New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years

2011 F1 season review

Posted on

| Written by

Germany produced the third-best race of the year

The 2011 season may not have produced a close battle for the championship, but it did give us lots of exciting races.

With more challenging tyre compounds, the return of KERS and the controversial introduction of DRS, F1 saw much more overtaking this year.

Here’s what F1 Fanatics rated as the best and worst Grands Prix of the 2011 season – and how they compared to the previous three years of F1 races.

Rating the races of 2011

Abu Dhabi6.127

Races which featured passes for the lead tended to receive the highest ratings.

Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel to win on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix, and passes for the lead featured in both the Chinese and German Grands Prix.

For only the second time in history the Hungarian Grand Prix was affected by rain. The Hungaroring may be renowned for producing dull races but this year it was fourth-highest.

At the other end of the scale were the processional races at Valencia and F1’s newest venue, Buddh International Circuit in India.

The Brazilian Grand Prix, which has produced some of the better races of recent seasons, was third-lowest this year. There was widespread scepticism after the race about Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox problem which led to team mate Mark Webber winning the race.

It is also clear that modern venues tend to produce less entertaining races. Six of the bottom eight races were at Hermann Tilke-designed circuits which have appeared on the calendar within the last six years.

Note also that lots of overtaking doesn’t automatically equal good racing. The Turkish Grand Prix ranks in the lower half of the races, proving you can have too much of a good thing.

Was the voting also swayed by driver or team allegiance? Participants are asked to rate races on merit, but you can check the results against this recent profile of who are the most popular competitors on F1 Fanatic here.

Comparing 2011 with the last three seasons

AustraliaMalaysiaChinaTurkeySpainMonacoCanadaEuropeBritainGermanyHungaryBelgiumItalySingaporeJapanKoreaIndiaAbu DhabiBrazil
YearAverage rating

The chart above shows the historical ratings for the different races which featured in 2011. You can show and hide different years using the controls.

We now have four complete seasons’ worth of race ratings from F1 Fanatic readers. The average rating for this year was easily the highest of those three, reaching over seven out of ten. The 2009 season was rated lowest of the last four years.

Top ten races, 2008-2011

12011 Chinese Grand Prix9.241
22011 Canadian Grand Prix9.095
32008 Brazilian Grand Prix8.756
42010 Canadian Grand Prix8.668
52010 Australian Grand Prix8.638
62011 German Grand Prix8.43
72010 Belgian Grand Prix8.368
82011 Hungarian Grand Prix8.344
92010 Chinese Grand Prix8.326
102009 Brazilian Grand Prix8.309

These are the top ten races of the last four years, according to F1 Fanatic readers.

Four of this year’s races have entered the top ten and the top two races are both Grands Prix which took place this season.

The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, which produced two dramatic changes in the championship situation in the final laps, has been unseated as the most popular races.

The Chinese Grand Prix, which featured differing strategies between the front runners, several changes of the lead, and Mark Webber’s climb through the field from 18th to third, now has the highest average rating.

Last year’s German Grand Prix, in which Ferrari used team orders forcing Felipe Massa to surrender victory to Fernando Alonso, remains the lowest-rated race so far, with an average score of just 3.74.

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

Image © McLaren

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

69 comments on “New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years”

  1. The No. 7 top race from 2008-2011 isn’t 2011 is it? 2010 right?

    1. *seconded*

      well noticed

      1. haha just noticed that. Surely you guys don’t think the 2011 race was that good? In my eyes its in the second half of the table in terms of 2011 races

    2. It is – have changed it, thanks.

  2. As expected this shows that the new tracks are just rubbish for racing, but on the other hand nice to see being the second worst race of the season India did a great job pulling in massive crowd. For sure Valencia needs to be dropped. Seeing at the result seems like Canada & Brazil are the best two places to watch an F1 race.

  3. Common factor in the top five races? None of them were won by Vettel. And Canada was better than China.

    1. yes the China rating is a bit dodgy because it was the first 2011-style, overtaking friendly race we have seen in a while. thus people were overly happy.

      I believe Canada, Silverstone and Germany were better than China.

      1. But China had lot’s of overtaking, even without DRS. 6 different drivers for the fight over the victory, Rosberg and Massa in the mix to add some spice, and Webber’s awesome late race charge. IMO it was the best race of the season.

        1. and Webber’s awesome late race charge

          which webber said wasn’t that good because drs made passing people too easy.

