Tag Archives: Mark Webber

Webber to stay with Red Bull through 2013

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

After his recent victory at the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber has announced that he will stay on at Red Bull until at least 2013.

Webber admitted that he had held discussions over moving to Ferrari, but felt that staying with the Milton Keynes squad was the right choice.

Since joinin Red Bull in 2007, Mark has achieved 10 pole positions, 9 wins and 31 podium finishes. He currently lies second in the driver’s championship, 16 points off Fernando Alonso, and 13 ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

In an announcement today, Webber stated:

"I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine Grand Prix wins 
during that time. I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. 
I know the team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over 
the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for 
another season.

The team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we’ve shown that 
together we can win races. It’s great to be able to make this announcement off 
the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to 
competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season.

There were discussions with Ferrari, but my decision was to stay here.

Obviously with Seb [Vettel], we’ve worked very, very close together for a long 
period of time now. I think no-one would really have envisaged how long we have 
worked together, so that’s probably been a bit of a surprise.

There are not many team-mates staying together for that long in Formula One, but 
it’s proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with 
the key technical members of the team. It’s been a potent operation.

We’re still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially 
in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn’t much racing between Sebastian and 
I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles.

That’s been enjoyable for the team, sometimes stressful too as it’s not easy for 
both of us to be at the front and I can understand that, as both of us are 
thinking about ourselves sometimes, but ultimately we know that we need to get 
the cars home and get the best results for us and the team."

 

Webber snatches late win in Silverstone

Paul di Resta's race is ruined on Lap 1...

Paul di Resta’s race is ruined on Lap 1…

Mark Webber has won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, after taking the lead with only a few laps to go. Fernando Alonso controlled most of the race from the front, but was unable to halt the Aussie’s assault in the closing laps.

...And gets even worse on Lap 2

…And gets even worse on Lap 2

Sebastian Vettel made progress in his first stint, but lacked the pace to catch his teammate, finishing 3rd. Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean impressed, while the British duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button disappointed. Here is what happened:

Alonso defended his lead at the start, while teammate Massa moved past Sebastian Vettel. Paul di Resta was hit on the first lap, and pitted to replace a punctured tyre. However, a spin on the following lap ruled him out of the race.

Kamui Kobayashi made a fantastic move around the outside of Romain Grosjean and Jenson Button. Massa attempted to pass Michael Schumacher for 3rd, but slipped wide and lost a position to Vettel instead.

The Ferrari soon found a way past again, and by lap 9 was all over the back of Schumacher again.A few laps later, he pushed his way past at Stowe corner. Further back, Sergio Perez incurred the wrath of Pastor Maldonado, after attempting to pass the Williams. Pastor ran wide, and knocked the Sauber off the track and out of the race.

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

Massa fends off Vettel at Becketts

By lap 19, Hamilton had still not pitted, and found himself leading the race – albeit briefly. The charging Alonso quickly caught the McLaren, and passed Lewis with relative ease.

Once on fresh tyres, Hamilton found a way past Michael Schumacher for 7th place, following Kimi Raikkonen a few corners earlier.

Romain Grosjean was forced to pit early with a broken front wing, but soon made progress through the field. By lap 35, he passed Jenson Button for 9th place, and was stuck to the back of Hamilton’s McLaren. Effective use of DRS allowed the Lotus through to 8th position.

A bad day was made worse for Sauber, as Kamui Kobayashi clattered into his mechanics at his final pit stop. Several were taken to the medical centre for checks, but fortunately there were no serious injuries.

Up front, the battle for the lead began to materialise. With 15 laps to go, Webber was running on the prime tyres, while Alonso took on the options, which surprisingly the Ferrari struggled on. This allowed the Red Bull to close up on the Ferrari by half a second per lap.

Alonso was visibly struggling on the options, unable to get the tyres into the operating temperature. With 5 laps to go, Mark finally made his move, pushing past the Ferrari on the Wellington Straight, and sailing around the outside of Brooklands to take the lead.

Further back, Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg had an exciting battle for 9th, with the Williams winning out. Hulkenberg ran wide at Copse, allowing Jenson Button to steal a point on the final lap.

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

The McLarens were disappointed, but thank the fans regardless

Kimi Raikkonen was catching Felipe Massa for 4th place hand over fist, but a mistake on the final lap.

