Brazil voted best race of 2009, Turkey named worst of a bad bunch

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

The Button-Kobayashi battle was a highlight of the Brazilian Grand Prix
The Button-Kobayashi battle was a highlight of the Brazilian Grand Prix

After the millions ploughed into radically revised aerodynamic packages and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems to improve racing, did we get a more entertaining season in 2009 than 2008? Not according to how your voted in our post-race polls.

Interlagos served up the best race of the year for the second season in a row – and Turkey was named the worst race of the year.

2009 race ratings (click to enlarge)
2009 race ratings (click to enlarge)

Here are the races sorted by ranking, with the winners of each:

Brazil 8.309 (Mark Webber)

Australia 7.937 (Jenson Button)
Belgium 7.852 (Kimi Raikkonen)
Germany 7.096 (Mark Webber)
Italy 7.049 (Rubens Barrichello)

Hungary 6.808 (Lewis Hamilton)
China 6.69 (Sebastian Vettel)
Bahrain 6.42 (Jenson Button)

Abu Dhabi 5.794 (Sebastian Vettel)
Britain 5.755 (Sebastian Vettel)
Japan 5.58 (Sebastian Vettel)
Monaco 5.504 (Jenson Button)
Europe 5.355 (Rubens Barrichello)
Singapore 5.336 (Lewis Hamilton)
Spain 5.33 (Jenson Button)
Malaysia 5.284 (Jenson Button)
Turkey 5.276 (Jenson Button)

The average ranking for a race in 2009 was 6.352 – down from 6.671 last year.

From looking at the lowest and highest-rated races it’s clear what people think makes a good race. It’s not just about having lots of overtaking as is often assumed – it’s about having a battle for the lead, it’s about unpredictability and, yes, a few crashes as well.

The lowest-rated race – Turkey – at least got a higher rating than last year’s worst, Valencia, which scored 3.977. The Turkish Grand Prix was both anti-climactic – the battle between Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel was decided when Vettel went off on the first lap – and at the time it seemed to confirm that Button was going to walk to the championship. Of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

It’s no surprise to see the curtailed Malaysian Grand Prix rated so poorly as well. Spain was ranked third from bottom for the second year in a row. In all nine races were rated lower than six out of ten – three more than last year.

Did you think 2009 was less exciting than last year? Do you agree with the choices for best and worst races? Have your say in the comments.

See the 2008 race ratings in full here: Valencia was least popular race of 2008

See more results of F1 Fanatic polls: F1 Fanatic polls archive

64 comments on “Brazil voted best race of 2009, Turkey named worst of a bad bunch”

  1. Personally Hungary was the worst race in the world for me after what happened to Massa, but taking that out of the equation it was eventful when Alonso’s wheel decided to go awol.
    I liked Malaysia it’s just a shame it had to be called off. I haven’t enjoyed Catalunya since 07 but the crash at beginning of this years was quite a sight.
    I think last years was an epic season. Belgium, Monza, Britian, Brazil even Fuji I found were incredibly entertaining. This year has been Button running away with it while his opponents making a mess or watching Button scrap for a point while his opponents make a mess of it. Before anyone says anything this isn’t a dig at Button I’m just saying hasn’t been many great races in my view. Highlight was definately Toyotas scrapping at Monza however!

    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, this year most of the races have been dominated by one team, whereas last year Mclaren and Ferrari were reasonably well matched at most of them.
      There seemed to be less rain affected races too (not sure if this is true or not), which always takes some unpredictability out and therefore makes the race less exciting. Actually I’m surprised Malaysia ranked so low, for what there was of the race it was great.

      1. I guess Malaysia was voted so low as people voted after we waited a whole hour of watching them saying they are going to restart the race and they didn’t. Now you look back the actual racing was good.

