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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Nov 2011   |  5:30 pm GMT  |  119 comments

Mark Webber finally reached the top step of the podium in 2011 with his triumph in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but elsewhere in the field, there were a number of impressive performances. So who was your driver of the day?

Mark Webber

Started his weekend in style by topping first practice on Friday. Lost out to Red Bull team-mate Vettel in qualifying but was encouraged by his pace. Made a clean start, maintaining his second position but gradually dropped back from Vettel in the opening stint. Started to catch his team-mate again when Vettel developed a gearbox problem and took the lead when the German moved over on lap 29. From then on, controlled the race comfortably at the front to secure his first win of the season and seventh of his career. Finished third in the drivers’ standings.

Sebastian Vettel

Admitted he wasn’t completely happy with the car after Friday practice but delivered a sensational lap on Saturday to become the first man to score 15 pole positions in a single season. Was the only man to get into the 1m 11s on Saturday. Made a clean start and pulled away from team-mate Webber in the first stint, but was forced to short shift in second and third gears as he developed a gearbox problem. Let Webber past but managed the problem until the end of the race to finish second. Vettel has finished in the top three in all but two races this season.

Jenson Button

Made a solid start on Friday and scored his best qualifying position in Brazil by finishing third fastest. Struggled for pace on the soft compound and lost out to Alonso on lap 12. Switched to the medium compound for the next two stints which helped him catch and pass Alonso for the final podium spot with nine laps to go. Finished second in the drivers’ championship and became the first team-mate to beat Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso

Got away cleanly at the start from fifth before putting a sensational move on Button around the outside of Turn Five on lap. Spent much of the race in third place but Ferrari’s problems with the harder compound continued and Button easily past the Spaniard in the final stint. Finished fourth in the drivers’ standings having finished in the top four in the final 12 races.

Adrian Sutil

Entered the weekend with speculation rife over his future at Force India but kept his head down to out-qualify team-mate Di Resta to start eighth. Drove brilliantly to fight his way through the field, including a good move on Rosberg, to finish 10 seconds ahead of the Mercedes. Lapped at the same pace as Massa in the final stint and his points ensure the team finished sixth in the constructors’ standings, missing out on fifth to Renault by just four points.

Kamui Kobayashi

Struggled for pace in qualifying and was disappointed to start 16th. Made a good start, climbing four places to 12th and showed solid pace from then on. Benefitted from Schumacher and Senna’s collision and Hamilton’s retirement to rise into the points. His ninth place and two points ensured Sauber held on to seventh in the constructors’ standings.

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119 Comments
  1. audifan says:

    if sutil drove like that all season there would be no doubt about him keeping his seat

    still , sounds like kimi isn’t coming so maybe at williams if not where he is

  2. Richard says:

    Vettel got the maximum result he could achieve in the circumstances and you would have to assume he would have controlled the race from the front if he hadn’t had the gearbox problem. For me he has to be driver of the day. Kobayashi did a great job to confirm Sauber in 7th place.

    1. Paprika says:

      I wonder, if he actually was losing gearbox oil, where did that oil go? On the track? Wouldn’t he have gotten orange circled black flag in that case?

      Now, on the topic, Driver of the day, imo, would have to be either Jenson or Adrian. Jenson definitely showed us he deserves to be called the world champion, and Sutil… Impressive drive. I wish for more of that from him, more often.

      Cheers!

      1. Slow leaks are hard to detect.

      2. chris green says:

        If you view the footage of vettels car at the start of the race it looks like a small amount of fluid leaked out of the back of the car. I’m referring to the footage from vettels onboard camera facing backwards.

      3. Vin says:

        “Jenson definitely showed us he deserves to be called the world champion”

        ???

        By getting passed when he was on the tyre he didn’t like and then passing Alonso on the tyre Alonso didn’t like? That shows he deserves to be champion? What?

        How on earth is Jenson so much higher than Vettel or Webber who finished 1st & 2nd???
        He drove OK, but certainly no better than Alonso (in a slower car), or the Red Bull drivers (in a faster car – though one of which had a gearbox problem).

      4. Paprika says:

        No, but by finishing the season ahead of Webber and his faster car.

      5. Dave says:

        I also think Paprika meant he deserves to be called the 2009 World Champion, which some people still argue he didn’t win on merit and only won because of his double diffuser.

        Well, I presume that’s what Paprika meant – as it would be ludicrous to have meant this years World Champion!

      6. Vinnie says:

        Huh?
        By finishing above a driver who had a pretty average season in a different car from him it shows that he deserves to have been champion in a different season in another different car?

        Jenson only just beat Alonso in a worse car this season. So what does that mean he deserves to be thought of as?
        And he lost to Ham last year in the same car, so what does that mean?
        And he got blitzed this year by Vettel who was in a slightly faster car, what does that mean?

        And is Rosberg now the greatest ever as he has finished above a 7-time champ 2 years in a row in the same car??? Or course not.

        Stop taking more meaning out of events than is there.

        Jenson just had a pretty good drive on Sunday, nothing too special or proof of anything larger. He also had a good consistent season, and beat a highly regarded team mate who struggled. Again not proof of anything larger that what it is.

    2. KRB says:

      He managed the issue, but it wasn’t as though he lost any gears. He had to short-shift with 2nd, and then 2nd and 3rd later on. You’re only in 2nd gear through turns 8 and 10, so it’s not that big a detriment.

      Senna in ’91 lost gears 3 through 5, on a manual gearbox!! He surely would’ve lost if Mansell’s own gearbox didn’t blow up on lap 60.

