The six ingredients of F1???s classic 2010 season

2010 F1 season review

Bahrain Grand Prix start

The 2010 F1 season got off to a less than inspiring start at Bahrain.

Who would have thought the following 18 Grands Prix would give us dramatic races in wet and dry conditions, nine changes of lead in the championship and a dramatic turn-around in the final race?

These are the six things that made F1 great in 2010.

Three closely-matched cars

Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari

Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari

Having two closely-matched teams at the front is usually the best you can hope for Formula 1. In recent years, it’s often been a story of McLaren versus Ferrari with the rest somewhere further back, sneaking the odd win here and there.

But in 2010 we enjoyed a genuine three-way fight. While the Red Bull RB6s were usually quickest in qualifying, over a race distance it often a close run thing between them and the F10s and MP4-25s.

That meant we had five drivers still in the running for the title with two rounds to go, and an unprecedented four-way shoot-out in the season finale. Remarkable stuff.

Team radio chatter

Only in the last couple of seasons have we been able to hear radio broadcasts from all the teams during the race. F1 is finally starting to catch up with the likes of NASCAR and IndyCar in terms of revealing what’s going on between the pit wall and the cars to television viewers.

These radio broadcasts framed some of the most memorable moments of the season: Hamilton’s frustration at his strategy in Melbourne, Webber describing himself as being “not bad for a number two driver” after winning in Silverstone, and of course the infamous “Fernando is faster than you.”

This the best addition to F1 coverage in recent years. Still there’s much more that needs to be done with it. For starters, we should be able to hear the radio in real-time instead of delayed and have access to all the drivers’ radios, perhaps via some kind of online service.

The refuelling ban

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2010

I’ve been a broken record about refuelling over the past few years and now it’s finally gone I’m very pleased.

The brilliance of the refuelling ban was captured in a radio message between Sebastian Vettel and his crew at Montreal. Vettel assumed his strategy would move him in front of the cars he was following. His team pointed out that, no, he would have to overtake them.

The refuelling ban has reduced the teams’ dependence on strategy to get them past other cars – now they have to make their moves on the track.

We simply would not have had anything like as exciting races in Canada and Turkey under the old refuelling rules.

And on top of that, we finally have proper, exciting, low-fuel qualifying back too. Aside from the irritating “use both tyre compounds” rule, it’s looking pretty good at the moment.

Restraint from the stewards

Refereeing is a controversial area in any sport. But the standard of stewarding in F1 clearly improved in 2010, and for that we may well have the long-overdue introduction of drivers’ representatives to thank.

That’s not to say they got every call right this year. But problems that did arise were quickly addressed and fixed: such as when Michael Schumacher got caught out by a clumsily-worded rule at Monaco, and the nine cars that got penalties for going too quickly when the safety car was deployed in Valencia.

Some problem areas remain, such as the delay in handing down penalties in some cases – Lewis Hamilton’s at Valencia being an example.

But on the whole, when it came to the decisions taken at the track by the stewards, we saw a welcome new degree of restraint. Let’s hope it’s here to stay.

Much less politics

It was a bad year for those who thrive on paddock intrigue rather than what the sport is supposed to be about: racing.

Budget caps, double diffusers, the FOTA breakaway, deliberate crashes – political strife overshadowed the sport on far too many occasions in 2009.

After years of headlines about ‘spygate’, ‘spankgate’ and ‘Singapore-gate’ the 2010 season brought welcome respite from the rows.

There were still some points of conflict, of course: condemnation of Ferrari’s team orders at Hockenheim and insinuations about why the RB6 was so fast. But that adds up to rather less than the sport has been through in recent years.

Is this a positive sign of how F1 will be conducted throughout Jean Todt’s FIA presidency? Or just a fleeting peace before the resumption of hostilities as the next Concorde Agreement is thrashed out? We wait to see.

A fitting conclusion

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2010

The season that never failed to surprise simply had to end with one final twist.

Going into the final round at Abu Dhabi the talk was all around whether Fernando Alonso could collect enough points to grab a third title, and whether Red Bull would swap the positions of their drivers to guarantee Mark Webber the title.

But in one of those great sporting upsets Sebastian Vettel snatched it from both of them. Webber slipped down the order and Ferrari and Alonso were so distracted by beating him they forgot they had to keep Vettel in range too.

