Worst Moments of the 2009 Formula1 Season

What Happens When Lists Take Over, Part Two

12:52am EST — Continuing the best and worst lists of the 2009 Formula1 season, here are the worst moments, as determined by On Any Sunday, These DaysThe best moments have already been published, and can be found through this link.  As per usual, constructive criticism and respectful debate is welcomed.  Blanket statements of hate, discrimination, or general idiocy, however, will be not be tolerated and will be removed, mocked mercilessly, or both.

There have been many bad moments this season in Formula1, including McLaren lying to the stewards in Australia, last-lap crashes taking out likely podium finishers in Australia and Spa, a near break-up of Formula1 itself when FOTA and the FIA almost did not sign the Concorde Agreement, the end of refueling, the extremely slow pace of Ferrari and McLaren for most of the season (though that could also be viewed as a good thing), the firing of multiple drivers because of lack of speed, the various accusations during the elections of the FIA president, and the in-season testing ban, which nearly qualified as the worst moment.  Instead, the following is the worst moment of the 2009 F1 season.

Runner-up: Felipe Massa’s Accident During Qualifying for the Hungarian GP
Less than a week previously, eighteen year-old Henry Surtees, son of F1 champion John Surtees, was killed in an accident during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch by a wheel that came lose from a competitor’s car during a racing incident.  Then came the lose spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn that bounced off the track and impacted Massa on the left side of his helmet, knocking him out, and forcing him to crash heavily into a tire barrier during qualifying at the Hungaroring July 25.  In a close-knit world already rocked by the death of one of their own, the resulting brain trauma and life-threatening injuries were a horrible shock.

While it was a racing incident, and a complete accident, there was a sense of eerie horror for the rest of the weekend in Hungary.  Renault was banned from the next race for an accident in which a tire was not properly fastened to Fernando Alonso’s car during the race (though this ban was later overturned as it was a knee-jerk reaction to the past week’s horrible accidents).  The hospital updates were originally unwelcome news, stating that Massa required surgery to lessen the pressure on his brain by a fragment of bone in his left eye socket, and that he might not survive, let alone recover enough to race in F1 again.  Thankfully, he has recovered well, and plans to return in 2010 after having already undergone medical tests and tested the 2007 Ferrari at Maranello with no adverse effects.  It is a horrible moment in the 2009 F1 season, and it’s aftermath is one of the best.

Worst Moment of the 2009 F1 Season: The Fixed 2008 Singapore GP and the Resulting Scandal
The first public inkling that Nelson Piqurt, Jr purposefully crashed in order to bring out a safety car and help the strategy of teammate Fernando Alonso during the 2008 Singapore GP came the weekend of Spa in 2009 from the Brazilian Press.  While a few had commented that Piquet, Jr.’s crash had certainly helped teammate Alonso win that first night race, most considered it to be a racing incident by a not-so-qualified rookie.  Then came the news that the star witness was Piquet, Jr. himself, testifying after his father, Nelson Piquet, Sr., brought the incident to the attention of the FIA.  The subsequent WMSC hearing and public flogging of Renault, team manager Flavio Briatore, and chief engineer Pat Symonds (who were found to be responsible for the deliberate crash, with Renault receiving a suspended permanent ban, Briatore a permanent ban, and Symonds a five-year ban as punishment), called into question the unethical and unsportsmanlike conduct in F1.

What was particularly hard to swallow for many fans and commentators was the suspended ban for the Renault F1 team, and the fact that conspirator Piquet, Jr. received no sentence in return for his testimony (which was only guaranteed after he was fired by Renault mid-season for poor performance).  While the original moment itself did not occur during the 2009 season, the repercussions certainly did.  The blow to Formula1 caused by this cheating, especially since it was carried out by a deliberate crash in which competitors or spectators could have been hurt, brought public opinion and the conduct of those involved in F1 to a new low (especially after the lying incident by McLaren in Australia, and the above-mentioned two crashes which involved heavily injured or killed drivers in F1 and F2), was therefore the worst moment of the 2009 Formula1 season.


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