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The story of 2011 F1 season


SAO PAULO, Brazil, November 27 – Story of the 2011 Formula One season after the final race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday:

Australian Grand Prix – March 27

World champion Sebastian Vettel sounded a warning to his rivals with a dominating victory in his flying Red Bull on the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne. It was Vettel’s 11th win in his 63rd GP.

The German led his rivals a merry dance from pole, beating McLaren’s 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton by more than 22 seconds with Vitaly Petrov third in a Lotus Renault.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso missed out on the podium in fourth place, while Vettel’s Australian team-mate Mark Webber finished fifth for the third time in his home GP.

Standings: Vettel 25pts, Hamilton 18, Petrov 15

Malaysian Grand Prix – April 4

Vettel dominated with a brilliant drive to maintain his perfect start to the season, steering his Red Bull from pole to the chequered flag to win ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, and Nick Heidfeld, who finished third for Renault.

Vettel’s second start-to-finish win in two outings came despite further problems with Red Bull’s faulty Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS) which gave Mark Webber a nightmare start.

The Australian dropped from third to 10th before storming back to finish fourth ahead of the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and two-time world champion Alonso.

Hamilton looked set for a podium spot but finished seventh after a slow pit stop and a struggle with worn tyres in the closing stages, the Briton demoted to eighth after picking up a time penalty.

Standings: Vettel 50pts, Button 26, Hamilton 22

Chinese Grand Prix – April 17

Vettel’s invincibility came to a juddering halt as a brilliant drive from Hamilton saw him take the chequered flag after the 26-year-old roared through the field in the final laps on fresh tyres to take his 15th career win. Vettel finished second after one of his more unsatisfactory races, having been passed by Button on the first corner. Webber also produced a remarkable drive, coming from 18th on the grid to finish third.

Standings: Vettel 68pts, Hamilton 47, Button 38

Turkish Grand Prix – May 8

Vettel notched up his third win in four races this season with a near-flawless drive. The German led from his 19th career pole position to the chequered flag unchallenged, conceding the lead only once during his pit-stops to open up a 34-point lead in the championship. It was the 13th win of his career and another day of celebration for the Red Bull team as Webber brilliantly overtook Alonso of Ferrari to finish second. Hamilton was fourth.

Standings: Vettel 93pts, 2. Hamilton 59, 3. Webber 55

Spanish Grand Prix – May 22

Vettel claimed a narrow and dramatic victory ahead of Hamilton. The Red Bull driver used clever strategy to steal the lead after starting second behind Webber, resisting all that 2008 champion Hamilton could throw at him in the closing stages to finish six-tenths of a second ahead for his fourth win in five races. Button finished third ahead of Webber, with Alonso fifth.

Standings: Vettel 118pts, 2. Hamilton 77, 3. Webber 67

Monaco Grand Prix – May 29

Vettel won his first ever Monaco Grand Prix in an incident-packed race that saw the end raced largely under a red flag after Petrov crashed heavily and was taken to hospital, though not with serious injuries. Vettel came home ahead of Alonso, recording Ferrari’s best result of the season, while Button drove brilliantly but without luck to take third. Hamilton fell further behind Vettel in the title race as he finished sixth. A drive-through penalty did not help his chances and then he aggravated the race stewards further by cracking a joke that he was penalised so often ‘maybe because I am black’ – it backfired and he had to apologise.

Standings: Vettel 143pts, 2. Hamilton 85, 3. Webber 79

Canadian Grand Prix – June 12

Button produced a superb drive to record his first win of the season – the 10th of his career – passing Vettel on the final lap of an extraordinary, dramatic, rain-delayed and crash-hit race. Vettel had looked sure to win after leading from pole position both before and after a two-hour suspension due to torrential rain, but he buckled under pressure from Button on the final lap and finished second. Webber came home third, leaving luckless seven-times champion Michael Schumacher to finish fourth for Mercedes.

Standings: Vettel 161pts, Button 101, Webber 94

European Grand Prix – June 26

Vettel shrugged off sweltering temperatures to coast to a sixth win in eight races in a Grand Prix that lacked the drama of two weeks earlier. The positions in Valencia stayed the same more or less all the way through the race, with Vettel pulling away almost immediately. The only real excitement for the Spanish fans was the daring piece of overtaking by home favourite Alonso on Webber. Alonso finished second with Webber third. Hamilton came in fourth after honouring his pledge to restrain his daredevil style and finish the race. This was just the fourth time in Formula One history that all the drivers finished the race and the first time in 46 years.

