Friday, December 31, 2010
July 10 '10
Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position for the second year in a row at Silverstone, as the Milton Keynes-based team secured its fifth front-row lockout of the season. Vettel beat his team mate Mark Webber by 0.143s. Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow's race on second row of the grid for Ferrari.
Jenson Button in his McLaren had a disastrous session. He will start his home grand prix from 14th place after missing the cut for the top-10 shootout.
Heikki Kovalainen was the best of the new team drivers in 19th. His Lotus team mate Jarno Trulli will start from 21st position. Seems like the Virgins have made a step forward with the new updates as Timo Glock managed to split the two Lotuses.
Sakon Yamamoto who will take the place of Bruno Senna in HRT for the British Gran Prix, was last of all. He was half a second down on his team mate Karun Chandhok.
Driver from the established team unable to get into Q2 was Jaime Alguersuari who qualified 18th.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 32.430s
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m 34.405s
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m 34.775s
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m 34.864s
22. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m 35.212s
23. Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1m 36.546s
24. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1m 36.968s
Local hero, Jenson Button could only manage 14th fastest time in his McLaren. Button radioed in that he was struggling with low grip at the rear.
McLaren was on the back foot going into qualifying after having to shelve the exhaust-blown diffuser it tried in Friday practice, which it found upset the MP4-25?s balance. Thus the team abandoned the key element of its planned car upgrade and reverted to the old specification rear end on the MP4-25.
Somewhat bewildered by the sudden downturn in performance Button said, ?This morning the car felt really good. I personally think there?s something wrong, the car was undriveable. That?s it really. I don?t know if I?ve lost rear downforce since this morning, but it?s pretty undriveable. This weekend has been tricky, but that wasn?t normal.?
Also failing to make it beyond Q2 was Adrian Sutil who has for most part been a regular in the final Q3 shootout, but alas not at Silverstone on the doorstep of the Force India team?s headquarters. His team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi fared worse and will start from 15th on the grid.
Vettel was quicker in the first knockout session while Webber had the edge in Q2.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m 31.399s
12. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1m 31.421s
13. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m 31.635s
14. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m 31.699s
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m 31.708s
16. Vitaly Petrov Renault-Renault 1m 31.796s
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 32.012s
It was the battle of the Bulls for the top position and Vettel got the better of it. This result put Red Bull on pole for the ninth time out of ten Grands Prix this season.
Webber was the first to set a Q3 time and logged a 1m29.758s, easily the fastest lap of the new Silverstone layout up to that point ? but moments later Vettel stopped the clocks in 1m29.695s.
Webber was unable to respond on his second run so Vettel?s pole was secure, but that didn?t stop the young German shaving another few hundredths off his own benchmark just to emphasise who had the upper hand.
His final time of 1m29.615s represented an average speed of 147mph for the revised 3.7-mile circuit, almost identical to the average he recorded on the previous layout in last year?s low-fuel Q2 session.
Fernando Alonso finished third for Ferrari and will share second row of the grid with his nemesis Lewis Hamilton.
Pedro de la Rosa qualified an excellent ninth, his first top-10 grid placing of his F1 comeback season. He qualified ahead of Mercedes' Michael Schumacher.
Top ten drivers in Q3
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m 29.615s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m 29.758s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 30.426s
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m 30.556s
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 30.625s
6. Robert Kubica Renault-Renault 1m 31.040s
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 31.172s
8. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m 31.175s
9. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1m 31.274s
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 31.430s
Full Qualifying Times
Images(C) daylife, sutton-images, BBC
The new hot rod movie Deuce of Spades is constructed around the story of an absolutely breathtaking black Deuce highboy which is the mythic star of the picture. But as stunning as it is, my eye was drawn to the car driven by the antagonist in the movie, "Fresno". It's a truly striking bright red '29 A-V8 on Deuce rails with a signature bare aluminum hood. When I saw it, I knew I had to build it.
