Clip The Apex
If you ask most people they will tell you that 2009 was a boring season of F1 that was dominated by Jenson Button in a car that was massively superior to all the others. That's what they'll say but it really wasn't like that. An under-funded team came out of a massive rule change with an advantage and couldn't afford to develop the car. So then everyone else caught them up and we ended up with a second half of the season where nearly anyone on the grid could pull off a win depending on what weekend and track they were at. But 2009 has a lot more of a legacy than that and lots of things that happened that year started F1 down the path that has lead it into all the issues it has today.
2009 was a revolutionary year in F1 as for the first time in 25 years that the drivers and constructors titles were not won by one of the big four teams. Not only wasn't it won by one of them but it wasn't even contested by any of them. The pecking order had been well and truly shaken. From 1984 onwards the 3 main teams dominating the sport were Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. The 4th team that was an interloper was the team based at Enstone (many name changes). Whilst other teams might have been competitive at times it was these 4 that always led the way, with 2 always being in ascendency whilst the others were in decline. Through 84 to 87 it was McLaren and Williams in ascension with McLaren making the best of it. Come 1988 Williams went into decline and Ferrari were on their way up to compete with McLaren without actually every making it. 1991 saw Williams come back to the fore and Ferrari going into a decline. McLaren's eventual decline started in 93 and this is where the team from Enstone came to the front after many years of being the 4th team. Enstone were at the front for only a couple of years between 94 and 95 before Ferrari then became the main competitor to the dominant Williams team. Williams long period of dominance came to an end in 1998 when the classic Ferrari/McLaren duel resumed until the early noughties when Ferrari became a huge dominating force with both Williams and McLaren nipping at their heels. Ferrari stayed at the front until 2005 when the team from Enstone reached the top of its 10 year cycle and hit the front again before once more falling back down the order after 2 seasons. This left McLaren and Ferrari to dice it out for the next couple of years. It was a simple pattern - one of the teams would be leading the way whilst a couple of the others reset themselves to rebuild back to the top. All until 2009 where the order finally shaken up.
You know the little fat feller on Sky? He used to be an F1 driver you know. In fact, he was a pretty bloody good driver who overcame career threatening injuries to win 3 Grands Prix.
In 1987 John Paul Herbert won the British Formula Three championship driving for Eddie Jordan. The next step was F3000, again with Jordan racing. Johnny won the season opener at Jerez and was third at Monaco. A couple of races later the circus moved to Brands Hatch. Johnny was on a high, he had signed a contract to drive for Benetton in Formula One who were managed by his long time mentor, Peter Collins. Johnny was on pole but lost a couple of places at the start. As the cars came back from the trip into the country side (they were using the full GP circuit) Herbert ended up in the barrier. He sustained multiple injuries to his ankles and feet and there was even a concern that he may have to have an amputation. The image below demonstrates just how severe the impact was and also shows how vulnerable the drivers were in those days.
Out of the ashes of World War II came a lot of military installations scarcely needed now blowing up enemies was not a priority. Well not so much of a priority.
Silverstone airfield on the Bucks/Northants border was such an installation. With Brooklands going the other way - a victim of the Luftwaffe - British motorsport needed a new home. Today Silverstone has evident primacy over Brands, Donington and the Top Gear test track.
Its corners are famous - Copse relegated from Turn 1 status but unbowed, Abbey renewed, Stowe tricky, Luffield frustrating, Maggots/Becketts flowing.
F1 is scarcely in rude health, with implausible grid penalties adding to its promoter describing it as "crap". What it really needs is barnstormers. And this one's on the BBC, so some people might chance upon it!
Hamilton inherited a sketchy win from Rosberg last year, just as Rosberg had profited from Hamilton and Vettel losing out in 2013. This year, you suspect there'll be Mercedes again to the fore.
It'll be windy. It might be wet. Good ol' Silverstone.