Standings: Vettel 186pts, Button 109, Webber 109

British Grand Prix – July 10

Alonso finally came good to deliver Ferrari’s long-awaited first win of the season in unpredictable conditions at Silverstone. It was the Spaniard’s 27th career victory, drawing him alongside three-times world champion Jackie Stewart, and it was achieved courtesy of a controlled drive – and some luck. Vettel’s race was undone by a slow pit-stop, and he finished second ahead of Webber, who had started on pole.

Standings: Vettel 204pts, Webber 124, Alonso 112

German Grand Prix – July 24

Hamilton produced one of his finest wins, confirming McLaren’s renaissance with a dazzling victory. It was the Briton’s second win of the year and 16th of his career. The 26-year-old, who started from second on the grid, took the lead from the start and delivered a well-judged race and some flamboyant passing moves, supported by excellent strategy, to resist strong challenges from his rivals. He came home 3.9 seconds ahead of Alonso with Webber and Vettel taking third and fourth place respectively.

Standings: Vettel 216pts, Webber 139, Hamilton 134

Hungarian Grand Prix – July 31

Button marked his 200th Formula One race with a reminder of his class to win a stirring and chaotic race. The 2009 champion, who started third on the grid, was registering his second win of the season and 11th of his career. Vettel was second with Alonso in third. Hamilton was undone by a series of strategic errors and finished fourth.

Standings: Vettel 234 pts, Webber 149, Hamilton 146

Belgian Grand Prix – August 28

Vettel dispelled any ideas that he was losing focus as he led home a Red Bull 1-2 with a well-judged if, at times, fortunate victory. He recovered from a poor start and problems with blistering tyres to ride his luck, and emerge on top ahead of Webber in a memorable one-two triumph. Webber had dropped back after a bad start and then recovered splendidly, with Button claiming third. Schumacher marked the 20th anniversary of his F1 debut with a dazzling drive into fifth place from the back of the grid.

Standings: Vettel 259pts, Webber 167, Alonso 157

Italian Grand Prix – September 11

Vettel moved within sight of retaining his title when he drove to a comprehensive victory in a thrilling race – at least for the minor places. Webber crashed out – leaving the dazzling Vettel to open up a massive 112 points lead. Button finished second in the leading McLaren, the Englishman taking full advantage of a battle between Hamilton and Schumacher, to finish on the podium after a typically well-judged drive. Ferrari at least salvaged something at their home race as Alonso fought to hang on for a rousing third place.

Standings: Vettel 284pts, Alonso 172, Button 167

Singapore Grand Prix – September 25

Vettel underlined his supremacy when he won the Singapore Grand Prix to move within a point of becoming the youngest double world champion in Formula One history.

The 24-year-old drove from pole position to the chequered flag in flawless style to win the floodlit, 61-lap night race by a controlled 1.7 seconds.

Button finished second in his McLaren to keep the title race just about alive with five races remaining. Webber finished third.

Standings: Vettel 309pts, Button 185, Alonso 184

Japanese Grand Prix – October 9

Vettel became at just 24 years and 98 days Formula One’s youngest back-to-back world champion as he finished third behind a resurgent Button and Alonso. The exuberant German went onto celebrate his historic defence by singing karaoke in an Irish bar. He joined Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna and Schumacher as one of only nine drivers to successfully defend the title.

Standings: Vettel 324pts, Button 210, Alonso 202

Indian Grand Prix – October 30

Vettel won the largely successful inaugural race at Greater Noida ahead of Button and Alonso allowing both to consolidate their second and third places overall. Schumacher drove well to finish fifth but the race will probably be best remembered for another collision between the ‘inseparable’ Hamilton and Massa.

Standings: Vettel 374pts, Button 240, Alonso 227

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – November 13

Hamilton produced a near-flawless performance to win in the Gulf taking advantage of the early retirement of Vettel to win. The Briton dominated from the second corner of the opening lap to claim his third win of the season. Vettel suffered a puncture to his right-rear tyre and had to swerve off the Yas Marina circuit. It was the first time he had failed to finish a race this season.

Standings: Vettel 374pts, Button 255pts, Alonso 245pts

Brazilian Grand Prix – November 27

Webber won his first race of the year when he took advantage of Vettel’s gearbox problems to win the season-ending race. Driving with great speed, precision and a near-flawless sense of judgement, the 35-year-old Australian came home 16.9 seconds ahead of Vettel to give Red Bull a third one-two of the season.

It was an excellent drive by Webber who delivered his seventh career win to make sure he finished third in the championship behind Vettel and Button. Hamilton was forced to retire when his McLaren suffered gearbox trouble.

Final standings: Vettel 392 pts, Button 270, Webber 258