x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Driver profiles of F1 teams for 2011 season

A brief synopsis of each driver as they gear up to take the starting grid at the Australian Grand Prix.

RED BULL

Sebastian Vettel

Age 23

Nationality German

GP Wins 10

The youngest world champion in the sport's history now has to retain his title. Will be looking to avoid the slow start he made in the championship last season and take a big points haul from the opening races. Won three of the last four races last season and will be looking to maintain that form in Melbourne.

Mark Webber

Age 34

Nationality Australian

GP Wins 6

Last season was the Australian's best in the series but ended in frustration as he missed out on the title. A failure to win any of the final seven races hurt his hopes and he will need a couple of good early displays if he is not to be cast in Vettel's shadow at Red Bull. On his day is unbeatable, but needs to find those days more often.

MCLAREN

Lewis Hamilton

Age 26

Nationality British

GP Wins 14

If testing has been accurate then Hamilton's maturity levels may be tested this year. The Briton's patience when things are not going well is questionable and, given the McLaren's poor speed and reliability, this could be a frustrating year for the 2008 world champion. Needs to keep cool in the early races.

Jenson Button

Age 31

Nationality British

GP Wins 9

His McLaren may need a few races to find some speed after poor testing, but the new regulations could favour the Briton. The 2009 world champion has a smooth driving style, and this could help preserve the Pirelli tyres which are expected to have a high degradation rate this season, meaning more pit stops.

FERRARI

Fernando Alonso

Age 29

Nationality Spaniard

GP Wins 26

Only a bungled strategy call by his Ferrari team in Abu Dhabi denied the Spaniard a third world title last year. Alonso should be even stronger after completing his first year with Ferrari and he will be a contender for race victories and major honours again this season. Arguably the most complete driver in the sport.

Felipe Massa

Age 29

Nationality Brazilian

GP Wins 11

This is a crucial season for the Brazilian, who missed out on the 2008 title by a point. He was well beaten by Alonso last year, and the argument of the tyres not suiting his style will not wash a second time. If Alonso gets the better of Massa early on he is danger of being seen as a No 2 and losing his seat at Ferrari.

MERCEDES

Michael Schumacher

Age 42

Nationality German

GP Wins 91

The most successful driver in the sport did not come out of retirement to be an also ran, but that is exactly what the German was last year. But the new Mercedes GP has shown promise, and the seven-time world champion should be able to at least fight for podiums. Another frustrating year will surely seal the end of his career.

Nico Rosberg

Age 25

Nationality German

GP Wins 0

Raised his stock among the Formula One fraternity last year by becoming the first driver to out shine Schumacher in the same team. Doing it again and trying to claim a maiden race win is the target this year for the German. Has promised much, but has yet to truly convince that he is a genuine top-line driver in the series.

RENAULT

Nick Heidfeld

Age 33

Nationality German

GP Wins 0

Robert Kubica’s misfortune is Heidfeld’s gain. The rally crash that left Kubica with severe injuries has sidelined the Polish driver, meaning Heidfeld will probably drive the whole season. Renault have gone for experience in Heidfeld, and they will get consistency from him, although he is unlikely to push the team to wins.

Vitaly Petrov

Age 26

Nationality Russian

GP Wins 0

The Russian had a tough opening year in the sport in 2010, enduring a number of big crashes, both in the races and in qualifying. But a good performance in Hungary and a fine defensive drive in Abu Dhabi to deny Alonso has earned him a second chance, although he needs to finish more races this season.

WILLIAMS

Rubens Barrichello

Age 38

Nationality Brazilian

GP Wins 11

The veteran of the sport starts his 19th season and his fiery driving last year showed he has lost none of his speed or hunger, as he displayed in Hungary as he forced his way past his former teammate Michael Schumacher. Given the limited means of the Williams team financially, top eight and the odd podium finish is all he can hope for.

Pastor Maldonado

Age 26

Nationality Venezuelan

GP Wins 0

Will be looking to prove that he did not replace the promising Nico Hulkenberg simply due to the sponsorship he has brought to the team. Winning the GP2 championship last year shows he has something about him, but he will have a hard task getting the better of the experienced Barrichello.

