2011 F1 season review
Who were the best drivers of 2011?
The full F1 Fanatic driver rankings will be published throughout the rest of the week and at the end of it you will have your chance to vote for Driver of the Year.
Here’s the first half of the list including some of your thoughts on the drivers of 2011.
28. Karun Chandhok
|Beat team mate in qualifying||0/1|
|Beat team mate in race||0/1|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||0/56|
Chandhok’s season didn’t get off to a great start: driving in first practice for Lotus in Melbourne, he made it as far as turn three before hitting the barrier.
He made a few more appearances for Lotus in practice sessions but more often than not was frustrated by the weather or car problems.
When he finally got into the car for a one-off race at the Nurburgring, it didn’t go well. A series of spins left him last, two laps behind his team mate.
That Lotus opted not to put him in the car for his home race, the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, spoke volumes.
One race, awful performance. He wasn’t even in the car in India, which says something.
27. Narain Karthikeyan
|Beat team mate in qualifying||0/8|
|Beat team mate in race||2/6|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||151/403|
It was a surprise to see Karthikeyan return to F1 five years after he first drove for Jordan.
It was less surprising to see him moved aside halfway through the season, and entirely predictable to see him parachuted back in for the Indian Grand Prix weekend to please HRT’s local sponsors.
Karthikeyan made less of an impression against Vitantonio Liuzzi than the vastly less experienced Daniel Ricciardo did. Nor was he able to beat HRT’s key rivals Virgin, and in eight starts he was beaten by his team mate every time.
No chance against Liuzzi, who, as it turned out, wasn’t doing that well himself.
26. Jerome d’Ambrosio
|Beat team mate in qualifying||5/19|
|Beat team mate in race||3/10|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||197/731|
In an uncompetitive car and with an experienced team mate, d’Ambrosio was always going to struggle to impress in his first season. Even so, his ousting from the team mere moments after the final race seems harsh, particularly as his place is being taken by yet another rookie.
There were some notable high points for d’Ambrosio in his first season of F1, particularly in Suzuka and Interlagos.
But along with those strong showings were weekends where he never really got on terms with his team mate and ended up being beaten by an HRT. The nadir of his season was undoubtedly Hungary, where he spun in front of his crew in a damp pit lane.
Almost invisible for the entire season. He did well against his accomplished teammate for the 1st half of the season, but then just trailed off into obscurity. Not a great rookie season.
25. Jarno Trulli
|Beat team mate in qualifying||2/18|
|Beat team mate in race||3/11|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||244/811|
Aside from a flash of performance at Monaco, Trulli endured a forgettable season.
Though unlucky at times, on many occasions he was simply too far off his team mate’s pace, usualy blaming the power steering for his troubles.
Despite having extended his contract to next year, there are rumours he could still be replaced.
I just cannot see a reason for him to stay in Formula One. Trounced by Kovalainen for the second season running.
24. Vitantonio Liuzzi
|Beat team mate in qualifying||12/15|
|Beat team mate in race||5/10|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||437/778|
Liuzzi’s F1 future hung in the balance over the winter as he was forced out at Force India in favour of Paul di Resta.
He landed a seat at HRT on the eve of the new season and found himself at the wheel of the least competitive car on the grid.
In one of the few occasions where he had a chance to show his worth he collected a vital 13th for the team in Canada, allowing them to end the season in front of Virgin.
He wasn’t as much in front of his rookie team mate as he should have been. In fact, he was beaten by him quite often. He seems content only to be in F1. And let’s not forget Monza, where he made the biggest mistake I have seen in Formula 1! It seems unlikely we’ll see him again next year.
23. Daniel Ricciardo
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/9|
|Beat team mate in race||4/6|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||247/489|
After making a few appearances in practice for Toro Rosso early in the season, Ricciardo was given a race seat at HRT, which he continued to dovetail with his Formula Renault 3.5 commitments.
He quickly got on terms with Liuzzi and fared well against his team mate over the second half of the year, even mixing it with the Virgins on occasion.
The early signs are Red Bull’s faith in Ricciardo is not misplaced.
An impressive first half season, he didn’t seem to make any major mistakes in races and managed to settle into the team and match/beat Liuzzi very early on. I was impressed by Ricciardo although it is difficult to make a conclusive judgement given the amount of technical issues his team are prone to.
22. Pastor Maldonado
|Beat team mate in qualifying||8/18|
|Beat team mate in race||5/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||367/848|
Maldonado regularly kept Barrichello honest in qualifying. Unlike his team mate, he made it into Q3 on three occasions.
Barrichello tended to out-perform him in the races and there were a few costly mistakes, not least his five race penalties.
He should have scored his first career points at Monaco, a circuit he excelled at in junior categories, only to go out in a collision with Lewis Hamilton.
The pair had another run-in at Spa-Franchorchamps where Maldonado was fortunately to only receive a five-place grid penalty after confronting Hamilton on-track, the pair colliding. He will remain at Williams next year.
