2012’s motorsport seasons have included several superb team performances. A manufacturer returning to a championship and immediately taking the title, another manufacturer going from debut to (almost) dominance in less than half a season and an F1 team that completed a third consecutive double of world titles at the Brazilian Grand Prix. All – and some others – feature in the TCF team’s choices for team of the year.
Peter Allen – BMW Motorsport
BMW had put a lot of resources into its DTM return and snatched the top driver from both Audi and Mercedes to head its assault, but when the season kicked off at Hockenheim the hope was simply that they would be mixing it with their rivals. They were, and next time out at Lausitz they won from pole position with Bruno Spengler – a result nobody could have predicted. The M3s remained at the sharp end over the following races as Spengler emerged as the nearest rival to Mercedes’ Gary Paffett, and three wins from the final five races saw the Canadian overhaul him to steal the title and take it back to Munich at the first attempt after several near misses in his time at Stuttgart.
Read TCF’s mid-season interview with Bruno Spengler – HERE
James Broomhead – Starworks Motorsport
Peter Baron’s team launched an ambitious two pronged assault on the world of endurance racing, and came away with trophies on both fronts. Their move into the FIA World Endurance Championship yielded immediate results, taking a home win in the LMP2 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring on their debut in ACO regulations competition. From that point on the team rarely looked back in the WEC, with drivers Ryan Dalziel, Enzo Potolicchio and Stephane Sarrarzin. Though Sarrazin, seconded to Toyota for Le Mans was replaced by Tom Kimber-Smith Starworks still won the class, adding another accolade to the growing collection that ended with the LMP2 championship with a race to spare, despite the battles with the ADR-Delta team that, along with the rest of the LMP2 class were an undoubted highlight of the WEC season. On more familiar ground for the team they narrowly missed on winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but did collect the mini-championship title of the North American Endurance Championship at Indianapolis, and the main Rolex Series drivers’ title – well, Juan Montoya may have helped decide that one at the expense of Starworks and Dalziel.
Read the review of the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – HERE
Andy Champness – Team Vodafone
The 2012 V8 Supercars season was dominated by two teams – Ford Performance Racing (FPR) and TeamVodafone. Between them they won all 30 races. It was FPR’s most successful ever campaign with 11 victories, which included a seven-race winning streak, but that early-season success only served to trigger TeamVodafone’s fightback. Winning 17 of the last 19 races (the longest winning streak for any team since the Holden Racing Team chalked up 13 consecutive wins across 1998-1999), TeamVodafone won its fourth Team Championship in five years and a second consecutive championship one-two. With a total of 19 race wins (including the Bathurst 1000), 11 pole positions, 38 podium finishes and four 1-2 finishes, TeamVodafone wrapped up the Series in emphatic style.
Alex Goldschmidt – BMW Motorsport
When it was announced that the rules for the new DTM-Era would provide closer racing through homologation and component commonality, along with the return of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” after a 20-year hiatus, no one could have expected just how formidable BMW would be, as the season unfolded. BMW Motorsport, under the leadership of Jens Marquardt, clearly showed that through a combination of experience, hard work, determination and a blank sheet of paper, that anything could happen. This was clearly the case, as Bruno Spengler claimed his 10th and BMW’s 50th Pole Position at only the second race of the season, at the Lausitzring, and then went on to win the race as well. Following up from that, Bruno scored another 3 Pole Positions and race wins later that year, along with WTCC veteran Augusto Farfus doing his part in Valencia with the same result. All six drivers’ efforts culminated in a fairy-tale ending, as BMW, Team Schnitzer and Spengler did a clean sweep of all three titles, which was a herculean effort that if there was a Hollywood screenplay that could be put into celluloid, this would be a one to remember.
Read Alex’s mid-season interview with Herr Marquardt – HERE
Chris Gurton – Toyota HYBRID Racing
This, for me has to go to the Toyota LMP1 team. On the back foot from at the beginning of the year with little time to develop the car before the start of the World Endurance Championship, it looked like Audi were going to go unchallenged all year thanks to the withdrawal of rivals Peugeot. No one expected much from Toyota and with missing Sebring and the team not entering the Spa race to concentrate on getting the car ready for Le Mans, Audi had nothing to worry about. However, Toyota showed glimpses of things to come, and despite not finishing either car, one due to ‘that crash’ the Toyota team did lead the race at one point. Since then, the team have become stronger and stronger. Podium finishes at Silverstone….. And Finally a race victory at Fuji underlined their ability and now have Audi looking over their shoulder. The German marque’s years of dominance in endurance racing looks under threat from a Team who are now serious Le Mans and WEC championship contenders.