          1. He was on better tyres in a faster car. Drs made no real difference. But I’d still ditch drs.

      2. China was an excellent race, but you make a good point that it was the first of a new breed of race this year. Also if I remember rightly for the Canada race some people were giving it 6’s and 7’s because of the long delay and safety car periods which also would have brought its score down respective to China. Canada should have been pretty much straight tens, what more could you want from a motor race?

        Ah well these ratings are flawed anyway, I think the Brazil 08 rating should be higher as well but fans of Ferrari and Massa, or people who don’t like Hamilton may not have voted shall we say ‘fairly’ on that occasion.

        What is clear to see though is the racing overall did improve this season, I would still do away with DRS though.

    2. Almost but not quite. The common factor is the top 4 this year were won by British drivers. It’s a factor that repeats most years, understandably given this is a British hosted F1 site.

      In fact 8 of the top 10 races over the last four years were won by either Jenson or Lewis, with the other two races being the confirmation of both drivers winning the world championship.

      I won’t deny most of those choices were good races, but a British driver winning is good for at least a point or two bump.

      1. Another factor which gives a good bump is a driver winning their first race. With the exception of Heikki’s first win at Hungary, the first wins for Kubica (Canada 08), Vettel (Italy 08) and Webber (Germany 09) all rated very highly. While the first two were good, Germany 09 I remember being not that exciting, certainly not warranting its high rating.

        It’s just a pity that it’s been 47 races since somebody got their maiden win. Watching a driver’s first victory is one of the more enjoyable things in motor racing.

    3. And rain plays an important role. Let’s not forget that!

  4. Nobody with a clear mind would say that China was better than Canada..but China was the first race where Vettel was actually more than just challenged….people got carried away WAY too much,,,, giving away 10 points…. only after Canada did it become clear that it was the wrong thing to do…..a real shame if you ask me…

    1. I think you may be correct there, the first truly exciting race (at the front of the grid) especially after the dull racing last year. I think the pre-race drama of will Hamilton even make the grid makes his win even more exciting for people. Seems ironic that last year we had dull races and a great championship while this year the championship was dull but with (mostly) great races.

      1. If you look at the article.. People found that they couldn’t give a race 10/10 if it had a 2 hour red flag, or overly long safety car periods..

        Having said that, I still voted Canada 10/10, it was by far the best race of the year for battles throughout the field, not just the one overtake that will get replayed over and over again in fan videos and adverts for the F1 2012 season on both Sky and the BBC

    2. Nobody with a clear mind would say that China was better than Canada

      The two-hour delay in Montreal, coupled with the constant threat of the safety car being re-deployed at any moment probably put a damper on things.

    3. I do think that was a big factor in the high rating China 2011 got. DRS was not too effective, the tyres worked great, Button offered the comedy moment blooper and we had a really exiting race we did not really expect.

  5. Good to know what people are looking for in a grand prix, I suppose! Vettel must not win (top five races on this list), but it can’t be for some boring reason (Brazil and Abu Dhabi). It’s probably also better if it’s not a race in which Vettel clinches the title, although having him not win the race will alleviate that agony to some extent (Japan). Bernie Ecclestone, take note!

    1. I have to agree to an extent, you’ll probably find that the large British fan base with McLaren has a influence on the results.

  6. 7) 2011 Belgian Grand Prix – 8.368

    That should be 2010, not 2011 Keith!

  7. That 2011 line really shows how badly Pirelli dropped the ball in the second half of the season. Everything was great at the start of the year and then by the end of the season, the Pirelli factor was virtually non-existent. If it wasn’t for KERS and DRS, we’d have had even less action and racing as there would’ve been.

    1. @Magnificent-Geoffrey
      I don’t think it has anything to do with Pirelli as such. Though they were a little conservative at times, like India, but as the first race there it was the right thing to do as they don’t know the surface at all.
      I think it is the teams that over the course of the season adapted to the new tyres and became a lot better at developing a setup that was fast and saved the tyres. Also they got a better understanding of where the “cliff” was. Maybe Pirelli should just keep making the tyres softer and softer as the season progress to counteract this, but I don’t think F1-spec tyre development is that cheap..

    2. @Magnificent-Geoffrey I also don’t believe that Pirelli are the ones to blame. First, as @mads says, the teams had adapted to the new tyres. Second, there were more races at the Tilkedromes in the 2nd half of the year. Third, the fans’ expectations had become higher. I can understand that Brazil and Abu Dhabi were relatively low-rated, compared to China 2011 but I just don’t see how both races were worse than the ones in 2010.

