Tag Archives: Jenson Button

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.

Button heads Abu Dhabi first practice

Button was fastest in a McLaren-dominated session

Button was fastest in a McLaren-dominated session

Jenson Button was fastest in first practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The McLarens dominated the session, before Mark Webber went 2nd near the end. This session also saw the introduction of Pirelli’s new experimental soft tyre.

World champion Sebastian Vettel was 4th, ahead of the Ferrari drivers who had a difficult session. Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa spun off the track within several minutes of each other. Alonso in particular seemed to struggle with the handling of his car.

Jean-Eric Vergne tested for Toro Rosso, finishing 11th and only 0.2 seconds behind Jaime Alguersuari. Romain Grosjean drove for Renault in place of Bruno Senna, taking 12th.

Robert Wickens also drove in his first ever Formula 1 session, and was slowest of all the drivers. Rubens Barrichello was last, after retiring with engine problems after 3 laps.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:40.263          21
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:40.389   0.126  26
 3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:40.403   0.140  27
 4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:40.755   0.492  27
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:40.801   0.538  25
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:41.260   0.997  17
 7.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:41.340   1.077  23
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:42.130   1.867  26
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:42.151   1.888  28
10.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:42.377   2.114  26
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:42.633   2.370  26
12.  Romain Grosjean       Renault                 1:42.685   2.422  29
13.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 1:43.118   2.855  13
14.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1:43.255   2.992  29
15.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:43.389   3.126  24
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:44.412   4.149  28
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:44.484   4.221  18
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault           1:44.565   4.302  27
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault           1:44.898   4.635  25
20.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth            1:46.385   6.122  28
21.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            1:46.532   6.269  27
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1:48.024   7.761  20
23.  Robert Wickens        Virgin-Cosworth         1:48.551   8.288  23
24.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth                          3

Button wins, while Vettel seals title in Suzuka

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Vettel retains his lead, while the McLarens switch places

Sebastian Vettel is the new 2011 Formula 1 world champion!

The German driver finished 3rd in today’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button winning the race, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Vettel lost the lead at the second round of pit stops, then fell behind the Ferrari later on. However, with no obligation to race for the win, he calmly sat back and clinched his second world title. Here is the full report:

At the start, Button made the best getaway, but was blocked by the Red Bull in front. This allowed Lewis Hamilton to sweep around the outside of Turn 1 and take 2nd place. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi slipped to 12th.

However, Button was less than pleased with the German’s move, and was complaining to his team for a penalty. Fernando Alonso easily moved past teammate Felipe Massa for 4th place.

While Lewis clung on to Vettel at the start, he appeared to slow with a slow puncture on Lap 9. He pitted, releasing Button to catch the Red Bull.

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Buemi's race ends in the gravel trap

Sebastian pitted on Lap 10, while Button and Alonso picked up the pace. Both cars, plus Mark Webber, all stopped the following lap. Once the running order calmed down, it became clear that Hamilton had lost two places from his tyre problems.

Sebastien Buemi became the first retirement of the day, as a faulty wheel came off during his pit stop, and the Toro Rosso coasted to a halt in the gravel trap.

The gap between first and second was only 2 seconds, while the top 6 were separated by just 9 seconds. Oddly enough, it soon became apparent that Lewis Hamilton was again struggling with his tyres, allowing Felipe Massa and Mark Webber to give chase behind.

Vettel’s tyres wore off quicker than expected, with both Red Bulls pitting on Lap 20 – with only a few seconds between each pit stop. Jenson followed the same strategy, and emerged just ahead of the championship leader.

Within a few laps, the safety car was deployed. As Felipe Massa tried a move on Lewis Hamilton at the final chicane, Lewis squeezed the Ferrari and broke off a piece of Massa’s front wing, which landed in the middle of the track. The debris was causing cars to swerve to avoid it under braking, and the situation was deemed unsafe.

The safety car pitted after several laps, and Jenson tore away by over half a second per lap. Nico Rosberg continued his ascent through the field, pushing Vitaly Petrov aside to take 11th.

