F1 2009: The Half-Way Point

f12009OK, so it’s actually just after half-way through the season! But F1 2009 has been like a reset for the series with new regulations causing a massive change to the cars and mid-season testing banned. In the UK there’s also been a new broadcaster for the sport. But how has it been, here’s my view on the season so far!

The Regulations

f11One of the biggest changes in the sports history. This year the FIA brought in new specifications for the cars to help them follow each other more closely. They also had an ambiguous one about diffusers, meaning that some teams (such as the almighty Brawn GP) had a massive advantage at the start of the season.

It also ensured that the cars looked very different. This I wasn’t sure of at first. I switched on the first practice of the season and thought they were all toy cars. Even now I think they have a strangely ‘cheap’ look about them, something to do with the larger front wing and smaller rear wing. But I have got used to them and at the end of the day looks aren’t everything.

But have they actually improved the racing. I remember the first few races if the season had a large amount of overtaking making it seem that the regs were a huge improvement. But as the season has gone on, the overtaking has become less and less. I think the quality of the racing really is still down to the drivers, the new regulations make following easier, but overtaking just as difficult as before.

KERS

f12 Another controversial addition this year has been the ‘Kinetic Energy Recovery System’ allowing drivers to get a boost at certain points in the race. Now, I was a supporter of this idea at the start of the season, but have completely u-turned as the season has gone on. I think the idea can work, but it has to be on every single car. Having the system optional has ruined the whole point. It makes no sense for cars without a boost to be up against ones that have it.

I initially liked the idea as it added an extra element of strategy… when to use the boost, but if the FIA want to keep it (which it looks like they don’t) they’ll have to make it compulsory for all cars.

The Racing

f13Surely the most important part of the sport. In my opinion this year has seen some of the best racing in the sport for a long time. We started off with a real shock at the start of the season when we discovered that Brawn GP really were as good as they looked. It was a great success story and one which the whole industry needed.

Jenson Button has been a revelation this year, not just because of the success of the Brawn car either. Overtaking at the end of the first lap has become a trademark of the Brit. It’s shown that all Jenson has ever needed has been a decent car because now he is driving and acting like a champion.

But f course it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Brawn as Red Bull have more than caught up with them. BothVettel and Webber have performed very well this year and are real challengers for the title.

And just recently the action’s got even closer with Ferrari and McLaren getting their act together. I do think we’re in for a very entertaining end to the season.

The Controversy

f14Arguably the second biggest part of the sport! wherever there’s F1 there’s controversy and this years been no different. It all started off after the first race when Lewis Hamilton was disqualified. It was later found out that the McLaren team had been lying about an overtaking move on Trulli. This led to a variety of things happening, the biggest being Ron Dennis’ departure from the team. It was amazing to see how a team so high had fallen so low.

But the far bigger controversy this year has been the threat of a breakaway series. The FIA are changing things again next year including axing refuelling stops and limiting the budget for teams. This angered the majority who said they wouldn’t sign.

Things conspired and got worse and worse until the whole paddock (excluding Force India and Williams) hated Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosely and refused to sign up to F1 2010. It all came to a head at Silverstone when FOTA said they would split F1 into two series. Mosely acted like a complete wally and called all those disagreeing with him loonies and the circus continued!

Only recently has an agreement been made, but it’s on the condition that Mosely leaves, perhaps then this stupid controversy can all end!

Schumacher To Return?

f15Only a couple of weeks ago at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Felipe had the worst accident seen in the sport for many years. A spring from fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello’s car, hit his head knocking him unconscious and damaging his eye. There was doubt that he’d ever race again. Luckily the Brazillian has done well in hospital and is likely to return, but not for a while.

Therefore, someone else had to fill his boots, leading to a very exciting announcement. Michael Schumacher was to return to F1.

Now, I had planned to wrote loads of exciting stuff about Schumi’s return on this post, but sadly thats not going to happen. On Tuesday it was revealed that Schumacher would not be returning as he was not fit enough. This I feel has been a massive blow to F1 as having Michael back (whatever you may think of him) would really have boosted the speed shows popularity. Oh well, maybe next year Michael!

The Coverage

f16Here in the UK, we’ve been viewing the F1 a bit differently. For the first time in over 10 years, the BBC are screening the racing again. Personally I was worried as to how well they would do, it has been a while and I was expecting a shaky start. But i think the coverage has been very good this year and an improvement over ITV. Jake Humphrey has proved to be more competent a presenter than Steve Ryder (apart from when he nearly got himself run over). Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard have been surprisingly entertaining. I think this may be down to their more recent connection with the sport.

If anythings a weakpoint, it’s possibly the commentary. Jonathon Legard knows the sport, but doesn’t have the charisma and passion that former commentators in the top role have had. Equally,  Martin Brundle, although a very engaging speaker, is starting to make stupid mistakes which is making the coverage confusing and almost pointless…

But overall I feel the BBC have done a great job, especially interactive (it’s now all on iPlayer, there’s coverage of practice on the red button and highlights are at a much better time on BBC 3).

And as for the sport, I think 2009 has been a very encouraging year. New winners, closer racing and an overall more entertaining season. I just hope it goes all the way down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

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One Response to F1 2009: The Half-Way Point

  1. karen says:

    Yep, you’re right I do miss Mark, but think Eddie and David are brilliant together. Here’s hoping Jense wins the title – he deserves it. And fingers crossed that Schumi does get to drive the car for at least one race this season. I was never a huge fan but would love to see him back. Get well soon Felippe!

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