The F1 2010 season was one of the greatest battle of proven champions we’ve had on the grid – right up there with The Formula 1 2012 season. But what separated this season apart was the 10 lead changes and the fact that Vettel never even led at any point in the season before becoming the youngest ever Formula 1 world champion.
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F1 2010 Season Full Transcript
Wheel to wheel.
Tense team dynamics you couldn’t possibly write.
Ten different times, the Drivers Championship lead exchange hands, a nightmare of nerves and a battle of attrition. The season where if you stepped into the lead, it inevitably would slip from under you, denied whoever sat at the top of the standings the comfort of becoming a race winner while they occupied the throne momentarily.
As the long winter break load the grid asleep, new plot lines were reignited. It may be a new year, but Adrian Newey and the Red Bulls hope that their car would continue right where she left off, with back to back to back race wins for Red Bull and the young star, Sebastian Vettel, taking two of the last three. You may be familiar with the results of this season, but hopefully, watching the story unfold right before your eyes will give you a new level of appreciation of what a spectacle this sport really is as it did for me.
Enjoy this Formula 1 thriller. This is the 2010 season.
Round one, Bahrain.
Alonso’s Impressive Scuderia Debut
The season started with Sebastian Vettel taking pole position at the first Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was driven to make his first outing with Ferrari B strong as he was following Sebastian Vettel closely in second place, with Felipe Massa in third place. Reigning world champion, Jenson Button, now driving next to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, was falling back as his new teammate was pushing on. After a bit of jostling in the top five spots, those top teams saw their first pit stop and only pit stop. Both McLaren’s got the jump on their Mercedes rivals, with Lewis Hamilton now driving in third place.
As the race progressed, Sebastian Vettel started to notice that his car was losing power. Vettel’s mechanical problem, which would later be diagnosed as a spark plug issue, would be too severe. And both of the Ferraris overtook him with Fernando Alonso taking his victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, followed closely by Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, completing the podium in P3. Vettel was strong enough to hold off the Silver Arrows as he took fourth place in the day followed by Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Round two, Australia. After a disappointing race for Sebastian Vettel, he was quoted as saying, “I think coming out of Bahrain, we have a very good car. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be competitive here.” And with that said, Sebastian Vettel took his second consecutive pole position of the 2010 season. Returning from his main victory with Ferrari, Fernando Alonso did not have such luck as he was facing the wrong way on the first lap in Australia. Robert Kubica had a much better start as he was actually classified as P9 through the qualifying session, but made his way to the first lap all the way up to P4.
Jenson Button decided to be the first car to throw on the slick tires, and it looked like it was something that he might pay for as he slid off the track and into the gravel pit. Sebastian Vettel began to pad his lead throughout the first stint of the race. Meanwhile, by lap 10, Fernando Alonso has made his way up all the way to 10th place. A third of the way through the race, Nico Rosberg found himself in fifth place and a consistent drive helped him stay here throughout the remainder of the Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso’s careful driving ended up paying off as he saw himself in P4 by the end of the race, capitalizing on what would be a very strong race after the first lap for him. Sebastian Vettel saw a problem while leading the race, but this time, everything fell apart and quickly. By lap 26, he had to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. Jenson Button overtook the lead with Robert Kubica just behind him. And that’s how the race finished, with Philippe Massa closely behind and Kubica in third place.
After the second Grand Prix, we saw Fernando Alonso in first place with 37 points, followed closely by his teammate at Ferrari, Felipe Massa, with 33 points, Jenson Button just two points behind Felipe Massa, with his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, in fourth place at 23 points, and Nico Rosberg holding strong at fifth place with 20 points. As such, in the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari was first place with 70 points, followed closely by McLaren at 54, Mercedes at 29, with Renault and Red Bull both tied at 18.
Saturday’s Grand Prix at Malaysia proved to be very wet and difficult indeed for both Ferrari and McLaren as neither of the team seeing one driver in the qualifying session land above 16th place. Nico Rosberg denied Red Bull’s front row lockout as he started second place, with Mark Webber taking pole position, and Sebastian Vettel taking P3. He wouldn’t stay in third for long though, as he was able to challenge Nico Rosberg, and by the end of the first lap was able to jump Mark Webber for the lead. Despite the poor start from McLaren and Ferrari, both of the teams saw all of the drivers within the top 10 by the end of lap 26.