It also spared us a winter of arguments about a certain seven points scored by Alonso at Hockenheim, which was no bad thing either.

Do you agree F1 had a classic season in 2010? What made it great? Have your say in the comments.

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91 comments on The six ingredients of F1???s classic 2010 season

  1. I believe a lineup of great quality drivers added to the show. It is a far cry from Schumacher domination era, where virtually only one driver could drive without stupid mistakes and pull out quality manouvers. Now I really feel there is much more quality in driving, so it was a pleasure to watch how Kubica, Rosberg, Kobayashi and a few others shone despite not being in top 3 teams. Interestingly, Schumacher really dominated in a team built around him, after Hakkinen era and before Alonso, now he is in check.
    My guess is that F1 seat will be more and more dependant on achievements and there will be less and less drivers spending most of their careers in F1, unless they are really good.

    It was my first season after 1994 which I could say that really watched and still was shocked by number of refereeing controversies in the first part of the season. So despite big improvement in second part of the season I maitain highly critical opinion about how Charlie Whiting managed those issues, and I tend to credit Jean Todt’s authority that the situation improved. Still, I hope for rotational race director position to be introduced.

  2. LewisC said on 25th November 2010, 14:54

    Keith – perhaps it’s time to go back and review the predictions everyone made at the start of the season?

    I seem to remember a lot of people thinking Schumacher was going to win his 8th title; although I think most will have picked the Hamilton/Button and Alonso/Massa head-to-heads correctly.

  3. sumedh said on 25th November 2010, 15:20

    I think the most important ingredient for 2010’s success was ‘mistakes’.

    2008 was one season where both the main title contenders – Lewis and Felipe – made plenty of mistakes. This is why it went right down to the wire.

    Amazingly, in 2010 we had 5 cars and ALL of them were making errors, whether driving errors or setup errors or strategy errors. Even if one of the top 4 had not made mistakes, then the 2010 title would have been decided long ago.

    Personally, I like the 2006 season most. Both Alonso and Michael were nearly perfect throughout the season. Agreed that the 2 didn’t fight the battle on-track often, but when they did – Imola, Turkey, China – it was simply epic. And in 2006, the off-track happenings – esp. the penalty to Alonso at Monza and Michael announcing retirement – added to the race spectacle. The last 3 races of the 2006 season were perhaps the most tense races ever.
    Both drivers pushed the limit of the rules there – ALonso purposely brake-testing someone so that Michael got a penalty for the Hungary qualifying, Michael’s parking at Rascasse. Both were willing to do ANYTHING to win the title.
    In 2010, considering the amount of mistakes everyone did, it seemed that no one wanted to win the title.

    • DASMAN said on 25th November 2010, 20:13

      Great post – I loved that season, even tho Michael didn’t win. My favourite ever seasons are ’97-2000 and ’06. Top quality racing by evenly matched drivers.

  4. sumedh said on 25th November 2010, 15:33

    And I am not sure whether the re-fueling ban really improved racing or not.

    Like Keith said, it prevented the use of strategy to pass other drivers. And made them do the work on track.
    Yet, the most popular race on the 2010 calendar – as voted by F1Fanatic readers as well – was the Canadian GP, which had diverse strategies. It was the unknowns of strategy that made the race exciting.

    Clearly, viewers like the strategy aspect of racing. The compulsory use of both tyre compounds brings exactly this ingredient to the table – Strategy.

    It was strategy that gave Button the win at Australia, the 4th place to Vettel at Monza or the 4th place to Kubica at Abu Dhabi, 7th place to Kamui at Valencia, positions which they wouldn’t have been in after qualifying.

    If the 2-compound rule wass removed, the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would have been the most disastrous race of the season. Since then, Webber would have tried to continue on the worn-out rear tyres and eventually ended up defending from Felipe while Alonso would have slept through the race staying in 4th place and Vettel would have won an overtaking free race from the front.

  5. Frankly the no politics, though good, is sad. Because that was what Kimi Raikkonen said, that he was bored of the politics, ppl have something in their heads and something else on their lips and in Rallying the drivers are given attention to. It’s just sad that this was an almost politics free year ( i dunno if the WMSC saying that Ferrari should be spared is politics), and Kimi is missing.

