Who Will Be the 2011 F1 World Champion?
With Paul di Resta being confirmed at Force India, nearly all the seats are filled for this year's F1 season. Only Hispania need to choose a driver to partner Narain Karthikeyan, but somehow I feel that their choice will not be a title contender.
I have a habit of getting these predictions completely wrong, although 2010 was the first year I got one right. With anticipation of guessing correctly for the second year in a row, here is a selection of drivers who should be in with a shot of the title.
It would take until the final race of the season, but Vettel just about managed to win the title from Alonso and Webber, who conveniently had disastrous races in Abu Dhabi.
Vettel's talent has been clear since he won his first race for Toro Rosso in 2008. He became a very successful driver very young, and he still has a tendency to make mistakes. Turkey and Belgium certainly made the championship more difficult.
However, Red Bull still has a problem. Every so often, the car will blow itself up or they will find some sort of mechanical issue. Bahrain, Australia and Korea were vital points lost, and this title should have been won a lot more convincingly.
This will be Vettel's third year at the team, and there is no arguing that he has their full support. With a title under his belt, you would like to think that those silly mistakes will start to disappear. There is no doubt he is a strong championship challenger.
Who do you think?
Hamilton drove brilliantly in a car that was never really the fastest in the field in 2010. Up until Monza, he was leading the standings and had outperformed teammate and reigning champion Jenson Button fairly comfortably.
It all fell apart after that though, as accidents in Italy and Singapore, plus an unhelpful practice crash in Japan, would end any chances of a second title.
There is nothing wrong with his driving, until he starts to feel the pressure of the title. This was noticeable in 2007, parts of 2008 and I believe it happened again last year.
Every year of his F1 career, Lewis has won races and been within a shout of the title three of the past four years. There's definitely another championship in him, and 2011 might be that chance.
Going into Germany, Alonso was nowhere in the championship. Ferrari had been pretty average up until then, and suffered their fair share of bad luck in Valencia and Silverstone. To be leading the standings with one race to go was some achievement.
Of course, Felipe Massa helped him out along the way.
The reason why the title was lost in Abu Dhabi was all Ferrari's fault. However, a jump start in China and a silly practice crash in Monaco provided an erratic start to his season. The famous Alonso consistency seemed a bit lacking in 2010.
Alonso's year was made easier by Massa's miserable season, so it could be said that if Felipe were to regain form, Alonso might be harder pushed. For a driver of Fernando's quality, he will always be a contender in a good car, regardless of his teammate.
So Who Will Win?
In my opinion, it will be the order I have written them in: Vettel first, Hamilton second, Alonso third. With Adrian Newey designing the Red Bulls, I think Vettel has the potential to be champion for a few years yet, never mind just 2011.
Notable absentees from this list include Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Simply, Webber, Button and Massa just aren't as good as their teammates, Rosberg doesn't have enough experience of good machinery and Schumacher is past it.
However, I am going to give a special mention to Robert Kubica. He was one of the best drivers in 2010, but didn't have the car to back him up. If Lotus/Renault can build him something decent, he could be in for a good year.
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