After giving our merciless verdict on the top dogs’ 2011 season, we now turn to the much more exiting midfield battle. Here are the final standings for the Midfield!
3. Sutil 209
4. Di Resta 179
5. Kobayashi 159
6. Petrov 152
7. Alguersuari 143
8. Buemi 124
9. Heidfeld 117
10. Perez 108
11. Barrichello 77
12. Maldonado 38
Rosberg is our well-deserved midfield WDC after another solid season, flawless though also quit colorless. Is it due to the German’s driving style, or the fact that his car is in a bit of a no-man’s-land when it comes to performance, but Rosberg never really manages to inspire, his drive in China perhaps coming closest to getting some Merc fans to jizz their pants until he was forced to go into fuel saving mode.
Rosberg 7.5/10 Unphazed by Schumi and thoroughly spanked the 7 time WDC for the 2nd year in the row. A few very impressive quali laps but needs to inspire more.
Schumacher got closer to Rosberg over the course of the season but in the end is not quite there yet. Somehow, perhaps illogically, I do feel that Schumacher will be on top of his game next year and if that Merc is competitive, we may be in for some fireworks.
Schumacher 6.5/10 Definitely more on the pace compared to last year, and some great drives – Monaco, Canada, Monza. Some dumb moves again though and desperately needs to sort out quali.
Adrian Sutil finishes a very solid third in our alternate WDC, thanks to a very impressive mid season comeback from what had been a very difficult season start. I was one of many ready to call lights out on Sutil’s F1 career after he started glassing rival team owners in the neck and generally getting spanked by his rookie teammate, but his drives in the latter half of the season were just plain impressive. He even convinced me – notoriously quick to pass judgment and very stubborn class a a-hole – that he does indeed fully deserves an F1 seat. However his future is still uncertain, as it seems very likely Force India will dump him, so he’ll be left begging Williams or Renault, the latter seeming unlikely given his history with Eric Lux. Still, under immense pressure to keep his seat the man delivered, and I love to recognize a fighter and a man with the cojones to rise up to the occasion like Adrian did.
Sutil 7,5/10 Would have been a solid 8/10 were it not for a fairly sucky first half of the season. Redeemed himself like a boss though.
For a rookie, Di Resta did more than was expected of him to deliver a very solid first season in F1. While his performance tailed off as the season drew to a close, he’s proven he fully deserved the shot he got in F1 after taking the unusual DTM route. While I believe he is overhyped by the British media, he has been solid and very mature. I am looking forward to what he can do next year.
Di Resta 7/10 Solid rookie season. Did what was expected of him.
After a fairly anonymous season – to his standards at least, Kobayashi manages to beat Petrov to fifth in the standings. Thrust in the lead driver role- much like the Russian – in only his second F1 season, Kobayashi’s race pace and overtaking skill were the key elements that allowed him to finish in this very respectable position. While DRS has taken away a key advantage from Kamui – his skill to overtake where others can’t – he still made it work with some remarkable consistency throughout the year and despite Sauber’s dropoff in performance near the end of the year. However, his quali performance has been lacking, as hot shot rookie teammate Perez outqualified him 8-10 this year.
Kamui Kobayashi 6.5/10 A tough year, but he showed some great resilience and can only have become a better driver for it. Bring on next year. His score dragged down by poor quali performance.
With the news of Grosjean’s signing at Lotus alongside Raikkonen still fresh in our minds, it is a bit strange to discuss Petrov. While I’ve been one of his harshest critics, I don’t like to kick a man while he is down. What can be said? The season started like a dream with the Russian nabbing a podium in Albert Park, but after that it just kept going downhill for him and the team. He provided us again with one of the most hilarious crashes of the year by going airborne in Malaysia, and while he kept Heidfeld honest he still got beaten by the German – albeit it by a small margin. Still, it was the veteran who was dumped for what the team described as his poor performance mid-season to make way for Bruno Senna. If Heidfeld was underperforming according to Boullier, what was Petrov doing then? Vitally clearly improved compared to last year, but since the base level was so low last year, that wasn’t too hard to do. With the Russian money not materializing in the volume Boullier expected, he’s now out on the kerb looking with hopeful eyes to Marussia, hoping to keep his F1 career alive with what started it…money.
Petrov 5.5/10 He did get a podium so deserves credit there. However he just did not improve enough to impress anyone. Had his 2 chances now in a decent car and didn’t take it.
Heidfeld 5/10 Ok he got a podium as well but utterly failed as team leader and was disastrous in quali even though his race pace compensated for that.
