Top Ten F1 Drivers of 2011
The 2011 F1 season is in the books. While it may have lacked the thrills of 2010, this season was highly entertaining, to say the least. With 5 former world champions in the fray, several inside battles were fought as tempers frayed many a time. Sebastian Vettel might have successfully defended his F1 world championship, however apart from him, there were several other drivers who were impressive this season. Here is a list of the top 10 F1 drivers of the 2011 season. This list is on the basis of their world championship points, overtaking moves, qualifying performance, podium finishes, penalties received, fastest laps and consistency.
10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
The Japanese people may have had a disastrous year, but Kamui Kobayashi did his best to keep his countrymen cheerful through his exploits on the racetrack. The Sauber driver finished a whopping 9 times in the top 10, which is much better than his rivals in Toro Rosso and Lotus Renault. His 5th place finish at Monaco was one of the best drives in his short, yet illustrious career. He also dominated his teammate Sergio Perez, both in qualifying sessions and races.
9. Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India)
You might have noticed that Paul di Resta’s stats are worse than Kamui Kobayashi. Yet di Resta is the 9th best F1 driver of the year for a simple reason. He is a rookie while Kobayashi is a veteran by F1 standards. Paul showed his skills through brilliant performances in qualifying sessions, in which sometimes he bettered his teammate Adrian Sutil too! The young Scot, who debuted in F1 this year, has done the most number of laps this year among all 24 drivers. This shows his poise and control over the car. These are astonishing figures for a rookie and hence he has made it to the top 10.
8. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
<CENTER></CENTER>Unlike his illustrious teammate Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg has had an impressive season and has consistently been among the points. The German driver started within the first five rows of the grid in almost all the races this year. He showed consistency and reliability by finishing 13 times in the top 10. He even led some of the races for a few laps. It is a shame that he has zero podiums to his credit, but his team has to take some of that blame because it was their faulty strategy that kept him back. Nico too should have performed better since he has a car fast enough to challenge the top teams.
7. Adrian Sutil (Sahara Force India)
<CENTER></CENTER>The German driver, who is likely to exit Force India very soon, was the best among mid-table drivers. His statistics are no match to Nico Rosberg’s, but Sutil was a better driver than Nico in 2011 because he achieved the best ever result possible in his car. Being in a slower car when compared to the table toppers, Sutil breached the top 10 in qualifying many times. His race performances were satisfactory but not excellent. He has been reliable and has been the main reason why Force India almost matched Renault in the constructor’s championship.
6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Inspite of having 3 fastest laps to his credit, Felipe Massa has no one else to blame but himself for his dismal performance this season. He is a better driver than what the statistics allude him to be. With no poles, no wins and no podiums, it has to be said that this is Massa’s worst season at Ferrari. He may sight the slow pace of his Ferrari as an excuse, but his teammate Alonso seems to have done well with the same car. His infamous incidents involving Lewis Hamilton not only proved costly for him in the races, but also tarnished his image as a good driver.
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
<CENTER></CENTER>5 penalties ! That is a stat which signifies Lewis’ performance this season. Though he matched the pace of the Red Bulls on numerous occasions, his inconsistency led to his downfall on numerous occasions. Another telling statistic is that he just had 6 podium finishes this year out of which 3 were race victories. His break-up with Nicole might have had something to do with his inconsistent performance. This is in fact Hamilton’s worst ever season in his career and is the first time ever that he has finished behind his teammate in the standings.
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
<CENTER></CENTER>The Aussie was completely overshadowed by his world championship winning teammate. But the fact is that Webber this season was a pale shadow of what he was during the initial races of the 2010 season. Where Vettel has improved, Webber has been static. But he doesn’t lack the skill or the car to win. The 7 fastest laps (most by anyone this season) is a true testimony to his driving finesse. This season, he ended up consistently on the podium, thereby garnering crucial points for Red Bull. Webber has been a team man this season, but his solo victory at the last race of the season wasn’t sufficient enough to please his fans.
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
<CENTER></CENTER>The Spaniard, who finished 2nd in the race for the driver’s championship in 2010, couldn’t do any better this season. In fact he finished 4th this year. But Fernando Alonso is not to be blamed. He did his best to match his rivals in a slower car. His duel with Mark Webber was entertaining with both men executing unbelievable overtakes. Alonso may just have one victory to his credit but he is the third best driver of the season simply because of the excellent starts he has had throughout this season. No matter where he was on the grid, Alonso placed himself amongst the top 3 at the end of the first lap. He also outperformed his teammate, unlike Webber.
2. Jenson Button (McLaren)
<CENTER></CENTER>From a racing point of view, Jenson Button should have been the No. 1 driver. But Button cannot claim the no. 1 spot simply because of his poor qualifying record. He did, however, perform exceedingly well this season than the previous one. His Canadian Grand Prix victory was unbelievable. To his credit, he has 3 victories this season and 3 fastest laps, which is commendable. With DRS and Pirelli tyres affecting the performances of several drivers, Jenson Button was unperturbed by any of those and ended up being the second best driver of the season, behind runaway leader Sebastian Vettel.
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
<CENTER></CENTER>As he has been all season, Sebastian Vettel is the driver of the year. He has done everything perfect to deserve this status. He won 60 % of the races and was on pole in 75% of the races. He even achieved the Grand Chelem (Pole, Win, Fastest Lap and led all laps) in the first ever Indian Grand Prix. What is even more impressive about Vettel is the fact that he was on podium 17 times this year out of his 18 finishes. It has to be said that he dominated this season completely. As a testimony to his domination, he retained his World championship with 4 races to go. It is hard to believe that he is just 23 years old. Expect him to dominate in the coming years too.
Simply put, Sebastian = Domination; Vettel = Mettle.
Michael Schumacher (Mercedes):
<CENTER></CENTER>Michael Schumacher showed flashes of his brilliance this year. However, those performances did not help him to break into the top 5 in the championship race mainly because of his inconsistency. He finished just 14 of the 19 races this year, a completion rate of just 75%, which is very poor according to his high standards. His performances in qualifying were appalling, to say the least. But he gets a mention in the top 10 drivers of the year list, just because of those flashes of brilliance, which brought back memories of his glorious past.