      Anyway, I have a bit different opinion and think that the 2nd half of the season was quite good as F1 is not mainly about overtaking for me. But it’s good that we have these ratings and the interesting discussions.

      1. First, as mads says, the teams had adapted to the new tyres.

        I think that a more accurate way of putting it is that the teams adapted to the tyres faster than Pirelli could react to their adaptation. After all, they changed the compounds several times during the season, but the teams always made up the difference. And I suspect Pirelli may have shifted focus to 2012 around the time of Singapore.

        Second, there were more races at the Tilkedromes in the 2nd half of the year.

        Then how do you explain one of your much-maligned Tilke circuits producing the best race in the last four years?

        1. large inconsistency with track design.

  8. Wondering if or when we will learn of rule changes for 2012. Thinking interms of DRS and the need to reshape the rule by which it is governed.
    The FIA must now be aware of what the fan base says about this situation along with teams, drivers current and past. Any updates??

    1. nothing will change because fota believe drs was brilliant & doesn’t need to be changed.

      afraid were stuck with this artificial **.

      1. Hard to believe….

      2. Here is what Gary Anderson, F1 designer and Autosport columnist, thinks:

        In summary, the DRS is something that was introduced as a bandage until someone comes up with a set of regulations that allows the cars to race closely together, and for the drivers to use their talents to carry out the overtaking moves that they commit to.

        I hope that someone comes up with that set of regulations as soon as possible.

        1. they were going to, we were supposed to have ground effects back for 2013 but fota saw drs as a success so decided not to do anything.

          drs is still in the 2014 regulations & will no doubt remain in f1 beyond that.

          hopefully fans soon realise drs is a gimmick & put pressure on fota to finally drop the stupid thing.

          gary anderson also said this in that article-

          When you see two drivers at the top of their profession like Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso at Spa going through Eau Rouge side by side, or Sebastian Vettel and Alonso at Monza exiting Curve Grande on the grass challenging one another at speeds that most of us can only dream about, this is exciting.

          But watching someone press a button that gives them an extra 15km/h on a straight and using the old ‘mirror signal manoeuvre’ to overtake the driver in front does not make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.


          If this bandage is kept in place for too long, drivers will actually lose their ability to make decisions on where another driver is weak and where they are strong, and they will only work on the areas that the DRS will give them the potential to pull off an overtaking move – which, because of circuit design, will always be placed at the end of the main straight, which is not always the best area for overtaking.

          1. What utter nonsense, one would think that not being able to even get close enough to be able to make a pass would affect their abilit’ys also.

        2. I hope that someone comes up with that set of regulations as soon as possible.

          If and when they do, everyone will complain that it’s not good enough.

          1. Especially you @ prisoner monkeys!

    2. I would expect that the FIA will have learnt quite a bit of how to place the DRS zone, and they will have the option to have multiple measurement and activation points from the start of the year.
      That should mean the excesses like Turkey should be avoided (not sure they will be able to do anything about Valencia without changes to the track though) next season.

  9. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    28th December 2011, 16:54

    The best racing for four years? Well the most passing yes for sure. The new for 2011 combination of Pirelli, KERS and DRS, plus the more prevalent safety car periods promised the more unpredictable results that we crave. Yet somehow we got more one car, one driver domination.
    You can only blame the rule makers for not making a more level playing field. DRS has devalued the art of overtaking and in my view it’s an unnecessary and unmitigated disaster. KERS I can live with because it can be deployed anywhere and at any time provided some is left. Also as in the old days of unreliability it adds an element of uncertainty, which is good. Pirelli have been great at mixing it up (not so much latterly) and I hope they continue to be brave with their compound choices.
    So Mr rulemakers, get rid of DRS and 75% of the downforce and next year will be even better.

    1. Well said and I agree 100%. Let the damn drivers do what they do RACE CARS and it should be up to them as to how and by what method they choose to pass. I suggest like developing your driving skills and not rely on the moronic DRS system.

    2. Your train of argument breaks down when you try to blame the dominance of one driver/car-combo on DRS, because that very driver/car-combo dominated from the front, seldomly even using DRS.

      Also, that very same driver/car-combo didn’t dominate when not being out in front, the very situation DRS came into play for.

      Basically, you can like and dislike DRS, that is a personal preference. You can like and dislike the way this season unfolded, with Sebastian Vettel in a RB7 dominating the sport for much of the year. Also a personal preference.