  6. I think the one with the stewarding could be discussed. Its nice to have an actual racing driver helping, as he can spot thing others wouldnt or would see.

    Though I think that far too many times, the stewards have not been nearly fast enough to take a descision. So driver have received penalties too late in the race or for the next race. It is just not fair to punish Schumacher for something he did on Hungaroring (that is “impossible” to overtake on), on Spa (overtaking actually possible) I want them to make faster decisions.

    All the other things I agree on, and I can’t wait to see if next year will live up to it.

    • Burnout said on 25th November 2010, 18:46


      It’s one of the greatest “what if’s” for 2010. What if Ferrari hadn’t forced Kimi out? And what if Kimi had found his 2005 mojo (or at the very least carried the momentum from the second half of 2009)

      And considering what Kubica was able to achieve this year, I’d imagine Alonso would be pretty competitive if he’d stayed at Renault.

  7. Prateek727 said on 25th November 2010, 16:17

    For starters, we should be able to hear the radio in real-time instead of delayed and have access to all the drivers’ radios, perhaps via some kind of online service.

    Keith, apologies if I’ve misunderstood the quote, but listening in to drivers radios in real time is just infeasible, isn’t it. Aren’t the radios aired with a delay so that the message and reply components can be pasted together? It would look ridiculous on tele if we were treated to half a minute of silence in the middle.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th November 2010, 22:53

      but listening in to drivers radios in real time is just infeasible, isn’t it

      I don’t want to get into splitting hairs – when I said “real time” what I meant was “without an enforced delay”. For example if you watch American series like IndyCar you can hear the radio chatter during the pit stops – and they’re telling the driver to go at the same time you see him leaving the pit box.

      At the moment it feels a bit like an afterthought: “oh, here’s something one of the teams said a lap ago”.

  8. I don t agree with “stewards being positive this year”… They were very inconsistent in their work and in judging on track situations… One driver was penalised for cutting a chicane once and another was even not penalised for cutting it three or four times… Fittipaldi and co. was probably sleeping in Monza…
    Johnny Herbert was maybe the best steward this year from my point of view…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th November 2010, 17:38

      One driver was penalised for cutting a chicane once and another was even not penalised for cutting it three or four times… Fittipaldi and co. was probably sleeping in Monza…

      I’m assuming the “One driver was penalised for cutting a chicane once” you’re referring to was Alonso at Silverstone.

      As precedent shows very clearly, if you gain a position by going off the track you have to give it back. It’s crystal-clear cut. When it happened there was a chorus of “he’ll have to give the place back” in the live comments:

      Whereas Hülkenberg went off the track but he didn’t gain a position and it’s doubtful he gained any advantage. Sure, Mark Webber said he did but he would say that, wouldn’t he?

      • No, you are not right… I was refering to Alguersuari who was penalised in Spa and again in Monza… Hulkenberg, who was behaving on track much nastier didn t receive any penalty, even no warning… And btw. Webber, who was driving behind him was using his hand to show what he is thinking about that sort of driving and he also complained a lot to the team radio… So it was a big inconsistency in decisions coming from the stewards…

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th November 2010, 22:57

          No, you are not right

          Well you could have made it a bit easier by referring to your example directly instead of being vague about it.

          I’m not sure I’ve seen video of the Alguersuari ones – I remember trying to find footage of the Spa one and not being able to. If anyone has seen it please post links.

          Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Alguersuari go off at the chicane at Spa and pass Liuzzi by doing so? If so then it’s the same case as the Alonso one I described.

          You may think Hülkenberg’s driving was “nastier” but the fact is he didn’t gain a position or, it seems, an advantage with what he did which is why he wasn’t penalised.

          • No, ALG was 10th, Liuzzi was 11th… There was NO position gained… And it happened at the end of lap 42… Times on didn t show any advantage by cutting the chicane… But ALG had a very impressive last lap, which was over 4 seconds faster then Liuzzi s… So, I think it wasn t neccessary to penalise him… If you need the FIA document, I can send you a link…

  9. I too was glad to see the back of the refuelling ban (and I expect my mates were glad to see the back of me moaning about refuelling), but I think next year is going to get worse not better.

