Thursday, 1 December 2011

Full-season review of 2011

A mixed bag, overall, I think.

The races, especially early on when the Pirellis crumbled like cheese, were pretty good and a few were excellent (China and Canada, for example). Unfortunately we did get some processions (Monaco ended badly due to the red flag, India was boring, Valencia and Singapore likewise) but on the whole racing was good, I think.

From both a betting and racing perspective the season was reasonably good but could have been better (especially in the latter half of the season). The tale of the season was Vettel/Red Bull dominance, and this made qualifying and race betting often quite difficult.


Vettel has gone up in my estimation, as has Button. Hamilton’s gone down somewhat, but if he gets his head screwed on right he has the speed to challenge for further titles. Alonso’s as excellent as ever but he needs a car capable of more than one victory (and Silverstone may’ve been down to a rather shambolic last minute and temporary rule change).

Massa is a shadow of the driver who competed for the 2008 title and missed out by the narrowest of margins. A combination of recovering from a serious head injury and Alonso assuming the throne once occupied by Schumacher has reduced him to an also-ran.

Webber also performed poorly, relative to his team mate, and whilst he suffered the lion’s share of reliability failures Vettel suffered likewise in 2010 but still took the title.

The Mercedes pair are the most intriguing, because it’s very hard to tell who’s better. In the second half of the season Schumacher was more impressive, although Rosberg enjoyed season long dominance in qualifying. I hope that they, McLaren and Ferrari can challenge Red Bull more closely next year.

The also-rans remain also-rans. No real shift from Lotus, Virgin or HRT, although Kovalainen did manage to occasionally get his Lotus into Q2. Hopefully the extra prize money will help them to close the gap to the midfield.

Perhaps the closest battle during the course of the season was in the midfield. Renault nabbed fifth, just four points ahead of Force India. Force India have been strong throughout, and with Hulkenberg reportedly joining them (replacing Sutil) and the strong Di Resta they’ll have two potentially great drivers for next season. Renault took off like a rocket at the start of 2011, with a pair of podiums, but their front-exiting exhaust (as well as sounding awful) was dire in slow corners and they clearly missed Kubica’s world class talent.

If the Pole can’t make the start of 2012 then I’d give Senna the seat. He’s made a few mistakes, but he’s also qualified well and worthy of a race seat, in my view.

Update: surprisingly, Raikkonen has got the nod. Team mate unconfirmed, presumed to be Petrov with the announcement due by the 10th of December.

Sauber just about fended off the Toro Rosso team to get seventh by just three points. A bit like Renault, Sauber got more points early on (Perez would’ve scored in his debut race had it not been for a purely technical infringement regarding the rear wing) but struggled more later on, perhaps due to lack of development funds. I think Perez has done a pretty good job throughout the season, and with him and Kobayashi Sauber have a decent lineup.

Toro Rosso have two cars, which is worth reminding them about because they seem to have about four potential drivers next year. Buemi and Alguersuari have both driven pretty well, but Ricciardo and Vergne[sp] are also eyeing up the seats.

Alas, poor Williams. A paltry five points, and seemingly due to axe Barrichello whilst keeping the bank-manager-pleasing Maldonado. I’m not a Maldonado fan. The side-swipe in Spa on Hamilton should’ve earnt him a serious penalty and getting penalties twice in one race for ignoring blue flags is not impressive. Raikkonen is now definitely not going to get Barrichello’s seat, so it’s unclear who will drive for the once mighty Williams.


The start of the season seems a long way away now, especially given the sub-optimal UK coverage situation for next season. I’m not going through every race (you can, excitingly, go back and check the blog archives) but will pick out some high- and lowlights.

Bahrain –

Valencia’s chief rival for Worst Track On The Calendar. Although the reasons for the track’s absence were severe and serious it is not the sort of track that will be missed. We’re apparently headed there next year, but already that seems questionable.

China –

My worst result of the season (4 tips, 4 losers) but a very exciting and unpredictable race due to the super-fast degradation of the Pirellis. Webber charged through the field, having exited in Q1, and got himself a podium. Had the race been a little longer he would’ve certainly won.

Turkey –

No Red Bull collision, but it’s the last time an F1 race will be held there. It’s a decent rather than fantastic track, but given the state of Bahrain, Singapore, Valencia etc it’s a shame to lose one of the better new tracks.

Canada –

The longest race ever (over 4 hours) and maybe, just maybe, one of the very best. I buggered up qualifying tips badly, and it looked like my McLaren to Win tip was equally moronic when, after about 40 laps, Button was 21st of 21 cars still running. And yet he won, and there was much rejoicing.

Germany –

It’s weird and unfortunate for Vettel that (excepting for when his car didn’t finish once) his worst result was at home. For whatever reason he just can’t excel at the Nurburgring. Annoyingly, this will only prove useful in two years as Germany alternates its circuit and next year we’ll be at Hockenheim.

Belgium and Italy –

I’ve bracketed these together for two big reasons: Red Bulls making crazy passes on Alonso. At Spa Webber passed him through Eau Rouge at full speed, and the skill of both men to avoid a massive accident was breath-taking. Vettel is often criticised for being a lacklustre passer, but at Monza he pulled a great move on Alonso, even having two wheels put on the grass.

Brazil –

An allegory of the season. Less exciting than we’ve come to expect because the Red Bulls were just too damned fast. Handy for Webber that his team mate got a gearbox problem and gifted him the win.

Rule changes

I think having both KERS and DRS is a bit gimmicky, but there’s no denying they’ve often worked well. Occasionally the DRS has been too easy/hard, but it’s the inaugural year so that’s to be expected.

The biggest change was the Pirelli tyres. Sadly they became more durable (or the drivers better at managing them) in the latter half of the season, but early on it was pandemonium as the races unfolded in brilliant chaos.


Overall, I think I did ok. Bit disappointed with recent races, but I finished ahead overall, for both qualifying and the races, and that’s better than last year. Hopefully I can beat the 2011 result in 2012.

In the first half of the season not hedging was significantly better, but in the second half hedging produced a lower less. Over the entire season it was better, by far, not to hedge.

Morris Dancer

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