Fernando Alonso became the first two-time winner of 2012 after winning a chaotic and action-packed European Grand Prix on home turf in Valencia after early leader Sebastian Vettel coast to a halt. Vettel wasn't the only championship challenger to retire before the finish, with Lewis Hamilton's retirement on the penultimate lap catapulting Alonso into a 20-point championship lead.
The first half of the race was dominated in impressive fashion by polesitter Vettel whose lead grew to over 20 seconds by half distance before the safety car emerged on lap 28 following a collision between Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Eric Vergne on the back straight.
An alternator failure on the reigning champion's Red Bull spelt the end to the German's race, promoting Fernando Alonso into an unlikely lead having started the race from a lowly 11th on the grid. The Spaniard jumped to eighth place on the first lap, before climbing to fourth after his first pitstop.
Yet another slow pitstop for third-placed Hamilton promoted Alonso to the podium positions, before taking second place from Romain Grosjean at turn 2 after the safety car pitted, followed just a minute later by Vettel's retirement to inherit a lead he would never relinquish.
Alonso's path to victory was made immeasurably smoother with the retirement of closest rival Grosjean just seven laps later, when he too became the victim of an alternator failure while trailing the Spaniard by under a second. The Frenchman's team-mate Kimi Räikkönen later reclaimed second for the Enstone team after overtaking an ailing Lewis Hamilton with three laps to go, with the Briton ultimately failing to make the finish after clashing with Williams' Pastor Maldonado while fighting over third on the penultimate lap.
The final podium position ultimately went to Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, his first top-three finish since his comeback, after coming from 11th with just 13 laps to go. The German had to keep Red Bull's Mark Webber at bay whilst overtaking a plethora of cars, with Webber taking fourth after an admirable drive from 19th on the grid.
Force India's Nico Hülkenberg recorded a career-best fifth place from eighth on the grid on a two-stop strategy, just two places ahead of team-mate Paul di Resta who one-stopped his way to seventh place. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was sandwiched between the pair in sixth place, while Jenson Button, Sergio Pérez and Pastor Maldonado rounded out the points scorers between eighth and tenth places.