      It has to be Sutil for me, and I’m glad that others agree. JB is far too high in the rankings here.

  3. NickyStuu says:

    Has to be Sutil. None of the front-runners particularly excelled yesterday, but to bring the Force India home ahead of the Mercedes and Renault cars is an excellent achievement by Sutil, as is finishing the season 9th and the top of the “best of rest” drivers (i.e. those drivers not in a RBR / McLaren / Ferrari / Mercedes).

    1. Dominic J says:

      Last year that title went to Kubica, followed by Barrichello and Sutil. Strange that none of might appear in 2012.

  4. Nathan says:

    Kobayashi for me.

    On a related note James I just want to express to you that next season I think I will find your website even more invaluable. I won’t be paying for Sky and so I’m going to miss a lot of the live feel. It seems strange knowing that I won’t be able to get up at 5AM to watch the season opening Australian GP.

    I’ll be watching the highlights and I’m worried that in the 60 minutes the BBC have to show a race, they’re not going to focus on any of the midfield or lower teams, and sadly their story will be lost. I hope the JA on F1 fills a gap there when I can’t see the story behind the results.

    So I just wanted to thank you in advance for next year when the information will be even harder to gleam from the sport we love..

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t worry, we’ve got some really exciting plans for 2012 which will do the trick!!

      1. KGBVD says:

        I hope these exciting plans don’t involve a pay subscription! :P

      2. Muzza says:

        “I hope these exciting plans don’t involve a pay subscription!”
        Jeeze KGBVD, James has gotta eat! Surely a live multi-feed webcast would be worth paying for? ;)

  5. leigh thomas says:

    Has to be Sutil. Can’t believe people actually feel Vettel deserved DotD with such an orchestrated “gear box problem”

    1. Mark Allanson says:

      Uh?

      1. Leigh Thomas says:

        Ok I’ll explain.

        SV was leading race. MW needed to win race to finish 3rd overall. CH had already expressed desire for MW to win at least one race this year.

        SV told to short shift in 2nd. MW still couldnt close the gap. SV told to short shift 2nd AND 3rd. MW still couldnt close the gap. SV told “you have MAJOR gearbox issue, short shift every gear”. Finally, after SV backing off and loosing about 4 seconds on a single lap, MW managed to overtake. Yet somehow after this, SV managed to maintain a 2.5second gap between him and MW for the rest of the race. AND not any other single driver managed to catch him, even though he was meant to be short shifting EVERY gear?

        SV even managed to set a few fastest laps whist having a “major” gearbox issue!

        To me it is OBVIOUS that MW was handed the win.

        Yes, legally, they could of said “SV move over and let MW win for a change” – but that wouldnt of been good for Redbulls image or for MW feelings. So they staged the whole lot.

        Now if you want to see what happens when a car really has a major gearbox issue – look at Hamiltons race….

        That is just my opinion (and many others too).

      2. Mark Allanson says:

        I don’t buy it. Hamiltons issue was fundamentally different, a physical shift issue.

        If they wanted to manufacture a gearbox issue for Vettel, it would have made more sense to have done it later in the race.

        It was obvious that if there was no gearbox issue Vettel would have stormed away.
        Just my opinion.

    2. Dave Deacon says:

      Yes, I thought the same. I get the sense that they ‘gave’ that win to MW just as they gave SV the better car all year.

      RBR wants a certain person to win for marketing/image purposes and an ageing Aussie doesn’t fit the bill. But F1 is built on inequality and profit yet tries to pretend otherwise. Still, part of the attraction is its excess – a bit like Hollywood on wheels.

  6. Dave says:

    Gotta go for Sutil for the reasons a couple of people have already posted.

    It was business as usual at the front – nothing particularly outstanding. Sutil drove a great race, with an uncertain future, to finish a really strong 6th – ahead of Rosberg who isn’t slow and is in the faster car.

  7. mo kahn says:

    I voted for Adrian Sutil. He drove beyond himself yesterday. Hats off :)

  8. Sarbyturbo says:

    Fernando only took Jenson around the outside of turn 6 due to Michaels puncture, his car littering the track with shards of Mercedes carbon fibre, and Jenson taking to the inside to avoid the debris. As Jenson looked to move back to the racing line Fernando was already alongside so Jenson had no option to let Fernando go. Otherwise Button drove a faultless race, and again outperformed Lewis regardless of his gearbox problem! 20 qualifying laps to end the race rounded of a superb season for Britains No.1 F1 driver!

    1. Trey says:

      Did Alonso drive through the debris then?

      1. Sarbyturbo says:

        Fernando saw an opportunity to take Jenson, and possibly did not see the debris until it was too late. From
        Jenson saying he took a tighter line to avoid debris which is why he was slow, it may be assumed that Fernando took the racing line which Jenson avoided. So he probably did drive over some of the debris.

      2. Arya says:

        Then Jenson’s fear(read judgement) was irrelevant. :)

      3. Dave Deacon says:

        Only with hindsight. Had Alonso gotten a puncture, we’d be saying why did he take such a stupid risk… Jenson’s foresight gave him 3rd place and 2nd in the WDC. And, had Newey not given Vettel such a fast car, then Jenson would be WDC…

    2. Martin says:

      Although, Fernando should never have been alongside in the first place. The tyre debris compunded Jenson’s error at turn 4.