        The most annoying thing of 2009 is that the wet running has been too wet… Malaysia cancelled, China looked like it wasn’t going to run, Brazil Qualifying…

        Very annoying

        1. And only two wet races. Or one and a half. If this was a vote on qualifying the results would be very high, it’s just a shame Saturday excitement didn’t transfer to the races. The new rules helped qualifying as the cars were close but in the race it could be frustrating as they were so close but couldn’t overtake.

          1. Not that they were so close its because of the double decker diffusers. Now everyones got them they can’t overtake… When hardly anyone had them the racing was great like in Australia

          2. Yep Tommy, they’re close but they can’t do anything. That’s what I meant, I apologise I’m a bit sleepy…well that’s excuse I’ll go with:P

          3. It isnt only the diffuser though, there is work to do in other areas of the car which could help reduce the turbulance behind. I think the front wing could be reduced back to 08 standards and we’d have marginally better action.

            KERS has also helped when stuck behind a car in front

          4. Tommy, Australia was about the ridiculous super soft tyres stopping to work after 10 laps.

            Cars can still overtake now. Look at Kobayashi on Button, Button on Kubica. Button has been overtaking cars all through the season.

  2. It’s not just about having lots of overtaking as is often assumed – it’s about having a battle for the lead, it’s about unpredictability and, yes, a few crashes as well.

    So true. I’m actually surprised this season’s ratings were so close to last seasons, because the championship was pretty much sewn up (for most of the season anyway).

    It’s also interesting that rain doesn’t always guarentee a great race, as can be seen by Malaysia’s rating and the subsequent want for a dry race!

    But why Spain have got 2 races has always been beyond me.

    1. But why Spain have got 2 races has always been beyond me.

      Probably because Spain isn’t a traditional fan base for F1 so when Alonso became WDC Bernie went all out trying to get the average Spaniard hooked on the “sport”.

      Such a shame he tried doing it with two of the most boring race tracks F1 has ever seen in an era of extremely boring cars…

  3. Brazil was a good race for 2009 but an OK race for last year. I only thought Australia and Spa was a great race this year and last year we had 5 or 6 proper great classic races.

  4. I’m amazed that the ratings for 2008 and 2009 are so similar. I’ve been watching F1 for about 10 seasons, and I’d say 08 was the best and 09 one of the worst the worst. I don’t think there was a single above average race after China this season, with the exception of Brazil.

    The only amazing thing about 2009 has been its unpredictability and how close all of the cars are. Some of the qualifying sessions this year have been great, and who would ever have predicted Force India to challenge for the lead or for Mclaren, Ferrari and BMW to struggle so badly at times

    1. I agree with everything you just said

      1. I never missed a race in 2008. This year (especially between Bahrain – Silverstone) I would walk off and do other things as I couldn’t sit through and watch because it was that dull

        1. not a true fanatic then! I still watch them start to finish no matter what.

          1. I record them and watch them later as I have 2 young children.
            For me:-
            A bad race (4 or lower) is the one I fall asleep while watching, or I end up watching it on fast forward speed.
            An average race is one that I’m not bored or tired enough to fast forward but nothing really happens. (5 or 6)
            A good race is a 7. Some action with the lead or plenty of action furhter down and throughout the race.
            And an 8 or 9 for those great drives \ passing and unpredictable races.
            I’ve never given a 10.

          2. Same Sato but I have been grateful for the live blogs. I’m always fascinated watching the cars go round but when there is little action for near two hours it’s excellent having the chat!

          3. I follow GP races via Formula 1 Live Timing only then if the torrent is available I’ll download it. That’s my options for now as F1 fan and as Sim Racer :)

  5. I actually think us viewers got lucky in 2008, but we ran out of luck this year. In 2008 there were:
    -5 wet races
    -races transformed by the safety car (eg Germany, Canada and, infamously, Singapore)
    -races livened up by retirements (eg Australia, Hungary)
    -1st corner pile ups which shook up the order (Japan)
    … but the rest of the races weren’t great

    2009 on the other hand:
    -had only 2 wet races, and the last 14 were all dry
    -very few safety cars (none between Spain and Belgium)
    -reliability was boringly good for most teams
    -admittedly there were some decent pile ups!