Alonso had no response to Webber, who crossed the line to take his second win of the 2012 season, and his second British Grand Prix win in three years. The Aussie has now closed in on Alonso in the drivers’ championship, and Red Bull have cemented their lead in the constructors’ standings.

Lotus now are ahead of McLaren in the championship, as the Woking squad retreat and analyse what has gone wrong in the 2012 season.

F1 paddock divided over unpredictable season

The unprecedented start to the 2012 F1 season has put F1 in the spotlight for many different reasons. With 6 different winners from 6 races, we still have absolutely no idea who will be leading the championship by the next race.

However, with such excitement comes plenty of controversy, as F1 followers are used to.

Over the past few weeks, complaints have grown about the “unpredictability” of the season so far. Die-hard purists have been disappointed with the topsy-turvy grid order, and some have speculated that this may turn fans away from the sport.

Mark Webber was one of several drivers to note the “random” nature of this season, saying:

"It's very unusual, normally in seasons gone by you had a clear break of people who 
were going to be favourites for the Championship but it's very difficult to know 
which teams or drivers are going to be in the best position with three or four races 
to go.

I think for the fans it's interesting for them, but I don't know if they will get 
sick of seeing so many different winners.

It's nice to have so many different winners but also it's always good to have 
rivals, people fighting for the Championship and having lots of different people 
always fighting."

Interestingly, this comment was made before his win at the Monaco Grand Prix, and he has not repeated this statement since. However, McLaren driver Jenson Button has not backed down, claiming that numerous different winners will turn fans off from the sport:

"Clearly everyone is excited about so many different winners, which initially was 
great for the fans and great for the sport.

But there will come a time when the fans will say, 'So anyone can win a grand prix, 
everyone can lose a grand prix like that?' (snaps his fingers). I think they're 
finding it a little bit strange now."

Button has of course suffered a drop in form in recent races, and has not competed for a race win since Melbourne.

Former world champion Niki Lauda has been the most vocal of all:

"We have been surprised. But if it continues, we’ll lose spectators as the main 
public wants to see world champions winning.

We need two races with known winners and then the crazy stuff can start again."

It should be noted that when he won the world championship in 1984, there were only 5 race winners in the entire season. Also, I feel the need to add that 4 of the 6 race winners so far this season are “known winners”.

However, it has not been all complaining from the F1 paddock. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh attacked what he called the “180 degree change” of opinion from many people:

"If people now say randomness is unattractive, then that is a 180 [degree change] 
from what people felt a few years ago when it was very predictable.

On balance I am sure that people want a lack of predictability. You want to go to 
each event not knowing who is going to win. You want to go through the course of 
the weekend not sure what is going to happen in each session, and you want to go 
through the race not knowing what is going to happen. Every one of our races this 
year has been tremendously exciting."

Pirelli, who are the cause of much of this unpredictability, were adamant that their tyres provide a well-needed shake-up of the F1 grid. Motorsport director Paul Hembery claimed that this type of racing was exactly what the fans wanted to see:

"The vast majority of feedback we get is that people are enjoying the races. At 
the start of the year, if we had said five different winners and five different 
cars then everyone would have suggested you had been smoking something - but we 
have got it.

And I think the vast majority of fans will be pleased to see exciting races. 
Anyone who begrudges Maldonado's win in Spain with Williams is someone who needs 
to get out a bit more, because the whole paddock was delighted. I think for a 
lot of people's views, that is what they want to see."

Obviously, there will be many different opinions on any debate in F1. However, I feel that the most important quote from this debacle comes from Sebastian Vettel, the driver who effectively flattened the 2011 title race. After a processional battle for the title last year, Vettel came out in full support of the 2012 formula:

"If you look back ten years there was heavy criticism of a boring F1 because 
of Michael Schumacher winning all the time. Now we hear F1 is unpredictable 
and a lottery.

You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. But I think we have a 
good show, a lot of overtaking, good action now.There is more tension – for 
people who watch and for us inside the cars. I think I like the way it is 
going. However, we have to be careful not to create something artificially."

Webber makes history with Monaco win

Mark Webber has created history at the Monaco Grand Prix, with 6 different race winners in 6 races, a feat never seen before in Formula 1.

