The 2011 F1 season isn’t even at the halfway point, but I’m ready to throw in the towel. This weekend’s European Grand Prix, from Valencia, Spain, was a repeat of Monaco, Turkey, Malaysia or Australia, at least in terms of the polesitter and the race winner. Let’s be honest: no team has a chance of catching Red Bull renault, and not even RBR driver Mark Webber stands a chance of catching his teammate, Sebastian Vettel. Vettel’s poles and victories this year have seemed effortless, and the young German driver is operating on an entirely different plane than the rest of the F1 teams and drivers.
If there was any drama at all in Sunday’s European Grand Prix, it was behind P1. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso thrilled his home crowd by taking second place away from Red Bull Renault’s Mark Webber early in the race. Pit strategy caused Webber and Alonso to trade the second spot repeatedly, but when the checkered flag flew it was Vettel in first, followed by Alonso in second and Webber in third. McLaren Mercedes was never in contention for the lead despite qualifying in fifth and sixth place, and Hamilton’s fourth place showing was surprising given how much he struggled with the car throughout the race.
The next race, at Britain’s Silverstone circuit on July 10, marks the first event where under-car exhaust diffusers will be banned. It’s anyone’s guess at to whether or not this will make a difference, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that it won’t. Closing in on halfway through the season. only Ferrari is showing signs of real improvement, while McLaren Mercedes seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Not that it matters much, since the driver and constructor championships are already decided; the only question remaining is which team (and driver) will take second.