    1. Not forgetting

      Title decided on the final corner

      Title decided after Turkey


      1. In fact, you might argue that the 2009 season was effectively decided in a Paris courtroom as early as April…

    2. Soumya Banerjee
      17th May 2010, 9:06

      yeah the reliability factor is also important.
      i would love to see cars struggling with reliability problems.

  6. I think 2009 was the worst season I have watched since i started watching in 2004. :/

    1. Yeah, but so many of those seasons have been very good, so it had to end sometime.

  7. This years races were boring despite the unpredictability. If you told me at the beginning of the year that there would be 4 constructors winning a grand prix, with Force India and Toyota in the mix at certain races i’d have thought this was going to be a great season but the races have usually been poor. The first 3 were great, we were seeing cars going side by side trying to overtake then after the racing became poor. China was my favourite race, I didn’t think Brazil was that great, if it weren’t for the fact that Button clinched the title there then I doubt it would have gotten as many votes.

  8. Terry Fabulous
    7th November 2009, 21:15

    I don’t know about those results.
    I can barely remember anything about this year’s ‘French’ Grand Prix so that can’t have been very good could it.

    They did have one didn’t they?

    1. Erm… no.

  9. Valencia was (again) the dullest race of the year for me. It’s just an awful track: it reminds me of Dallas or Phoenix in it’s “street circuit car park” nature.

    Abu Dhabi and Singapore were rather dull races, but do feature two of the most beautiful tracks on the calendar, which helps enormously compared to Barcelona, Hungary, China, Malaysia and dear old Valencia.

    1. they need to open it out a bit more, get rid of silly chicanes like the one at turns 3/4.

  10. Agree with many of the comments already left. 2009 has been an interesting season but certainly not a great one. It took until Brazil to get a race better than the opener and most didn’t come near to it.

    Apart from an interlude in 2003-2006, I’ve been watching F1 since 1996, and I still say 2007 has been the best. 2009 I’d rank similarly to 2001 I think, one of the worse seasons.

  11. I can rememeber races from years ago that are thresher in my memory than the vast majority of races this year.

  12. 2002 was the worst season. 2 fixed races, and the title was decided at Round 11 at Magny-Cours.

    1. I though it was decided in Hungary, wasn’t it?

      1. No defo France, i was at that race

        1. If my memory is right Raikkonen was set for his first win but ran wide on some oil which allowed Schumacher through to take the win and the title.

  13. Yeah, most races were pretty uneventful. But hopefully Hammo and Nando and SebVet will serve up some more excitement next year.

  14. What hurt the championship this year was the fact that Jenson Button, through no fault of his own, had such a big points lead. In 2008, the race for the title was alot more finer, played out between two of the sports most fabled and popular teams. 2008 served up some awesome races, such as the wet race at Silverstone, the huge scrap between Kimi and Lewis at Spa, and a finale that was as heartbreaking as it was exciting.
    2009 missed a little flair, a little something extra. All the hype in the off season about rule changes and closer racing rose the level of expectation among many, myself included, that 2009 would be radically different.
    It was not, and it is as simple as that!

  15. All the hype in the off season about rule changes and closer racing rose the level of expectation among many, myself included, that 2009 would be radically different.
    It was not, and it is as simple as that!

    ^ this, spot on. You know what they say, don’t get your hopes up… sad, but most often true!

  16. I think China deserve 7,but other than that the Fanatics had voted rightly.I totally agree a good race needs to have overtaking & unpredictability.

    Hope next season we have a good racing season.

  17. Interesting to note that for all of the hoopla that goes along with each new track he comes up with, the first Tilke track is 7th, China. China is a Tilke track isn’t it? If not, Bahrain is 8th. I find that very telling. All of the top races were on tracks other than Tilke tracks. All were on the “classic” tracks. (With the arguable exception of Australia)

    1. Well spotted! And the best rated race on a Tilke track for 08 was Turkey, 9th!

      Time for someone different maybe? Bernie? Please?

