That Was The Year That Was – The 2011 F1 Season


What a year! F1 has never been so stimulating, or so popular, and even though the championship was wrapped up with a number of weekends to go, the races still gave the fans a lot to get excited about. Each team and driver had pluses and minuses; here is my evaluation of them all in 2011…
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Red Bull Racing (650 pts – 1st)
The boys and girls from Milton Keynes dominated this season from the word go. Adrian Newey and his team created a great car that was quick straight out of the box, and that continued to control the vast majority of the races right through to the Brazil. 12 wins from 19 races speaks for itself, and Dietrich Mateschitz certainly has got his moneys worth. The pressure now is to keep that performance going for a third year in a row, and that is no easy feat, especially with Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes all looking to overtake them.

Sebastian Vettel (392 pts – 1st)
Is it really necessary to discuss the season of this young German? The results speak for themselves. 11 wins, a record-breaking 15 poles, and 17 podiums show why he is the youngest back-to-back world champion in the history of this illustrious sport. At times, he appeared to crack under pressure, like on the final lap in Canada, but on the whole, an exception season from a decent chap. He has grown in maturity and fine-tuned his skills over the past year, and is definitely a worthy champion.

Mark Webber (258 pts – 3rd)
It was a bit of a disappointing season from Mark, and certainly not what he was hoping for. The aussie secured only one race win, in Brazil, which is not much in comparison to the driver sat alongside him in the garage. There were some great drives from Webber over the course of the year, and his desire to win is as strong as always. Keep an eye out for him next year; he’ll be more determined than ever.
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McLaren Mercedes (497 pts – 2nd)
McLaren certainly had some interesting side-pods this year, but all the neat little styling details didn’t translate into raw speed. The Woking team certainly deserve second in the championship, but they need to bring a car that is quick at the start of the year. Over the past few seasons, they haven’t really managed that, despite victories early on. McLaren can upgrade a car better than any other team mid-season, but that isn’t good enough to win titles. It was a good season from the team, but they need to improve. As a driver combo, they probably have the best matched team mates on the grid, and they certainly seem to get on well. That’s very important for the dynamic, but that counts for nothing when you aren’t challenging for the championship.

Lewis Hamilton (227 pts – 5th)
It was an odd season from Hamilton, with off-track events distracting him from his racing. Bernie thinks that the young Englishman is a little star struck, and that his management choice is perhaps not the right one; there might well be some truth in that. When he was on form, he was on form, and limited only by what McLaren could give him. Unfortunately, those days were few are far between.

Jenson Button (270 pts – 2nd)
What an excellent season from the Frome Flyer! Without doubt, he was the best of the rest, and drove some excellent races, especially in Montreal. Jenson is driving better than ever before, and he remains the best driver in changeable conditions. McLaren have made a good move by getting him on a new multi-year contract, and it would be no surprise if that union resulted in a championship. As the first F1 team mate to beat Lewis Hamilton in the standings, he can look back on 2011 with a big smile. Not that F1 drivers do look back…
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Scuderia Ferrari (375 pts – 3rd)
Luca di Montezemolo, the big cheese over at Ferrari, gave his team 5 out of 10 for their season this year, which he raised to a six ‘considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari’s first win in F1.’ I’d day that half marks are fair; the team managed just a solitary win, and although it’s nice Ferrari won that 60 years after their first, it seems a bit silly to give them an extra 10% because of it. The team will have to improve for next year. I’m sure that Chris Dyer will tell you that they don’t tolerate failure in that organisation.

Fernando Alonso (257 pts – 4th)
Fernando Alonso is probably the best drive in Formula One at the moment, and certainly the most well-rounded. That he was only able to secure a single victory in Silverstone shows that Ferrari failed to deliver the goods. Going into the last race, Fernando was still in with a chance of getting second in the championship, but Webber’s win relegated him to fourth instead. If Ferrari deliver a decent enough car next year, Alonso will be right up there. It was a great season from the Spaniard; shame it wasn’t a great car that he had.

