F1 2009: Memorable moments (Part 1)

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It turned out the Malaysian weather men were right

Starting today we review the highlights of 2009 as nominated by you. We begin with your low points of the season and tomorrow we’ll take a look at the best bits of 2009.

F1 2009: The worst moments

Massa’s crash

Massa’s accident, the way his head tilted still gives me shivers

Pretty much everyone mentioned Massa’s crash – it was one of those genuine, heart-in-mouth, ‘is he OK?’ moments which thankfully are rare in F1 these days. Coming so soon after the terrible accident that befell Henry Surtees in an F2 race one week earlier, for a horrible moment on the live blog we feared the worse.

Positive new about Massa’s condition came through very slowly, and even when it was clear he was going to survive there were fears he wouldn’t be able to race again. Happily those too have been allayed.

The genuine fearfulness of this moment put all the other difficulties of the season into real perspective. Credit for his survival must go to the sports’ governing body for its safety regulations, to Schuberth for the astonishing strength of their crash helmet and to Ferrari for the integrity of their car.

The FOTA split

The whole breakaway saga. I’m sick to death of F1 tearing itself to ribbons year after year after year. These people really need to start behaving like adults.

I think the threat of a breakaway is most people’s worst moment. The uncertainty almost killed me.

In a particularly fraught season of politics, the threat of a breakaway championship was a gut-wrenching low. With all bar two of the teams refusing to accept controversial budget capping regulations for 2010, and objecting to the manner in which the FIA attempted to impose the rules, for a few worrying days it looked very much as though F1 was going to split in two.

Eventually a deal was made which saw the hated budget cap dropped. Since then the loss of BMW and Toyota has raised new questions about whether enough has been done to cut costs.

But with Max Mosley not standing for re-election, as part of a deal to appease the teams, hopefully the next stage in working out how the sport should be run will be achieved without the histrionics.

Hamilton’s lie

Trulli at Australia, when he went off behind the safety car. Not only did that spark a chain of events that led to Ron Dennis’ resignation, but it was also a completely pathetic way to go off the track!
Ned Flanders

Hamilton losing fourth, lying to the stewards with Dave Ryan twice!

Could we have had a worse start to the year? The season was just one race old and already making headlines for the wrong reasons. McLaren deserved to be punished, but the ease with which the misunderstanding could have been avoided left a bitter taste.

Schumacher’s almost-comeback

Schumacher not returning to F1 – and I’m not even a Schumacher fan. I was looking forward to seeing him race Hamilton.

Probably the biggest let-down of the year. From the aftermath of Massa’s crash it looked like something positive for the sport would come out of it with the return of its most famous driver.

If only Schumacher hadn’t declared he was going to make a comeback before checking whether he was fit enough to. Unfortunately an injury sustained in a motor bike crash earlier in the year ended his hopes of an F1 return.

The half-race

Malaysia starting late and being red flagged consequently. They really should’ve started earlier.

An important lesson for the FIA here. If the locals tell you not to start the race at a certain time because there’s bound to be a huge rain storm, better listen to them.

Double diffusers

Legalising double diffusers. I didn’t mind at the time, but in hindsight this decision may have ruined any chance of the 2009 aero regulations actually working. And the annoying thing is it was just another proxy battle in the FIA/FOTA war.
Ned Flanders

I think Ned’s assessment of this is pretty much spot on. There was never going to be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the double diffuser question – but the governing body dragged its feet in making a decision and, when it did, it looked very much as though it had done so for political reasons.

The effect on the aerodynamics of the cars was further proof Max Mosley cared more about keeping the teams in check than improving the sport.

A low-key finale

Ending the season in the middle of the desert instead of in front of true Brazilian racing fans.

You can’t get much more of a contrast than Interlagos and Abu Dhabi.

The packed crowd at Interlagos were once again denied the result they craved but at least they saw a spectacular race. A far smaller number of fans at Yas Island (clearly fewer than the claimed 50,000) saw a largely forgettable Grand Prix barely enlivened by the off-track glitz.

Happily, the 2010 F1 season will end at Interlagos.

