Alternate history – F1 2009 championship without misfortunes

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    Alternate History – F1 2009 Championship without misfortunes
    The credit of this thread idea goes to mnmracer.

    Well, it took me a day to write this up, but it was worthwhile. Please feel free to give me feedback and/or start a discussion.

    2009 Championship Final Results:

    pos) driver – points (deficiency)
    1) Jenson Button – 95
    2) Sebastian Vettel – 84 (-11)
    3) Rubens Barrichello – 77 (-18)
    4) Mark Webber – 69.5 (-25.5)

    What kicked off as a very one-sided season turned out to be very competitive, very soon. 2009 had some chaos and snoozefests. We had four title contenders throughout the year, the two Brawn GP and Red Bull drivers; Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Rubens Barrichello, and Mark Webber who finished the season in that order. Jenson Button won the title in the penultimate race at Interlagos, he was up against Vettel and Barrichello, as Webber was already out of it. So, did Button luck into the 2009 title, or would he have won it by a far greater margin? Were Vettel and Barrichello lucky or unlucky compared to their main rivals? And would Mark Webber have taken the title fight any further than Singapore if it wasn’t for… misfortunes?

    Note: Only the misfortunes of the four title contenders will be revised, not everyone’s misfortunes (of course!).

    Australian GP

    Button rightfully won the race from pole. Barrichello had a great drive back through the field after dropping many places at the start. The Vettel-Kubica incident, in my opinion, was mostly Vettel’s fault. Webber was taken out at the start due no fault of his own. Knowing the Red Bull’s pace that GP, and all the misfortunes and incidents of other drivers in it. He’d likely have taken the lowest step on the podium.

    Button – 10
    Barrichello – 8
    Vettel – 0
    Webber – 6

    Malaysian GP

    Chaotic Race. Barrichello was given a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Looking at Brawn’s pace that race he’d most certainly have finished 2nd behind Jenson. Vettel spun by himself. Race was red-flagged so only half points were awarded.

    Button – 15
    Barrichello – 12
    Vettel – 0
    Webber – 7.5

    Chinese GP

    Chaotic race. But up at front nothing unusual happened. Nothing changes.

    Button – 21
    Barrichello – 17
    Vettel – 10
    Webber – 15.5

    Bahrain GP

    It was an interesting grand prix by Bahrain’s standards, but still, nothing really happened. Webber failing to make it into Q2 was his fault.

    Button – 31
    Barrichello – 21
    Vettel – 18
    Webber – 15.5

    Spanish GP

    Barrichello had an unknown strategy change to a 3-stopped midway the race, which most certainly cost him a victory.

    Button – 39
    Barrichello – 31
    Vettel – 23
    Webber – 21.5

    Monaco GP

    Nothing really happened here. Vettel put it in the wall himself. For the rest quite a generic grand prix with Button leading another Brawn GP 1-2.

    Button – 49
    Barrichello – 39
    Vettel – 23
    Webber – 25.5

    Turkish GP

    Button took his 6th (which would be fifth in this article) win of the season ahead of Vettel and Webber. Barrichello had his anti-stall kick in at the start, the same race he had a gearbox problem. Looking at his pace during the GP, he probably would’ve finished 4th or so behind the Red Bulls and Jenson.

    Button – 59
    Barrichello – 44
    Vettel – 29
    Webber – 33.5

    This far, 2009 looked to be just another 2004. However, in the 2nd half of the season, everything changed. The season became incredibly competitive and it was obvious that Button wasn’t going to cake-walk the championship as easily as many already had anticipated.

    British GP

    Processional race. Not much happened at all. Other than Webber claiming that Raikkonen being drunk in qualifying cost him a chance at race victory, or course. I doubt he’d beat Vettel that day anyway.

    Button – 62
    Barrichello – 50
    Vettel – 39
    Webber – 41.5


    Amazing drive by Mark Webber to win his long time coming first grand prix victory even after a drive through. But were there any misfortunes amongst the title contenders? Uh, no.

    Button – 66
    Barrichello – 53
    Vettel – 47
    Webber – 51.5


    Neither Brawn’s were any good here. Vettel had a suspension problem, but his race wasn’t setting the world on fire either. He was behind Kovalainen and Rosberg, and likely would’ve finished 6th considering his mediocre pace even before his car problem. This bumps Button down to 8th while Webber remains 3rd.

    Button – 67
    Barrichello – 53
    Vettel – 50
    Webber – 57.5

    European GP

    Webber and Button, who made contact on the first lap, both had a poor performance here. Vettel had a fuel-rig problem and had his engine blown up 9 laps later. Otherwise, I believe he would’ve finished 3rd behind Hamilton, considering his pace in qualifying, and all weekend long for that matter. That would bump Button down to 8th. However, nothing can be argued for Rubens, who was really on it that race.

