Your 2011 F1 predictions revisited

2011 F1 season review

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monaco, 2011
Alonso was tipped to win the Monaco Grand Prix - and the title

How well did we predict the 2011 season?

Before the year began 20 questions were put to F1 Fanatics on the championship ahead.

Contrary to our best guesses, Fernando Alonso didn’t win the title and HRT did not go bust halfway through the year.

1. Best surprise of the year

There were some optimistic and ultimately unfulfilled predictions here.

Among the most popular choices were Nick Heidfeld scoring his first win and Robert Kubica making a comeback from injury – neither of which came to pass.

2. Worst surprise of the year

Vitantonio Liuzzi, HRT, Melbourne, 2011
HRT didn't qualify in Melbourne, but completed the season

There was considerable doubt over the future of HRT – the single most common suggestion here was that they wouldn’t make it to the end of the season. They did, but not without a fresh injection of capital from a new owner.

Others suggested that HRT would regularly fall victim to the 107% rule, though in the end this only happened at the first race of the year.

Several readers expressed concerns that DRS would not work as intended, or that it would produce artificial overtaking. However only a few readers doubted the Indian Grand Prix would go ahead.

And no-one saw the BBC/Sky deal coming.

3. First driver to be replaced

People know a pattern when they see one and having seen Toro Rosso dump drivers halfway through 2007 and 2009 they expected more of the same in 2011 – and predicted Sebastien Buemi would get the chop.

He didn’t – not before the end of the season, anyway. The first driver to be replaced was Sergio Perez when he withdrew due to injury in Canada (the absence of Robert Kubica was already known when we did the poll).

4. First substitute driver

Most people expected Daniel Ricciardo to be parachuted into Sebastien Buemi’s seat. It wasn’t an unreasonble belief – he ended up taking Narain Karthikeyan’s place at HRT.

But he wasn’t the first substitute of the year – that honour fell to Pedro de la Rosa when he took over from Perez.

5. Biggest political story

Start, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2010
F1 did not race in Bahrain

Exactly what was the biggest political story of 2011 is a subjective matter. But when F1 gets dragged into the headlines for something other than racing, and the question of whether a race goes ahead affects the highest individuals in a state, then that’s clearly not something to be underestimated.

The row over the Bahrain Grand Prix, and the bungled attempts by FOM and the FIA to reinstate it, was surely the biggest political dispute of the season.

It’s fair to say that, on the whole, we didn’t see that one coming 12 months ago. Doubts over the effectiveness and safety of DRS prevailed, and more people feared the Lotus naming row would prove the biggest bone of contention in 2011.

The new engine rules for 2013 and the return of team orders also gave cause for concern.

6. McLaren wins

McLaren had a fraught off-season as they struggled with a slow and unreliable car. They looked set for a dismal 2011.

Despite that hardly any readers throught they would end the year win-less. Most tipping them to win two or more races. They ended up bagging six victories, which was in excess of most people’s expectations.

7. Webber’s contract

Those who thought Mark Webber would not extend his Red Bull contract to 2012 outnumbered those who disagreed by almost two to one.

But the minority got this one right as Webber remains with the team this year.

8. The Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer is the resident troll of the Ferrari website – clearly someone there likes to have a gripe while hiding behind anonymity.

F1 Fanatics reckoned Ferrari’s thinly-disguised contempt for the back-of-the-grid outfits and preference for three-car teams seemed likely candidates for its first whinge of 2011. Other suggestions included perennial 2011 topics DRS, KERS and tyres, or some kind of row with rivals Red Bull.

In the end it turned out to be none of the above. Somewhat disappointingly, the first whispering of 2011 was to do with a sportswear company that wanted to sponsor the team. Yawn.

The Horse Whisperer returned to form later in the year, fulminating over radio messages to Felipe Massa, allegations the same driver might be forced out of the team and Luca di Montezemolo’s complaints over the F1 rules.

9. Schumacher’s best result

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Montreal, 2011
Schumacher peaked at fourth in Canada

F1 Fanatics had high hopes for Michael Schumacher in the second year of his comeback. Most expected he would bag a podium finish and the majority expected him to get his 92nd career win, if not a few more.

But with the Mercedes W02 not quite up to scratch the best Schumacher could produce was a fourth-place finish in Canada.

10. Most crashes

Rookie Pastor Maldonado and F1 returnee Narain Karthikeyan were tipped to have the most prangs in 2011.

But the driver who had most retirements due to collisions was Vitaly Petrov, with four.

In his defence, several of these were not his fault. But we should also keep in mind he was a classified finisher in Malaysia despite having gone off and broken his steering column.

11. Worst reliability

HRT failed to get their car ready in time for testing (again), so it was no surprise F1 Fanatics overwhelmingly chose them as the team who would suffer the most breakdowns in 2011.

As it turned out, they were right – but HRT weren’t alone in suffering eight retirements in 2011Lotus did as well.