  9. Pete says:

    How was Alonsos move sensational? It has been sensationalised, Button has said twice post race that he was avoiding debris from shum/senna incident!!!
    I really do like your blog James its the best on the web (just pipping Saward) but I am sure it was you in the Top 3 press conference afterwards when Button explained the pass, so I don’t understand why you would see it as a sensational one?

    1. MISTER says:

      Hi Pete. No matter if Button avoided debris, Alonso’s move was still brave and amazing.

      Just think about this: every time a driver is being overtaken, he did something wrong and missed something, right? It may be a slow exit from a turn, a bit of understeer or oversteer, or evern outbrake himself. Every driver could find and bring up one of these excuses when someone elses makes a move on him.

      JB choose to avoid the debris and lost the possition. Other might choose to brake late and lose the possition. Others might choose to go on the kerb to gain time and lose a wheel (hi Massa!) but lost the possition.

      Do you see my point?

      1. Dave P says:

        Not at all, true JB choose to avoid the debris, Alonso however could not see the debris as he was so close to JB so he went over the debris not knowing it was there. JB said that defending that place is normally easy, but if you are in the front, see the debris, but do not want to go to the defensive position due to debrius being there but the guy behind who has not seen the debris goes there, there is not much you can do. Now if Alonso had got a puncture, he would have lucked out, or if JB had tried to defend gone into the debris, got a puncture and ruined his race, that would have been bad. So you can say it is a testament to JB that he thought strtegically, did not take a chance in the debris even though it meant he could not defened. – the mark of a thinking champion.

        It was not a ‘sensational, pass, at all.

    2. KRB says:

      It was spectacular b/c he went for it there. He had it in his mind going into turn 4. JB saying that there was debris is just covering up for the fact that he was passed around the outside on a stretch of road where overtakes are rare.

      As others have said, JB should never have allowed FA to be alongside there in the first place!

  10. Stuart Harrison says:

    Sutil. Great drive, excellent pass on what is fundamentally a faster car. Deserves a drive next year.

    James – is there any chance of seeing a “poll of polls”? A collection of all the votes in all the DotD polls presented as a Driver of the Year, perhaps? Would love to see who’s grabbed the most votes over the year – I suspect Button!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I want to do that.

      1. Michael C says:

        I’d also like to see a poll on the fans’ response to the contribution of KERS, DRS and Pirelli tires to the excitement this season vs. F1 as “normal” including factors such as development, venue and the human element (driver & team). What really makes F1 exciting to us? What about previous seasons do we miss? (ie, refueling)

    2. Douglas says:

      Yes Stuart, that is a great idea. Let’s Poll It. Results could be interesting!

  11. Rob Newman says:

    A win is a win and Mark won the race but he should have won many races this year. Button couldn’t manage the soft tyres, lost a place in the beginning and overtook a weak driver before running out of fuel at the end. Can’t understand why Fernando’s name is here. He overtook Button while button was stuck behind debris. Sutil made up a place by taking a struggling Mercedes. Hardly saw Kobayashi during the race.

    Vettel never seems to get the credit he deserves. He nursed a genuine broken gearbox and managed to bring the car in second place. I have never voted for him. Today I vote for the best driver on the grid, the best driver of the entire season, the best driver for the past few years – Vettel!

    1. Andrew says:

      Vettel is not the best driver he is just the best driver at Red Bull. Look at the young driver test times. Funny how Vergne was much faster than the other drivers wasn’t it?

      We won’t know how good Vettel is until he drives in the same team as Hamilton or Alonso or Button.

      It is my belief that half the grid would have won the championship in a Red Bull as team mate to Webber this season

      1. K says:

        Sour grapes.

        Vettel got pole and won races while not having the fastest car, this season at some races. You forgot that part.

        And Hamilton was beaten by Button, so why even mention him then?

      2. Andrew says:

        Which races did Vettel not have the best car at? None as far I can see. Its been said that the Mclaren was faster at Abu Dhabi yet in the young driver test nobody got close to Vergne.

        It is clear that the Red Bull is far and away the best car. Vettel is very fast there is no doubt and he is very likeable. However it really annoys me when people just say the best driver is the one with the best car.

        If you look at 2010 Vettel often made mistakes and crashed when no leading from the front. If Hamilton or Alonso had the Red Bull they would have been on pole for every race and driven happily away just like Vettel. In fact if Jarno Trulli had a Red Bull I’m sure that his qualifying speed would come back and that he would be on pole for every race (although he might not drive away so easily!)

        Its all about the car.

      3. Paul Walker says:

        I would guess that no one got close to Vernge in the test at Dubai, as he was quite clearly putting/being allowed to put himself in the frame for a 2012 drive for Torro Rosso.

        Whereas I would imagine that Paffett and Turvey were working through a pre-determined process for McLaren over the 3 days rather than chasing a glory time

      4. David A says:

        @Andrew – On race pace, there was Hungary, Spain and Monaco, where the Mclaren was as fast if not faster than the Red Bull. And clearly, if the Mclaren drivers at the test couldn’t get ahead of the Mercedes, they weren’t doing the same program as Vergne, or underperformed.

        Your “Its all about the car” argument applies to every championship winning car- throw Vettel into Alonso’s Renault or Hamilton’s Mclaren, and he would have won the 2005, 2006 and 2008 titles.

      5. David A says:

        But you have to ask yourself whether “half the grid” would have won it by this margin. Or have Vettel’s record through 2007-2010 in his position. I highly doubt it. Let’s face it, only Alonso, maybe Button has come close to getting as much out of their cars this year.

