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Thursday Thoughts - The real star(s) of 2010 // Picking the best driver, team member and a bonus paddock member

Published by Christine

This week's Thursday Thoughts question comes courtesy of Maverick over at Viva F1, and it's about taking a look up and down the paddock and picking out a VIP. Here's the question:

Who was the real star of the 2010 Formula One season?

I've been pondering it for most of the day, and I think I'm actually going to have to give you three answers. One driver, one team member and one bonus star. I'm greedy like that. Let us begin.

The driver

For me, the star of 2010 was Nico Hülkenberg. I know, I know, Vettel worked really hard to win the championship, and Webber worked really hard to lose the championship. There are lots of reasons why those five drivers that were in contention until the last few races could be in this spot. But when I think 2010, Hülkenberg is the driver that stands out. I don't know what it was that made him an entire second faster than the rest of the field in Brazil, but that moment was pure greatness.

It was such a surprise, and a wonderful breath of fresh air, in a season that was becoming bogged down by Red Bull's arguments, and the ongoing saga of team orders. Instead, we had a rookie driver putting them all to shame and taking a glorious pole position. It didn't last long, but it was a great moment.

The team member

I've been really impressed with Mike Gascoyne this year. He's always been a bit of a mystery previously. We knew he was good at the job, but he couldn't seem to get on with the bosses and that was a minus point. Of course, his previous employers were Toyota, so that's understandable. Nevertheless, this year he has been a very visible and vocal member of the Lotus Racing team - almost the paddock mouthpiece for Tony Fernandes. I have loved the insight he has given on Twitter from the pitwall, both before and after, and even during races. Pictures, notes on strategy, and thoughts on tyres, he's given us great access without giving away the team's secrets.

The Lotus situation is getting tricky, but I've enjoyed spending 2010 watching Gascoyne do his stuff.

Bonus star

My third star of the year is actually Bernd Mäylander, because we saw an awful lot of Safety Cars deployed this year. It's easy to hate the safety car because it usually messes up races, and particularly in Korea it was not a great sight to watch it trundling around and around delaying the proper start of the race.

However, I think he's done a great job. He led more laps this year than anyone outside the top five (which means more than Massa!), and has kept the others in good order (except for Vettel who doesn't understand the safety car regulations). In a time when confusion reigns over who should be where when the Safety Car is deployed, Bernd seems to know what is what and keeps things safe.

It's tricky to keep a top speed up in a souped up road car when behind you, you have 24 single seaters, capable of doing at least double what you can. I wouldn't like the sight of Vettel bearing down on me in the damp conditions in my rear view mirror. So hats off to Bernd, I think he's my bonus star of the year.

So there you have it: Nico Hülkenberg, Mike Gascoyne and Bernd Mäylander. An interesting line-up!