F1 2009 - Potentially the worst season ever?


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I was going to post this in another place but realised I wouldn’t get much informed opinion, especially as most people only seem to read the headline rather than the content of the posting.

Anyway, I have a bad feeling about this season and, having watched F1 for nearly 30 years, don’t think it is simply because I am an old git and have “wasn’t it better in my day” syndrome. Although seeing Brawn win the first two race is somewhat refreshing the fact that a relative journey man driver such as Jenson Button (my opinion but he has hardly sparkled in previous years) is able to dominate in the way he has does not auger well for the rest of the season. The ban on in season testing, regardless of the clever computer modelling the teams can do, means that catching up with Brawn for the other teams will be difficult.

To combine the ban on in season testing with the radical rule changes always meant that if one team stole a march on the others narrowing the gap would be difficult. Also, to introduce new rules with potentially grey areas was going to be problematic. If the FIA can’t write rules which are unambiguous they should interpret the spirit of the rules rather than the letter. In the case of the diffusers, if the spirit of the rules was to outlaw double or triple decker diffuser systems they should be banned. It goes to show the lack of cohesion within FOTA as they should speak with one voice on this not waste time on silly appeals which leave the results of the first two races hanging in the air for weeks after the event.

I am also growing very weary of the seemingly constant witch hunt against McLaren and Lewis Hamilton. The recent events are, for me, the straw which has broken the camel’s back in my opinion of the FIA. Regardless of whether McLaren and LH lied to the stewards the way the whole thing has been handled is shameful and the FIA should look long and hard at the way they handle these things. From what I can gather the stewards in Australia didn’t examine all the evidence before making a decision on the Trulli/Hamilton incident, are the FIA summoning those officials to the WMSC for a dressing down; probably not as this would indicate a level of culpability on the part of the FIA and they can’t admit that they are not omnipotent.

I sincerely hope I am wrong about how this season is going to develop but I can’t shift that bad feeling...
I know exactly where you're coming from and started a similar thread here: Is this the best and worst start to a season ever?
Although in that one I did also mention the positives.

It's a shame that the off-track events get more column inches and generate more discussion than the on-track events but F1 has always been like that to some extent.
The problem is we've just got over 2007 and now we've potentially got another ruined season to "look forward to".

I hope for F1's sake the FIA put the diffuser issue to bed once and for all by Wednesday and then deal with McLaren firmly but fairly on the 29th.
Personally I hope the whole team isn't punished for the actions of 2 individuals but I have a feeling that won't be the case.

As you suggest, it would benefit F1 if the FIA were able to accept and address their own failings but I doubt that will ever happen.
i think there are two seperate issues

the new season
so far, i have to admit i am pleasantly surprised. from my point of view as someone who has no favourite team or driver, i think this year has the potential to be a great season. we do see more racing and we do see more on the track. whats the main reason for these changes, i am not sure but my money is on tyres actually. thats also one of the reasons why i see a ferrari resurrection before macca. ferrari seem less tough on the tyres. i dont think what might happen tomorrow will have a big influence on the season one way or another. unless teams get DQ'ed.

unfortunately we have no clear view on which team is really where cos so far both races were marred by either SC or rain. i hope this weekend will be better and give us a better view.

off track
already from the moment this started happening, i was extremely unhappy and made this clear on this and other boards. i see these issues as a continuation of what's been going on for a while now. it seems FIA is trying for a while now to clean its house, which is a good thing to do. but the way this is being done could be improved upon. i am surprised that the changes regarding stewards this season so far seem to have had such a little impact. but at the same time, it makes little sense to me to start blaming the FIA for whats been going on off track this year.

i myself don't believe there is or was a hype versus macca. there are other ways to do this and the fact F1 now uses a Macca ECU and the stewards gave the team the chance to clear up the mess, points in my opinion towards FIA not being against Macca.

but whats happening off track indeed seems to be what lots of people are more interested in cos it influences a certain driver or team. and people can relate to that. i read somewhere that its like with cycling and whole teams being kicked out cos they were using iffy drugs and stuff. but that seems to have died down a lot nowadays. maybe there are much less bike teams, i am not sure. but i do hope f1 will clean up its act too.
As I have previously said, the FIA caused the whole Hamilton/Trulli mess in a stewards room on 7th September 2008 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

I do see what you mean Fat Bloke, do we really want to see Brawn dominate F1? I want to see a title fight, not Jenson Button half a second faster than everyone else all season. I hope Toyota are as close as they seemed during Malaysian GP qualifying, as they have a bigger budget and will surely improve as the season goes on. The testing ban? I don't think that will hinder too much, but the FIA really don't want to see racing, do they?

The two incidents which soured my taste for F1 this season were however these:

  1. Vettel getting punished for a 50/50 with Kubica in Australia, if it'd been for the Three Wheels on my Wagon stunt then fair enough, but the FIA have reaffirmed that they want to see wheel-to-wheel racing whilst punishing anyone who attempts it seriously
  2. Bernie tempting God with his start time for the Malaysian GP. He got the Europeans watching, but he got no race!