Here it is as it appears in the film:
Unfortunately the car only appears for about 15 minutes in the middle of the picture and there are few detail shots of it. So I starting searching on the internet in the hopes pof finding shots of it before it starred in the moVie, hopefully with more mechanical and interior details. After a lot of work I found the Photobucket account for the car's builder which had quite a few shots. Here are some:
If I couldn't model the iconic bare metal hood with all its louvers there was no sense in pursuing this project. Fortunately I had a resin hood I got from Replicas and Miniatures Co. of Maryland that's designed to mate the AMT '29 Ford Roadster to a Revell Deuce Grill shell when sitting on a set of Revell Deuce frame rails. I also had some Archer Fine Transfer louver decals so I combined them to model the hood. Here's a picture showing the steps involved beginning with the layout tape to help align the rows and ending with the hood finished out in Testors Metalizer Buffable Aluminum Plate:
Also necessary was to adapt the Revell frame to the Model A body shell and to convert it to a buggy spring rear end as used on the 1:1. This involved shortening the rear ends of the rails, narrowing the floor panel and cutting a slot for the Model A arched cross member:
I'm using the AMT kit interior bucket but I've added the bolster across the top from the seat in the Revell '32 Ford Roadster kit as well as some styrene rolls along the sides. I'll also add some pleated side panels and seating surfaces as seen on the 1:1.
Incidentally the 1:1 is powered by a small block Chevy and as you can see the car is pretty basic. In the film they make a point to say that the car is very fast and its source of motivation a mystery. But the movie is set in 1955 and owned by a young kid so it would be highly unlikely to be Chevy V8 powered. So I'm installing a period correct full race flathead with 4 Strombergs and Evans heads. More on that in the next installment...
Here are some frame and body mockups:
Thanx for lookin',
Pirelli (makers of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar) and the Italian arm of ad firm Y&R (the NY arm of Y&R did the Xerox/Ducati ad set) want you to know that smoking can be hazardous to your health. Playing off the Surgeon General warning labels found on cigarette packages, Pirelli’s new ads show a motorcycling protagonist full of gusto putting one of his Italian doughnuts to good use with a puff of smoke and a mighty ...
Thursday, December 30, 2010
But after more than seven years with Red Bull in both Formula One and NASCAR, Scott Speed has made that move, suing his former team for alleged breach of contract in a complaint asking the court to award him $6.5 million, SceneDaily.com reported late Friday.
Red Bull "significantly reduced its financial commitment to Speed's race team and was unable and/or unwilling to provide [Speed] with 'supporting equipment' satisfactory for a driver of [his] skill to [be] effective [to] compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," Speed's complaint states, according to SceneDaily.
Speed's complaint also provides a rare, inside look at the money being paid in the Sprint Cup series for a driver at his level.
According to SceneDaily, the lawsuit says Speed signed a three-year deal in September 2007 for a salary of $300,000 in 2008, $500,000 in 2009 and $1 million in 2010. He was to receive 50 percent of his purse winnings for each top-10 finish, 45 percent for finishing 11th through 20th and 40 percent for finishes of 21st or worse.
Having watched the country's football team crash out of the World Cup, Italy is once again looking to Ferrari to raise the national spirit at this weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia.
This race could be a critical turning point in the championship battle if Ferrari's most significant raft of upgrades is proved to work as dramatically on the track as they have in simulations.
Can the modified Ferrari catapult Fernando Alonso to the front? Photo: AFP
Alonso even admitted to an Italian colleague in Istanbul that he was very worried how quickly Ferrari had fallen behind their rivals in the development race.
He was concerned that unless the team reacted strongly in Valencia, earmarked as the weekend for the next big round of updates, then any title ambitions could be over before half season.
Well, here we are in Spain, on Alonso's home turf, and Ferrari have arrived with their version of Formula 1's latest must-have system, the much-vaunted exhaust-blown diffuser which is reputed to have contributed so much to Red Bull's whirlwind start to the campaign.
Now the question is - can the drivers really find the performance improvement that's said to be worth at least half a second, lifting them right into the thick of the action across all circuits?
The last race in Canada showed that under the right conditions the F10 had the pace. Alonso could have won in Montreal but for unforeseen circumstances as Mark Hughes explained last week.
First impressions during Friday practice can be cloudy but Massa sounded suitably encouraged.