Felipe Massa (118 pts – 6th)
2011 was certainly an Annus horribilis for Felipe; no results worth mentioning, no drives that stand out. I think he still feels a lack of confidence in himself and the team following Hungary 2009 and the team orders scandal last year. He was comprehensively outperformed by Alonso, who showed that the car had a lot more in it than Massa could extract. Next year, he needs to improve his game, and try and avoid incidents with Hamilton as frequently as they happened this year.
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Mercedes GP (165 pts – 4th)
It’s been another solid year from the Brackley Bunch. The car was devastating in a straight line, to the extent that I was backing Schumacher to win at Monza! But the performace was still shy of what the need, and what they want. Work for next year’s car started early, with some big appointments happening back at the factory, and it’s almost been as if the past two years were gearing up for the title in 2012. Watch out for the Silver Arrows for next year; they should, I believe, win the championship. But more on that in the coming weeks.

Michael Schumacher (76 pts – 8th)
2011 was an improvement on 2010 for Schumi, and next year should be better still. Whilst many were not keen on his defensive moves in Italy, they fell into that grey area where no-one really knows if it breaks the rules or not. Thankfully, the FIA have cleared all that up for next year. But what it showed was that Michael still has the desire to race, and that he wants to win. I for one was very pleased when he announced his return; he has nothing to prove, and he’s back because he wants to be. His contract expires at the end of next year, but he’ll be getting on a bit by that time. His goal for 2012 should be to continue to improve, and to beat Nico in the championship.

Nico Rosberg (89 pts – 7th)
It was another great season for Nico Rosberg. He raced well, his qualifying was strong, if not great, and he finished ahead of Michael again, although it was closer than 2010. He has a great team around him at Mercedes, and he is growing with confidence and speed every year. 2011 was a positive year for the German, and if he can continue to build on it, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
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Lotus Renault GP (73 pts – 5th)
Two podiums at the start of the year made everyone think that Renault might just be challenging the big teams at the front. Alas, it was not to be. They didn’t develop the car anywhere near enough, and soon fell back. Instead if challenging the front guys, they were under pressure from Force India and even Sauber and STR towards the end of the year.

Vitaly Petrov (37 pts – 10th)
Vitaly came of age this season, and put in some great drivers. It was a big improvement on last year, but not enough to keep his seat next year. A podium in the first race did wonders for his confidence, but he had to lead the team following Heidfeld’s departure. That might have been just a little bit too much a little bit too soon. It’s hard to tell whether his performances deteriorated towards the end, or if it was just the car. Regardless, Petrov did a decent job in 2011, and is perhaps unlucky not to be saying put for 2012.

Nick Heidfeld (34 pts – 11th)
Replacing a driver mid-season can create problems. Did putting Bruno in Nick’s seat compound Renault’s issues? Possibly, but we will never know. What we can see is that Vitaly managed to score just 3 points more than Quick Nick, despite having an extra eight races to play with. Heidfeld was consistent and fast enough, and was surely the best driver to have in place of the injured Kubica. Nick will feel hard done by that move from the team, but can be please with what he did whilst he was in the car.

Bruno Senna (2 pts – 18th)
It was hard for Bruno to jump in midseason a deliver results, but that is what the team wanted. His qualifying at Belgium was strong, but the first corner there was anything but. It is all crucial experience for Bruno, as it was a half decent car that he could compete in, instead of a pathetic also-ran like he had at HRT in 2010. Bruno hasn’t been able to keep his seat for next year, but can go to a team with greater experience, reasonable sponsors backing him, and that surname. To score just 2 points in eight races is below par, but by that point in the season, so was the car.
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Force India (69 pts – 6th)
The Silverstone based team have established themselves as a midfield team now, and 2011 was another respectable year from them. Force India have the best engine in the back of their cars, from Mercedes, and links with McLaren, so they should be looking to leapfrog Lotus next year like they almost did this year (Lotus Renault). They didn’t get close to their amazing 2009 weekend in Spa, and they did start losing ground from the midpoint of the season, but it was not a bad year from the team this year. The only downside was that they didn’t go out often in the final part of qualifying when they made it that far, which did slightly ruin the show for the fans.

