With a new era of Formula One about to begin this weekend, it feels the perfect time to look back at the last major aero change in 2009. Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis Honda had quit the sport and from the ashes rose Brawn GP, on a fairy-tale debut weekend would unfold. But misery for the reigning champion Lewis Hamilton.
Jenson Button took pole ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello with the two miles ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull. The team had proved strong throughout practice and testing. It gave Brawn the first pole with the first car they have built since Sir Jackie Stewart took pole for Tyrrell at the Canadian GP in 1970.
It was a difficult session for Hamilton after getting in Q2 he was forced to sit out after McLaren found more problems with his car. The team had been struggling with downforce all weekend and in testing. The two Toyota cars were excluded from the qualifying results after race officials found their cars to have rear wings “with an extreme degree of flexibility”.
Nico Rosberg started fifth after he topped the times in all three practices. Mark Webber started in eighth, moving up from 10th, after making a mistake and running wide at Turn Nine on his last lap in the final session.
Button took victory in what was a fairy-tale debut for Brawn GP dominating the race from the start. Button lead from the start leading team-mate Barrichello as they lead from the start.
It was the first time a team had won on a debut since Mercedes in 1954. It was just incredible, a team which didn’t have a confirmed grid slot earlier that month going onto win. This was despite the added compilation of regulation changes.
It was clear from the start of that weekend that Brawn was the team to beat. Looking back on that weekend I thought it was luck and a one off, I now look back on that race and that whole season as just incredible from a team with limited resources, hardly a budget.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was on course for second place but he and Kubica tangled on Turn Three with just three laps remaining. The Red Bull driver was slow through the first two corners, allowing Kubica to get alongside on the outside.
Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after Jarno Trulli overtook him under the safety car, but Hamilton was later disqualified after being told to lie to the stewards about the incident with the German. The idea and instruction came from team manager
You had two inquiries going on over both Hamilton’s actions and those of Trulli’s on that lap. Nico Rosberg
Team: OK Lewis, you should need to make sure your delta is positive over the safety car line. After the safety car line the delta doesn’t matter but no overtaking. No overtaking.
Lewis Hamilton: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner, …, is this OK?
Team: Understood, Lewis. We’ll confirm and get back to you.
LW: He was off the track. He went wide.
Team: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.
LW: He’s slowed right down in front of me.
Team: OK, Lewis. Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead. We will get back to you. We are
talking to Charlie.
LW: I let him past already.
Team: OK, Lewis. That’s fine. That’s fine. Hold position. Hold position.
LW: Tell Charlie I already overtook him. I just let him past.
Team: I understand Lewis. We are checking. Now can we go to yellow G 5, yellow Golf 5.
LH: I don’t have to let him past I should be able to take that position back, if he made a mistake.
Team: Yes, we understand Lewis. Let’s just do it by the book. We are asking Charlie now. You are
in P4. If you hold this position. Just keep it together.
Team: OK Lewis, your KERS is full, your KERS is full. Just be aware. You can go back to black
F2, black Foxtrott 2.
LH: Any news from Charlie whether I can take it back or not.
Team: Still waiting on a response Lewis, still waiting.
Team: Lewis, work on your brakes, please. Front brakes are cold.
Team: If we are able to use one KERS that would be good. If you deploy KERS please do so now.
Team: OK, Lewis, this is the last lap of the race. At the end of the lap the safety car will come in, you just proceed over the line without overtaking, without overtaking. We are looking into the Trulli thing but just hold position.
But that wasn’t the end of the matter, as in the coming days it emerged that Hamilton was instructed by McLaren to lie to the stewards and both were recalled to face the stewards in Sepang on Thursday. An interview had been uncovered where Hamilton contradicted himself.
“He went off onto the grass, his tyres had gone cold, I was forced to go by, I slowed down as much as I could. I was told to let him back past, but I don’t know what the rules say.”
When Hamilton was disqualified from the race and summed to face the world motorsports council before the Chinese Grand Prix.
On Friday, it emerged that McLaren had suspended Ryan, and Hamilton issued an apology. “I was instructed and told to mislead the stewards… can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
McLaren later dismissed Ryan over his involvement in the Turili / Hamilton incident