A review of 2009


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I thought perhaps we should have a review of the 2009 season and have some discussions about the good and bad bits.

First a few stats:

17 races with 6 different winners
10 teams with 25 different drivers appearing on the grid during the course of the season
A first time World Drivers Champion in Jenson Button
First time Constructors Title winners with Brawn GP
A first time race winner in Mark Webber
First time race winning teams in Brawn & Red Bull
First ever pole positions for Brawn, Red Bull & Force India
The Malaysian Grand Prix became only the fifth ever to be awarded half points
For the first time in the history of the F1 World Championship there was no race in France, the birth place of Grand Prix racing.

It was very much a season of two halves with the first belonging to Button & Brawn and the second to Red Bull. The Brawn car, in Buttons hands at least, was so far ahead of the others at the start of the season it allowed Brawn to stop developing the car from the British Grand Prix onwards and still win both titles. Red Bull found more speed in the second half of the season but improvements in the Ferrari and McLaren cars hampered Red Bull's chances of challenging Brawn & Button in both titles races.

So was it an exciting season? Martin Brundle thinks so:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsp ... 337646.stm

Me, I’m not so sure. Button’s dominance in the early part of the season pretty much meant that the title was his to lose. His nervousness in the later races gave others an opportunity to catch up but with Red Bull allowing both drivers to chase the title and Barrichello, apart from occasional high quality drivers such as in Valencia, unable to match Button his title was never really seriously under threat.

Rule changes between 2008 and 2009, supposedly to allow more overtaking, failed to live up to expectations. The early races, with the deployment of the safety car in Australia and rain in Malaysia and China seemed to suggest that the cars could run closer together but, alas, as the season progressed we saw almost identical problems to previous years. The emergence of KERS added a new dimension to F1 but with only a few teams using the system those with KERS flew off the start line and had a significant advantage when overtaking and also when being overtaken. The return to slick tyres didn’t really seem to make much difference in the racing as, combined with the teams clawing back the aerodynamic grip, the mechanical grip offered by the tyres meant laps were faster than ever.

The emergence of Brawn & Red Bull as race winning constructors, overturning the McLaren/Ferrari duopoly of the last few seasons, was welcome. Jenson Button was a revelation. For a man whose career looked to be on the skids at the end of 2008 he silenced his critics by winning six of the first seven races at a canter and pretty much tied up the WDC by half way. Sebastian Vettel confirmed his place as a major new star in F1 winning 4 races and taking the runners up spot in the championship. Mark Webber finally emerged from the shadows and won two races as did Rubens Barrichello who, despite his years, put in some worthy performances but never had the raw pace of his team-mate. McLaren and Ferrari worked their back to race winning ways after creating cars which were less than good at the start of the season. Lewis Hamilton won two races which must have been much more than he expected at the start of the season and Kimi Raikkonen seemed to rediscover his “mojo” after the horrible accident which befell Felipe Massa.

Perhaps what did mark 2009 out as an “exciting” season were the off-track shenanigans. The season started with much discussion about the eligibility of the double diffusers employed by Brawn, Toyota and Williams. Hamilton was disqualified in Australia for lying to the stewards. FOTA threatened a break away series as the FIA pushed to cap the teams budgets. BMW and Toyota withdrew from F1 racing blaming the world economic climate but, more realistically, due to their less than stellar performances on the track. Renault were found guilty of ordering a driver to crash in Singapore last year costing Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds their jobs, causing Renault’s two title sponsors to withdrawn and making Renault questions their whole involvement in F1 racing. We had the election of a new President of the FIA with Jean Todt winning over Ari Vatanen amidst a variety of accusations of the incumbent, Max Mosley, unfairly trying to influence the FIA members as to how they should vote.

All in all I would give the 2009 season 6/10. FOM’s commitment to some mediocre race tracks didn’t help the spectacle, especially the two races we have to endure in Spain. The 2nd running of a night race in Singapore was pretty tepid and the first ever day/night race in Abu Dhabi was an interesting idea at a very bland circuit. Despite the hype from the press and TV pundits the driver’s title race was over by mid-season. The rule changes prevented teams with bad cars from being able to catch up with those that had got it right first time and the failure of the authorities to enforce their own rules regarding aerodynamic changes didn’t create any more action on the track.

Let’s see what 2010 brings us. I'm sure I've missed lots, or you may not agree with some of my comments. Please feel free to add your views, counter arguments and opinions.
I would have to agree with most of what you've said there FB.

I think Brundle is right insofar as qualifying was one of the highlights of the season, and there were a few memorable sessions with me on the edge of my seat. That very seldom happened in the races though - again.

From mid-season onwards I enjoyed the unpredictability - not knowing from race to race which was going to be the quickest car/driver package. There were lots of sub-plots - the resurgence of McLaren and Ferrari, the to-ing and fro-ing over KERS, driver replacements and the whole FIA/FOTA battle of course. And it was great to see the unheralded teams enjoying some success - not just Brawn and Red Bull, but Force India had a superb season too.