FORCE INDIA

Adrian Sutil

Age 28

Nationality German

GP Wins 0

Had a frustrating campaign last year and his results fell away as Force India’s competitiveness dropped, but he did enough to be kept on at the expense of Vitantonio Liuzzi. The German will want more points finishes this year and he would also like to put Paul di Resta, his new, younger teammate, in his place by beating him in the early races.

Paul di Resta

Age 24

Nationality British

GP Wins 0

On the periphery of the series for the past few years, the reigning DTM (German Touring Car) champion gets his chance to show what he can do. Force India clearly rate him, disposing of Vitantonio Liuzzi and taking on the Briton. He will need to settle quickly with some top 10 results. Has looked solid, if unspectacular, in testing.

SAUBER

Kamui Kobayashi

Age 24

Nationality Japanese

GP Wins 0

The debate on there being a lack of passing in F1 clearly did involve Kobayashi, who pulled off a number of fine overtaking moves last season, the highlight being a string of moves at the Japanese Grand Prix. The Japanese driver is the team’s No 1 and the challenge for him is to be more consistent.

Sergio Perez

Age 21

Nationality Mexican

GP Wins 0

The GP2 runner-up gets his chance in the big league, but up against the unpredictable Kobayashi he is going to have his hands full to make a big impact. The Mexican did make the F1 fraternity sit up and take notice when he topped the time sheets on the final day of testing in Barcelona to show he does have some pace.

TORO ROSSO

Sebastien Buemi

Age 22

Nationality Swiss

GP Wins 0

After two encouraging years the Swiss driver needs a big season if he is to catch the eye of the teams further up the grid. Happily for Buemi, it looks like he may have the machinery as the Toro Rosso has looked pretty swift in testing and he has looked competitive. He usually performs better in races than in qualifying.

Jaime Alguersuari

Age 20

Nationality Spanish

GP Wins 0

Failed to build on a good start last year, and the 21-year-old will need some stronger results to build his reputation, while hoping to maintain the performances that made him a regular in the second part of qualifying last year. The Toro Rosso has looked good in testing and he needs to make good use of it.

TEAM LOTUS

Jarno Trulli

Age 36

Nationality Italian

GP Wins 1

The Italian will be hoping that an improved package can at least get him into the midfield and challenging for points finishes as the season goes on. If Mike Gascoyne, the technical director, and his team have produced a good car, expect Trulli to shine, particularly in qualifying, allowing him to be able to mix it with the midfield on occasions.

Heikki Kovalainen

Age 29

Nationality Finnish

GP Wins 1

He may not have scored points last year in the uncompetitive Lotus, but the Finn impressed as he held his own against Trulli. If he can do that again this year a chance to move back up the grid to a competitive car could be in the offing after he failed to impress in his two years at McLaren in 2008 and 2009.

HISPANIA

Narain Karthikeyan

Age 34

Nationality Indian

GP Wins 0

The good news is the Indian is back in the sport after a five-year hiatus. The bad news is that he is with a Hispania team that will, for the second successive season, arrive at the first race with no testing on their new car. A season at the rear of the field beckons. Will do well to score any points in his comeback year.

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Age 29

Nationality Italian

GP Wins 0

When Liuzzi arrived in the sport in 2005 there was a lot of hype about the Italian, but mediocre runs at Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India have diminished his star. Things are unlikely to improve at Hispania. His inability to avoid trouble at Force India, where he was involved in a number of crashes, hurt his reputation in 2010.

VIRGIN RACING

Timo Glock

Age 29

Nationality German

GP Wins 0

The German did a good job of putting the off-the-pace Virgin in places they really should not have been last year, with his run near the top 10 in Korea a highlight. He should excel in mixed conditions again, but in the dry is unlikely to be able to do much due to the fact that his Virgin is still going to be off the pace.

Jerome d’Ambrosio

Age 25

Nationality Belgian

GP Wins 0

Gets his chance despite failing to set the world alight in GP2, finishing a lowly 12th last season. In a slow car and against a very fast teammate in Glock the Belgian’s prospects for a good first season look bleak. Will need to concentrate on making minimal mistakes early on as he finds his feet in the series.