2011 Driver by Driver Review


Valued Member
The Drivers are ordered by Championship position.

28. Karun Chandhok (Lotus)
His performance in the German Grand Prix, finishing last behind the HRT of Ricciardo, was bad enough to prevent him from racing in India, and probably ended his Grand Prix career.​

27. Daniel Ricciardo (HRT)
For someone stepping into the breach for a half-season at HRT, he did well, generally competing with his team-mate Liuzzi and beating him in most of the races they both finished. Red Bull will be happy to get him a seat for next year.​

26. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)
The first ever man to finish 24th in a Formula One Grand Prix! His highlight was beating Ricciardo at home, but in truth his season showed he probably wasn't quite talented enough to be in Formula One, a conclusion many of us came to 6 years ago. A blue flag menace, too!​

25. Timo Glock (Virgin)
Owes his Championship position to being defeated by d'Ambrosio in the high-attrition race of the year in Canada. Generally beat d'Ambrosio at most races though, you wonder if the Maruissia project is ever going to pay dividends for Timo.​

24. Jerome d'Ambrosio (Virgin)
Its difficult to see what he could have done to keep his seat for 2012, maybe he wasn't as fast as Glock, but he certainly wasn't as embarrassing for Virgin as di Grassi, except of course for his pit lane spin at the Hungaroring.​

23. Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT)
Amazingly, he went some way to repairing his reputation this season. However, I doubt he'll ever be considered a frontrunner, defeats to Ricciardo were not in the script and it is possibly unlikely he'll ever race in Formula One again.​

22. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus)
He's behind his team-mate in the Championship, ostensibly because he failed to finish the Australian Grand Prix, and because of Sauber's disqualification from that event. This was unfortunate because his ability in qualifying, including several Q2 appearances, and especially his end to the season show he is the team's true leader.​

21. Jarno Trulli (Lotus)
Two thirteenth places were enough to see Trulli beat Kovalainen in the Championship, which is pretty much the only thing Jarno has beaten him at all year. His complaints about power steering were incessant, but he hardly improved after. He has not beaten his team-mate in a race or qualifying session since Monza.​

20. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber)
Dragged into a Sauber seat at Montreal, but finished only ahead of the Lotus, Virgin and HRT drivers, after giving the wall a good clunk on Saturday. It is difficult to believe he'll be back next year.​

19. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1pt
It is the worst performance by a WGPE driver ever, but to be fair it was the worst WGPE car ever. You could claim he was unfortunate at Monaco, but his season was one of mediocrity and error. His one point came at a race he should not have started after his bizarre contre-temps with Lewis Hamilton.​

18. Bruno Senna (Lotus) 2pt
In Brazil and Belgium there were outstanding qualifying performances, but the family trait of being better on a Saturday came out. However, he probably outperformed the car in those qualifying sessions and Petrov scarcely did better over the half of the year he was in the car. Whether or not that is a recommendation is a matter of opinion.​

17. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) 4pt
Scored 2 consecutive 9th places amidst the chaos of Monaco and Canada. Possibly not as fast as Maldonado but infinitely more reliable. The Williams was rubbish, and Rubens deserved a better send off than this season. The only Big 9 driver not to make Q3, showed flashes of his old talent, but will probably be dragged off into the sunset, kicking and screaming!​

16. Sergio Perez (Sauber) 14pt
His début in Australia was brilliant but he was disqualified. His combination with Sauber was the kindest on marshmellow tyres of the entire grid. His results in Britain and Japan were excellent, and he seemed to do well on street circuits. His crash at Monaco was his first Q3, and it showed maturity to pull out of the Canadian Grand Prix rather than risk his health further.​

15. Sebastien Buemi (STR) 15pt
Another solid season for Buemi, although he had to cope with his team-mate largely getting the limelight as he often retired when competitive. Still had sufficient results around the 8th-10th mark to show the solidity which has marked all three of his years in the sport, and it would be sad to see him go.​

14. Jaime Alguersuari (STR) 26pt
Started the season like a snail, and Ricciardo was looming until he started to find a setup which, while leaving his qualifying poor, managed to maximise his racing to turn up in the lower points positions. Less consistent than Buemi, but better when he was on form.​

13. Paul di Resta (Force India) 27pt
If we judge him on what the propaganda machine would have us expect, then it is difficult to escape that he underperformed. On his own merits, however, he had a solid yet unspectacular début season. His 6th place in Singapore was excellent, and he did well to stay close to, and sometimes beat, his more experienced team-mate. Definitely worth another shot, although it would be nice if the BBC didn't pretend his début season was as good as Senna, Hamilton and Alonso all rolled into one.​

12. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 30pt
At the Canadian Grand Prix, Kobayashi had run 2nd, and was one point behind the two Mercedes drivers, scoring more than double any other midfield runners despite disqualification in Australia. Sauber fell off in the second half of the season, so Kamui only picked up 5 points since, but like Button in 2009, the top heavy nature of his year shouldn't distract from its quality. His 5th position in Monaco was particularly excellent.​