    Button – 68
    Barrichello – 63
    Vettel – 56
    Webber – 57.5

    Belgian GP

    Buttons first lap incident with Grosjean was a racing incident and partly his fault imo. Rubens’s poor start was 100% down to him. Webber had a mediocre weekend himself. Vettel finished 3rd, and rightfully so. Nothing changes.

    Button – 68
    Barrichello – 65
    Vettel – 62
    Webber – 57.5

    Italian GP

    Well deserved 1-2 for Brawn GP. Rubens wins and Jenson finishes 2nd. Red Bull were nowhere all weekend with Vettel lucky to salvage a single point. Webber wouldn’t have scored points even without his collision.

    Button – 76
    Barrichello – 75
    Vettel – 63
    Webber – 57.5
    Singapore GP

    Vettel’s speeding in the pits was his own fault. Webber was in P4 before his tyre failed, and knowing how hard it is to overtake at Singapore he likely would’ve stayed there. This would bump all Vettel, Button and Barrichello (who finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively) back one place.

    Button – 79
    Barrichello – 77
    Vettel – 67
    Webber – 62.5

    Japanese GP

    Webber was unable to set a time in qualifying, and only finished 17th because his constant awful luck. He pitted 3 times in the first 4 laps. First because his headrest kept coming Ioose, then because he suffered a puncture believe Webber would have had the pace to finish at least 2nd behind Vettel in Suzuka, given that he was close to him all weekend, he had good race pace which was invisible due traffic problems, and Red Bull had the best car that day. This would bump Button out of the points and Rubens down to 8th.

    Button – 79
    Barrichello – 78
    Vettel – 77
    Webber – 70.5

    Ok, now things are really heating up, aren’t they? This is much better than what it looked like to be at the start of the season.

    Brazilian GP

    Vettel’s bad luck in qualifying was because he couldn’t find track position to set a time in the dry in Q1, and when it start raining he didn’t set a competitive lap yet. His fault because Button, Barrichello, and Webber were able to set their laps early on. Webber deservingly won that race. Barrichello suffered a puncture when he just got overtaken by Hamilton. Vettel was closing in on Rubens before that too. However, knowing the Red Bull’s straight line speed in 2009 against the Brawn’s, I doubt Vettel would have passed the Brazilian. This leaves Barrichello 4th, Vettel 5th, and Button 6th.

    Button – 82
    Barrichello – 83
    Vettel – 81
    Webber – 80.5

    Look at the champion standings now! Wouldn’t 2009 have been so much better without the title contenders having misfortunes? :)

    Abu Dhabi GP

    Hamilton retired from the lead that race, but as he was not a championship contender I will not count that misfortune. The results for this race remain the same.

    The Final 2009 Championship Standings:

    1. Sebastian Vettel – 91 points
    2. Mark Webber – 88,5 points
    3. Jenson Button – 88 points
    4. Rubens Barrichello – 88 points

    Vettel lost a net of 7 points due misfortunes.
    Webber lost a net of 19 points due misfortunes. (poor old Mark!).
    Button gained a net of 7 points due others misfortunes.
    Barrichello lost a net of 11 points due his misfortunes.


    – By now, Sebastian Vettel would be a three-time world champion.
    – Button was hardly dominant in 2009 unlike many claim. Far from it, actually.
    – Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello would have been very, very close to winning a world title. Both did better in 2009 that most people give them credit for, but they both had a lot of bad luck.
    – Red Bull would have won the constructors title after a very tough fight with Brawn GP. Their bad reliability threw away the title in 2009.
    – The 2009 championship would’ve been a hell of a lot more exciting if all the title contenders (bar Button) did not have as many misfortunes as they did!
    – 2009 would be by far to closest championship battle going into the final round in F1 history.


    The Vettel-Kubica incident, in my opinion, was mostly Vettel’s fault.

    I disagree, Kubica turned in and left him no space.


    When they came out of the corner (second camera angle), it was obvious that Kubica had left at least half a track of space for Vettel. Anyway, I guess it could be considered a racing incident; in which case I would still not have given Vettel the points unless he was mostly innocent in the accident.

    But either way, Vettel would have won the title in 2009 by a hair.


    You’re treading on fine-water by extrapolating start-of-race incidents to possible results. What’s to even say Webber would’ve gotten a Melbourne podium? Also, how do you propose the Red Bull would’ve overtaken around Suzuka? It’s hard enough when you’re in an overtake-friendly car, let alone in one that is weaker than most other cars where it counts for an overtake (slower in a straight).

    Vettel’s suspension problem could have very well been the cause of his pace too – Vettel IIRC was the fastest fuel-corrected qualifier there. Suspension setup and design is VERY important to laptime in Hungary.

