Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2011:
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The closest thing Sebastian Vettel had in terms of a challenger for the title, Jenson Button still finished a distant second in the standings.
That is not to denigrate the Briton's efforts, however, for he still recorded three wins and mounted a strong run of podium finishes in the second half of the season to lift himself above the likes of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, both of whom would have been tipped to better Button pre-season.
Moreover, the 2009 world champion – who many believe is now a more rounded performer than when he clinched the title with Brawn - also established himself as McLaren's 'go to' guy by out-performing Lewis Hamilton – the first time the 2008 champion has ever been bettered by a team-mate in F1. While his countryman endured a torrid campaign, beset by problems on- and off-track, Button made the most of his involvement in the design of the 2011 McLaren to show that he could be a contender without the sort of technical advantage he enjoyed two years ago.
His back-to-front success in Canada captured the imagination as well as headlines, especially as his pace in tricky conditions pressured the otherwise unflappable Vettel into a last lap error, but the other victories – in Hungary and Japan – also underlined the 'comfort zone' within which Button is now operating at Woking.
Not always on the pace in qualifying – indeed, he still missed the top ten more than he should have – Button was generally happier on race day, able to make the new-for-2011 Pirelli tyres work in his favour with the smooth driving style that has become his trademark.
F1 Driver of the Year Top 10:
2. Sebastian Vettel
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Paul di Resta
5. Nico Rosberg