Who fancies a whistlestop tour through Badger’s Top Dog pieces? You do? Then read on…
Bahrain – Rosberg
What we said: “Managed to avoid all the hoopla around Schumacher’s arrival and put in a very solid qualifying and race double act. Maintaining this over the season won’t be easy, but he’s given himself the best start possible.”
What we say now: Badger rules supreme. It’s almost as if we knew Schumacher would be rubbish for most of the season and how Nico would react. A pat on the back for us.
Australia – Kubica
What we said: “Pulled his car round with extraordinary skill and was quick enough to hold off both Ferraris and Lewis Hamilton on his way to a richly deserved second place. Made all the more impressive by the fact his team mate went out in the first round of qualifying as well. The Pole is on a roll.”
What we say now: We know now that the Pole turned in possibly his most impressive season in F1 in 2010, although we should have been less quick to judge him against his team mate, as it turned out they were operating in different arena of F1 talent.
Malaysia – Vettel
What we said: “Got to go back to basics with this one – simply imperious at the front and looking for all the world like a World Champion. Red Bull really needed a Brawn-esque start to the season to make things easier further down the line, but if there’s a man to make up for that it’s Vettel.”
What we say now: We were right to praise Vettel for looking like a World Champion – it turns out he became one. Another pat on the back for us…
Also, it turns out that they didn’t need to make things easier for themselves further down the line. Both Championships and a clutch of race victories for both Webber and Vettel say otherwise. Probably would have been a lot less fun as well.
China – Petrov
What we said: “Yes, we know he’s raw, but we like him. Not the perfect race performance by any stretch of the imagination, but he got home for his first race finish and a seventh place at that, passing Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber in the process. This is your weekend Vitaly.”
What we say now: Blimey. Did we really? If we felt able to give Petrov the coveted Top Dog prize then he must have done something right. However, as if proving the wider point, he was rubbish for most of the rest of the season. Simply too inconsistent for a top team like Renault.
Spain – Hamilton
What we said: “Yes, we know Webber won the race and drove beautifully, but Hamilton unexpectedly split the Red Bulls and was looking in good shape until his accident. No consolation, we know, but Lewis takes home the coveted Hot Rod prize (well, he would if there were an actual prize, as it is he just gets our electronic respect). Just one thing though, get rid of the naff beard for us? Pretty please. We gave you a prize and everything. Go on…”
What we say now: We still hate the beard. We’re glad it’s gone.
Monaco – Webber
What we said: “He drove beautifully, describing it as the best day of his life and was untouchable all through the race. He’s got what Alan Partridge would describe as “bouncebackability” for, after finishing at bottom end of the top 10 in three of the first four races and getting passed for the victory by Vettel in the other it was all looking a bit dark. Then, like a phoenix from the ashes (too much?) he’s won the last two races from pole. Bish, bash, bosh. Job done and a very big ‘congratulations’ to possibly-the-most-likable-driver-on-the-grid from all at Badger.”
What we say now: Alan Partridge, a phoenix and “bish, bash, bosh” all in one Top Dog piece? We must have been high on Monaco.
Probably the highlight of Webber’s season, this was a great example of the gritty Australian at his best. We stand by our assessment of Webber’s likeability as well.
Turkey – Hamilton
What we said: “Hamilton remains the driver who looks like he can push his McLaren round to challenge the Red Bulls for victory, even if he is accompanied by a screaming girlfriend and some dubious looking ear gear. Seriously, don’t even get us started. First the beard, now the earrings – he’ll turn up next with a facial tattoo saying something like McLaren 4eva or whatever the kids have nowadays.”
What we say now: It seems that, quite apart from the feast of F1 Turkey provided us with this year, we were still more interested in Hamilton’s dubious style choices. Quite right too – he needed to sort himself out.
He was still very fast though – just a shame the car slipped back from the front runners later in the season.