After being reeled in by Alonso, Vettel chose to switch to the harder tyre on Lap 34. Webber followed the tyre call the following lap, indicating heavy tyre wear by the Red Bulls.

Sebastian emerged behind Adrian Sutil, getting badly held up for a lap before passing the Force India. Despite being on the prime tyre, he set the fastest sector 1 time the next lap, prompting Button to bring forward his stop.

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Button wins, while Vettel causes the biggest celebrations

Fernando Alonso pitted two laps later, and emerged ahead of Vettel. Meanwhile, Hamilton made a slightly more safe pass on Massa on the pit straight. For a few laps, Michael Schumacher was actually granted the lead of the race due to the pit stop, the German leading a race for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

However, he soon pitted, slipping to 6th. Meanwhile, the battle for 2nd place began to heat up, with Vettel attempting several passes on Alonso, with the Ferrari driver cutting Sebastian off at every opportunity. Soon though, these battling cars began to catch Jenson Button at quite a considerable rate.

With 5 laps to go, the gap between first and second was 2.1 seconds. However, Jenson was able to pull out enough pace to maintain the gap to Fernando behind.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Sebastian Vettel celebrates back-to-back championships

Button crossed the line to take an excellent victory, while Sebastian Vettel clinched the title from 3rd place. Interestingly enough, Jenson pulled over after the chequered flag, indicating the McLaren was extremely short on fuel.

The podium celebrations featured three world champions, one of which had just become the youngest ever back-to-back winner. After 9 wins out of 15 races, it is without doubt that it has been a fantastic season for the young German.

Hamilton and Schumacher miss final Q3 run after “ridiculous” incident

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Both Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton lost out at the end of Q3 in today’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, missing out on the final run in the dying minutes.

As a pack of four cars approached the final chicane – led by Jenson Button – teammate Lewis Hamilton backed off to create a raceable gap between the two McLarens. However, Mark Webber dived down the inside of Hamilton in order to retain a clean section of track in front of him. Meanwhile, Schumacher was on the outside, and took to the run-off area to avoid the duo.

Hamilton was on top of the timesheets at the time, but failed to set another time after crossing the line after the chequered flag. Schumacher suffered the same fate, while Webber made little impact on the frontrunners.

When asked about the incident, Lewis was initially coy on explaining, but later gave his view:

"It is what it is. Jenson was in front of me and he slowed down to get his gap. I 
was coming up to the last corner to make sure I had a gap between me and him. It 
wasn't that big.

Just as I was coming into the chicane I looked in my mirror and I saw Mark diving 
up the inside of me. Out of nowhere, he just shot up the inside and nearly 
crashed with me, so I had to avoid him.

And then I saw...I didn't even see Michael as I gave Mark room, but he nearly 
crashed on me on the left, so it was quite dangerous.

I don't know what the hell he was doing, but he went off onto the grass. It was 
just the most ridiculous thing I've ever experienced in qualifying.

I really hope somebody finds the footage for what happened because it wasn't right 
and it stopped my last qualifying lap."

On the other hand, Schumacher claimed that Hamilton had pushed him onto the grass:

"I had Webber in front because Hamilton slowed down. I don't know what was in front 
of him, if he really had to slow down that much, but it was tight for all three of 
us so we all had to push somehow to make it through and do another lap.

At that moment I was set to do a lap because I didn't know whether Kobayashi, or 
somebody, may go out [to set a time]. I tried my best and Lewis pushed me a little 
bit wide onto the grass."

As of yet there is no television footage of the incident.

Button stays on top in Suzuka second practice

Button again topped the timesheets in Suzuka

Button again topped the timesheets in Suzuka

Jenson Button continued to lead proceedings for the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

The McLaren driver headed Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in second practice. The second McLaren was down in 8th place, 1.3 seconds off the pace.

Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher both fell prey to Turn 1, with both cars having off-course excursions. Rubens Barrichello spun out at Degner after clipping the grass, while teammate Pastor Maldonado suffering technical problems. Kamui Kobayashi had a scary moment at 130R, nearly losing control, but he just wrestled the Sauber back onto track.

