By Lee Dover
Even the most diehard Formula One (F1) fans have to admit that watching the prestigious motorsport can sometimes feel like watching paint dry.
This is mainly due to the same driver – usually hailing from a town or city somewhere in Germany – leading the pack race after race after race.
Hold the phone though, as the 2012 season rolled around and all of a sudden every competitor who knows how to turn a steering wheel started to get in on the fun.
Who would have thought that seven races into the current F1 campaign, there would have been seven different drivers gracing the top step of the winner’s podium?
It has not been the same old names, either. OK, so former world champions Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have held the winner’s trophy aloft and been doused in bubbly once more.
But chances are you would have guffawed if someone had come up to you in March and said that Nico Rosberg would have left Hamilton eating his dust in China or Pastor Maldonado would show Alonso how it is done on the latter’s home GP.
As crazy as that last paragraph sounds, this is exactly what has caused F1 to become one of the most unpredictable sports in the world – only the twists and turns which saw Manchester City stumble to their first Premier League title can compete for thrills.
This brings us nicely onto the eighth race of the 2012 F1 season – the European GP.
Fans of the motorsport will likely have groaned when hearing about this fixture, as the Valencia street circuit has not exactly lived up to its promise of delivering the “speed, glamour and passion” that was assured when the race made its debut back in 2008.
However, there have been many firsts recorded in the motorsport within the opening three months so maybe we are on the verge of something special this Sunday (June 24th).
One record-setting bet that Paddy Power has on offer which fans may want to have a look over is the odds of 7/2 that there will be an eighth different winner in F1 2012 this weekend.
With seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, one-time world champion Kimi Raikkonen and 2008 world championship runner-up Felipe Massa all without a win in the motorsport so far this season, the bet does not sound too bad.
It should not just be the big names of F1 where punters are placing all their money though, as Romain Grosjean has been knocking on the door of glory all season long.
The Lotus star has climbed onto the podium twice already this year – clinching a third-place finish in Bahrain in April and then going one better by finishing behind Hamilton in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Grosjean has plenty of fire in his belly heading to the European GP, stating: “We have to go into every weekend aiming for a win. Approaching a race in any other way is like putting yourself on the back foot from the start.”
Can he continue his ascendance with victory in Valencia then? Paddy Power offer 12/1 that Spain will have a Romain conqueror on Sunday.
Grosjean is not the only driver to have emerged through the ranks during the rollercoaster ride which is F1 2012 though. A Mexican pitbull in the form of Sergio Perez has proved a menace to the motorsport’s big boys on a couple of occasions.
He pushed Alonso all the way back in the Malaysian Grand Prix in March when capturing a shock second-place finish in the race.
Three months later, the pitbull was at it again when he once more passed the Ferrari ace – Alonso must be getting a little sick of Perez by now – to earn third place in Canada and is a tasty 25/1 to gain his maiden F1 victory in the European Grand Prix on Sunday.