Vettel would maintain that lead that he grabbed from the first lap of the Grand Prix and end up finishing the race in P1. Mark Webber’s efforts were good enough to help Red Bull finish with a one-two, with Nico Rosberg able to hold off Robert Kubica for third place on the podium. Fernando Alonso’s uphill battle this time was not so successful as his engine gave out, and he was classified P13 at the Grand Prix. And despite his teammate, Philippe Massa, not having the best of races, finishing in P7, he was able to score enough points to put him in first position and in Drivers’ Championship with 39 points. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are now deadlocked in second place with 37 points, with another tie between Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg for 35 points. The Constructors’ Championship tightened up dramatically as Ferrari was now sitting on 76 points in first position, with McLaren was 66 points in P2, and the Red Bull one-two finish now put them in third place with 61 points.
Round four, China. The Red Bull team carry over their strong performance from the last Grand Prix, and they end up blocking out the front row with Sebastian Vettel this time taking pole position and Mark Webber following closely in second place off the line. Alonso, eager to promote himself from his third place grid start, actually ends up having a jumpstart to begin the race. Vettel saw his lead evaporate as a turn six incident forced his safety car out. In the early stages of the race, rain began to fall much harder. This forced most of the grid to pit for their intermediate tires. Meanwhile, Alonso was given a drive-through penalty for his earlier jumpstart which he served in lap 14. The rain picked back up around lap 20, and the drivers at the top of the race, which were Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, and Robert Kubica, all decided to pit for their intermediates.
The rain was off and on, with the final lap of the Grand Prix seeing the strongest downpour. And the Grand Prix that started as a one-two lockout for the Red Bulls ended up being a one-two finish for the McLaren’s. Jenson Button took a second victory now in the 2010 season, with Lewis Hamilton just behind him in second place, and Nico Rosberg rounding up the podium in P3. Button’s driving that day earned him the top spot on the podium and the top spot in the Drivers’ Championship now sitting on 60 points followed closely by Nico Rosberg with 50 points. Fernando Alonso’s finish that day, while is only good enough for fourth place, earned him 12 points that contributed to his 49 in the Drivers’ Championship. Hamilton’s podium now tied him in third place, with Alonso at 49 points, with Sebastian Vettel now dropping down to 45 points in fifth place. McLaren now controlled the lead of the Constructors’ Championship with 109 points compared to Ferrari’s 90 points. Red Bull followed closely with 73 points, with Mercedes and Renault fourth and fifth with 60 and 46 points.
In the interim of the Chinese Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, what became very evident was the dynamic that was playing out at Mercedes. The re-emergence of Mercedes also brought back the return of the legendary Michael Schumacher. Michael enjoyed a three-year hiatus, but now it was time to get back to racing. But the problem was he was paired next to a 24-year-old Nico Rosberg with his sight set on a championship. Nico’s talent could not be ignored at this point as the move to Mercedes proved to be a strong one. His consecutive podiums in Malaysia and China made him a strong contender for the championship that year. In the very least, it confirmed to many that Nico is here to stay, but now, it was another driver’s turn to come alive.
Throughout the first few rounds of this championship, he’s been just within striking distance, always near the top. Webber’s victory at the Spanish Grand Prix is ultimately what gave him the momentum to take into Monaco. And the Red Bulls were helped in Spain by the fact that Lewis Hamilton had crashed out of second place in his McLaren. The one-two finish by the Red Bulls put them at 113 points in third place, behind both Ferrari and McLaren.
But Webber’s performance in Monaco is ultimately what put Red Bull ahead of the rest of the Constructors that year. Webber was the only driver to drop into the one-thirteenth at the Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying that year. And despite the fact that the Red Bulls were unable to lock out the front row with Robert Kubica of the Renault actually splitting the two, Sebastian Vettel was able to make up one grid position and move into second place as the Red Bulls finished one-two, with Webber taking the victory in Monaco.
As for Sebastian, by the time we get to the sixth round in Monaco, he’d only won one Grand Prix, seeing the podium 50% of the time. But there’s a reason why the 2010 season was so highly regarded amongst fans. It was very tumultuous and even more unpredictable. And that’s why Sebastian Vettel, his results were still good enough to be tied for first place with Mark Webber, his teammate, at 78 points after Monaco. Fernando Alonso remained close, just three points behind the Red Bull duo at 75 points, with Jenson Button, who was the previous championship leader, dropping down three positions to P4. He now has 70 points, just 9 points clear of Felipe Massa in fifth place. Not surprisingly, Red Bull jumped two spots in the Constructors to 156, 20 points ahead of Ferrari with 136, with McLaren dropping two positions with 129 points. Mercedes, being propped up mostly by the young Nico Rosberg, were now in fourth place with 78 points, ahead of Renault with 65 points.
