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The 2009 News Review, Part Two - April to June 07 Jan 2010

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Executive Chairman.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing at the Amber fashion show.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Friday, 22 May 2009 Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on his way to collect the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy, Brisighella, Italy, May 31 2009. © Red Bull Racing Romain Grosjean, Renault Roadshow, Bucharest, Romania, October 10-11, 2009. © Renault F1

As we adjust to life in 2010, we take time to reflect on the past 12 months and the year that was 2009. The period from April to June saw some major headlines breaking, both on and off the track, with three new teams announced for the 2010 season, the result of the protests against the double diffusers used by the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams revealed, and some very glamorous parties just a selection…

April opens with controversy in Malaysia, as Lewis Hamilton is belatedly disqualified from the result of the preceding Australian round for providing ‘misleading' evidence during a post-event hearing. He finished fourth, but was promoted to third after Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was handed a time penalty for passing him under the safety car. It transpired that the champion had deliberately slowed to let the Toyota by. Hamilton apologizes and McLaren are called to appear before the World Motor Sport Council.

After enduring their worst start to a championship campaign in over 15 years, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali admits the Italian squad will need to dig deep and take a different approach, while driver Kimi Raikkonen says their season will hinge on whether the double diffusers, used by the Brawn, Toyota and Williams teams, are declared legal by the FIA.

They are. Toyota and Brawn welcome the decision, but Ferrari admit they will have to make significant changes to the F60 if they are to capitalize on the development.
At McLaren, Ron Dennis hands over full responsibility for the company’s Formula One operation to team principal Martin Whitmarsh. Dennis will instead focus his attentions on their road car business. Driver Hamilton and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, are both nominated for prestigious Laureus Awards.

Ferrari announce a special test session to evaluate young Italian driving talent and invite the top three Italian Formula Three finishers to drive the F60. Fans attending the Bahrain Grand Prix get the chance to view 20 cars from the private collection of Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone and also get to see David Merlini set a new world record on the Sakhir grid by holding his breath underwater for a mind-blowing 21 minutes and 29 seconds.

Following confirmation of FIA plans to introduce a ‘cost capping’ option to teams, British race car makers Lola commence a major evaluation project aimed at developing a car to compete in the 2010 season. Developer Codemasters reveal the first glimpse of the new generation of F1 video games featuring all the 2009 drivers, teams and circuits, while a few days later it’s announced a documentary feature film about legendary Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna will be filmed in 2010.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council hands McLaren a three-race ban for bringing the sport into disrepute after they were found to have misled race stewards at March’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The ban is suspended, however, in light of the ‘open and honest way’ in which team principal Martin Whitmarsh addressed the Council.

The sport’s governing body also decides to revise its budget cap plans for 2010, suggesting teams limit their spending to £40 million per year (£10 million higher than originally proposed) in exchange for greater technical freedom. This will not include driver salaries or, for 2010 only, engine costs. Williams’ team principal Sir Frank Williams urges his rivals to accept the cap.

New Zealander Brendon Hartley is revealed as Red Bull’s reserve driver. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa helps launch a new report advocating coordinated UN action on road safety, alongside the FIA’s Global Road Safety Ambassador and actress Michelle Yeoh. Several teams issue press releases rallying against the FIA’s cost-cutting measures.

British Formula Three team Litespeed reveal they plan to lodge a 2010 F1 entry just as Lola announce their own bid. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, makes an emotional visit to his home region of Abruzzo in Italy as part of his efforts to help those affected by April’s devastating earthquake.

Elsewhere in Europe, Vettel and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi are watched by over 130,000 spectators during a demonstration event in Hungary, while a French court dismisses a legal bid from Ferrari to prevent the FIA from introducing new rules for the 2010 season. Brawn confirm that they will continue to support up-and-coming British driver Will Stevens on a long-term driver development programme.

The glamorous Monaco race weekend is ushered in with a huge celebrity-filled party on Force India boss Vijay Mallya’s mega yacht, the Indian Empress. A day later an impressive charity fashion show is held in Monte Carlo, with a troop of drivers donning designer gear and gracing the catwalk.
Williams become the first established team to confirm they have lodged an entry for next year’s championship, despite the ongoing dispute between the teams and the FIA over the 2010 regulations.

In recognition of his knock-out debut campaign in 2008 in the Toro Rosso, Vettel travels to Italy to receive the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy. Vettel drives the 12-mile journey from the Italian team’s factory in Faenza to the Brisighella event in an F1 car.

Spain’s Epsilon Euskadi become the latest team to confirm they have placed an entry for the 2010 championship. They are swiftly followed by another two new bids, which are lodged under historic names. One, submitted as ‘Brabham’, is led by F3 Euroseries squad owner and German businessman Franz Hilmer, while UK Formula Three team Litespeed promise to resurrect the Lotus name in Formula One racing if their entry is accepted.

BMW Sauber announce they won’t use KERS at the Turkish Grand Prix. The decision helps them to a much-needed points finish at Istanbul Park, with BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen insisting the team are not ready to write off 2009 just yet. Driver Nick Heidfeld also attempts to deflect attention from their poor form, launching a competition that will give his fans the chance to design him a special helmet livery for the forthcoming German race.

The FIA publishes the 2010 championship entry list, with three new names - Campos Grand Prix, Team US F1 and Manor Grand Prix - joining the existing 10 teams. Cosworth, meanwhile, announce they will return to Formula One racing in 2010 to supply engines to the three new teams.

Although he’s been struggling for Formula One results, Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais finishes second in the Le Mans 24-hour race, sharing Peugeot’s number-eight car with former F1 stars Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin.

Celebrities and the great and good of Formula One racing attend the British Grand Prix party and auction, which is held annually in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. With a dream dinner date with Hollywood star Orlando Bloom and a diamond encrusted Lewis Hamilton helmet just two of the lots up for grabs, the night is a great success and plenty of money is raised.

British heroes Hamilton and Jenson Button unveil special one-off helmet liveries to commemorate the occasion of their home race, while after several amateur rally outings, Kimi Raikkonen agrees to make his World Rally Championship debut at July’s Rally Finland. Fans, meanwhile, are invited to enjoy a sneak preview of the new Abu Dhabi track using an online ‘Virtual Driver Experience’.

Part Three coming soon. Click Here to see Part One.