    2. I’d bet China was only highly rated because of the rain. Last year I nearly fell asleep during the dry race there.

      Despite being Australian, I didn’t really rate the race too high this year, because most of the overtaking was totally artificial because of Bridgestone’s tyres couldn’t last the distance.

      It’s one thing for a standard soft tyre = short lasting and fast/hard tyre = long lasting and slower, but it’s as if Bridgestone haven’t even tried to make good tyres since there’s no competition. I’d glad they’re leaving after 2010.

  18. The Sri Lankan
    8th November 2009, 6:09

    Toyotawise i would say:

    Bahrain – Toyota front row lockout

    Japan – Toyota and Jarno’s Podium battle for second in their home grand prix

    Brazil – Kobayashi Vs Button – EPIC

    Abu Dabi – Kobayashi vs Button Round 2

    Australia – Toyotas fight to 3rd and 4th from the pitlane + all the retirements and crashes and Brawns 1st win

    Belgium – Cornercutting kimi killing it for toyota but Fisichella giving Kimi a good run for his money

    Italy – Toyotas Do-or die battle to nowhere. a good show for the crowd

    Singapore – Glocks 2nd place and overtaking of webber and alonso

    Malaysia – Glocks inspiring tyre choices

    this year Toyota Gave us a good specator scene and as a TOYOTA fan i will miss them.

  19. For me Malaysia and Singapore were the worst races . I actually slept off during the malaysian gp .

  20. Singapore was not so bad IMO

    Australia was amazing due to that battle for 3rd.

    Hamiltons last lap crash in monza was the highlight of the italian weekend.

    Spa Was My Fave IMO because i support FI!

  21. glad that another British driver became world champ but this was the most boring season since 2004. it a shame as i’m sure that the sport has pulled in a lot of new fans over the last few years due to the Hamilton factor and this past season may have scared people away. some races i was flicking between channels and that’s not a good sign if even your hard core fans are bored. Fingers crossed for 2010!!

