F1's tryst with India and the 'Raging Bull' Vettel's 2011
One of the downsides of a person completely dominating a competition is that the achievements of others fizzle out or go unnoticed. These, in otherwise normal circumstances, are potent enough to attract the gazing eyeballs of the fans and critics alike. Something similar unfolded during the entire season of the 2011 Formula One world championship. Baby Schumacher aka Sebastian Vettel finally went from being a prodigious infant to a successful brooding young man and in the course of his brutal domination, stamped his authority over the numerous F1 paddocks and circuits alike. If he became the youngest ever F1 world champion in 2010, this year he became the youngest ever double world champion and in course of his near perfect season, he broke many records.
However intimidating the numbers might look, it must be noted that Vettel, in spite of registering 11 victories and a record 15 pole positions, was on his heels for most of the races, (even though the final points tally suggests otherwise) courtesy McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. In fact, Button along with Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso can be regarded as the best drivers of the season next to the double world champion Vettel. Hamilton though tried shutting the mouth of his critics by registering impressive wins at China, Germany and Abu Dhabi. He managed to register as many victories as his compatriot and teammate Jenson Button, but the Briton was in the limelight for reasons beyond his driving skills.
Apart from the record breaking German`s feat, there were plenty of other interesting anecdotes from the 62nd season to share. The season didn`t have the best of the starts as the inaugural race-Bahrain Grand Prix was scrapped due to reasons outside the control of the FIA. So, a delayed start was imminent and Melbourne got the chance to host the first race of the year. Sebastian Vettel took the pole and then the race by the closest of margins. The defending champion continued his campaign by taking the Malaysian GP as well, but Hamilton halted the march by pocketing the Chinese GP which, for the record, he won for the second time. However, the German continued unperturbed as he won the next three races but again was interrupted by another McLaren driver-Jenson Button in Canada.
Driver of the year
No questions about that. Sebastian Vettel was the driver of the season with 15 pole positions, 11 victories, 17 podium finishes and 392 points. For those who consider the newly designed RB7 being the primary reason for this dominance, Mark Webber too drove the same cars as Vettel and the Australian had to wait till the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix for a race victory.
Briton Jenson Button was the second best driver of the season with 3 victories, 12 podiums and 270 points in spite of the fact that he didn`t have the best car. Button showed his class with a superb victory in wet conditions in Canada where he had the race of his life.
Race of the year
Six-pit stops, a drive through penalty, and struggling at the last with 30 more laps to go- doesn`t sound that the driver is having a nice day. But Jenson Button did come through all of this to snatch the lead at the last lap and claim his first victory of the season at Canadian GP. A race that lasted for over four hours including a two hour break due to the torrential rains saw Button at his best with the 2009 world champion terming the victory as his best ever.
Massa-Hamilton love affair
Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa hugged it out after the Brazilian GP to end a feud that overshadowed their on track exploits, at least in Hamilton`s case. The two were involved in six collisions over the season with each blaming the other for the mess. There encounters were termed as magnetic. The team bosses raised their hands over the issue and left it for the drivers to sort the differences among themselves. In the end, Hamilton approached Massa after the race and the two hugged, slapped each other on the back and buried their differences.
New kid on the block
The dream of bringing Formula One race to India finally became a reality as the mean machines scorched the asphalt at the Buddh International Circuit. The inaugural race received immediate thumbs up from the teams, drivers and organisers alike. As per to the response of the race, official figures put the attendance at 95000 which is pretty decent by the standards of an F1 race. With Sachin Tendulkar waving the chequered flag as Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line, India marked its entry to the world of, probably, the fastest machines on earth in an emphatic manner.