"I'm convinced we've improved - but how much it is difficult to say," the Brazilian said. "I feel the car is competitive and that's important to fight and I hope we are fighting."
Massa's view was confirmed by two of Ferrari's rivals, one of whom said the Ferrari was the fastest car at Valencia on Friday.
Ferrari tell me that this is no straight Red Bull copy, rushed into development as soon as it appeared.
I'm assured that the designers at Ferrari HQ in Maranello had been planning its introduction since the winter.
But the lack of testing means that key concerns have yet to be truly answered.
How successfully will the gasses from the exhaust be channelled over and through the diffuser? How will the car's rear suspension, the wishbones and the floor withstand temperatures of around 800C?
"Watch out for fires," was how one Red Bull engineer put it on Thursday night.
The levels of rear downforce may be improved in the short run but clearly if the heat is too extreme it'll damage the car over long runs and hugely compromise performance.
Track temperatures will be high. They're expected to reach at least 45C.
It was noticeable how in first practice Alonso held the car at the exit of the pit lane to simulate the wait on the grid before the red lights go out for the race to start.
That said, track time on Fridays and Saturdays can tell the engineers only so much. They need a full race distance to gauge its effectiveness.
And, most certainly, the system will be refined for the next race at Silverstone and beyond.
Remember, Ferrari have already endured one false start in development when their first effort at the F-duct - reducing drag on the rear wing to improve straight-line speed - saw them go slower in Barcelona.
So far, only McLaren, the team which pioneered the device has achieved the most impressive results. That's because it's been worked on for almost two years.
Because of the current ban on testing, it's so often a case of "fit and hope" in the words of a Mercedes engineer.
Needless to say, Ferrari's filming day at their Fiorano test track last Friday when Alonso tried out the new exhaust has infuriated many in the paddock who believe the team bent the rules banning testing.
And there's the rub. Ferrari are not alone in playing catch-up. F1 development has never been so fierce.
Naturally, Ferrari hope they will make an important step forward this weekend. But there's no guarantee that it'll be any greater than that made by anybody else. If anything, it may just keep them up to speed in their current position as third fastest team.
McLaren, I'm told, targeted the British Grand Prix for their new exhaust system because they felt the gain at Silverstone would be greater than here in Valencia, plus it gave them more development hours.
And if Jenson Button's excitement at its prospective benefit is any guide, it can only up the ante of a thrillingly intense championship where five drivers have already held the lead.
The one notable absentee from the list is Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.
"Ah, but it's who's the leader at the end of the season that counts," said his team boss, Christian Horner.
For a man whose pace-setting team could come under attack this weekend like never before from so many different angles, Horner has been a picture of cool.
He's almost amused that rivals believe they've rumbled Red Bull's trick performance tool - where previously it was a clever ride height control system, which turned out not to exist.
"We found that for us, the exhaust system was only worth one 10th of a second," he said on Thursday.
Yes, he would say that, wouldn't he?
But as McLaren have demonstrated over the last two races, the competition is closing in and it's increasingly tough for Red Bull's design genius, Adrian Newey to eke out further performance gains.
If Ferrari have done their calculations correctly - not to mention Mercedes, with team principal Ross Brawn asserting that they're still in the title hunt - Newey's life could become even more challenging.
And the overall winner can only be Formula 1, whatever the distractions in South Africa.
UPDATE, Saturday, 1710 BST:
For all the talk about the improvements made by Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, Red Bull were somewhat overlooked - but they proved in qualifying that they are still ahead of the field on pure pace.
Somewhat under the radar, they have brought to Valencia a new diffuser and an improved version of their F-duct, and they were as dispirintingly quick in qualifying as they have been at almost any other race this season.
Their relentless pace of development will continue but, as has been proved before, their advantage on Saturday is not necessarily repeated on Sunday.
There are also still questions over their reliability, particularly here Sebastian Vettel's gearbox, which he had to nurse over the closing laps in Canada two weeks ago.
just picked up the 97 reissue of the amt 1:16 10th anniversary trans am on the bay and am looking for some different rims i hate the ones on the car and there are no options. snowflakes would be nice, as would cragars or keystone or almost any other custom wheels. haven't had much luck finding any on ebay and can't afford another 50-100 dollar kit just to pirate wheels from. any aftermarket help out there?