Times from second practice:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:31.901   	   32
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:32.075   0.174  33
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:32.095   0.194  35
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:32.147   0.246  28
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:32.448   0.547  34
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:32.710   0.809  26
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:32.982   1.081  27
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:33.245   1.344  26
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:33.446   1.545  36
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:33.681   1.780  33
11.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:33.705   1.804  25
12.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:33.790   1.889  36
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:34.393   2.492  35
14.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1:34.557   2.656  27
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:34.601   2.700  33
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:36.038   4.137  33
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:36.225   4.324  35
18.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:37.123   5.222  14
19.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:37.440   5.539  30
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:38.093   6.192  30
21.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:38.387   6.486  16
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:38.763   6.862  36
23.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:39.800   7.899  24
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1:42.480   10.579  4

Button leads Suzuka first practice while Vettel crashes out

Button led his teammate in first practice

Button led his teammate in first practice

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton headed the timesheets for first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The most notable event of the session was championship leader Sebastian Vettel spinning out near the end of the session. The Red Bull driver ran wide at Degner 2, slid onto the gravel and made light contact with the barriers, ending his session.

Earlier on, Vettel was seen admirably using DRS at the 130R corner without backing off.

Despite his incident, he still went 3rd, behind the two McLarens. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were 4th and 5th respecively.

Vettel walks away after minor impact with the barriers

Vettel walks away after minor impact with the barriers

Toro Rosso have shown promising pace, with Jaime Alguersuari 6th and Sebastien Buemi 8th. Bruno Senna evaluated Renault’s new bodywork upgrades, but finished just behind his teammate in 11th.

Pastor Maldonado was another driver caught out by the Suzuka track. The Williams ran wide at Turn 6, and pulled over shortly afterwards. It was a poor session for the team, with Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello completing only 19 laps between them.

Nico Hulkenberg took over Adrian Sutil’s Force India, finishing 12th. Both Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan drove their teams’ cars, and ended the session just behind their respective teammates.

Times from Friday Practice 1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.634           20
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.725   0.091   18
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:34.090   0.456   22
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:34.372   0.738   24
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:34.426   0.792   25
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:34.937   1.303   23
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:35.585   1.951   27
 8.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:35.590   1.956   25
 9.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:36.033   2.399   22
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 1:36.370   2.736   18
11.  Bruno Senna           Renault                 1:36.487   2.853   18
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:36.700   3.066   21
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:36.948   3.314   24
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:36.949   3.315   22
15.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:37.103   3.469   29
16.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:38.197   4.563   18
17.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:38.331   4.697   11
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1:38.446   4.812    8
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault           1:39.168   5.534   10
20.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault           1:39.946   6.312   22
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1:40.872   7.238   13
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         1:41.019   7.385   24
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            1:41.106   7.472   25
24.  Narian Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth            1:41.775   8.141   25

Button signs long-term contract with McLaren

Button will stay on at McLaren for an undisclosed amount of years

Button will stay on at McLaren for an undisclosed amount of years

Jenson Button will stay on in the long term for the McLaren team, having signed a multi-year contract extension today.

The 2009 world champion joined the squad in 2010, and has won 4 races so far, and is currently leading teammate Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s standings.

This contract has been rumoured for some time now, and the McLaren team finally confirmed the deal today.

Button was full of praise for the British team, saying that he is confident of winning more world championships:

"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. I've 
won four of the greatest races of my life here, I'm currently lying second in the 
drivers' world championship, and I feel that I'm driving better than ever.

You can only achieve that with the right level of support - and I truly believe that 
the passion and determination to win are stronger here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 
than anywhere else.

As a grand prix driver, those are incredibly powerful feelings to share and be part 
of, and they've only reinforced my desire to commit my long-term future to this team.

I've made no secret of my ambition to continue winning races and world championships, 
and I fully believe this is the place where I can achieve those aims."

It is not clear at the moment how long the new contract will last.

