Well, the long 2010 Formula 1 season has finally come to an end. Ultimately, it has come to the end that we sort of expected toward the beginning of the year, but given the results of the last few races, there was some serious doubt regarding the final outcome of the drivers championship. Red Bull Racing lead out the season strong taking pole position in the first seven races. With a bit of foreshadowing, the team would only realize victory in three of those first seven. In fact, the eventual winner of the 2010 World Drivers Championship, Sebastian Vettel, only scored three podiums and had two retirements. Not a great way to start off your bid for a championship. His teammate, Mark Webber, would secure four podiums including two wins and earn points at every event. Through the middle portion of the season, Webber would continue to stretch a lead scoring two more race wins and three podiums in addition. Everything changes at Korea. In an inaugural race in Korea that many, including us, were skeptical of even happening, Webber would crash out early in the race and Vettel would lead until suffering an engine failure in the closing laps of the race. Ferrari’s new driver and two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, had been on a charge winning back to back grand prix events at Monza and Singapore. Red Bull’s failure at Korea allowed Alonso to take over the points lead which he then held, if only just, by finishing just behind the 1-2 finish of Vettel and Webber. Much was made about Vettel not pulling aside to allow Webber to take P1 and the additional points, especially in light of the fact that Alonso had benefited from a seven point boost from his teammate, Felipe Massa, at Hungary.
Everything now hinged on the race at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. Listening to the commentators talk about the various positions each of the drivers had to finish in order for one or the other to win the championship was akin to hearing talk of the BCS standings. Personally, the mathematics involved were beyond me. I’ll stick to something simple like magnetohydrodynamics. In order for Vettel to become champion, he would have to win the race, and hope that no one else was close to him. He started out in the exact position he needed to be: Pole! He would occupy the P1 position, or its pit-stop adjusted equivalent, for the entire race. The only thing he needed to have happen then was for both Webber and Alonso to finish well back in the order. Webber never had pace all weekend long, and a quick trio of Mercedes-powered car and inspired drives by the two Renault pilots prevented the two other championship contenders from even getting close to the podium. In the end, Red Bull would cap its World Constructors’ Championship secured in Brasil with the World Drivers’ Championship. In so doing, Sebastian Vettel eclipses Lewis Hamilton and becomes the youngest champion in Formula One history. Now that you have the facts, we share with you our personal thoughts and opinions on this year’s Formula One Championship.
Wow! What a year for Formula 1. Finally a season where we had great competition on track and nothing really happening off track that would have you up in arms. Kind of weird really! If this year has proven anything, it is the planets will align for me when I need them. I have been on the Vettel/RBR wagon since before last year started when it was announced Vettel was moving up to the mothership. I also said week in and week out that Vettel would be this year’s champion. I will admit that my feelings began to waiver a bit this past week on the show, but if anybody can win the title in that kind of situation I knew Vettel would be the one. I think that this weekend also sets a new page in the history of the sport as well. Red Bull has shown that team orders are not necessary to win a title. Both drivers raced week in and week out and Vettel proved he could get it done when it mattered the most. Some would argue that Red Bull clearly favored Vettel opposite Webber and I can agree to that. This is why, when the crunch was on, Vettel was able to secure pole position and win the race. Webber qualified P5 and was never a factor even before the pit stops. I would like to congratulate Sebastian Vettel and the entire RBR organization on a fantastic season and a hell of a job done in the face of adversity. Lets hear what all the anti RBR media on the web and television have to say about this…
At the beginning of the year, I was rather enthusiastic about Mercedes finally getting their own team. If you a regular listener of the podcast, you’ll know that my F1 and supercar loyalties lie in the direction of German engineering. In the past, and still, I cheer for the McLaren squad but more out of loyalty to the Mercedes powerplant than to the team itself. You can imagine then, how excited I was when I first heard that Michael Schumacher was coming to the reigning World Constructors’ Champions. …well, that enthusiasm was short lived. Throughout the season Rosberg continued to show flashes of pace and raciness, including his great performance at Yas Marina, but The Great Michael Schumacher left me, and many others, rather disappointed. Still, I cheered on my new team, and the McLarens. Seeing Button do so well when most people assumed that he’d have his rear handed to him by his teammate was also a pleasant surprise. I really like Button’s style of driving. The supremacy of the Red Bull cars was startling! I had expected them to be strong given their showing in 2009, but to see how dominant they were, especially during qualifying, is a testament to the brilliance of the greatest automotive aerodynamicist ever, Adrian Newey. Hurray for fluid dynamics!! As the season progressed, I became a fan of Mark Webber and his struggle against the obstacles put in his way by others on the grid and by his own team. The quote of the season for me had to be his comment after his win with the old front wing, “Not bad for a Number Two, eh?” Brilliant! I’m happy for Vettel, but in the end, I really wished that Webber could have won the championship. This was likely his last and best opportunity for it.
Pretty rough way for Ferrari to tank the championship. As has been said many times though, Red Bull had the strongest car this season, but their endless diatribe of “no, we don’t do team orders.” comments kept getting in the way of them sealing the deal. A well deserved driver’s championship goes to Vettel, even though his teammate seemed to have the better chance at the goal.
As for Alonso, clearly in hindsight it was a mistake to follow Mark into the pits early on, but the race did not play out how the team thought it would…. once again giving rise to suspicions that all the sharp tacks left the team with Ross, Michael & Jean.
As for F1 this year, the championship was exciting, but the racing was less than spectacular. The Tilke expansion continues in F1, even though the fans of the sport have clearly indicated that they prefer the classic venues. The tire rules this year were borderline ridiculous, with guaranteed absurity next year when Pirelli plays their hand. One thing that can clearly be said though, the talent pool in F1 is very high and the established order has been shaken with back to back world championships taken by newer teams. Why is it that I just don’t care?