2015: LEWIS HAMILTON

Models produced by: Minichamps (Paul’s Model Art)

Year: 2015
Driver: Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain)
Team: Mercedes
Car: Mercedes W06 Hybrid
Results: 10 wins, 16 podiums, 11 poles, 9 fastest laps

Sebastian Vettel left Red Bull after 4 championships and dismal 2014 season to join Ferrari after they too suffered one of the worst seasons in their history. Fernando Alonso left Ferrari and joined McLaren, who started engine partnership with Honda. Daniil Kvyat moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso’s new driver) became the youngest F1 driver with 17 years and 166 days at his debut.

Mercedes started the 2015 season like they finished the previous one – in dominant fashion – which they already showed at pre-season testing. However, surprise came as early as on the 2nd race of the season. In hot conditions of Malaysia Ferrari surprised Mercedes and the F1 world – Vettel won his 2nd race for Ferrari with better tyre life and one pit stop less then faster Mercedes. Season resumed with normal service as Mercedes easily kept winning pole positions and won the next 7 races, with Lewis Hamilton usually faster than Nico Rosberg in both – qualifying and the race.

In Hungary, the 10th race of the season, Mercedes drivers again locked out the front row, but Ferraris had the better start, with Vettel taking the lead into first corner. He controlled the race to the finish line and won. Vettel’s third win came in Singapore, the night race where he usually excels. Mercedes strangely lacked pace, so he took the first and only non-Mercedes pole position of the season, dominated the race from the start to finish.

In all other races Mercedes and especially Lewis Hamilton were untouchable. The team won a 12 one-two race finishes, which is a new record, as its 703 points (86% of all available points scored by the team in a season), the 15 front row lock outs and the 32 podiums.

Hamilton drove arguably his best season of his career – winning 10 races and 11 pole positions. Rosberg didn’t find the answer for dominant and very consistent team mate for most of the season and Hamilton clinched his 3rd world title at 16th race of the season (out of 19) in Austin, Texas. However, Rosberg came back to form in the last part of the season winning  last 6 pole positions and last 3 races. He finished the season with 6 wins and 7 pole position.

McLaren team and their two world champion drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button had an embarrassing season. Honda engine was so underpowered and unreliable they struggled to get in the points. Alonso’s 5th place in Hungary was the team’s best finishing position.

Red Bull was unsatisfied with unreliable and underpowered Renault engine, which actually went backwards from 2014 when new-era hybrid engines were introduced. Their best finishing positions and the only podiums came on slow tracks of Hungary and Singapore. Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Riccardo were 2nd and 3rd in Hungary, while Ricciardo also finished 2nd in Singapore.

Toro Rosso’s two rookies – Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. both showed great race craft and world championship potential, qualifying well and regularly finishing in the points.

See the FIA Gala season review.

2014: LEWIS HAMILTON

Models produced by: Spark

Year: 2014
Driver: Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain)
Team: Mercedes
Car: Mercedes W05 Hybrid
Results: 11 wins, 16 podiums, 7 poles, 7 fastest laps

Kimi Raikkonen was signed again by Ferrari to join Alonso and Felipe Massa went to Williams after 8 years with Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, while Mark Webber retired.

2014 season saw one of the biggest rule changes in the sport. The 2.4 litre V8 engine has been replaced by 1.6 lire V6 hybrid power unit with integrated energy recovery system. The rule changes also dictated lower downforce levels.

Mercedes invested heavily in previous seasons to prepare themselves for 2014 and they managed to produce one of the most dominant cars in F1 history – the W05 Hybrid. Their power unit was by far the most powerful and reliable and their chassis was only matched by Red Bull. However, the reigning world champions could barely turn a wheel without reliability issues of their Renault power unit in pre-season testings. It was obvious even before the first race that 2014 will be a battle between Mercedes drivers, childhood friends and competitors since karting days – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The pair won 18 pole positions and 16 out of 19 races between them. They set a new record by finishing the race first and second 11 times in a season.

Hamilton was usually faster during races and showed better race craft. He took  7 pole positions and won 11 races while he also suffered more reliability issues. Rosberg surprised everyone by usually being faster qualifier than Hamilton. He took 11 pole positions, 5 race wins and showed great consistency with 10 additional 2nd places during the season. The championship was decided at the last race. Rosberg needed to win with Hamilton being lower than 2nd. Rosberg qualified on pole, but lost the lead to Hamilton at the start of the race. Later his ERS system failed and Hamilton won the race and his 2nd title. He also became 1st Mercedes champion after Juan Manuel Fangio 1955.

The only non-Mercedes driver to win a race in 2014 was Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), who took his opportunity every time Mercedes’ drivers or reliability didn’t deliver. He won 3 races, showed great race craft established himself as one of the top drivers in the field.