Webber fends off Rosberg at the start

Webber fends off Rosberg at the start

The Australian was chased to the flag by Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The race was a procedure for the first 60 laps, until light rain bunched up the pack and caused a fair few spills in the dying few laps. Here is what happened…

At the start, Webber and Rosberg held the front row, while Romain Grosjean was tipped into a spin by Michael Schumacher. Pastor Maldonado was rear-ended by Pedro de la Rosa, ending both drivers’ races.

The safety car was called for Grosjean’s stray car, allowing the field to cool off after a fiery start.

Grosjean spins while Kobayashi goes airborne

Grosjean spins while Kobayashi goes airborne

The race restarted on lap 4, with Vettel up to 6th on the prime tyre. Fernando Alonso hounded Lewis Hamilton for 3rd, but was unable to pass the McLaren.

Sergio Perez pulled a move on Jean-Eric Vergne, but the Toro Rosso driver cut the chicane in order to keep his position. After a few laps, race control ordered Vergne to hand the position back.

The super-soft tyres lasted longer than most people had expected, with most drivers staying out for up to 30 laps. Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the frontrunners to fall off the cliff, creating a “Raikkonen railway” of cars being held up behind.

After Nico Rosberg pitted from 2nd, followed closely by Webber and Hamilton, Raikkonen stopped and released the train of cars, falling to 11th. At his only pit stop, Fernando Alonso did the undercut on Lewis Hamilton.

The stops left Sebastian Vettel in the lead, yet to stop on the prime tyre. He showed impressive pace, opening up a 17 second gap to his teammate Webber. The other driver on a risky strategy – Button – was having a disastrous race. He stopped on lap 39, and emerged behind Heikki Kovalainen. Unable to make a move, he was stuck there for the rest of the race.

Vettel, meanwhile, came out in 4th after his stop, slicing across Hamilton at pit exit. Sergio Perez was handed a drive-through penalty for a dangerous move on Kimi Raikkonen. As the Sauber entered the pits, he swerved across the Lotus, forcing Kimi to take evasive action.

Michael Schumacher had worked his way up to 7th once the order had died down. However, he was soon on the team radio complaining of an unspecified problem. The team reassured him that it wasn’t critical, but he was still forced to hand 7th to Jean-Eric Vergne. Once the Force Indias carved him up, the Mercedes car was forced to retire.

With only 10 laps to go, light rain began to fall. This bunched the top 6 up, with as little as 3.6 seconds separating them. Jean-Eric Vergne pitted for intermediates with 8 laps to go, causing a shake-up in strategies.

Jenson Button, in a state of desperation, tried a move on Kovalainen after the Swimming Pool, but spun, and gave up on the race.

The light rain bunched up the frontrunners, but nobody was foolish enough to make a move. With the track drying out in the final laps, Mark Webber crossed the line to take his first victory of the season, with 5 cars chasing him to the flag.

Felipe Massa quadrupled his 2012 points tally with 6th, and the two Force Indias, Raikkonen and Bruno Senna filled out the top 10.

Fernando Alonso now leads the world championship, 3 points ahead of Webber and Vettel. After such an unpredictable few races, we may still see out 7th winner in Canada – can anyone rule out Lewis Hamilton?

Schumacher fastest, Webber to start from pole in Monaco

Mark Webber will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.

However, he didn’t set the fastest time. For the second time in two races, the fastest driver has incurred a grid penalty, but it wasn’t Pastor Maldonado as many had expected. Amazingly, it was Michael Schumacher who took provisional pole from the Red Bull.

After his collision with Bruno Senna in Spain, Michael will start 6th in Monaco. The Red Bulls were 1st and 10th, in contrasting fortunes, while Sergio Perez had another shunt with the barriers. This is what happened:

Q1

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Charles Pic was the first to exit the pits, but was blocked by Pedro de la Rosa on his first attempt.

Fernando Alonso was the first to set a fast lap, setting a 1:17.128. However, the red flag was quickly out, as Sergio Perez hit the barrier for the second year in a row. He understeered horribly out of the Swimming Pool, and made heavy contact with the barriers.

The green flag saw a flurry of activity, as drivers scrambled to set a fast lap. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton swiftly went 1st and 2nd, with Nico Rosberg going 4th. On his next lap, the Mercedes driver improved his lap by more than half a second.