When the rules for the Moto3 class, due to replace the 125cc two-stroke class from 2012 onwards, were announced, the entry of existing motocross and supermoto manufacturers seemed only a question of time. The new class is to feature 250cc, single cylinder four-stroke engines, with a maximum bore of 81mm and rev limited to 14,000 rpm, and all of the current companies building motocross bikes have an engine which - with a little modification - would fit that bill.
The biggest - by reputation, at least - of the MX bike builders is surely KTM, and when Moto3 was announced, the gaze of the press immediately turned on Mattighofen, KTM's Austrian base. Rumors emerged as early as October that KTM was considering an entry, and now GPOne.com is reporting that the decision has been made, and that KTM's Moto3 project is already underway. According to GPOne.com, the technical details of the Moto3 engine are yet to be finalized, but given that the rules were only published in full at Valencia, with the details of the spec ECU issued just a couple of days ago, it is hardly surprising that KTM wanted to wait before starting work.
The Korea Grand Prix, which was a new addition to the F1 calendar in 2010, has been named as the best race of the 2010 season at the FIA Prize Gala in Monaco.
The inaugural race proved to be a success despite initial doubts over the building of the Yeongam circuit, which was behind schedule but eventually finished on time.
An FIA statement praised the organisers of the race and said ...
The agreement for Formula 1 to switch to a new energy-efficient type of engine in 2013, exclusively revealed by BBC Sport, is the culmination of months of in-depth negotiations about one important aspect of the future of the sport.
Increasing F1's sustainability was a key aim of both Jean Todt - the president of governing body the FIA - and the Formula 1 teams through their umbrella organisation Fota, and this move certainly makes a statement about that.
By replacing the current 2.4-litre normally aspirated V8 engines with 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbos with energy recovery and fuel restrictions, F1 has deliberately mirrored the way road-car manufacturers are taking the cars we all drive on the road.
Fossil fuel supplies are running out and there is an ever-increasing pressure on resources, but there is no realistic replacement in sight for the internal combustion engine for some time to come, despite the hopes for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell engines, for example.
In those circumstances, car manufacturers have no choice but to produce ever-more efficient engines.
But the manufacturers involved in F1 hope that by adopting these technologies in a glamorous, high-profile activity they can speed up their adoption by making them 'sexy'.
So whereas now high-performance and fuel economy/efficiency are regarded among the wider public as pretty much mutually exclusive, F1 can prove otherwise and by extension help in dramatically reducing the carbon dioxide emissions produced by road cars in the future.
They will do this by producing new engines that reduce fuel consumption by as much as 50% while retaining the same power and keeping competition as close as it has been in 2010.
It is not all about philanthropy, though. Inevitably, there is self-interest involved too.
F1 is aware that it has an image for being profligate with resources. In an era when there is increasing pressure on energy supplies, it is nervous about its position as an activity that literally burns fossil fuels for fun.
By introducing these new rules, F1 is hoping it can go some way towards insulating itself against accusations that it is an irrelevant waste of resources.
It can counter any such claims by pointing out that the pursuit of the maximum possible power output for the minimum possible fuel consumption by some of the world's brightest engineers in the white-hot competition of F1 will lead to a much faster development of energy-efficient technologies.
These advances will thus transfer much more quickly to road cars than they would have done, thereby reducing global CO2 emissions quicker than if F1 had not bothered.
It is a noble idea and it sounds like a no-brainer - and regular readers of this blog may remember that I wrote about the likelihood of these rules as long ago as April - but there have over the past few months been serious doubts about whether they would be adopted in 2013, as was originally the plan.
That is because as F1's power-brokers began to discuss the idea, economics and politics threatened to put the brakes on it.
The move was opposed for some time by Mercedes and Ferrari because they felt it did not make any sense to commit to spending millions designing a new type of engine at a time when the sport was trying to cut costs, and teams were facing problems finding sponsorship as the global economic crisis bit.