And with all of this momentum, Red Bull looked like they were going to run away with the championship this year. All they had to do was keep it together. But again, this is the 2010 season, nothing went as planned. We head to the seventh round, the Turkish Grand Prix, and how fitting a Grand Prix it was to be wedged in the 2010 season. And while many of us are familiar with the controversy that happened with the Red Bull at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, those events seemingly overshadowed the fact that McLaren had a similar controversy. The only difference was Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber collided. Mark Webber looked to be picking up right where he left off, taking the third consecutive pole in Turkey. Hamilton challenged for the lead at the beginning of the race, but ultimately Mark Webber held on. It wasn’t until the first round of pit stops that Sebastian Vettel was able to overtake Lewis Hamilton for second place, and now he was chasing down his teammate.
For the leading team, now it was all about fuel conservation. At least that’s what Mark Webber was instructed to do. It appeared, at least to Sebastian Vettel, that Mark Webber had slowed down a little bit too much. And on lap 40, he was able to catch up to his teammate. Vettel thought that he had the opportunity, and Mark Webber was conserving a little bit too much. He attempted an overtake in which it looks like he would have had the position had he just continued his path. The two collide in an incident that looks to many eerily like what happened in Brazil in 2019. Vettel looked to be worse for the wear of the two Red Bull drivers. He was actually forced to retire from the race. Mark Webber was able to continue but not after being overtaken by both the McLarens. Similar to the Red Bull drivers, both McLaren drivers were instructed to save fuel.
The Constructor leaders at the time were cut in half. The McLarens didn’t have to race each other. Hamilton was now leading the race after his pit stop error, with his teammate right behind him. Similar to Vettel, Jenson Button thought he had an opportunity on lap 48 to actually overtake his teammate, despite the fact that they were both supposedly conserving fuel. After rebuffing Jenson Button’s attempts to overtake him, Hamilton maintained the lead and ultimately took the race win. After the race, both Helmut Marko and Christian Horner seemed to be implying that it was Mark Webber’s fault and that Sebastian Vettel should have been given more room. But I’ll let you be the judge. What do you think happened here? And if you are uniquely interested in this incident, you can find the link below of a video where I go onboard and do an in-depth look at this Turkey incident between Red Bull drivers.
And with seven rounds complete, we have our fifth different race champion. Mark Webber maintains his championship lead but by a very slim margin at 93 points. Jenson Button moves up two positions, and Lewis Hamilton behind him moves up four positions as both McLaren drivers also helped the Constructors to take a one-point lead. And while Alonso failed to make any of the major headlines of the recent Grand Prix, he still sat tight in fourth place with 79 points, but I wouldn’t count him out just yet. The incident between Sebastian Vettel and Webber was costly to the German driver. His retirement saw zero points in that Grand Prix, which dropped him all the way to fifth place to 78 points.
And at this point in the season, despite the fact that both Red Bull drivers and the McLaren drivers actually came together, with McLaren obviously being less pronounced in Turkey, there seemed to be two different relationships brewing. The momentum from the one-two finish from McLaren in Turkey propelled ultimately the one-two finish that they received in Canada, with Lewis Hamilton taking a pole position and ultimately a back-to-back consecutive race win. Alonso showed the grid, and Lewis Hamilton in particular in the pit lane, that he was here still, and he joined the podium in third place. Lewis Hamilton was now the championship leader with 109 points followed closely by his teammate, just three points behind him. Mark Webber now fell to third place with 103 points ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in fifth at 90 points. The Constructors battle continued to swing in favor of McLaren as they took that major hall of points in Canada. They now were in first place with 215 points, leading Red Bull at 193 points. Ferrari sat in third with 161, followed by Mercedes and Renault.
