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Formula 1

The 2009 Season- A Race-By-Race Recap

11 Mins read

By the end of the weekend, we could have a new Formula One World Champion. All Jenson Button needs to do is score six world championship points in Brazil on Sunday, and even if Barrichello wins, and wins again in Abu Dhabi in two weeks, Button would be champion on six victories to four.

So with just two races to go, let's have a race-by-race recap, and find out who the winners and losers have been this season…

Round One: Australia- Melbourne- Albert Park: 29th March…

In a season opener unlike what anyone expected, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton started 18th on the grid after the MP4-24 failed to make an impressive debut. Hamilton had qualified in 15th, but a gearbox change saw him start further back after a five place grid penalty. 18th became the back of the grid as both Toyotas started from the pitlane. Hamilton appeared to switch roles with Jenson Button, who started from pole in the brand new Brawn.

While Button made a good getaway from pole, teammate Rubens Barrichello had a bad start, allowing Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, and the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen past. However it was Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen who made an early exit from the race after contact in the first corner.

While Button dominated, Vettel and Kubica who had been running second and third respectively, collided on lap 55, bringing out the safety car. Barrichello, who had been fourth, finished second, with Jarno Trulli third, and Hamilton up to fourth.

After the race, Trulli was penalised for overtaking Hamilton behind the safety car, when in fact Hamilton had given the place back to Trulli after the latter had fallen off the track, and it was going into the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend that Hamilton was disqualified for lying to stewards about what happened, and Trulli was handed back his third place.

Round Two: Malaysia- Kuala Lumpur- Sepang International Circuit: 5th April…

Button was on pole for the second race in a row in Malaysia, but the Brit had a poor getaway, while fourth place starter Rosberg took an early lead, with Trulli running in second. In the first round of pitstops on lap 19, Button leapfrogged both drivers, and by lap 22, the drivers were diving into the pits again after heavy rain dictated.

Ferrari took the earliest gamble with Raikkonen, bringing him in on lap 18 and putting on full wet tyres when it was only just starting to rain. Raikkonen quickly lost tyre temperature and grip and he started to lose pace, and was passed by the rest of the field. Raikkonen had started from 7th, but the gamble saw him line up behind the safety car at the red flag in 14th, and even before time was finally called on the race, he was seen in the back of the Ferrari garage with a choc ice.

With cars swimming on the circuit, Vettel became an early casualty, and the safety car was deployed and within a lap the race was suspended, with the drivers lining up on the grid behind it. Failing light and poor visibility then meant the race was never restarted and it failed to reach three-quarters distance, meaning only half points were awarded.

Button won after 32 laps, with the final standings seeing Nick Heidfeld in second, Timo Glock third, Trulli fourth, with Barrichello, Webber and Hamilton, fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, and Rosberg rounding off the points scorers.

Round Three: China- Shanghai- Shanghai International Circuit: 19th April…

The race started behind the safety car due to heavy rain. Vettel and Webber made their first pitstops on lap 14 and 15, gifting the lead to Button. On lap 18, Kubica drove into the back of Trulli, and the safety car was deployed. Trulli retired a lap later, and on lap 21 Massa came to a halt out of the track.

The race resumed on lap 23, with Vettel re-claiming the lead when Button and Barrichello came in for their pitstops. Button rejoined the track in second, but Webber eventually passed him.

Ferrari failed, for the third race in a row, to score any points, making it their worst start to a season since 1981. Massa failed to finish and Raikkonen only managed 10th.

McLaren went to China with their new double diffuser, after it was confirmed by the FIA to be legal, and Hamilton finished sixth, just behind teammate Kovalainen in fifth.

Red Bull took their first victory of the season, with Vettel winning his second Grand Prix and proving his win in the wet in Monza the year before wasn't just a one-off. Webber secured his highest finish to date in second. Button finished in third, ahead of Barrichello in fourth.

Round Four: Bahrain- Sakhir: 26th April…

Trulli and Glock started on the front row in Bahrain, with Vettel and Button on the second row, and Hamilton in fifth. Button passed Vettel in the first corner, and after the first round of pitstops he leapfrogged the Toyotas. Hamilton made a charging start taking both Vettel and Button, but after running wide in turn five, Button claimed back third position. Hamilton then held up Vettel during the first stint, but after the first round of pitstops, Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton and the Red Bull driver eventually finished second behind Button.

Ferrari scored their first points of the season, with Raikkonen finishing in sixth. Massa once again failed to score, finishing 14th following problems with his KERS.

Round Five: Spain- Barcelona- Circuit de Catalunya: 10th May…

Button claimed pole for the first round of the European leg of the season, but off the start line, Barrichello made up two places and took the lead, and Massa was on the move from fourth to third off the grid. Further down the field, contact between Rosberg and Trulli put the latter out of the race, taking Adrian Sutil and the two Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais with him. The safety car was deployed and shortly after the restart, Kovalainen retired with gearbox problems.