Button wins enthralling Hungarian Grand Prix

Jenson Button won today’s Hungarian Grand Prix, after a scintillating race with changing conditions. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, with Fernando Alonso 3rd. Lewis Hamilton would have won, but a spin, bad strategy call, and drive-through penalty dropped him to 4th. Here is the full report:

The race began under intermediate conditions, after rain fell earlier this morning. Vettel made an exellent start to keep his lead, while the McLarens battled for 2nd. Fernando Alonso moved into 5th, while Nico Rosberg blitzed his way into 4th. Adrian Sutil spun from 8th all the way back to 20th.

Almost immediately, it became apparent that Vettel was struggling on the green track, and Lewis was all over him. A dive around the outside of Turn 2 nearly worked, but on Lap 5 a slip from Vettel allowed the McLaren to take the lead.

While Sebastian fell into the clutches of Button, Alonso sliced past Schumacher and Rosberg – then ran wide the next lap, allowing the latter Mercedes back through. Another excusrion off the track let teammate Massa through, but probable team orders meant Felipe was easily re-passed on the main straight.

A spin and tap with the barriers the next lap only served to drop Felipe to 9th place, while his teammate pushed his way past Rosberg for 4th. Red Bull were the first to test the drying track, putting Webber out on slicks – a move that was followed by Ferrari with Massa.

Jenson Button tried the super-softs out the following lap. A fastest final sector by Webber proved the track was dry enough, and Hamilton pitted from the lead on Lap 13 for the soft compound. Vettel and Alonso used the same move.

The slightly damp conditions suited Button to the bone, passing Vettel for 2nd place. Meanwhile, Webber got his way past Alonso to take 4th, having pitted from 7th.

The stewards were called to intervene on the race, with a drive-through for Maldonado for pit lane speeding, and an investigation on Kovalainen for an unsafe release. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli was the first car to retire, after his Lotus suffered an oil leak.

Both Ferraris were on the move, with Alonso harrassing Webber for 4th, and Massa pushing Schumacher for 8th. However, the racing was disrupted by a retirement by Nick Heidfeld, whose Renault’s exhaust blew, forcing him to stop at pit exit.

Both Ferraris, followed by Lewis Hamilton, stopped in anticipation of a safety car, as well as taking on a fresh set of tyres. Button led the race for a sole lap, before following his teammate into the pits. This left Vettel in charge of the race – but he was 3 seconds off the pace. While the Red Bull pitted, Michael Schumacher spun at the same point Massa did, but the Mercedes was out of the race.

A mistake under acceleration allowed Massa to sweep straight past Nico Rosberg to take 7th position, then passing Kamui Kobayashi a few laps later. A drive-through penalty was issued to Sergio Perez, for overtaking while under yellow flags for Heidfeld’s incident.

After failing to pass Webber due to the difficult track, Alonso pitted early on Lap 36. Webber decided he’d had enough of the softs, and made the strange call to switch to the prime tyre on Lap 40. While Fernando was now in front of the Red Bull, Webber would not need to stop again – but his pace would be another matter.

Lewis pitted from the lead, taking on the super-soft compound. Vettel made the same move 2 laps later, but Jenson Button decided to stay out for one more lap. However, Button copied Webber’s strategy, taking on soft tyres, and completely mixing up the strategy for the frontrunners.

Jenson exited the pits ahead of Alonso and Vettel, the latter being caught out by Fernando’s early stop. However, Sebastian found a way past the Ferrari soon after the stops.

While most people were predicting two different strategies to decide the race, the weather had other ideas. With absolutely no warning, rain began to fall down upon the circuit, and Hamilton spun out of the lead. He was facing back-to-front, and while turning his car around, he nearly slammed into Paul di Resta.

Button now led, while Alonso pitted for primes. The top three – Button, Hamilton and Vettel – were now separated by 3 seconds. Lewis found extra grip on the damp track, and a slip by Button meant his teammate was back into the lead.

But, Jenson was having none of it. A DRS-assisted move pushed him back into the lead of the race, before the same mistake allowed Hamilton to retake the lead. On Lap 53, Rosberg and Hamilton deicded to take on intermediate tyres. Jerome D’Ambrosio made the same call, but a spectacular – but extremely dangerous – spin in the pit lane threw him to the back of the field.