2007-08 were interesting because we had two teams striving for the title, lets please have a 2008 rather than a 2004!
First of all I feel bound to say that as long as we get to the end without any driver fatalities this won't be the worst season ever. Nothing that can happen on or off-track could ever be worse than the way things used to be, in that regard.

So far I'm pleasantly surprised by the new regulations. I think the racing has been pretty good so far, at two circuits that don't normally produce thrillers, but neither were normal races really so it's early to judge. Barcelona will be a real test to see how much things have changed, if at all.

It is refreshing, as someone with no particular affiliation, to see different cars and drivers up at the front. I would never have expected things to change as dramatically as they have done, and I think it's good for the sport generally to shuffle the competitive order every now and then. It also goes to show that F1 still isn't a money race (it never was anyway, but many people thought it was).

Brawn do have enough of an advantage at the moment to win races as they please. However the gearbox still isn't 100%, and the others haven't started copying their car properly yet. I expect to see their advantage whittled away during the season, and though they will probably already have enough points in the bag for the championships, the late season races should be competitive at least. It's not going to be like Ferrari in 2002/2004.

As for the off-track business, it's never good for the race results to be changed after the event but that's part of the sport, and always has been. I don't think the stewards in Melbourne did a particularly good job with either the Vettel/Kubica incident or the "investigation" into Trulli/Hamilton. But the diffuser issue is the sort of thing that has been going on for years, every season there was something else (Michelin tyres, mass dampers, front torque transfer, hidden fuel ballast, flexible rear wings, flexible floors etc. etc. etc.) The difference this time, I suppose, is that the other teams have taken it all the way to appeal, when normally it would work itself out through the Technical Working Group. It's bound to happen in a competitive sport, though, and I don't expect there to be much ongoing grumbling once the decision has been made - they'll all get on with it.
GordonMurray said:
First of all I feel bound to say that as long as we get to the end without any driver fatalities this won't be the worst season ever. Nothing that can happen on or off-track could ever be worse than the way things used to be, in that regard.
Well said GM.
It's easy to forget that side of the sport.

Thankfully improvements in safety have made deaths and serious injuries far less likely these days.
GM, I take your point about fatalities. Having watched the JYS documentary at the weekend and seen the roll call of drivers who died during his career was heart breaking. The emotion he and his wife still feel to this day about the death of Francois Cevert was touching. It is astonishing that a sport as dangerous as F1 has not lost a driver since Senna and I believe this is more down to the manufacturers than rules the FIA have imposed - I can't see how the crash tests the FIA carry out could have had any influence on the outcome of Kubica's enormous accident in Canada few years ago and (I am open to be corrected on this) the HANS device was introduced by one or two drivers before the FIA latched onto it.

I would take issue with you comment about money however. Brawn may be a (relatively) small team now but the car they are racing was developed with the enormous financial muscle of Honda who were something like the 3rd of 4th highest spending team on the grid. I can't imagine Ross Brawn, no matter how gifted an engineer, could have come up with that car with Force India's budget!

As I mentioned in the original post, I sincerely hope my feeling about this year are wrong. I have no particular allegiance to any one team or driver; that said, I would hate to see Button and Brawn canter away with the title as this would defeat the object of all the recent rule changes. I'm trying to think of a situation where such early dominance hasn't resulted in the team going on to win either the drivers or constructors championship, perhaps you have to go back to the turbo days where engines were likely to expire rather suddenly? I can't see the Mercedes engine suddenly becoming the weak link at Brawn however...
Fat Bloke - The only issue I take from youyr posts is that Button is a journeyman. The last time he had a decent car was 2004 and unfortunately for him, the Ferraris were bullet-proof and Jense finished in the only place possible, 3rd. Other than that, he just hasn't had the car, but hasd beaten all team mates except in a team known to give one driver a chassis that is 0.5 seconds quicker than the other.

He is far from a journeyman, he may be a bit rubbish with his choices, but that is far fromt he same thing.

As far as this season is going, I do think the off track garbage needs to stop as it is already marring the season. The diffuser row is a non-starter as the teams were offered the chance to change the rule on this a long time ago by none other than Brawn and they all flat refused. The FIA are showing their total incompetence again and I suspect that a lot of that comes from the top of the FIA itself, its hard to get good people when the head of an organisation is seen as a liability.
The Brawn may have benefitted from the Honda millions but Williams and Red Bull are both down towards the underfunded end of the list. The diffuser designs illustrate for me the continuing importance of having the right people rather than simply throwing money at a problem.

plus, and correct me if i am wrong, the Brawn diffuser was developed by Super Aguri. A team not too high on the income lost either.

and to be honest, red bull so far have done pretty amazing too in the first 2 races, despite a bit of a bang. and they have a standard diffuser.
RickD - I would liken Button to Rene Arnoux, capable of winning in the best car but not a driver capable of winning in the 2nd or 3rd best car on the grid. This isn't to denegrate his achievements so far this seaosn but I doubt he would be winning in the Toyota.