12. Top-scoring rookie

This poll was very close between three drivers. Maldonado was second, as several F1 Fanatics believed he would benefit from a more competitive car than the others. This turned out not to be the case – he only scored one point with the uncompetitive FW33.

It was Sergio Perez who narrowly won the poll – but he finished behind Paul di Resta in the points.

13. Best race

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Shanghai, 2011
Shanghai thriller kept us on the edge of our seats

Tellingly, F1 Fanatics generally opted for classic venues when it came to guessing which track would see the best race: Interlagos, Spa-Francorchamps and Montreal led the voting.

The latter scored a remarkably high 9.095 out of ten following the thrilling last-lap change of leader. But it was beaten by China, which achieved a highest-ever score of 9.241 out of ten.

14. Most pole positions

This one was just to check everyone was still paying attention. The vast majority correctly picked Sebastian Vettel – with only a smattering going for Webber or the Ferrari drivers.

15. Monaco Grand Prix winner

It’s easy to forget that Ferrari looked reasonably strong going into 2011. The 150??? Italia seemed quick, consistent and reliable in testing and they had ended the previous season very competitively.

In 2010 a crash in practice wrecked Fernando Alonso’s Monaco Grand Prix weekend when he looked like a candidate for victory.

This probably explains why Alonso was the most popular pick for Monaco Grand Prix winner last year. Both McLaren, Mercedes and even the Williams drivers also picked up votes.

Vettel had a fraction of the votes Alonso received – but it was the Red Bull driver who won F1’s blue riband race.

16. First retirement

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Melbourne, 2011
Maldonado's first start didn't last long

It’s remarkable how close so many people came to getting this rather random question right. The most popular pick was Narain Karthikeyan, and although he was not the first retirement, he did fail to qualify.

The runner-up choice was Maldonado and sure enough it was the Williams driver who was first to stop in 2011. A gearbox problem sidelined him after just nine laps in Melbourne.

17. Championship-decider

We’ve grown used to seeing F1 championships decided in the final race: it happened in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Most people expected it would again in 2011, and half as many again thought the penultimate race would decide the title.

Instead, Vettel wrapped up the title in Japan with four races to spare, which only a handful of people saw coming.

18. Champion’s score

It’s telling that Vettel scored more points than anyone thought the championship-winner would. It shows how many people hoped for a continuation of the close championship battle of 2010, and how Vettel’s domination of the year caught some by surprise.

Xenon2 got closest, predicting a score of 365. Most of us were 100 points or more shy of Vettel’s final score of 392.

19. Constructors’ champion

More than half of readers (60.1%) correctly tipped Red Bull to retain their constructors’ championship.

20. Drivers’ champion

Alonso was the favourite for the title before the season began, with 37.2% picking him to claim the crown. Vettel was second on 26.5%, followed by Hamilton (13.1%) and Webber (11.4%).

How did you do? Check your predictions for 2011 here.

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Motioncompany, Mercedes, Daimler, Daimler, Williams/LAT

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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...

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26 comments on “Your 2011 F1 predictions revisited”

  1. I think “first driver to be dropped” means dropped by the team, not being replaced because of an injury. So that would go to Karthikeyan, as he was dropped in favour of Ricciardo.

    1. The question said “replaced”. Obviously Perez wasn’t replaced for good, but he was replaced for one race.

      1. That’s technically right, but most people wouldn’t have interpreted the question that way. “Replaced” connotes a driver being deliberately removed from their seat in favour of another. It would have been a bit morbid if we’d all been predicting who’d be first to be badly injured.

        1. @matt90 And if I interpreted it the other way people would still be complaining. I know I can’t win this one.

          1. Not complaining, just saying that a lot of people would have taken the question in a different way.

    2. second this interpretation – maybe we can show the result for both interpretations?

  2. I got 4, 7, 11, 14, 15 and 16 right. 6/20, not too terrible.

    @Hairs would never be wrong for number 18 :P :

    18. How many points will the winning driver score?
    More than the man who comes second.

    1. @Hairs sounds like Murray Walker. Awesome! :p

    2. I’m guessing he wouldn’t be happy if first and second were level on points and it was decided by a countback…

  3. Here’s my answers, I’m quite pleased of my answer for #2 :D
    1. Nick Heidfeld scores first win
    2. Red Bull dominates championship (surprise?)
    3. Narain Karthikaryan
    4. Bill Gates
    5. Bernie Ecclestone on engines
    6. 2
    7. No
    8. Red Bull’s diffuser
    9. 3rd
    10. Petrov
    11. Virgin
    12. Maldonado
    13. Canada
    14. Vettel
    15. Webber
    16. Liuzzi
    17. 18th
    18. 300

    I have no idea what prompted me to put my faith in Maldonado, did the Williams look that good in pre-season testing?

    1. I have no idea what prompted me to put my faith in Maldonado, did the Williams look that good in pre-season testing?

      Probably because Williams beat Force India and Sauber in 2010.

