That was the season that was

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Red Bulls left everyone else standing as Sebastian Vettel continued to shine brightest, while former luminary Michael Schumacher lost more of his lustre

Best race: Canada

This one had it all. First there was the terrible weather at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, then the crash between McLaren team-mates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton which put the latter out. Then there was a drive-through penalty for Button for speeding behind the safety car, followed by stoppage of the race for two agonising hours because of the conditions. Then, as he fought back from last place after the restart, Button collided with Fernando Alonso, caught and passed a duelling Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, then relentlessly pushed runaway leader Sebastian Vettel into a slide on the final lap which enabled him to slither by to snatch a sensational victory after one of the greatest wet-weather drives in history.

 

Best driver: Sebastian Vettel

The German made fantastic use of his skill and machinery. Time and again he took pole position – beating Nigel Mansell's seasonal record of 14 in Brazil, and then lit off into the lead after judging exactly how hard he dared to push his tyres before they were fully warm, yet still managing to conserve them. Races such as Korea and India indicated just how beautifully he judged such things, as he had them won from the start. He made few mistakes in races, too, and showed that he is now a complete racer capable of getting the best from himself and his equipment every time out, and justly became the youngest-ever back to back champion.

 

Best car: Red Bull RB7

If Vettel was the best driver, the Red Bull RB7 created for him by the genius of technical director Adrian Newey and painstaking attention to detail of chief designer Roger Marshall was the best car. It lost out to the Ferrari once and the McLarens several times, but it was almost inevitably the fastest in qualifying and the most competitive in races, as well as being phenomenally reliable. Webber had some early KERS issues, and Vettel's tyre failure in Abu Dhabi may have been down to one of Newey's innovative exhaust system tweaks, but otherwise it was bulletproof from the start.

 

Best rookie: Paul di Resta

He doesn't say an awful lot at the best of times, but the 25-year-old Scot let what he did at the wheel do all the talking for him. Straight away he came into Force India and started to outqualify Adrian Sutil, himself one of the fastest men over a single lap. Di Resta also beat him in races, showcasing the talent that Mercedes-Benz and manager Anthony Hamilton had seen in his F3 days (when he used to beat Vettel) and when he won the DTM championship in 2010. His confident and mature performances made you wonder what he might have achieved in Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.

 

Best innovation: Fast-wearing Pirelli tyres

At the start of the season Pirelli took over from Bridgestone as the sole supplier of Formula One tyres. They had listened intently to everything that team bosses and drivers had to say to them and acted on suggestions, even though on the face of it they were not the greatest marketing philosophy for a tyre manufacturer, and deliberately created fast-wearing tyres. As a result, drivers had to be careful how they used their rubber, knowing when to push and when to preserve it. Formula One races suddenly became a whole lost more interesting in consequence.

Most disappointing driver Michael Schumacher

When Michael Schumacher made his much-vaunted return to Formula One in 2010, people cut him a lot of slack, even though as a seven-time champion and supposedly the greatest driver the sport had ever seen he failed to perform the miracles that might reasonably have been expected. It would all be better in 2011, we were assured many times, when he had more input into the car and more track time. But he failed to rekindle the magic and got blown away again by Nico Rosberg, himself a driver still difficult to assess with complete accuracy. As disappointments go, Schuey was the biggest and most expensive. Again.

 

Luckiest driver Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado caused an accident by not knowing when to surrender a corner to Lewis Hamilton in Monaco, then pulled a silly manoeuvre on him on the slowdown lap after qualifying at Spa. But it was his antics in Abu Dhabi that really sucked. He held up faster cars and got a drive-through penalty, then did exactly the same thing very shortly afterwards and got given a stop and go time penalty added to his race time afterwards. He then got aggressive with the race stewards. Why lucky? If I were a steward I'd have banned him for a race.

Biggest farce: The blown diffuser saga

At Silverstone there was wholesale confusion over the vexed question of whether teams were still allowed to blow exhaust gases over their cars' diffusers, to generate more downforce and thus grip. Could they just do it when the driver had his foot on the throttle, or have a clever means of maintaining the downforce when he lifted off? It was one of those arcane arguments that meant nothing to the man in the street, was ridiculously complex to explain, and ultimately meant little. And there was so much confusion that the FIA reverted to the previous rules and are still arguing over them for next year. Enough!

 

Funniest moments: Jordan's humble pie and Button's Chinese pitstop

In Melbourne Ron Dennis interrupts a live BBC broadcast to hand Eddie Jordan some humble pie, after the McLarens had qualified second and fourth and Jordan had predicted the team were in for a terrible year after poor testing form. Later, on the 14th lap of the Chinese GP, Button accidentally pulls into Vettel's Red Bull pit instead of his own. "I lost out to Sebastian at the first pitstop when I mistakenly pulled into his box," he said sheepishly. "I was looking down at the steering wheel to adjust a switch: when I looked up, I saw the Red Bull pit crew in front of me!"

Suggested Topics
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past