Merry Christmas from Formula1.com 23 Dec 2011
From start to finish, 2011 belonged to Red Bull and, more specifically, to Sebastian Vettel. The Austrian teams RB7 was far and away the class of the field and Vettel was poised, precise and practically perfect, claiming 11 victories as he successfully defended his drivers crown.
That said, this season has not been short of drama, suspense and surprise. Challenging tyre compounds from new official suppliers Pirelli, revised driver aids in DRS and the return of KERS, and plenty of new driver talent - Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Jerome DAmbrosio and Daniel Ricciardo - meant that 2011 felt as fresh as ever.
So as the year draws to a close, we'd like to thank you for your support over the past 12 months and wish our all our users the very best for the Christmas period.
The teams and drivers will certainly be pleased to have a few weeks off to recharge their batteries, but Formula One racing waits for no man and the first few weeks of 2012 are already shaping up to be very busy indeed. After applying the finishing touches to their new machines, the teams will commence winter testing in Spain in early February, before the season gets underway in Melbourne on March 16.
But what awaits?
The regulation changes may be minor compared to last year, but there is still plenty to tax the brains of designers up and down the pit lane, including the end of blown diffusers, a clampdown on engine mapping and tougher crash tests. Well have to wait to discover whether a smaller team can use the revisions to steal a march on the frontrunners, but expect to see some interesting solutions on show at the winter tests.
In terms of drivers there are still a couple of slots to fill, but the 2012 line-up is already enough to whet any appetite. Kimi Raikkonen returns to the sport with Lotus, which means six world champions will be gracing the grid. Reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, veteran Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa and 2010 Brazil polesitter Nico Hulkenberg rejoin the ranks too, with Lotus, HRT and Force India respectively, whilst Frenchman Charles Pic will make his debut with Marussia.
Whats certain is that its going to be a thrilling season, especially with the addition of the 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin boosting the calendar to 20 rounds.
As always, we will keep you informed of all the developments from the world of Formula One in the build-up to the new season, so stay in touch with Formula1.com in the countdown to Australia for the very latest updates.
In the meantime, have a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!
For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.