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Oct 06th
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Patty's 2011 Driver/Team Ratings - Part 3

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To conclude Patty's look back at the drivers that succeeded or failed throughout the 2011 Formula One championship season, we look at the dregs of the grid where, if we're being completely honest, most of them failed.

Williams - 9th in WCC.
#11 Rubens Barrichello - 19 races, 4 points, 17th in WDC.
#12 Pastor Maldonado - 19 races, 1 point, 19th in WDC.

The days of Williams being a Formula One powerhouse are long gone, but even by the team's more modest recent standards, the 2011 campaign was an unadulterated disaster for the Grove squad. The once-proud multiple champions endured no end of indignities throughout the year, from having to ditch a talented young driver in Nico Hulkenberg in favour of a sponsor-heavy pay driver, to their ignominious stock market flotation in an attempt to drum up funds, to posting their worst-ever championship finish by the end of the season.

The nightmare year was not helped by the team's swift and brutal cull of their technical staff, with the development of an already-poor machine hurt by the turmoil in the ranks underneath the surface, and well before the end of the season the Williams story had quickly become the sort of calamitous tale that has stopped being funny and started being genuinely uncomfortable. Still, the good news is that there is very little chance that it can get any worse.

2011 might also go down as a particularly unedifying finale to Rubens Barrichello's F1 career, the Brazilian's future still in limbo for next season after a virtually fruitless 19th F1 season. There were few moments of joy for the Brazilian, and while he remains committed to remaining on the grid into 2012, surely the long-serving F1 veteran has better things to be doing with his time than pottering around in 17th place for race after race.

As for Maldonado, his debut season was uninspiring, and occasionally blighted with rookie errors, but his immediate future should be safe thanks to his wealthy Venezuelan backers. There was the odd moment where he suggested that his 2010 GP2 title had been down to more than dogged persistance, such as his stunning Monaco drive that was so cruely ruined by Kamikaze Hamilton Move No.239, but those sorts of days were few and far between.

Williams - 2/10
Barrichello - 3/10
Maldonado - 3/10

Team Lotus - 10th in WCC.
#20 Jarno Trulli - 18 races, 0 points, 20th in WDC.
#20 Karun Chandhok - 1 race, 0 points, 28th in WDC.
#21 Heikki Kovalainen - 19 races, 0 points, 21st in WDC.

Signs of promise for The Amazing Name-Changing Team, who spent most of the season winding up fellow Lotus-emblazoned squad Renault with talk of being the popular tiny underdog in the whole tiresome Lotus/Lotus debate. On the track, there were still no points, and an overall sense of frustration from a team that remained too good for their newbie rivals, but not good enough to challenge anyone else, stuck in a no-man's-land between competent and incompetent.

On the odd occasion, their drivers - or more specifically Heikki Kovalainen - were able to challenge those ahead of them. The Finn beat a Sauber and a Williams home in China, and the team scored a PR fillip in the season finale in Brazil when Kovalainen finished ahead of the delayed 'Other Lotus' car of Bruno Senna. But incidents like that were still too few and far between, and the team's ambitions to see themselves become points scorers in 2011 did not really come close to being realised.

Trulli's season personified that frustration. The Italian suffered from problems with the team's power steering system all through the year, and although the unit was upgraded to Trulli's liking later in the year, he showed very little signs of improved results even after that. He did, though, thanks to a quirk of his early-season pair of 13th places in Australian and Monaco, end up the best of the newbie drivers in the final championship standings, so that's something.

Kovalainen was more impressive, but with the team's odd position stuck between those ahead and behind them in the pecking order, there was precious little evidence to analyse how impressive he was being, aside from being better than Trulli. His occasional giant-killing results were to be commended, but aside from that the Finn will simply be hoping that the team makes some oft-promised steps forward for 2012.

Team Lotus - 5/10
Trulli - 2/10
Chandhok - n/a
Kovalainen - 5/10

HRT - 11th in WCC
#22/#23 Narain Karthikeyan - 9 races, 0 points, 26th in WDC.
#22 Daniel Ricciardo - 10 races, 0 points, 27th in WDC.
#23 Vitantonio Liuzzi - 18 races, 0 points, 22nd in WDC.

The team with the name that conjures up unseemly images of the menopause had another reassuringly hapless time of things in 2011, as they continue to prove that it is difficult to compete in F1 with a budget of 35p and a rubbish car. For the second season in a row the team appeared at the opening race of the season with a completely untested car, and promptly failed to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix. Thankfully, things got better after that.

Both HRTs were regularly the slowest cars on the grid, but once again the team managed to use retirement rates in races to their advantage, and with a better 'best result' record than Virgin, the hapless Spaniards have once again kept themselves off the foot of the constructors championship. Which in fairness is probably an achievement up there with what Red Bull have managed this season.

The drivers were hard to judge, with Karthikeyan's sporadic appearances doing little to justify HRT's odd decision to bring back the former Jordan driver for another year, while his mid-season replacement Daniel Ricciardo showed some early signs of promise after being drafted in by Red Bull without threatening to reveal himself as the next Sebastian Vettel just yet.

Liuzzi was solid but unimpressive in the other seat, successfully staying out of trouble but not really enjoying the career-saving season that he was perhaps hoping the switch to the desperate backmarkers would have proved. With Pedro de la Rosa already signed to fulfil the 'affable has-been' role at the team in 2012, the Italian might well be left scratching around for a DTM drive. Unless he does a good Spanish accent.

HRT - 3/10
Karthiekeyan - 3/10
Ricciardo - 4/10
Liuzzi - 3/10

Virgin - 12th in WCC
#24 Timo Glock - 19 races, 0 points, 25th in WDC.
#25 Jerome d'Ambrosio - 19 races, 0 points, 23rd in WDC.

Oh dear, oh dear. Virgin's second season continued the theme of the first. The team was fundamentaly faster than the HRT squad, but a combination of naff reliability and circumstance led to them once again ending up bottom of the pile. So great was their humbling in 2012 that the team chose to call an end to their CFD-only car designs from Nick Wirth, possibly after realising that there is a reason the other teams do an immense amount of CFD work alongside a wind tunnel programme.

High points for the season were almost non-existent, with the team now praying that the work of former disgraced Renault man Pat Symonds, and perhaps an hour or two in a wind tunnel will set them right for next season. That all seems like an optimistic hope, but maybe the first step would be for new sugar daddies Marussia to plough a little more capital into the team than Virgin boss Richard Branson ever attempted to.

For Glock, the season was another reminder that he had probably made the wrong call back in 2010 when he decided to put his faith in one of Formula One's new teams rather than opt for the easy option of the second seat at Renault. His team leadership status was never questioned throughout the year, but the point of being team leader in such a futile manner certainly was.

D'Ambrosio did little wrong, apart from his hilariously embarrassing spin in the pit lane at the Hungarian GP, but essentialy suffered the same season as Lucas di Grassi had endured in the 'non-Glock' position at Virgin last season. Being generally outperformed throughout the year, and being unable to match the sponsor offers from other wannabe F1 drivers from within the GP2 field, the decision to replace the Belgian was inevitable from quite early on in the season.

Virgin - 1/10
Glock - 5/10
d'Ambrosio - 4/10


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