Memorable moments of the 2010 F1 season – Part 1


 

The 2010 F1 season has been the best in living memory – certainly the most closely and fiercely contested season of all time. There were so many dramatic, game-changing incidents during the course of this year’s championship, some of which were loved by the entire F1 fraternity, some universally condemned, and some that sparked furious debates across the fan base. Yet, the best thing about the 2010 F1 championship was that almost all the drama and excitement happened on the track, rather than in boardrooms, as we have seen in the past.

Two championship contenders, two dominant teams, a year full of political mud-slinging and bickering, protests and unsporting behaviour, we’ve become used to seasons like these for years and years on end. In that context, 2010 was an incredible year for the fans – four drivers in contention in the last race, 5 in the penultimate round, and 6 evenly matched cars, with a strong midfield line-up raring to pounce if the leaders missed a step.  But more importantly, it was a championship without controversies like Piquet’s crash, Mclaren’s spy-gate, Mosley being the butt of ridicule (pardon the pun) – indeed the biggest controversy over the year was Ferrari imposing team orders blatantly. Hardly qualifies as a controversy. Had they done it in a subtle way as all the other teams still do, we might have had a perfectly untainted season. Its hard to think of any season that has been better, and it is amazing that next year might conceivably be even better.

So could we let such a phenomenal year go by without recalling some of the dramatic moments – the good, the bad, and ones in between? Hardly. Here comes a personal perspective as to the high and low points of this epic season.

BEST MOMENTS

Hamilton Vs Rosberg, at the Australian GP


The Australian GP was a bit of a lottery. In changing conditions, the teams need to time the tyre change to perfection. In the case of qualifying, the timing is crucial – no second chances – a driver on the right tyres at the right time will have a massive advantage over the ones who are not. The raw, dry weather pace of the cars counts for next to nothing here. And so it was that Lewis Hamilton started from P11 on the grid, while rest of the big guns got through to Q3 with relative ease.

However, the race was a completely different issue. With Button tagging Alonso at the start, and Schumacher getting into it as well, there was plenty of scope for Hamilton to move up the order. And move up he did, pushing his car to the limit and beyond,  on the ragged edge in tricky conditions.  The move on Rosberg occurred on lap 26, with the German running third and Hamilton following closely behind. Albert Park does have some overtaking opportunities – notably Turn 1, Turn 3 and Turn 13. But apparently no one told Lewis that he wasn’t supposed to overtake at the high speed Turn 11. What followed was a ballsy move.  Using the phenomenal F-duct system, the Mclaren effortless reeled in the Mercedes. Since Melbourne doesn’t really have a very long straight anywhere, it still required an on-the-limit, on-the-outside move by Hamilton to pass Rosberg. The German is no pushover and was instantly in the Brit’s slipstream and pulled alongside. Hamilton had to use every bit of the track and his Mclaren’s speed to make it stick at Turn 13. Easily one of the most memorable battles of the season.

Alonso’s brilliant comeback in Melbourne


After the success in Bahrain, at Vettel’s expense, Alonso put in a strong qualifying performance and ended up third behind the Red Bulls, and ahead of Button’s Mclaren. Unfortunately, Albert Park never has had smooth starts to its races, and this one was no exception. Jenson tagged Fernando going into Turn 1, resulting in a spin for the Ferrari which also caused damage to Herr Schumacher. Race winning chances thoroughly ruined, Alonso headed to the pits for repairs and rejoined at the back. Head down, Alonso put in a splendid drive at a circuit where it is difficult to overtake, and soon caught up to the podium battle just halfway into the race.

It wasn’t over though. Hamilton, starting from 11th, had made good progress and was now right on the Ferrari’s tail with more than 10 laps yet to run, with fresh rubber on his Mclaren, lapping over 2 seconds faster than the Spaniard. It was here that Alonso put in a stunning drive, and managed to fend off the (arguably) best overtaker in the business. Two laps from the end, Webber took care of Hamilton and the Ferrari was released. It was a fantastic drive from the double world champion to hold on to fourth place against a rampaging Hamilton. Brilliant stuff.

Button proves the critics wrong in Australia


When Jenson announced that he was leaving Brawn GP for Mclaren at the end of 2009, there wasn’t a scribe on the planet agreeing with his decision. People predicted an annihilation of the World Champion by Mclaren’s wonderkid Lewis Hamilton. Madness, everyone said. Madness to leave a championship winning team to a possible No.2 position at Mclaren.

In Australia, Jenson dished out a truckload of humble pie to all those critics and ‘experts’. After demolishing Lewis in qualifying, Jenson made an inspired tyre choice, endured the first few laps without any grip, and moved ahead of all those who stopped later. We saw several drivers on the ragged edge the whole afternoon – and several banzai overtaking moves. Yet all they could do was fight for the podium places, as Jenson serenely went about his business of winning the race. You proved ’em all wrong Jense. Hats off yo you.

Alonso’s drive in Sepang without a clutch


Last year’s race in Malaysia was a (literally) damp squib for everyone, with the race being stopped due to a massive rainstorm and half points awarded. This year, we had rain at the right time, in the right quantity, bang in the middle of qualifying.  The result was that two Ferraris and two Mclarens were starting from the back of the grid. With a mountain to climb, all four drivers were expected to scythe through the pack. Unfortunately, Alonso’s clutch gave up the ghost at the start, putting him at a huge disadvantage straightaway.

But the Spaniard showed tremendous skill and perseverance and drove around the car’s problems for the entire race distance. It reminded me of Schumacher’s spectacular drive at the Spanish GP of 1994, where he drove 42 laps of the race stuck in 5th gear. All we knew was that Alonso had a mechanical problem, since his car was emitting painful engine sounds every time he slowed down. Despite this problem, Alonso kept pace with his rivals, and even overtook Jenson after harrying the Mclaren for several laps, only for his engine to blow up moments later. Irrespective of the result, it was the drive of a champion, and was one of the best drives of the season.

The Chinese Grand Prix


By the time the F1 circus moved to Shanghai, it was clear that we were in for an epic season. The first three races had seen three different teams winning a race each, and Red Bull emerged as the fastest but also the most fragile contender. A fact that was proved emphatically when the Austrian team locked out the front row. The race was much more unpredictable than anyone had expected. Firstly, Alonso jumped the start by a tiny fraction of a second, landing him a drive through. He fought back splendidly, and finished a admirable fourth.

Once again, the timing of tyre change proved to be crucial, and Jenson rose to the occasion for the second time. Rosberg and Kubica also made inspired tyre choices and their third and fifth places were fully deserved. Hamilton charged to second place, with his usual aggression and potty mouth, and was involved in a spectacular pitlane battle with Vettel. There were some other chaotic moments with Alonso overtaking Massa on the way into the pits, Jenson slowing the pack to a halt at the end of the safety car stint, and plenty of wheel to wheel racing. One of the best races of the year.

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29 Responses to “Memorable moments of the 2010 F1 season – Part 1”

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