The season was billed to be one that could be the most exciting yet. Back in March I predicted a potential six-way fight for the drivers title, and if it wasn't for a fairly poor season from Felipe Massa, I'd have been spot on right.
I don't think it was the changes to the points system, the removal of fuelling from pit-stops, or the update to the restriction on aerodynamics which made the season exciting. It was the fact that throughout the course of the season the title for the drivers championship was extremely close, and with all of the main contenders leading it at one point or another, culminating with Vettel taking the shock victory in the final race, when all eyes were on Alonso and Webber.
The season started with Ferrari looking quickest in the first race, only for that to change quickly and for McLaren and then Red Bull to assert dominance. Red Bull's explosion in Turkey as Webber and Vettel crashed into each other looked to hand things over to the McLarens to start walking away with it, until a resurgence in pace from Red Bull and Ferrari brought them back in front of McLaren for performance and it was anybody's game again. Successive retirements from Hamilton brought Webber and Alonso back into the front, it took the last race of the season for the places to switch once more and for Vettel to come out on top.
Really, there are so many incidents this season to talk about 'if's. The contact between Webber and Hamilton in Melboune, and then again in Singapore. Various retirements throughout the course of the season, Massa's concession to give Alonso victory in Germany (eight points which could have been oh so crucial to the championship if things had turned out differently). Really I think it's hard to argue that things perhaps should have gone a different way because pretty much all the drivers have lost points through incidents and mechanical failures that they could have otherwise gotten. Had Mark Webber had better luck with crashes which weren't really his fault, he could have won it. Had Hamilton maybe been a bit more cautious going into corners side-by-side with other cars, and it could have been his. If Alonso had chosen a different pit-stop strategy in the final race, he could have taken it as well.
Personally I think Vettel probably deserves his title, regardless of who I'd actually have preferred to win it. There are plenty of reasons to why other drivers might deserve it more, but I think the final line is that out of the nineteen races this season, Vettel started on pole for ten of them. Sure, there's more to being a racing driver than merely setting the best qualifying time, but I think that statistic makes it hard to argue that Red Bull and Vettel didn't have the fastest package this season. If he'd converted those pole positions into race victories more effectively (and the fact he didn't was mostly down to a mixture of reliability, bad luck, and probably a bit of inexperience as a driver) then the championship could have been over with three or four races still to go. It's amazing that he hadn't led the championship before the final race really.
There's also something to say for Red Bull Racing taking both F1 titles this season. When they're fighting against esteemed, vintage teams like Ferrari and McLaren, it's incredible. Their debut season was only in 2005, and really it should give hope to the fledgling teams this season that in a few years (and with a lot of money, to be fair) you can not only be fighting with the top teams, but completely dominating races and winning trophies by the bucketload. I think few would argue against the suggestion that Red Bull consistently had the fastest package this season, at times by a pretty huge margin. It'll be interesting to see if teams like Force India can't raise themselves to that sort of level by a few years time.
So, a bit annoyed that I missed the last race due to rowing commitments, but it's still been an absolutely fantastic season, and certainly the closest-run title race in recent times. Bring on 2011, because I can't see any decent reason why it won't be just as close between just as many drivers next season.