      6. C.George says:

        Similar point would one express re MW, in case he’d played for other team – allegedly if he’d been in RBR he would be twice WDC already. So, assesments like that is hard to perform.

      7. **Paul** says:

        I remember when everyone was saying that Lewis would trash Jenson at McLaren (how I laugh now!). The Vettel situation is different though, because when he went to Red Bull Mark Webber was extremely highly regarded, talk of a Ferrari drive kept popping up. Vettle turns up and soundly beats the guy, and continues to do so. I think Webber was more highly regarded at Red Bull than Jenson was pre-Brawn. Sure we’ll never know if Vettel is better than ALO, BUT or HAM until he sits in the same car with the same opportunities. One thing is for certain though, Vettel is one of very few drivers who extracts 100% from his car. It’s something that very few in F1 achieve on a regular basis. His Qually laps are awesome, probably the best qualifer I’ve seen in F1 along with Aryton. Taking the car right to the limit’s of whats possible without binning it. Suzuka is a great example of that.

        If anything people should really talk of this young German like they spoke of Lewis a few years ago, except Vettel has actually started to forfill his potential !

      8. Rob Newman says:

        I am glad there are people in this forum who give due credit to Vettel’s achievements.

        If you take Vettel out of the equation, then Button would have won the championship. If Webber had been the benchmark for Redbull, then obviously Vettel has done an outstanding job. People like to praise Newey but then Webber is also driving the same Newey designed car. So it is clear where that extra talent is coming from. Vettel has made the difference by beating everyone on the grid. Not only this year, but with all the troubles he had, last year as well.

      9. Andrew says:

        The problem is Webber’s lack of speed in qualifying this season. In the races his speed is only slightly behind Vettel’s like last year.

        Rob, are you saying that you think the Red Bull is not the best car and that it’s Vettel making the difference and that really the Red Bull is similar to Mclaren and Ferrari?

        The car is everything. Do you remember 2008 and 2009? 2008 Hamilton champion, Button trailing round at the back. 2009 Button crusing away to wins and the Championship, Hamilton at the back (in some races until Mclaren improved the car.

        The last 3 championships have been won by a driver with clearly the best car. The championships won by Hamilton, Raikkonen, Alonso have much more merit as they all had competition from at least one other car of similar speed.

      10. Rob Newman says:

        @Andrew, If Vettel hadn’t got so many pole positions and if he hadn’t scampered away in the first 2 laps, the results this year could have been much different. The other cars were not very far behind in most of the races and that is why Webber was always among the McLarens and Ferraris.

        Having said that, Vettel managed and adopted to the Pirellis well and his driving style too contributed to his wins. As you would have clearly noticed, the McLaren and Ferrari drivers are still struggling with their tyres.

        That is what makes the difference between a true champion and wannabees.

    2. Michael C says:

      +1 on your second paragraph. I voted for him today for the same reason.

  12. devilsadvocate says:

    Jenson… Staked a very convincing claim on p2 in the WDC which was big, and did so all while topping his teammate in quali and race form on a weekend when Lewis was as close to 100% as we’ve seen all year, even if Lewis hadn’t retired Jense still had him covered. Helping Webber snatch p3 was the icing on the cake.

    Webber gets the honorable mention for being in the right place at right time and for holding Vettel as close as we’ve seen all year.

  13. kaoru says:

    Go to Jenson.

    He secured the runner-up in driver standings by means of overtaking Fernando and his lap times in the last stint was quite superb in spite of on prime tyres.

    By the way, he had been carrying a japanese encouraging message to the earthquake and tsunami victims on the lid through the season
    . Some drivers put the japanese national flag on the helmet as well. I’d like to appreciate them for the support after the tragedy.

  14. Nuno says:

    The 2011 F1 championship is over.

    Congratulations to Vettel who was just super, as well as his team.

    Interlagos was a no brainer for him and he just kept pushing as he did during all the season.

    The way he offered the victory to Webber (following his team orders) was very professional.

    In the end we had a very happy Vettel and a Webber whose body language just couldn’t hide what happened.

    Best in Interlagos and during the season :

    1- Vettel
    2- Button
    3- Alonso

    1. Dan Orsino says:

      Agreed with regard to Vettel and Button. For me they are a long way ahead of the field.
      Seems a bit harsh that I don’t readily add Alonso, but he did not join Ferrari to end up 4th, and whatever the failings of the car or the team rather than the driver, we still can’t regard p4 as a truimph after 2 years
      Buttons steely calm success is a stark contrast to his teammate and I have great doubts that LH will find an answer to Button in the short term.

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Don

        I find your logic a bit odd. Fernando could have won the title last year but for a poor strategy call at the last race. So he has had a second and fourth in two years. Button a 2nd and 5th, Webber two thirds and Hamilton a 4th and 5th. Only Vettel has done better and only Hamilton has won as many races over these two years. He’s beaten his team mate by a large margin.

        If you compare Button and Hamilton race by race, I think it shows how much Hamilton threw it away at various times. Hamilton was usually the faster driver in qualifying. He would have been ahead of Button in both Hungary and Montreal if he hadn’t made errors. Basically, if you took the best of both Button and Hamilton’s seasons you would have ended up with something rather better that what Button achieved. You can’t really say that for either Vettel or Alonso (or Kovalainnen).

