F1 Fanatic’s highlights of 2009

Lewis Hamilton at Goodwood: One of my favourite pictures of the year

Lewis Hamilton at Goodwood: One of my favourite pictures of the year

I’ve trawled through the F1 Fanatic archive for 2009 and picked out a selection of my favourite articles of the year.

Here’s my choice of over 60 exclusive interviews, great guest pieces, memorable arguments and other highlights from the site this year.

January

Exclusive interview: Pedro de la Rosa on F1 2009 and Motorland Aragon – I had a rare chance to speak to an active F1 driver – well, test driver – at the start of the season.

Donington Park boss Simon Gillett on building the new British Grand Prix circuit – One of the long-running stories of the year was the future of the British Grand Prix. I spoke to Donington Park boss Simon Gillett shortly after the track had successfully obtained planning permission for the development work to hold the 2010 race. But the work was never completed and although Silverstone has secured the future of the British Grand Prix the future looks bleak for Donington.

Is this Force India?s 2009 livery? – Sharp-eyed Anirudh alerted me to images of Force India’s livery which appeared well ahead of the car’s launch.

Ferrari F60 launched at Mugello ?ǣ pictures & video (2009 F1 car launches) – The first car launch of the year and the affect of the new rules rules on car design was nicely summed up by the first comment from Rob: “It?s not a pretty one is it?”

Quiz: Can you name that race? – Definitely the hardest quiz I’ve ever run on the site! If you’ve not tried it yet give it a go now and you can check the answers here: 2008 Formula 1 race statistics ?ǣ and those quiz answers in full.

February

The rise and fall of F1 driver numbers, 1980-2009 (F1 in numbers) – The steady fall in the number of drivers in recent years looked set to get worst as Honda were yet to find a buyer. Fortunately Brawn took over Honda – and then we learned there should be a long-awaited increase in drivers in 2010.

Why F1 should race on ovals – Never let it be said I don’t like to voice unpopular opinions…

Brawn Racing? Surely not – Surely indeed.

March

The five things that made me an F1 fan – This turned out to be a really good starting point for discussion.

Digger: NASCAR?s F1-hating cartoon gopher (Video) – File under “so bad it’s funny”.

F1 to use ??medals? system in 2009 – The (eventually abandoned) plans for the 2009 championship to be decided by which driver won the most races provoked hundreds of comments, mostly negative…

BBC F1 coverage: your verdict – On the other hand one of the outstanding successes of 2009 was BBC’s exceptional Formula 1 coverage.

April

Two sides to the Hamilton-Trulli controversy – The Australian Grand Prix brought the controversy over Lewis Hamilton lying to the stewards. I felt a lot of the coverage elsewhere in the media was rather one-sided, focussing on Hamilton’s role in what happened to the exclusion of everything else.

Though that was certainly a compelling story it seemed wrong to ignore the equally important point that it could all have been avoided if F1’s rules enforcement was a bit more professional. I thought the best response was to write two articles:

Moveable wings making any difference? – Not really. I think this was the last time I wrote about them…

F1 victim of own greed as Malaysian GP fails to go the distance after late start – F1 has nothing to be proud about in how it handled the abandonment of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Afterwards Bernie Ecclestone refused to admit that starting the race later had put it at risk of being disrupted by a rain storm. Since then the start time for next year’s race has been quietly brought forward.

F1 fan beats FOM over right to upload video from Grand Prix weekends – F1’s commercial rights holders, for reasons best known to themselves, believe that preventing F1 fans from sharing videos they’ve filmed at Grands Prix is in the best interests of the sport. This is, of course, utter nonsense. Happily at least one fan has shown you can take them on and win.

Official: Real qualifying returns in 2010 – One of the things I am most looking forward to in 2010 is the return of qualifying the way it was meant to be.

May

Being Kimi Raikkonen – I wrote last year how disappointed I was to see the lengths Kimi R??ikk??nen went to avoid meeting fans at Silverstone. Seeing him being mobbed at the Ferrari Store in London this year gave me pause for thought and made me more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Did Brawn deliberately give Barrichello a poor strategy to let Button win? – I think the post-race analysis articles here have come on a lot this year – and I hope you agree. At Spain Rubens Barrichello began the race ahead of Jenson Button and ended up behind him and it was seemingly all down to strategy. This post looked at why and in the end I think the numbers don’t lie.

Six decades of great F1 drivers in Igor?s collection of pictures and autographs – Being proven wrong can be fantastic. I didn’t really understand the appeal of autograph collection to begin with. I changed my mind after seeing Igor’s cracking collection of historic photographs and signatures.

??What?s the point of Formula One??? ?ǣ Radio 4 programme featuring me today – Joining in Radio 4’s “What’s the point of…” series for a programme about Formula 1 was great fun. I I hope you think I did a decent job of defending/explaining our passion to those who don’t share it.

Fuji Speedway to disappear from 2010 F1 calendar, things are looking up – Maybe it’s a great place to visit – the mountain certainly looks great. But I never liked the circuit and was glad to see the back of it.

June

F1 drivers who won at Le Mans – Some articles I write because I want the opportunity to do a bit of research and learn new things for myself – this was one of them.

