|By Mark Glendenning||Friday, December 25th 2009, 10:49 GMT|
Whether it be an economic downturn, a design mis-step, an unexpected injury, a technicality, or plain old politics, there are myriad reasons why the even the best-laid plans in Formula 1 sometimes collapse before reaching fruition.
The 2009 season was riddled with plans being changed on the fly due to unexpected circumstances, and AUTOSPORT takes a look back at 10 of the most significant.
BMW Sauber will be a force in 2009
This was one of the big subplots during the winter of 2008-9. BMW Sauber could never be accused of disguising its ambitions, and when it mightily irritated Robert Kubica by sacrificing his chance to win the 2008 title in order to divert all of its resources to the F1.09, it was clearly declaring itself an early contender for the 2009 championship.
A big part of its confidence lay in its commitment to KERS, ironic that this part of the car would trigger its downfall – the system it developed didn’t work particularly well, and the accompanying aerodynamic compromises proved insurmountable.
Donington will be redeveloped for the British Grand Prix
There were promises. There were traffic plans. There were simulators, talk of debentures, and arrows slung at the doubters. There were holes dug. And denials – there were a lot of denials. And finally, there was a collapse, and unfinished building site with an uncertain future.
Toyota maintains F1 commitment
“We will continue F1 and other motorsport activities while cutting costs,” Toyota Motor Corporation president Katsuaki Watanabe said in January.
Ten months later, one of the most expensive F1 teams in history raised a tearful white flag and farewelled the sport, having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on 139 starts, 278.5 points, and crucially, zero wins.
Loeb to make F1 debut
When you’ve dominated a championship in the manner that Sebastien Loeb has the WRC this decade, it’s natural to consider finding another world to rule. There was no question over Loeb’s desire to try his hand at F1, but the enthusiasm within the walls of Toro Rosso – with which he was expected to race at Abu Dhabi – was more difficult to judge. His failure to qualify for the necessary superlicence eventually sunk his hopes.
Schumacher’s 2009 comeback
Talk about making the best of a bad situation. Once it became clear that Felipe Massa would make a full recovery from his freak accident in Hungary, Ferrari’s mission was to find a suitable understudy. The prospect of that person being Michael Schumacher seemed scarcely believable, although it later transpired that talks reached an extremely advanced stage. In the end it was continuing problems from an earlier neck injury that extinguished the comeback and gave Luca Badoer a second chance at the age of 38. Schumacher got his wish in the end though, signing a race deal with Mercedes earlier this week.
Williams and Renault reunited
Williams and Renault enjoyed some good times together in seasons past, and the prospect of them teaming up together in 2010 was a very real one. But the uncertainty over Renault’s future, caused by the crash scandal created an opening for Cosworth to make a pitch, and Williams was sufficiently impressed with its technical prowess that it decided to reunite with its engine partner from 2006.
Fans to have more access to drivers
Nothing wrong with the sentiment – F1 has become too inaccessible for its supporters, so let’s close the gap a little – but the action plan needs a little more work. The introduction of extra autograph signing sessions was admirable, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the reality sometimes fell short. Locating an autograph session in an area restricted from most fans, as reportedly happed at one circuit, was a particular howler.
Red Bull to get Mercedes engines
The prospect of Red Bull racing with Mercedes power in 2010 was a very real one, with both parties signing an agreement in principle relatively early in the season. But the McLaren Mercedes break-up complicated matters, and by November Red Bull was forced to concede that it would have to look elsewhere for engines.
Prodrive to enter F1 under Aston Martin banner
Well-resourced and with an experienced former F1 team principal David Richards at the helm, Prodrive was one of the favourites for selection as one of the three new teams in F1 for 2010. And tantalisingly, it was potentially going to race under the Aston Martin flag. No-one was more surprised than Prodrive when it was overlooked, but the team remains committed to finding a way onto the grid.
Rosberg to BMW
As early as Monaco, Nico Rosberg was publicly floating the idea of a future away from Williams. The German’s desire for a race-winning car had some rumours placing him at McLaren, but it was BMW Sauber that emerged as the leading contender for his signature. But when Mercedes’ plans to go it alone gathered steam, Rosberg became its first signing.