        If you look at many of Button’s races, he ended up too far back in the field and then made a second half of the race charge (e.g. Montreal, Spa, Monza, Singapore, Brazil). Some of this seems to be a case that the car works relatively better on light fuel loads, when for a third of the races you have the best race car and don’t pur yourself in the position to show it isn’t great. Making gains on a Red Bull that is too far out in front is all good for the cameras, but coming second by 2 seconds or 20 seconds doesn’t change the results.

        McLaren have hired Jenson because he is an excellent driver, but I really doubt the key teams would pick him over Alonso or Vettel. Hamilton will get back on this list if he shows that he can get the mind management right. With Button, he needs the car to be close to just right to shine. His lack of qualifying performance puts him at a disadvantage for the races, and then he drops away a bit in the first stint. While he recovers from there excellently, it is too much to do if you have a high quality driver (and this includes Webber) in a similar car who has had an uncompromised qualifying, start and first stint. From memory, China, Singapore and India were the only races where he was in the top two in the opening laps. Fundamentally that isn’t good enough given the car that he had.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      2. Dan Orsino says:

        Hi Martin
        you put your finger on it:
        “if he shows that he can get the mind management right.”

        It’s a big If. Lately I’ve begun to doubt that Ham has the strength of character quality that is needed to get over his present predicament. You may be right and he proves me wrong.
        We’ll see, as the man of the moment always used to say.

      3. Martin says:

        Hi Dan,

        I suspect Lewis will remain a fairly impulsive driver and that external influences will determine how he goes.

        I think I’d just pick Alonso over Vettel for my driver of the season. Mind management is something he has improved on since 2007. The reason for my choice is based on my perception of how close they came to optimising the package and the number of significant errors they made.

  15. bartoszcze says:

    You forgot the ‘Seb’s gearbox’ option.

  16. Dom says:

    Thought Vettel drove an excellent race (and a fantastic year with brilliant consistency) but I’ll give it to Button this time for a good race, a convincing pass on Alonso to atone for his earlier “mistake” and a strong second in the Championship.

  17. ajay says:

    Blimey this is tough- Find it hard to give it to vettel because of the gear box, Alonso was fantastic for the first half of the race then Button the second half for catching him and passing him with a beautifully orchestrated move – sweet. Webber, mmmmmm the red bull was just to good here ( even ahort shifting vettel could keep everyone at bay) so it has to go to Sutil I think

  18. Andrew J says:

    Tough choice.

    Button had an outstanding weekend, beating his team-mate hands down; a double whammy with quali and in the race.

    Webber led the race and did a solid job, but you can’t help but think – or even know – he’d have been second or lower if it hadn’t been for Seb’s problem.

    Vettel nursed the car superbly, if slightly against team’s instructions to save the gearbox, and maximised the points for Red Bull.

    But Sutil did a superb job. I hope he has a seat next year. He gets my vote today. Button and Vettel a close second and third, though i don’t know which way round!

  19. Andrew J says:

    Oh, I should add, I think the final championship standings are pretty good reflection on the drivers this year. A familiar top 5, but the order has been shuffled a little. Webber should have been able to do more given the car he had, but that might have meant him resigning Button to third place, which wouldn’t have been a fair reflection at all.

  20. Left Philangie says:

    Webber for me.

  21. rachel says:

    Sutil for me. Drove a great race under massive pressure with his career on the line.

  22. herowassenna says:

    I reckon my comment will be contentious…

    I’m voting Senna.

    Reasons? Well, I knew the man was a genius but to drive 3 cars at the same time, unbelievable. He’s there in Bruno’s car, in Ruben’s car and also in Lewis’s car. Not forgetting his ghost chatting to Vettel during the race. Ok, it’s sarcastic.

    DotD? Well not Vettel. Manufactured problem to gift Webber the win. Then feels like Senna in 1991?
    Bearing in mind that he uses a switch to change gear, not a gear-lever, he supposedly couldn’t use 2nd or 3rd gears to max revs and he was driving the dominant car in good conditions.
    Senna, stuck in 6th gear for the last few laps of a race, on a damp track and being caught by a faster Williams.
    Even , Schumi in Spain in 1994, stuck in 5th gear, isn’t a valid comparison.

    I can’t give it to Button, because I think he was using a race-drivers excuse to explain the Alonso pass, which was brilliant.
    Was that debris there from the previous lap and Alonso caught him out, or was Alonso over-taking down there anyway when Button saw the debris and had to back off?
    Alonso and Webber have proved this year that you don’t need DRS to pull off some stunning moves.

    Alonso? Despite, no doubt maxing out that Ferrari, 30 seconds up the road from his team-mate, and that move, there wasn’t his usual remorseless progress.

    Sutil, pity he doesn’t drive like he’s losing his seat every time, he might be wanted by other teams. But his, was the stand-out from a quite boring GP really.

    Roll on 2012.

    1. iGOR BdA says:

      Now wake up and smell the coffee……..

      1. herowassenna says:

        A fine Italian Espresso my friend……. lol

  23. Carl says:

    Fernando Alonso
    His overtake on Button says it all basically. He drove a blinder.

    1. Jonathan Lodge says:

      strange!

      How can Alonso passing Button who was struggling on soft tyres AND trying to avoid debris be better than Button passing on Alonso who struggled on prime tyres later in the race? Sounds a bit biased to me!

      1. oh says:

        Did you not watch? It was on the outside through the same debris; surely you could see the difference?

      2. David A says:

        Although that is true, usually the Mclaren is considered to be a faster car than the Ferrari, like the Red Bull being considered faster than Mclaren. And Alonso passed Button without DRS.