    2. there was hype around their extreme “coke bottle” rear and gearbox angle. this was one of the biggest talking points apart from Renault’s exhausts and McLaren’s sidepods.

      i remember there was a sense of “could this be the year williams get back on form?”. plus people were nostalgic about the vintage livery.

  4. I only got two correct – I correctly predicted that Sebastian Vettel would get the most poles and win the Monaco Grand Prix.

  5. Strange, I swear I remember answering it, but can’t find my comment. I definitely did the poll, getting Red Bull and Alonso. That would have been a more interesting championship.

  6. My results ranged between suprisingly accurate (questions 7, 10, 16) to massively overoptimistic (9, 15, 19). I mean, Nico Rosberg to win the Monaco Grand Prix? What was I thinking?! Lol

  7. Wow, my predictions weren’t that good : I got only 3 answers right. (Though, I hadn’t answered the last 2 questions). I’m happy that my first answer was right (best surprise – McLaren becoming a front runner), but that wasn’t a difficult one.
    Anyway I’ll try to do better next year!

    1. I see I’ve put 2nd as the best result for Schumacher. Funny thing : that prediction almost came true in Montreal :-D

  8. The Horse Whisperer is the resident troll of the Ferrari website – clearly someone there likes to have a gripe while hiding behind anonymity.

    I still reckon ‘The Horse Whisperer’ is Ferrari’s oficial troll: it’s their way of saying things that they cannot be seen as saying in public.

  9. I’ll hold my hands up and admit tipped Alonso for this year’s title. I think I did for 2010, as well. And I’m not sure why, but I’m wanting to predict him for 2012 as well. I guess that’s what Alonso does to you…

  10. Days of Thunder
    4th January 2012, 6:40

    I expected Schumacher win or podium in 2012

  11. When I read this kind of articles and I remember my predictions for 2011 season, I realise why I have never won anything in the lottery. :)

  12. I predicted that Petrov would win a race, well, he scored a podium at least.

    I also expected Trulli to be replaced with Chandhok, which indeed happened but it wasn’t the first driver change of the season.

    I said that Luca di Montezemolo would become the new Italian prime minister. Berlusconi resigned in November but another guy was chosen as his successor.

    So one could say that some of my daring predictions partly / almost came true :D

  13. Seems I was not even that far off in some aspects (although I picked Alonso to win it)!

    1. – Robert Kubica actually returning to racing in the last race and being pretty competative. – sadly that did not happen, but as I wrote at the time it would have been a suprise to me.
    2. Hard one, Red Bull being up front is no suprise, Ferrari using team orders the same. Lets go for – no new GP winners this year. – this one was accurate.
    3. – Liuzzi as he is dropped to let v.d. Garde have a drive in Turkey. – who could have expected to see Perez sidelined!
    5. Certainly not Lotus v Lotus, nor the DRS. Maybe something to do with the next concorde agreement and CVC? Or Bahrain getting on the calendar despite crushing down protests. I guess I was close enough, with the rumblings about who might buy control, and the sky deal as well as Bahrain fitting the answer.
    6. 4 – not that far off, but I still underestimaded them (or rather overestimated Ferrari/Alonso)
    7. yes – right again
    8. the DRS and the backmarkers, next up are 3rd cars and a fizzy drinks company winning – hm, they were all in there, but not the first thing!
    9. a podium finish – he only got close
    10. It will be evenly spread between Petrov, Maldonado, Perez and Vettel with 4 each. – Maldonado was in there, but as for the rest …
    11. McLaren or Toro Rosso – again, underestimated McLaren. And I must have forgotten about the backmarker teams!
    12. Perez – nope got bested by DiResta!
    13. Melbourne and Montreal. – Montreal got close, but Melbourne?
    14. Vettel – that one was a slam dunk
    15. Alonso – right in the middle of common expectation, but wrong again
    16. Buemi, after he crashes with Kobayashi, while the HRTs and Trulli will start from the pits – Hm, now what got me thinking that. Even though i did get it right about the HRTs not making it to the grid, in a way!
    17. in Abu Dhabi (if its not cancelled due to further uprising) – I just had not thought Red Bull would have that reliable a car and infallible a driver!
    18. 248 points, oh and it will be Alonso while Red Bull win the constructors. – not too far off the points Alonso got in the end. Just I never got the guys ahead of him!

  14. I took a look on some those predictions, and here’s some of Q1 and Q2 answers which you could say were right.

    * Button beating Hamilton
    * The new regs will actually work!
    * No one winning a race other than Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren
    * Williams finishing 7th or lower in the WCC
    * The lack of pace from Massa and Webber
    * Red Bull dominance and no real title race
    * adjustable wing making overtaking fake
    * None of the new teams score points, because the lack of Kers will harm them in the races
    * Mercedes not being up to speed with the big three

  15. Some of my predictions were educated guesses, some look crazy seeing them now!
    I predicted Massa to win the title – not too crazy back in March, when he and the 150° Italia had frequently topped the sheets in tests. Ridiculous now that he finished the season without a podium.

  16. Thanks for the article. Awesome.

Comments are closed.