Monday, 26 December 2011

Top Ten Races of 2011

The latest part of my season review is looking at the ten best races of the year.

We've had a lot of magnificent races, and some which weren't so brilliant. However, it was quite difficult to write this article, as many races this year have being exciting, action packed and pleased the fans. So here are the ten best races of the season:


Hamilton and Webber battle for 2nd
 This race was very important as it was the only race of 2011 that Red Bull did not take pole position at. Lewis Hamilton delivered a magnificent qualifying lap to take pole, but he had Vettel and Webber alongside him for the race start. Hamilton got a good getaway, as did Vettel. There was some contact between a Sauber and a Toro Rosso into Turn One, before the long run down to Turn Three. Vettel pulled up alongside Hamilton on one of the longest straights on the F1 calendar, and Alonso fancied a look at Massa. However, Massa surprised everyone, as he brilliantly passed both Mark Webber and Jenson Button into Turn Three to take third place. Vettel then saw an oppurtunity to take the lead, and he did, on the run down to Turn Four. His move was very oppurtunistic, and impressive. Button tried to pass Massa at Turn Four, but both drivers were delayed witht his, and it allowed Webber to jump both of them. Alonso further passed Button, who was now down to sixth place. The order stayed like this until Lap 14, when Button and Nico Rosberg had a pit stop battle. Button entered ahead, but Mercedes' stop was better, and Rosberg emerged in front of him. However, Rosberg broke too late for the pit exit, allowing Button back through. However, Rosberg had the DRS, and passed Button. The McLaren driver reversed it the following lap. Vitaly Petrov and Fernando Alonso battled on Lap 17, but both missed the braking zone for Turn Three, with Petrov carelessly spearing into the back of Schumacher, meaning both had to retire from the race. The safety car came out, and stayed out for three laps. On lap 27, Nico Rosberg was leading the two Ferraris, until he suffered an enormous lock up, allowing both through. On Lap 33, the battle for 2nd place between Hamilton and Webber intensified, with Webber diving up the inside of Turn Six, but to no avail, as Hamilton took it back at the next corner. Alonso got past Massa at the stops, and then set about catching the leaders. He drove a brilliant last stint to chase down Button, who was also with Hamilton and Webber now, but the order of the top five stayed the same, while Jaime Alguersuari completed a very strong race for him, passing Nico Rosberg on the last lap for 7th place.

Webber's incredible move on Alonso
Sebastian Vettel took pole position with an excellent lap, beating Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in the changeable qualifying session. He looked to have made a good start, but Nico Rosberg had made a flier from fifth, and passed him on the run to Les Combes, taking the lead. Meanwhile, at La Source, there was carnage, with Bruno Senna crashing into Jaime Alguersuari, while Timo Glock and Paul di Resta came together, which forced the two Lotus cars to spin. Rosberg was powerless when the DRS was activated on Lap Three, and Vettel took the lead. The pit stops began on Lap Five, Mark Webber coming in first, and when Fernando Alonso exited, Webber put a gorgeous overtake on Alonso up Eau Rouge. Lewis Hamilton was battling with Kamui Kobayashi on Lap 13, but they came together, and Hamilton smashed into the barriers, retiring from the race. This brought out the Safety Car, which benefitted two drivers the most: Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher. Most drivers pitted under the safety car, bar Fernando Alonso, who pitted three laps later. After the safety car came in, Vettel led from Alonso, Webber, and Jenson Button. Webber and Button both came past the Spaniard, while Michael Schumacher was now up to sixth, which became fifth after he passed his team mate. Vettel won from Webber and Button, while Pastor Maldonado scored his first F1 points, despite a stupid incident in qualifying when he deliberately crashed into Lewis Hamilton. The race featured two fantastic overtakes: Vettel on Rosberg, and Webber on Alonso.

Alonso takes the lead at Monza
At Red Bull's so called weakest track, Sebastian Vettel took a brilliant pole position, pushing his car to the very limits. However, the best starter was Fernando Alonso, who made his way from fourth into the lead. Elsewhere, Tonio Liuzzi lost control at Turn One, and crashed into Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg. All three had to retire, and the safety car was brought out. Vettel set about the lead, and made possibly the best overtake of the year, passing Alonso on the outside of the Curva Grande. Lewis Hamilton was running third but was caught napping at the start, Michael Schumacher taking third place from him. Webber had a look at Massa into the first corner, but he spun the Ferrari man around, and Webber had to retire with a front wing trapped under his car meaning he lost control. Hamilton then tried to pass Schumacher for third. Lap after lap he tried, but he just couldn't make his way past. This battle went on for so long that it allowed Jenson Button to join them. While Hamilton took 30 laps to pass Schumacher, Button got past both of them immediately. Finally, Hamilton got past when Schumacher made his first pit stop. Button then managed to catch Alonso, and passed him with ten laps to go, promoting him to 2nd. Vettel won with a wonderful drive, followed by Button and Alonso on the podium. Hamilton had charged down Alonso, but couldn't quite get close enough and had to settle for fourth. Schumacher was fifth, while Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta were very happy with seventh and eighth. Bruno Senna scored his first F1 points with tenth also.