We move to Valencia for the European Grand Prix. Red Bull continued their dominant position as they lock out the front row and a Red Bull driver takes pole position eight out of nine times this year. In qualifying, the duo have been pretty well matched, but this time it’s Sebastian’s turn. Sebastian converted his pole position into a race win, the second of the year and a seventh of his entire career. His teammate failed to finish the Grand Prix as he had a very scary incident and a wreck on track. The McLaren drivers joined Seb on the podium, but not without a challenge from Fernando Alonso. Both of the Ferrari drivers finished down in the field as Fernando Alonso finishing eighth place in that Grand Prix, but the race had been fixed. Despite the wind, Vettel’s heap of points was still not enough to overtake even Jenson Button as he sat in third place. Lewis Hamilton was still in cruise control with 127 points, with Jenson Button just behind him with 121 points. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber trailed, and Fernando Alonso still under 100 points at 98. McLaren regained control of the Constructors’ Championship as Mark Webber was unable to pull any points as Ferrari sit in third at 165 in front of Mercedes and Renault.
We head to Silverstone for the next Grand Prix. And while we’ve seen the controversy heat up for the Red Bull team throughout the season, everything comes to a boiling point at Silverstone. Under the backdrop that there has been some type of favoritism towards Sebastian Vettel that becomes very, very clear as a critical decision is made by the Red Bull team that drives an immovable stake between the two drivers. During the free practice session, Sebastian Vettel had a front nose problem where he needed it to be replaced. The problem was the most suitable parts were actually located on the sister car of the Red Bull. It’s one thing to take a functioning piece of equipment or a part off of a driver’s car and give it to their teammate, it’s another thing entirely to do it without telling the driver in advance. And while two drivers on track are going to come together, especially if they’re in winning cars, which is just going to happen, it certainly isn’t made any less difficult when the team is forcing the two drivers into situations that are impossible. Sound familiar?
[HORNER]: The only thing I regret about Silverstone was that we didn’t manage to have a conversation about the front wing before going into the qualifying. You know, it was wrong. It was a mistake. We should have sat down with Mark and explained it.
So, after Webber saw his front wing actually taken off his car without explanation and given to Sebastian Vettel and Vettel went on to take pole position, this was too much. And despite the good news of a front-row lockout, you knew that this race was going to be full of fireworks. Mark Webber was a man on a mission, and he challenged Seb for the race lead first turn. Despite Vettel’s best attempts to get Mark Webber to yield, he actually ended up becoming the loser as he made contact with Lewis Hamilton in third place. This dropped Seb all the way to the back of the field. He recovered ultimately to seventh place, but Mark Webber never looked back after that first turn. After a very strong display of driving, Mark Webber almost spitefully took that win in Silverstone despite the first signs that the Red Bull team are 100% favoring Sebastian Vettel.
Neither of the Ferrari drivers had a particularly good day bringing in zero points in the Constructors race. And in fairly uncommon fashion in the Silverstone podium, it was made up by three different drivers of three different teams, Mark Webber in P1, Lewis Hamilton finishing second, joined by his future teammate, Nico Rosberg. After the first lap first turn incident, Sebastian Vettel recovered to seventh place having taken only six points. This put Lewis Hamilton in first place in the Drivers’ Championship with 145 points. Jenson Button chased him closely with 133, with Mark Webber now in third place, up a position at 128 points. He swapped places with Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso still under 100 points. The McLaren team pulled even more clear of the Red Bull duo at 278 points versus 249 points, compared to Ferrari’s very meager 165 points.
And before heading to the German Grand Prix, Mark Webber left us with some candor that is still one of the most famous words said after crossing the finish line at first place over team radio, “Not bad for a number two driver.” As if the 2010 season it wasn’t hard enough bad on everyone, you knew after Silverstone, the gloves were off for everyone. It’s time for Hockenheim, round 11.
Beyond the halfway mark of the championship season, Fernando Alonso found himself behind and he needed a magnificent result in Germany. But I’m not sure this is the way he wanted to do it, or at least this is how it’s going to be remembered. Really, for the first time all season, a car looked like it could outright beat the Red Bulls. And while Sebastian Vettel took yet another pole position, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were starting in two-three. Vettel’s poor start made him vulnerable to both of the Ferrari drivers as Fernando Alonso quickly overtook him, but it was Felipe Massa who got the better of both of them by the end of turn two.
