Formula 1 2016: The end of Season Awards

Another season has past in Formula One, and congratulations to Nico Rosberg, who after a mid season slump, and people including myself in a blog recently doubting his championship credentials, has become world champion.  As harsh as people have been about him, at the end of the day he has taken 20 wins over a three year period up against arguably the best driver of his generation and if he had been against a driver who wasn’t Hamilton (or Alonso), would have been a world champion before today.  Anyway, end of season means the Rudrum Ramblings end of season award.

Race of the Season

Although Monaco was an ultra tense race full of top performances and when the Brazilian Grand Prix got going it was fantastic, my race of the season must be the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. It had everything, it had safety cars, crashes, controversy, strategy blunders, an absolute grandstand finish and even a Mclaren at the front (for 7 laps).

promo291822731

Flop of the Season

There is a number of drivers who could be considered for this, there is Esteban Gutierrez, who was so poor he failed to score a point while his teammate scored 29, but to be fair Gutierrez was never rated in the first place so he can’t be considered a flop (more on him later). Joylon Palmer was also disappointing after winning GP2 in 2014, and can be counted lucky to be in F1 next year, and Sebastian Vettel has been for a driver of his calibre, dreadful (more on him later). But the flop of the season has to be Daniil Kvyat, a man who went from outscoring Ricciardo last season, to being so slow and clumsy in the early races that he was dropped by the main team after just 4 races. Following that Kvyat was utterly outperformed for the rest of the year by Sainz and is lucky to still be a F1 Driver. Flop.

Drive of the Season

AUTO-PRIX-BRA-F1-GRAND PRIX

There are many good drives this year, Perez’s drive in Baku for example was excellent, as was both Hamilton and Ricciardo’s drives in their head to head duel round the streets of Monaco. However, despite it wasn’t quite on the level which some suggested, you can’t look past Verstappan’s sensational drive in Brazil. It wasn’t quite Senna in Donington 1993, and in honestly it was probably more on par with Hamilton in Monaco 2008, but it was still a brilliant drive and more of a coming of age for him than even his debut win. If Hamilton was forced to push on that day in history maybe some people would not be so sensationalist by wrongly suggesting it was one of the best drives of all time, it is still undeniable that the feel for where the grip from Verstappan is the skill only belonging to the elite drivers in the sport.

Worst Race of the Season

Without a doubt Baku, minus Perez’s drive, literally nothing happened.

The Luca Badoer Backmarker of the Season

Congratulations Esteban Gutierrez, winner of this reward for pissing off every frontrunner with his inability to respond to blue flags and generally being a nuisance.

Heartbreak of the Season

Shout out to Hamilton’s engine failure in Malaysia, but this award has to go to Felipe Massa. His emotional walk down the pit lane, while the paddock stood by and applauded him, while his family embraced him with a Brazilian flag and the Brazilian broke down in tears. It was an emotional farewell to a man who had got so close to winning the championship 8 years ago at the same circuit in front of his adoring fans.

Worst Drive of the Season

There can be a few nominees for this, for example Max Verstappan was useless in Monaco. But this award gets given to the dynamic duo of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr on the streets of Monaco. Driving round 15th and 16th (at the time 2nd from last and last), Nasr first disobeyed team orders to let Ericsson through, and then Ericsson in retaliation launched his car over the top of Nasr’s at La Rascasse, taking both of them out and wrecking both cars at the time when the team were struggling to survive.  In the words of Martin Brundle “that’s a sackable offense and that’s a sackable offense but both pay for their drives so they can’t sack either”.

Best Strategy call of the Season

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton with the decision during the Monaco Grand Prix to not pit for intermediates and stay on extreme wets until it stayed dry. This call, along with Hamilton’s brilliant wet weather drive, effectively won the race for Mercedes (along with a mix up with Ricciardo’s pit stop at Red Bull).

Worst strategy call of the season

Has to be Ferrari and Vettel in the opening race of the season. It was in the bag, until the farcical call to bring Ferrari up by pitting him when they didn’t need to in Lap 35, this dropped him from 1st to 4th. Vettel then went on to finish 3rd, after making a mistake while chasing Hamilton, the first of a few times Ferrari would throw away race victories through strategy.

