F1 2009: Highlights on and off the track

The cold, dark F1 winter is upon us and luckily we’ve had plenty of gossip and controversy to keep us amused since the flag fell in Abu Dhabi. As announcements start to die down and things fall into place, I thought this would be an opportune time to look back at the season and pick out some of my personal favourite moments. There were obvious high points, not least JB’s maiden championship, but the following list tries to delve a little deeper into particular moments that will remind me of an extremely entertaining 2009 season, both on and off the track:

  • Looking back to the start of the season Jenson has said that it was his victory at Albert Park in Melbourne that was most significant as it illustrated to him how good the car actually and was the moment of realisation that they may have a championship challenger in their hands. Obviously Brazil was also an incredible moment but my lasting Jenson Button memory from the season will be him running around the last corner at Monaco with his helmet on, waving at the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere. I think it will be an image that will continue to be used decades from now and was my highlight from his season.
  • Mark Webber’s first win was obviously a very emotional one and it sent shivers down my spine listening to him screaming down the radio in fits of happiness. He’s obviously a well liked chap within the F1 paddock and too see him finally get his first win was a special moment.
  • A few of my favourites were courtesy of Rubinho. He’s another one that is obviously a lovely guy and provides some great entertainment on and off the track. His ‘blah blah blah’ outburst at Barcelona seemed very out of character but clearly the pain felt from the Schumacher years has left a deep scar. Things brightened up towards the end of the season though and before long we saw him and Eddie Jordan strutting around in the tightest pair of trunks you’ve ever seen. Surprised OFCOM didn’t have something to say about that before the watershed…  The high point was seeing the classic Barrichello victory wobble on the podium at Monza though, he’s still clearly thought of very highly by the Tifosi and you could tell how happy he was to have turned the tables on Jenson as the season came to a close.
  • Politics has always played a strong part in Formula 1 and, whilst people moan about it taking focus away from the racing, i think it adds an extra element and only accentuates the action on the track. We all loved the drama back in the Senna/Prost days and i’m sure people will love looking back in a few years and discussing the Renault scandal, McLaren cheating or the FOTA-FIA war.
  • It always nice to see a bit of fisticuffs come into play and Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil did a great job of playing handbags after their collision in Brazil. And Jarno wasn’t happy leaving it at that, as he brought photo evidence to the pre race press conference in Abu Dhabi to prove he was in the right. I think all he got was a few muffled laughs and the mick taken by Fernando Alonso though…
  • A couple of amusing moments from the many driver replacements in the season caught my eye as well. Firstly, seeing Luca Badoer falling off his Ferrari scooter seemed to perfectly sum up his return to Formula 1, and then we had Romain Grosjean popping his Renault into exactly the same piece of wall as Nelson Piquet Jnr had done a year earlier. It was so filled with irony that even the newly appointed Renault chief Bob Bell managed to raise a wry smile.
  • Finally, my lasting memory of 2009 will not be Jenson Button kissing Jake Humphrey on the neck or Ross Brawn’s tears on the pitwall, but of Kimi Raikkonen swanning around the paddock in his shorts and t shirt  in Malaysia, magnum in hand, as the rest of the drivers stood out in the rain waiting for the race to restart. Turns out Kimi had the right idea in the end, as the race was abandoned and only half points were awarded. Looks like he’ll be able to enjoy a few more Sunday ice creams next season.
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