The inters weren’t working in the damp conditions, and as the track began to dry out, the race turned on its head for Hamilton. He was served with a drive-through for his dangerous rejoining of the track.

Lewis opted to stop first, then serve his drive-through on Lap 58, dropping him to 6th position. Both Webber and Hamilton eased their way past Massa, before he stopped for another set of tyres.

A huge train of cars soon began to form behind Kamui Kobayashi, as the Sauber’s tyres began to desintigrate. Di Resta, Buemi, Rosberg and Alguersuari all passed Kamui in quick succession. Webber and Hamilton ran into the back of this pack, Mark lost pace, and Lewis sweeped around the Red Bull to take 4th place.

While Alonso began to catch Vettel, there weren’t enough laps left to make a move. With a comfortable lead, Jenson Button crossed the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel and Alonso took their podium positions, while Hamilton will be disgusted to be 55 seconds behind his teammate, after leading the race for so long.

Mark Webber was 5th, and never looked like winning. Massa was 6th, while Paul di Resta was an excellent 7th.

Note: I’ll be away for most of next week, so there will be no after-race articles for a while.

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 5 – 1

This is the final article in a 3-part review of the drivers’ performances so far this season.

5 – Nico Rosberg

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Rosberg continues to lead Mercedes instead of Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 6th

Review from 2010 ranking: “He never crashed on his own, only finished out of the points twice, and a brilliant qualifying in soaking conditions in Malaysia proved he has the talent when it counts most.”

Like 2010, Rosberg has never retired of his own accord. He drives as consistently as Nick Heidfeld, with the pace to match. It’s just a pity he still can’t race for wins.

Within firing range of Felipe Massa, Rosberg has the chance to finish in the top 6 for the first time – but this won’t be enough. Nico won’t rest until he gets a championship-winning car, and Mercedes doesn’t look up to the task.

With this in mind, a switch to Red Bull replacing Mark Webber could be on the cards. But what would Rosberg have to show for his performances so far? For one, he has trounced a 7-time world championship race after race for the past season and a half.

It’s not a move that’s out of the question – personally, I’d love to see it happen. But in the meantime, consistently beating Schumacher will do his reputation a world of good.

4 – Lewis Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

A troubled year amid controversy for Hamilton

Ranking in 2010: 5th

Review from 2010 ranking: “While Lewis showed good pace this year, he let himself down when he needed results most.”

Every year, we see a new improvement to who is undoubtedly a fantastically talented driver. Still, Lewis Hamilton’s reputation has taken a battering this year.

Outbursts against the press and the stewards have done him no good. Questionable driving in Monaco earned him stern words by past champions, to which he responded petulantly.

To make matters worse, the collision between him and Button in Canada has fractured what was a very good team relationship. Lewis’ anger at the team was also at boiling point last race, where it was revealed he wanted drastic reductions in the number of sponsor events in his next contract.

Perhaps this is too harsh on Hamilton. To be fair, he was doing 4 sponsor appearances every day for 2 weeks between Valencia and Britain.

Also, his spirited driving has not left him, as shown at Silverstone, where he wowed the crowd with a splendid comeback from 10th to 4th.

He is currently level with Button on points, but Lewis will never be satisfied being nearly 100 off Vettel.

You can be guaranteed some dramatic performances – good or bad – this season, and every one after. Despite this, Hamilton needs to ease off at times, and learn which battles to fight and which to avoid.

3 – Jenson Button

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Button has improved in many sectors compared to 2010

Ranking in 2010: 7th

Review from 2010 ranking: “The McLaren car was far better than what Button delivered, and this must be improved on for 2011.”

Aside from his retirement at Silverstone, Button has finished in the top 6 at every race so far. He has been stronger at McLaren than last year, where he constantly struggled for race pace.

Holding back slightly in Monaco may have cost him the race win, but his performance was still excellent. He produced one of the greatest drives in years in Canada, getting a taste of every single position, before scything through the field with blistering pace.

