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F1: 2009 season review

A season that was prefaced by Honda’s shock departure from F1 and fears that Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello might reached the end of their racing careers ended with a fairytale double world championship for the Brawn GP shock. Other highlights included Rubens Barrichello’s first win since his days at Ferrari, the rise the Red Bull team to become serious title contenders, the amazing comeback by Lewis Hamilton and McLaren and the confident debut of young Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi. Most F1 fans were also very pleased to hear of the retirement of FIA president Max Mosley but remain to be convinced by his successor, Jean Todt

It was also a season with some staggering low-lights – the cheating scandal that marred 2009 for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren from the first race, the threats of a breakaway series, the near-fatal accident suffered by Felipe Massa, which shook us all out of our complacency about racing safety, and the emergence of the sorry story of how Renault won the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix – by asking Nelson Piquet Jr to crash into a wall and bring out the safety car, to team-mate Alonso’s advantage.


Relive it all here – with our comprehensive season review, the posts that defined a season and, last but not least, our favourite videos of 2009.

2009: Jenson Button’s route to the Formula One world championship

The 2009 Formula One season was a rollercoaster with changes to the regulations that provided breathtaking racing and the end to the traditional dominance of teams like Ferrari and McLaren. The reborn Honda team had a near-perfect season after claiming both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. And, away from the race-track a succession of rows, scandals, splits and confrontations kept the F1 soap opera rolling along at roughly twice its normal speed. Make yourself a cup of tea, find the biscuit tin and settle down to relive all the highs and lows of Jenson Button’s championship year.

2009 stats and standings

Find a blow-by-blow account of each race including previews, reports and liveblogs for every one of the 17 races of the 2009 season here.

The posts that told the story of a season

Will Brawn GP be everyone’s new favourite team?
So, after more twists and turns than an episode of Alias, the team formerly known as Honda is now Brawn GP – a going concern with a car out on the test track at Barcelona. And, in what couldn’t have been a better start for the fledgling team, Jenson Button managed to put his car at the top of the timesheet.
Just how big a problem does McLaren have?
McLaren, having pulled itself back from a £50 million fine and a dispiriting title loss to secure the 2008 World Championship in nail-biting fashion, now appears to have failed to develop a competitive car for this season.
Brilliant Button wins in Australia
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello swept the board at the Australian Grand Prix in Brawn GP’s first outing – and Lewis Hamilton was handed a post-race third place.
The balloon goes up at McLaren
Martin Whitmarsh’s newly-minted job as McLaren team principal appears to be on the line after just one grand prix – after a error of judgement by a senior staff member led to a misleading statement to race stewards. See also: McLaren handed a three-race ban – suspended
Diffuser decision is good news for Button
The aerodynamics that provide such a fundamental part of Jenson Button’s double race-winning car are legal, according to a decision from Formula One’s governing body.
Early leaders still saying ‘catch us if you can’
The raft of aero and other upgrades that Formula One teams brought to Barcelona in the hope of overhauling the early season pace-setters seemed to have made little difference.
FIA reveals rules for unified F1 in 2010 – including Mosley’s retirement
A deal was struck that prevented the breakaway of eight Formula One teams to form a new series, according to a FIA statement following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.
Vettel begins fightback with crushing win
Sebastian Vettel poured a bucket of cold water over the feverish excitement at Silverstone by turning the British Grand Prix into a demonstration drive as Red Bull Racing scored their second 1-2 finish of the year. See also Victorious Webber makes his mark at last
Felipe Massa in intensive care after qualifying accident
Formula One veered from near tragedy to total farce during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix as Felipe Massa’s narrow escape from death by flying debris was followed by a timing failure that left puzzled drivers comparing their performances to see who had won pole.
Hamilton returns to winning ways
Lewis Hamilton returned to winning ways with a dominating victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, while Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber survived post-race stewards’ investigations to secure second and third.
Renault’s Duxford test suggests Piquet out, Grosjean in
When the Renault F1 team rolled up to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford for some straight-line testing they must have had no idea where the resulting row about the identity of the team’s second driver would lead.
Victory for Barrichello as McLaren blunder
Rubens Barrichello reversed Brawn GP’s sliding fortunes by taking his first Formula One win since 2004 – with a little help from a botched McLaren pitstop that cost Lewis Hamilton the lead, and perhaps the victory
Webber accepts defeat as Singapore tries to forget last year
Red Bull’s Mark Webber has admitted on the eve of the Singapore Grand Prix that he has no realistic hope of winning the Formula One drivers’ title.
Jenson Button and Brawn GP win world championships in Brazil
Mark Webber won the Brazilian Grand Prix – but nobody noticed as Jenson Button raced from 14th on the grid to finish fifth and become the 2009 Formula One drivers’ champion. For the second year running at Interlagos the podium celebrations were rendered irrelevant as a British driver with the number 22 on his car won the title by finishing fifth. See also Jenson Button’s championship victory in photos.
Sadness for fans as Brawn’s perfect year ends in Mercedes buyout.
One perfect year – and then it was all over. Brawn GP was consigned to the pages of F1 history as the new Silver Arrows team prepared to take to the grid – and Button still waited to firm up his 2010 drive. See also Opinion: A Silver Arrow through Brawn’s heart.

Our favourite F1 ad of 2009

Santander/Abbey sought to define 2008 with their Lewis Hamilton Airfix kit ad in which we saw an anonymous pair of hands construct the title-winning MP4-23 and its driver from a grid of plastic parts. Of course, when the real thing was released, it was a clip-together, pre-painted model that wasn’t nearly that much fun.

In 2009 the banking giant turned its attention to another classic toy, the Scalextric set. In the clip below you’ll see Hamilton and his MP4-24 competing on a miniature slot-car track, much to the bemusement of the family dog. It’s delightful stuff.

Click here to search out the best Lewis Hamilton gifts and presents.


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