And as the race progressed, they looked as if this is the way it was going to finish, with the Felipe Massa P1, Fernando Alonso P2, and Sebastian Vettel P3. Deeper into the race, Felipe Massa began to encounter some of the backmarkers in traffic and was slowing down. And we know for sure that Fernando Alonso was catching Felipe Massa. What came through loud and clear over the radio on lap 48 of the 67 at Hockenheim was damning. And one of the more famous radio transmissions we’ve ever heard spoken, we hear Felipe Massa’s engineer say to him…
[00:18:01] Man 3: Okay. Fernando is faster than you. Confirm you understood the message. Okay, mate. Good luck. Just stick with him now. Sorry.
“Okay. So, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?” The message was even broadcasted on live race coverage. So, while many people were debating what that actually meant, you saw it play out on track where Felipe Massa moved aside and Fernando Alonso mysteriously picked up the pace and passed him to take over P1. And this did matter because after the 2002 season, the FAA instituted Article 39.1, which reads, “Team orders that could influence the outcome of a race were banned.” The race did end with Fernando Alonso holding that position in P1, with Felipe Massa taking second place, Sebastian Vettel trailing in third place.
And while the podium was respected, Fernando did take P1, the wind didn’t really feel that clean. The drivers involved and the team manager were summoned to the FAA after the race, and it was decided that they would be giving $100,000 fine for the incident. They were, in fact, found guilty of breaching Article 39.1. But strangely, the FAA opted only to fine them $100,000 and not necessarily give them any punitive damages that would reflect on-track performance. And this was important because essentially that’s why the “team order” was given in order to give Fernando Alonso the extra seven points for the championship fight. Any sort of penalty that gave him a dropping grid position or disqualified him totally, well, that would obviously hurt his 25 points he just gathered from the German Grand Prix.
Despite Vettel’s podium that day, he was still in fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship tied with Mark Webber, his teammate, at 136 points. Lewis Hamilton was still in first at 157 points, with his teammate at 143 points. Alonso’s victory that day put him back in the conversation as he sat in 123 points. Red Bull inched slightly closer to the McLaren team at 300 versus the 272. Ferrari sat in third place still with 208 points, Mercedes and Renault followed them.
We head to Hungary for the Grand Prix weekend, another race and another front-row lockout by the Red Bull duo. Sebastian Vettel took yet another pole and got the best of the field, but he did not, however, have luck on his side, especially as it related to the FAA. The FAA deemed that he violated sporting regulation 48.9 which said, “The safety car shall be used at least until the leaders behind it and all remaining cars are lined up behind him. Once behind the safety car, the race leader must keep within 10-car lengths of it and all remaining cars must keep the formation as tight as possible.” Because Vettel technically fell outside of 10-car lengths, he was deemed in breach of the sporting regulation and given a penalty. He subsequently dropped back behind his teammate and Fernando Alonso in the race and never was able to recover.
He did join the podium though as Mark Webber took P1, with Fernando Alonso sitting in second place. Webber’s victory put him four points clear of Lewis Hamilton who’s now in second place. Sebastian Vettel was in third place at 151 points and thought he was robbed with the win and at that point, the race lead. Jenson Button was just 10 points shy of his teammate at 147 points, with Fernando Alonso inching closer and close closer with 141 points. The Red Bull and McLaren team essentially watched each other out at the Hungaroring. Red Bull still in first with 312 points versus McLaren’s 304 points, Ferrari in third with 238.
We head to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix. And when you look at the championship race, it’s closer than ever. Before we go lights out at Spa, there are four drivers who anyone could win and be in first place. They’re all within 20 points of each other. Spa, being a notoriously power-hungry track, left a lot of room for the team to be able to overtake each other. But it’s no doubt that the qualifying session is very important, of course. What came of no surprise was the fact that a Red Bull was yet again, for the 12th of 13 time, in fact, on pole. The 2010 Belgian qualifying session was a lot closer than a lot of the other races we’ve seen.
Mark Webber was on the pole, but Sebastian Vettel was separated by three other drivers in P4 on the second line of the grid with Robert Kubica. Mark Webber’s one-lap pace from the qualifying session was irrelevant now. He had a very poor start and an anti-stall kicked in. As Weber was being passed by car after car, Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton pulled away. But Weber was not out of the fight just yet. He fought all the way back and actually ended up getting second place in the race. Robert Kubica of Renault passed the line next to finish third on the podium. The reigning world champion begins to see his repeat title hopes dwindle. As he’s driving in second place, he makes collision with Sebastian Vettel, who tries to make a very ambitious overtake. And while Button was forced to retire from the race, Sebastian did go on to finish the race behind Nico Hulkenberg in P15.