Barrichello gained a comfortable lead over Button in the first stint; however a strategy change from three to two stopping for Button saw Barrichello fall back after the second stops. Barrichello was able to retain second, even after his third stop, with Massa and Vettel behind in third and fourth, respectively. Webber, who was also on a three stop managed to make up time and leapfrog both Massa and Vettel.

In the closing laps, it became apparent that Massa was probably not fuelled to the end of the race, and he lifted, gifting fourth to Vettel and fifth to Alonso, and eventually parked his F60 on the track after finishing sixth.

Following the Spanish Grand Prix, the FIA proposed the £40million budget cap for 2010, and Ferrari threatened to quit the sport if it went ahead. They joined Toyota and Red Bull in the pull-out threat, and were later joined by Renault.

Round Six: Monaco- Monte Carlo: 24th May…

Button was once again on pole, with Raikkonen alongside him. Button turned pole into victory with a faultless drive. In fact his only error was where he parked his Brawn at the end of the race.

Barrichello stormed away from third, taking second off Raikkonen before he could even think of using his KERS power boost. But Button was in control of the race, taking the win, with Barrichello second for a Brawn one-two. Raikkonen finished third with Massa fourth, his highest finish of the season.

Round Seven: Turkey- Istanbul: 7th June…

Vettel took pole for the race just a tenth faster than Button in second. In the history of the Turkish Grand Prix, the winner has always started from pole, so going into the race the win was surely in the bag for Vettel. But after running wide in turn nine, Button passed Vettel and after that the German had no answer for the Brit. Vettel was on a three stop strategy, and kept the gap down to Button, but he struggled to pass in the dirty air of the Brawn.

Webber was on a two stop strategy and in the end Vettel couldn't do enough to stay ahead of his teammate, and he ended up finishing in third.

Barrichello had a poor start and clutch problems saw him down in 12th behind Kovalainen. As the pair fought for 11th, contact put Barrichello in a spin, and he traded Kovalainen's McLaren for Hamilton's further down the pack. Barrichello retired on lap 49 after struggling without seventh gear. His retirement was the first for the new Brawn team.

Button made it six out of seven for Brawn, managing to put 61 points on the board. However, it was to be his last win of the season to date, and his last significant points-scoring position until Monza.

Prior to round eight, FOTA announced it would start up a breakaway series if the FIA went ahead with its £40million budget cap. Following round eight in Silverstone, the FIA and FOTA reached an agreement and Max Mosley announced he would stand down as president of the FIA in October at the next election.

Round Eight: Britain- Silverstone: 21st June…

Vettel took pole for Silverstone's last Grand Prix. Button almost missed out on the top ten shoot out, struggling with tyre temperature, but he managed to qualify sixth, while Barrichello qualified second.

Vettel put in fastest lap after fastest lap in the first stint to build a substantial gap to Barrichello, and it was eventually Webber who came through in second for a Red Bull one-two.

Button struggled with understeer for the majority of the race until the soft tyres in the final stint put him back on the pace and he began reeling in fourth and fifth placed Massa and Rosberg, however was unable to pass.

Hamilton gave the home fans something to cheer about by passing former teammate Alonso. The pass was short lived, however.

Round Nine: Germany- Nurburgring: 12th July…

Webber claimed his first ever F1 victory, leading Vettel home for another Red Bull one-two. Going into the first corner, Webber tapped Barrichello, and Hamilton ended up with a right-rear puncture after clipping Webber's front-left-end-plate after an impressive getaway. He spent the rest of his race at the back of the pack, and lapped.

Webber received a penalty for blocking and tapping Barrichello at the start, and the right call at the right time by the team saw Webber serving his penalty at the same time as Barrichello made his first pitstop. Webber retained the lead after serving his drive-through and after pitting five laps later, rejoined in fourth behind Barrichello, who had been held up behind Massa.

Following a refuelling rig problem in his second stop, Barrichello was caught by Button and when both took their third stops, Button took fifth from Barrichello.

Webber regained the lead on lap 33 and from there the race was in his control.

Further down the field, and Sutil had been running third after qualifying in the top ten, but contact with Raikkonen on his way out of the pits saw him finish down in 15th, while Raikkonen later retired.

Round Ten: Hungary- Budapest- Hungaroring: 26th July…

The Hungarian Grand Prix 2009 won't just be remembered for being Hamilton's first win of the season, but for many other things. Just a week before the race, Henry Surtees was tragically killed in an F2 race at Brands Hatch after the wheel of another competitor's car hit him on the head. In Hungary less than a week later, Massa was injured in qualifying after a spring from the back of Barrichello's car fell off and hit his helmet after bouncing along the track. Massa was airlifted to hospital after he was finally removed from the car which had become embedded in the tyre wall.

Alonso eventually took pole when a delayed Q3 finally got underway. But everyone's thoughts were with Massa.