F1 cars last used turbos in the '80s - they are coming back for 2013 in a very different form. Photo: Getty
Better, some felt, to delay such a big change by a year or two - or perhaps even five - and make some nods towards efficiency with the current engines, than embark on such a complex programme at such a difficult time.
How, these people argued, would they convince the boards of major car companies to spend anywhere between 50-100 million euros building new engines for F1 when the current ones worked perfectly well and all car manufacturers were struggling financially?
There were other objections, too.
The background to the talks was that the 2010 F1 season was developing as one of the greatest in the sport's history, with five drivers in three teams competing for the world championship.
All involved were painfully aware that it would be foolish to introduce a new regulation that put the closeness of competition at risk.
F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone put it this way to me when I spoke to him about the prospect of the new rules: "It's not necessary. We have a very good engine formula. Why should we change it to something that is going to cost millions of pounds and that nobody wants and that could end up with one manufacturer getting a big advantage?
"We don't need to do it; all the manufacturers are doing it (in their road cars) already."
At the same time, F1's senior figures were aware that while the current 2.4-litre V8 engines might appear to be wasteful, in actual fact they are more efficient in terms of specific fuel consumption - the amount of power produced per unit of fuel - than any road-car engine.
The counter-arguments to these objections were as follows:
- Although the current F1 engines are cutting-edge in lots of ways, they will increasingly be regarded as out-of-time and irrelevant as car manufacturers move away from big-capacity normally aspirated engines and into smaller-capacity engines fitted with high-tech turbocharging and energy recovery. (Renault, for example, is predicting that by 2015 more than 75% of the engines it produces will be small-capacity turbos).
- If F1 did not ensure it kept pace with the times, it would come under increasing scrutiny as the 21st century progressed.
- One of the reasons teams are struggling to raise money is because some major companies - those to whom corporate social responsibility programmes are an important part of their business plan - are reluctant to get involved in F1 because of its wasteful image.
Nevertheless, even the most ardent proponents of the new rules recognised that those arguing against had a point - no one had an appetite to spend tens of millions of euros on a new F1 engine and no one wanted to wreck the on-track show.
As a result, I'm told, a series of checks and balances have been built into the new rules to ensure that the engine manufacturers cannot engage in a spending war and to prevent one of them gaining a significant performance advantage over the others.
It was also recognised that an F1 car had to remain what it is - super-fast, with a very powerful engine. So the new engines will produce about the same total power output, 750bhp, as the current ones.
How they do it, though, will be very different.
Only 600bhp of that will come from the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine itself; the remainder will be generated by the energy recovery systems that will be integrated within it. Fuel consumption will be restricted both by limiting fuel flow and introducing a maximum capacity for races.
Current engines rev to 18,000rpm - a figure that has come down from more than 20,000rpm in recent years as the FIA has introduced limits as part of cost-saving moves. The new ones will not do more than 10,000rpm.
That in itself caused concern - believe it or not, there was disquiet that the new engines would not sound 'right', that they would be too quiet.
Anyone who has witnessed an F1 car at close quarters will be aware that they make a quite shattering noise - few things on this earth are louder.
Certainly, the new ones will sound different - and quieter - but whether that is better or worse depends on your point of view. It is almost certainly also a question that concerns the ardent F1 fans who live for the sport a lot more than it does the millions more who switch on their televisions every other weekend to watch a race.
It sounds almost surreal to think that this was a serious point of discussion among such serious-minded people, but I can assure you it was.
Whatever your take on it, though, the new engines have won the day, and their adoption will be announced sooner rather than later, even if it is not after the FIA World Council meeting on Friday 10 December, as I'm told it could well be.
This, though, is just the first of many sets of talks about the future of F1.
To come are negotiations over a new Concorde Agreement, the document that binds together the teams, the FIA and the Formula 1 Management (FOM) companies, represented by Ecclestone, and which runs out at the end of 2012.
The teams are pushing hard for their split of the sport's huge revenues to increase from 50% to 75%, and early indications are the FIA is also seeking a major shift in its relationship with FOM.
If talks over a new engine formula felt difficult and protracted, those over the new Concorde Agreement promise to be something else again.
Prizes will be awarded as follows:
Top three scorers for the round (not overall) will win a copy of Ring of Fire.