Canada – Liuzzi
What we said: “Never ones to be conventional, we at Badger think this could well have been his coming out weekend. Sixth place in qualifying and a strong performance in the race to claw his way back from a disastrous start; all this makes the square jawed Italian our “hot rod” for the weekend.”
What we say now: “Coming out weekend”? Oh dear; how wrong could we be? It turns out our praise of Liuzzi, while it was justified at the time, probably shouldn’t have been broadened to mean he was going to take F1 by storm. Never mind – you win some, you lose some (we lost this one, just so you know).
Europe (Valencia) – Kobayashi
What we said: “The young Japanese driver answered his critics in the best style today, by mixing it up at the sharp end of the grid. Yes he’s crashy and wild, but he’s quick when given the chance and genuinely seems to have no fear. If he can manage to finish more races and get himself a decent car, he’s definitely one to watch for the future. He’ll come with money as well, so we don’t see him going anywhere soon. ”
What we say now: “He did manage to become more controlled (or the other drivers learnt to keep further out of his way) and turned in some genuinely good performances later in the season. We were there at the beginning of the Kobayashi-love and we’ll be there for a while. Let’s just hope Sauber give him a half decent motor.
Britain – Webber
What we said: “An award given not only for his flawless drive from second place on the grid to victory or his superb pace all weekend, but for his response to the team moving his new front wing over to his team mate.
Yes, he shouted about it and looked thoroughly miserable, but then he went out and blew the rest of the field away. Comprehensively. He showed just enough respect to Vettel through the first corner to be tolerable and, from then on, never looked back. Even when being chased hard by Hamilton during the opening stint of the race, he didn’t make any mistakes and continued to drive beautifully.”
What we say now: Red Bull – hang your heads in shame. This was one of the lowest points of the season and, if ever a demonstration was needed of their favouritism towards Vettel, this was it.
While it may not have been quite a racing certainty that if a Red Bull driver won the title it was going to be Vettel, this was the first time the world became aware of it in such an obvious manner. Fools.
Germany – Kubica
What we said: “One of the most difficult races to pick so far this year.
We suppose, by default, it has to go to Kubica. Again the best of the rest, the general feeling around the paddock is that he’s getting more out of the car than there is to be given. However, it’s somewhat difficult to tell when he’s thoroughly outclassing his team mate at every turn.
He really deserves to be put in a championship winning car, just to have a shot at it. Sadly for him, the McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull drives look to be locked up for next season, if not beyond.
Sadly, and it’s very much a reflection of the race we endured at the weekend, there’s not that much more to say.”
What we say now: While this may have been Kubica’s weekend, there’s no great love in our words. We still agree with all of them, it’s just there wasn’t much else going on at the time to write about.
Hungary – No article – on holiday.
Belgium – No article – at Spa (the real one, not a health retreat).
Italy – Alonso
What we said: “Now, let it be known right now that we at Badger (alright, this correspondent in particular) have no great love for Fernando Alonso. We just don’t “get” him.
That said, we recognise he’s a brilliant, brilliant racing driver. Fast, committed and ruthless, he has all the attributes to suggest he’ll add to his tally of world championships with Ferrari, be it this season or in the future.
Ferrari driver. Ferrari fans. Italian Grand Prix. Pole position and race win. It doesn’t get much better than that. Well done, Fernando. Just don’t ask us to go to the pub with him.”
What we say now: We’ve definitely warmed to Alonso a bit this season. A bit. Not a great amount.
We still agree with everything written above – he is brilliant, fast, committed and ruthless. He nearly staged a remarkable recovery late in the season to take the championship. It would have been an absolute mugging had he taken it and I sense we’d quite have enjoyed it.
Singapore – Kubica
What we said: “Probably the best driver on the grid not in one of the ‘big four’ teams. He’s been delivering consistently for Renault all season, a fact made all the more impressive with the knowledge that he’s effectively in a one man team. Sorry Vitaly, we believed in you earlier in the season, but we simply don’t now.