The reigning 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel had a dissapointing season in the other Red Bull. He suffered several reliability issues during the season and he needed more time than expected to get used to the new generation of cars with lower rear-end downforce. He only managed to score 4 podium finishes and 2 fastest laps. At the end of the season he surprised everyone with his decision to leave Red Bull and join struggling Ferrari, who had the worst season since 1993. Fernando Alonso managed one 2nd and one 3rd place while Kimi Raikkonen’s best result was 4th place. Ferrari and Alonso ended their relationship without winning a championship in their 5 years together and Alonso joined McLaren for the second time in his career.

After several disappointing seasons and with powerful Mercedes power units Williams returned to the front end of the grid. Promising young Finn Valteri Bottas and Felipe Massa maneged to score 9 podium finished which brought Williams 3rd place in constructors championship, behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

See the official FIA season review.

2013: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 2013
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Red Bull Racing Renault
Car: Red Bull RB9 (Hungry Heidi)*
Results: 13 wins, 16 podiums, 9 poles, 7 fastest laps

Michael Schumacher retired from the sport for the second time. Lewis Hamilton took his place at Mercedes, while Hamilton’s seat at McLaren was taken by Sergio Perez.

2013 was a season of two halves. The season started with different teams being competitive at different tracks, mainly due to teams still getting to grips with new and fragile Pirelli tires. Raikkonen (Lotus) won the opening round, Vettel (Red Bull) won the 2nd round after ignoring team orders and overtaking his team mate Mark Webber in the last part of the race. Alonso was competitive in his Ferrari and won the 3rd race. In the following races Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were usually the fastest in qualifying, but they dropped down the order on sunday due to Mercedes car using tires to quickly. Red Bull faced similar tire problems, but to lesser extent. On the other hand Ferrari and Lotus couldn’t put heat in the tires over one lap, but could make tires last longer over the race distance. Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull maximized his opportunities with very consistent driving and led the championship from early on. In the first ten race we saw 5 different winners: Vettel (Red Bull) won 4 races, Alonso (Ferrari) and Rosberg (Mercedes) won 2 each, while Hamilton (Mercedes) and Raikkonen (Lotus) won 1 each.

The turning point was race 8 in Silverstone. After several tyre failures Pirreli was forced to change the construction of the tires due to safety reasons. The new tires were closer to more durable 2012 Pirellis and Red Bull with their superior downforce made good use of them after the summer break. Together with an effective upgrade of the RB9 car and flawless driving Vettel began to dominate like he did in 2011. He won all 9 remaining races after the summer break and easily became the youngest 4 time world champion three races before the end of the season. After Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher he also became only the 3rd one who managed to win 4 world titles in a row. Red Bull won 4th constructors’ title in a row. 2013 was also the last season of V8 engine era.

Vettel finished the season with record equaling 13 wins. Alonso was 2nd with 2 wins plus additional 7 podiums. Webber finished his last season 3rd with no wins but 7 podiums. Hamilton was 4th with 1 win. Raikkonen was 5th with 1 win and Rosberg was 5th with 2 wins. McLaren drivers finished the season without a podium.

See Sebastian Vettel celebrating his 4th title with a couple of donuts and praising his car with a bow. And here is another angle taken from a grand stand by a fan. And here is the FIA’s season review.

*Named by Vettel

2012: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 2012
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Red Bull Racing Renault
Car: Red Bull RB8 (Abbey)*
Results: 5 wins, 10 podiums, 6 poles, 6 fastest laps

After two year of racing in World Rally Championship Kimi Räikkonen returned to F1 with Lotus. Therefore season featured a record 6 world champions on the grid. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Kimi Räikkonen (Lotus), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Jenson Button (McLaren) and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).

McLaren started the season with the best car while Ferrari were struggling. Over the winter Pirelli changed the tyre compounds which proved to be a major factor in the first half of the season, since teams found it hard to deal with new tyres. This is one of the reasons we saw record 7 different winners in the first 7 races: Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg (his 1st win), Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado (his 1st win), Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. McLaren should be leading both championships by now, but various operational mistakes (pit-stops mistakes and bad strategy calls) meant that Fernando Alonso was leading the championship half way through the season despite his Ferrari lacking speed. It was down to his good driving and taking advantage of most opportunities. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was scoring good points in a Red Bull but their performance was far from 2011 dominance.

The second part of the season again started with McLaren dominace as they won 3 races in a row. But then Red Bull found additional speed in their car and Sebastian Vettel won 4 races in a row, which meant he took the championship lead from Fernando Alonso. By now both drivers had 2 DNF’s. Vettel was let down by his alternator twice (once while leading the race), while Alonso was a two-time victim of the first corner crash. Despite great drives by Lewis Hamilton he was out of the championship fight due to early season mistakes by his team and reliability issues of his McLaren – he retired twice from the lead in the second part of the season. At about that time he also shocked the F1 world by deciding he will leave McLaren at the end of the season and join struggling Mercedes in 2013. This also meant that Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) was retiring for the second time – this time for good.

