2011 F1 season review
The second part of F1 Fanatic’s 2011 driver rankings include the ten drivers to sixth place.
The list includes Felipe Massa, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber.
Read on for the next part of the 2011 F1 driver rankings including F1 Fanatic readers’ views.
15. Timo Glock
|Beat team mate in qualifying||14/19|
|Beat team mate in race||7/10|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||534/731|
After languishing at the back of the field in 2010, Glock must have been expecting better things from his second season at Virgin.
Instead the MVR-02 proved little quicker than its predecessor, and as Lotus made strides towards the midfield Glock was left with little to do other than circulate ahead of the HRTs and his team mate.
He accomplished this, regularly brought the car home and on the rare occasions there was any kind of showcase for his abilities – Monaco qualifying, for example – produced the goods.
After two seasons at Virgin you have to be impressed by Glock’s faith in the team to have opted to stick with them. On the strength of this season there’s little reason to doubt he’ll deliver when the time comes.
Fast drive in a very slow car and looked like he was struggling to keep it on track. Is unlucky in some races not to do better but the car wasn’t fast enough for him. Slowed down towards end of the season but good drive none the less.
14. Felipe Massa
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/19|
|Beat team mate in race||2/15|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||169/1016|
The statistics of Massa’s sixth season with Ferrari make for grim reading. While team mate Fernando Alonso notched up ten podiums including a win, Massa was never higher than fifth.
Given that, ranking him even as high as this could seem a tad generous. But Massa’s season was not an irredeemable disaster: he was in fine form in Canada and made some good defensive drives – including a steely resistance against Jenson Button in the season-opener, until DRS ended the contest.
Button’s team mate responded less well to Massa’s defensive style – his season featured several collisions with Lewis Hamilton in which Massa was usually the victim. Under the circumstances you have to wonder whether it was wise for his race engineer to be issuing messages to “destroy Hamilton’s race”.
Ferrari’s continued faith in Massa invites differing interpretations. Certainly they’ve had no qualms about dropping drivers mid-contract, as Kimi Raikkonen can attest. Is Massa being kept on as a sop to Alonso, or on his own merit? On the strength of the last two years the former is an increasingly persuasive explanation.
Massa scored 118 points, 139 behind Alonso and only 27 in front of Rosberg. Best finish was 5th I think, not even a podium. It won’t happen of course but I wish Ferrari buy out his contract in the winter, he’s a waste of space in the Ferrari.
13. Sebastien Buemi
|Beat team mate in qualifying||13/19|
|Beat team mate in race||6/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||461/874|
It was nip-and-tuck between the two Toro Rosso drivers, each vying with the other to hold onto a place in F1. In the end Jaime Alguersuari was narrowly ahead on points and, despite Buemi’s late-season misfortunes, that’s probably a fair reflection of their performances.
Buemi hit the ground running at the start of the season and made the first contributions to the teams’ points tally. He initially enjoyed better one-lap performance and better durability from the tyres during the races, meaning he had Alguersuari completely out-flanked.
But as the season went on the balance of power increasingly tipped in favour of his team mate. Buemi did his cause no favours with a careless collision with Nick Heidfeld in Germany.
Buemi served the team well with his dependable performances and good start to the year. But it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to safeguard his seat from Toro Rosso’s roster of young talent.
Sure, Buemi retired three times in four races (through no fault of his own). But in India, he was overtaken by Alguersuari and remained behind when he retired. In Abu Dhabi he qualified in 13th and didn’t appear to be running any quicker than his team-mate. The only chance he missed to score points was in Japan, when he was running 11th and might perhaps have edged into 9th or 10th. That would hardly him transformed his position in the standings.
Buemi should savour a season where he improved greatly, and indeed led the team for the first few races. But ultimately, the best driver won.
12. Paul di Resta
|Beat team mate in qualifying||9/19|
|Beat team mate in race||6/16|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||479/1041|
Di Resta looked accomplished and confident in F1 from his very first race weekend. He went on to have an excellent debut season and in many other years would have easily been top rookie.
Most impressively for a new driver, he completed more racing laps than anyone in 2011 – 1,106 out of 1,133.
But he wasn’t just a safe pair of hands. Di Resta frequently out-qualified his team mate early in the year including an excellent sixth at his home race.
Later in the season the team tended to split strategies between their cars, di Resta using the less conservative approach. This served him well at times, such as in Singapore where he finished sixth. But more often he found himself on an inferior strategy, as in India.
Points finishes in six of the final nine races underlined a wholly credible first season in F1 for di Resta.
Definitely a star of the future but just couldn’t keep Adrian behind.
11. Jaime Alguersuari
|Beat team mate in qualifying||6/19|
|Beat team mate in race||6/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||413/874|
Alguersuari’s season didn’t really start until he’d figured out how to make the 2011-spec tyres work well with the STR6. Once he did that, he gave Toro Rosso their best results of the season with a pair of seventh places in Italy and Korea.
He might have done even better from sixth on the grid at Spa – his best-ever qualifying position – had he not been shunted by Bruno Senna at the first corner.
Alguersuari had a tough lesson in the politics of Red Bull when he received a dressing-down from Helmut Marko having failed to get out of Sebastian Vettel’s way during practice in Korea. He did nothing wrong besides mildly inconvenience Marko’s favourite son, and hopefully it won’t compromise his future in the sport.
Took his time to get with it this year but when he did, he did so with a bang. Excellent second half of the season and looks to be maturing into a very solid all around package.
