BBC BLOGS - Andrew Benson

Archives for November 2011

Is Raikkonen worth the risk?

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Andrew Benson | 18:36 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Kimi Raikkonen's return to Formula 1 next season creates a field with as much depth of talent as any in the history of the sport.

Six world champions will be on the grid at the start of 2012, with a total of 14 titles between them.

There are also multiple race-winners in Mark Webber and Felipe Massa, plus what I believe are certain future winners in Paul di Resta and Nico Rosberg.

But while Raikkonen's return will add another fascinating thread to an already rich tapestry, will Lotus get the driver they think they are getting?

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Webber wins but Vettel is still the man to beat

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Andrew Benson | 20:58 UK time, Sunday, 27 November 2011

If Mark Webber did not sound as if he was jumping for joy after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix - his first win of 2012 in the final race of what has been a tough season for the Australian - it should be no surprise.

There is no artifice about Webber and he knows as well as anyone that, statistically, this has been a disappointing year for him. One win in a race in which his team-mate had one arm tied behind his back does not on its own signify that his fortunes will change next season.

Nor, though, does the manner of victory necessarily mean that they won't.

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Jenson Button - classic F1

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Jenson Button has enjoyed arguably the finest season of his Formula 1 career. The McLaren driver may have won the world title in 2009, when he was driving for Brawn GP, but his driving in 2011 has been even better.

So much so that former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, who dropped Button at the end of 2002, has even been forced to admit that he "never realised" the Englishman was "that good".

Button's three victories in 2011 - including his remarkable climb from last to victory in Canada - were among the very best of the year.

Even more impressive than that, though, is Button's achievement of finishing above compatriot and fellow McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton in the standings. Hamilton, a man widely thought of as the fastest driver in the world, has never before been beaten by his team-mate.

Given his remarkable year, it is appropriate that Button is in the hot seat for the final edition of this year's BBC Sport's classic F1 series.

As regular readers will know, we have asked all F1 drivers for their five favourite races of all time, serialising them ahead of each grand prix.

The drivers have been free to choose whether to interpret the question as a request for their selection of the five greatest races of all time, or for their favourite races from their own career - or a selection of both.

Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, for example, chose their own races, while Mark Webber picked several all-time classics. Fernando Alonso went for a mix - as has Button.

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Has Hamilton finally turned the corner?

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Andrew Benson | 17:53 UK time, Sunday, 13 November 2011

Somehow you suspected that, after all his problems this year, there was going to be a happy ending for Lewis Hamilton somewhere along the line - and it came with a top-class, controlled drive to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As he celebrated on Sunday, the healing nature of the weekend's events was clear in the McLaren driver's face.

Suddenly all the bad things that have turned this into what Hamilton himself has called his worst season in Formula 1 took on a new perspective in the wake of his first win since the German Grand Prix back in July.

This was a Hamilton that has not been seen in 2011, calmly ticking off the laps at the front, resolute in the face of a challenge from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the sport's most relentless competitor, doing just enough to keep the Spaniard at arm's length without extending his car and tyres more than he needed to.

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Heikki Kovalainen - Classic F1

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Heikki Kovalainen is the driver picking his five favourite all-time grands prix for the penultimate edition of BBC Sport's 2011 classic Formula 1 series.

The Finn has re-established his reputation with Team Lotus in 2010-11 after two years at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton that were, by Kovalainen's own admission, "disappointing in terms of results".

So it is appropriate he has chosen five of his own races, as they remind us that he is a race winner in his own right and not simply one of F1's top drivers.

Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen is trying to re-establish his F1 career at Lotus. Photo: Getty

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