The 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (officially the 2009 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) was the seventeenth and final round of the 2009 Formula One Season. It was the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and it was also the sport's first ever day to night race. It was held between October 30 and November 1, 2009.
Button and Brawn, the new World Champions Edit
In Brazil, Jenson Button and Brawn GP had completed their massive turnaround following thier pre-season woes with victory in both the World Drivers' and World Constructors' championship. Brawn whom had successfully secured their future following former owners, Honda, pulling out of the sport at the end of 2008 went on to win five of the opening six races with Jenson Button.
Button would summarise the year in stating "To be able to achieve the constructors’ and the drivers’ championships in our first year, especially after such a difficult winter, is an amazing achievement. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. The first few races were magnificent. It looked like it was a walk in the park but it really wasn’t. Then we had some difficult races, especially myself but also as a team where we struggled. But we fought back hard and when we needed to improve the car, you guys did it."
However this was no consolation for the Brackley team's employees that were lost ahead of the team's downsizing at the beginning of the season.
To the lost members of his team, Ross Brawn could only say “I want to thank everyone who has worked with the team over the years that couldn't be with us this season as we had to resize the team at the start of the season.My sincere thanks go out to them because they worked so hard and should feel a part of our success."
Button, the new world champion would go on to further state “I know that there have been a lot of very difficult times and over the winter there were times when we didn’t think that we would be here at all. It’s very sad that not everyone can be here who worked on this fantastic car. But the team had to become smaller to continue and together we produced a car that has been exceptional this season."
Regarding his own recent personal situation, the world champion commented "I’ve had a difficult time of it in the past. It’s about staying strong in the difficult times. You need good people around you to keep you positive and keep your feet on the ground. I’ve made mistakes along the way but I’ve put them right and I think people appreciate that.”
Button's teammate, Rubens Barrichello had also experienced success with the Brawn having won two races and being described by Ross Brawn as having "made a fantastic contribution to this season without which we could not have won the constructors' championship.”
Barrichello had continued to challenge for the World Drivers' Championship until the penultimate round at his home grand prix in Brazil. However a disastrous home race for Barrichello prevented a championship showdown at Abu Dhabi when he dropped down to eighth position at the chequered flag.
Although Barrichello's teammate would be crowned world champion, Button had also been known for some lack luster performances, yet to finish higher than fifth following his early season dominance. However, Button commented regarding his season troubles "We proved in Brazil last weekend that we deserve these championships. We’ve fought so hard and a championship season is about achieving the results when you need to. We’ve had some difficult races but we always did the best job that we could."
Commenting on the harship of his season, Button would state “To be able to achieve the constructors’ and the drivers’ championships in our first year, especially after such a difficult winter, is an amazing achievement. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. The first few races were magnificent. It looked like it was a walk in the park but it really wasn’t. Then we had some difficult races, especially myself but also as a team where we struggled. But we fought back hard and when we needed to improve the car, you guys did it.”
Commenting on the return to his homeland, Button stated “It’s quite surreal, I got off the plane and came straight here. It’s been an emotional flight back. This weekend has been pretty special for me and everyone who has been involved since the start of my career. I’ve spent 21 years racing with this goal in mind, which I have now managed to achieve." 
Although there remained one final race of the season, Button now had a very much carefree attitude in stating "We’re not going to forget about this for a long time. Every morning I wake up, until next season, I’m going to have a smile on my face."
Concerning whether Button would stay with Brawn into 2010, the world champion commented “The most important thing for my career is to be in a competitive car, and this year I’ve had that. I’m not looking for a new team. I want to be with Brawn. We just haven’t discussed it during the season. And it was right not to do so because we had to focus on winning a world championship. Now we can sit down and discuss it a bit more.” Following his conference at the Bluewater Shopping Centre, Button spent the Tuesday evening "merry-making" with friends and family.
The following day, Button attended the team's factory in Brackley where he was welcomed to the sound of his Brazilian Grand Prix post-race team radio's rendition of "We are the Champions!" Neither his teammate, Rubens Barrichello nor his boss, Ross Brawn attended the reception. On their absence, Button commented "Rubens gave us two more wins in Valencia and Monza at an important time to boost our morale and prove just how quick the car was. We have a great leader, a fantastic leader, in Ross. The Big Bear can’t be here today but I know that when he gets back, he’ll be celebrating with you!"
