• Season Review - Part Four

A year of scandals and disappointments

Claire Furnell and Laurence Edmondson
December 24, 2009
The crash that started it all - Nelson Piquet Jnr hits the wall in Singapore in 2008 © Sutton Images

Scandal of the Year

Winner: Crashgate
Nelson Piquet Jnr's revelation that he crashed on purpose at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, to swing the race in favour of his team-mate, rocked the sporting world. Cheats had previously been uncovered in Formula One, but no one was prepared for the news that a driver would willingly crash and endanger himself and his competitors to gain an advantage. A swift hearing followed and Renault boss Flavio Briatore was banned from the sport indefinitely, while technical director Pat Symonds was handed a five-year expulsion. The team itself received just a two-year suspended ban and Piquet was given immunity.

Second: Donington couldn't pay the bill
After months of evading the issue, Donington boss Simon Gillett admitted the circuit did not have the funding to hold the British Grand Prix in 2010. He had hoped to sell debenture tickets to fund the £135 million redevelopment programme but, after an extended deadline, was still short of the total sum. Silverstone stepped in to save the grand prix earlier this month, but the start of the re-building work at Donington has left the track unusable.

Third: Liegate
On the TV screens it looked fairly innocuous when Lewis Hamilton let Jarno Trulli pass him under the safety car. But when it emerged McLaren had appealed to get the position back on false pretences, the media went berserk. Hamilton lied to the FIA stewards, telling them he had not been ordered by the team to let Trulli through, and that the Italian had passed him unlawfully. Radio communications proved otherwise and Hamilton was disqualified from the results.

Disappointments of the Year

Winner: Michael Schumacher cancels comeback
When Schumacher announced he would return to F1 for an end of season cameo, sports fans everywhere took notice. The European Grand Prix, where he was set to make his return, sold out and novelty caps went on sale. However, the seven-time world champion later cancelled his return when it turned out a neck injury was more serious than first thought.

Second: McLaren's and Ferrari's early-season form
After a hard battle for the 2008 championship between Ferrari and McLaren, all eyes were on the two teams at the season opener. But both failed to impress having sacrificed 2009 development to get the best out of their 2008 cars. It wasn't until mid-season when they regained anything like their previous form.

Third: Luca Badoer's comeback
Badoer stepped in at Ferrari when Felipe Massa was ruled out with a fractured skull at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Expectations weren't high as he hadn't raced since 1999. If anything his performance was worse than expected he qualified on the back of the grid for both of the races he entered. His driving led to the press nick-naming him Look-How-Bad-You-Are.