The 2009 News Review, Part Three - July to September 08 Jan 2010
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 July to September saw some of the most dramatic stories of the year break, including BMWs withdrawal from the sport, Felipe Massas season-ending accident, Renaults race-fixing scandal, Michael Schumachers nearly but not quite return, and the announcement Fernando Alonso would race for Ferrari in 2010
Red Bull announce Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari is to serve as their reserve driver at the forthcoming German Grand Prix. The Brawn, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Toyota and Red Bull teams and drivers Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Timo Glock all attend the UKs Goodwood Festival of Speed, wowing the crowds with a variety of demonstrations.
Force India boss Dr Vijay Mallya hails the teams progress and predicts they could chalk up their first points soon, while Ross Brawn, his counterpart at Brawn, is presented with the Motorsport Industry Associations (MIA) Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Motorsport Industry. Williams, McLaren and Red Bull journey to Russia to take part in the Moscow City Racing event. The motorsport festival is held in the heart of the Russian city, with Red Square and the Kremlin providing a stunning backdrop to the action.
Over in Paris, FIA President Max Mosley confirms he wont stand for re-election in October. He endorses former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt as an ideal successor and Todt subsequently reveals he will run for the presidency. Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen also launches his candidacy.
After weeks of rumours, Toro Rosso announce Sebastien Bourdais has left the team with immediate effect. The Frenchman describes himself as disappointed and shocked and is replaced by third driver Jaime Alguersuari for the rest of the season. Over at sister team Red Bull, where both Webber and Sebastian Vettel are in the running for the title, team principal Christian Horner insists they wont favour one driver unless a clear favourite emerges.
Heidfeld samples a Superbike at a BMW Sauber fan day, whilst Force India chief race engineer Dominic Harlow talks up the teams chances at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Red Bull announce Webber will continue to drive for the team in 2010 alongside fellow incumbent Vettel.
After being struck by a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during qualifying in Hungary, Ferraris Felipe Massa dominates the Formula One headlines. News from the hospital is largely positive, despite the Brazilian undergoing emergency surgery for a fractured skull.
Also in the spotlight are Renault, who are disqualified from the forthcoming European Grand Prix for allowing Alonso to leave the pits with a wheel not properly secured during the Hungarian race. Renault decide to appeal the decision and the hearing is scheduled to take place in Paris just days before the Valencia weekend gets underway.
On the Monday after Hungary, Massa is awake chatting to family and friends. Two days later he is released from hospital and he eventually returns home to Brazil to continue his rehabilitation. Mosley asks the FIAs Safety Commission to prepare a report on debris-related accidents, while Ferrari announce they plan to field retired seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in Massas vacant cockpit. In typically conscientious fashion, Schumacher begins preparations immediately, travelling to Ferraris Maranello headquarters in Italy to familiarize himself with the functionality of the F60s steering wheel and to use the teams static simulator.
In an action-packed month, the news keeps coming, as BMW reveal they will end their involvement in Formula One racing at the end of the season. Driver Heidfeld describes the decision as 'totally unexpected'. As recognition for Mark Webbers maiden F1 win earlier in the month, the Australian postal service commission a set of special stamps to commemorate their national heros achievement.
FIA President Mosley signs the 2009 Concorde Agreement, heralding a renewed period of stability for Formula One racing. The contract between the FIA, Formula One racings commercial rights-holder and the teams sets out the basis on which the teams participate in the championship and share in its commercial success.
Kimi Raikkonens first outing in the World Rally Championship ends prematurely when the Ferrari driver crashes out of Rally Finland, three kilometres into the days final stage. Meanwhile, his new temporary team mate, Schumacher, is full of beans ahead of his F1 return and tests a privately-owned 2007 car at Mugello.
Not everyone is pleased, however, with Williams voicing their opposition to Ferraris request to let the German sample the teams current car. As drivers fly off around the world for a summer break, Renaults Nelson Piquet is forced to make even longer vacation plans after being told his services are no longer required.