11. Nick Heidfeld (Renault) 34pt
There was an excellent podium in Malaysia, accompanied by a range of lower points positions. His qualifying form was poor, but that is consistent across his career. Mr Boullier got exactly what he should have expected, and sacked him because he didn't have any money. In performance terms, it was unjust.​

10. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) 37pt
He should get the 2011 Australian Grand Prix DVD to show to his bored descendants, and his 5th position in Canada was also excellent. The rest of his season was very similar to Heidfeld, but he had the roubles to remain in a seat, and suffer Renault's decline. Still scored more points than Senna in the last half of the season though.​

9. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 42pt
His 6th places in Germany and Brazil will stand as his best results of the season, but he was also extremely consistent all year. He scored some serious points, showed the newfound maturity that has marked his 2010-11 seasons. Unfortunately, he has the wrong nationality and may well miss out on a seat with anyone next year. That would be totally unjust. On track, he's done little wrong all season.​

8. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 76pt
Yes, at times he's been unlucky. Yes, there's been a vast improvement since 2010. But, too often, in a car that should have qualified 8th, he hasn't and ended up running into people (whether his fault or not) in order to regain its natural position. His near-podium in Canada showed signs of the old Schumacher, but it's still difficult to fathom what he's gaining in his return.​

7. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 89pt
China and Belgium saw Nico Rosberg take the lead, and his performance in Turkey was the best by a Mercedes on a dry track this year. In comparison with Schumacher, Rosberg was more likely to outperform the car on a Saturday and fall back to its natural position by Sunday. It was his consistency, qualifying speed and comparitive lack of incident that, in the end, gave him position over his team-mate. It'd be great to see him in a good car so we can find out just how good he is.​

6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 118pt
A very poor season. Usually scaled the heights of 5th only when one of those normally in front of him retired. He beat Alonso only in Malaysia and China and when the Spaniard failed to finish in Canada. And, quite frankly, you can't hit someone 6 times in a season and not share the blame. Did very, very little to show he deserves a Ferrari seat.​

5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 227pt
The worst season he's ever had. Too many collisions, of which he's taken more than the fair share of the flack, but is nonetheless somewhat culpaple. Too inconsistent too, and 30 points behind Alonso in a superior car. That this is his worst season, however, highlights how good the others are. There was a smattering of podiums, an excellent performance in Britain when the car was poor and three wins. And, like Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna before him, he's going to be remembered for marquee performances. His win in Shanghai is one of the all-time great performances.​

4. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 257pt
Alonso, on the other hand, rarely has those great performances. However, he is one hell of a consistent driver. In a car whose natural station is 5th, he's finished 4th or above on 14 occasions. On the only day all season that Ferrari were truly competitive, he won the British Grand Prix. Perhaps the only man who can honestly say he might have contended with Vettel given an equal car.​

3. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 258pt
At times, you forgot he existed. Only on the Championship podium due to a gearbox problem of dubious reality, he beat his team-mate only three times all season. And only one of those was when the title was still alive. The other two were due to the absense of Vettel and the "gearbox problem". Compared to his team-mate it was really poor, in a car good enough for 12 wins, three one-twos speaks badly for the number 2. Not good for a number 2 driver, this year!​

2. Jenson Button (McLaren) 270pt
Jenson's job at McLaren is to bring home the bacon if Lewis doesn't. That is what he did in 2011. His qualifying was poor, but that is part of the package with Button. On race day he almost always made up positions. There was a raft of podiums. He was lucky at Montreal with a Safety Car, but that served to make up only for his red flag bad luck at Monaco. Japan was his first dry race win since Turkey 2009, and he still is the only man who knows how to win at a wet Hungaroring. All in all, a very good season for Button.​

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 392pt
11 wins. 5 times a runner up. A third place when he needed a point to win the title. A retirement from pole. That leaves the German GP as the only non-impressive result, and he came 4th in that! Easily the most complete and dominant season since Schumacher's 2004, and even his team-mate managed to finish 2nd in the title. To offer criticism feels like clutching at straws. He's our new doppelkaiser - twice emperor of Germany and Austria. Though there were a couple won the hard way, you only needed to see him three times in most races. The start, the 2 second lead by the time DRS became available and the salutation at the finish, followed by the ever-popular victory finger.​
Possibly, but huge amounts of luck were involved.
Two collisions with drivers, one of whom would have arguably have beaten him, who were both taken out and there were six safety cars, without which he had no chance in hell of getting back in contention, especially after a puncture and drive through penalty for speeding behind the safety car.
By the same token Vettel was "lucky" in Monaco as he was able to get a free tyre chnage when the race was red flagged. What comes around goes around.

Very nice summary TBY, I would happily see all the drivers from 17th back given the boot and a new set of young chargers brought in. The grid is pretty competitive (ignoring Vettel and the Red Bull) but there needs to be more drivers to replace Webber, Alonso, Massa etc. coming through and not just those with a big suitcase of petro-dollars or government cash.
Luck can't be proved. However you can usually tell when someone's been lucky. For example as FB said Vettel in Monaco because that red flag helped his strategy, Button is Oz 2010 or Alonso in Singapore 2008 although that turned out to be engineered but it did appear extremely lucky at the time.
Top Bottom