David Coulthard reflects on the F1 season just gone in his latest blog, revealing which teams and drivers have impressed him most – and who needs to improve...
Driver of the Season
There’s surely no way I can be accused of bias when I name Sebastian Vettel as my F1 driver of the season. Fernando Alonso did brilliantly this year in a Ferrari which struggled to keep up, while Jenson Button’s achievement in beating not only his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton but also Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber – who was driving the same car as Vettel – was admirable. But Sebastian has been the standout driver, no question.
Disappointing Driver of the Season
I don’t want to say ‘worst’ driver of the year because clearly no one driving in F1 is a bad driver. But undoubtedly a few drivers punched well below their weight, notably Ferrari's Felipe Massa, McLaren’s Hamilton and Red Bull’s Webber. I’d probably give the award to Felipe for no better reason than he didn’t win a race. In fact, he never finished higher than fifth. He’s on thin ice at Maranello.
Race of the Season
Has to be Canada. It looked as if it might be the biggest washout of the year but turned into one of the most dramatic finales I can remember. Jenson’s victory was so unexpected with 20 minutes of the race remaining that it seemed almost magical.
Controversy of the Season
Bahrain, Lewis v Felipe... there have been some big talking points but, perhaps because I’m so closely involved, one stands out above the rest: the Sky-BBC deal. A lot of negative stuff has been written but I don’t think it’s the disaster it has been painted as. The rivalry will ensure top-quality coverage. Sky will cater to the hardcore who want wall-to-wall F1, and those with money to burn, while the BBC will continue to produce high-quality coverage both live and in extended highlights packages, online and on the Red Button. I’m delighted to confirm that I’m staying with the BBC for another year, and would like to extend beyond that. I feel I’ve grown over the last three years and while I’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea – I’m sure I’ll continue to be criticised for my inability to pronounce ‘Vettel’ correctly (thank God Nick Heidfeld left mid-season as the abuse was getting ridiculous!) – I remain as passionate as ever and hope that my insight adds something for race fans.
Quote of the Season
Lewis’s “Maybe it’s because I’m black” line when asked about his penalties in Monaco was pretty tasty, but personally I enjoyed Sebastian’s “I think puberty is over now” remark when wearing a big orange fake moustache during a BBC interview in Brazil at the weekend. Class act.
Moment of the Season
Filming in downtown Delhi was an amazing experience, and I loved going out to Austin to drive a Formula One car around the dust bowl that will become – if it isn’t dropped from the calendar next year – the Circuit of the Americas. But actually my moment of the year came last weekend when I was chatting to Rubens Barrichello and we were trying to remember all the times he has cried during his driving career (he is an emotional guy). It was actually incredibly moving recalling his involvement at Imola in 1994, when his friend and mentor, Ayrton Senna, died, all the way to the present day. It made me realise what an amazing ride we’ve had over the past 17 years and how much I still love this sport. Roll on 2012.
David Coulthard writes for the Daily Telegraph, in the UK. He is also an ambassador for Red Bull Racing and Wings for Life who are holding a charity auction with David on December 1 to raise funds for research into spinal injuries. "If you’re a Formula One fan, or even if you’re not, please get behind it. You will be helping to accelerate that big breakthrough in spinal cord research."