Was F1 2010 the greatest championship?



Whether it was Sebastian Vettel's 'number one' salute or Mark Webber spinning through the Valencia air, Niko Hulkenberg claiming pole at Interlagos or a defeated Fernando Alonso in Abu Dhabi, there were enough moments to make 2010 one of the best title fights in years - perhaps ever.

To have four drivers going into the final race with a chance of the title was something to savour and although the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix itself wasn't as compelling a race as many had hoped for, the finale that resulted in Vettel being crowned world champion was as intriguing as the whole season had been.

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Was F1 2010 the greatest championship?

BAR promotional girls pose infront of a car at Albert Park.

BAR promotional girls pose next to a car at Albert Park.

BAR driver Takumo Sato (c) poses with promotional girls pose on a car at Albert Park.

Jordan girls Michelle Clack, left, and Jodie Shaw, right, in the Silverstone pits, the first day of practice for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Grid Girls.

Grid Girls

Grid Girls

Grid Girls

Grid Girls

Two Grid Girls pose for photographers at the gates of Albert Park's racetrack in Melbourne, Australia.

Australian GP girls.

Grid girls

Grand Prix Girls.

Australian GP Girls.

Grid Girls

Grid Girls

Formula One Grand Prix Girls.

Grid girls pose at the pitlane of the Canadian racing track prior to the Grand Prix of Canada in Montreal, Canada.

Photographers shoot girls who line up for the drivers parade of the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack near Budapest, Hungary.

Grid girls line up during the drivers parade for the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack.

Two grid girls pose next to a BMW Formula One car at a Formula One warm-up party at Federations square in Melbourne, Australia.

Brazilian Samba girls at the BRDC

Grid Girls prior to the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.

Grid Girls during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.

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However, rewind back to March and it looked as though the doom-mongers of the sport were right after the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain looked likely to yield a season about as tedious as a Sunday drive around the M25.

Not that that would have worried Fernando Alonso who took the chequered flag and joined an elite band of drivers who have won on their Ferrari debuts. His appearance in the red of the Scuderia was matched by the sight of one man not wearing those colours - Michael Schumacher.

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Was F1 2010 the greatest championship?

Jenson Button started the new season with a new team and a new number on his car when he took to the Bahrain circuit as World Champion. Could he successfully defend his title with McLaren?

Michael Schumacher returned to F1 two years after retiring but the seven-times World champion would soon discover that his comeback would be a tough one.

The famous name and colours of Lotus also returned to F1 and made a decent fist of it amongst the new boys, McLaren refugee Heikki Kovalainen the pick of the bunch.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso crosses the finish line to win the opening race of the season in Bahrain.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso joined an elite band of drivers who have won on their Ferrari debuts when he took the chequered flag in Bahrain.

Jenson Button quickly got into his groove in the McLaren MP4-25, winning the second race of the campaign in Australia.

Robert Kubica's second place at the Australian GP was the first of three podiums the Pole would score in 2010 and a reflection of how he could wring the best out of the Renault.

The championship began to look wide open as Red Bull got in on the act when Sebastian Vettel won the third race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg was not overawed by Michael Schumacher and consistently outperformed his illustrious Mercedes team-mate. Three podium places including this one in Malaysia guided Rosberg to seventh place in the Championship.

After Vettel's success in Malaysia, it was his team-mate Mark Webber who became the fourth different winner in five races when he took the chequered flag in Spain.

Webber and his Red Bull team-mates celebrate after he won the Spanish Grand Prix. He made it two in a row when he triumphed at Monaco a couple of weeks later.

Alonso and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi drive past the harbour at the Monaco GP. Rookie Kobayashi showed huge potential with some superb overtaking moves throughout his debut season.

Team-mates Vettel and Webber's relationship looked to begin its downward spiral when the two collided in Turkey. Matters were made worse by team advisor and Vettel mentor Helmut Marko , who laid the blame firmly at Webber's door contrary to general opinion.

After a mixed start, Lewis Hamilton came alive midway through the season winning successive races in Turkey and Canada. He would lead the standings for much of the summer.

Two crashes marred Webber's season. The first was a spectacular somersault in Valencia from which he was lucky to survive unscathed. The second in Korea effectively put an end to his title hopes.

A guest at the Red Bull pool party watches Lewis Hamilton overtake the FIA safety car as it leaves the pits following Mark Webber's spectacular crash in Valencia.

Vettel congratulates Webber after the Australian won the British Grand Prix. Webber had questioned his position in the Red Bull team after his front wing was given to Vettel after qualifying.