Commenting on his singing of "We are the Champions", Button excused himself as “That’s why I didn’t have a voice for two days after the race!” Speaking to 450 of the Brawn team, Button stated “I’m really here today to say a massive well done and thank you to everyone at the team. We’ve worked so hard for these achievements for so many years. Some of us were here from the beginning back in 1998 and I arrived halfway through our journey in 2003 but everyone has put so much work in."
In closing his speech to the Brackley squad, Button stated "So we should raise our glasses as the new Formula One world champions of 2009. We’ve done what we set out to achieve. It really is going to take some time to sink that we are there. Celebrating our victories here with you means so much to me and we are really going to enjoy this moment. Thank you so very much for your amazing contribution to our successes.”
Regarding the new world champions, seven time World Drivers' champion, Michael Schumacher stated regarding his old boss and rival "Congratulations to Jenson and Ross and the whole team - what they managed to achieve this year has my full respect,” said Schumacher on his official website. “If you only look at what they have been through you realize what an incredible story this is: just one year ago they did think everything was over. I am extremely happy for Ross who I’ve known for such a long time now. He deserves this success.”
However Schumacher also offered thought for Germany's new rising star, Sebastian Vettel. Schumacher consoled Vettel's defeat in the championship in stating “What a pity obviously for Sebastian, but he still has a lot of time. He had a fantastic season and showed that he has everything to become world champion. He must not forget that with all the disappointment now. Of course he will see that differently at the moment and will need some days to digest this weekend. But I am sure we will see a lot of good stuff from him in the future."
Outgoing world champion, Lewis Hamilton would meanwhile comment "He knows that I've been supporting him all year, and I've seen him and given him my congratulations. I've been saying for months that he'd be a worthy world champion and I think he'll be a great ambassador for our sport."
Button thereafter head to Dubai where he would then spend the next week relaxing ahead of the final round of the world championship in Abu Dhabi.
Todt Elected President of the FIA Edit
Whilst Ross Brawn was enjoying his first world championship victory with his own team, his former Ferrari colleague, Jean Todt had been elected to succeed Max Mosley as the President of the FIA. Todt had defeated fellow presidential candidate, the former rally world champion, Ari Vatenen in the FIA elections with 12 abstention votes with 139 votes in Todt's favour to Vatenen's 49. Mosley whom had served as the FIA President since 1993 would on the 23rd October 2009 relieve his postion to Todt whom would begin his first four year term.
Opening Track Outings at Yas Marina Edit
Shortly after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Jenson Button had arrived at Yas Marina to observe the new circuit. Button commented "even back then, when the construction work was still underway, the facilities looked outstanding and the organisers have done a great job in creating a spectacular venue."
David Coulthard, behind the wheel of a two seater Formula One car became one of the first to drive the circuit. Coulthard described the circuit as a "two-stage track" where he noted "the fast section at the beginning from Turn One to the Turn Four tight hairpin" until "corner nine" was described by Coulthard as "typical of the new type of track." Coulthard further remarked on the circuit's unique features including the hairpin grandstand at turn 4 which was followed by a 1.2 kilometre straight.
The back half of the circuit which was comprised of primarily 90° corners, followed by a final medium speed corner was described by Coulthard as having a "real street circuit feel to it" He also considered the circuit's pit-lane as "particularly challenging" which required the drivers' to pass through a tunnel under the circuit to return to the track.
Coulthard praised the "great facilities and air-conditioned garages which will make working conditions in the heat a little bit easier and also having an evening race will obviously take some of the heat out of what can be a very hot venue”
However to conclude the subject regarding Formula One's first twilight race, Coulthard was neutral in stating "I think the twilight aspect of the race will be more of a visual treat for the spectators and the TV audience, but I think for the drivers it will be absolutely fine, as there is enough overhead lighting to make it blend seamlessly from day into night, no problem”
The GP2 Series, Formula One's feeder series would be the first to sample the Yas Marina Circuit in earnest. A two day GP2 test would be the held for the GP2 Asia series where 23 drivers sampled the track, a week before Formula One's official opening of the circuit. The test also testing the circuit's new floodlights in the dark.