The top two scoring Minellas will [...]
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It's a subjective question, and so difficult after such a momentous season that I have been wrestling with it for some weeks.
Vettel is centre-stage among the class of 2010 - but is he number one in our list? Photo: AFP
Here is my list of the top 10 drivers of 2010:
10) After battling for the title with Brawn in 2009, it cannot have been easy for Rubens Barrichello, at 37 going on 38, to drum up the enthusiasm for a season battling to make the top 10 in qualifying with once-great Williams.
But drum it up he did, impressing the team with his technical feedback and producing some excellent drives that resulted in strong points positions when Williams had something of a purple patch mid-season.
The veteran Brazilian was outshone by rookie team-mate Nico Hulkenberg at times as the German found his feet late in the season.
Nevertheless, as he heads into an astonishing 19th F1 season in 2011, Barrichello clearly still has a lot to offer.
9) Kamui Kobayashi emerged as one of F1's most exciting talents with some all-action performances in 2010.
There remain doubts about his ultimate potential, with Sauber drafting in the reliable Nick Heidfeld for the final five races of the season to give Kobayashi a benchmark to measure himself against.
But Kobayashi responded perfectly and gives all the signs of having a great future.
8) It all started so well for Felipe Massa, who out-qualified new team-mate Alonso at the first race of the season. But when Alonso passed the Brazilian around the outside of the first corner, it set the tone for the entire year.
Alonso trounced Massa in 2010, proving faster than him at virtually every race, and there is no doubt the Spaniard's relentless excellence got to the man in the second Ferrari.
There were some good drives from Massa - particularly his third places at Monza and Korea. But he will have to pull something very special out of the bag, not to mention rediscover his mental equilibrium, to reverse this trend in 2011.
7) Nico Rosberg convincingly beat Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher this year and, had he achieved that feat 10 years ago, there would have been no doubt he had emerged as a truly great F1 driver.
But the Schumacher of this year was not the same driver as before, as even the seven-time champion himself effectively admitted.
Rosberg drove a strong season, and some good races, and there are an increasing number of people in F1 who believe he is emerging as a top-class contender.
But until he goes up against - and beats - a driver of the highest calibre, it will be hard to tell whether he deserves to be considered as that himself, or whether he is nearly there, but not quite.
6) Not even Jenson Button probably expected to be leading the championship after winning two of the opening four races of 2010 and out-qualifying McLaren team-mate Hamilton 3-1.
Button's two victories in the wet in Australia and China owed a lot to clever strategic calls but that was not all. The sight of Button pulling away from Hamilton in China on a wet track and on tyres of comparable age proved once and for all that this is a driver of the very highest calibre.
After that, Hamilton got on top and stayed there but Button, who was rarely very far away in qualifying and often more or less matched his team-mate on race pace, provided a convincing answer to those who said he had gained his 2009 triumph more by luck than ability.
5) Mark Webber chose the name Aussie Grit for his Twitter account, and 2010 proved why. Expected to fulfil the role of an obedient number two at Red Bull, Webber went toe-to-toe with team-mate Vettel throughout the season and led him in the championship for most of it.
After a shaky first couple of races, Webber came on song when the season came back to Europe with dominant wins in Spain and Monaco that left Vettel bemused at where his team-mate had found such electrifying pace.
By mid-summer, Vettel had got his edge back, but Webber remained large in his mirrors, ready to take advantage of any mistakes. That he was able to do this despite suspicions that Red Bull were not perhaps being quite as even-handed in their treatment of their drivers as they insisted was all the more impressive.
But his challenge faded in the end, crashing in Korea and failing to make any real impact in the final two races of the campaign.
4) Did Renault's Robert Kubica perform better than any other driver on the grid when you consider the equipment he had at his disposal?
You can certainly make that case. No-one else can claim to have made so few mistakes while extracting what appeared to be the maximum from his machinery.
The Renault was not fast enough for Kubica to regularly mix it with the title contenders but on three occasions he transcended the car's limitations in a way only the truly great can - at Monaco, Spa and Suzuka, F1's three great drivers' circuits.
