F1 2009: Memorable moments (Part 1)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

It turned out the Malaysian weather men were right
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.