Webber’s anti-stall off the line proved to be costly. After conceding his pole position and points, he dropped to second place in the championship, as Lewis Hamilton was now in first at 182 points, Mark Webber, three points behind him. Sebastian Vettel was now in third place with 151 points. Of the top five drivers vying for the championship at this point in time, the bottom three were unable to grab any points at Spa. Vettel getting zero, with Jenson Button in fourth, and Alonso in fifth all brought home no points headed into the next round the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
As a Ferrari driver, this is the one you want to win. So if you’re Fernando Alonso sitting on pole position in Monza, the only way that can get better is if you end up winning the race. Both of the Ferraris graced the podium that day as Jenson Button wound up splitting the two. With Fernando Alonso doing something very, very special, winning in his first season with Ferrari at Monza, coupled with the fact that he won in his very first season, the very first race in a Ferrari uniform and a Ferrari car, these were two feats that he was tremendously proud of. And you can tell after the post-race interview, to put the cherry on top, Lewis Hamilton, who was a very strong contender to take the championship that year, ended up taking no points in that race, whereas Fernando Alonso taking all 25, moved into third place. Mark Webber took over the lead of the championship after Lewis’ terrible Sunday. Jenson Button stayed put where he was at 165 points, now just one point behind Fernando Alonso, with Sebastian Vettel just two points behind Jenson Button in P5.
And despite the uncharacteristic showing by the Red Bull team with both of them off of the podium, Red Bull now pulled three points clear in the Constructors’ Championship, ahead of McLaren, 350 to 347. Ferrari now just 60 points behind Red Bull with 290 points. The grid goes to Marina Bay as Fernando Alonso tries to transition all of his momentum that he had from the last Grand Prix into the next stop at the Singapore Grand Prix.
If Alonso was to take the championship, he knew that he had to finish on the podium every single race that we had left in the season. The 2010 season saw a regulation in place that said you could only use eight engines throughout the entire season. So knowing he doesn’t have the fastest car, and at that point in time he had used all eight engines, Fernando Alonso is on edge. He’s on alert, no mistakes, no errors, no DNFs, which, of course, is a lot harder said than done with the McLaren being incredibly fast and the Red Bull arguably one of the best cars we’ve seen in Formula 1 in terms of its dominance. As the number of races begins to slip away, each Grand Prix becomes more and more critical. And this is yet again another race weekend where any of the top drivers were there to win the Grand Prix. And all things being equal, they could end up in the first position.
The Singapore Grand Prix ends up being one of the more unforgettable performances by Fernando Alonso in that Ferrari. The only time Fernando Alonso shows any sort of weakness at all is when Sebastian Vettel sets the fastest time in Q2. Other than that, he’s leading all weekend long and it extends to Sunday as he takes the pole position, he takes the fastest lap, and he takes the race win. Standing on the podium with him are both of the Red Bull drivers with Sebastian Vettel taking 18 points and Mark Webber taking 15. The weekend was not so kind to the McLaren drivers. Jenson Button arguably ran a good race just off the podium and some much-needed championship points, but Lewis Hamilton, for the second consecutive race, did not finish.
For his effort, Fernando Alonso moves up yet another place and is now only 11 points down from Mark Webber, who sits at 202 points versus Fernando’s 191. Lewis Hamilton, after not finishing yet another Grand Prix, is at 182 points. Sebastian Vettel moves into fourth, just one point behind Lewis Hamilton, and the current world champion, Jenson Button, in fifth place with 177 points. On the Constructor’s side, Red Bull earned the 383rd point followed closely by McLaren at 359, with Ferrari still trailing at 319.
We head to the Japanese Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso hopes to be able to extend all of the momentum he’s carrying. Simultaneously, the McLaren’s are looking to turn some things around, but none of those things ends up coming true. The Red Bull see yet another front-row lockout with a one-two finish, Sebastian Vettel on pole this time, and that’s exactly how it holds in a one-two finish with Sebastian Vettel taking first, Mark Webber in second place, and Fernando Alonso takes P3. While Alonso does maintain his goal, it surely is still tough to watch the Red Bulls take 25 and 18 points both. But he did still finish the race relatively cleanly without incident, and that’s much more that can be said for Lewis Hamilton whose situation goes from bad to worse.