To qualify second in Monaco, third in Spa and fourth in Suzuka was a momentous achievement - and he backed that up by taking podium places in both Monaco and Belgium before being robbed of another when his wheel came loose in Japan.
There is still a slight question mark over a man who, in 2009, was not able to comprehensively overshadow Heidfeld at BMW. And let's not forget that Kubica was not burdened with the kind of pressure that the likes of Alonso, Vettel, Button and Hamilton were.
But put Kubica in a competitive car and all his rivals would fear him.
3) Sebastian Vettel is a great talent and a deserving world champion but, considering the stunning pace of the Red Bull car, he should have won many more races and clinched the title much sooner.
The car's fragility did not help - failures in Bahrain, Australia, Spain and Korea cost him a lot of points - but the German also made a number of high-profile errors. He crashed into rivals in Turkey and Belgium, suffered a puncture following a red-mist moment at Silverstone and was penalised for misjudging the safety car in Hungary.
Ten pole positions and five wins speak for themselves to an extent but, as the (slightly) faster driver in comfortably the fastest car, they are to be expected.
Some of those pole laps were stunning, though, with Vettel possessing an Ayrton Senna-esque ability to pull that little bit extra out on his very final lap, no matter what the circumstances, while each one of his wins was a masterpiece of domination.
However, there have to be fewer mistakes, more wins dragged out of adversity and more convincing performances when he is back in the pack for him to be ranked above the next names on the list.
2) Had this article been written after the Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton would have occupied the number one spot.
Up to that point, Hamilton had made not a single mistake worth the name and he was leading the championship in what had from the mid-point of the season been the third fastest car.
Hamilton had maintained his exuberant, attacking style and stunning natural pace and had mated it to a consistency that was making him a formidable competitor.
His fantastic victory at Spa - not forgetting the qualifying lap that earned him second on the grid on slicks in a shower of rain - confirmed him as the outstanding driver of the season to that point, notwithstanding the canny Button's two wet wins.
Suddenly, though, it all went wrong. Hamilton crashed out of the next two races in Monza and Singapore and when he crashed again in Friday practice at the next race in Japan his season appeared to be coming apart at the seams.
But then came one of the laps of the season - third on the grid at Suzuka in a car in which he had done just six flying laps before qualifying. It was a reminder of Hamilton's amazing talent. By then, though, as far as the championship was concerned, the damage had been done.
1) Fernando Alonso's first year with Ferrari started with a few shaky races and finished with a strategic mistake that cost him the title. In between the Spaniard did just enough to earn the right to call himself the best driver of 2010.
Early-season errors were born of trying too hard in a car that was not quite on the pace. Combine that with Ferrari losing their way for a while and Alonso was 47 points off the lead at the midpoint of the season.
But in a car that established itself as the second fastest behind the Red Bull, he recovered that margin by driving with a consistent, relentless brilliance that his rivals were not able to match. His victories at Monza and Singapore were stunning. Only Hamilton at Spa and perhaps Webber at Monaco can claim a performance of comparable quality.
That ultimately Alonso did not win a third title was only because of his team's error in Abu Dhabi. For the 2005 and 2006 champion, as he said himself, it was still a great year.
I'll make this as simple as possible.
There will be two teams bearing the Lotus name in Formula 1 next year.
One, following Wednesday's announcement of Lotus Cars' decision to sponsor and eventually buy into what was the Renault team, will be called Lotus Renault. That team will be part-owned by Lotus Cars but their F1 cars will be called Renaults and will use Renault engines.
The other will be called Team Lotus. This one has nothing to do with Lotus Cars (any more - but we'll come back to that in a moment) but their F1 car will be called a Lotus. They will also use, er, Renault engines.
Both teams, it transpires, plan to run their cars in variations of a black and gold livery. This is an attempt to hark back to the historic John Player Special livery made famous by the original Team Lotus in the 1970s and 1980s through great drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Ronnie Peterson, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, and era-defining cars like the Lotus 72 and 79.
It's a commentator's - and journalist's - nightmare and one can only begin to imagine the confusion it will create for those watching.
So what on earth is going on?
