The top 20 F1 stories of 2011
|Saturday, December 31st 2011, 12:36 GMT|
From the early days of Formula 1 pre-season excitement, through Sebastian Vettel's dominant campaign, and the end of year reflections, AUTOSPORT was there at every step of the way to deliver the news as it happened.
And amid the more than 8000 articles published on our website over the course of the season, there were some that stand out as defining the stories of 2011 - with notable news moments, such as F1 car launches and Robert Kubica's horrific rally crash, attracting record-breaking audiences.
Here we look back at the 20 most-read stories of the year just gone.
20. Ferrari unveils the F150 at Maranello
Ferrari was the first Formula 1 team to launch its 2011 car, when the covers came off what was then called the F150 at Maranello in late January.
19. Button tops second Australia practice
The opening race of the campaign is always the place where we get our first answers about the competitiveness of all the teams – as Jenson Button showed McLaren would be on form in 2011 after a disastrous pre-season testing programme.
18. Ferrari tweaks car's name again
Ferrari's first troubles with its new car came off the track, as Ford complained over the team using the F150 moniker – which was the same as its famous truck, the F-150.
17. Renault confident in radical exhaust
Renault raised some eyebrows at the first pre-season test when its forward-facing exhausts were revealed for the first time. At the time, the Enstone-based outfit was full of confidence about their potential...
16. Sauber seeks answers on wing design
Sauber suffered heartbreak after the first race of the season when its cars were disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix for a regulation infringement relating to its rear wings. A full investigation was launched to find out what happened.
15. Petrov launches attack on Renault
Vitaly Petrov's frustrations at Renault's form in the second half of the season boiled over after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he launched an amazing outburst against the team to Russian television.
14. F1 set to race in New Jersey from 2013
AUTOSPORT revealed that plans were advanced for a second F1 race in the United States, with New Jersey set to be added to the schedule in 2013 alongside Austin's event.
13. F1 teams seek clarification on TV deal
The Hungarian Grand Prix weekend was dominated by talk about the deal announced by Sky and the BBC to share broadcasting of Formula 1 in the UK from 2012. F1's teams were as interested in fans about the implications that would bring to the sport.
12. Ferrari, Red Bull withdraw from FOTA
AUTOSPORT revealed in December that the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) was facing its biggest ever challenge after Ferrari and Red Bull Racing withdrew from the organisation.
11. Mercedes reveals first look at new W02
Mercedes GP opted against a formal launch for its new car, but did release images of the new W02 ahead of its first run at the opening Valencia test.
10. Kubica could be sidelined for 2011
The biggest story in the build-up to the pre-season was Robert Kubica's terrible rally accident. In the days after the crash, it became clear just how long the Polish driver was going to be sidelined for.
9. Co-driver explains Kubica crash
Kubica's co-driver in the rally accident, Jakub Gerber, spoke about the circumstances of their crash.
8. Villeneuve: Raikkonen title not deserved
Jacques Villeneuve is never one to keep controversial opinions to himself, and over the summer he offered his views on Kimi Raikkonen's qualities as a champion.
7. Radio call stokes Massa controversy
There were times in 2011 when Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa seemed to have a magnetic attraction – as they collided several times. Their crash at the Singapore GP led to a few conspiracy theories after a video broadcast on Formula 1.com revealed some radio comments from Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley.
6. Brawn: Exhausts impact will be big
Renault's forward facing exhausts were viewed as a clever innovation in the build up to the season, and Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn suspected they could have a bigger influence on car form than double diffusers.
5. McLaren reveals the MP4-26 in Berlin
McLaren elected to launch its new car after the first pre-season test, with the new MP4-26 being revealed for the first time in Berlin.
4. Kubica hospitalised after rally crash
The first story about Robert Kubica's rally accident emerged just minutes after the crash, but hard details were difficult to come by – and it was not clear initially about the extent of the injuries the Polish driver had suffered.
3. Renault confirms Raikkonen for 2012
One of the biggest driver signing stories of 2011 was when Renault announced that Kimi Raikkonen would be joining the team for next year.
2. Kubica suffers multiple fracture
As news of Kubica's crash developed, it became clear just how serious the accident had been – and how terrible the Polish driver's injuries were.
1. Hamilton in fresh Red Bull link
AUTOSPORT revealed at the Canadian Grand Prix that Lewis Hamilton had held private talks with Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner behind the team's office buildings in the Montreal paddock. It was a sign at the time of the McLaren driver's frustrations with the form of his car.