There wasn't much on which you'd wager your bottom dollar in the FIA GT1 World Championship this year. Certainly not the basics, like which cars would show up and when, and where the next race was.
But a surefire bet would be on the #38 All-Inkl Mercedes-Benz making a super-speedy start, getting turned around in the pits in double-quick time and then finishing the race.
That's why Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock can call themselves world champions for life. The All-Inkl Mercedes squad, and in particular its lead pairing, shone like a beacon through the fog of uncertainty that was the GT1 World Championship in what turned out to be its final season.
No one else strung together a coherent campaign in the same way as the team from the Eastern-most part of Germany. That allowed its lead line-up to come through to take the title despite winning just once, and in a Qualifying Race at that.
What Mercedes lacked in outright speed it made up for in consistency and slick team-work
HOW IT WAS WON
Not on outright performance, that's for sure. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was never the fastest car on the grid in the 2012 World Championship: not in the hands of Basseng and Winkelhock, or those of team-mates Nicky Pastorelli and Thomas Jager.
Only once did a Merc qualify on the front row (during the second round, at the Slovakia Ring), and only once was it truly a competitive proposition in the race (at the Algarve circuit); but those starts and that teamwork in the pits resulted in some amazing consistency.
Basseng and Winkelhock never failed to score points (their Donington Park exclusion aside), only finished outside the top six once and were on the podium 10 times from the 18 races.
The penultimate round of the series, at the Nurburgring, summed up their season - and propelled them into the championship lead. The #38 Merc qualified eighth, Winkelhock jumped to fifth at the start of the Qualifying Race and then Basseng was propelled to third during the pitstops.
The German had to fight a stout rearguard action to hang on to it, but he was successful - just as Winkelhock was to be fighting over the same position in the Championship Race. Put simply, the starts and the pitstops made up for a performance shortfall in the Mercedes.
The other team that went to the hastily arranged championship finale at Donington with a title shot simply didn't have the same consistency.
Dusseldorp and Makowiecki won more races than anyone else...
Michael Bartels' Vita4One squad - which as Vitaphone Racing had triumphed in the inaugural year of GT1 World with the Maserati MC12 - won four times. But the boss and his team-mate Yelmer Buurman fell just short in their attempt to regain the title with the BMW Z4 after a year away.
The French Hexis team had the fastest car in the McLaren MP4-12C; its lead pairing of Frederic Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp won more races than anyone else, and finished just one point behind. That's the reason why they'll look back and feel that they lost the championship two or three times over.
Makowiecki reinforced his reputation with another strong season, and outperformed single-seater refugee Alvaro Parente in the other Hexis McLaren. Buurman, meanwhile, forged himself a reputation. The Dutchman is no stranger to GT racing, but 2012 was his first season at this level and he proved that he has a bright future ahead of him.
...while Martin showcased his class in three appearances
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Maxime Martin was only present in GT1 World for three weekends, but he reminded us that he's arguably the best GT driver on the planet - and undeniably the best when it's raining - as he drove away from the field at Zolder. His drive in the Valmon Aston Martin DBRS9 wasn't rewarded with a decent result, but it was certainly spell-binding to watch.
SOMETHING TO FORGET
It wasn't how anyone wanted the short history of the FIA GT1 World Championship to end. A red flag, a wrecked car and a driver on his way to hospital brought the curtain down on the series at a dank Donington.
Winkelhock was, quite rightly, excluded for moving over on Buurman and putting him into the unyielding Donington concrete wall. Whether or not it decided the destination of the world title will never be known.
A whole new championship, carrying on the principles of GT1 World and to be known as the GT Sprint Series; only without the onerous world championship banner and the financial implications that come with it.
Ratel believes there is room for a GT Sprint series
Stephane Ratel is probably right when he says that there's room for sprint series for GT cars, but the evidence suggests that there might not be the need for an all-professional championship.
That's why Pro-Am and Am classes will be part of his new venture. And why it won't reach the heights of the FIA GT1 World Championship in its glory years of 2010-11.
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