The season that was: 2011

You can pour over the statistics until you start to resemble Karun Chandhok and deduce the best moments of 2011 by who gained the most at the starts (Michael Schumacher), or who completed the most laps (Paul di Resta). Or even who won the most races (one clue: the finger). No, this is more concerned about the lighter side of F1 that we’ve seen throughout the year, and possibly the angrier side as well. So cue up the Top of the Pops countdown music, and in no particular order here is the Rookie F1 top ten moments of the 2011 Formula 1 season.

Ten: Pit Stop Calamity

Jenson Button is rolling in the awards this off-season. A second place in the World Championship, the worst celebrity advert and now this, JB when will the accolades stop? It was during the Chinese GP that Button made his faux pas, pealing into the pits he was leading the race from Vettel but perhaps dreaming he was driving for Red Bull the Brit took it a little too far. Pulling into the Red Bull pits he was met with angry mechanics and disbelieving commentators. Yikes.

Special mention: Jerome d’Ambrosio for his wonderful spin in the pits during the Hungarian GP

Nine: Handbags at Dawn

In the end you could bet on a collision between the pair, the likelihood of the pair having a collision matched that of Vettel winning a race. Yes, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa between them orchestrated a circus that at times strayed into the realms of the ridiculous. Whether it was true or not, the friction that was displayed seemed to have its origins rooted way back in 2008 when Massa had the title for mere seconds before Hamilton stormed through as the victor.  They came together six times, but as we all know the moment that typified the who debacle was Massa congratulating Hamilton with a well meaning ‘good job’ after the Singapore GP.

Actually, let’s be honest, it was a certain person’s reaction that tied their season up in one 14 second facial expression masterclass.

Eight: Tweet Tweet

Twitter has certainly come into its own this year, and with more drivers and teams using it than ever before it’s one of the best ways for both sides of the paddock wall to interact. Some use it for serious, factual information but it’s those who give us a tantalising glimpse into the glamorous life of a F1 driver who are loved the most.

Perhaps ‘glamorous’ was an overstatement, @H_Kovalainen here showing us that ‘shock horror’ those guys are normal. Normal enough to use twitter to ask for help anyway! Apart from this he gave an impromptu interview with his followers, and when asked to describe how he felt when his car caught on fire he replied with the rather apt ‘hot’. And when the Finn throws in a picture of himself sporting a fetching blonde wig, you’ve got yourself an account to follow.

Needless to say there are a few words necessary here. It’s @AussieGrit and @JensonButton talking about eating cod sperm with chopsticks, what do you say? Well, according to the pair you bring up the topic again.

We’ve had domestic bliss and cod sperm, so it’s about time for a little balance from the Mexican rookie Sergio Perez.

Which roughly translates as, ‘that’s bad news, but you’ll see that something better is coming! I wish you Merry Christmas and my family sends you a hug!‘ Sweet.

Seven: Bish Bash Bosh

Collisions were his forté this year, and it wasn’t just reserved for one particular Brazilian. Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado also came a cropper vis the hands of Hamilton. But enough about his frickin’ ridiculous season and onto some other spectacular crashes we’ve seen this year. Vitantonio Liuzzi’s impression of a game ten pin bowling in Italy was a memorable one, made more so by a clever mash-up with Family Guy. Vitaly Petrov taking flight in Malaysia and temporary team mate Nick Heidfeld’s explosive exit from Hungary paved the way for some funny photoshop efforts. Proving it’s hard to mention crashes without also bringing Hamilton into the equation, the duo at McLaren came together in Canada.

Six: New Rubber

The introduction of the new tyre supplier for the sport has literally flipped race day on its head. With Bridgestone it was a matter of fitting in a pit stop to make the mandatory compound switch, however Pirelli fulfilled the request for more degradation. In fact the degradation was so high at some races the rubber literally piled up around the racing line (10,200 kg in total), handy for fans wanting a unique souvenir but not so much for drivers wishing to overtake. And for those wanting a few statistics, 21,100 dry tyres were used as well as 2,900 wets and for those environmentally minded, they were all recycled.

Five: Rookies Getting it (almost) right

We were treated to 5 rookies this year and for the most they proved themselves worthy of their seats regardless of the money they brought with them. Paul di Resta impressed the most, by being consistent and getting up to speed quickly, and Sergio Perez showed maturity and his natural ability behind the wheel. Jerome d’Ambrosio did well considering his car and finished ahead of his team mate, Daniel Ricciardo had half a season to make an impression and did enough to stick around for a promotion. However Pastor Maldonado made the unfortunate decision to tangle with Hamilton in Belgium, hasn’t done his reputation (coupled with a particularly bad season for Williams) any good.

Four: Oh Canada!

Four hours of Canada on Sunday still wasn’t enough, let’s be honest. The red flags, driving moaning about visibility, the safety car, the birds, the sweepers, the safety car again, team mates crashing, Schumacher almost getting a podium. And if that wasn’t enough the last place to top step drive of his career by Jenson Button certainly sweetened the deal. Closing in like a man possessed, he hounded Vettel until the German stepped out onto the slippery markings in a rare mistake. Vettel later revealed he was ‘spooked’ when word reached him that Button was behind him.

Three: The hat the grew and grew

Maybe the grid missed the Iceman more than they let on, because this year Fernando Alonso took it upon himself to single handedly reprise the flat peaked cap. Except where some people make it work, others had this comedy persona once donned. Safe to say that Alonso neatly fits into the latter category.

Two: Bernie ‘Flipping’ Ecclestone

The ‘F1 Supremo’ had an interesting year, from the flip-flop indecision regarding Bahrain did not get him off on the right foot with the fans, or the media, or one driver and whether they said so or not teams were thrust into the midst of a political crisis. As we meandered through the season Ecclestone continued to do his best to remain largely unliked as he dropped hints about tracks disappearing in 2012 (yet Valencia remains), cryptic messages about new countries joining the calendar and outright blasphemy about ‘Europe being over’. Although it was reported that the BBC/Sky deal was mediated between the two corporations, Ecclestone still managed to get tangled up in the fallout.

One: Pictures that really do say 1000 words

As there are quite a few, it’s been such a good year, click on the links.

Leaps, crashes and new locations

Gurning, reflection and familiar faces

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