Formula One’s new golden era continued in 2011, as five world champions did battle over the 19 races. The top four teams kept their same driver line-ups: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull; Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren; Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at Ferrari; and Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.
|Fernando Alonso - 2005 & 2006 Champion|
|Michael Schumacher - The 7-time Champion is the oldest driver on the grid|
|The 2009 Champion - Jenson Button - finishes as the overall runner-up|
New to the show, however, were Paul di Resta in place of Tonio Liuzzi at Force India; Sergio Perez in place of Nick Heidfeld at Sauber; and Pastor Maldonado in place of Nico Hulkenberg at Williams. Toro Rosso kept Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, Lotus Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, while Virgin paired regular Timo Glock with Jerome D’Ambrosio and Liuzzi slotted into HRT with Narain Karthikeyan as his partner until the Indian was replaced mid-season by promising rookie Daniel Ricciardo.
The saddest change was forced upon Renault when Robert Kubica, surely one of the top three drivers in 2010, was so grievously injured in a rallying accident in the off-season that his F1 future still remains in doubt. The likable Pole was replaced initially by Heidfeld, who got his umpteenth chance to show his mettle against Vitaly Petrov, until he was replaced later in the year by rookie Bruno Senna after some less than stellar performances.
On the technical side KERS - the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems which boost power by 80 bhp for a few seconds each lap - made a return with all the major teams, but not with any of the new ones. But the two biggest innovations were the introduction of Pirelli as sole tyre supplier in place of Bridgestone, and the DRS - Drag Reduction System - rear wings.
Once again there were few significant political issues. The most notorious was Bahrain. The troubled situation there, which saw a later start to the season after the cancellation of the opening race, dominated the news for much of the year. Thankfully, the F1 paddock is due to return in April 2012.
|Due to a rally accident before the start of the season, Robert Kubica were unable to drive and were replaced by Nick Heidfeld|
|Lewis Hamilton - The 2008 Champion has had a dismal year so far in his career|
|Rubens Barrichello is the most experienced driver in Formula 1 with 326 races and 19 years of racing|
|Kimi 'The Iceman' Raikkonen - The 2007 Champion has return to Formula 1 next year after a 2-year absence|
|World Champion - Sebastian Vettel has won it again for this year, his second title of his career|