    The adjustable rear wings can only be used by the car behind, so it could give a disadvantage to someone in front, especially at the classic slipstreamer track Monza, but even more than it ever was.

    For anyone who’s played driving games with rubber-band catchup features, it’s very annoying to see slower cars still catching up when you’re clearly faster in equal equipment.

    I don’t have a problem with adjustable rear wings, but like the tyres and KERS, it should be fully open to use at any time by anyone in any amount rather than enforced by the regulations.

  10. Younger Hamilton said on 25th November 2010, 17:23

    typo fix-too quickly on the ‘Restraint from the Stewards’ part,Keith

  11. Younger Hamilton said on 25th November 2010, 17:25

    to be a about

    Typo again Keith take out the a.

  12. Younger Hamilton said on 25th November 2010, 17:37

    I cant remember what made the season so great apart from the exciting races but all i know is the races,twists in pace and the Championship and the Technical Side is what made the Season Brilliant and 2010 is gonna be a year marked in the F1 History Greats

  13. George (@george) said on 25th November 2010, 17:57

    On real-time radio transmissions; while they would be great, they have to worry about broadcasting bad language live. Personally I’d rather the drivers and engineers speak their minds and we find out about it later, like this

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th November 2010, 17:59

      I get the broadcasters’ hang-up about bad language, but if it were offered online with suitable disclaimers in place that would surely be fine?

      • Burnout said on 25th November 2010, 18:52

        Oh, but you know Bernie’s hang-ups about anything to do with the Interwebs! Unless there’s some fresh thinking at FOM that goes beyond changing the fonts and layout of on-track info, I don’t see real-time radio transmissions being available anytime soon.

        (On a side note, I’m glad that they’ve shifted to a count-up of laps from zero, instead of last year’s count-down to zero. It feels more intuitive)

      • sato113 said on 25th November 2010, 21:09

        you couldn’t have drivers saying ‘****’ and ‘****’ at 1 o’clock on a sunday afternoon!

      • George (@george) said on 25th November 2010, 22:14

        I agree it should be offered online Keith, but only after the race. Even if they did upload it in real time you would only be able to follow one driver at a time, and I doubt there would be much demand for it.

        • plushpile (@plushpile) said on 26th November 2010, 0:47

          I think that would be the beauty of it, you could really follow a single driver.

          Eg a Vettel supporter could listen to Vettel’s radio while a Alonso supporter could listen to his.
          A McLaren fan would be able to listen to Lewis or Jenson. It would be great.

  14. Burnout said on 25th November 2010, 19:08

    I don’t think the two-compound rule is flawed in itself. Bridgestone messed things up by making stupidly long-lasting tyres. Vettel did most of the Italian GP on Options, if I rememeber correctly. And the RB6 isn’t even the gentlest on its tyres. If Bridgestone were a little more “aggressive” with their tyres strategy would become important enough, without becoming the overpowering criterion as was in the refuelling era.

    And for everybody who complains about the BBC’s “poor” coverage, be thankful that you’re not watching the races from India. Ad breaks just around pitstop time. Plus Steven Slater makes Legard looks like a bona fide motorsport pundit. He almost always mixes up teammates. Always mistakes STRs for RBRs. And he has these annoying done-to-death catchphrases about the unpredictability of F1.

    I watched the BBC’s coverage of the Canadian GP over an internet feed, and the commentary was a revelation to me. Updates from the pit lane. Real-time interviews with team personnel. The grid walk. Post-race recap with Humphrey, Coulthard and Jordan. You guys are spoilt and you don’t know it!

    • I am also jealous of people in the UK! I have to say, watching from the US is no picnic, either. It’s just wrong that I should know more about who is being shown on screen than certain SpeedTV commentators. And we’re lucky to be able to watch just part of the post-quali and post-race press conferences, if there’s time before NASCAR coverage begins.

      Also, is every practice session televised on the BBC? Because only the Friday afternoon session is televised here. Very frustrating indeed…

  15. I would also add to this list the new entries. Although without the highlights of more ‘screen time’ I think more players on the field is going to set the seen for a more exciting future in F1. Additionally, this season, they had their moments, and the fight for 10th was just as gruelling as that for 1st!

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