  22. it’s a shame you guys only remember Malaysia only for being stopped because of the rain..when it was dry it was pretty spectacular, with plenty of overtaking and overtaking attempts..Australia was brilliant, the order changing surprising us all, the bad thing about it was Hamilton’s lying but still.., and a brilliant drive for Toyota there as well..China was as good as a wet race is expected to be, with plenty of dramas with spins and such, and Massa’s unfortunate retirement..Bahrain was surprisingly spectacular giving the track itself, with nice turnarounds at the front, and it was the first Bahrain GP at which I didn’t doze off for a change..Spain was a bit of a train wreck, but that’s only because the track is more of a test track rather than a race track, but the pile-up at the start was memorable, especially thanks to the Trulli-Sutil saga later in the season..Monaco was, well, Monaco in the dry, there’s always too much hype about that place racing-wise, but this year’s race was exciting, with Ferrari on the podium for the first time and with Button prepping up for his triathlon at the end..Turkey was a bit lackluster, but it was worth trying to see whether Vettel could do anything with his strategy, and then seeing Webber better him..the British GP is considered bad because this is, again, a British site with I think mostly British readers, and it didn’t go too well seeing Button and Hamilton have bad and very bad races respectively, but it still was a good race, with Massa Rosberg and Button scrapping (that’s what I think is wrong..because if there is overtaking to be done, the one who overtakes is almost sure to pull away, so I think the duel itself is more entertaining than the actual overtaking), the track is absolutely brilliant, and I don’t think a dominant win from RB should’ve downplayed this year’s GP..the German GP, what a race that was, with Webber recovering from his penalty, Hamilton throwing away his opportunity, Rosberg doing a good solid race, and Massa on the podium for the first time..then, the Hungarian GP, the “return of the giants”, with McLaren and Ferrari on the podium, Renault’s botched pit stop, Vettel’s unfortunate retirement and again a good race from Webber and Rosberg..Valencia was indeed an awful race, the only highlight being Hamilton’s stop, which I think just made me blink in the vast ocean of boredom surrounding the race..however the season was jump-started along with the next race at Spa, which showed you don’t need unpredictable weather for a terrific spectacle, although it was a bit unnerving seeing Button out and then his rivals not scoring too well, and this has been a somewhat lucky second part of the season (I’m not saying Button is not a worthy champion, he had shown his capabilities well before 2009)..the Italian GP was good as well, Brawn having the upper hand with their strategy, Hamilton (I think) needlessly pushing for pretty much nothing more, Sutil setting a fastest lap for FI (if that isn’t unexpected in pre-season testing, I don’t know what is), and seeing Fisichella not up to terms in the Ferrari, and that’s when I thought maybe Badoer wasn’t that bad, which has been confirmed by Fisi throughout the rest of the season..Singapore was anti-climatic with Rosberg and Vettel getting penalised, and I think Rosberg didn’t gain absolutely anything as he actually lost time trying to get back within the white line, and then Vettel fought back to 4th brilliantly, and also Webber going off putting him out of contention for the title..the Japanese GP was worse than expected, but I didn’t get to see the race in order to have made a personal opinion..the Brazilian GP was again, a worthy Brazilian GP, but I for one wasn’t too excited about Kobayashi’s driving and I don’t see him as a terrific racer, there’s no need to bash me now..anyway, a good enough race with Hamilton Button and Vettel making their way up from the back, and Buemi making a good race..and Abu Dhabi was a pretty decent race, with a good turnaround at the front, and then the deception was great when none of the Ferrari drivers had the car to score any points..but still I don’t think Abu Dhabi was a worthy season finale, especially track-wise, because it isn’t all that exciting to watch both onboard and from the outside..I lit-up funny shaped hotel doesn’t compensate for an ugly track, to be honest..

    all in all, I think it’s been a good, steady season, in which races could be separately remembered for different things (not including the political side of things)..not the best of seasons, but for me it was especially nice to see other teams and drivers being at the top..sorry for the novel, but who wants to read it and agree/disagree with it, be my guest

    1. The season from a Ferrari Fan….

  23. 07 and 08 were more exciting, I think.

  24. 2007 was one of the best, but it’s mostly remembered for the final races in which Kimi recovered, but there is little focus on the fact that there were only 4 different winners that year..same goes for 2000, which was also a classic season..anyway, season ratings are quite relative and I’m also not a big fan of season comparisons

  25. i think that the best races for me are not always the best races racing wise. this year i really enjoyed the aussie gp the whole set up with brawn, jenson, and the bbc’s return etc etc
    and it was a nice spring day in the uk!!!!!!!!!

  26. Barcelona always sucks in my opinion. They (teams) all know that track too well. Hungary has been a turd since the 80’s.

    1. There’s nothing wrong in everybody knowing a track well. Barcelona is boring because the track’s characteristic inhibits overtaking (i.e. all turns are long curves which require maximum downforce).

    2. Hungary produced some good races, despite the ugly and uninspired layout

  27. I’m not surprised by the standout races. I think this statistic is a good representation of what kinds of excitement at least the readers and voters here like to see in a Grand Prix race. Perhaps it’s an interesting coincidence that the highest-rated races all took place at venues that have been on the calendar for years now, whereas apparently, quite a few of the newer venues with all the impressive facilities, at least in this case, didn’t produce the most captivating races.

    This is all opionion-based, of course, but I find it really interesting to compare at the end of the season.

  28. This season’s overall score down compared to 08 because of the McLaren and Ferrari poor performance and the disenchantment of their fans?

    I thought it was a great season because of the upset in the order, Button’s overtaking and the “will he, won’t he” at the end of the season. Plenty of different race winners, no apparent team orders, nor big two dominance – nearly as good as 1982.

