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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The expansion of the series to Asia began to take root nearly 40 years ago with the Japanese Grand Prix, and now has spread to six races in Asia. But Japan remains the most successful.
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.
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.
For many of the greatest F1 drivers, the rise to the top involved first joining a smaller team where they completed something of an apprenticeship in a racing job that compares to none other in its physical and mental demands and intensity.
It's been a long history for Formula 1 and the United States, with many of the great stories of the series written on race tracks across the country, at a total of nine different locations. The most recent chapter, from 2000 to 2007, unfolded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2012 the series staged a new U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
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.
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 Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida, outside New Delhi, was one of the Formula 1 races that it had once seemed would never happen, could never happen -- and then not only did it happen, but when it did it wowed the world.
Other races in the Formula One series may feel more steeped in Grand Prix racing history - the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, for example, or the Monaco Grand Prix, or even the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring old and new - but no other race on the calendar is as symbolic of the story of the modern incarnation of Grand Prix racing as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
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.
Alain Prost, 57, is the second-most victorious driver in Formula 1 history, with 51 victories, behind Michael Schumacher of Germany, who holds the record of 91 victories. Racing from 1980 to 1993, with a sabbatical in 1992, Prost won four drivers' titles, which is more than any other driver except Schumacher, who has seven, and Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five in the 1950s. Prost's battles with the Brazilian Ayrton Senna, who died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola in 1994, were among the most famous in the sport's history. After he retired from racing, Prost started his own team, called Prost, which ran from 1997 to 2001, without a victory.
For the first time in Formula 1 history, in 2012 seven races were staged in nine weeks, with a series of three so-called flyaways and races taking place one week apart instead of the usual two weeks. The final Grands Prix were run in Asia, the Middle East and in North and South America. The logistics of the travel of the biggest racing show on earth, were perfectly choreographed.
Formula 1 doctor and safety expert, Sid Watkins, died on Sept. 12, 2012 at the age of 84. But if Watkins saw his friend Ayrton Senna die in 1994 -- a day after the death of another driver, the rookie Roland Ratzenberger -- the incident would kick-start a crusade by him and the International Automobile Federation to make safety improvements that would help save many drivers' lives.
Bob Constanduros is the circuit commentator at Formula 1 Grands Prix around the world and conducts the official press conferences organized by the International Automobile Federation, the series' governing body.
The Williams Formula 1 team is the third most successful in the history of the series. But it had not won a race since 2004, and it has not won a title since 1997. At the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012 Williams suddenly became a highlight of the first half of the F1 season, as its driver, Pastor Maldonado, won the race.
Lewis Hamilton is a British driver for the McLaren Mercedes team and was the 2008 world drivers' champion. He has won 20 races since he began driving for the McLaren Mercedes team in 2007. Before that, he was nurtured for nearly a decade in the team's young driver program, having signed up as a protégé at the age of 13 while still racing go-karts. During those years, as he prepared for Formula 1, Hamilton won in every series in which he raced. He also maintained close ties to the elite team, visiting its factory in Woking, England, using the racing car simulator, and even testing the Formula 1 car before he began racing.
Although it is true everywhere, it is even more appropriate at the Singapore F1 circuit: The track is an interconnected microcosm in which hundreds of gigabytes of information over the weekend will travel through the airwaves and fiber optic cables around the circuit, into the garages, television studios, team television monitors at the edge of the track and into the cars themselves.
Three races before the end of the 2012 season and occupying third place in the Formula 1 Driver’s World Championship – with an impressive six podium finishes along the way – Kimi Raikkonen has silenced the critics during his comeback season in Formula 1. With solid foundations now in place, the Finn is looking for more with the team in 2013.
Mark Webber, who has been driving for the Red Bull Racing team since 2007, signed again for the Red Bull team in 2012 to race another year, through 2013. He had been in talks with Ferrari, but decided after winning the British Grand Prix in July 2012 to continue with Red Bull Racing.
Home to six of the 20 races in 2012, Asia has also taken away some of its main Asian financial backers of Formula 1 of the past - notably the Honda and Toyota car companies, which had owned teams but left the series citing the global financial crisis. But the Asian presence remains a large and disparate one, nonetheless.