FOTA claims to support the fans ?ǣ but do the fans support FOTA? (Poll) – Indeed they did, to the tune of 83%. The poll results later featured on Ferrari’s website.

Minibus takes on Coulthard?s F1 car in Peru, loses (Pictures and video) – This one’s all about the photo.

F1 to split in two as FOTA teams announce their own world championship – One of the most-commented articles of all time, though in the end it’s probably for the best the split didn’t happen.

Life L190 ?ǣ the worst F1 car ever ?ǣ to run at Goodwood Festival of Speed – Hopeless F1 cars of the early 1990s is always a popular subject. The Life plumbed depths even Andrea Moda failed to reach.

July

My top 40 pictures from the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 – Goodwood was excellent this year and I was very proud of some of my pictures from it. I also put up a gallery of non-F1 cars at the Goodwood Festival by popular demand.

Mark Webber finally wins an F1 race – It took him 130 attempts – more than anyone else – but when he finally got there he did it in style.

Ari Vatanen: Exclusive interview on Mosley, budget caps and the F1 calendar – One of my funniest memories of the year was of arriving on holiday in Cornwall and my phone going off as I dragged my suitcase up a hill. It was FIA president hopeful Ari Vatanen. I’d left several messages with trying to get an interview, so I decided not to pass up the opportunity and held a conversation with him while sat at the side of the road. One exchange that didn’t make it into the final write-up was Ari asking what was making the noise in the background, and me explaining they were seagulls…

Closed cockpits aren?t a perfect solution ?ǣ but they may be an improvement – The shocking death of Henry Surtees in a Formula Two crash in July prompted questions over what could be done to improve cockpit protection. By sheer chance I used a picture of Felipe Massa to illustrate the article.

Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying (Video) – We all remember what happened to poor Massa next, which led to further discussions about safety: No easy answers to safety questions posed by Massa and Surtees crashes.

How hard was Massa hit? – I’ll be putting together a round-up of the many great guest contributions to the website later. But this stands out as one of the most popular, with Kareem Shaya explaining how the force of impact suffered by Massa was approximate to a gunshot.

Schumacher and F1?s oldest ever drivers – This was originally written about Michael Schumacher’s thwarted return in Massa’s place. But it’s become relevant again with news of his 2010 comeback. See also The new rules, cars and rivals Michael Schumacher will have to get to grips with.

August

Nelson Piquet Jnr dropped by Renault – Several major websites ran this story quite a bit later than F1 Fanatic, which is not a regular occurrence but one I took satisfaction from.

Exclusive: Zoran Stefanovic explains his complaint to the EU about the FIA – Stories about Stefan GP getting something together for 2010 refuse to go away.

Inside the McLaren Technology Centre – I had a chance to learn some extraordinary things about McLaren’s amazing factory.

Lewis Hamilton in Ayrton Senna?s McLaren-Honda MP4/4 (pictures) – Hamilton’s hopes of driving Ayrton Senna’s McLaren at Goodwood were thwarted by gearbox problems – but he did at least get to sit in it before the event.

Barrichello?s win and Badoer?s struggle examined (European Grand Prix analysis) – Perhaps it’s unfortunate to pick this as a highlight but it’s rare these days for someone to come into F1 and struggle so much. The statistics revealed a massive gap in performance between Luca Badoer and the rest of the field.

Giancarlo Fisichella stuns with Spa pole position (Belgian Grand Prix qualifying) – One of the biggest shocks on the track all year, particularly when we discovered Fisichella had a realistic fuel load.

September

How Barrichello won and what happened to Grosjean (Italian Grand Prix analysis) – What made this article was the picture contributed by Adam which showed Romain Grosjean having a spin the cameras missed.

Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge – The evidence leaks looked damning. But the moment the awful truth of the Singapore scandal became impossible to refute was when Briatore and Symonds left the picture.

Do F1 drivers help decide strategies? Alonso doesn?t, Hamilton does – Much of the ensuing debate focused on whether Fernando Alonso knew in advance how his team would try to help him win the race. This article, based on an interview with Lewis Hamilton, shed some light on the important question of how drivers’ strategies are decided.

October

Ferrari stick to equality. Good for them – Team orders and driver roles have always been a touchy subject – especially at Ferrari – so it was good to see them making their plans transparent and fair.

If Jenson Button doesn?t deserve the 2009 championship no-one else does – I’m glad I wrote this before Button’s battling drive at Interlagos which for me put the question of whether he ‘deserved’ the world championship beyond doubt.

The bitterly-fought FIA presidential election is too important to ignore – The election was ultimately won by Jean Todt which was no great surprise, but not an excuse for complacency either.

Jenson Button is F1 world champion – The culmination of an extraordinary story.

November

SaloolaS is the 2009 F1 Fanatic Predictions Champion – One of my favourite new features on the site this year was turning the predictions game into a full-on championship. This will definitely be back in 2010.

Brazil voted best race of 2009, Turkey named worst of a bad bunch – The Interlagos race deservedly got the nod for the second year in a row.