Senna came along and stunned us with a superb Spa quali lap on his first outing for the team, but then brought us all back into the real world with a dumb turn one crash. After that he was ok in Monza quali and race, but for the rest of the season he failed to impress. While I’m a sucker for nostalgia I fear the Brazilian has just not done enough to retain an F1 seat. His Brazilian sponsorship may still decide otherwise though.
Senna 5.5/10 Coming in mid-season is never easy, but he should have done more to really get himself noticed.
On to the Toro Rosso duo, it was a bit of a shame that their fight got decided by Buemi’s misfortune in the final GPs, but Alguersuari had definitely upped his game already before Buemi started getting his by weird failures. That said, the young Spaniard kinda sucked early on in the year, as the seasaw battle with Buemi continued unabated in their second year together. It would be good to see a new element like Ricciardo thrown into the team to have another yardstick. Both drivers being competitively average making it hard to choose between either is not a good reason to keep drivers. That said, Alguersuari is actually younger than Ricciardo, a fact which should not be forgotten. Perhaps there is still some margin for growth there?
Alguersuari 6/10 Some great races later on but blighted by a crappy season start. Buemi 6/10 Good start to the year but tailed off later. Neither of the STR guys impressed me this year.
Sergio Perez somewhat surprisingly only finished 9th in this WDC despite an impressive rookie season. Branded just another pay driver before the season started, he gave his talented teammate a real run for his money and even outqualified him. That said, his race pace was found lacking on occasion, and his wet weather driving seems to be below par. Of course he also did well to recover from a nasty crash in Monaco which forced him to sit out 2 GPS, further explaining his low finishing position.
Perez 7/10 Very impressive as a rookie. Does need to work on race pace and wet weather racing.
On to the most depressing team of 2011 with a look at veteran Rubens Barrichello. While last year he pretty much had the measure of much touted Hulkenberg, against all expectations he had a tough time in quali against the Venezuelan Maldonado, just scraping ahead to beat him 10-8. His experience assured him of a beter race pace as he ended the season 7-5 in front, although had it not been for Maldonado DNF’ing after his altercation with Hamilton in Monaco, Rubinho would have even finished behind Pastor in the official standings. Ok, the car sucked monkey balls this year, but Rubens never showed he still had what it takes. He kept talking about his motivation to keep on driving, and I believe him, but if his experience as a development driver is put into so much doubt looking at the dog Williams produced this year with his input, It saddens me to say that Rubvens has simply overstayed his welcome in F1.
Barrichello 5/10 Motivation alone does not merit a drive. Experience must lead to good technical input helping to develop a great car, which clearly didn’t happen.
Maldonado was a bit like this year’s typical pay driver rookie. Lots of spins and crashes, a fairly horrid race pace and some real brainfart moves. His quali lap in barcelona particularly did show a flash of real talent but it simply was not enough throughout the year. Combined with his very unsportsmanlike conduct in Spa, I’d prefer to see the rapist face with the charisma of a kitchen sink be out of an F1 drive next year. Even his pay driver money isn’t clean.
Maldonado 4/10 Lotsa money, but simply not good enough.
A quick look at the WCC leads to these conclusions:
2.Force India 388
4.Toro rosso 267
At season start it looked like the Renaults were going to be the team to beat in the midfield, or even be the ones to graduate into the top dogs category, but then all went to shit in the Enstone based team after the initial double podium with Vitaly and Nick. In the end, the Renaults were happy to finish ahead of Team Lotus, in a way making Fernandes’ prediction that they’d be racing LRGP by the end of the year, but not in a way either of them would have hoped for : at the back of the grid. While in the official standings the weight of the double podium finishes left Renault just scraping ahead of Force India in the WCC, in the BackmarkersF1 universe, where it’s easier to consistently nab points and value driver and team performances objectively, FI thoroughly spanked Renault to come a solid second to Mercedes, a full 90 points ahead of Renault!
This shows just how skewed the standings got by those podium finishes. Another interesting note in the midfield fight is Sauber and Toro Rosso finishing on equal points, while in the ‘real’ WCC Sauber scraped ahead due to Kobayashi’s points finishes in the final 2 races. The picture would have of course been different had the team not been robbed of the nice points they could have gotten in the first GP of the year which saw them get DSQ’d for a technical infringement.
Furthermore, Sauber could have taken the fight to the FIs and the Renaults, were it not that they trusted the FIA too much. Upon the FIA announcement that they’d ban exhaust blowing, Sauber halted all development on that aspect, which resulted in a clear drop in competitiveness over the season. Nevertheless, even though they are equal on points with STR, Sauber still edges ahead thanks to Kobayashi’s fifth place in Monaco.
So, how did the midfield stack up in your opinion? Feel free to give your judgments in the comments below!