Webber celebrates victory at the British Grand Prix with a comment that captured what many people were thinking regarding his position at Red Bull.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was furious with the reaction to the front wing saga after the British GP. "We've just won the f***ing British Grand Prix" he raged as journalists seemed more interested in the intra-team warfare that had boiled over.

Fernando Alsonso leads Felipe Massa to a Ferrari one-two at the German GP after Massa had let his team-mate through following his engineer's comment that "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand."

Ferrari denied team orders were issued in Germany but the authorities took a different view and fined the team $100,000. Here Alonso and Massa face some difficult questions at the post-race press conference.

Schumacher squeezes former Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello into the pit wall and onto the grass in Canada, a move that drew intense criticism. Barrichello's experience was amply demonstrated as he drove the Williams FW32 to 10th in the championship.

Nico Hulkenberg handed Williams its first pole position in five years when left the rest of the field for dead in Brazil. Unfortunately it wasn't enough and the German lost his seat for 2011 as the team was forced to look for a paying driver.

In one of the more dramatic scenes of 2010, Heikki Kovalainen had to make a quick exit from his Lotus after it caught fire at the finish line in Singapore.

The first part of the Red Bull success story was sealed in Brazil when Vettel and Webber finished first and second to win the Constructors Championship.

Vettel gives his traditional 'number one' gesture after qualifying first at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

After a mediocre season (by his standards) Michael Schumacher's year came to a premature end when he collected Vitantonio Liuzzi's Force India car after a first lap spin in Abu Dhabi.

Alonso's spectacular second half to the season that took him to the points lead came to nought when the Ferrari team panicked at the final race in Abu Dhabi. The timing of his pitstop meant he dropped down the order from which he couldn't recover.

Vitaly Petrov was often overshadowed by Renault team-mate Robert Kubica but he had his moments none more so than in Abu Dhabi where he held Fernando Alonso at bay for much of the race, much to the latter's disgust as he watched his title ambitions disappear.

Ignoring all the shenanigans behind him, Vettel remained totally focused in Abu Dhabi to claim the Drivers title and thus become the youngest world champion. It was the first time the German had led the points standings.

Vettel takes a moment to reflect on his achievement after taking the world championship in Abu Dhabi.

Two former world champions celebrate with the newly-crowned victor on the podium after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack.

Alonso was desperately unlucky not to win his third world title and here he ponders what might have been after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vettel and his Red Bull team-mates celebrate his championship win.

The final photocall as the Red Bull team celebrate claiming the Constructors and Drivers World Championships.

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The Ferrari legend was back in the cockpit after three years of retirement but this time driving for Mercedes, partnered by Nico Rosberg and led by team boss, Ross Brawn. Speculation was rampant over how Schumacher would perform and if anyone thought his team-mate would be another Rubens Barrichello, Rosberg quickly proved otherwise, regularly outperforming the seven-times world champion.

Schumacher's return meant there were four world champions on the grid, two of them British. Jenson Button had jumped ship and moved from the Brawn team to join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren where they soon formed an understanding and friendship not often seen between drivers. Although both would fail to claim a second title, they played pivotal roles in the championship and Hamilton went into the final race with an improbable but mathematical chance of winning the title.

An absence of such fraternal relations soon became apparent at Red Bull where Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber enjoyed an increasingly fractious pertnership as the season developed. For Webber, the lowpoint was reached at Silverstone when the team gave Vettel the front wing from his car. After winning the British Grand Prix, Webber's comment of "not bad for a number two driver" won him the sympathy vote, if nothing else.



Webber may well have taken the title if it hadn't been for a couple of crashes and his accident at Valencia provided some of the most dramatic images of the year. Fortunately, the Australian was unhurt but his crash in Korea effectively ended his hopes of taking the championship.

While Webber's star waned, Alonso and Vettel saw their chance and the intensity of the battle grew as the races got fewer. In the end Ferrari blew it with a poor pitstop call leaving Vettel to scamper off into the Abu Dhabi dusk. F1 had not witnessed such an absorbing season for many a year and it was indicative of the drama that pundits and fans alike were harking back to the days of Mansell, Piquet, Prost and Senna to remember a championship that last offered such excitement.

If 2011 can provide such thrills - after all there will be five World Champions on the grid - we'll be in for another classic. In the meantime, check out our season review in pictures and a reminder of the glamorous side of F1 with our Gridgirls of the Noughties gallery.

See you in 2011!
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