Hamilton and Massa collide again
Going into the Japanese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel needed just one point to be World Champion. When he narrowly beat Jenson Button to pole position this looked likely. Vettel made a good start but Button was faster, and Vettel squeezed Button onto the grass in a controversial move. Button wasn't happy as he dropped to third, behind his team mate, but Vettel was not to incur a penalty. On Lap Six, Alonso passed Massa into Turn One for fourth place, meaning the order was now Vettel-Hamilton-Button-Alonso-Massa-Webber. Hamilton was passed on Lap Nine by Button, as he suffered from what was believed to be a punture, it was later revealed that it was just heavy degradation. At the second round of pit stops, Button passed Vettel with a storming in lap and a quicker stop. Also on this lap, Hamilton and Massa made contact yet again. On the run down to the chicane, they came together, Hamilton breaking off a small piece of Massa's end plate. This badly placed piece of debris meant the safety car was out on Lap 24. At the final round of stops, Button kept the lead, but Vettel's out lap was poor, and Fernando Alonso got past him. Vettel tried to get past him, but Alonso's defending was excellent, and then the Spaniard began to catch Button. He was delivering excellent laps, but in the end he just ran out of laps. Button drove brilliantly to win, Alonso was on fire with 2nd, and Sebastian Vettel was crowned the World Champion. Webber was fourth, Hamilton fifth, Schumacher sixth, while Massa, Perez, Petrov and Rosberg rounded off the points.

Vettel led away, but Button was victorious
After missing out on the last two pole positions, Vettel was back to form as he took the top spot in Hungary qualifying. However, the track was damp at the start, meaning the whole field started on intermediate tyres. Vettel led away from pole, albeit gingerly, while Hamilton spent the first two corners defending from Jenson Button. The Mercedes drivers made the best starts though, with Rosberg and Schumacher moving into fourth and fifth. Mark Webber had dropped to eighth after Massa had passed him, while Alonso got past Schumacher at the end of the first lap. Alonso then passed Rosberg, but ran wide, allowing the Mercedes driver back through. Vettel had led the first five laps well, but made an error then, running badly wide at Turn Three, allowing Hamilton to lead and Button to chase him down. The track began to dry out, and after the whole field had pitted for slicks the order was Hamilton, Button, Vettel, Webber, Alonso. During a brief shower, Hamilton, who was comfortably leading the race, spun at the chicane, and forced Paul di Resta onto the grass. Button was now very close to him, and the two battled around the circuit, until Hamilton came in for intermediate tyres. However, the circuit began to dry out again, meaning Hamilton had to pit for slicks. The problems for Hamilton were worsened when he was given a drive-thru' penalty for forcing Di Resta off the track. Hamilton rejoined fifth but passed Mark Webber, and finished 4th. Button won his 200th race, from Vettel and Alonso, who had a spin late on in the race. Di Resta took seventh, while a battle for eighth emerged with Buemi beating Rosberg and Alguersuari.

