australia: Although it wasn't the dream start he had hoped for, Vettel began his year on the podium in Australia. A tough qualifying session, where he posted only the sixth fastest time, was largely forgotten after a Safety Car-aided second place finish. Perhaps a worry for the German, McLaren appeared much more of a threat in 2012 with an opening victory.
Points: Vettel, 18 - Alonso, 10
Round 2, Malaysia: A disastrous weekend for the reigning Champion. Starting from fifth on the grid, Vettel endured a troublesome race which featured a clumsy collision with HRT's Narain Karthikeyan. After limping to 11th with a puncture, he did himself no favours by getting embroiled in Cucumber-gate when criticising the Indian post-race. Chief rival Fernando Alonso emphatically triumphed in the rain for Ferrari.
Points: Alonso, 35 - Vettel, 18
Round 3, China: At an event dominated by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, Vettel's wait for another victory continued in Shanghai. With tyre strategy pivotal to a strong result at the Chinese venue, he took the wrong route and could ultimately manage no higher than fifth. However, there was an element to draw positivity from, with his rivals taking points out of each other and Alonso languishing back in ninth.
Points: Alonso, 37 - Vettel, 28
Round 4, Bahrain: A dominant event in Bahrain reminded us of Vettel's stunning 2011 form, with his title fight well and truly kick-starting at the Gulf circuit. After coming out on top in a pole position battle with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, Vettel surged clear on Sunday and triumphed for the first time this season. He was now sitting in control at the top of the standings, with Hamilton four points in arrears.
Points: Vettel, 53 - Alonso, 43
Round 5, Spain: Just how quickly can things change in the world of Formula 1? The three week break between Bahrain and Spain is a prime example. From the top step of the podium to a battle at the lower end of the top ten, Vettel endured a much tougher race in Barcelona. With Alonso securing a popular second place, sixth was far from what he wanted at an event marred by a post-race fire.
Points: Vettel, 61 - Alonso, 61
Round 6, Monaco: A tyre-saving exercise in qualifying left Vettel back on the fifth row of the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix in the Principality. He managed to keep it out of the barriers and rose from his lowly starting position to fourth at the finish, but the ever persistent Alonso guided his Ferrari to the podium and claimed the outright championship lead. Vettel had work to do if he was to shake off the challenge of his rivals.
Points: Alonso, 76 - Vettel, 73
Round 7, Canada: Despite a dominant pole position, Vettel came unstuck as a result of a differing tyre strategy in Canada. With just six laps of the Montreal race remaining, the German was forced to pit for fresh rubber and he slipped down the order. Amid all of the drama, which saw Hamilton secure victory and move atop the championship standings, he was able to salvage fourth and finish ahead of Alonso.
Points: Alonso, 86 - Vettel, 85
Round 8, Valencia: Heartache on the East Coast of Spain, as 25 points disappear in an instant for Vettel. Another impressive pole position and strong getaway meant nothing when his Magneti Marelli alternator failed in Valencia. It was the cruelest of blows which saw him drop back to fourth in the title race. To add insult to injury, Alonso secured his second win of the season in front of a rapturous home crowd.
Points: Alonso, 111 - Vettel, 85
Round 9, Great Britain: Vettel made it back onto the podium for the first time in four races at Silverstone. He lacked the pace to challenge team-mate Mark Webber all weekend long, but Alonso also muscled his way into contention at the historic British venue. The Spaniard held a 29 point advantage over the Red Bull man as the F1 circus headed to Hockenheim.
Points: Alonso, 129 - Vettel, 100
Round 10, Germany: There was drama on home soil for Vettel, as he received a post-race penalty for illegally overtaking McLaren's Jenson Button at Hockenheim. With Alonso returning to the top step for a third time this season, 44 points now stood between the pair of double Champions. Ferrari's pace was definitely at a high point and their number one driver was capitalising on the situation.
Points: Alonso, 154 - Vettel, 110
Part two of Vettel's road to the 2012 title will be available later on Tuesday
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