While the series immediately named an interim boss, it became clear that IndyCar not only had no succession plan in place, but it also intended to follow through on just about every initiative Bernard started, leaving most to wonder why he had been fired in the first place. The fact that Bernard was popular with fans didn’t help the series, which now has to sell a new chief executive who many feel was one of the ringleaders in the plot to overthrow their man.
Worse yet, IndyCar fans learned in those few days that the people making the decisions about the series seem to be making it up as they go. For a series struggling to remain relevant, that can’t be a good thing.
Driver of the year – Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
There’s no doubt that the 2012 Formula One season belonged to Fernando Alonso. Hampered by Ferrari that was more donkey than prancing horse, the double world champion put on a performance that can only be described as sublime.
In the season’s second race in Malaysia, a downpour allowed him to use a combination of guile and skill to put a car that was 1.347 seconds slower than the pole time in qualifying into the winners circle. Time and time again, Alonso’s immense talent raised his car to heights it didn’t deserve. When the season was done, he fell four points shy of the 2012 drivers’ crown in a car that had no business being a title challenger. While he didn’t take home the hardware, just about everyone agreed that Alonso was in a class of his own this year.
In Autosport Magazine’s year end survey of F1 team bosses. Alonso took eight of 12 votes for the best driver of 2012 and won the honour by the widest margin in the poll’s five years.
Dumbest fine award – NASCAR
When it come to social media nobody “gets it” more than 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. His @keselowski Twitter feed should be the model for any athlete who wants to engage and entertain fans as well as show that they completely appreciate the support.
He’s funny, he responds to questions, he engages in conversation, and he talks about much more than racing. But none if that matters to NASCAR which fined the driver $25,000 for the zeal with which he tweets.
After engaging with fans on Twitter during a red flag period during a the season’s penultimate race in Phoenix, Keselowski was fined $25,000 by NASCAR for having an unauthorized electronic device in his car – a mobile phone.
It was the second time Keselowski jumped on Twitter this season during a lengthy delay. In February, he tweeted during a two-hour stoppage in the Daytona 500 to clean up the mess caused by a fireball ignited by Juan Pablo Montoya (see crash of the year above).
Seeing the social media commotion caused by Keselowski’s in-car tweeting in Daytona, which gained him about 100,000 new followers in a few hours, NASCAR did the logical thing and banned mobile phones from the cockpit.
So, when Keselowski took to Twitter in Phoenix, the series had the tools it needed to fine him for making NASCAR look cool and hip to the younger fans it desperately needs to attract.
Lack of patience award – Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team
There’s little doubt that Romain Grosjean missed the day in his first ever competitive driving school class where the instructor told the students that you don’t win a race in the first corner.
The low point came when the Lotus F1 Team was banned for one race after causing a huge pile-up in the first corner of the Belgian Grand Prix that could have ended in tears. In all, he was involved in eight accidents at the start of grand prix this year, although the one in Australia happened on the second lap. He also crashed out of two other races.
Things got so bad that Red Bull driver Mark Webber, a veteran of 196 F1 starts called him a “first-lap nutcase” after Grosjean turfed him from the Japanese Grand Prix in the first corner of the race.