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.

Noughties Pitbabes

Noughties Pitbabes

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.

F1 Review 2010

F1 Review 2010

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!