His charge during the last few laps really was the highlight of the race. Even though Alonso led from the front and never looked like making a mistake, the sheer ruthlessness with which Kubica surged past the hapless Toro Rossos, Petrov, Massa, Hulkenberg and Sutil put him in a league of his own in Singapore. He even described it as “good fun” – so we’d imagine Robert, so we’d imagine.”
What we say now: Blimey, we’re like a broken record aren’t be. ‘Kubica deserves a shot, he’s great’ yada yada yada. It’s true though.
It’s also nice to see that we’ve woken up to the fact that Petrov simply isn’t any good. It’s not so much that we turned up late to the party, it’s that we came at all.
Japan – Kobayashi
What we said: “He’s gloriously mental and, whereas at other times this season that’s resulted in a lot of crashing and general waywardness, this time he was spot on.
Now that James Key’s come in to the team, they’ve made some real strides with the car and are finally able to produce the kind of form that allows Kobayashi to do what he does best: scare the living daylights out of other drivers. He’s the kind of driver who when you think, “he wouldn’t do that, would he?”, goes ahead and does it anyway.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, for crash or no crash, he captures that laissez-faire spirit that people complain has gone out of F1 in recent years. For this Kamui, we salute you.
What we say now: Having a reputation in F1 for being willing to overtake anywhere is a good, good thing. Let’s just hope he can push on next season and scare some more drivers. One of the most exciting drivers of the season once his car stopped being…well, rubbish.
Korea – Vettel
What we said: “We know he didn’t finish, didn’t take home any points and lost ground to Fernando Alonso in the title race. However, he was simply did the best job over the course of the Grand Prix weekend and looked set for victory until his engine went, not to put too fine a point on it, BANG.
He adapted to the changing conditions with panache – very quick after every restart behind the safety car, no one looked like catching him until his engine expired. Still, he didn’t have to pass anyone, did he?
Also, we can’t help but feel that if the two drivers’ situations were reversed, Red Bull would be exerting significant pressure on Webber to support his team mate. The fact they’re not speaks to Vettel’s status within the team as their effective number one driver. “
What we say now: Can’t argue with any of that. Why do I have to be right so often? It’s an absolute curse.
Brazil – Button
What we said: “Now, we know this is a bit of a leftfield choice, but bear with us.
We think, not only for his drive to fifth (from eleventh place on the grid) but also the fact he looked as though he could have got past Hamilton at the end had he really tried, he deserves to be Top Dog.
Also, and this may have had some impact on our decision – he lost his World Championship and was threatened at gun point. While receiving the (albeit prestigious) Top Dog award may not compare to, you know, being alive, it’ll hopefully go some of the way to assuage his disappointment at losing his title.”
What we say now: One for sentiment here, and there’s no harm in that at all. He was a great World Champion, a credit to the sport and seems to be a thoroughly nice chap into the bargain. Vettal has a lot to live up to.
Abu Dhabi – Vettel
What we said: “He’s not a particularly great driver to write these columns about, merely because when he’s good he doesn’t tend to scrap for things. When he does, things tend to go wrong – see Turkey and Belgium for examples. It’s just all a bit…dull when he gets things right.
He simply doesn’t quite conjure the same overtaking respect as Hamilton, Alonso, Kobayashi or even Button. This probably just proves how quick he is when he’s on song – no one can catch him or get in front of him to create the problem, but it does mean that we at Badger want to see him do some of it before we start going nuts over him.
If Red Bull give him an equally quick and slightly more reliable car than this year for next season, he’s going to behard to beat. Very hard.”
What we say now: So, our point basically was, could you try some more overtaking please Mr. Vettel? Now you’ve won one championship, it only seems fair.
We want to see you work for it out on track, otherwise we’re not going to stop mentioning the words ‘Ralf’ and ‘Schumacher’ in conjunction with you.
There’s the challenge – now go and do something about it.
The Christmas driver graphic comes courtesy of Unlap – for great motorsport threads, you can buy this print as some lovely Christmas cards, head over to the store to have a look around!