On the diffusers, somone at Super Aguri might have come up with the idea but without the massive investment Honda made in facilities Brawn wouldn't have been able to make it work. Williams may not be the richest team on the grid but they have invested heavily in wind tunnel facilities (didn't FW sell his private jet a few years ago?) and Red Bull inherited Ford's huge investment when they bought the Jaguar facilities. Had any of these teams started from scratch I would agree with your argument but they haven't - if Force India were wiping the floor with everyone, that would be a story!
Everyone has an opinion I guess on each driver. I do wonder how you came to your opinion on Button though considering the only time he had the 2nd best car on the grid was 2004? From that, there is no way to say that he wouldn't be winning in the Toyota, but you are welcome to your opinion.

The thing Brawn has done is get the right people in the right places, some of the other teams just seem to get this wrong year after year (maybe its a loyalty thing with them, maybe they are just rubbish with people), other teams just get it wrong now and again (usually when they are trying to change their personnel to their own countrymen like Ferrari rather than the people who got them back to winning ways in the first place [this isn't the first time it has happened to Ferrari]).

The ones who get it right come to the top, even when they can't spend their way out of a situation to begin with.
I'm perhaps being a bit harsh on Button but I'm finding this season, which promised so much, exasperating. Button's not bad but he's not a Schumacher or a Prost or a Senna (or even an Alan Jones) and to see him running away with the races so easily questions the way the FIA have implemented these new rules.

I agree with you on the Brawn personell thing, Nick Fry had a few years to try and sort out Honda and failed miserably (anyone know why he's still there?) and RB has proven what a great engineer and motivator he is, at whatever team he is at. I also think your point about national pride is very inciteful, Jean Todt got the best people into the right positions and look what happened - one of the most boring periods in F1, ever. God forbid we get a repeat of the Schumie era, I cant imagine even the most die hard Button fans would want that (although perhaps not)

I suppose my main problem is that I had great hopes for this season and as much as drivers battling for 2nd or 3rd or 4th (or 15th) is exciting to see one car and driver romping away isn't what I hoped for. Let's see what happens in China.
In the last GP, Button's laps around the first pit stop has made me wonder if Ferraris dominant years should be called the Brawn era, rather than the Schumacher era?
Fat Bloke - I would like to see Jense fighting with someone for the wins, maybe Toyota will step up to the mark. Then again, if thinkgs go as expected today, then I expect Toyota may be the only ones asked to change their diffuser as they have a triple surface on theirs rather than the double of the other teams. If this is the case, I can see red-bull and Vettel (not Webber as he just has never seemed to cut it when it matters) catching and fighting with the Brawns.

Sobriety - Can see what you mean and it makes things more interesting when thinking back about how much different things may have been without Ross about.
The thing I have been wondering about so far this season is how far ahead the Brawns would be if they had Honda engines instead of Merc ones. Would they be ahead but not by as much or would they be further ahead? The car would have been built with the Honda engine in mind but would it have had the power and reliability that the Mercedes engines have?
It's an interesting point but in theory all the engines should be more or less the same with regards to power and performance.
They're all capped at 18,000 rpm and around 750bhp so the only thing that can really differentiate them is torque (unless that is also restricted?), power delivery and reliability.

The Mercedes engine has proved itself to be fairly bullet-proof over the last few seasons so I will stick my neck out and say Brawn would be worse off with Honda engines.
Brogan said:
It's an interesting point but in theory all the engines should be more or less the same with regards to power and performance.
They're all capped at 18,000 rpm and around 750bhp so the only thing that can really differentiate them is torque (unless that is also restricted?), power delivery and reliability.

The Mercedes engine has proved itself to be fairly bullet-proof over the last few seasons so I will stick my neck out and say Brawn would be worse off with Honda engines.

Personally Brogan, I think just removing the word "Honda" from the car will have got Brawn two-tenths of a second from where they'd be last season.

I think Button is proving a slightly better sub for Schumi than I expected. All the other ingredients are there: Barrichello, Brawn, maximum points, wet-weather winning, Bridgestone...
The Honda engine was supposedly the weakest of all last season, worse even than the Renault. Of course, if Honda had stayed in F1 they would have got the same opportunity to upgrade as Renault, so their engine would have ended up on a par with the others, though what the implications would have been for reliability I couldn't say.

The team have revealed that the Merc requires less cooling than last year's engine, but part of that will be the reduced rev limit. I think they're generally better off dealing with Stuttgart though.
I don't want to be a "wet weekend" and keep revisiting this but after the boredom of Sunday (apart from the first 5 laps) I still haven't changed my view. The dominance of the Brawn cars is not good, for both the casual and more informed fans perspective. Although I quite like the qualifying "shoot out" system it doesn't reflect the absolute performance of the cars so we are lulled into a false sense of security when two Toyota's sit proudly on the front row.

As GM has worked out overtaking is is probably as bad as it always was and cars are still waiting to jump their main opponents during the fuel stops. KERS appears to have made some aspects of overtaking worse rather than better and the tyre situation is just complete madness. The final insult is the ban on in-season testing which means the slower teams now don't really have much of a hope of catching the fastest cars at the beginning of the season.

I keep hoping the next race will be better but one definition of madness is repeating the same action with the hope of a different result. This season is driving me mad.
Top Bottom