During the race, it was Hamilton who made a charging start from fourth on the grid, taking third position off Vettel who had also been passed for second by teammate Webber. Hamilton soon passed Webber and following an earlier than expected pitstop from Alonso, he took the lead, and remained in control to take his first victory since China last year. There was more drama to come when on Alonso's out lap his front right became loose and he lost his wheel. He retired shortly after and Renault were banned from taking part in the next race in Valencia.

Raikkonen finished behind Hamilton in second, with Webber third, while Vettel retired from the race. Jaime Alguersuari made his Grand Prix debut in Hungary, replacing Sebastien Bourdais at Toro Rosso.

Over the four week summer break, news came that BMW would be quitting F1 at the end of the season, and Nelson Piquet was dropped from Renault to be replaced by Romain Grosjean. Michael Schumacher was announced as Massa's stand in, however, it was later revealed that due to the neck injury caused during a motorcycle accident, he would not be able to cope with the pressures of F1, and would not be making a comeback. Instead, Badoer stepped up to the race seat. Prior to the European Grand Prix, Renault appeared before the FIA Court of Appeal, and their race ban issued in Hungary was overturned.

Round Eleven: Europe- Valencia: 23rd August…

Hamilton followed up his win in Hungary with pole position in Valencia, but the race on the Sunday was Barrichello's, and he claimed his first victory in five years. Hamilton had led the race, until his second pitstop, where the mechanics were not ready with his tyres when he pitted. The error cost him valuable seconds and Barrichello was able to leapfrog him after his second stop. From there, Hamilton had his work cut out to catch him, and as passing at Valencia is a non-occurrence, the win was in the bag for Barrichello.

Vettel retired from the race with engine failure, while Button finished seventh, with Webber out of the points in ninth.

Round Twelve: Belgium- Spa-Francorchamps: 30th August…

Fisichella took a surprise pole in Spa, while Button failed to make Q3 for the first time this season. On the first lap, both Button and fellow Brit Hamilton failed to even make it half way round, as Button was nudged off the track by Grosjean, and Hamilton was tapped by Alguersuari causing a four car pile up. The safety car was deployed and at the restart, Raikkonen made a move on Fisichella and took the lead. Fisichella pushed Raikkonen all the way to the end, with the Force India showing excellent pace. With Badoer failing to impress for the second race in a row, Fisichella was drafted in by Ferrari to become Massa's replacement.

Round Thirteen: Italy- Monza: 13th September…

Hamilton took pole with Sutil lining up alongside him on the grid. Barrichello and Button started from fifth and sixth, and it was their one stop strategy, compared to the front runners' two stop strategies that enabled them to return to the Brawn team's one-two winning ways. Vitantonio Liuzzi stepped up from test driver to a race seat to replace Fisichella at Force India, and despite making Q3 and running well in the race, he retired. While Hamilton pulled out a comfortable lead in the first stint, the Brawns on a better strategy, managed to leapfrog the McLaren after his second stop. While chasing down Button, trying to claim back second, Hamilton dropped it on the exit of Lesmo One on the final lap.

Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds left Renault over the allegations that they had asked Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash out of last year's Singapore Grand Prix, and at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the team were handed a suspended ban from the sport. Briatore was handed a lifetime ban for his part in crashgate.

Round Fourteen: Singapore: 27th September…

In Singapore, Hamilton grabbed pole, while Barrichello crashed at the end of Q3, ending the session with a red flag, with 23 seconds to go.

The race was pretty quiet, and Hamilton took an early lead, with Rosberg taking second off Vettel off the start line. After his first stop, Rosberg crossed the white line exiting the pits and he received a drive-through penalty. However, contact between Sutil and Heidfeld saw the safety car being deployed and when Rosberg finally served his penalty he lost several places and finished in the mid-field.

Vettel also served a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Button, who started 11th, made his way through the pack to finish fifth ahead of Barrichello in sixth. Webber, who qualified fourth, suffered with braking issues and after they failed, he crashed at the end of the start/finish straight.

Round Fifteen: Japan- Suzuka: 4th October…

While qualifying was action packed, with three red flags and several penalties issued for various different reasons, shaking up the grid, Vettel was on fine form and started from pole, with Trulli second and Hamilton third.

While Hamilton took second off Trulli at the start, he struggled with his gearbox exiting the pits after his second stop and Trulli was able to retake second. Button had a poor start from 10th, but contact between Sutil and Kovalainen enabled the championship leader to pass and claim a valuable championship point. Barrichello went one better, finishing in seventh, taking a point out of Button's lead.

With Vettel's win, Button now has a 14 point lead over Barrichello, and is 16 points ahead of Vettel, with two rounds to go.

Round Sixteen: Brazil- Sao Paulo- Interlagos: 18th October…

This weekend we could have a new champion, with Button becoming the second Brit in succession to win the world drivers' title. Whether he will be champion or not, we can't be sure, but it seems certain Brawn will become constructors' champions as the Brackley-based team need just half a point to secure the title. A title that in just one year within the sport will propel them from one end of the pitlane to the other.

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Laura is a regular contributor to the Formula One section of TCF and can be found on twitter at @laura_marieee
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