Hamilton, Alonso and Webber battled for the whole race
The German Grand Prix saw Mark Webber take pole position, but the real star of qualifying was Lewis Hamilton, who drove arguably his best ever qualifying lap to take 2nd on the grid, meaning Vettel was away from the front row for the first time in 2011. Webber may have being on pole, but once again his start was poor, and Hamilton led. Webber stayed 2nd, but Fernando Alonso managed to get past Vettel on the inside of Turn One, while his team mate tried to go on the outside of Vettel, but in actual fact lost out to Nico Rosberg. Jenson Button lost three places, while Michael Schumacher made up two on the opening lap. On Lap Four, Alonso made a mistake and ran wide at Turn Two, allowing Vettel in for third place. However, just a few laps later, Alonso made a great move on Vettel into Turn One to regain the place. Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi were battling at the chicane, but Buemi stupidly squeezed him off the track, meaning the Renault driver retired. Just before the first round of stops, Hamilton ran wide at the chicane, and Webber went on the inside and took the lead, only for Hamilton to instantly take it back, with a brilliant piece of racecraft on the run down to Turn One. Vettel was struggling in fourth, and then spun at Turn Ten, putting him eleven seconds behind Fernando Alonso. The top three were seperated by just three seconds, and Mark Webber was the first of the three to pit. He drove a storming in-lap, taking the lead when Hamilton and Alonso pitted at the same time. Massa, who was with Webber when he took the lead, pitted and came out just ahead of Vettel. Adrian Sutil and Jenson Button were on two stop strategies, and they were battling for sixth place, until Button had his second dose of bad luck in as many races, retiring with a hydraulics failure. At the second pit stop phase, Webber again pitted first, but struggled to get the tyres up to temperature, meaning Hamilton got past him. Alonso was the last to pit, and came out in the lead, but ran wide at Turn One, before Hamilton put a spectacular move around the outside of Turn Two to take the lead. Neither of the top three wanted to use the medium tyres, and they all pitted within the last ten laps: Hamilton coming out in the lead and winning the race from Alonso and Webber. The battle for fourth between Massa and Vettel came to a head on the penultimate lap, with them both pitting for the medium tyres. Massa entered ahead but had a poor stop, meaning Vettel stoled fourth place. Sutil was a great sixth place, while the Mercedes' were seventh and eighth. Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez rounded off the points in the first race of the year that Vettel wasn't on the podium.

Alonso's marvellous Silverstone drive took him to victory
Mark Webber took pole position for Red Bull, his first since the Spanish Grand Prix. Vettel was alongside him in 2nd, while Fernando Alonso started 3rd in his Ferrari. The race started under extremely difficult conditions, with the track from Arena to Chapel totally wet, with the rest of the track dry. Therefore, all drivers chose to start on the intermediate tyres. Sebastian Vettel jumped Webber at the start though, while Button got ahead of Massa and Lewis Hamilton made up four places after starting tenth. While Vettel built up a comfortable lead, Jenson Button was struggling, getting passed by both Felipe Massa and his team mate Lewis Hamilton. Just before the first round of stops, Michael Schumacher and Kamui Kobayashi collided, Schumacher awarded a somewhat harsh stop-go penalty. Paul di Resta, who qualified a brilliant sixth, was running well until a catastrophic error at the pit stops. His team were expecting Sutil, so had the German's tyres ready, meaning Di Resta had to wait until his tyres were found. The next round of pit stops saw Vettel and Alonso enter at the same time, before an uncharacteristic error from Red Bull saw Alonso emerge ahead of him. Vettel came out third behind Lewis Hamilton, who was fighting brilliantly after his poor qualifying. Alonso began to increase his lead, taking advantage of Mark Webber's messy lap. He was driving brilliantly fast laps, and was now a long way ahead after driving stunning laps. Red Bull later decided to pit Vettel for a third time, in order to be in clear air. Meanwhile, Button's race came to an end when his pit stop was a disaster, the front right wheel not being on correctly, and falling off at the end of the pit lane. With ten laps to go, Hamilton was told to start conserving fuel, otherwise he wouldn't make it to the end of the race. This slowed him to the point where Vettel and Webber both passed him, demoting him to fourth. Hamilton was now under pressure from Felipe Massa, who was much faster than Hamilton. As the race entered its last two laps, Webber was in a position to beat Vettel for 2nd, and Massa was just behind Hamilton. On the last lap, Massa passed Hamilton, only for Hamilton to come back at him with two corners left, the two making contact after Hamilton took the inside line. Hamilton took the place by two hunderedths of a second after Massa ran wide on the last lap. Webber was also instructed not to pass his team mate Vettel, in a controversial team order. Alonso won fantastically, by sixteen seconds in one of the best drives of the year, while Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Massa completed the top five. Rosberg, Perez, Heidfeld, Schumacher and Alguersuari rounded off the points in a brilliant race.

