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The 2009 News Review, Part Four - October to December 11 Jan 2010

Felipe Massa (BRA) tests a Ferrari F2007 at Fiorano, Italy. October 12, 2009. © Ferrari Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Ross Brawn (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix Team Principal, Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix and Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix celebrate with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil,  Sunday, 18 October 2009 Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher celebrate their Nations Cup victory, Bird's Nest stadium, Beijing, China, 3 November 2009. © Race of Champions Virgin Racing drivers (l-r) Timo Glock (GER) and Lucas di Grassi (BRA). Virgin Racing Launch Studio Shoot, London, England, 15th December 2009.

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 October to December saw some major headlines breaking, both on and off the track. Among them were Felipe Massa getting back behind the wheel of a Formula One car, Mercedes taking over the Brawn GP team, and Jenson Button switching allegiance to McLaren…

October:
Felipe Massa visits Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters for the first time since his life-threatening accident in July’s Hungarian Grand Prix. He puts in some serious time in the team’s simulator and is given clearance by the FIA to test a 2007-spec F1 car. His Fiorano outing goes without a hitch, though the team rule out any thoughts of a 2009 comeback. In other Ferrari news, Luca Marmorini takes over from Gilles Simon as head of their engine department.

Robert Kubica is confirmed as Ferrari-bound Fernando Alonso’s 2010 replacement at Renault. The French team wow the crowds in Romania with a spectacular two-day road show in Bucharest. At Toyota, Timo Glock is ruled out of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend after tests reveal his Suzuka qualifying shunt has left him with a cracked vertebra. Third driver Kamui Kobayashi steps in. Rivals Williams announce they will no longer be using Toyota’s engines from 2010, switching to Cosworth power instead.

Jenson Button and Brawn GP clinch the title double in Sao Paulo. Back on home soil two days later, a jubilant Button’s first UK stop is… a shopping centre in Kent - for a promotional engagement. He then heads to Brackley to thank the team’s factory staff for all their efforts.

Former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt is elected FIA President, marking the end of Max Mosley’s 16-year reign. As the new entrants for 2010 start to firm up their plans, the US team announce an additional European base in Spain, while Spanish team Campos confirm Bruno Senna, nephew of Ayrton, as their first driver.

November:
The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the first twilight Formula One race, is hailed a huge success by all involved. Nico Rosberg confirms it will be his last outing with Williams. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel clinches the 2009 DHL Fastest Lap Award.

Williams confirm their 2010 driver line-up, with Rubens Barrichello moving from Brawn GP to partner reigning GP2 champion and Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg. Bridgestone reveal they will leave Formula One racing at the end of 2010. Days later fellow Japanese Toyota announce their departure at the end of ’09.

Paired with Michael Schumacher, Vettel powers Germany to a third successive Nations Cup win at the Race of Champions in Beijing’s Birds Nest stadium, defeating the British team of Button and multiple world touring car champion Andy Priaulx.

Alonso makes his first visit to the factory of his new employers, Ferrari. The Spaniard also attends the team’s World Finals event, which is held at the Spanish circuit of Valencia for the first time. Massa delights the crowds by getting back behind the wheel of his F60 for the first time since his accident.

Less than a year after Honda’s F1 exit prompted the birth of Brawn GP, Ross Brawn sells a controlling stake of his team to engine suppliers Mercedes, who plan to rebadge it Mercedes GP. Brawn, however, fails to retain his world champion driver and Button moves to McLaren to partner Lewis Hamilton for 2010. The new Manor GP team land Toyota refugee Glock as their lead driver.

Kubica continues his part-time Renault rallying career with an outing in the Rallye du Var in France, while GP3 team entrant Mark Webber helps unveil the series’ new car to the media. Michael Schumacher and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi both make the finals of the SKUSA Supernationals karting event in Las Vegas. Buemi retires, Schumacher comes in seventh.

Frank Williams and Patrick Head do the unthinkable and sell a stake in their team to Austrian entrepreneur and petrol head Toto Wolff. Former employee Rosberg is announced as a Mercedes driver for 2010, while Force India confirm they will be retaining Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi. Former Renault tester Jose Marie Lopez claims he close to signing for the new US team.

Massa makes a winning return to competitive motorsport, taking a heat victory during his annual International Challenge of the Stars karting event in Brazil.

BMW agree to sell their team back to founder Peter Sauber after failing to complete a previous deal with Qadbak. However, the Swiss squad’s name is missing when the FIA release a 12-team entry list for 2010, with the new Manor GP team’s title sponsor revealed as Virgin.

December:
A three-day young driver test at Jerez in Spain allows teams to trial up and coming talent. Around 20 hopefuls get an F1 outing and among the quickest are British F3 champion Daniel Ricciardo and F2 title holder Andy Soucek.

Red Bull celebrate their highly successful 2009 season with a huge party at Aynhoe Park, a country house near their UK factory. Vettel drives down the red carpet in an RB5 while British superstars Razorlight provide the music.

The FIA assure BMW Sauber that their place on the 2010 grid is safe, subject to the team signing the Concorde Agreement. One name that won’t feature next season is former Sauber driver Kimi Raikkonen, who confirms he is to instead participate in the World Rally Championship, having failed to secure a competitive F1 drive after leaving Ferrari. The Finn’s 2009 team mate Massa celebrates the birth of his first son by winning the 500 Miles of Granja Viana kart race near Sao Paulo.

The FIA announces a new points system for 2010, with the top ten (rather than top eight) finishers scoring. The ruling body’s Gala Awards in Monaco see Button and Brawn finally get their hands on their 2009 championship trophies. Renault sell off a ‘major’ stake in their team, but reaffirm their commitment to Formula One racing.

A flurry of driver announcements sees Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli confirmed at the new Lotus team. Renault third driver Lucas di Grassi will partner Glock at Virgin, and Kobayashi is given a full race seat at BMW Sauber after his impressive stand-in showings with Toyota.

December ends with one of 2009’s biggest stories. Just two days before Christmas Michael Schumacher confirms he is coming out of retirement to race full time for Mercedes in 2010. Happy New Year!

Click Here to see Part One, Click Here to see Part Two, and Click Here to see Part Three.