Adrian Sutil (42 pts – 9th)
Adrian drove a great race in Brazil, but other than that it is hard to think of any races in particular where he excelled. He was consistent enough to get decent points, but spent most of his time under the radar. Sutil is one of those drivers who has showed glimpses of brilliance over the years, and has a lot of promise. The trouble is, this year, like every other year, he has failed to fully deliver on it.

Paul Di Resta (27 pts – 13th)
Without doubt, Paul is the winner of the Rookie of the Year award. He drove some great races, qualified quite well, and made few mistakes. Force India will definitely want to keep him for next year, but if his performances of 2011 are anything to go by, they won’t be able to keep him for much longer after that. The young Scot can be very pleased with his first year in the pinnacle of motor sport, but rest assured that he will want to improve on it next year.
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Sauber (44 pts – 7th)
Sauber will still be struggling following BMW’s departure in 2009. The transition from manufacturer team to privateer is a long, hard, and difficult one. The team has one of the best wind tunnels in the business, and one of the best supercomputers in the world, so 7th isn’t really good enough. They did lose points at the first race due to a technical infringement on the rear wing, but they got worse as the season went on. It could have been a good year for Sauber, especially with the performances at the first few races, but ultimately it wasn’t. With the personnel and equipment at their disposal, they should improve for next year, but by how much remains to be seen.

Kamui Kobayashi (30 pts – 12th)
What happened to Kamui Kobayashi? His performances at the end of 2009 and in 2010 promised so much more than he delivered in 2011, and he wasn’t as much of a demon overtaker either. We expect so much more from Kamui than we saw this year. Let’s hope he returns to form for next year.

Sergio Perez (14 pts – 16th)
Perez’s year will be remembered for two things: not changing tyres, and his crash in Monaco. Sergio seemed to be able to drive a car in such a way that he hardly used the tyres, making them last much longer and needing fewer stops as a result. It isn’t the quickest way on the track, but it all evens out after the stops. His accident in Monte Carlo was massive, and it continues to amaze that drivers can suffer that kind of impact without major injury. He was a little dazed at the next race, and it was very sensible of him to not compete there. As the season went on, we saw less and less of him as his performances fell off, and it was a disappointing way to finish the year after the exceptional start he had.

Pedro de la Rosa (0 pts – 20th)
It’s odd how Pedro got his drive at Montreal. I don’t understand how a team can not take their spare driver to a race, especially when one of the race drivers has had a massive accident at the previous race. Still, that’s what Sauber did, and after Perez made the very mature decision to stand down for that weekend, they needed to find someone to take control of that car. A quick trip down to McLaren was the result, and they borrowed de la Rosa for the weekend. He drove a decent enough race, but you could see he was still a little race rusty.
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Scuderia Toro Rosso (41 pts – 8th)
8th is about right for the Red Bull B-Team. There were moments of excellence, when they made it through to the final stage of qualifying, but they all too often went out in Q1. The race pace was reasonably strong, and their straight-line speed was exceptional, but the car wasn’d up to scratch. The team have some difficult decisions to make for next year, with at least four drivers in contention for the two race seats.

Sebastian Buemi (15 pts – 15th)
Buemi’s 2011 was distinctly mediocre. I’m struggling to think of a race where he really performed. In qualifying, he had the measure of his team mate, beating him on 13 occasions, but the championship is only interested in the race, and here he struggled. His performances dropped off further towards the end of the season, and I would be surprised to find Sebastian in a Toro Rosso next year.

Jaime Alguersuari (26 pts – 14th)
Qualifying was not Jaime’s strong point in 2011; frequently he was the driver knocked out in the first session. However, his race performances were strong, and he regularly scored points after starting 17th. At the start of the season, it was Alguersuari who was the favourite to be dropped for 2012, but he improved as the season went on, scoring more points than his team mate. He also released a record, Organic Life, which was quite good actually. But maybe he should have focused more on the race track than the music track if he wants to keep his seat for next year.
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Williams (5 pts – 9th)
5 points. Just 5 little points. Williams certainly had the worst year in their history, and they need to improve for next year. Uncertainty over the second driver isn’t helping, and the loss of Sam Michael to McLaren won’t help that. They need to get more money into the team, and really focus on improving every department. From that perspective, keeping Barrichello on the books seems sensible, and he’s still quick as well.