    Most of the tracks are processional. Excitement only occurs in qualifying as by and large that is the race result. In desperation we hope for wet qualifying/dry race or the reverse in the hope of some excitement.

    In actual fact we don’t really need a live race just an edited package of highlights at the end of the race – just being controversial. The real talking points of F1 are the politics of FIA/FOTA/Bernie; shock that teams cheat and how god it was in the golden era (60s/70s/80s – depends on your age for this).

  29. I dont understand why so many say it was a boring season, I think it was great, unpredictable, evolved throughout the season. Maybe Legards unbearable presence has skewed everyones view of the season.

    Glad to see Kobayashi getting his due respect, i think he’s gonna be a major player…

  30. Let’s see which tracks Tilke has designed!

    Brazil 8.309

    Australia 7.937
    Belgium 7.852
    Germany 7.096
    Italy 7.049

    Hungary 6.808
    China 6.69 Tilke
    Bahrain 6.42 Tilke

    Abu Dhabi 5.794 Tilke
    Britain 5.755
    Japan 5.58
    Monaco 5.504
    Europe 5.355 Tilke
    Singapore 5.336 Tilke
    Spain 5.33
    Malaysia 5.284 Tilke
    Turkey 5.276 Tilke


  31. Oh, also, this is classic, from the Wikipedia article about Tilke:

    “Tilke established Tilke Engineering in 1984… to provide complete solutions for motor racing and waste disposal projects.”

    So, now we know why the racing’s gone down the toilet since he came on the scene…

  32. I’m surprised ’08 didn’t get a higher average considering there were only 2 or 3 dull races all season, with several absolute classics, for me it was the greatest season ever, and if we’re honest it probably had a lot to do with the weather.

    The latter half of this year was brilliant tho, a spell of 6 races with 6 different winners, let’s hope it stays that competitive next year.

  33. I think some will rate an individual race on factors other than the race itself. Such as how close the Championship is, would Brazil this year and especially last year have got quite so high a rating if it hadn’t decided the title?

    Another reason is who won the race, for example at Turkey after Button had won so many races already, I think it got a lower rating than if another driver had won in exactly the same fashion. I know I am guilty of this as if a driver I like wins in totally dominant fashion I enjoy the race a lot more than if another driver won by leading from start to finish and never being challenged.

    Overall I wouldn’t say this season has been bad although it probably hasn’t been as good as recent seasons.

  34. Like many others here, I am surprised that this season was rated so closely to the 2008 season overall. This year was so dull by comparison, watching Button amass a big points lead and carry it through the whole championship. Button was leading the championship from Australia all the way to the end, usually by over 20 points! A credit to him, but it makes for a yawn-worthy championship battle (or lack thereof). This year the cars were uglier, the racing much more processional, the scandals were frequent and the FIA were more belligerent than ever. Not a good year for F1, for many reasons. All I can say is bring on 2010!

  35. this was the first season in awhile where I missed a few races and I think it’s down to the fact some of the excitement has gone. the off track scandals have been more interesting than the racing…that said, I’m happy for Jenson :-)

  36. Tilke is tempermentally unsuited to designing F1 circuits, club circuits possibly, and he’s hurting F1 racing. He thinks like an amateur club racer and his designs consistently reflect that; the number of nusiance, even non-sensical, corners is astounding in comparison to the classic circuits still being used. Corners where there should be none, arcane corner designs that have no race flow to them, and the absence of real high speed sweepers – a lap of Silverstone at speed would likely be a major dread for him.

    Admittedly the F1 design guidelines, as written, make modern circuit design often a spirit deadening endeavor. However, imagination and vigor can still create enjoyable racing circuits for both drivers and viewers. I’m puzzled why an elite former F1 driver did not embark into designing circuits with the soul and flow worthy of great driving talent. It’s not soon enough that one does so and revises Tilke’s circuits to classic standards, with full regard for modern safety standards.

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