The inaugural F1 ROCKS event is announced. The series of concerts, to be held in Singapore during the Grand Prix weekend, will be headlined by the Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, ZZ Top, Simple Minds and N*E*R*D. Massa is given the all clear by a Sao Paulo hospital, but hopes of an on-track return this year are played down. BMW Sauber, meanwhile, say they are determined to find a buyer for the team.
Schumacher tests the F2007 again, but the news isnt good and he is forced to call off his comeback after aggravating an injury in his neck, sustained earlier in the year in a motorcycle accident. Ferrari announce veteran test driver Luca Badoer will instead fill in for Massa at the European Grand Prix. Schumacher is disappointed to the core, but for Badoer, its a dream come true to race for the Italian team.
Also ready to race are Renault, who have their suspension from the European Grand Prix overturned on appeal. The French team subsequently announce that third driver Romain Grosjean will take over the cockpit of ousted driver Piquet. Another big name in the firing line is McLarens Heikki Kovalainen, who is told in no uncertain terms by team principal Martin Whitmarsh that he must improve if he is to keep his seat in 2010.
The US team, one of four newcomers set to join the 2010 grid, reveal YouTube co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley is a primary investor. Red Bull Racing confirm they have extended their contract with driver Vettel until the end of 2011, with an option for 2012. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers announce the inaugural race in the Emirate will start at dusk and reach its conclusion in the dark. It will be the sports first-ever twilight race, following in the footsteps of Singapores well-received nigh-time event.
After a triumphant Belgian Grand Prix, Force India celebrate their first-ever world championship points, but there is misery for Badoer, who learns Ferrari are looking to replace him as Massas stand-in after several poor showings.
It doesnt take long for Badoer to learn his fate and he is replaced by Force Indias Giancarlo Fisichella. Fisichella also secures a contract to serve as Ferrari's reserve driver in 2010. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo is pleased with the switch, describing the Italian as an expert driver.
Renault are back in the headlines after being requested to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIAs World Motor Sport Council (WMSC). The French team are called to answer charges that they conspired with Piquet to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in the hope it would benefit their other driver, Alonso, who went on to win.
No doubt keen to be busy in the face of such controversy, the Spaniard entertains 170,000 spectators in his home town of Oviedo with several demo runs. Meanwhile, test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi takes over racing duties at Force India, replacing Ferrari-bound Fisichella. The Italian team announce that Santander will become one of their most important sponsors from 2010. The Spanish banking giant also extends its partnership with McLaren.
There is movement too on the 2010 grid as Lotus are confirmed as the FIAs 13th entry and BMW announce they have agreed to sell their Formula One team to Qadbak Investments Ltd. Renault, meanwhile, reveal managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team. Technical director Bob Bell takes over as team principal for the final four races of 2009.
At the hearing a week later, Renault are found guilty by the WMSC of conspiring to cause a deliberate crash at last years Singapore race, and are disqualified from the championship, with the ban suspended for two years. Briatore and Symonds (allegedly the only two team members to have conspired with Piquet) are also punished - neither will be allowed any involvement in FIA-sanctioned motorsport, Briatore indefinitely and Symonds for the next five years.
Bruno Senna completes the first official lap of the newly-built Yas Marina Circuit in a Formula One car, whilst Irish team The Koni Kats win the fifth F1 in Schools technology challenge world championships. The calendar for 2010 is published, highlights including the return of the Canadian Grand Prix and the addition of a new race in Korea.
Although he'll have to wait until 2010 for a return to Formula One racing, Massa reveals hell compete in the International Challenge of Go-Kart Champions in Brazil in November. Heidfeld laments his first DNF in 35 races after retiring from the Singapore Grand Prix thanks to a collision with Force Indias Adrian Sutil. But as September draws to a close the story on everyones lips is Ferraris confirmation that Fernando Alonso will replace Kimi Raikkonen in their 2010 line-up as Felipe Massas team mate.
Part Four coming soon. Click Here to see Part One and Click Here to see Part Two.