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Archives for October 2009
We have a little end-of-season treat for all those of you who have been following our classic grand prix series this year.
Our final selection was of great season finales - four of them title deciders at the final race of the season, a title decider at the penultimate race, and one, like this weekend's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a last race held after the championship had been won.
Our normal practice has been to select one race to highlight - a choice that is informed by respondents on this blog - and to show the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme that was broadcast at the time for that as well as the shorter clips we cut for all the races.
But this time we have decided to give you a two-for-one offer, and we will show the 'Grand Prix' programme for two of the races.
The election of Jean Todt as the new president of motorsport's governing body is a chance for a new beginning for the administration of Formula 1.
The leadership of the previous FIA president, Max Mosley, had become identified with a period of bitter conflict, so Todt's election is a chance for everyone involved to start afresh. Given how unpleasant things got earlier this year, that is no bad thing.
In fact, it is a consequence of the depths to which the relationship between the FIA and the F1 teams sank that Mosley's 16-year tenure as president has come to an end.
Earlier this year, Mosley's agreement not to seek another term was critical to the resolution that ended the threat of eight of the sport's 10 teams to break away and set up a rival championship.
Had he refused to stand down, and ploughed on with his plans to introduce a budget cap into F1, the sport would now be on the edge of a precipice, with next weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the final race for F1 as the world knows it.
All the leading teams and drivers would be preparing to go off and race elsewhere, leaving one historically successful team - Williams - to race against a bunch of nobodies with second-rate drivers.
That is how bad things had got under Mosley, who the F1 teams believed was governing in an increasingly autocratic and arbitrary style. Happily, compromise was reached, and F1 will continue next year, bruised but otherwise unharmed.
The same cannot be said for Mosley's reputation.
First, an admission. Figuring that the world championship battle would go down to the wire for the fourth time in a row, we had planned the final edition of this year's classic races series to be about great title deciders - and now Jenson Button has gone and messed it all up!
It is a bit late to change our plans now, though, so we're going to press ahead. As it happens, four of the five choices are, like next weekend's Abu Dhabi race, the last race of that particular season as well as - unlike Abu Dhabi - a title decider. And all of them are true classics, whichever way you look at it.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to include one of the races we wanted to - the 1997 title decider at Jerez in Spain, when Michael Schumacher infamously tried to take rival Jacques Villeneuve out of the race. The tape we were sent by ITV has had the post-race interviews recorded over the first two-thirds of the race, so it's impossible to cut a proper highlights package of it.
We will look into finding a full version of that race at a later date. In the meantime, we have chosen the final event of 1980, the US Grand Prix East, as its replacement.
In a way, this is appropriate, as - like Abu Dhabi this year - although it was the final race of the season, it was not a title decider. Just as Button has now in 2009, Williams driver Alan Jones clinched the world championship at the previous race, which was in Canada.
There will be a few headaches on Monday among employees of Brawn Grand Prix following their team's brilliant double Formula 1 title win, but the biggest pain may be felt in Japan.
For the Brawn team that won the drivers' and constructors' world championships at Sao Paulo's Interlagos track on Sunday is the same one that, in Honda's colours, had been propping up the grids in 2007 and 2008.
It is a quite remarkable story - and the word fairytale, which has been banded around a lot since Sunday evening, is a fitting one.
In February, this team was on the verge of extinction and yet eight months later it is on top of the world. Team boss Ross Brawn is one of the coolest characters in sport, but even he was briefly lost for words after the race, choked with the emotion of it all.
"We all felt the same way," a senior Brawn engineer, who prefers to keep a low public profile, told me on Monday morning. "There is a lot of relief because there have been a lot of dark times."
Our selection of classic Brazilian Grands Prix for the last edition in this series certainly proved controversial.
It was not that many of the respondents on this blog felt we had not chosen five good races, more that they thought there were even better grands prix that should have been included.
I will come back to that argument in a moment, after revealing that the 1982 race at Rio de Janeiro's Jacarepagua circuit is the one we have chosen to highlight this time.
The full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme broadcast on the day of the race is embedded in this blog, and the edited highlights of that race and the four other selections - 1989, 1993, 1994 and 2008 - are linked below it:
Our classic Formula 1 series is in a bit of a purple patch at the moment and it continues with the latest selection looking ahead to the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Like Belgium, Italy and Japan before it, Brazil has been a long-time fixture on the Formula 1 calendar, so there has been plenty of time for it to build up a catalogue of great events.
Interlagos was the host of the first Brazilian Grand Prix in 1972, but two of our five choices are actually from the race's time at Rio de Janeiro's Jacarepagua track, which hosted the event in 1978 and then from 1981 to 1989, after Interlagos in its original five-mile form was deemed too dangerous.