Part two tomorrow looks at the part of the season you picked as your highlights of the year. Submit your picks here and don’t forget to name your best drivers of the year for the 2009 F1 driver rankings later this week.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “F1 2009: Memorable moments (Part 1)”

  1. To me, it’s more important that the world champion be crowned in Brazil than having the season end there.

    1. At least it happened that way.

  2. At the close of Part 1, the score is…

    Things About Race Cars: 2
    (Massa, Trulli*)

    Things Not About Race Cars: 5
    (Breakaway, Schumacher, Maylaysia, Diffuseres, Yas Marina)

    *under review

    Part 2 should see Things About Race Cars gain momentum, but will it be enough to overcome a 3-point deficit? Will the officials overturn the Trulli story, or possibly award half-points?

    1. If the locals tell you not to tart the race

      1 for a food reference. :D
      Is it breakfast time?

      1. Sorry – fixed!

  3. I don’t necessarily agree about the diffuser issue, at the time it was the right decision.
    But it still baffles me why the loophole in the regulations hasn’t been closed. We had seven teams against it and Ross Brawn suggested to close the loophole in an OWG meeting. The new teams wouldn’t have been that keen on it either, so what exactly was the problem???

    1. Agree with this also.

      …and Keith, the FIA did not drag their feets with this one, it was the teams that kept the saga running.

      This one is 100% down to the teams, the had an opportunity when Ross raised it in the OWG and they had another when the FIA quickly made their decision at the first race of the season. Instead they got greedy, and then dragged the whole affair out muddying Formula 1’s reputation.

    2. There was a missed opportunity to close the loophole in 2008 when Honda/Brawn were already developing their 2009 car and were getting good downforce levels. The other teams dismissed the advice, thinking Honda had got their aero sums wrong again. Turns out not…

      So the double diffusers were legal for 2009. But why hasn’t the loophole been closed for 2010? I can understand some teams wanting a bit of rules stability but surely it’s for the greater good and may have a shot at improving overtaking, as per the original aims? Beats me.

  4. Ron Dennis did not resign because of the Hamilton liar gate, he resigned months before that…

    1. Although Ron did leave his pitwall post post-Melbourne, which I doubt would’ve happened until the end of this season had Liegate not happened.

    2. He stepped down as team principal in January. He quit being part of the F1 outfit altogether officially in April (to ease the FIA punishment).

  5. wow, finding out that a race was fixed isn’t up there?, strange.

    1. Personally I didn’t see this as that big a deal as the media made it look (“worst sporting scandal in the history of everything!!!!!!!”)
      True, it was bad, but this wasn’t F1 shooting itself in the foot like the whole FIA-FOTA affair, it was done by just a few people who have all been punished. And it removed Flavio Briatore permanently from F1, so there even came something good out of this ;)

      1. So if Hamilton lying is a big enough deal, why isn’t Renault’s race-fixing crash?

    2. That was in the 2009 controversy article from the other day… clearly there were too many bad moments in 2009 to fit one section!

    3. Yeah I have to agree that as an F1 Fan, that was the hardest part of the year to argue with Football and Cricket Fans.

      It made our sport look pretty sus. Like handballing in a winning goal to get the world cup sus.

      1. It made our sport look pretty sus. Like handballing in a winning goal to get the world cup sus.

        I’m French and I live in the UK, i’ve been asking all my Irish mates if they need a hand.

        Also come to think of it, can we put the race fix scandal as a highlight, since we wont have to endure Flavio anymore.

    4. This is only part one of the article Sush.Surely race fixing is not overlooked.

  6. Massa was just the worse. I suppose with modern f1 I’ve been brought up in a bubble thinking the drivers are invincible which was maybe heightened when Kubica was relatively unscathed after Canada and Heikki at Spain. That was a dangerous mistake and fairly arrogant of me. If he comes back on form then it is a massive achievement.
    FOTA threat was bad and naturally we were all worried. But I do remember many saying the threat was too huge to ever happen and that provided comfort.
    What really got me irritated this year and something I still hate is the big hug Piquet got from the FIA for giving evidence. I don’t think I’ll ever accept that.

  7. I actually missed the Hungarian GP qualifying, I was away that weekend. The first I heard was when I got a text saying Massa had been hit on the head and was concussed- I didn’t realise at the time how serious it was.

