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The View From Over Here - And The Winner Is...

FEATURE BY JIM CASEY
24/01/2012

The time has come to assess what we saw in 2011, and award all of the pertinent awards. So, with my exhaust flowing to the rear, and my diffuser fully blown, let's hit the track.

The first award is the "Clean Sheets" award, shared by Virgin, HRT, and Lotu$, or whatever they are calling themselves now. No name change can alter the fact that these three blind mice continue to putter around at the back of the grid trying to stay out of the way of the real racers.

If only Bernie would change to a NASCAR-style points system, where the winner of each race gets 5,000 points, second 4,999, and on down the list, these teams would finally score some points. Sometime in 2012 one of these teams, in its new guise, will probably sneak in a ninth or tenth and they will celebrate like they just won the World Championship, and how pathetic will that be? It may be progress, but I doubt that Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, or Mercedes will lose any sleep over it.

Our next award, the "Where Did Our Love Go" award, goes to Williams Grand Prix Engineering, having had their most dismal season in active memory. Their engineers have been leaving, the car was a complete failure, and for a team with so much past glory to score a total of 5 points in all these races, and with the recent points expansion, is appalling. No team in the paddock needs a full infusion of new blood more than Williams. They will have Renault engines in 2012, but how much that will help is questionable, as Mercedes clearly has more power. In signing Bruno Senna at least the team has done Rubens Barrichello favour, I would love to see him driving an Audi or a Peugeot at Le Mans next year.

Next up, Toro Rosso gets the "Whiny Little Brother" award for cruising around, staying out of big brother's way, and not making too much trouble, or doing much to get noticed, like little brothers should.

The "Marty McFly" award goes to Sauber, for their complete lack of progress following a promising 2010. Sergio Perez definitely shows promise, and had some good races this season, but Kamui Kobayashi's aggressiveness and flair failed to match his drives of 2010. This team seems to be permanently locked in to the middle of the pack, and if it stays this way, they may be eligible for the "Groundhog Day" award next year.

Force India seemed to show some progress this year, but ultimately wound up about the same place they've been for the last three years, so they get the "Moonwalk" award for looking like they're moving without actually getting anywhere.

Renault gets the "Flattering to Deceive" award for starting with two podiums, then tumbling into complete irrelevance from then on. Qualifying and race performances deteriorated consistently through the year, and despite the cool black and gold paint jobs the cars did not bear much watching.

The "Smoky Burnout" award goes to Mercedes for looking exciting, but not delivering any serious results. Schumi, please go home and wrench your kids' go-karts and let someone worthy have the seat. You're never going to catch Vettel, or your own teammate for that matter. All you can do anymore is demonstrate the shoddy driving that led so many to dislike and disrespect you even when you were on top. You're about as relevant as the P34 Tyrrell, and as likely to find any future success.

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