Button beats Vettel on the last lap in a stunning race
Sebastian Vettel's sixth pole position of the season was possibly his most impressive, taking it on a track not traditionally suited to Red Bull. He beat Alonso and Massa to pole, and the race start was incredibly wet. It started behind the safety car, and after it came in, Alonso immediately attacked Vettel, but to no avail. Meanwhile, into Turn One, Lewis Hamilton tried to pass Mark Webber, but instead spun the Australian around, demoting both drivers significantly. This promoted Rosberg and Schumacher to fourth and fifth behind the Ferraris, followed by the McLarens. Hamilton then passed Button for sixth place, before he dropped behind him on Lap Six. On the seventh lap of racing, Hamilton tried to pass Button again, on the pit straight, but the two of them came together, Hamilton hitting the pit wall and retiring from the wet race. Button later stated he couldn't see his team mate in the spray. Button decided to pit to check for any damage, and none was found, but McLaren changed him onto intermediate tyres. Button actually got a drive-trhu' penalty though, not for the Hamilton collision, but for speeding behind the safety car, which was called out after Hamilton's car stopped. The race restarted after it was cleared, with Vettel leading well from Alonso and Massa, who were still ahead of the two Mercedes cars. Webber was eighth, after making steady progress after being spun at Turn One. Button, on the intermediate tyres, was lapping faster than anyone else, which made Alonso and the two Mercedes cars pit for these as well. However, this badly backfired, as a rainstorm began to hit the track, meaning the three drivers, along with Button, had to pit again. All of this left Vettel leading from Massa, while the rest of the field were led by Kamui Kobayashi, in third place. Vettel and Massa pitted for new wet tyres, which left Vettel still ahead, but Kobayashi moved into second, while Massa was now third. With the rain being relentless, the safety car was called out, before the race was red flagged on Lap 25, for a two hour period. When the race finally restarted, it was behind the safety car for eight laps, before it properly began again. Almost instantly, everyone was in for intermediates, after Michael Schumacher changed to them and was setting fast sector times. Alonso had to queue behind Massa in the pits, but it was about to get a lot worse for the two-time World Champion. Jenson Button tried to overtake him into the first chicane, but the two came together, and Alonso spun into the wall, and retired from the race. While marshals cleared the Ferrari, the safety car came out again. As soon as it departed, Vettel rapidly built up his lead, from Kobayashi, who was visibly slower than Massa. Heidfeld was fourth with Di Resta fifth. The Force India driver damaged his front wing when trying to pass Heidfeld, and incurred a drive-thru' penalty. Webber and Petrov now moved up to fifth and sixth, but were quickly passed by the on-song Schumacher. The German then passed Heidfeld, and on Lap 51 brilliantly passed Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa at the same time, after a mistake by the Japanese driver. By then Mark Webber had pitted for slicks and was flying, emerging in fourth behind the front three of Vettel, Schumacher and Massa, who had pitted later than most for slick tyres. Jenson Button qucikly passed both Kobayashi and Heidfeld, and the McLaren man was now driving brilliantly. While lapping Narain Karthikeyan, Felipe Massa spun and hit a wall, promoting Webber to third and Button to fourth. Just a lap later, Heidfeld ran into the back of Kobayashi, retiring and bringing out the safety car again. With ten laps left, Vettel led from Schumacher, Webber and Button, while a mistake from Kobayashi handed fifth place to Vitaly Petrov. Schumacher now had to resist strong pressure from Webber, who twice cut the chicane in order to pass Schumacher, without getting past. This allowed Button to pass Webber, and quickly got past Schumacher, who was still driving well. Webber eventually got past the German, who must have been frustrated after a spectacular drive. With just one lap left, Button was a second behind Vettel. At Turn Six, the German ran wide, throwing away victory on the last lap. Webber came home third behind Button and Vettel, while Schumacher was fourth. Petrov was fifth, before Felipe Massa passed Kamui Kobayashi on the last straight for sixth place. Alguersuari, Barrichello and Buemi completed the points in an incredible race, which was quite unbelievable.

Vettel amazingly wins in Monaco

After an intense qualifying session in the Principality, Sebastian Vettel took pole position from Jenson Button and Mark Webber. However, the main story was the horrific crash for Sergio Perez in Q3, who crashed after exiting the tunnel. Fortunately he was okay, but he wasn't to race in the Grand Prix. Vettel and Button got good starts and kept their positions, while Fernando Alonso passed the slow starting Mark Webber for third place. Hamilton had a tough first lap after atrting ninth, Michael Schumacher passing him into the Grand Hotel hairpin. By the time the first round of stops came about, Vettel had a strong lead. However, this disappeared when he entered the pits, his stop was slow and the team put prime tyres on the car, rather than the options. This left Jenson Button leading the race, from Vettel and Alonso. On Lap 34, there was an incident involving Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, the first of many in 2011. Hamilton tried to overtake Massa into the hairpin, but got it totally wrong, the two cars making contact. Massa then crashed in the tunnel. The safety car was brought out, and as Alonso and Button pitted, Vettel led from the Ferrari driver. At this point, Vettel decided he was going to perform a one-stop strategy. This would require the German taking tyres that had being going since lap 16 to the end of the race, meaning he would have to make them last 62 laps, when they were designed to do 40. This meant the race was set up for an extremely exciting climax, and it was, with Vettel somehow defending from Alonso and Button, who were in the DRS Zone lap after lap. The race was so intriguing, and the leaders began to approach a four-car battle, but it was about to end badly. On Lap 72, an incident occured between Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitaly Petrov. Sutil had hit the barrier on the previous corner, meaning he had picked up a right-rear puncture. Hamilton braked as Sutil lost control, and Alguersuari hit the McLaren driver, damaging Hamilton's rear wing. Alguersuari hit the barrier, which caused Petrov to do the same, and both were out of the race. Petrov was briefly trapped in the car, which brought out the red flag while he was extracted from the Renault. During the red flag period, teams were allowed to work on the cars, meaning Vettel could change his massively worn tyres, and Hamilton could replace his rear wing. The race restarted, with the safety car departing at the end of Lap 73. On lap 74, Lewis Hamilton tried to overtake Pastor Maldonado into Turn One, but it went wrong, Hamilton judging it badly, as Maldonado sadly retired after a very strong drive. He was given a time penalty, but it didn't affect his finishing position of sixth. Vettel won in one of his greatest drives, from the brilliant duo of Alonso and Button, who chased him all race. Mark Webber was fourth after passing Kamui Kobayashi late on. The Japanese driver took his best ever result with fifth, ahead of Hamilton, Sutil, Heidfeld, Barrichello and Buemi.