The Lotuses were very late setting their times. Romain Grosjean leaped up to 2nd with 3 minutes to go, while Kimi Raikkonen was held up by Vitaly Petrov, and pitted for super-softs with just a few minutes to go. Vettel and Kobayashi followed the Finn’s tactics.

Kamui Kobayashi went up to 2nd, with Vettel and Raikkonen 4th and 5th. Nico Hulkenberg took top spot, after setting his best lap with over 5 minutes to go.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.538

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:17.404

20) Timo Glock – 1:17.947

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:18.096

22) Charles Pic – 1:18.476

23) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:19.310

24) Sergio Perez – N/A

Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Super-softs were the way to go in Q2 as the session got underway.

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher quickly went 1st and 2nd, before they were split by Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the next driver to make contact with the barriers, breaking off his front wing and damaging his suspension. It did little to disrupt the session, apart from holding up Felipe Massa.

Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean moved into the top 10, displacing Vettel and Kobayashi. Felipe Massa took the top spot, while Vettel went back into 8th.

It soon turned into a mad charge to survive Q2. Bruno Senna was first up, failing to move further than 14th. Kimi Raikkonen slipped into 10th, while Jenson Button was only 13th. Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi were briefly in the top 10, but were pushed out in the final few laps.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:15.421

12) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:15.508

13) Jenson Button – 1:15.536

14) Bruno Senna – 1:15.709

15) Paul di Resta – 1:15.718

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.878

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.885

Q3

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Nico Rosberg was first up, but backed off on his first attempt. Romain Grosjean set a 1:14.639 to take top spot, with Nico Rosberg pipping him by 0.05 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.3 seconds off the pace, with Mark Webber moving into 3rd position. While the track was quiet with 3 minutes to go, Felipe Massa exited the pits. He went 8th, while Kimi Raikkonen took 6th.

Pastor Maldonado was next up, but was slightly held up by Massa. Fortunately, he didn’t vent his anger on the Ferrari like he did in third practice.

Fernando Alonso zipped up to 5th, but Mark Webber shocked many by flying onto provisional pole. Massa took 6th, while neither of the Lotuses improved on their times.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Qualifying was completely turned on its head, as Michael Schumacher blasted his way to the top of the timesheets. His 1:14.301 was marginally faster than anyone else, but his 5 place grid penalty from Spain drops him to 6th. This means that Mark Webber will start from pole position tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean just behind. The Ferraris were split by Schumacher, with Raikkonen, Maldonado and Vettel filling the top 10.

Red Bull post first images of RB8

Red Bull's first images of the RB8

Red Bull's first images of the RB8

Red Bull are the second of today’s launches, posting pictures of their RB8 challenger.

After back-to-back drivers and constructors championships, the team have retained their winning formula, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the helm. Adrian Newey continues to head the design team. Ex-Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi is the team’s reserve driver.

The most interesting innovation so far appears to be in the now infamous nose section, where the team have placed an air intake right in the middle of the raised section. It is currently unclear what section this intake serves, but it would most likely be for the driver.

More pictures and quotes from the team will be added as they arrive.

2011 final driver rankings: 10th – 4th

This is the third article in a 4-part series, ranking all 28 drivers of the season. This section of the ranking covers drivers such as Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

10th – Paul di Resta

Di Resta has proven to be a surprisingly fast and reliable rookie

Di Resta has proven to be a surprisingly fast and reliable rookie

Previous ranking: 13th

Review from previous ranking: “Ragged drives have lost him points, but nevertheless a decent start to his F1 career for the Scot.”

It still amazes me that Paul di Resta is in only his first year in F1 – his form makes him look like an experienced veteran.

Aside from a few scrappy rookie errors, Di Resta has been incredibly reliable and solid for a rookie, amassing the most racing laps by any driver this year. He out-qualified teammate Adrian Sutil 9 times, and held this advantage 6 times in the races.

Force India later began to split their strategies between their two drivers, which resulted in a hit-and-miss second half for Di Resta. Despite this, many have been seriously impressed with the Scot’s mature attitude and confident driving this year.

The fact that he scored points in his first 2 races, as well as 6 of the last 9, spoke volumes.