Strangely enough, his wet weather pace was rather poor in Britain, where he slipped behind Massa, Hamilton and Di Resta, before fighting back in the dry conditions.

Still, he has shown himself as a more complete driver this year, and unlike his teammate, shows restraint where necessary. Unfortunately, the title is probably well out of reach by now, but beating Hamilton in the standings would still be a good achievement.

2 – Fernando Alonso

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Is Alonso the only man who can take down Vettel?

Ranking in 2010: 3rd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Despite the controversies, Alonso is still a driver to be feared.”

Many were against Alonso last year, after Ferrari manipulated Massa to grant Fernando extra points. This year, no such controversy exists, as Fernando may well be the only driver with the skill to take down Vettel.

The Ferrari car has been inconsistent to say the least. Within 30 laps, Alonso went from leading the Spanish Grand Prix to being lapped, thanks to unpredictable behaviour on the hard tyres.

In the hands of a normal driver, this would be no car to challenge the championship with. However, Fernando is no ordinary driver. His fiercest enemies and rivals still fear him, and for good reason. Alonso has thrashed the Ferrari to its absolute max in the search for performance, and recently his endeavours have been rewarded.

When granted a sniff at victory in Britain, Alonso took it and ran, stretching out a 20-second lead to Vettel. At times, he was up to a second a lap faster than the Red Bull.

Still, a 92-point gap exists between Fernando and the championship leader. Don’t rule the Ferrari out, though. 2010 saw a similar situation, where, after Silverstone, he declared he would win the championship, despite a massive points deficit. We all know what happened next – he came perilously close to clinching the title – a defiant Renault standing in his way being the only obstacle.

It would be the stuff of legends if anyone were to still take the title fight to Vettel. But if there’s anyone on the grid who can do it – it will be Fernando Alonso.

1 – Sebastian Vettel

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Clever and calculating - Vettel has managed his lead perfectly

Ranking in 2010: 1st

Review from 2010 ranking: “I believe he truly is the best driver of 2010.”

It’s an accepted fact that drivers will always make a mistake. Jenson Button failed to see Lewis Hamilton in Canada, and squeezed him into the wall. Lewis made a badly judged move on Felipe Massa in Monaco. Fernando Alonso pushed Button too close to the kerbs in Canada, while Mark Webber has struggled for pace on occasions.

And Sebastian Vettel? He slipped wide and lost a place. That’s it.

That slip, of course, occurred on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, costing him the win. But compared to the mistakes others have made, Vettel has proven himself as almost bulletproof in reliability.

In a complete contrast to 2010, clean, consistent and careful races are the order of the day. Never cracking under pressure, Sebastian has utilised the Red Bull’s searing pace to the maximum, slicing out an 80-point lead over his teammate.

Nearly utterly faultless all season, Sebastian is more complete a racing driver. With a favourable position in the team, the stage is set for back-to-back championships.

Or is it? Fernando Alonso took a valiant victory at Silverstone, and marked his return to the very top. With Ferrari pushing to surpass Red Bull, there may well still be a fight for the title.

In which case, Vettel’s mettle will be tested severely. Or, Alonso’s charge may fail to materialise, and Vettel may cruise to the title. Hopefully it will be the former, and we will see Sebastian’s true talent tested.

Sauber and McLaren fined for unsafe pit releases

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Jenson Button's wheel detaches as he leaves the pit lane

Both McLaren and Sauber have suffered the wrath of the stewards after the British Grand Prix.

Both teams have received fines after seperate incidents in the pit lane, where Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi respectively were unsafely released from their box.

In Jenson’s case, the front right wheel was not secured before the lollipop was lifted. In Kamui’s case, a slow getaway meant his Sauber went alongside Rubens Barrichello, forcing Kobayashi to take evasive action – running over the Force India wheel guns in the process.

Sauber received a €20,000 fine, as well as the drive-through penalty sustained in the race. As McLaren’s mistake was much less dangerous, the Woking team will only pay €5,000.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers