While most predicted 2012 to be another year of Red Bull domination, it was clear by Friday that the Austrian team didn't have the pace to challenge McLaren. McLaren locked the front row on Saturday with Hamilton on pole and Button alongside in second. While Webber and Vettel qualified in fifth and sixth place.
Hamilton lost a place to Button by turn one and struggled to match his pace; meanwhile Vettel overtook Webber and Grosjean. Schumacher's retirement on lap 10 moved the double world champion to third.
Button had a edge over Hamilton in pit stop strategy as the former was ahead of Hamilton. Both were struggling with their option tyres by lap 16, but only Button could pit on the same lap. Hamilton had to wait for another lap and in the process lost 4.8 seconds. Hamilton further lost time behind Raikkonen and Perez. While Vettel lost no time as he pitted on lap 16.
While Hamilton's pit stop was 1.5 second faster than Vettel's, Hamilton was on medium tyres which were obviously slower than Vettel's options.
McLaren decide to pit both cars on lap 36, their pit stops were near identical. But Hamilton lost three seconds in his out lap. Vettel stayed out and pitted during the safety car period and came out a second ahead of Hamilton. Vettel didn't have pace to catch Button but finished the race two seconds ahead of Hamilton.