Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Season Review: Jenson Button & Brawn’s Cinderella story

F1 has seen an on track resurgence in the last few years. Both 2007 & 2008’s titles were decided at the last race while 2009 was an year though it was dominated mostly by off track news, it was an year where the regular order crumbled and a new order in the sport was created. Who would have imagined the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber & Renault were nowhere near the title picture but Brawn & Red Bull not only were better than the established teams, but they dominated the season so much that barring a few races, none of the big teams could match the pace of these two teams.

Brawn GP truly had a Cinderella year as if Honda had remained patient for a few more months, all the money they have put in their F1 program would have finally raked in the benefits it deserved and they would not have pulled off F1. Instead, Ross Brawn took over the team and the team was not even sure if they would be on track at the Australian GP but once they were on, they dominated the 1st half of the season and though Red Bull did put up a stiff challenge, in the end Brawn managed to win both the titles without any major chaos.

Their title rivals Red Bull and its drivers had a breakthrough year and they managed to challenge the Brawn team till in the end. Vettel proved that he is the real deal and at one stage had all the big teams running for his contract but in the end he did decide to extend his deal with Red Bull which seem to be a very wise move as of now while teammate Webber won his 1st race and proved that given a good car, he can challenge for the title. 2010 will be an important year for the year and if Renault could provide them with stable engines, the team can once again emerge as an early favourite for the titles.

Ferrari and McLaren had a very poor season by their standards while though McLaren in the end managed to salvage something and pulled the coup of the year by signing the reigning world champion Jenson Button and to form a British super team with the 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton. They could pose a very serious threat for the 2010 season while Ferrari had its moments during the season but with an injury to Massa, it was Ferrari which inspired Schumacher about the real possibilities of a comeback and in the end he signed for the Mercedes GP team. Kimi has taken a sabbatical from the sport for 2010 but no one will be too shocked of he failed to return again while Alonso finally did sign for the Ferrari team and his partnership with Massa would be a real threat for any team for the coming season.

Williams and Toyota both had a disappointing season as both were early title contenders but as the season progressed Williams had Rosberg scoring points consistently but then lack of podiums did it for the team while Toyota finally pulled out of F1 after spending close to 2 billion dollars and failing to even win a race during its tenure in the sport. Toyota ideally should have made Williams its works team but then their decision to form their own team in the end was one of the worst moves in the companies’ corporate history.

BMW Sauber after being at title contender for 2008 pulled off all of a sudden and it left the team in a disarray after the failed Quadback takeover but then they finally managed to get a spot on the grid thanks to Toyota’s pull-out and Sauber will be once again be there on the grid as an independent team.

Renault had a season to forget and the off track situation nearly made the team leave the sport in disgrace but then the team can still continue as an engine supplier due to Red Bull’s success and the phased pull out of the team with it selling a major stake of the F1 team to a investment group will still see Renault team on the grid for the next 2 years but beyond that it will be highly doubtful if we will see the Renault name as an constructor.

The year was also good for Force India as it not only managed to convincingly outpace fellow backmarker Toro Rosso but also at different times managed to be faster than the likes of McLaren, Williams, Renault, BMW Sauber and Toyota. It was one of the best ever seasons for the former Jordan team and with four new teams coming in for the 2010 season; Force India can relive Jordan’s midfield status for the next few years.

It was a remarkable year for F1 but 2010 should be even better as Schumacher makes a comeback with the Mercedes GP team and for the first time since the early nineties we will see four World Champions on the grid. As many as four teams and 6 drivers have a realistic chance of going for the driver’s championship. We can also see the likes of gun drivers like Hamilton, Vettel & Rosberg going head to head with the greatest living driver Schumacher and though he may not win the title, but even a few wins would be the most remarkable comeback in the history of the sport.

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