9th – Adrian Sutil

Sutil performed well, but it wasn't enough

Sutil performed well, but it wasn't enough

Previous ranking: 15th

Review from previous ranking: “If he is beaten by Di Resta in his first year, then Adrian will find himself shunted out of the way by the hotshot rookie.”

It’s both a blessing and a curse for teams to see their driver perform brilliantly while their contract is up for review. A blessing because it brings the results the team craves, a curse because the form rarely continues into the next season (see Toro Rosso).

Sutil found himself under huge pressure from rookie Di Resta, and delivered the goods fantastically in the second half of 2011. Taking season-best 6th places in home race Germany and Brazil were the highlights. It has been a complete turnaround from Germany only 2 years ago, when he bottled his first-ever points-scoring finish by clashing with Kimi Raikkonen.

He enjoyed a decent overall margin over Paul in both qualifying and the races, and rarely lost an opportunity when it was presented.

Adrian has proven himself to be much more reliable and mature than his previous driving indicated, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to retain his contract for 2012.

8th – Mark Webber

Webber tussled with the Pirelli tyres all year

Webber tussled with the Pirelli tyres all year

Previous ranking: 7th

Review from previous ranking: “Webber seems to be lacking in pace, and is at risk of being beaten (points-wise) by Alonso.”

After the end of one of his most disastrous seasons in Formula 1, it is a mystery as to how Mark Webber can pull his career around.

Webber has been completely annihilated by Sebastian Vettel in every single sector this year. While his German teammate finished in the top two 16 times, Mark could do the same only 3 times across the entire season.

He struggled massively at starts, couldn’t extract any performance from the Pirelli tyres in qualifying, and wore them out too quickly in the races. A solitary win in Brazil was barely deserved either – it was only because Vettel suffered gearbox issues.

His racecraft was hit-and-miss as well. His pass on Fernando Alonso in Spa was breathtaking, but he showed inability to adapt to the 2011 racing style in Korea, passing Lewis Hamilton just before a DRS zone, allowing the McLaren to sail past.

A charge through the field in China was fantastic to watch, but overall it was incredibly disappointing to see Webber toil with the Ferraris and McLarens rather than with his teammate.

7th – Sergio Perez

Perez is a completely different type of driver than other rookies

Perez is a completely different type of driver than other rookies

Previous ranking: 8th

Review from previous ranking: “Impressive pace has led many to praise Perez as rookie of the year.”

A crash in Monaco ruled out Perez when the Sauber car was at its best, but he has still done an immense job in his rookie year.

“Checo” made an immediate impact in F1 by scoring points on his debut, only to have them cruelly taken away after a minor technical infringement. A scrappy few races followed, particularly in China, where Sergio picked up two penalties after some questionable driving.

One of the things that has impressed me the most about Perez is his mature no-nonsense attitude. After his Monaco crash, he sensibly sat out the Canadian GP as well, after not feeling well in Friday practice. There are many drivers on the grid who would go into the Grand Prix regardless, putting themselves and their fellow drivers at risk. The fact that Perez reported side-effects from the crash up to 4 races later shows that his decision was the sensible one.

He was soon back to his best, taking a career-best 7th in Silverstone. He was vastly superior over Kamui Kobayashi in qualifying, and was very competent at adapting to the Pirelli tyres. The fact that he is already being lined up for a Ferrari drive is a signal of his prowess.

6th – Lewis Hamilton

Undoubtedly the worst season of Hamilton's career

Undoubtedly the worst season of Hamilton's career

Previous ranking: 4th

Review from previous review: “Hamilton needs to ease off at times, and learn which battles to fight and which to avoid.”

My prediction for Lewis Hamilton could not have been more wrong – it’s been an incredibly difficult year for the former world champion.

Needless clashes, spats with the stewards, tussling with a superior teammate, and apparent overwhelming personal issues all dogged Lewis in 2011. He hasn’t lost his racing ability, as shown by excellent driving in China, Spain and Germany. However, it was clear that Hamilton was surrounded by the wrong people.

The decision to hire a celebrity manager rather than a sporting one took its toll – Lewis was making 3 media/sponsor appearances every single day for a 3 week period at one point. His frustration took to the track, and several shunts with Felipe Massa in Monaco was just the beginning of a fracas that would last the entire season.