Lucky for him, Lewis is still able to finish the race, but he loses third gear entirely. Now, if you know anything about that Grand Prix, that track is dominated by third gear turns. The final result left Mark Webber running the championship table at 220 points. Fernando Alonso continued his consistent results and got another podium, which left him with 206 points, not to be outdone by Vettel, who matched Fernando Alonso at 206 points, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in fourth and fifth. And despite the championship race being so close on the Drivers’ side, the Constructors’ side saw a bit more of a favor towards the Red Bull team at 426 points. The McLaren duo were still in the race, but it was going to be a tough fight to catch the Red Bull. They held about the same points advantage over the Ferrari in P3 with 334 points. The 17th round to the Formula One season saw a couple of first for the entire grid. This was the first Korean Grand Prix held at the Korea International Circuit.
What wasn’t a first was the fact that the Red Bulls had found themselves in a front-row lockout going one-two, with Sebastian Vettel taking pole position yet again for the ninth time this season. But it was the first time that we saw both Red Bulls pull zero points for the weekend. As much as people might like to suggest, Newey’s RB6 was not immune to issues, and Sebastian Vettel actually suffered an engine failure. Mark Webber was forced to retire due to collision. The current leaders in the Constructors’ Championship left the door wide open, but that doesn’t mean that it was going to be an easy race. Mother Nature certainly made it difficult with wet conditions all around.
Given the situation, McLaren would have liked to have taken the points off of Red Bull, but it was only Lewis Hamilton who was able to step up as Jenson Button was good enough for 12th place in zero points in the day. Lewis Hamilton, however, split the Ferrari drivers who actually came in first and third. Fernando Alonso did the amazing. He crossed the finish line first at the inaugural Korean Grand Prix. Aside from the Singapore Grand Prix and arguably maybe even just as important, this result for Fernando Alonso was critical, absolutely critical for his race and his chances in the 2010 season. Fernando Alonso’s quiet but consistent podium grabbing season had now landed him in the first place championship spot. A massive blow for Webber, he was now 11 points down to Fernando Alonso, with Lewis Hamilton 10 points behind Webber. And arguably having the most turbulent season at the top of the grid, Sebastian Vettel was now in fourth place with 206 points.
Despite being a race win behind Fernando Alonso, you get the sense that Sebastian Vettel, it’s going to be very difficult to actually catch him considering the string of performances he’s done all season long, and the fact that he’s on a mission with just two races left. But it wouldn’t have been one of the most exciting seasons we’ve had in Formula 1 if they weren’t all ready to fight. So, we go to the Brazilian Grand Prix for round 18.
The Red Bull drivers did finish next to each other in the qualifying session, but they were outdone by one man. One driver finished better than both Vettel and Mark Webber. It wasn’t Lewis Hamilton. It wasn’t Fernando Alonso. It wasn’t Philippe Massa. It was Nico Hulkenberg. After finishing a full second behind Alonso, who was Q1 leader, and then finishing another half a second behind Mark Webber, who was Q2 leader, Nico Hulkenberg was the only driver that weekend to dip into the 1-14s during the qualifying round. He took pole position in Brazil and was joined by Sebastian Vettel on the front row. Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton, both vying for the title, were on the second row, with Fernando Alonso starting fifth, not the best start if he was hoping to distance himself that weekend.
And the penultimate round in the 2010 season went off relatively cleanly. And while the Red Bulls were denied qualifying glory, they certainly would not be denied on Sunday. Vettel took the much prized 25 points crossing the line first, with Mark Webber just behind him, and Fernando Alonso taking 15 points in third place on the podium. The results meant that despite Red Bull’s performance all season long, they had to wait all the way until Brazil to actually claim they clinched the 2010 Constructors’ Championship at 469 points. And while the top spot was clinched, Ferrari technically still had a chance at second place, with McLaren sitting in second at 421 points. And while things sured up slightly for the Constructor’s Championship, everything was up for debate in the Drivers’ Championship.
Fernando Alonso maintaining eight-point lead to Mark Webber at 246 versus the Australian’s 238. Sebastian Vettel was in third place, but the second place driver of the Red Bull team at 231 points. And despite being demoted to fourth place, Hamilton at 222 points was mathematically still in the hunt for the Drivers’ Championship. Jenson Button’s 199 points was good enough for fifth place, but he was out of the title championship hunt.
