Apart from their precocious talents and shared championship goals, there could hardly be two Formula 1 drivers more different in almost every other way than Sebastian Vettel, a German, and Fernando Alonso, a Spaniard, from temperament and personality to racing background and style.
In 2012, Formula 1 again came up with a scenario that defied all the predictions. In the third year of its effort to improve the show by changing the technical regulations to encourage cars to pass each other, it created the most unpredictable racing so far.
In 2012, the second year of its running, the Indian Grand Prix outside Delhi looked like any other Formula 1 race after the novelty of the first year. But this time on the track it was a far better spectacle than the one in its first year, with more wheel-to-wheel racing, more overtaking and nearly as many spectators.
All the ingredients were there to make the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix near Austin one of the most highly attended, most festive and most exciting races of the 2012 Formula One season. And thanks to the circuit here, which permits overtaking, the series heads to Brazil for the final race next weekend with the drivers' title still up for grabs.
In the end, the Formula 1 drivers' title played out in the most fitting way: a mad dash from beginning to end, with the two finalists having to overcome setbacks that would have eliminated lesser drivers. Through constantly changing track and weather conditions in São Paulo, Sebastian Vettel became the youngest three-time world champion in history.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2012 was one of the highlights of the season. It combined the first victory by Kimi Raikkonen after his comeback with the first victory for his team renamed Lotus, with the second and third placed finishes by the two leading contenders for the drivers' title - Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Most spectacularly, Vettel climbed up from the back of the grid.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the second Formula 1 Grand Prix in the Middle East, but it was, and remains, the first and only race in the world to start in the daytime and finish at night.
Bobby Epstein is the chairman of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the new track where the 1st U.S. Grand Prix in Austin was staged on Nov. 18, 2012. Epstein attended his first Formula 1 race at the age of 19 in 1984, in Dallas, where he was living with his family. He is now the majority owner of Prophet Capital, a private investment company based in Austin that he founded in 1995.
As Formula 1 prepared in 2012 to stage its first Grand Prix in the United States in five years, there was a widespread feeling of ''here we go again'' in the paddock.
The history of the Brazilian Grand Prix coincides with the rise of successful Brazilian drivers in Formula 1. The first race in Brazil was held the year after Emerson Fittipaldi became the youngest world champion, at 25, in 1972. He won the first two editions of the race, in 1973 and 1974. Nelson Piquet won the race in 1983 and 1986, during the decade in which he won the title three times, and Carlos Pace, another Brazilian driver, won the race in 1975.