• 2009 Season Review - Part One

Button is ESPNF1's Driver of the Year

Claire Furnell and Laurence Edmondson
December 21, 2009
Jenson Button is ESPNF1's driver of the year © Sutton Images

Driver of the Year

Winner: Jenson Button
It's hard not to give the award to Button. His form at the start of the season, winning six races from seven starts, was reminiscent of Michael Schumacher in 2004. Although rival teams then closed in on Brawn's pace, and he received criticism for not pushing at every race, he did enough to take the title with one race remaining.

Second: Sebastian Vettel
When he won, he did so by massive margins and in the end he was Button's biggest threat for the title. Unreliable Renault engines let him down on a number of occasions and there were also errors of judgment which dampened his success.

Third: Lewis Hamilton
After his 16th place at Silverstone it seemed ridiculous to suggest Hamilton could be a race winner in 2009. However, two races later and he won in Hungary and then repeated the feat in Singapore. His will to finish as high as possible was also impressive and he gave 100%, even if that meant ending up in the barrier on the last lap at Monza.

Biggest Mistakes of the Year

Winner: Heikki Kovalainen's pit-lane fireball
Next year there will be no refuelling in F1, and Kovalainen's first pit stop in Brazil highlighted one of the main reasons behind the ban. He went into the pits after a first lap incident, and the stop appeared to be going to plan. But he was released too early and took the fuel hose with him, tearing it from the pump. He continued down the pit lane with the hose spraying petrol behind him, and into the face of Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari. The fuel ignited on Raikkonen's red-hot exhaust and engulfed the car. With all the drama unfolding behind him, Kovalainen pulled into the Brawn pit where a mechanic removed the hose.

Second: Adrian Sutil taking out Nick Heidfeld in Singapore
There were plenty of driver errors this year but none looked quite as amateurish as when Sutil crashed into Heidfeld in Singapore. An overoptimistic overtaking manoeuvre on Jaime Alguersuari left Sutil facing the wrong direction on the apex of turn eight. He kept his foot nailed to his Force India's throttle in order to spin the car around, but in doing so t-boned the passing BMW and put an end to Nick Heidfeld's run of 33 races without a retirement.

Third: Rubens Barrichello's German GP strategy
Barrichello made his feelings known after a poorly-planned strategy and mistakes during pit stops cost him a place on the podium. Most crucially it meant he finished behind team-mate and championship rival Button. "It was a good show from the team of how to lose a race today. I am terribly upset with how it's gone," he said. "I wish I could get on the plane and go home now. I don't want to talk to anybody in the team."