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Easy for Vettel, grand debut for Indian GP
Vettel won his second straight title, while India hosted its maiden Grand Prix.
Over the last five years, Formula One fans have been spoiled by late-season championship deciders.
That wasn't the case in 2011 as Sebastian Vettel won his second straight title with four races to spare. The Red Bull driver did so with a dominance as complete as any driver since Michael Schumacher at Ferrari.
Red Bull teammate Mark Webber had pushed Vettel all the way in 2010 but was very much in the shadows this time around, the Ferraris were off the pace throughout, McLaren left their surge much too late and had to deal with a brooding Lewis Hamilton, and Mercedes' hoped-for renaissance never materialised.
Vettel will enter the 2012 season as the favorite to make it three straight titles, especially because the sport is in something of a developmental holding pattern pending a contentious overhaul of the engine rules for 2014.
Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes will all enter next season with the same driver line-up, and there is little by way of rule changes to spice up the tactical battle.
That means the mid-table and lower-ranked teams have been left to provide the off-season news in the driver market, and Lotus have provided the biggest headline by hiring 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen after his year in the World Rally Championship.
Raikkonen had his remaining contract paid out by Ferrari at the end of 2009 to accommodate the arrival of Fernando Alonso, and acknowledged he had lost his motivation.
He claims the enthusiasm has returned, and if the Finn gets a car that allows him to show his best, there is cause to believe that Lotus may improve sharply. But if Raikkonen found motivation difficult even at Ferrari, it remains to be seen what kind of mood he brings if Lotus remain stuck among the also-rans.
Meanwhile, India was added in the 2011 calendar, but Bahrain was called off amid sectarian unrest.
The big addition for the coming season is the return to the United States, with a race scheduled for a new circuit in Austin, Texas. Funding and construction of the track has not been without its problems, but the delay should not be an issue.
A second race in the United States will be added to the calendar in 2013, in New Jersey. F1 has not been held in the United States since 2007.
India's stature grew in the world of sports after it successfully hosted its first-ever Grand Prix this year.
It was indeed a big challenge to host an international motorsport event, especially after the controversy-marred Commonwealth Games in 2010.
The Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida came in for free-flowing praise from the leading drivers, including the double world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The grand spectacle could have been more appealing to the countrymen had Karun Chandhok also raced along with Narain Karthikeyan. However, Karthikeyan did not disappoint and finished the race in 17th position, ahead of Hispania teammate Daniel Ricciardo of Australia.
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