Posted by Carrot on November 14, 2010 | No Comments
He only led the 2010 standings at one point this season, but it was at the most important time, the end. Sebastian Vettel is the 2010 Formula 1 World Champion and the youngest in the history of the sport. In one of the most exciting and closest seasons in memory, the young German managed to hold off three former champions and his team mate to take the crown in the final race.
The Red Bull car was again the class of the field, Vettel able to cruise once he’d built up his lead up front and simply maintain the gap to the two McLarens until the end of the race. There’s been some doubt over Vettel’s ability to overtake this season, but never in his ability to win a race from the front which is what he did today to take home the laurels. His team mate Mark Webber suffered from a poor qualifying and was ultimately stuck behind Fernando Alonso for the entire race to end his title hopes.
McLaren had something of a resurgence this weekend, the car was operating a lot better and given the clear air to run at Vettel, Lewis Hamilton could have been challenging for the race victory. Both Hamilton and Jenson Button made excellent starts, which ultimately determined their finishing positions. Unfortunately the late stopping Robert Kubica stopped the advance of the McLaren pairing, who came home second and third to complete the podium and secure second for McLaren in the constructors’ standings.
Nico Rosberg put in another excellent performance in the Mercedes to come home fourth. However the real story of the day at Mercedes was Michael Schumacher’s very scary crash. Although the impact didn’t look as impressive as Mark Webber’s skyward flight in Valencia, the situation was a lot more dangerous. It is due to the continued work of all in Formula 1 to ensure safety standards are never considered ‘adequate’ that Schumacher was talking to the media minutes after the collision. If that crash had happened in the 90s, at best Schumacher would have gone to hospital, at worst there would have been another fatality in F1.
The Renaults of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov came home in fifth and sixth places and were undoubtedly on TV more than any other team not involved in the championship. Kubica made the most of his decision to start on the prime tyres and run longer to overhaul his team mate, who had out-qualified the impressive Pole on pure pace. Both cars were involved in the championship battle by having track position over challengers for the crown, Kubica being ahead of Hamilton and Petrov ahead of Alonso and Webber. While we expect nothing less from Kubica, Petrov’s drive was very impressive in holding off Alonso for most of the race. If the decision about the second cockpit at Renault hasn’t already been taken, Petrov will be in the car next year based on the second half of this race.
Following Petrov home was Fernando Alonso in seventh, the championship leader heading into the race. This was certainly not the result the Spaniard was looking for. Forced to cover his nearest championship rival, Webber, in an early pit stop he spent the rest of the race unable to pass the Renault in front of him whilst hearing that the soft tyres had come back to Vettel and the McLarens enabling them to build up an unassailable lead and the all important track position. Some will criticise Ferrari’s strategy, but they made the right call given the information available to them. 20/20 hindsight is a great thing, but it’s not available to team strategists during a race. Massa brought the second red car home in tenth, underlining a miserable end of the year for the Scuderia. A valiant charge back through the second half of the season halted at the final hurdle.
Mark Webber was my personal pick for the crown, from way back in March, unfortunately poor qualifying left him stranded behind all his rivals and unable to do anything. Tyre degradation caused him to be the first of the leading runners to pit to try and find some success on harder rubber. Traffic ended his race and championship hopes. Although his early stop caused Alonso to cover him and get stuck behind Petrov, making it easier for Vettel to take the title than it might otherwise have been if Ferrari were allowed to dictate their own stops. The Aussie will be disappointed, he led the standings for much of the year and had a great deal of momentum on his side after the British Grand Prix. Webber has improved immensely over the season though, if he can calm his head and engage with the team he’ll be challenging Vettel again next year.
Rounding out the top ten was Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso. The team will be happy with points on the final race of what was otherwise a disappointing season. Alguersuari’s performance mirrored that of Petrov, keeping a much more experienced driver in a faster car behind him without any dangerous weaving. He did, intelligently for his future with the Red Bull companies, get out of Mark Webber’s way after demonstrating the same point for a couple of laps after the first pit stops.
And… that’s it. The 2010 Formula 1 season is now over. The cars you watched drive around today are now defunct relics that will never turn a wheel in anger ever again. Indeed, they’re now illegal to race in the F1 championship due to the double diffusers and f-ducts. The teams will stay on in Abu Dhabi for another week to perform the young driver test and the Pirelli tyre evaluation. Everything public now goes away for a few months. The work doesn’t stop though, now the focus is entirely on the 2011 season and the engineers at the teams will be working just as hard as they have been all year. In this game there’s no respite.
On a personal note I’d like to say a big thanks to all our readers, whether you’ve been with us for all of this season or this is your first time joining us. This is the nineteenth race reaction I’ve written this year, one for each race, in what’s become a tradition for me to retire to my computer and compose my thoughts on the day’s racing for you all. Although the sport is going quiet for a few months, we won’t be. We’ve got full season analysis and reactions to come, including team by team season breakdowns and some reviews of F1 related things like the BBC’s coverage and a couple of autobiographies of some famous personalities.
Congratulations to Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel, champions of 2010. Thanks again everyone, Formula 1 is back in sixteen weeks, start the countdown.