Better than Buemi? I’m not sure, but I think he has brighter future. Just a hunch.
10. Sergio Perez
|Beat team mate in qualifying||11/18|
|Beat team mate in race||4/11|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||353/802|
Perez got his F1 career off to a bright start and it might have been an ever better year for him but for his crash in Monaco.
He had just reached Q3 for the first time in his career when he lost control of his car heading into the harbour chicane and made sickeningly heavy side-on contact with the barrier
Although he was unharmed, he missed the next two races and said it took him until the Hungarian Grand Prix to be back at his best. Arguably, this deprived him of some of the best opportunities to make use of the C30, which declined in performance later in the season.
There were a few typical rookie mistakes along the way – not least in China, where he picked up a pair of penalties – but these were largely eclipsed by some singularly impressive performances.
He should have scored points in his first race, where he led his team mate home, only for both to be disqualified on a technicality. He had a season-best finish of seventh at Silverstone and shrugged off illness to take eighth at Suzuka. Sauber snapped him up for another season early in the year and he is already being tipped as a future Ferrari driver.
Great start to the season, shown great qualifying pace, a real shame about the Monaco crash putting him back when the car was at its strongest.
9. Adrian Sutil
|Beat team mate in qualifying||10/19|
|Beat team mate in race||10/16|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||562/1041|
Sutil’s performances at Force India this year seemed to improve as doubts over his future at the team grew. His rookie team mate gave him more than a few problems early in the season, particularly in qualifying.
The more mature, less crash-prone Sutil we saw in 2010 was still much in evidence. His best results were a pair of sixth-placed finishes at home and – in timely fashion – in the final race of the season.
The latter was enough to put him ahead of Vitaly Petrov in the drivers’ championship. The question now is whether he’s done enough to convince Vijay Mallya to keep him on for a sixth year at the same address.
With di Resta’s impressive first races against his troubled start, I was concerned for him. But he grew stronger race after race and now I have to admit that Vijay Mallya and not Luca di Montezemolo should want three cars for each team!
8. Heikki Kovalainen
|Beat team mate in qualifying||17/19|
|Beat team mate in race||9/12|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||623/867|
Which driver dominated his team mate most completely in 2011? You could make strong cases for Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel. Kovalainen certainly deserves a mention in the same breath, having routed Jarno Trulli this year.
A 16-2 margin of superiority in qualifying (Trulli missed one race) is only the beginning of the story. Kovalainen usually finished ahead of his team mate in the races and often by half a minute or more.
On this form, Kovalainen looks best-placed to bring the team into the midfield in 2012.
Really impressive. Demolished Trulli even more comprehensively than last year. Drove supremely, placing the Lotus where it had no right to be. If there was any opportunity to get into Q2, he snatched it.
His race pace was so close to the back of the midfield and he was at times genuinely competitive with a Williams. Was always positive and looked happy in his environment which can go a long way.
7. Michael Schumacher
|Beat team mate in qualifying||2/17|
|Beat team mate in race||6/13|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||258/873|
Schumacher’s second season back in F1 was a marked improvement over the first – at least on race days.
Qualifying remained a weakness – he only started ahead of Rosberg twice, and on one occasion that was because Rosberg’s car had failed in qualifying.
But Schumacher made up for that with some meteoric starts. He made a net gain of 27 places on the first lap during the course of the season, more than any other driver.
Starting further back meant he was more prone to midfield scraps: he collided with Petrov in Turkey and Valencia. But as he got closer to the front he started to look more like the Schumacher of old.
In Canada he was in contention for the podium before Jenson Button and Mark Webber used DRS to demote him. He claimed from 24th to fifth in Belgium – aided, it must be said, by the safety car and a first-lap crash – and fended off Hamilton brilliantly for lap after lap at Monza.
This is what we expected when Schumacher began his comeback. Some disappointing mistakes and still not as quick as he used to be – but great racecraft in Canada and at Monza, and an amazing ability to spot gaps off the starting line.
I’d love to see him with a podium or two next year, but I fear we may already have seen the best of his comeback.
6. Mark Webber
|Beat team mate in qualifying||3/19|
|Beat team mate in race||2/17|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||112/1030|
Having spent the last few races of 2010 in Vettel’s shadow, that trend continued for most of 2011 for Webber.
He seemed to have the worst of both worlds when it came to tyre management: he couldn’t extract enough performance over a single lap in qualifying and tended to take too much life out of the tyre in longer stints. His starts were also a considerable weakness.
Webber managed a trio of pole positions in the middle of the season and had the upper hand over Vettel at the Nurburgring, but otherwise his team mate ran away with things.
Webber’s racecraft remained a strong suit of his, despite having a car that often lacked the straight-line speed necessary to make many passes. His move on Alonso at Spa was breathtakingly brave and he battled through from 18th to third in China.
But ultimately he fell too far short of making the most of what was available to him. But for an inherited win in Brazil he would have ended the year fourth.
Did nothing special all year but was still constantly up there in the points without being race winner until Brazil. Struggled a lot with the tyres and then the de-motivation of seeing his team mate dominate many Grands Prix. Good drive at Brazil and I felt he could have taken Vettel if there wasn’t a gearbox problem.
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
Images (C) Virgin Racing, Ferrari spa, Red Bull/Getty images, Force India/Sutton, Red Bull/Getty images, Sauber, Force India/Sutton, Team Lotus, Mercedes, Red Bull/Getty images