Alonso gets stuck in gravel trap in first Ferrari appearance (Pictures & video) – Luca di Montezemolo intentionally driving a Ferrari California – bearing both his 2010 F1 drivers – into a gravel trap was one of my favourite comedy moments of 2009.

McLaren confirm Jenson Button will join Lewis Hamilton for 2010 – Massive off-season driver shock number one.

Michael Schumacher: the Mercedes years – One of my favourite retrospective articles of the year – any excuse to get a Group C sports car on the home page.

December

Send an F1 picture ?ǣ win a book – This has had a phenomenal response and I hope to share some of the best contributions with you in the new year.

Race winners could get 25 points in 2010 – F1 Fanatic readers sussed the ‘radical’ 2010 points system pretty quickly – in that it doesn’t really make much of a difference at all.

14 reasons to love the refuelling ban – I needn’t labour the point that I’m a big fan of the refuelling ban.

Lewis Hamilton?s last-lap championship win voted best F1 race of the 2000s – It attracted thousands of votes and I think the runner-up – Raikkonen’s 2005 win at Suzuka – is equally worthy.

The future of F1 Fanatic – My biggest news of the year…

Official: Schumacher to make F1 return – Massive off-season driver shock number two.

Elsewhere on F1 Fanatic

Twitter

The single innovation which had the biggest impact on how I ran F1 Fanatic in 2009 was undoubtedly Twitter. The F1 Fanatic accounts now boast thousands of followers:

f1fanatic_co_uk – This is my main account where I post during race weekends, share links and chat with people.

f1fanticupdate – Follow this to get a Tweet with a link to new articles on F1 Fanatic when they’re added.

We’ve also begun to see more F1 people using the service – including a smattering of drivers. This page is where we separate the real ones from the fakers: F1 Twitter directory

Going to a race

The section of the site given over to fans’ discussions of visiting F1 tracks saw a lot of activity – especially the area given over to discussing the Spa-Francorchamps circuit which had hundreds of comments from people who went to this year’s race.

It’s been so successful that for the 2010 F1 season I’ve set up separate areas for fans to discuss their arrangements for visiting all the different races. Find them here: 2010 F1 race discussion.

Do you have any favourite F1 Fanatic articles from the 2009 season not mentioned here? What would you like to see more of in 2010? Leave a comment below.

Read more: Best of F1 Fanatic

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14 comments on F1 Fanatic’s highlights of 2009

  1. nexon said on 26th December 2009, 7:30

    wow.. again great article Kieth all that just about sums up the season.

  2. ILoveVettel said on 26th December 2009, 7:43

    Great article Keith.. It nicely sums up the 2009 season.. However I always thought the Heading of one article does not match with the content of the article.. That is the “Do F1 drivers help decide strategies? Alonso doesn’t, Hamilton does” one…
    Basically both of them said that they follow exactly what the team suggested but don’t know why did you give such a contradictory headline to that one…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th December 2009, 20:34

      Because Hamilton said he wanted a different strategy but was persuaded to go with what the team wanted, whereas Alonso said he just accepted the strategy he was given.

  3. Has been a great year. This website has definitely made F1 more enjoyable for me this year, being able to come on this site and talk with other F1 fans about news and races has been great.

    Looking forward to the changes in 2010. Keep up the great work :) Happy New year!

  4. I think It’s needless to say that THIS is the best article of the year. It has the best of 2009 in a nutshell…..and the pictures that go with all the articles are just out of this world. Respect for all your work done here. It’s also great to see that you will be spending all of your expertise and time working on this site in the future.

  5. cheers again keith.

  6. Icthyes said on 26th December 2009, 10:58

    To quote a sarcastic swipe at its detractors from Murray Walker, ‘What a boring sport F1 is!’

    It’s been a fascinating year, let’s hope next year is even more exciting on the track and a lot less off it ;-)

  7. steph90 said on 26th December 2009, 11:16

    Reading back through those it is hard to pick a favourite. But I’ll say when you announced you were leaving your job to commit full time to the site. Great news and a move which shows your passion for the sport.
    Also, I can’t remember if I said this at the time but I think you did a wonderful job writing about Massa’s accident. With all the confusing reports at the time it was great to have somewhere to trust. A great job at an awful time.
    Oh and you handled the many scandals this year brilliantly too.

  8. wasiF1 said on 26th December 2009, 14:32

    Awesome,hope 2010 be much better than this.

  9. Ratboy said on 26th December 2009, 21:07

    Its been a good year for F1fanatic aint it Keith!!

    Its still hard to believe your going to do it full time from next year, I can still remember when you said you were going to start up a F1 blog as a hobby!!!

    and now 5 years later is absolutely massive with a world wide following, now in the words of Murray Walker “I’ll have to stop because I have a lump in my Throat”

  10. Fergal said on 26th December 2009, 23:52

    Keith, are you in a position to run a 2009 edition of that lap/position chart quiz?

  11. mp425 said on 27th December 2009, 4:13

    i think the articles abt d trulli-sutil crash were really gud too

  12. Calum M said on 27th December 2009, 18:36

    Lewis Hamilton’s wins were the best for me!!

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