The story starts in 2009, when Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes obtained a multi-year licence from Lotus Cars to use the Lotus name in F1, having persuaded the Malaysian-owned company that an involvement in grand prix racing would be a valuable promotional tool.
Lotus Racing were one of three new teams in F1 in 2010, the others being Virgin and Hispania. All three spent the year close to the back of the grid, but Lotus did establish themselves as convincingly the most competitive.
In the course of the year, though, Group Lotus's approach to F1 changed, as part of a hugely ambitious refocusing of the company's future plans by chief executive officer Dany Bahar, who formerly worked in the commercial arms of Red Bull F1 and Ferrari.
Bahar, it transpires, was never keen on Lotus granting the licence to Fernandes, and it has become clear through 2010 why - he wanted to take the brand into F1 himself, but in a different way, through an involvement with an established team.
At the Paris Motor Show in October, Bahar announced plans for five new road-car models, expanding Lotus's range by nearly 200%, and has since said Lotus will enter IndyCar racing in the US and race at Le Mans. And now comes a major sponsorship deal with what used to be the Renault F1 team which will, at an undefined point in the future, morph into Lotus part-owning that team.
Fernandes, meanwhile, struck a deal in September to buy the rights to the Team Lotus name from David Hunt, brother of 1976 world champion James. Hunt had bought them when the original Team Lotus collapsed in 1994 after racing in F1 since 1958, during which time it had established itself as one of the sport's most iconic names.
Fernandes' success in buying the name - exclusively revealed by BBC Sport - marked the point at which what had until then been a private dispute between him and Lotus Cars - which is owned by the Malaysian company Proton - broke out into the open.
Following Fernandes's acquisition of the Team Lotus name, Group Lotus claimed that it owned all the rights to the Lotus name - a point of view robustly disputed by Hunt, who points out that Proton have several times tried to buy the Team Lotus name from him without ever being able to conclude a deal.
The dispute got so heated that former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir bin Mohamad stepped in to mediate, but he succeeded only in stopping the ping-pong of press releases. The dispute is now going to the High Court - and it is unlikely to be resolved until next year.
Bahar (left) launches a new Lotus car with the help of actress Sharon Stone. Photo: Getty
But the disagreement over the ownership of Team Lotus is only one of two ongoing legal cases between Lotus Cars and Fernandes. In the other, Fernandes is suing Lotus Cars for breach of contract over its withdrawal of the licence to use the Lotus name in F1.
That, too, is not expected to be resolved until some time next year.
Both sides, then, have got themselves into a bit of a pickle.
Lotus Cars has struck a deal to promote its brand in F1 through a team that is knocking on the door of breaking into the top three - and which, in Robert Kubica, has one of the finest drivers on the grid.
But it is doing so with a car that is called a Renault - and there is no way out of that one.
Lotus and the team's majority shareholder, the private investment group Genii Capital, cannot change the constructor name assigned to their team because if they do so without the permission of all the other teams they will lose the millions the team earns through Renault's historic achievements in F1, which date back to their entry in 1977.
And guess which team would not agree?
Fernandes, meanwhile, faces the prospect of his team giving free publicity to a company with which he is in two separate legal disputes. And even if he changed the name of the team to something else, his cars would still be called Lotuses.
It is an unsatisfactory situation for all involved - the efforts of both parties will be diluted by a dispute that, for those watching, will create only confusion.
Fernandes is understood to be increasingly confident that he will win the court case over the Team Lotus name. Lotus Cars, for its part, appears not to be overly concerned about the existence of a second team diluting its brand. Their view is that only one of the teams is affiliated with Lotus, and the other one is providing free advertising for it.
In the meantime, questions hang in the air.
Is the end game for Fernandes to sell the Team Lotus brand to Lotus Cars if he succeeds in establishing that he owns it? Can Lotus - and its parent company Proton - sustain such an ambitious programme? And so on.
In the murk, only one thing seems clear - this is only the latest stage in a story that will rumble on for some time to come.
Started a new one tonight 1959 Caddy Convert by Monogram. Got the black wash done on grill and tail piece, got 1st coat of paint. I went with Tamiya light pearl red metallic (Pink) and white. Engine painted factory correct blue with gold valve covers and air cleaner.