Roldán Rodríguez of Coloni had commented "It was very fun to drive, and the corners were tricky. For sure it will be easy for the public to enjoy. It will be very easy to lose the traction on the corners, making it difficult for drivers and very good for the public.”
Commenting on the track, Luiz Razia stated “The track has fast corners, slow corners like a street circuit, long straights, and is hard on brakes. My first impression was very good. You can feel the elevation changes. Going uphill and you can’t see anything and then downhill you see a great view, albeit like a flash.”
Regarding adapting to the new track, Rubens Barrichello stated "Our track walk on Thursday will be important to get an initial feel for the characteristics of the circuit and we will spend the first few laps on Friday getting to grips with the layout. From then on, it will be business as usual with our standard practice programme." 
Ross Brawn outlined "With the challenge of a new circuit, we are able to use data provided by the FIA to create a circuit map which can be used in our simulator at the factory. We went through this process for the new street circuits in Valencia and Singapore last year so it is a process that the team is familiar with."
Kamui Kobayashi saw Abu Dhabi as a strong opportunity to showcase his talent in what would be his second grand prix. Kobayashi would explain his reasoning as "I didn't know the track in Brazil and that was a little bit of a disadvantage because almost all the other drivers had some experience of it. But that's not the case in Abu Dhabi; this is a new track for everyone so that should help me."
Best of the Rest Edit
Hamilton, Aiming for the Win Edit
With the world championship concluded in Brazil, Abu Dhabi would see the final action of the 2009 season. There remained some final battles to be played to complete the world championship's standings. However Jenson Button and Brawn could rest assured that their positions at the top of the World Championship remained secure. Regarding his prospects ahead of the race, Button simply stated "We want to finish the season in style with a great result"
Räikkönen, An Uncertain Future Edit
In Brazil, Ferrari had lost third place in the World Constructors' Championship to McLaren. Regarding Ferrari's opportunity of retaking the position in the final race, Kimi Räikkönen commented “It will be difficult. Our direct competitors are still improving their car, while we have been using the same car since the race in Hungary at the end of July."
With both the 2008 championship challengers, Ferrari and McLaren having early season difficulties compared to Brawn and Red Bull, McLaren had began to fight back bringing upgrades for the MP4-24 to every race. Ferrari meanwhile had stopped the F60's development following Felipe Massa's accident and looked to the horizon with Fernando Alonso's arrival to the team in 2010.
Although Kimi Räikkönen would be ousted at the end of the season to make way for Alonso's arrival, the Finn had to persevere in leading the team following Massa's accident and Ferrari's technical abandonment of the season. Räikkönen noted “We’ll try to conclude this difficult year with a good result, hoping that it will be enough to gain the third place in the constructors’ championship McLaren took over in Brazil.”
Räikkönen closed his objective in stating “It will be difficult. Our direct competitors are still improving their car, while we have been using the same car since the race in Hungary at the end of July. There are many expectations as far as the Yas Marina circuit is concerned, but it’s difficult making any predictions, because we’re racing there for the first time. Let’s hope we can conclude the season with something nice to be remembered!” With his departure from Ferrari, Räikkönen had yet to secure his future in Formula One. John Howett, President of Toyota had confirmed that Toyota had made an offer for Räikkönen's services in 2010.
At Toyota, Japan's rising star, Kamui Kobayashi was confirmed to once again be replacing Timo Glock. Glock had cracked a vertebrae and cut his leg during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. Although Glock appeared ready to race for Abu Dhabi, Toyota opted to instead trial Kobayashi for another race.
Explaining Toyota's reasoning for continuing with Kobayashi over Glock, their President, John Howett "Kamui performed well in Brazil in difficult circumstances so we are happy to ask him to once again deputise." Although Kobayashi was deputising for Glock's race seat, Howett made clear that it was Toyota's choice not to compete with him in the final round of the championship.