Rubens Barrichello (4 pts – 17th)
F1’s elder statesman might not have always enjoyed his season, but he still seems to always enjoy life. He outperformed his car at a number of races, and remained positive throughout. He wants to stay on the grid for next year, and I, like many others, hope to see him there. He is the right choice for Williams to have in that car. It would be a shame for his career to end with a season like this, but he can be pleased with whatever he managed to achieve this year.

Pastor Maldonado (1 pt – 19th)
Pastor has been confirmed for Williams next year, and on the face of this season, it is a financially driven move from the guys at Grove. Maldonado brought good money to the team, but his performances were below par. With his successes in the lower formulae, we were expecting more. The car did let him down, that is for sure, but he will have to improve his racing to remain in F1 at the end of next year. Money can only get you so far in this sport.
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Team Lotus (0 pts – 10th)
Team Lotus improved a fair amount compared to their first year, and at times were able to give the midfield teams a bit of a scare, especially Williams. With Mike Gascoyne at the helm of the technical team, they could well improve again for 2012. It would have been nice to see a bit more speed from the team this year, and there were a few issues, such as with the power steering, but on the whole they can be pleased with 2011. Coming 10th in the championship brings a fair bit of money with it, and it was only their second year. 2011 was a good building block to go on and achieve more in the years to come.

Heikki Kovalainen (0 pts – 22nd)
It was a good season from Heikki; he raced well and qualified well. As a driver, he is more complete than when he was at McLaren, and if Team Caterham, as they will be known next year, can develop a car capable of challenging the midfield teams, you can bet your bottom dollar that Heikki will be able to do it. He is infinitely positive, and great at motivating the team around him. Whilst 2011 didn’t produce the results he would have wanted, his performances were strong, and he was always happy to talk to the media. It was a good year from Kovalainen, but let’s hope it’s even better next year.

Jarno Trulli (0 pts – 21st)
I was surprised to see that Jarno was ahead of Heikki in the championship standings; the Finn appeared to have the measure of the Italian all year. Jarno was also a great qualifier, a master of the single lap, but was outqualified by his team mate 16 times over the season. There are times that Trulli seems to have lost interest in the sport, notably when he elected to stand aside for Chandhok to have a race because he was fed up of the power steering. Jarno will be hoping for a better car next year, and that should hopefully improve his performances and joie de vie.

Karun Chandhok (0 pts – 28th and last)
It was slightly unfair to give Karun a drive half-way through the season and for only one race. I’m sure he loved it, but it didn’t do his reputation any good. He had simply been out of the car for too long, which is why his performance wasn’t really up to scratch. He’ll have to hope that it hasn’t done too much damage to his career prospects.
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Hispania Racing Team (0 pts – 11th)
It’s all change at HRT for next year, with Pedro de la Rosa and in all probability Dani Clos driving the cars in 2012, and news coming in that Dr Colin Kolles is leaving his position as Team Principle. This year, they appeared to make no improvement on last year, and were the only team not allowed to start a race as a result of the 107% rule. Things need to get better before people start losing interest.

Vitantonio Liuzzi (0 pts – 23rd)
When Tonio went to HRT, it was the only option left for him. In 2010, he disappointed at Force India, and was always going to be replaced by Di Resta. He won’t be at the team next year, with de la Rosa confirmed to replace him, and his move to HRT at the start of the year was, in all likelihood, the final through of the dice in a career that has not come up to scratch.

