New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years

2011 F1 season review

Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Nurburgring, 2011

Germany produced the third-best race of the year

The 2011 season may not have produced a close battle for the championship, but it did give us lots of exciting races.

With more challenging tyre compounds, the return of KERS and the controversial introduction of DRS, F1 saw much more overtaking this year.

Here’s what F1 Fanatics rated as the best and worst Grands Prix of the 2011 season – and how they compared to the previous three years of F1 races.

Rating the races of 2011

Race Rating
China 9.241
Canada 9.095
Germany 8.43
Hungary 8.344
Britain 7.96
Malaysia 7.775
Belgium 7.772
Monaco 7.684
Japan 7.57
Italy 7.494
Spain 7.319
Turkey 7.306
Korea 6.915
Australia 6.751
Singapore 6.39
Abu Dhabi 6.127
Brazil 5.771
India 5.555
Europe 3.871

Races which featured passes for the lead tended to receive the highest ratings.

Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel to win on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, and passes for the lead featured in both the Chinese and German Grands Prix.

For only the second time in history the Hungarian Grand Prix was affected by rain. The Hungaroring may be renowned for producing dull races but this year it was fourth-highest.

At the other end of the scale were the processional races at Valencia and F1’s newest venue, Buddh International Circuit in India.

The Brazilian Grand Prix, which has produced some of the better races of recent seasons, was third-lowest this year. There was widespread scepticism after the race about Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox problem which led to team mate Mark Webber winning the race.

It is also clear that modern venues tend to produce less entertaining races. Six of the bottom eight races were at Hermann Tilke-designed circuits which have appeared on the calendar within the last six years.

Note also that lots of overtaking doesn’t automatically equal good racing. The Turkish Grand Prix ranks in the lower half of the races, proving you can have too much of a good thing.

Was the voting also swayed by driver or team allegiance? Participants are asked to rate races on merit, but you can check the results against this recent profile of who are the most popular competitors on F1 Fanatic here.

Comparing 2011 with the last three seasons

Australia Malaysia China Turkey Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore Japan Korea India Abu Dhabi Brazil
2008 7.609 5.738 4.446 6.816 5.085 8.177 7.809 3.977 8.164 7.18 6.202 7.736 8.153 6.302 6.66 8.756
2009 7.937 5.284 6.69 5.276 5.33 5.504 5.355 5.755 7.096 6.808 7.852 7.049 5.336 5.58 5.794 8.309
2010 8.638 6.684 8.326 7.984 4.919 6.217 8.668 5.454 7.203 3.74 6.654 8.368 6.759 7.194 6.642 7.536 6.602 6.253
2011 6.751 7.775 9.241 7.306 7.319 7.684 9.095 3.871 7.96 8.43 8.344 7.772 7.494 6.39 7.57 6.915 5.555 6.127 5.771
Year Average rating
2008 6.651
2009 6.316
2010 6.759
2011 7.23

The chart above shows the historical ratings for the different races which featured in 2011. You can show and hide different years using the controls.

We now have four complete seasons’ worth of race ratings from F1 Fanatic readers. The average rating for this year was easily the highest of those three, reaching over seven out of ten. The 2009 season was rated lowest of the last four years.

Top ten races, 2008-2011

Rank Race Rating
1 2011 Chinese Grand Prix 9.241
2 2011 Canadian Grand Prix 9.095
3 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix 8.756
4 2010 Canadian Grand Prix 8.668
5 2010 Australian Grand Prix 8.638
6 2011 German Grand Prix 8.43
7 2010 Belgian Grand Prix 8.368
8 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix 8.344
9 2010 Chinese Grand Prix 8.326
10 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix 8.309

These are the top ten races of the last four years, according to F1 Fanatic readers.

Four of this year’s races have entered the top ten and the top two races are both Grands Prix which took place this season.

The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, which produced two dramatic changes in the championship situation in the final laps, has been unseated as the most popular races.

The Chinese Grand Prix, which featured differing strategies between the front runners, several changes of the lead, and Mark Webber’s climb through the field from 18th to third, now has the highest average rating.

Last year’s German Grand Prix, in which Ferrari used team orders forcing Felipe Massa to surrender victory to Fernando Alonso, remains the lowest-rated race so far, with an average score of just 3.74.

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

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69 comments on New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years

  1. Ben (@) said on 28th December 2011, 23:20

    China was a farce. The new rules may have produced more entertainment for some, but they did nothing for the actual racing.

  2. TED BELL said on 29th December 2011, 0:52

    Besides the track at China is such a mess. Ugly track of the season. Poor layout and no mans land before the the long straight. Has the sun ever shined there??

  3. StefMeister said on 29th December 2011, 3:08

    Passing has never really been that important to me, Yes I enjoy seeing a real overtake (By which I mean passing done without DRS) but Im just as happy watching a race with little/no passing as long as its exciting.

    I for instance loved those 2 races at Imola in 2005/2006 with Schumacher/Alonso fighting for the win despite the 2006 race featuring only 1 on-track pass.

    Through 2011 there was tons of passing, However if im honest I found very little of it entertaining or exciting. Passing done Via DRS was simply boring, unexciting & in many cases predictable & to some extent the same can be said about passing done because of the tyre wear/compounds. Drivers on older tyres or on the harder compound been completely defenceless against a car on newer/softer tyres.

    What I enjoy about Motor Racing is Racing, I love watching a good racing battle for position between 1 or more cars, For all the controvery about blocking I was loving the Hamilton/Schumacher scrap at Monza, That to me was way more exciting than 90% of the passing we saw through the year & lasted a great deal longer than a lot of the passing as well.

    Something I feel is that without DRS this year we would have had more competitive qualifying, More entertaining races, Better racing/real overtaking & may well have seen more drivers battling for podiums.

    On the last point, I saw someone say something a few days back which kinda made sence. That been that DRS basically gets cars finishing in a natural order based on car performance. When you had a situation where a driver out-drove the car & got higher than he perhaps should have been (Schumacher at Montreal for example) DRS soon saw him drop back to a spot to better match where the cars performance was.

  4. 9 out of the top 10 races from 2008-2011 were won by a British driver!! The only one that wasent was the 2008 Brazilian GP which was when a British driver won the WDC, so its basically the entire top 10.

  5. JUGNU (@jugnu) said on 29th December 2011, 21:35

    Found this interesting. Please have a look.

  6. OOliver said on 15th April 2012, 14:34

    China was more exciting becaue you didn’t have a safety car to close up the field towards the end like we had in Canada. Here it was just the dynamics of the race creating excitement. No outside influence, safety car, penalties, at least during the race, no changeable weather. Just a plain old dry race, from pole to flag.

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