As well as the collisions with Massa, Monaco proved to be the worst race of the year. Hitting Pastor Maldonado near the end provoked another penalty from the stewards, and Lewis didn’t hold back in his criticism afterwards.

To make matters worse, the fact that Jenson Button had improved to become an increasingly competitive teammate proved calamitous. In Canada, relations were tense after the two collided in the treacherous conditions.

However, we must not forget that Lewis was still able to show his talents this year. He was completely deserving in every race he won, and pushed Vettel to the flag in Spain, where Red Bull have dominated so much in the past. Wonderful passes in China and Germany were a demonstration of how good a driver he is.

It’s absolutely certain that Hamilton has the pace to win championships, all he has to do is calm down. But that’s easier said than done.

5th – Michael Schumacher

A notable improvement from Schumacher this year

A notable improvement from Schumacher this year

Previous ranking: 10th

Review from previous ranking: “Further improvement this year would be the main aim for Schumacher.”

It’s been more than improvement for Schumacher – he has seriously upped his game, and pushed Nico Rosberg in nearly every way to the final race in Brazil.

Ending the season only 13 points behind Rosberg, it’s been an impressive year for Schumacher. He deserved a well-earned podium in Canada, only for an oversized DRS zone to rip it out of his hands.

Poor qualifying was his hindrance, but he frequently made it up in the races. Michael has set 116 overtakes this season, more than any other driver. Of course, this stat is skewed in the fact that Rosberg was unable to make up much places, while Schumacher would ascend from the depths of Q2, but it is still an impressive statistic.

It’s no secret that Schumacher’s side of the garage is 100% geared towards defeating Rosberg. There is apparently a growing tension in the team as both sides do their best to out-perform the other. It will be very interesting to see how the German duo battle it out in 2012, but much of it will hinge on the car.

4th – Nico Rosberg

Rosberg needs better machinery to show his potential

Rosberg needs better machinery to show his potential

Previous ranking: 5th

Review from previous ranking: “Consistently beating Schumacher will do his reputation a world of good.”

Another year, another lacklustre car at Rosberg’s disposal. It’s a wonder why he puts up with it.

While he was unable to completely dominate Schumacher in the points total, Rosberg completely out-classed his fellow German in qualifying pace. While Michael’s races were spattered with retirements, Nico has cleanly and consistently been taking points finishes by the truckload.

His points margin over Schumacher was reduced this year compared to 2010, but that was to be expected after a torrid campaign last time around from the 7-times champion.

Rosberg is completely capable of mixing it with the frontrunners whenever the opportunity arises, such as Spa or China. He has led quite a few Grands Prix, but the lack of pace from the W02 has constantly held him back from crossing the chequered flag first.

The start of next season will be similar to the start of 2011 – many will be looking to see does Mercedes deliver on its long-awaited frontrunning car. I’m also looking forward to that day – but mostly to see can Rosberg show what he’s really made of.

My top 5 drives of the season

After looking at the finest races and overtakes of 2011, it’s time to move on to the best race performances by any driver. This is judged by looking at raw pace, clever use of strategy and sheer brilliant driving.

5th – Sebastian Vettel – Monaco Grand Prix

After a scintillating drive in qualifying, a clean getaway would normally have sealed the race for Sebastian.

But, a mistake at his first pit stop put Vettel at a disadvantage – and on the wrong tyres. He emerged on the soft compound instead of the super-softs.

To make matters worse, the Red Bull was later reeled in by both Alonso and Button. His Pirelli tyres were nearly shredded to pieces, but Sebastian hung on lap after lap, keeping the Ferrari and McLaren at bay.

A red flag with 6 laps to go calmed the battle, and ensured the Red Bull would cruise to the chequered flag on new tyres, but it was by no means easy for Vettel.

4th – Mark Webber – Chinese Grand Prix

A torrid performance in qualifying left the Aussie in 18th place on the grid. Clearly a fightback was the order of the day.

Slicing through the field, Mark made it up to 4th place, then overtook Jenson Button on the final lap to take a brilliant podium position. Unfortunately much of his racing action was missed by the cameras.

It was a sweet ending to a poor weekend, marred by electrical and KERS problems.