      3. Heinzman says:

        Alonso’s was in a place that you don’t see overtaking and was raw, Button’s was intelligent but not that exciting

      4. coefficient says:

        To be fair, Alonso did make a great move on Button. A move which was almost identical to the move Button made on Grosjean in 2009 whilst coming from the back. Button’s 2009 version was possibly the more spectacular being in the pack off the start and on cold tyres.

        Button was able to repass Alonso later on, also around the outside this time of turn 5 I believe it was, so Kudos to both if we’re being totally unbiased.

        Jenson has been guilty of over thinking his racing sometimes which in this instance gifted Alonso a dramatic pass but perhaps sometimes we should concede that discretion is the better part of valour as JBs caution at that split second netted him the podium finish ahead of Alonso rather than a trip into the boonies. It’s always strange how one split second move can cloud the bigger picture in some peoples eyes. Yeah Alonso was great in that moment where he passed button, but over the length of the Grand Prix JB was superior.

      5. Pete says:

        What are people not getting?! Jenson moved off the racing line to avoid debris, Alonso couldn’t see that Debris and stayed on the racing line therefore Jenson was unable to move back on it and Alonso went through. Alonso didn’t pull some amasing pass he was right place right time when Button made a decision that slowed his car (yes in hindsight it may have been the wrong one even a mistake but we wouldnt be saying that if the debris had given Alonso a puncture!. Fair play to Alonso for making an oportunistic move and putting himself in the right place but its about 10 leagues below a sensational pass and nothing like his move on shumacher at the 130r.
        It was just the standard Martin Brundle (can’t hack a British driver having a better legacy than me) sarcasm that made it appear so good, I nearly threw my laptop at the wall after his “come on Jenson” shriek.
        He was quality at ITV but has been annoying me this season so actually glad hes gone to sky just hope DC doesn’t follow be nice if James was to fill his boots too, but thats probably wishful thinking!!

      6. Heinzman says:

        I don’t agree, but respect your opinion. Probably only because it’s frustrating watching Alonso in his prime driving the wheels off his car every lap whilst being so restricted by the hardware. Let’s hope the Mc/Ferrari guys can produce some quick 2012 models from Aus. It will be a shame to see the quality of both teams drivers go to waste again. And hope Kubi is in a good seat for 2013!

      7. Arya says:

        Lets cut some slack and be fair. We are making it sound as though there was a helicopter shunt at the middle of the track and Button was trying to avoid the debris. The truth is there was a bit of debris on the track but not sizable enough to slow down and avoid. Button was struggling on soft tyres and Fernando just nailed him,PERIOD!!

        We talk so much about his move in 130R but we forget that there also he was overtaking a much slower car. But it got the legendary status because of the choice Fernando made to attack in 130R around the outside.

        Although this one is not in the same league, this one definitely had a touch brilliance and bravery. No DRS, sheer self confidence and trust in Jenson’s judgement.

      8. Coefficient says:

        You said lets be fair and then failed to think this through. Any small amount of debris seems able to knock bits off the Mclaren. Remember Spa, La Source Lap 1? With this in mind, so early in the race you can’t blame Jenson for wanting to avoid bits and bobs flying at his car. Remember, at the speed these car travel a frozen pea could put a whole in the car never mind a lump of tyre rubber or diffuser carbon.

        Alonso hit a brief moment of good luck and it was a result of JBs circumspection that allowed him to pass at normal speed. If JB had been at race speed, in order to make the move stick FA would have had to have taken considerably more speed in order to get around the outside of Button, so the pass most likely would never have happened if not for the debris. JB was travelling substantially slower than normal which meant FA could get past without doing anything unusually heroic, he just drove the racing line at race speed whilst JB hit the breaks to avoid debris. It looked good but when you boil it down it was pretty ordinary really and ultimately fruitless in the longview and Jenson returned the compliment later in the race. We’re really bigging up something which doesn’t really deserve it!

      9. KRB says:

        Simple. Alonso’s pass was on the run between Turns 4 and 5, no DRS. Button’s move was on Rene Oposta, DRS-assisted. Both were very good moves. Alonso’s was better.

        The debris excuse is just that, an excuse. No driver likes getting beat ’round the outside, it’s humiliating.

      10. Coefficient says:

        No, Alonso passed Button in ferradura which is turn 6. Alonso had the advantage of being able to take the racing line at normal race speed just as Jenson had opted to take evasive action to avoid damaging his car. Alonso didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, just took the corner exactly as he had each lap prior, Jenson effectively let him through.

  24. Common Sense says:

    Lewis Hamilton. Drove a flawless race until Maca pulled the rug from under him again.

    Wrapping the season, it’s hard not to feel Lewis was the moral champion this year. Haters will disagree, without looking at the record.

    He drove some of the most amazing laps of F1′s history, and would certainly be the champion now if the Red Bulls were not gaming the system.

    Common sense, really.

    1. Adam Jackson says:

      Thanks for the most entertaining read I’ve had in a LONG time.

    2. iGOR BdA says:

      “Lewis was the moral champion this year”…

      WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

    3. David A says:

      A lack of Common Sense there. Hamilton wasn’t even beating his teammate before his gearbox failure, and has been one of the best only in fits and bursts this year. Vettel, Alonso and Button have been better.