Unfortunately all too often the races were disappointing though. A driver seemingly only needs 0.1s/lap over the opposition to take a commanding victory. The cars were closer in performance than ever, but perhaps in itself this mitigated against more on-track action. The one car that was built to a different philosophy from the others - the Force India - was involved in more than most, and I wonder how F1 can bring back more performance differentials without throwing everything back into the hands of the top teams. At the moment I feel all the teams are so close it's extremely difficult for a driver to get enough of a margin to overtake.

I think we've been spoiled with championship battles in recent years and from that perspective 2009 was a little disappointing. Perhaps if Ross Brawn had been involved in more of those battles they'd have been resolved earlier?! Overall though I think I'd agree with your rating of 6/10.
I agree too. Not knowing (until Sunday) which driver was going to win made a nice, and unpredictable, change but the flipside to that was then generally knowing at 1.10pm Sunday afternoon for sure which driver would win.

It was good to see Red Bull not just flatter to deceive, and maintain progress throughout the year, but the testing rules need to be relaxed. In a sport where development is intrinsic, how daft is it that what you get out of the box is more or less what you must stick with 9 months later.

Sadly, the whole lot of them missed a trick by not closing the diffuser loophole for 2010, and despite all the FOTA chumminess, you know that they are all out for themselves and still won't agree on certain changes for the good of the sport.

Max and Bernie became more and more individually distasteful, if that were possible, so yeah, I'd go for 6/10 also, overall.
Some good changes, but not very well implemented, and when the problems were spotted no-one wanted to resolve them in the manner initially intended.
What can we say about 2009? Well firstly the best car won. That in itself is quite the norm in F1 but the way in which the best car won this year was far from it. The fact that the Brawn team did the biz from the off can not be overlooked but I'm sure there are many people who felt a little flat at the way the WDC was won. I'm sure Button would have taken the title any way it came and he will always go down in history as the 09. For me, I think he managed to salvage some credibility with his drive in Brazil it's just a shame that he only managed that sort of drive once in the last 10 races.

It's already been written in this and several other threads that the rules regarding engine freezes and mid season testing are just plane daft and in the case of young drivers and mid season testing, bordering on dangerous. As a result of the whole sale rule changes of course we had the "double diffuser" affair. Again there is no taking away from the teams that developed it because that's what designers do, they look for loop holes and poor over regs always trying to stay one step ahead of the rest of the field. Looking for that "unfair advantage" as Colin Chapman used to call it.

As for the chasing pack, In my opinion Mclaren are best placed to head into next season as clear favourites after pulling there season around. Why oh why couldn't they start like that. It wasn't just about the double diffuser either because the car did show some sign of performance in Australia even though that race did end in tears.

Just why no one but Massa and Kimi seemed to be able to drive the Ferrari will remain a mystery and the least said about poor old Luca the better.

All in all there were some highlights this season, Button's drive in Brazil (blimey that smarts to say that), Webber taking his first win and Rubens back on the top step and Kobyashi arriving with more than one bang but on balance it's been a bit of a let down.

Too much off track goings on that have left F1 once again looking like it's completely out of touch with the real world.

Going into 2010 there are so many new questions that won't be answered until Bahrain that I have a feeling the off season is going to be more interesting than the season itself.

How would I rate 09? Dosn't really matter I just hope 10 is better.
All good points guys, I don't really have anything to add.

I suppose it would have been a better season, or at least a more exciting season if the other teams had been able to make up the gap to Brawn sooner.
That would have stopped Jenson building his winning lead then.
Unfortunately the same could easily happen next year with the testing ban still in place.

Score-wise I think 6/10 is just about right.
Not a vintage season but not terrible either.
Well,I enjoyed this season in the respect that Jenson finaly had a car that was good enough.

I actually think the best car all year was the red bull, just their drivers let them down as evidenced from the first race onwards..

I would give it a 7/10 simply for seeing whinger Webber being upstaged on the whinging front by his team mate. ;)

I just hope the Brawn is competative next year.

Will be interesting to see if a lack of refueling makes people overtake though..
I think after the start this season had - Australia, Malaysia and Shanghai - that it was a big let down. Those three races built up the excitement and the season ended up being a big let down. The lack of promised overtaking also added to the disappointment. However, the emergence of Brawn and Red Bull were a welcome breath of fresh air whilst Mclaren's (and Ferrari's, begrudgingly) turnaround was a joy to behold. Qualifying was on the whole brilliant but the releasing of fuel weights took away some of the spectacle of the race (well, the opening stages anyway) whilst the 8 engine rule encouraged many drivers to settle for positions to save revs rather than push until the end in the closing stages for that extra place.

I've got nothing else to add to what has already been said and I think 6/10 is probably fair but I'll plump for 5/10 due to races tending to be as dull as dishwater as well as the title being wrapped up effectively by halfway*.

(No fault of Jenson's, he did a stellar job in the first half, just that his rivals should have taken advantage of his poor form and given us a proper title scrap)
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