|F1 Season Review- Mark Blundell|
It’s been two weeks since the last race of the 2011 F1 season and we’ve all had a chance to reflect on what was a fantastic year in the sport. 2011 will go down as a year where Vettel reined supreme and made history by breaking Nigel Mansell’s record for the highest number of pole positions in a season – 15 out of 19 races. The 2011 Championship has also made Vettel the youngest ever back to back World Champion in F1 at the age of just 24; an incredible achievement.
It was also a season where Button silenced the critics and did what many people felt was impossible; beat Lewis Hamilton fair and square. There were moments of brilliance from Button this year such as his drive from the back of the field in Canada to take the win in some extremely tricky racing conditions. Twelve podiums helped cement second in the Championship for Jenson which was no mean feat when you consider how dominant the Red Bull was in the first part of the season. It seemed to take Hamilton a little longer to get his house in order this year but he still came away with six podiums, including a win at the penultimate round in Abu Dhabi and by the end of the year seemed focused and ready to fight for 2012.
The young driver F1 test that took place after the Abu Dhabi race got everyone talking about the economics of the sport. This year saw a growing number of young drivers paying to test rather than just being invited to test on merit. The test highlighted the growing issue that many young and talented drivers are missing out on their chance to get to F1 as they don’t have this kind of budget to bring to the table.
It may only be December, but everyone’s attention has already turned firmly to the 2012 season. There are high expectations for a cracking season with no less than six World Champions lining up for the opening race in Melbourne. With their performance this year, Red Bull Racing will be the team to beat. McLaren made giant steps throughout the year to close the gap but nothing less than a Championship win in 2012 will be good enough for them. There is a lot of pressure on Ferrari to return to their winning ways and Lotus Renault have high hopes with their pairing of Kimi and Grosjean, with Eric Boullier recently saying their plan is for the team to be World Champions within the next three years.
There are still a few seats yet to be confirmed but what is clear is that some talented drivers are going to miss out as there are just not enough seats left for everyone. GP2 driver Charles Pic has been signed by Marussia Virgin and GP2 Champion Romain Grosjean will be at Lotus Renault, but it remains to be seen if any other drivers from GP2 or World Series by Renault will get their chance in a race seat or reserve seat in 2012. The competition is fierce.
The FIA have introduced some changes to the regulations for next season and, as always, it will come down to which team best interprets the regulations and can build the quickest car. The blown diffuser was central to this year but has been banned for next year so now we all will sit and wait to see what is revealed by the teams come the first test on February 7th.