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Formula 1 Season Summary 2011

A comprehensive review of the F1 live experience this is not, because I'm not consistent enough to write about every qualifying session and race. These guys sure are consistent though. Lap after lap and race after race the top ones finish in the same order, the performance of their machines and top end of their true talent being the differentiators. May we all learn a lesson from how well and consistently they perform.

Australian Grand Prix 2011

Color code for the year with the Pirellis: Red is super soft. Yellow is soft. White is medium. Gray is hard tires. 

Australian GP 2011 - Qualifying

Australian GP 2011 - Race

Result - Vettel, Hamilton, Petrov

Malaysian Grand Prix 2011

Way to Maldonado, crashing in the pit entrance during practice. Totally living up to expectations. 

Malaysian GP 2011 - Qualifying

Q1 - Boy this 107% rule makes me nervous. With 6 1/2 minutes left, Alonso Massa Kobayashi Perez Heidfeld and Petrov have no time. What if they spin, or get a flat? So much risk to wait till the last minute. It ended up being Mercedes that had it down to the wire, with both cards in the knockout zone until under one minute left in the session. But in the end it's Maldonado and the regular six out. Somehow this rule combined with their poor performance has made me root for HRT - great work getting in the field! 
Q2 - Schumacher couldn't beat Heidfeld, weak. 
Q3 - Exhale, what fun. Hamilton and Vettel cross the line last, both breaking the 1:34s. Love the Wunderkind! 
Petrov gave a great on-grid interview to SpeedTV. Like him more every time I see him. 

Malaysian GP 2011 - Race

As ridiculous as the stay-in-the-news proposal of water sprinklers made by Ecclestone was, somehow I'm totally fine with coordinating the race start time with the known daily rain during monsoon season. Turns out not to have rained, but the uncertainty puts added tension into the strategy. I was confused by the leaders taking new soft tires as it began to sprinkle, felt like they should wait just a few more laps, it's gonna pour. Turned out the track was so hot it burned the moisture as soon as it hit the asphalt, and the big rain never came. 

Holy cow Heidfeld, 6th to 2nd by turn one. Well done. Webber drops like a stone. Later, with all the pit stops required as the tires deteriorated, this race became a great example of pace in F1. Bad luck for Petrov! What a handful of air he grabbed on his way out of the race.
Result - Vettel, Button, Heidfeld

Chinese Grand Prix 2011

Mercedes 4th and 5th in practice, would like to see them do something this week. They're the fourth best team, but arguably fifth with Renault putting out a teriffic car this year. When Mercedes can get in the mix it will spice up F1 racing even more. 

Chinese GP 2011 - Qualifying

Q1 - Fascinating that the soft tires knock the times so low at the very end of the session.  Maldonado, come on, bump Webber.  Coming to the finish line…. Yes!  Surely that wouldn’t have happened if Webber was on soft tires, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. 

Q2 - Petrov’s breakdown makes for a wild last two minutes.  Barrichello whines for Petrov to get a penalty, just retire already!  Bring back Hulkenburg!  Both Meredes need to try to get in, Rosberg to Q3 but Schumi No!  Both Torro Rossos and DiResta, way to go kids! Diresta has outqualified Sutil in all 3 GPs so far.  Vettel on pole.

Chinese GP 2011 - Race

C’mon Vettel, no blocking, just go straight faster than anybody else.  Kobayashi great move to take advantage of Petrov’s lockup and the over-under with Alguesuari.  Webber only 1 pass on the 1st lap?  Little did we know at the time that getting the old tires gone early would be the key to an incredible 15 place advance.

Packs of 3-3-4-2 early in the race.  Hamilton-Button-Vettel, Rosberg-Massa-Alonso, DiResta-Sutil-Schumi-Kobayashi, and Alguesueri-Buemi until Petrov and then Heidfeld go by.  Perez passes Barricello and then Webber – I like this kid more and more! 

Button what a mistake – coming into the Red Bull pit box and giving up a position to Vettel.  Then the Ferraris catch Hamilton, and Perez passes Hamilton after pits for a bit of a battle.

How’d Rosberg get out front?  Just by getting onto new tires first?  and Schumacher ahead of Alonso, wtg Mercedes! Mercedes pitting early, Red Bull & McLaren pitting often, and Ferrari & Renault later.  Sauber & Force India also on 2 stop strategies.  Good Massa-Hamilton battle.

All about tire management.  No trouble passing – when have we ever said that in F1!

Great Perez until he took advantage of Sutil going wide in turn 1, Perez slid in there but slid right up into him!  I’ve tried that move in video games often, but that’s the only place it works!

Vettel-Hamilton for the ending.  With 6 laps left it seems sure Hamilton will get it.  Must give credit to Webber.  We have expected this result more times – those 4 teams in out top 8 positions.

Result - Hamilton, Vettel, Webber

Turkish Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Webber, Alonso

Spanish Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Hamilton, Button

Monaco Grand Prix 2011

Q1 - Super soft times make the end of Q1 a bit of a thrill, Buemi and Maldonado up safely.  The new teams might have a shot at a chance as the last lap begins… but no they are a half a second off.  Alguesuari the sucker of the session.  HRT embarrasses themselves further yet without even an attempt to qualify for the race.

Q2 - Being Monte Carlo, a paradise for richies instead of a racetrack where there is opportunity to pass, qualifying matters much and the strategy of tire conservation is out the window.  The battle to qualify up front is on in Q2!  Perez and Maldonado in with 2 minutes to go, while the top 4 teams in usual order above.  Perez and Maldonado hold it!

Q3 - Oh no Perez is not moving!  He is crunched up against the wall and hasn’t moved since his sideways impact.  …  No time left after they clean the track to get tire temps up, Vettel pole with Hamilton at the tail of the top 9.  Finally a report that Perez is talking about pain in his leg.  Great, I’m just glad he’s alive!

Monaco GP 2011 - Race

Vettel gone early.  Schumacher drops positions off the grid but puts a beautiful move on Hamilton at Station.   Later Hamilton gets in back as omg two world champions effect a beautiful pass and avoidance of a spectacular crash.   During pit stops, what is up with Red Bull and tires?  Unlike them to make a mistake or be so haphazard.   Hamilton too hopeful in hitting Massa, they’re still fighting into the tunnel Massa gets out of line and into the wall.

Vettel Alonso Button.  Alonso closes on Vettel in a hurry with fresher tires, and Button closes on them both with fresher yet.  What might happen in these final few laps….. is all compacted into one splintering corner as Petrov is collected with others in a crash – the leaders squeak by in a millisecond within a few feet of a disaster that could have taken out any or all of them.  During the ensuing red flag teams change tires, so the top three will have no more passes and Vettel wins again.

Result - Vettel, Alonso, Button

Canadian Grand Prix 2011

Vettel tops practice yet again.  Glad Massa is in the hunt, hope he can show something in quali.

Canadian GP 2011 - Qualifying

I fell asleep.  Then it was Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren.  No surprises straight down the line, each team’s drivers separated by one position at most.  Glad to see Force India on row six and seven for once this season.

Canadian GP 2011 - Race

So it was a safety car start, not ideal and no standing start to see – but Fox Sports missed it anyway.  Please Fox keep it on your racing channel Speed, because your Fox coverage always skips out on the exciting pre-race.  Being in America as an F1 fan is bad enough without having the race given as small a timeslot as possible.

LOL, way to go Hamilton!  Spinning out Webber to send him to the back, tyvm.   Then with Schumacher, far too anxious.  Then with Button on lap 8, oh Hamilton where is your brain?  Quote Button on the radio, “What is he doing?”

Lap 25 the downpour brings a 2-hour red flag, and my taping ran out, so I have to wait for the re-air Tuesday.

We’re back and F1 is as exciting as ever.  Flying in the wet, a half dozen in for intermediates right away.  More than a half dozen the next lap.

Alonso out and Button in for his fifth pit stop after contact – wretched day for these teams.

Vettel pulls away while Force India wing shards fly, Schumacher presses Webber till he gets an opening, Massa with a monster save after a risky move on slicks in the wet line.

Button passes Schumacher and clocks faster than Vettel.  3 laps and 1.5 seconds behind!  Vettel makes a mistake!!!   The pressure by McLaren works and Vettel leads every lap but the last one – Button goes from last to first!

Result - Button, Vettel, Webber

European Grand Prix 2011

Force India and Toro Rosso all beat up in practice. 

European GP 2011 - Qualifying

Q1 - Buemi Perez Alguesuari Maldonado – are they all on soft to make it into Q2?  Ultimately so did Massa.  Kovalenien again appears to have a chance to make it into Q2 - Barrichelo & DiResta low with not much time to go.  Schumacher on bubble until going P2, then Webber on bubble until last lap.  Kobayashi gets in after the checkers.  Alguesuari is the loser again.

Q2 - If I were a team putting up a time in the 37s, I’d park it immediately for Q3.  And once Maldonado has transmission trouble (stopping on track) they do.

Q3 - Sutil & Heidfeld elect not to try, rather choose to save tires for race.  Top 4 teams in normal order, Vettel on pole.

Result - Vettel, Alonso, Webber

British Grand Prix 2011

Result - Alonso, Vettel, Webber

German Grand Prix 2011

German GP 2011 - Qualifying

Q1 - Schumacher sets the initial mark until Alguesuari comes through on soft tires.  Then Webber on hard.  Sauber waiting late to go out, then put both seemingly safely in with just a few minutes remaining.  Heidfled goes to top on soft tires, then Schumacher shaves 2 seconds off his best hard tire time with a run on soft.  Rosberg advances late and Kobayashi who parked it with 1:33.3 loses at quali this weekend.

Q2 - Seventh through the rest are up for battle as time winds down.  Schumacher Heidfeld DiResta Maldonado Petrove in the mix.  Sutil puts himself in, Petrov makes it too, bumping teammate Heidfeld.  Top 4 teams, Sutil & Petrov to Q3.

Q3 - The views on SpeedTV are incredible.  Overhead, underneath, around the world to some spectacular places. The Ferraris, McLarens and Red Bulls are so fast, no one including Mercedes and Renault can truly challenge when it comes to the final shout.

Everybody coming out with 2 minutes left.  One lap showdown ahead.

Webber & Hamilton end Vettel’s 14-race streak of front row starts.

German GP 2011 - Race

Rain on the grid threatens to cause early spins, but only DiResta lost it on lap 1.  Then Alonso got off line…. lap 9 or so Vettel spun but saved without losing a position

Heidfeld lost his wing, tires and race when trying to go outside Buemi who didn’t budge. Massa took forever to pass Rosberg, and when he did it was a bit rough.

Lap 12-13 Webber moves on Hamilton, who fights back to retake lead on front straight. Tight moment as two come out of the pits as two more hit turn one; three different pit strategies converging in a battle for the lead.

The top runners pit early… sutil button petrov kobayashi could benefit if the rain comes before they need tires. but alas they could not hold out long enough.

Schumacher spins in the same spot as Vettel…. in their home GP, same type of wheel-over-the-edge spin, both saved it… the comparisons will only increase.

Battle for lead would come again at pit exit. Webber to reassume lead as Hamilton exits, but Hamilton stays ahead and pushes him wide on turn two. The next lap it’s the same between Hamilton and Alonso, but on turn two Hamilton takes the outside this time and makes it stick for the lead.  Red Bull Vettel gets Ferrari Massa in the pits on the last lap.

Result - Hamilton, Alonso, Webber

Hungary Grand Prix 2011

The P1 session times adumbrate the power rankings of the Formula 1 teams for 2011. 

Result - Button, Vettel, Alonso

Belgian Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Webber, Button

Italian Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Button, Alonso

Singapore Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Button, Webber

Japanese Grand Prix 2011

Millions love Suzuka because of its flowing esses (and the fact you could play it in GT5P with the Ferrari). What a great track! The speed they hold when hitting the curves perfectly, and the terrible result when they get it wrong, is simply thrilling. 

Japanese GP 2011 - Qualifying

Q1 - Kobayashi the winner setting the fast time. Rosberg the loser with a software problem keeping him from setting a time. 
Q2 - Great ending to the session as Kobayashi jumped to 8th and both Petrov and Senna came in to put Kamui in his homeland on the bubble. Barrichello cannot beat him so the Q3 field is set. 
Q3 - The top six give one Go, starting their hot lap just before the chequered. Hamilton missed it! The Ferrari proved third best of the manufacturers. Webber down in sixth. 
Result - Button, Alonso, Vettel

Korean Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Hamilton, Webber

Indian Grand Prix 2011

Result - Vettel, Button, Alonso
Obviously I missed a lot of races this year. Missed taking notes, not watching, that is. I'll try to do better next year! 

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2011

Result - Hamilton, Alonso, Button

Brazilian Grand Prix 2011

Q1 - again the loser is Pastor Maldonado.  Other than the six cars of bad teams, only one guy is out this early.  Once again it’s Maldonado. 
Q2 - Senna and Sutil make it through to Q3. The rest are the normal top eight. Glad to see Senna finally get another good qualifying while in Brazil. Sutil too, though not sure it will help him with a ride next year, it looks like he’s at the end of his relationship with Force India. 
Q3 - Vettel appeared to make it dull by setting a fastest-of-the-weekend lap early in Q3. I started to wonder why he was still pushing his race-starting tires so hard, though on the last lap the speediest came through again, with Button and Webber setting fast laps. But neither were fast enough to beat Vettel, who pushed down across the 1:12 mark for 11.9something and a well-deserved record-setting 15th pole of the season. 

Brazil GP - Race

Typical 2012 first lap with Vettel pulling away by more than one second on the first lap. Barichello dropped immediately on his potentially last GP. Then spread out and nothing exciting for ten laps, until Schumacher gets aggressive on Senna for 9th. Nice work Senna, don’t be bullied, stick it to the former champ with a flat tire. On replay I blame Senna, especially for that hand wave mid-incident, but I hope Senna does not get a penalty. But the stewards do blame Senna, bummer for a drive-through. 
Vettel’s radio reports gearbox problems and must nurse second and third gears. Unless it’s a setup. Is Red Bull orchestrating a win for Webber with all team members acting? I suppose I do not suspect that. Vettel might actually have a problem, as he loses a bit of ground after letting Webber by in turn one. 
Hamilton gets his first mechanical DNF of the year, unfortunately cementing his place behind Webber in the championship. Everyone gets on the hard tires with 11 to 18 laps remaining - Button the only one with a chance for improving position. Jenson starts at almost 6 seconds behind Alonso after pit stops, and 8 laps later takes over the podium spot. This pass will cost Alonso third position in the championship - Webber with a win going into third for the season.  
Result - Webber, Vettel, Button. 

2011 F1 Season Year End Review

2011 was so clearly the season of Vettel.  Way to go champ.
A clear hierarchy among the tier 1 teams - Red Bull a mile ahead of everyone. McLaren started out slow but pulled in six wins spread evenly across the year. Ferrari pre-season was suspected to be the challenger to Red Bull, but simply didn't have the pace. Mercedes acted happy through the mouth of Ross Brawn, but must be disappointed to be so far away in fourth. 
Tier 2 
Renault secured fifth by getting podiums in the first two races, but the rest of the season would have to push to the end just to get one of their cars in the top ten for points. Force India would likewise aim for mere points, consistently in the 8th to 12th range, with a season-best sixth in Singapore. Sauber must have been derailed by the wing angle disqualification in the first race of the year, or simply couldn't keep developing throughout the rest of the season, because despite a 7th in Malaysia they had to have everything fall into place to get a 9th or 10th. Toro Rosso seemed weak and it's amazing they amassed 41 points with a couple of sevenths and more often a 12th or worse. Williams was abysmal. 
Tier 3
Lotus made vast strides over their first year, I really thought they might score a point. HRT is embarrassing and should quit the sport, yet managing to be the first car a lap down for a 13th in Canada when seven cars fell out managed to get them out of the cellar position. Virgin likewise did nothing to impress.