      1. coefficient says:

        Yes, this is a silly Hamilton fanboy comment, devoid of any reason. Hamilton had a shocker of a season, accept it. He was a shadow if his former self this year, that’s life though hey. I’m sure he’ll be back to his very best in the near future but it’s foolish to claim that he did anything other than a poor job for someone in his position this season. JB and FA didn’t have the car this year but the made results go there way with clever driving and dogged determination. Lewis has seemed exasperated behind the wheel all year and it’s got him into sticky situations that he really shouldn’t have been in. Mind management is a big part of racing and he’s let this side of things slip this year. All being well he’ll have a refreshing winter and get his head back in the game for 2012. This year he was not good enough by his own standards let alone those of his nearest competitors.

    4. MISTER says:

      How was he driving a flawless race if he ended up behind Massa..again? I thought Lewis started in front of Massa and Alonso. Not quite flawless afterall right?

  25. Marco says:

    Jenson for me. A great season in a so so car. Lets hope McLaren produce a top car next year.

    As an Aussie, I am over Webber. RBR could have done a whole lot better than re-signing him for 2012. Still, the safe option to protect Vettel.

    1. Harv says:

      [mod] by saying you are Aussie doesn’t make your statement any more significant. Webber has had a dismal season, yet finished 3rd in Drivers’ championship, and while I know there are no points for fastest lap, had 7 fastest laps (the next best was 3, which was shared by his team mate, who we know LOVES getting those), 10 podiums, 8 top 5 finishes and the only other race was a retirement after a racing incident. Only the haters like commenting that he is a useless driver – while not at the level of Vettel or Hamilton or Alonso (I’ll reserve judgement on whether Button is in their league until he and Hamilton finish a similar number of races and he is still ahead in WDC), he can clearly drive a F1 car effectively.

    2. K says:

      That ‘so-so’ car won 6 races, could have won 9, always on the podium.

      1. KRB says:

        When you write ‘always’, I think each time. But that’s not the case. A McLaren was not on the podium at all in three of the races this year (Tur, Val, Brit).

  26. Alex says:

    Hard to pick a DOtD alonso on button, pass of the day (only watched half the race. After MSC ‘s incident with senna I was hoping for some vintage, 2006 esque coming back through the field. Maybe he has lost it, I have never doubted him in the past. BRING BACK KIMI

  27. Dave_F1 says:

    Button gets a vote from me not only for a good race but also for coming out & saying that DRS passes are no fun.

    “Ideally, I wanted to get him into turn one, because it’s more fun to pass someone without using DRS.”

    Just another reason to ban it, No DRS makes passing more fun & entertaining for drivers & fans!

    1. Michael C says:

      +1 and thanks for saying so.

  28. Andrew Carter says:

    Has to be Sutil.

  29. GS says:

    Sutil for me – I’ve rated him highly from the last couple of races, I just hope he gets a seat next year – I don’t see why FI don’t want to keep him! May I just add how good it is to go on a website and read intelligent comments from real fans rather than the partisan rubbish I’ve read on other sites! Good stuff JA followers!

  30. Cliff says:

    1- Button – Struggled with the Sost tyre, got rid of them and looked lile a different driver

    2- Sutil = Very good drive to bag a hat full of points

    3 – Webber – Solid drive and took his chance.

    James – Off Topic, but will you be doing a post about the Patrick Head? Williams may be struggling but we can’t underestimate his (and FW) contribution to F1 over the last 30 years or so.

  31. formulasfera says:

    Jenson’s car seems better than Lewis’
    Could it be?

    Jenson did a great season, but it is enough for being just a nr 2, I don’t know if you can be so happy with that.

    If Lewis stop driving, I guess McLaren shoud look for a nr 1 driver to replace him.

    1. Carl Craven says:

      Yes of course Jensons car is better than Lewis’s. It has one key component that Lewis’s didn’t have.

      1. Michael C says:

        “It has one key component that Lewis’s didn’t have.”

        Yes, it had Jenson’s head screwed on tight and functioning properly no matter his position relative to Massa on the track.

      2. Carl Craven says:

        That’s the one. However don’t get me wrong. Lewis is a great racer too, if not at times, better. However it’s ridiculous to suggest that when Lewis does poorly it’s because he’s being held back by the team and yet when Button does poorly it’s because he’s not as good as Lewis.

        Lewis cites Jenson as a former inspiration. Button has been given the chance to show that worth. He has over the last year been slowly finding ground and making the car function the way he likes it. In his first year at Mclaren he went straight to the first test because Nick Fry insisted Button see out his contract with Brawn because they were petty over the way they released him. So his first year running was marginally compromised.

        Second half of this season has seen him qualify within 1000s of a second to Lewis either way.

        One way or another they are evenly matched.

  32. Dave Aston says:

    Sutil, great drive. 9th in the points this year, I don’t think he gets enough credit.

  33. Joanna says:

    Vettel.
    Speed and consistency even when he had to nurse a faulty gearbox all the way. Amazing good luck that reliability vanishes after he secures the title and never before. Might have given us a closer contest if it had!

  34. Keith says:

    I’m picking Webber, because it’s really the first time he has been close to Vettel in qualy and then he kept punching out fastest laps of the race with the fastest on the last lap whcih he didn’t need to do really.

    Yes I don’t think he would have been able to beat Vettel if his gearbox was OK, but it’s a good sign to see Webber’s form coming back…. we need someone to take Vettel down next year, otherwise it’s Shuey take 2 and I might give F1 the flick again!

