The dust may only be settling at Interlagos but in Constructors order here is my take on the 2011 season. Let me know what you think.
Red Bull – Renault – 1st Place (Drivers 1st & 3rd)
Complete domination from the Newey car this year taking more poles in a season in the hands of a single driver than any other (Sebastian Vettel – 15) and overall was on pole position 18 out of 19 races in 2011. But the races proved a slightly hard challenge which Vettel took in his stride and bossed the field while Webber struggled with race pace and getting his tires to last. Webbers win at the last race will be some comfort for a poor season.
McLaren – Mercedes – 2nd Place (Drivers 2nd & 5th)
After a disaster in pre-season testing the likes of which is rarely seen the team managed to pull it around winning in poor conditions in the hands of Button. Button in the second half of the season really came alive challenging Vettel race after race and taking his first ever dry win at McLaren. Lewis on the other hand has had a tough season finishing 5th in the standings but still he has taken 3 wins. It is worth noting that this is the first time Hamilton has been beaten by a team mate.
Ferrari – 3rd Place (Drivers 4th & 6th)
The Scuderia really struggled with the blown diffuser this year and took its only in during the brief rule change during the British Grand Prix which banned the controversial use of exhaust gasses to generate downforce. Heads have rolled again at Marenello with Costa being shown the door (and then shown the welcome door at Mercedes) and McLaren man Pat Fry brought in to lead up the car design. Fernando has been mixing it in the top 5 but Massa ends the season as the first full time Ferrari driver in 20 years not to gain a podium in a season. Time is surely ticking for the Brazilian.
Mercedes – 4th Place (Drivers 7th & 8th)
Troubled by Renault at the start of the year the team quickly gained momentum and spent the rest of the year inter-team batteling as they were faster than the mid-field but not troubling the big boys. A better year from both drivers who are looking fiesty, it would be fantastic to see this team up to speed next year to see what the drivers can do. With no less than 4 technical directors at the team next year theres definatley the depth and experience to do just that
Renault – 5th Place (Drivers 10th, 11th & 18th)
Despite the loss of Kubica pre-season the team recovered well and started with two podiums for Petrov and Heidfeld (2 of only 7 drivers to stand on the steps this year) but after that it all tailed away. The front facing exhausts were a bold concept that ultimatly failed in lower speed corners and proved a headache to develop. The team fell out with Nick Heidfeld mid-sesaon and replaced him with Bruno Senna who has shown glimmers of real speed and possibly damaged Petrov’s stock. Far too many unknown quantaties wanting a seat here next year.
Force India – Mercedes – 6th Place (Drivers 9th & 13th)
A stellar year from Force India who take the prize as the top truely independant team with a great season from both Adrian Sutil and rookie of the year Paul Di Resta. The team have built a great formula for developing drivers in the era of the testing ban and running Paul last year in free practices has paid dividends this year. The car had no block-buster performances like in previous years but proved competitive all over. However this is another team with a driver headache as Sutil has put the hammer down in the second half of the season and shown how fast he can be.
Sauber – Ferrari – 7th Place (Drivers 12th & 16th)
Winners of the closest foght battle in the constructors table Sauber edged STR by just 3 points to take 7th. Another building year after the exit of BMW for 2010, the team had the best tire wear of the grid and used interesting tactics to tortise away points from hare’s. However with two exciting drivers muted by this method we hope for a faster car next year (especially considering they didn’t have the blown diffuser this year at all!) that Kamui and Sergio can take the fight up the field
Scuderia Toro Rosso – Ferrari – 8th Place (Drivers 14th & 15th)
A quiet year for the Red Bull junior team book-ended by some real speed and a tight fight with Sauber. It will be interesting to see what happens to the other Italian team as there are rumours of Arab money buying the team. In the short term Alguersuari has had a much better points haul than the more experienced Buemi but it remains to be seen if either will be in the car next year with Ricciardo and Vergne waiting in the wings.
Williams – Cosworth – 9th Place (Drivers 17th & 19th)
Oh dear, signs were bad when Williams dumped Nico Hulkenberg for GP2 runner-up Pastor Maldonado and the pay-cheque from PVDSA. However no-one really expected it to be this bad, Williams have recorded their worst ever season in their 36 year history. Its a sad state of affairs to see one of the 3 grand old teams of F1 languashing down here. Next year there will be new blood in the design team as Sam Michael has gone and Patrick Head is stepping back from racing operations. Also we’re likely to see driver changes although rumblings of Kimi returning have been killed off.
Team Lotus – Renault – 10th Place (Drivers 21st & 22nd)
Meh, on one hand Team Lotus set out what they needed to do this year but are still to nick a point. The latter half of the season has seen them close up on the back of the established teams and next year with KERS power could be a real force to be reckoned with in Q2.
HRT – Cosworth – 11th Place (Drivers 23d, 26th & 27th)
Experience may have counted for the homeless team in F1 this year with Luizzi securing the team 11th for the second year in the row. After another shambolic start the team has got moving and brought some developments, sold the team to secure its future. I think they’d be wise to try and keep Riccardo as he brings some fizzy drinks money and is fast however Pedro De La Rosa returns again to the grid at 40 years old to drive for the team next year and if they can afford it Pedro and Luizzi could be a really great team next year. Also promising news in the shape of continued Williams gear boxes and KERS for next season.
Virgin – Cosworth – 12th Place (Drivers 24th & 25th)
Oh dear, it has to be a bad sign when you can’t beat HRT two years running. But the car this year went nowhere from last year but hey at least the fuel tank was big enough. Simply put the Nick Wirth experiment has failed and the team have got a wind tunnel and some old faces to design next years car. With a rename to Marussia the team looks secure but has once again opted to dump its promising rookie for another one with cash for their seat. Timo Glock however has been looking very discontent recently with the team and could well move on at the end of 2012 if things dont pick up. Furthermore they are set to be the only team on the grid next year without KERS.