The last part of the season was fight between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to become the youngest ever 3-times world champion. McLaren again proved to have the fastest car, but that didn’t stop Red Bull from winning their third consecutive constructors’ title one race before the end of the season. Vettel entered the last race with healthy 13 points lead and Alonso needed at least 3rd place to stand a chance. But wet Interlagos once again staged a thriller race. Vettel had a slow start from 4th on the grid and dropped to last place after the first few corners following a collision with Bruno Senna. In a chaotic race through drizzle, light rain, then heavy rain and multiple pit stops, it was Vettel in a damaged Red Bull who emerged the man, coming home sixth to finish three points ahead of Fernando Alonso, who finished the race in 2nd place.

Vettel finished the season 1st with 5 wins, 10 podiums, 6 poles and 6 fastest laps.

Alonso was close 2nd with 3 wins, 13 podiums and 2 poles in a car that didn’t have the right to fight for the championship.

Raikkonen was 3rd in his very consistent comeback season with 1 win, 7 podiums and 2 fastest laps. He was the only driver to finish all 20 races, 19 of them in the points.

Hamilton only managed 4th with 4 wins, 7 podiums, 7 poles, 1 fastest lap, but 6 unlucky DNFs.

Button was 5th with 3 wins, 6 podiums, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap, but 4 DNFs.

Read also the season wrap up by James Allen

See Official FIA Season Review and a nice tribute to Vettel by BBC.

*Named by Sebastian Vettel

2011: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 2011
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Red Bull Racing Renault
Car: Red Bull RB7 (Kinky Kylie)*
Results: 11 wins, 17 podiums, 15 poles, 3 fastest laps

2011 season saw the reintroduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) which recovers moving vehicle’s kinetic energy under braking and allows the driver to use it under acceleration, and introduction of DRS (Drag Reduction System), which allows the driver to open an adjustable flap on the rear wing of the car (which when closed creates more downforce for greater cornering) to reduce downforce, thus giving a pursuing car more speed and a greater chance of overtaking a car in front.

And although Red Bull started the season without KERS, Sebastian Vettel dominated the early part of the season with 5 wins out of first 6 races. In the middle of the season Ferrari and especially McLaren closed the gap to Red Bull and even had the best car in some races, but Sebastian Vettel usually still managed to win races in the same manner: get pole position with a perfect lap on saturday and control the sunday race from start to finish. Sebastian Vettel won his second consecutive championship with 4 races to go, and finish the season with the record high 15 pole positions. He also became the youngest ever double world champion with 24 years and 98 days, while Red Bull Racing won the second constructors’ world championship.

Vettel took 11 wins plus 6 additional podiums (out of 19 races), Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton won 3 races each for McLaren, Fernando Alonso won 1 for Ferrari and Mark Webber won 1 in the other Red Bull car.

See FIA’s season review

*Named by Vettel

2010: SEBASTIAN VETTEL

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 2010
Driver: Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Team: Red Bull Racing Renault
Car: Red Bull RB6 (Luscious Liz & Randy Mandy)*
Results: 5 wins, 10 podiums, 10 poles, 3 fastest laps

Before the start of the season, 2009 Drivers’ Champion Jenson Button joined McLaren, while the 2009 Constructors’ Champion, Brawn GP, was bought by German motor vehicle manufacturer Mercedes-Benz and was renamed as Mercedes GP. The 2010 season saw the return of the most successful driver in Formula One history, with seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher coming out of retirement after a three-year absence.

In stark contrast to 2009, no one driver emerged as dominant in the early stages of the 2010 season. Red Bull showed signs of dominance, but their reliability issues and mistakes made the 2010 season one of the most thrilling in sports history. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) won 5 races each, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) won 4 each, while Jenson Button (McLaren) won 2.

Red Bull Racing eventually won its maiden Constructors’ Championship with a one-two finish in Brazil, while Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel won the Drivers’ Championship after winning the final race of the season. In doing so, Vettel became the youngest World Drivers’ Champion in the sport’s sixty-year history. Vettel’s victory in the championship came after a dramatic season finale at Abu Dhabi where three other drivers could also have won the championship; Vettel’s Red Bull Racing team mate Mark Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. The last race was actually the first time Sebastian Vettel had led the 2010 World Championship, although general opinion was that the fastest man in the fastest car won the championship. (Source: Wikipedia)

See a great season review by FIA!

*Named by Vettel