Regarding his race driver, Howett stated "We feel genuinely sorry for Timo that his season, which has included two impressive podium finishes, is ending in this way. Having discussed the medical advice with Timo and his management, the team has decided to take no risk and to put Kamui in the car."
Kobayashi, keen to take advantage of the new track to aid his inexperience had the expectation to be "more competitive in Abu Dhabi" Kobayashi whom described himself as "more familiar with the car now, as well as other procedures during a race weekend like pit stops and the two tyre compounds" hoped to score his first world championship points in Abu Dhabi.
BMW Sauber, meanwhile would be celebrating their 70th and final grand prix in Formula One. BMW motorsport director, Mario Theissen commented “With the exception of our fourth and unfortunately final season, I’m more than satisfied with what we have achieved since 2006. In the first three years after the team was founded, we met - and even exceeded - all the aims we set ourselves. However 2009 had seen no improvement for the team which in the previous year had taken its first victory and had become a leading championship contender. Theissen concluded “We will travel to Abu Dhabi with mixed feelings" Robert Kubica's second place at Brazil had moved BMW Sauber into seventh place in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of Renault.
Although BMW Sauber had subsequently been bought by new investors, there remained no guarantee that the team would remain for the 2010 season. To conclude what had largely been a progressive time in Formula One for BMW, Theissen stated "we have never thrown in the towel, even after BMW announced its withdrawal from Formula One, which shows the strong character of our team. I hope that the successor to the BMW Sauber F1 Team will continue along this successful path in Formula One.”
The full entry list for the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is shown below:
Ahead of the session, taking place in the hazy afternoon sunshine, the track temperature was 45 Celsius and a 34 Celsius ambient temperature. Webber leads the cars out on track to complete their installation runs of the circuit. Both the BMW Sauber's and Force India's complete a second-lap installation before their return to the pits.
After five minutes all the drivers except Barrichello have completed their installation laps. Two minutes later, Barrichello enters the track and after eight minutes all the drivers' had completed their installation running. The initial track data download commences and the drivers' give their first reports of the circuit. Vettel reports the track conditions are very "dirty, dusty and slippery", however is "convinced" the track will improve with further running.
Most of the drivers' begin their first analysis of the track, Vettel and the two Williams drivers, Rosberg and Nakajima could be seen exiting their car and heading to their respective pit walls to discuss the track conditions with the engineers. After much testing on the simulators, the teams' now would finally have the opportunity to understand whether their track analysis had been correct.
However not all the drivers' are analysing the data, after 11 minutes, Alguersuari becomes the first driver to head back out on track. Not long afterwards, Hamilton, likewise opts to complete some early running. With both drivers' on the medium tyre as well as the slippery track conditions, they were finding it difficult to push.
Whilst Hamilton opted to complete only a single exploratory lap before heading to the pits, Alguersuari was attempting to set the first fast time of the day. However he was evidently struggling for grip, running wide onto the run-off areas at turn 17 before setting a 1:55.624. He made an improvement on his second lap, however he continued to run slightly wide at turn 17 to which he clocked a 1:50.886.
After four laps, Alguersuari had lowered the benchmark down to a 1:49.545, to which at that moment, his teammate, Buemi had entered the circuit. Alguersuari's fifth lap saw him further drop the best time down to a 1:49.338 before failing to improve on his sixth lap. The rest of the field appears to content to watch with interest from the monitors as the Toro Rosso's do the initial cleaning of the racing line.
Buemi's first lap saw him set a 1:50.961 before failing to improve on his second run. Alguersuari meanwhile was still finding time after seven laps, dropping the benchmark to 1:49.143. After seven flying laps, Alguersuari heads to the pits to which he reported "grip level is improving all the time". As Alguersuari pits, Buemi sets the new fastest time with a 1:48.378.
Alguersuari's comments promote a flurry of activity from the other teams as suddenly more cars are entering the track with the increased grip levels. After 23 minutes, Grosjean joined the Toro Rosso's out on track, however after two flying laps he remains slower than both Buemi and Alguersuari.