3rd – Fernando Alonso – Spanish Grand Prix

By the Spanish GP, it was well known that the 2011 Ferrari challenger was hopeless against the Red Bulls – it’s a good thing nobody told Fernando Alonso.

A trademark demon start put Fernando in the lead of his home Grand Prix, to the delight of the fans. He held the position until the first pit stop, where his race began to unravel.

After being pipped by Vettel in the first set of stops, Alonso eventually had to put on the prime tyres, which killed his charge completely. He slipped to 5th, and was a lap down by the chequered flag.

So why is this drive on the list? Because nobody else on the grid would have been able to do what Fernando did in the opening stages. He thrashed the car to the absolute limit, and was beating a significantly faster car. A ferocious drive from the Spaniard.

2nd – Jenson Button – Japanese Grand Prix

In a year of Sebastian Vettel domination, it was quite a considerable achievement to beat the double world champion on a trademark Red Bull track.

By missing pole position by less than 0.01 seconds, it was clear he had the pace. After Button undercut Vettel at the first set of stops, there was no stopping him.

Fernando Alonso chased the McLaren to the flag, so much so that Jenson nearly burned out the minimum fuel sample required after the race. He pulled over after the final lap, finishing just a second ahead of Alonso.

Still, it was a fantastic drive to out-perform the Red Bulls at one of their strongest circuits…

1st – Jenson Button – Canadian Grand Prix

But not as good a drive as in Canada. Disaster after disaster couldn’t stop the Briton’s charge through the field – twice.

A puncture after clashing with his teammate, a drive-through penalty for speeding, followed up by another accident – this time with Fernando Alonso – and another puncture.

Most drivers’ races would end here. But for Jenson, he took it on himself to make another final dash from last to first, and took the lead on the final lap for icing on the cake.

On a difficult damp track, to lap over 2 seconds a lap faster than anyone else is simply incredible, and that’s why Button has earned the drive of the year.

My top 5 overtakes of the year

With the Pirelli tyres and KERS providing a welcome new element to on-track racing, 2011 saw some fantastic battles between the drivers.   Although DRS grew slightly stale in its repetitive passes, we were in no shortage of wheel-to-wheel action. Here are my favourite overtaking moves from this season:

5th – Michael Schumacher on Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa – Canada

This year saw an improvement from Schumacher, after struggling for much of his return so far. After Felipe Massa got held up by Kamui Kobayashi in Canada, we saw a glimpse of the old Schumacher as he sliced through to take 2nd place.

4th – Sebastian Vettel on Fernando Alonso – Italy

Seeing one driver dominate at the front is no fun, it’s much more entertaining for everyone when Vettel has had to fight for the win. This pass on Fernando Alonso after a safety car restart showed Sebastian at his very best, racing at the limit even when the title had been neatly wrapped up.

3rd – Fernando Alonso on Jenson Button – Brazil

The surprised expressions from Brundle and Coulthard says it all – very few could imagine overtaking around the outside of Turn 6 in Brazil, but Fernando Alonso made it look easy.

2nd – Mark Webber on Fernando Alonso – Spa

An incredibly committed move by Mark Webber, shoving Alonso aside as the two cars entered Eau Rouge. This was a pass achieved through sheer bravery – and hoping that Fernando would give Mark space, which thankfully he did.

1st – Lewis Hamilton on Fernando Alonso – Germany

Victory for Lewis Hamilton at the Nurburgring was sweet, but the moment of the day had to be this fantastic opportunistic pass on Fernando Alonso. As the Spaniard exited the pits on cold tyres, Lewis swept around the outside to take the lead – and later the win.

Webber ends season on a high in Brazil

The second Red Bull streaks away from the rest of the field at the start

The second Red Bull streaks away from the rest of the field at the start

Mark Webber took his sole victory of the season in Interlagos today. He finished well ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who nursed a gearbox issue throughout the entire race. Jenson Button was 3rd, after 2 spirited battles with Fernando Alonso. Here is what happened:

At the start, Fernando Alonso got past Lewis Hamilton for 4th, while Felipe Massa moved into 6th. Jaime Alguersuari fell down the field, while Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov leaped up.