Moment of the Season

For me this was when Rosberg and Hamilton collided at the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix. It was pure drama, and the climax of a race where Hamilton had been chasing Rosberg down for 20 laps before. It also proved the psychology in the Hamilton-Rosberg relationship. It was clear that Rosberg chose to cause the collision as proof that Hamilton could not just bully his way past in every wheel-to-wheel battle, and this mentality to turn the tables lead to Nico to shoot himself in the foot. The other moments of the season was Hamilton’s engine blowout in Malaysia, which ultimately cost him the championship, and of course the shot of Hamilton and Rosberg shaking hands on the podium, showing mutual respect and sportsmanship within the rivalry.

promo299665248

The moment which cost Hamilton the championship

Farce of the season

The first two hours of Brazilian Grand Prix. It was a ludicrous but an all too common decision to start under the safety car, but Formula One hit a season low when the second red flag came out when every driver was speaking on the radio in support of starting the race at that point. If the race had not restarted, the sport could have lost many fans that day.

Pundit of the Season

For the first time in about 20 years, Martin Brundle does not win this award. Instead it goes to Mark Webber. Whenever Mark was on Channel 4 his analysis was razor sharp and as only a recently retired driver, had a lot of insight gossip and knowledge which made his punditry a match to Martin Brundles razor sharp commentary which made The Times name him as the “Best Pundit in any sport” in 2009..

Crash of the Season

Kevin Magnussen’s massive crash at Eau Rouge.

The Pastor Maldonaldo award for reckless driving

Some people would expect me to say Max Vestappan. However, for causing three different first corner pileups, and for his hypocrisy about moving in the breaking zone and criticising Vestappan for things he did in the same grand prix, this Pastor Maldonaldo reward has to go to Sebastian Vettel.  His Maldonaldo highlight has to be taking his own teammate out and having the audacity of blaming another driver for his stupidity.

Overtake of the Season

Alonso on Massa (USA), robust, surprising, uplifting, brilliant.

The Lewis Hamilton Rookie of the year award

Pascal Wehrlein – not much competition here, but Wehrlein stood out a lot more than the frankly overrated Esteban Ocon and the mediocre Jolyon Palmer. Wehrlein’s standout moment was scoring Manor’s 2nd ever points finish.

The Nick Heidfeld Midfielder of the year Award

There have been some good midfielders this season. Fernando Alonso was brilliant all season as always, Grosjean led the new Haas team well, and Hulkenberg once again was solid. However the outstanding performer in the midfield was Sergio Perez, a man who scored two podiums this season, and every time there has been the chance of a good result has always managed to place his Force India in that position. Perez should be the lead driver in the Renault team next year, and I hope for his sake that a seat in the top team comes available next season and that he will get his second chance in a top team.

The Eddie Jordan Team of the Year Award

As much as I would like to give it to Force India, who have been pound-to-pound an outstanding team this year, but I have to give this award to Mercedes. They have arguably the best drivers, the best car, the best tacticians, the best PR and the best management in the series. A third Constructors Championship and the Eddie Jordan award for the Silver Arrows!

Driver of the Season Award Sponsored by Rudrum Ramblings

In 3rd for this award is Hamilton, who would have still overcame Rosberg in the championship if it wasn’t for bad reliability, this is not taking anything away from Nico, this is simply a fact.

In 2nd is Verstappan, who may have done a lot wrong, has done more outstandingly right. I predict Max will be champion in 2018.

But my driver of the year, sponsored by Rudrum Ramblings, is Daniel Ricciardo, who has been outstanding. Ricciardo has somehow kept his young teammate at bay, outscored and outqualified him, and should have won at least three races this year (without poor strategy Ricciardo could have won in Spain and Monaco). And to top it off, he is probably the coolest and most charismatic man in the sport currently.

ricciardo_festa_germania_getty_3755484.jpg

So after another season of the sport, I will now only have Norwich’s Championship slump to keep me interested in sport until next season begins. Will Mercedes still be the team to beat? Will Red Bull catch them? Will McLaren or Ferrari regain former glories? we shall find out next season, my prediction in Ricciardo to win the championship in a revitalised Red Bull team.