What started eleven months ago with so much promise, and in some cases with an abundance of self serving embellishments, has mercifully come to an end. Yes, the F1 2011 season is over following a wonderful, colourful, ever emotional Brazilian Grand Prix.
Aside from the supremely successful Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull all remaining drivers will soon be trotting out their optimistic evaluations of just how they performed, with the odd excuse thrown in for good measure, and, no doubt, yet another dose of ambitious forecast for next year. Therefore, in the public interest of getting this ritual exercise started, let me be one of the first to cast the stones... er, evaluations on just how, in my humble opinion, the men behind the button covered steering wheels fared this past season.
Let's start with, what I consider, the top five drivers in F1 in 2011...
1. Sebastian Vettel
Smashing success since entering the Red Bull cockpit, this season has been his best, by far. World Champion at a walk, with a car not always the fastest. Destroyed his team-mate and eviscerated top rivals causing them to perform erratically. Congratulations Herr Vettel. Wunderbar!
2. Fernando Alonso
Wonderful, bravisimo, race day performances come to mind. Has the huge advantage of team orders from Ferrari management and delivers consistently for the Scuderia. Occasional poor starts conspire to create yet more work for the man expected to hurl the red cars up to the forefront again. Lacks Vettel's shear pace in all important qualifying.
3. Jenson Button
Jenson performed above the expectations of many experts as he exposed the weaknesses of his highly touted team-mate throughout the season. Jenson also displayed the strengths of the remaining core of talent back at Woking as he got the job done with their car. Never the fastest in qualifying, but very impressive overall.
4. Nico Rosberg
Handled his legendary team-mate easily throughout the season. Mercedes management, having observed his talent up close have placed their trust in him to lead their precious Silver Arrows back to pre-eminence. His confidence evident in and out of the cockpit, this is what the future Formula One star looks like.
5. Lewis Hamilton
Personal emotions, team-mate Jenson Button's performances, as well as the shattering dominance by young rival Vettel, put Lewis in an almost constant state of confusion throughout the season. With three wins, he obviously has the car, and the pace to succeed, but he seems to lack mental maturity, highly unusual for a former F1 champion.
Those men whom had a successful season at their respective teams and showed promise for the future include veterans, as well as newcomers to the scene. They include:
Despite the many on track altercations, and often being out qualified by his team-mate, Rosberg, Michael still has the killer instinct, especially during the opening laps of the race. His race craft is without reproach and only needs a capable car to match his incredible talents.