Kovalainen’s charge soon faded, being passed by Barrichello and Perez, while Alonso and Hamilton challenged Jenson Button for 3rd. However, the DRS zone from Turns 3 to 4 proved to be too short for the Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher tried a move around the outside of Bruno Senna. but clashed with the Renault entering the corner, slightly damaging Senna’s front wing and leaving Michael with a puncture, dropping him to the back of the field.

Senna clashes with Schumacher - the last time this happened, Rubens Barrichello was making his F1 debut!

Senna clashes with Schumacher - the last time this happened, Rubens Barrichello was making his F1 debut!

Alonso moved closer to Button with DRS, then made a fantastic move around the outside of Ferradura to take 3rd. This left the two McLarens to battle it out for 4th. Senna pitted on Lap 13, but didn’t change his front wing, indicating a 3-stop strategy.

Sebastian Vettel was instructed on his radio to short-shift on 2nd gear, and that he had a gearbox issue. Jenson Button was the first frontrunner to stop on Lap 16, while Alonso and Webber began to close on Vettel.

Alonso and Hamilton stopped a lap later, while Sebastian was told to short-shift in 3rd gear as well. He pitted on Lap 18, followed a lap afterwards by Mark Webber.

The collision between Schumacher and Senna was ruled in Michael’s favour, with Bruno suffering a drive-through penalty. Webber’s in-lap before his first stop was unusually slow, costing him 3 seconds in the battle with Vettel and Alonso.

A dislodged wheel cost Timo Glock his race, while Vettel was again told that his gearbox issue was “serious”. Bruno Senna’s race went from bad to worse, as a double shift cost him 16th place.

The Red Bull gearbox issue got even worse, as it became clear that Vettel had to short-shift every single gear. A spin and by Pastor Maldonado ended his race, while Mark Webber closed on his teammate. A dejected Vettel swiftly allowed Webber past, as the Aussie took the lead.

Both Renaults stopped on Lap 30 and 31, and Button followed suit, taking on the harder tyre. Hamilton took on softs 2 laps later, followed closely by Alonso. However, both Senna and Hamilton had their races compromised, as they were informed that they also had gearbox issues.

Hamilton's turbulent season ends disappointingly

Hamilton's turbulent season ends disappointingly

On the medium tyre, Button sailed past Felipe Massa for 4th. Within a few laps, the second McLaren had also closed right up behind Felipe. However, the Ferrari was less generous to Lewis, and he pitted on Lap 45 to avoid losing too much time.

Massa pitted a lap later, and emerged just ahead of the McLaren. Unfortunately, round 6 of their season-long fight never materialised, as Hamilton pulled over with a critical gearbox failure.

Adrian Sutil passed Nico Rosberg on the main straight, before the Mercedes sliced back under to retake the position, in a daring move. It didn’t last long though, as Adrian re-passed Rosberg the following lap.

Despite rumours that Button could make it to the end on his set of medium tyres, he was forced to pit for another set with 18 laps to go. Alonso took on the primes several laps later.

The two Red Bulls stopped within 11 and 12 laps of the end of the race. With the pit stops out of the way, the focus switched to the battle for 3rd between Alonso and Button. Going side by side into the first corner, Jenson shoved his way past the Ferrari with help from DRS and KERS.

Despite another poor race, Massa treats his fans to a few burnouts

Despite another poor race, Massa treats his fans to a few burnouts

Button soon set personal bests in every sector, in an attempt to catch the flailing Vettel, who made quite a large mistake at Turn 4. However, it wasn’t enough, and the McLaren settled for 3rd in the end.

This left Webber to set the fastest lap en route to winning his first race in the last 26 attempts. Vettel was 16 seconds behind, while Button abandoned his chase for 2nd. Alonso finished ahead of his teammate by nearly half a minute, and Adrian Sutil finished an excellent 6th. Nico Rosberg headed Paul di Resta, with Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov topping off the top 10.

The Red Bulls celebrate a job well done

The Red Bulls celebrate a job well done

Button’s move on Alonso ensured that Webber moved into 3rd in the driver’s championship by a single point. It was a relieving race for Webber after a difficult season, and he will head into the winter knowing that he might be able to challenge Vettel next year.

And so today marks the end of another season of F1. I loved the racing this year, but it was just a pity about the battle for the championship – or lack of. Regardless, we have seen excellent drives all year round, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to next year.

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