Hamilton brilliantly won, while Webber was on fire

Sebastian Vettel took his third pole of 2011 at China, but he was slow away from the line, and was passed by Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton, who had a problem with his fuel before the race, and if he had begun his journey to the grid just thirty five seconds later, he would've had to start from the pit lane. As it was, he slotted in behind Button at the start, as the fast starting McLarens jumped Vettel. Mark Webber started eighteenth after bizarrly failing to make it through to Q2. Webber made a poor start, dropping to twentieth in the last thing he needed to do. Vettel initially came under pressure from Nico Rosberg, but by lap four this had faded. Webber's race looked doomed when he was passed by Sergio Perez on Lap Nine, and the Australian pitted for soft tyres on Lap eleven. Around this time the battle for fourth began to hot up, with Rosberg defending hard from Massa and Alonso. Webber immediately found speed on the soft tyres and started setting hot laps. On Lap fifteen, Vettel passed Hamilton, and came into the pits with race leader Button. Then Button made a terrible error, and drove into the Red Bull garage instead of the McLaren one. This cost both him and Vettel lots of time, but crucially it gave Vettel the lead. However, there was a surprise when a brilliantly timed pit stop from the Mercedes team managed to get Nico Rosberg into the lead, from Vettel, Button and Massa, with Hamilton a disappointing fifth. Alonso and Schumacher began to battle, with Alonso passing the German on Lap Twenty-Six. Things suddenly began to look good for Vettel, he was on a two-stop as opposed to Mercedes' and McLaren's three-stop strategies. When Rosberg, Button and Hamilton made their second stops, Vettel was left fourth, but actually in a good position to win the race. Rosberg led Button and Hamilton at this point, while on Lap 36 Lewis Hamilton made a sensational overtake on his team mate, squeezing through an impossibly narrow gap into Turn One. Interestingly, Webber was having a good race at this point, and by the time of his final stop, he was running sixth. All this left Vettel leading from Massa, Rosberg, Hamilton, Button and Webber. Hamilton quickly got past Rosberg and Massa, and was lapping a second a lap quicker than Vettel, with ten to go, meaning an exciting finish. Button and Massa were now battling for third, after a mistake by Rosberg, with the McLaren man trying to manufacture a pass on the Ferrari. Button passed Massa on Lap 50, by which time Webber's superb race meant he was in a position to pass Rosberg for fifth place. On Lap 52, the inevitable happened, and Hamilton passed Vettel, using his KERS at the inside of Turn Seven, a gentle left hander to take the lead. Massa's tyres were degrading badly, and Rosberg and Webber had passed him for fourth and fifth place. Hamilton began to open a gap, while Webber passed Rosberg on Lap 54, and then on the final lap, passed Jenson Button for third, and a place on the podium after starting eighteenth, capping off a wonderful drive. Hamilton's drive was remarkable though, taking a thoroughly deserved win, ahead of Vettel and Webber, with Button fourth, Rosberg fifth, Massa sixth, and Alonso a distant seventh, while the other points scorers were Schumacher, Petrov and Kobayashi.

These just missed out...
- Australian Grand Prix
- Spanish Grand Prix
- Singapore Grand Prix


  1. I do not agree completely, orthough i am surprised Britain was only number 4 ;)
    mine would be (top 5)

  2. I think Canada was ruined by the DRS, it made overtaking easy.

  3. Great article mate detailed and I agree with the choices although Canada should have been top. 5 hours of excitement Daniel!