At 26 minutes, Fisichella entered the circuit to which Rob Smedley warns over the radio to be careful of the "wind direction". Fisichella however is slow to find pace and is not matching the pace of Alguersuari, Buemi or Grosjean. After 28 minutes, Rosberg entered the track to which he immediately demoted Fisichella to fifth.
Both the Ferrari's were now running with Räikkönen joining Fisichella on the track. Neither of the Ferrari drivers appear to set fast times in their initial laps, the two cars of Fisichella and Räikkönen running consistently in fifth and sixth.
Of the six cars on track, only Buemi and Rosberg were making consistent improvements. Rosberg had moved up to second, however he was still two seconds slower than Buemi's new fastest time of a 1:47.207. Following this, Rosberg makes a 1.5 second improvement, however remains six tenths off Buemi's best time.
The lap comparisons between Buemi and Rosberg are then interrupted by a set of fast laps by Fisichella. Fisichella had been testing the limits of the circuit, running wide onto the run-off area of the first corner before taking the second fastest time on his second lap, whilst setting the fastest middle sector.
At 37 minutes into the session, Buemi after 7 laps enters the pits. He had completed the same amount of laps as his teammate, however his later entrance to the circuit had meant his best time was 2.8 seconds faster than Alguersuari whom had pitted 5 minutes before hand.
Entering the track, Kobayashi's first lap sees him run the slowest of all the runners, however on his second lap he makes a rapid improvement to go second fastest. His best time only one tenth slower than that set by Buemi. Webber had also entered the circuit to which on his first flying lap he goes third fastest.
The Ferrari's appeared to be consistently the fastest in the middle sector, Räikkönen bettering teammate Fisichella's lead middle sector, however they were struggling to set an overall fast lap time. Meanwhile Rosberg whom had been bumped back down to fifth then made a response to take the fastest time with a 1:46.117.
The track would now become quite busy with after 42 minutes, most of the cars had began to make their entrance onto the track. Kubica immediately sprang into fourth position, whilst Kobayashi whom was still in third ran wildly off the circuit at turn one. He would continue without issue, however teammate Trulli was then seen making a smaller mistake at the same corner.
The pecking order began to evolve as Vettel set the new fastest time with a 1:45.372 with teammate Webber going second fastest. Behind them, Kubica had moved up to third whilst Nakajima temporarily held fourth, before Rosberg retook the position.
Upon the McLaren's entrance onto the track, they had quickly demonstrated to be faster than Ferrari in the middle sector. They were also demonstrating strong overall pace, Kovalainen moving up to second whilst Hamilton went fourth fastest.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Grid|
|2||15||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:40.666||1:39.984||1:41.615||2|
|3||14||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:40.667||1:40.272||1:41.726||3|
|7||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||1:40.520||1:40.545||1:41.992||7|
|8||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||1:40.558||1:40.635||1:42.343||8|
|10||12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:40.908||1:40.430||1:42.713||10|
|15||11||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:41.503||1:41.689||14|
|17||21||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.701||16|
|18||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.863||17|
- Nico Rosberg's last race for Williams before moving to Mercedes.
- Robert Kubica's last race for BMW Sauber before moving to Renault.
- Last race for drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Kazuki Nakajima.
- Last race for constructors Toyota, BMW and Brawn GP.
- Last race to feature pit stops for refuelling.
- Last race to use the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system, last race for first eight finishers to receive points.
Standings after raceEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126004921/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10121.html
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126023800/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10130.html
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126110214/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10126.html
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126032441/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10128.html
- ↑ http://classic.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/79668
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 https://web.archive.org/web/20091128084116/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10135.html
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126033601/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10136.html
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126010347/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10138.html
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 https://web.archive.org/web/20091125235437/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10133.html
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126013921/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10141.html
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126001025/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10139.html
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 https://web.archive.org/web/20091126002115/http://www.formula1.com:80/news/headlines/2009/10/10142.html
- ↑ http://www.statsf1.com/en/2009/bresil/championnat.aspx
- ↑ www.statsf1.com/en/2009/bresil/classement.aspx
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