Although impressive in qualifying, he was distinctly unimpressive in races. Too often he fell back or made silly mistakes which would be acceptable for a rookie if it weren’t for his attitude and actions at Spa
21. Pedro de la Rosa
|Beat team mate in qualifying||0/1|
|Beat team mate in race||0/1|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||0/70|
A one-off appearance in Canada is too little to develop a complete picture of de la Rosa’s form in 2011. He did a competent job in difficult circumstances.
Hard to judge off of one race. Did what was expected of him.
20. Bruno Senna
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/8|
|Beat team mate in race||1/6|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||91/354|
Senna’s half-season with Renault was a mixed bag, particularly as the R31 was becoming ever more uncompetitive and unreliable.
To his credit he qualified well – he was fractionally faster than Vitaly Petrov on average – and brought the car home in every race despite various KERS failures and other glitches.
He had just two points to show for his efforts, though that was only three fewer than Petrov scored in the same period. There were clear signs of progress, though, and his last drive for the team in his home race would have been his best, had he not spoiled it by colliding with Michael Schumacher.
A fine qualifying performance in his first appearance for the team at Spa was also squandered when he crashed into Jaime Alguersuari at the first corner.
Did an excellent job in qualifying, but too many blunders in the race. Still impressed he got a couple of points though.
19. Rubens Barrichello
|Beat team mate in qualifying||10/18|
|Beat team mate in race||7/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||481/848|
Barrichello’s 19th season in Formula 1 added little to his achievements beyond stretching his records for career longevity even further.
He was clearly frustrated by Williams’ disastrous slump in form over the winter, and the prospect of taking them to better things was largely out of his hands.
That said, a veteran of 300 races should have defeated a rookie team mate more comprehensively than Barrichello did. His final appearance at home – where he qualified an excellent 12th – may have been his last start.
A so-so year for Rubens. He’s had the odd moment of magic but often struggled against his team mate and made a few silly errors. He’s still got the fire, but whether that’s enough for him to have a 20th year in the sport I don’t know. I’ve got a feeling we’ve seen his last race.
18. Vitaly Petrov
|Beat team mate in qualifying||12/19|
|Beat team mate in race||7/13|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||576/904|
Viewed from the end of the season, it seems difficult to believe Petrov stood on the podium at the first race in Melbourne. Such was the deterioration in performance of the Renault with its unorthodox front exit exhausts.
Petrov was a fixture in Q3 in the opening races but gradually slipped back. He found new team mate Senna a tougher prospect than Nick Heidfeld on Saturdays.
In the races there wasn’t much evidence of progress from last year. He had several run-ins with Schumacher in which he was usually blameless – with the conspicuous exception of Korea, where he was distracted by his battle with Fernando Alonso and harpooned the Mercedes, receiving a penalty.
The car tailed off badly in the second half but he was outpaced by Senna, which isn’t a good sign.
17. Kamui Kobayashi
|Beat team mate in qualifying||8/19|
|Beat team mate in race||8/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||519/872|
Kobayashi made the most of Sauber’s early-season form to score the bulk of his points, enjoying seven consecutive top ten finishes (although he lost the first due to a technical infringement).
However he matched this with a seven-race points drought later in the season, while his rookie team mate Sergio Perez increasingly enjoyed the upper hand. Indeed, over the course of the season, Kobayashi started behind Perez more often than not.
We saw less of Kobayashi’s famed overtaking verve as the C30 leant itself to more conservative strategies with fewer pit stops. A notable exception was Turkey, where he started from the back row due to a fuel pump problem in qualifying, but recovered to finish in tenth.
After a strong start to the season and the usual Kobayashi entertainment on Sundays, we were disappointed to see his poor qualifying performances and mediocre Sundays as well. Although Kamui did have his highlights this year, he also had some very bland performances.
16. Nick Heidfeld
|Beat team mate in qualifying||3/11|
|Beat team mate in race||5/7|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||237/550|
Following Robert Kubica’s crash in February, Heidfeld was given a test with the R31 then confirmed as Kubica’s replacement. But he was replaced by Senna halfway through the year.
Heidfeld did his usual safe-pair-of-hands job at Renault, bringing the car home when it didn’t catch fire or get hit by another driver. The major exception was Canada, where he crashed out after contact with Kobayashi, losing what could have been a very good result.
But it was in qualifying that he was really found wanting, usually starting far behind Petrov. He tended to overhaul his team mate on race day, but it can only have left the team wondering what might have been achieved with a driver who could marry qualifying and race performance.
Even so, by the end of the season Petrov had only amassed three more points than Heidfeld had.
I was keen to see Heidfeld do well, but he failed to lead the team and made too many errors. While he was unlucky in Hungary and had some good races like Malaysia, he was out-qualified by Petrov too frequently for a driver of his experience.
2011 F1 season review
- The 2011 F1 season: The complete F1 Fanatic review
- Your 2011 F1 predictions revisited
- 2011 F1 statistics part 3: Stats and facts highlights
- 2011 F1 statistics part two: Vettel’s domination
- 2011 F1 statistics part one: car performance
- New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years
- What F1 Fanatics really thought of the 2011 season
- Sebastian Vettel voted F1 Fanatic Driver of the Year
- F1 Fanatic’s article highlights of 2011
- Dominant Red Bull join F1′s top teams
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