The final race of the 2010 Formula 1 season, four drivers in contention for the world title. At that time, many media outlets were claiming that Sebastian Vettel was the least likely to actually win the title. Of the Red Bull duo, it was thought that Mark Webber might actually win, with Sebastian Vettel potentially helping him out on race strategy. Of course, that was all speculation. And from what we know about Sebastian Vettel now, all these years later, that was never going to happen. And it’s a good thing he didn’t. Sebastian Vettel had an almost flawless qualifying session, being the fastest car in two of the three sessions. He ended up taking pole position, joined by Lewis Hamilton, who at the current time was the youngest World Champion, Sebastian Vettel hoping to usurp that role.
Two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, started P3 on the second row. Mathematically, if Fernando Alonso was able to finish in the top two spots of that race, no matter what happened, he had a shot to win, irrespective of other results. He just needed to finish one or two. His third place start was not good enough. Button was quick enough for fourth place, and Mark Webber was starting, unfortunately, from the fifth grid spot. It really does make it difficult to feel bad for Mark Webber here considering of all the qualifying sessions, he really needed to step up. He was more than half a second slower than his teammate.
The grid lights went out on the final race of the season, and all the drivers got away cleanly. Sebastian Vettel extended his pole position to a sizable race margin. This really came down to the championship contenders and their strategies as Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso both decided to make an early pit stop. Comparatively, the smartest strategy appeared to be what Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton ended up doing, which is running late. The midfield traffic proved to be a thorn in the side of everyone at the top including Lewis Hamilton, who despite a late pit still was caught behind Robert Kubica, who really is the linchpin to all of this.
He really was the reason why Vettel was able to cruise to his victory. Hamilton had no luck passing Robert Kubica, who ran extremely late into the race on his worn tires. Kubica made his first pit stop on lap 46. But it wasn’t just Hamilton who struggled to pass him. After he finally pitted from second place, he returned to the track in sixth place, and this included being in front of Alonso and Webber. Despite everyone’s best attempts and Lewis Hamilton’s quick pace there at the end of the race, Sebastian Vettel ended up winning the Grand Prix and essentially winning the championship blind. He truly didn’t have an idea of where everyone was until they finished.
Even starting the Grand Prix from pole, a lot of things still need to occur for you to take the championship if you’re Sebastian Vettel at that point. He was quoted after the race as saying, “To be honest, I didn’t know anything until I crossed the checkered flag. The last 10 laps I was wondering as my race engineer every lap was trying to give some advice and trying to help me carry the car home. I was thinking, ‘Why is this guy nervous? He must be in a bloody good position.'” Vettel’s win that day was strong enough to clinch the Drivers’ Championship. Fernando Alonso finished second place, four points behind the then youngest World Champion, Mark Webber, who was ahead of Sebastian Vettel going into the championship finished third with 242 points. The McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished 240 points and 214 points.
The 2010 season really was a jumping-off point for Sebastian Vettel, and you see what happened in the rest of his career at Red Bull, and especially the next three world titles that would follow this one, spoiler. All of this comes at a critical juncture in where he is today. As we start the 2020 season, a decade later, I can confirm to you now that it’s by no accident that I decided to make the 2010 and 2012 reviews this robust and in-depth ahead of the 2020 season. Just a decade after his first world title, Sebastian Vettel’s legacy is in question. And if you haven’t seen the 2012 season review, you should check it out.
But even after you just watch this one, you have to start to wonder, does a spark like that leave a champion? Many times, Sebastian Vettel was considered out of the championship. He was written off. The only thing we know for sure is we have the full 2020 season to see how he responds. But who will show up in the cockpit? Who will be there at winter testing, the 2012 season Sebastian Vettel, the one who fought to the very end, or will it be the Vettel that we’ve all known recently, the one that’s been susceptible to spins, the one who has been bested in his first year at Ferrari, a young hungry talent in Charles Leclerc?
Whatever happens, let’s just hope it’s anywhere near as interesting as the 2010 Formula 1 season. Thank you for checking this out. I’m your host, Cranky Yankee Motorsport. If you like this, make sure to subscribe, share, comment, tell me how to fix these because I will be doing more. Thank you for your time. As always, I really depend on you guys, and I look forward to keeping you entertained and on the edge of your seat ahead of the 2020 season. I’ll see you very, very soon.
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