      But blaming the dominance of Vettel in the Red Bull on DRS is a flawed argument that doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny.

      1. when you try to blame the dominance of one driver/car-combo on DRS, because that very driver/car-combo dominated from the front, seldomly even using DRS.

        Although Vettel did make excellent use of the DRS wing to get the most out of the Red Bull car in qualifying to get to the front in the first place …

        But I agree with you that blaming DRS for Vettel in the Red Bull being way ahead does not hold up as an argument.
        That car did make best use of exhaust blowing and DRS and other things in the rules/tests that enabled them to be as quick. And the driver made it work just as Mansell was able to make best use of the Williams in 1992. As always its multiple things working together.

        Also, even if DRS would be the single factor that made Vettels season dominant, it would by no means make the races we have seen less of highlights of the past years.

        Compared to 2007, 2008 and 2009 and even 2010 there were far more really intense and interesting races this year with real battles for positions, even if Vettel did win most of them.

        1. Mansell make the best use of the Williams? He did very well ofcourse but did not get the most out of it like Senna or Prost might have, the Williams was way way way faster than every other constructor and he was beaten to pole by a Mclaren and he didn’t win many that year considering….

    3. “the best racing for four years” is backed up by the ratings of F1 Fanatic readers over that period. A pretty good representation of the majority opinion.

  10. Hi guys,

    Is it just me who think the Monaco GP is the lamest race in every F1 season? I mean, sure, people will talk about its history, bla,bla,bla…. But the fact is, it is BORING. You are almost certain to see the pole sitter to be the race winner the next day. What is the point???

    1. With a close three way battle for the win this year, and a wild and wacky race in 2008, I completely disagree.

    2. Because watching drivers try to complete 78 laps – almost 2 hours – at full racing speed around such a bonkers narrow track is a spectacle in itself.

    3. I agree completely. Imagine trying to get that circuit approved for a new race now… It would NEVER happen. It is only there because of money and history. Apparently it is the only race on the calendar that sets its own price to Ecclestone, rather than being priced out by him (think Turkey for example).

      In my view, circuits like Istanbul park are exactly what the sport needs, yet are in markets that cannot afford to have the race, and not enough fans to justify it. In monaco, you have everybody in the world connected to motorsport watching from the comfort of their homes or yachts, yet the circuit is dangerous, completely inadequate, and produces races that are boring, but seem good because the background is so pretty.

      It will never be dropped, just because. But those that complain about the newer circuits being boring, should take note, that they have to be that boring to pass the safety tests. Only the thousands of millionaires that live in Monaco are able to break those rules in the name of racing.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        28th December 2011, 19:04

        Monaco deserves it’s place on the calendar because its a true test of a drivers skill. The slightest error will be punished. Ask any driver to name the GP they would most like to win and invariably many will answer Monaco.

        Best of all its unique unlike many of those boring Tilke-dromes. Indycars race on four different types of track, speedways, short ovals, road courses and street circuits. As a result it’s hard for a team to build a car which dominates on all four and this makes for a better championship and a better all round driver.

        Formula one used to be like this with places like the old Avus, Hockenhiem, Monaco, Nurburgring, Long beach, Brands Hatch. We need circuits with different characters to find the best overall drivers and cars. Monaco represents a unique spectacle and challenge and the world of motor racing would be much the worse off without it.

        1. I agree, we need someone to design a new track which is either monza-esque (long striaghts, minimum downforce) or a tight street circuit with no runoff, not the typical medium-high downforce, 5.4km 20 corner lap. Make one of barely 2 miles, fans will see the cars lots!
          or make one of 4 or 5 miles with some real challenges

        2. @sean

          my words exactly

    4. I find it mega exciting just to watch the greatest drivers in the world (in theory) hustle the best cars around (in theory) on the most narrow track with barriers surrounding them. It takes massive amounts of skill and bravery and the slightest mistake and it’s all over. I’ve never needed masses of overtaking to be excited; Hungary is one of my favourite tracks just because the driver has to work so hard to stick in a good lap time.

      1. @steph Same. Over-taking is good, but not a necessity. Singapore is another good example, it’s tight as hell and 90% concrete.

