Friday, 9 December 2011

Season Review Interview Four: Adam Corlett

Here's the fourth interview as part of my season review.

As part of my 2011 season review, I am conducting a five-part interview series, where I have carefully selected five people to interview - about their opinions on the season that has just gone by. Here is the fourth interview.

Adam Corlett is my fourth interviewee. Like me, Adam is a big Fernando Alonso fan, and I met him first (like four of my other interviewees) on the excellent Formula One blog F1 Fanatic. We then spoke on Twitter, and he was interested in being interviewed for this five part series. I was very happy about this, and he has given some very good answers, with detailed explanations. Here they are, enjoy!

1) Many people have said that this year's racing was better than 2010's, would you agree?
I completely agree. Last year produced a classic season and a 5 way title fight filled with drama and twists and turns at almost every race, but if you removed the title drama many of the races were incredibly dull. This year in contrast had a dull title race but the races were absolutely brilliant, even the  worst ones such as  India or Valencia were actually pretty interesting races compared to races of previous years.  For me Pirelli tyres have made all the difference, with KERS helping but with DRS being a tacky and unnecessary gimmick.

2) In your opinion, what was the best Grand Prix of this 19-race season?

Monaco was my favourite, I’ve haven’t been so gripped by the tension of a fight for the lead for years. After Vettel’s pit stop and the realisation that he was going to try and go 50 laps on one set of tyres it set up a three way battle for the lead between the three best drivers in the world this year. With Alonso on much newer tyres and Button on tyres that were even fresher the tension was incredible as we anticipated Vettel’s tyres reaching “the cliff”. With the race reaching its climax my heart rate was already going through the roof as the leaders approached the Hamilton-Algersuari-Petrov-Sutil battle but when the crash unfolded it was unbelievable, with the leaders having to pick their way through a haze of carbon fibre.  It may not have been the overtake for the win we’d been looking for but the carnage that brought out the red flag was still a remarkable climax to the race.

3) And who would you say was the best driver of the season?
Vettel was clearly the best this year, only making errors in Germany and Canada and sometimes being so good it made you want to cry. Alonso and Button also had fantastic years but Vettel was utterly remarkable in his pace and consistency and fully deserved his second title (even if he didn’t deserve his first).

4) Who do you think were the most improved team in 2011?

Red Bull, despite having comfortably the best car last season they seemed to spend the whole year  trying to lose the championship with reliability failures, in team fighting and driver errors. This the car was nearly as dominant but along with Vettel this time they made the most of it. 

5) Sebastian Vettel drove an almighty season, winning eleven races. Which of those wins do you think was most impressive?

There so many to choose from but I’d probably go for Monaco,  after he mistakenly pitted for the prime tyres I don’t think anyone imagined he’d be able to make it to the end in a race where tyre where was so high but he pulled it off. Whether or not Alonso or Button could have beaten him had the red flag not come out is probably the greatest what if of the season but at the end of the day Vettel withstood enormous pressure for lap after lap from the best driver in F1,  it was a brilliant drive.

6) In your opinion, what was the single best drive of the season?
Alonso's drive in Spain was phenomenal
Fernando Alonso in Spain.  It may seem a strange choice considering he ended the race a lap behind, but he had an absolutely sensational weekend. It starting with a qualifying lap that he described as his best ever to split the McLarens, then come race day he produced THAT start to take the lead and led 2 stints in a car that clearly had no right to be in front of the Red Bulls and McLarens. Even after the switch to the hard tyres he put in a valiant effort defending against Webber and even managing to re-pass the Australian at one point.   
7) We had four rookies this season; Pastor Maldonado, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez. Who in your opinion was the most impressive in 2011?
I don’t think any of them are the next Alonso or Vettel but Di Resta and Perez have both impressed me a lot. I’d say Di Resta was the most impressive, frequently out qualifying Sutil early in the season and matching his performance level throughout the year. Also his results would have looked far better if it hadn’t been for him being put on some unusual strategies later in the year, overall pretty good for a driver who hadn’t raced single seaters since 2006.

8) What were your thoughts on the Pirelli tyres this season?

They were absolutely brilliant and have transformed F1 for the better. The ban on refuelling was only ever going to produce good racing if they had tyres which actually degraded, but unfortunately Bridgestone were so conservative that often even their soft tyres could last an entire race distance. Pirelli have changed all that and given us the kind of racing we’d all hoped for when the refuelling ban was introduced.

9) What were your thoughts on the KERS system this season?

I quite like KERS but I don’t really have any strong opinions on it, I’d like it to be more powerful perhaps but I think it works pretty well as it is.

10) What were your thoughts on the DRS system this season?

The DRS ruined a great 3 way battle in Canada
I think in its current form it’s a needless gimmick that cheapens the sport. I just can’t stomach a device that is giving an unfair advantage to the car behind which is not available to the car which is defending. At times this year DRS has really angered me, like in Canada where it ruined my enjoyment of the race and other times such as in Turkey it was simply embarrassing. DRS in qualifying is quite fun but the only way I could support it in the races is if it were a “push to pass button” that could be used by any driver at any time only a set number of times during a race, at the least then we would be in a situation where drivers were being given an unfair advantage simply for being behind another car.

11) A lot has been made of Michael Schumacher in the last two years, do you think he will ever win another race, or even reach the podium?
Schumacher’s shown this year that he’s still got the pace to win Grands Prix if he’s in a race winning car. He’s clearly not the driver he was and he’s still been behind Rosberg in qualifying but he has frequently beaten him on race pace. So if 2012 sees Mercedes produce a car capable of wins or podiums I’m sure Schumacher fighting for them.  

12) I recently wrote an article discussing my thoughts on the best driver on the grid, narrowing it down to Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, and then stating that I believe Alonso is the best. Who are your top three, and of those three, who is the best?

I would agree with your top three although Button has now beaten Hamilton convincingly over the past two seasons which does beg the question of whether he should be rated higher than he is. But out of the top 3 of Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso I think Vettel has now shown he is the fastest man over one lap in F1, but for me Alonso’s ability to relentlessly get the maximum from his car over a race distance  makes him still the best and most complete driver in F1.

13) In one word: Who will win the 2012 Constructor's Championship?

Red Bull

14) In one word: Who will win the 2012 Driver's Championship?


So, these are Adam's answers. I hope you enjoyed them, he has given some very interesting and lengthy responses, with some interesting views. The one that surprised but also impressed me the most was his answer to question six, which I very much agreed with, despite the criticism for Alonso after finishing a lap down. That is probably our mutual love for Alonso showing there!

Please do leave a comment on this interview, we'd love to hear your views.

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