  35. Craig in Manila says:

    Difficult this one but it’s called “Driver of the Day (not the weekend, not the season) so :

    MW : No, all he did was drive satisfactorily and then take-over 1st when SV moved over.
    SV : No, but some credit for driving an apparently damaged car through to second place
    JB : No, just drove around satisfactorily then then took Alonso due to the Ferrari struggling on its tyres.
    FA : No, unless he gets credit for driving a car better than it deserves to be driven. Hard to measure.
    AS : Yep, good drive, placed better than the car deserves to be placed.
    KK : Same.
    I voter for KK but could’ve just-as-easily given it to AS.

  36. Douglas says:

    Cheers Man for all the great insights all year, thank you.

    Looking forward to your site next year to fill in all the gaps in the BBC’s coverage.

  37. Mitchel says:

    Kimi! Kimi! Kimi! Get in!

  38. mo kahn says:

    KIMI IS BACK WITH LOTUS RENAULT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WHO CARES ABOUT THE SEASON GONE BY… THE ICEMAN HAS COMMETH !!!!

    BRING ON 2012 WITHOUT FURTHER ADO !!!!!!!

    GO LOTUS RENAULT !!!!! GO KIMI !!!!!!

  39. R3D says:

    Kimi’s back with Lotus-Renault?!!

  40. Tasman says:

    Loved Webber’s drive, extremely well controlled. Will not hear of what if’s in regards to SVs gearbox. Plenty of equipment failures for Mark this year.

    Also, got to love Kobi, great stuff from him. His style of aggressive driving has been a stand out for me all year.

  41. Richard says:

    Jenson Button or Adrian Sutil – very difficult choice. Did well to recover 3rd place from Alonso. Ferrari are quick starters and lap times are good on the soft tyres, McLaren are lethargic at the start until the fuel has burnt off, then the lap times improve which is why Jenson was able to recover. Adrian Sutil is a quick driver and here he got the most out of the Force India.

  42. Darren says:

    Sutil for me, great drive, that will really have given Force India a driver selection headache. I think they may well go with Di Reista and Hulkenberg though. Sutil is a known quantity now, a fast safe pair of hands but thats it. I think Di Riestas rookie season has been more impressive than Hulkenbergs (the pole aside but that was a fluke) so cant see why they would pick the hulk in front of him. For what its worth I would stick with Sutil and Di Riesta.

    Vettel and Webber both drove good races but they achieved what they should have done with the fastest car by far. Also am I the only one that thinks the “gearbox problem” is a bit fishy?

    Alonso overtaking Button was a good move, Jenson tried the racing drivers excuse but I think Alonso was going through regardless, by the time JB noticed it was too late and he had to back off for the debris.

    Hardly saw Kobayashi the whole race so cant comment on his performance.

  43. Nick says:

    I think it’s Sutil. Very good drive, overtook Rosberg.

    Very pity that Schumi had that collision with Senna, it could be him be the driver of the day, I am sure he could overtake Sutil taking into the account his pace.

    As for Webber – I feel like that his win was a bit strange, I don’t think that Seb had any problems he had just gifted it.

  44. Wombat says:

    Webber of course, back to where he was in 2010, just hope he can maintain the pace in 2012 and that Red Bull can provide two cars that work all weekend from the first race in the coming season. For once both Red Bulls pulled away from being ‘DRS trapped’ by the followers and it was the early 3/4/5 scrap that allowed them to build that gap. Once the gap was there the Red Bull ‘road car’ was really well suited to the track and the McLaren and Ferrari ‘speed cars’ just couldn’t catch them. nevertheless, where did Alonso find 3 seconds round time of the Webber pit stop?
    Just shows the talent of Alonso, he is the only man in the field that can create something out of ‘nothing’ – I’m looking forward to a Ferrari that works for Alonso in 2012 and the Ice Man in the Renault.

    One other thing, we read/heard very little about that state of the engines in the cars in this last race of the season. They all must have been down to well-worn ones, I wonder if that had a bearing on the result?

  45. Mimie says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/formula_one/15926791.stm interesting observation, what your comments James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Mark Hughes is a great writer, I respect his opinions as highly as anyone in F1

      1. Mimie says:

        if it the case, i guess its the secret of his domination this year and many more years to come. Salute! CONGRATS SEB!!!

    2. C says:

      Thanks for the link. Fascinating.

  46. Carl Craven says:

    Voted Kobayashi

    Would be great to see him in a good car. He also earned his team $5,000,000 by scoring in this race.

  47. Tim B says:

    Sutil probably got the closest to the theoretical maximum possible for him.

    Webber was good, but it looked as though Vettel had him covered before the gearbox problem.

    Vettel did well to manage his mechanical issue, but the car was still fast, and he did make a couple of mistakes.

    Button was probably the other impressive drive, but you’d like to think he could have got second place.

    Off-topic, I was slightly surprised to see that Webber won the “most fastest laps” award. That suggests that his pace when the tyres are at their optimum is good, which in turn suggests that his problems this year have been warming them up in qualifying, and managing them during the race. Vettel seems to be very good at warming the tyres quickly, and also getting grip from them when they’re (relatively) cold (e.g. start of race, restarts behind safety car). He also seems to be able to make them last longer than Webber can.

  48. Dave Stebbins says:

    I voted for KK.

    Coming into the race, Sauber held a one-point margin over STR for 7th in the WCC. If either of the STR drivers finish in front of KK, Sauber stand to lose millions in prize money. He starts the race 3 places back from both STR drivers but finishes 2 places in front of both of them. Clutch drive with season results and millions of dollars on the line.

    Sutil drove a great race, too, but the WCC story made me appreciate what KK did more.

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