Read the race report for Toyota’s WEC on home soil – HERE
Scott Mitchell – Red Bull Racing
Just when you thought maybe the Vettel-Newey-Horner trinity had been cracked, back they came with a vengeance in the second half of 2012. After their domination of 2011 the RBR squad had, by their standards, a low-key pre-season and a rather subdued first few races. However, victory finally came in the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix after they ditched their unsuccessful exhaust. They lost ground on Fernando Alonso in the first half of the season but when the team were back working in sync and Vettel began to extract the best from the RB8, there was little stopping. Lady Luck smiled on them at times – Hamilton’s retirement in Singapore, for example – but four wins on the bounce and a stunning piece of damage limitation (literally) in Brazil brought home a well-deserved titie.
James Newbold – Penske Racing
The powerhouse of American motorsport finally ended one of motorsport’s greatest anomalies by delivering Brad Keselowski the NASCAR Sprint Cup crown. The only outfit to run with Dodge this year, Penske’s versatility was confirmed by victories all different types of track; the Bristol and Dover short-tracks, Talladega Super Speedway and 1.5 milers Chicago and Kentucky. Much too has been made of the dynamic relationship between Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe, which made the ‘Blue Deuce’ crew consistent frontrunners in a year which saw defending champions Stewart-Haas Racing, 4-car powerhouse team Hendrick Motorsports, and Roush-Fenway Racing all suffer marked off days. Off-track, the team dealt with the AJ Allmendinger drug case with the utmost dignity, and moved swiftly to sign Joey Logano from Joe Gibbs Racing for 2013. Although for the third season running, Penske narrowly missed out on the IZOD Indycar Series title with Will Power, they can take heart from having once again been the quickest package over the course of the year. A hat-trick of wins at Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach and Sao Paolo were the underpinnings of a strong championship challenge, and without Power’s uncharacteristic mistake at Fontana, a Penske sweep of US motorsport would have been a reality. Elsewhere Penske stalwart Helio Castroneves took an emotional first win for the DW12 chassis on the streets of St. Petersburg and backed that up with a win at Edmonton, while Ryan Briscoe took pole at the Brickyard for the Indianapolis 500 and added a win at Sonoma.
Read James’ review of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season – HERE
Simon Paice – Honda Yuasa Racing/Team Dynamics
A stunning season has seen Honda walk away from the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with the top two positions in the Driver’s championship, the Teams championship and the Manufacturers/Constructors championship, as well as assisting Pirtek Racing and Andrew Jordan to Independents glory. Simply put, they utterly dominated BTCC in 2012, with Honda’s taking a clean sweep of all the championships on offer. Not bad for a new car. The season didn’t go entirely to plan, with mechanical problems and the usual BTCC chaos meaning it wasn’t an easy run to the titles, but the team showed their class by overcoming all the challenges to remain as the number one team in the series. In the hands of dream-team of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, the team secured a sensational total of 13 wins and 31 podiums during the season …. and you wouldn’t bet against them doing it again in 2013.
James Singleton – BMW Motorsport
There are many contenders for me for this title, but I’m going to go with BMW for their DTM efforts this season. BMW re-entered the DTM this year, and at the start of the season, talked down their chances. At one stage I remember Jens Marquardt saying they may not even win a race. Win they did though, and after signing several key drivers from Audi and Mercedes such as the 2011 champion Martin Tomczyk and Bruno Spengler. In fact, by the end of the year, Spengler had stolen the title away from Gary Paffett and BMW took the team’s and manufacturer’s title too. On and off track, BMW’s arrival has re-energised the series and I cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store before the series switches to common shared regulations with the Super GT championship in 2014.
Louis Suddaby – Red Bull Racing
There were a few two-wheel contenders but Red Bull are the easy winners of this award for me. Three Drivers and Constructors titles in succession speak for themselves and it really has been a team effort with Christian Horner’s leadership, Adrian Newey’s technical genius, and the on-track brilliance of Sebastian Vettel (ably supported by Mark Webber) contributing to their success. 2012 was another year when their car’s legality was called into question but that in itself proves the point. Formula One car designs are always pushing the boundaries and once again it was Red Bull who were able to push them the furthest, and fully deserve their success.
Mike Trusler – Honda Yuasa Racing
Another tough choice, but the Honda BTCC team edge it after their dominant year. The team were the first to develop their NGTC chassis to a race winning standard, and they were quick fresh out of the box. Their 7 race winning streak, from race two at Thruxton to race two at Croft two rounds later, is a fantastic achievement from a team who are using a brand new car. 13 wins, 31 podiums and 738 points is the reason they are my team of the year.
Those are our choices. Agree? Disagree? Let us know with your own picks for this year’s best team performance.
Tomorrow the TCF Team explain their selections for the best race of the 2012 season.
Lead photo credits: Photo Credit: (top to bottom, left to right) Chris Gurton Photography; motogp.com; Team Vodafone; Chris Gurton Photography; Paul Gilham/Getty Images; Chris Gurton Photography; Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR; Chris Gurton Photography; Chris Gurton Photography; Chris Gurton Photography; Citroen Racing Media; Jakob Ebrey Photography)