    In Singapore it wasn’t a tyre failure, it was brake failure for Mark. Also, as I remember (I was there) Mark was riding the brake slightly and glazing it, which could very well have led to the brake failure. Grosjean was another driver who was constantly glazing his brakes that weekend.


    That Red Bull definitely had pace in Melbourne. Trulli, who started from the back of the grid, got the final podium position. Nuff’ said.
    Normally I never judge races with the “could’ve” and “would’ve” type of thing. However, these threads is where we can.

    Also, how do you propose the Red Bull would’ve overtaken around Suzuka? It’s hard enough when you’re in an overtake-friendly car, let alone in one that is weaker than most other cars where it counts for an overtake (slower in a straight).

    When did I ever say anything about overtaking? Webber didn’t need to overtake if it weren’t for his qualifying problems to begin with. I predicted Seb leading a Red Bull front row and 1-2 at Suzuka if Mark’s weekend wasn’t so miserable.


    Perhaps I remember it wrong, but I was sure Grosjean was entirely at fault in Spa, and that Button would have had a good race.

    I’m also not sure if the strategy call for Barrichello in Spain should be put down as misfortune.


    @Kingshark His qualifying was not bad luck – Mark binned the car in FP3, trying to carry too much speed into Dengner 1 and running wide. He then slid into the wall and gave it a massive whallop. Unless of course driver mistakes count as “bad luck.”

    Again – the Toyota is a much more overtake-friendly car. The Red Bull was quick in the Melbourne weekend, but it’s not quick where it counts for an overtake (straights). Don’t forget that a Red Bull started 3rd, ran 2nd the whole way and (without the accident) would probably have lost even the podium. I don’t see how someone starting from the back would get a better result, especially one who constantly gets cold feet at home.


    I suppose the biggest chunk of bad luck is not something you include in these stats as it happened before the season started and fair enough, it’s an exercise in on-track issues.
    But it would have been interesting to see how the season went if Webber had been fully fit from the start of the season and not still recovering his fitness up to around the Spanish GP?


    I forget – was it his left foot or right foot that got hit?

    To be honest, I think by China he was fighting fit again. He was often matching Vettel in the wet, and unless you’re able to be very delicate with your throttle control and progressive in decreasing your brakes, you won’t get anywhere quickly in the wet.


    This is a very contentious thread… lots of “opinions” about what does and does not constitute a misfortune, most likely to enable the desired outcome, e.g. a closer finish, with Vettel winning.

    At the end of the day, IF is F1 spelt backwards. You can’t hypothesise about what if none of those misfortunes had happened. Ultimately, if that were the case, then a variety of different one’s would have happened… every cause has an equal effect remember… :-)


    For Bahrain, Sutil was penalised for blocking Webber in Q1, so I believe it’s incorrect to say it was Webber’s fault. Without that, maybe Webber could’ve finished 4th, but who knows?

    For Spa, Webber got a drive through for an unsafe release. I’d say this counts as misfortune, and he should’ve finished in 5th or 6th depending if he could get past Heidfeld.

    At Suzuka, Webber crashed in FP3 and missed qualifying, so you can’t say it was misfortune he started from pitlane. As such, even if his race pace was good, I can’t see him getting above about 7th at the very best – just look at Bahrain to see how hard it would’ve been for him.

    You really need to consider (at least some of) the misfortunes of others like Hamilton as it affects how many points the other drivers get, for example Abu Dhabi.



    Webber was unable to set a time in qualifying, and only finished 17th because his constant awful luck.

    Apparently, he missed quali because he crashed at Degner. Therefore I wouldn’t give him back 2nd place, much like how Alonso wasn’t given a higher position in the 2010 Monaco GP when the 2010 season was done.




    Right leg, tib and fib break plus other injuries which included a broken collar bone if I recall. So not injuries you can recover from in a few weeks. I seem to remember reading that it wasn’t until the start of the European leg of the season that Webber was something like fully fit. So it’s hard to say how much that affected his season altogether but simply from losing all his pre-season fitness training he was at a disadvantage.


    If I’m not mistaken, Barrichello was lucky to beat Hamilton in Valencia due to a pit stop problem at McLaren. Wouldn’t that mean Barrichello only gains 8 points for second place?


    If I’m not mistaken, Barrichello was lucky to beat Hamilton in Valencia due to a pit stop problem at McLaren. Wouldn’t that mean Barrichello only gains 8 points for second place?

    As I said before, only the bad luck of championship contenders is counted. Likewise, Barrichello ended up 5.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton after his bad stop, though Lewis only lost about 4 seconds in the pits. Rubens likely would’ve won that race either way.

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