Narain Karthikeyan (0 pts – 27th)
Narain proved first time out with Jordan that he was not quick enough for Formula One. He overdrives the car, and if you examine his driving style and lines, is lacking technically, although this is always exacerbated by a poor car. He was given the opportunity to drive again, and reaffirmed the view that he was there due to the size of his wallet, not the size of his talent. He won’t be at HRT next year, that is for sure, but will he be anywhere?

Daniel Ricciardo (0 pts – 26th)
It was a smart move from Red Bull to put the youngster in at HRT; the team needed a decent driver, and Ricci needed some experience. He delivered some decent results, considering it was his first time racing an F1 car, and he will definitely be one to watch for the future.
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Marussia Virgin Racing (0 pts – 12th and last)
If HRT made no progress this year, Virgin went backwards. They were able to challenge Lotus in 2010, but really struggled in 2011. The only CFD designed car experiment appears to have massively failed. The team certainly deserve to come last in the standings this year. They should hopefully improve next year, if they are still around, as they are in a bit of trouble with Companies House.

Timo Glock (0 pts – 25th)
Timo has signed a muli-year contract with the team, and is hoping to help them move further up the grid. It’s ambitious, and he probably won’t get to drive for a top team again, which is a shame as he certainly has the talent. This year’s car was simply abysmal, and as a result, Timo had no choice but to cruise around at the back of the field.

Jerome d’Ambrosio (0 pts – 24th)
It wasn’t a bad season from Jerome. He showed ability to race, as much speed as the car would allow, and made surprisingly few errors for a rookie in a terrible car. Unfortunately for him, Charles Pic will be taking his seat for next year, and Jerome will have to hope he can find a testing seat somewhere.
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Drive of the Year
There are a great deal of contenders for this, but the best drive of the year for me was Jenson Button in Canada. To come back from a collision with your team mate, and with Alonso, and win a race from last in extreme conditions is simply amazing. That it was the longest race, the flag falling four hours after the lights went out, merely adds to this. Jenson was able to find grip where everyone else thought there was none. This was the best drive of the season, and worth watching if you are a young driver coming up through the ranks. You can learn a lot from it. To be fair, it’s well worth watching if you’re not a young driver coming up through the ranks. It was a great race.

Disappointment of the Year
There are a few to think about here. Williams had their worst season ever, scoring a miserable 5 points and coming in 9th in the championship, with both a car and a season they will want to forget. Lotus Renault too failed to deliver the goods; two podiums in the first two races set the bar high, along with expectations, but the car wasn’t developed enough and fell way behind. They also made a driver change mid-season, replacing Heidfeld, who had been doing quite well for the team, for Senna, who brought a bit of money with him. Driver-wise, Massa had an absolutely awful season, clashing with Hamilton frequently, and not setting foot on the podium once. Ferrari didn’t produce a great car, but it was far better than Felipe’s results would suggest. If he doesn’t shape up next year, he will surely be shipped out. When it comes to races, most of the Tilke designed tracks were uninteresting, as per usual, and the award for worst race of the year goes to Borelencia, for the snoozefest around their harbour. But the biggest disappointment is the handling of the F1 coverage for next year, with Sky and the BBC working on what is best for them, not what is best for us fans. How it was sold to us by the beeb was simply awful, and the coverage, which has won the top global broadcaster at the FIA awards, could go downhill following the mass exodus to Sky from half the on-screen team, and all the on-air talent from 5Live.

So, that was the year that was, and what a year it was! But that is enough of this. Formula One doesn’t live in the past; it lives in the future.
Bring on 2012!

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Don’t forget to register your nominations for the SUUK Sports Awards 2011 – there are 13 categories, and you can register your suggestions via twitter (using the hashtag #suukawards), by email (sportupdatesuk@hotmail.co.uk) or via the comments section on the SUUK Awards article. Nominees will be announced on Christmas Eve.

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Comments
2 Responses to “That Was The Year That Was – The 2011 F1 Season”
  1. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne confirmed at Toro Rosso for 2012. Alguersuari & Buemi lose their drives – I never rated either 🙂 .

  2. Vender Ouro says:

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, but I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It is lovely worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made good content material as you did, the internet will likely be a lot more helpful than ever before.

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