It’s the time of year when the season’s most successful teams and drivers are making room in the trophy cabinet – and some of 2009’s more significant silverware was handed over on Friday evening.
Jenson Button, Formula One World Champion, and Andy Soucek, the first Formula Two champion for 25 years, collected their trophies at the FIA Gala held in Monaco.
Joining them were Ross Brawn, collecting the F1 constructors’ trophy on behalf of his Northamptonshire-based team, which goes down in history as the first to claim the title in its debut season.
Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barichello were on hand to pick up the awards for second- and third-placed drivers. Vettel, aged 22, became the youngest drivers’ championship runner-up in Formula One history.
Rubens Barrichello, 37, achieved his fourth top-three championship finish and maintained his position as the most experienced driver in F1 history, having competed in 288 races so far and being due to line up on the 2010 grid with Williams.
Button said of his award: “I am honoured to be here in Monaco this evening to collect the Drivers’ Championship trophy and to see my name engraved alongside the famous racing legends of the past.
“Motor racing has been a part of my life since my father bought my first go-kart at the age of eight and to have achieved my dream of becoming World Champion makes me incredibly proud.
“This has been a fantastic year for myself and Brawn GP. Just 23 days before the start of the season, we didn’t even know if we would be at the first race and now I am the World Champion with the team winning the Constructors’ Championship. Everyone at the team deserves our success so much.”
He thanked the Brawn GP and Mercedez-Benz High Performance Engines squads for giving him the tools to do the job, saying he was impressed by their hard work and commitment: “It has truly been a fantastic year and I am very proud of the success that we achieved together.”
Ross Brawn added: “This has been an incredible year for Brawn GP. To live the trauma of the winter months and make it to the grid for the first race and then to achieve eight Grand Prix victories and the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships in our first year was inconceivable before the season started.
“On behalf of the team, it is a great honour to receive the Constructors’ Championship trophy this evening and I look forward to taking the trophy back to Brackley to share with our team.
“I would like to thank Jenson and Rubens for the spirit in which they fought for the Drivers’ Championship this year, all of our staff at the factory in Brackley for their hard work and dedication, and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth for the support that they have given us since the start of the year and the superb engine that they provided.
“Our team has now formed a partnership with Mercedes-Benz for the future through the investment in the team by Daimler AG and Aabar. Our new position as the Mercedes works team will revive the brand’s iconic Silver Arrows heritage and we are all looking forward to representing Mercedes-Benz at the pinnacle of global motorsport and the challenge of defending our title next season.”
Soucek picked up his Formula Two trophy after an impressive seven wins and 11 podiums from 16 races – and said his only ambition was now to make the transition to Formula One.
He said: “I am incredibly proud of my success in Formula Two. It was the best season of my life, and I have enjoyed every moment. More than anything else, Formula Two has opened doors in Formula One for me, which is a dream for any driver.
“I was expecting to be right on the top before the season started, but I didn’t expect to win by such a margin. Every race was a different challenge and every single win was special: my first in Brno was incredible, and then Imola and Barcelona, where I won the last two races in front of all my friends, family and sponsors – that was the perfect end to my championship.
“This has been an amazing year for me in terms of motorsport, and my only aim now is to be in Formula One next year.”
Other awards presented on the night included those for best promoter and best race broadcaster. The former went to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for its debut event and was collected by His Excellency Abdulla Khouri, Board Member of the Yas Marina Circuit.
Formula One Management was handed the Television Trophy for what was described as “outstanding coverage of the event” with the award presented to FOM TV Director Dean Locke.