      2. Exactly that @steph, its great to have different types of tracks on the calendar. Monaco does not give much in the way of overtaking, although the little that does happen is even better for it.
        The real challenge is getting a fast but not barrier smashing lap in and then doing that for the whole race. Something I find quite exiting, although the FOM could do a better job of presenting that challenge to us with in car shots instead of over the top shows of a beautifull city and a harbour full of yachts with half nude girls on them.

  11. So sad to see the 2008 Brazilian GP drop down the list. I still prefer it to the other ones. The 2011 Canadian GP was awesome, the Chinese I feel a little overrated.

  12. The 2099 season was rated lowest of the last four years

    Cor, 2099 season, I musta time-travelled! ;D

  13. On the one hand I can’t help but think that the results for this year are slightly skewed in favour of China, basically down to the victor not being Vettel and DRS being 3rd time lucky.

    However, where is the harm in that? We are asked to vote immediately after the race so you are left with the option to vote straight away or let it sink in for a couple of days and then assess it. I have subscribed to both methods in the past and there is really very little in it for me personally.

    I don’t think there is much of a science to what you can class as entertainment so I would say that the polls are pretty representative of how we found them at the time and that’s the charm of it all. People willing to vote 10/10 for what another person deems the ‘wrong’ reason(s) just shows that this in fact a competitive sport we’re watching and it will always carry that element of romance and knee-jerk with it.

  14. <blockquote.The Chinese Grand Prix, which featured differing strategies between the front runners, several changes of the lead, and Mark Webber’s climb through the field from 18th to third, now has the highest average rating.
    I find this amusing because although Shanghai doesn’t receive the same barrage of criticism as Abu Dhabi, Valencia and Bahrain, nor do people sing its praises the way they do Spa and Silverstone.

    1. China has an alright track but in 8 races there, 2006,2007,2009,2010 (all rain) and 2011 were good races. For whatever reason we tend to get dodgy weather or a good race there. If only the most populated country in the world could attend it….

    2. You can’t compare one (rare) great race at China to many great races at the classic circuits you highlight.

      I find it amusing you don’t get that.

      1. By the way, until this year I seem to remember everyone on here criticising China.

        1. I’ve always thought the races at China were pretty good it’s just the track layout is woeful but entertainment wise I look forward to it every year.

  15. I think there’s one common factor in all four seasons. Valencia, the parade through the concrete jungle that masquerades as an F1 race, does not produce anything that F1 fans want to see.

  16. China was a farce. The new rules may have produced more entertainment for some, but they did nothing for the actual racing.

  17. Besides the track at China is such a mess. Ugly track of the season. Poor layout and no mans land before the the long straight. Has the sun ever shined there??

  18. Passing has never really been that important to me, Yes I enjoy seeing a real overtake (By which I mean passing done without DRS) but Im just as happy watching a race with little/no passing as long as its exciting.

    I for instance loved those 2 races at Imola in 2005/2006 with Schumacher/Alonso fighting for the win despite the 2006 race featuring only 1 on-track pass.

    Through 2011 there was tons of passing, However if im honest I found very little of it entertaining or exciting. Passing done Via DRS was simply boring, unexciting & in many cases predictable & to some extent the same can be said about passing done because of the tyre wear/compounds. Drivers on older tyres or on the harder compound been completely defenceless against a car on newer/softer tyres.

    What I enjoy about Motor Racing is Racing, I love watching a good racing battle for position between 1 or more cars, For all the controvery about blocking I was loving the Hamilton/Schumacher scrap at Monza, That to me was way more exciting than 90% of the passing we saw through the year & lasted a great deal longer than a lot of the passing as well.

    Something I feel is that without DRS this year we would have had more competitive qualifying, More entertaining races, Better racing/real overtaking & may well have seen more drivers battling for podiums.

    On the last point, I saw someone say something a few days back which kinda made sence. That been that DRS basically gets cars finishing in a natural order based on car performance. When you had a situation where a driver out-drove the car & got higher than he perhaps should have been (Schumacher at Montreal for example) DRS soon saw him drop back to a spot to better match where the cars performance was.

  19. 9 out of the top 10 races from 2008-2011 were won by a British driver!! The only one that wasent was the 2008 Brazilian GP which was when a British driver won the WDC, so its basically the entire top 10.

    1. Nice looking concept, but it creates more problems than it solves.

  20. China was more exciting becaue you didn’t have a safety car to close up the field towards the end like we had in Canada. Here it was just the dynamics of the race creating excitement. No outside influence, safety car, penalties, at least during the race, no changeable weather. Just a plain old dry race, from pole to flag.

Comments are closed.