    Obviously, I’ve seen everything that happened since then, but it’s different watching something knowing that everything works out OK. I imagine it wasn’t much fun to watch live. I’m Glad he’s better now though

  8. What I hated about Massa’s crash most was the media reporting. The week before Henry Surtees had been killed by a rogue tyre, and though some newspapers reported it well other media (like BBC News) barely mentioned it. Then the incident became a footnote in relation to Massa’s accident, which got more publicity for a less serious (though at one point it was a crucial 24 hours on which we didn’t know what would happen) incident on a more famous person. To me a death is a death, and though news agencies are going to pick the most sensational stories they can find, the whole issue of “importance” disgusted me, especially given the huge saturation of Michael Jackson’s death, just because he was more famous.

  9. Another low point for me was Jean Todt getting elected. I know we’re yet to see what he’s made of, but I was genuinely gutted when I heard the news. I knew it was unlikely Vatanen would get voted in, but there was always hope. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if things do change for the better still.

    I agree with Steph about the Piquet thing. I don’t see how he was allowed to get away with it when he was the one that flipping crashed. I all centres on him regardless of whether he was asked to do or not, he was the one that made the decision and could have hurt himself or others in the process. It’s madness.

    The lowest point for me was definitely Massa. I’m actually getting upset just thinking about it, but that’s cos I’m stupidly soft. I was following the news about him almost constantly just hoping they’d be some good news. So glad he was ok. Can’t wait to see him racing again, I reckon he might even with the championship next year!

    1. Katy I honestly think you have said it all there. Agree with every bit apart from that I really did think Ari could win…
      Clearly the Piquet thing still brings out emotions and I doubt that’ll die down anytime soon. If he gets a seat I don’t know how I could watch.

      I reckon he might even with the championship next year!

      Hope you are right! :D
      @Ned glad you missed that GP. Every bit of waiting to see what had happened and how Felipe would be was horrible. I don’t want to sensationalise it and I adore Felipe so that’s all I’ll say.
      @ Tommy Australia overtaking was also helped by the tyres but certainly the DDDs were a massive mistake and hurt any chance of overtaking in my view. The biggest crime though on that front is that they haven’t closed up the rules!

  10. I still don’t get how people don’t think the double diffusers are causing the lack of overtaking. The first race was amazing!!

    I can’t believe they haven’t been banned for next year.

    1. I know very little about aerodynamics and can still say it is the DDD’s causing the problem.Seems to be VERY obvious.

  11. I wouldn’t say Abu Dhabi was largely forgettable. Button and Webber’s was good.

    1. Sorry, I meant to say Button and Webber’s battle was good.

  12. The biggest let down for me wasnt schumi, although i was very disappointed, it was the lack of over taking compared to what we were promised.

    The first couple of races were great but then the whole paddock got DDD’s and i cant believe something hasnt been done about the loophole in 2010!

    From a year that promised so much excitment on track it turned out all the excitement was off it.

    Just want March 2010 to come asap

  13. What about the crash-gate? Ok, it was a 2008 issue, but I found it the most embarrasing moment in F1 ever: cheating and letting the guilty get away with it

  14. Allow me to add my voice to the confused masses regarding the Diffuser issue. Why oh why weren’t they banned for 2010?
    Even if they don’t hinder overtaking as much as some think, surely it’s one more area of the car that requires development and therefore expenditure. We’re trying to cut costs AND improve the racing – seems that banning the DDD’s will satisfy both these requirements.

  15. The F1 split made my life very miserable, I had many sleepless night.Massa’s accident I guess had made people have their heart in their mouth,even Kubica’s accident in 2007 in Canada was worst then his but the injuries that he had was severe.I am planning to go to 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix now I think I need to think twice.But the most interesting thing is that Schumacher can still return may be for Mercedes hope this time he is fit.

  16. Wow I’m humbled that you mentioned a lot of my quotes :) Nice review looking fwd to Part 2

  17. For me the low points from this season that will stick in the memory were.

    The revelation of the Renault and Piquet race fixing from Singapore last year.

    Hamilton and McLaren lying to the stewards in Australia, apart from being very disappointed that they would do such a thing I can’t believe how stupid there were considering they knew the stewards only had to listen to the radio transmissions to find out the truth and that they weren’t in the FIA’s good books anyway.

    The whole FIA and FOTA arguments and potential split. I look forward to the day when I can honestly say I think that the FIA are doing a good job running F1.

    Teams leaving, even though if all the new teams make the grid next year we will have more cars next year than this year, it would have been better if so many teams hadn’t left in the space of twelve months.

    At the time I would defiantly have said Massa’s crash, but thankfully it looks like he will make a full recovery and be back racing next year.

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