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GP Week : Issue 36
>>F1 INSIGHT hat put F1 back in business Politically, it wasn’t a perfect Formula 1 season. But there is no denying just how exciting the fight for the 2008 World Driver’s Championship was, and that’s exactly what F1 needed.WILL BUXTON looks back at an epic year of racing from the outset and were very real title contenders until an end-of-season tail off curtailed their chances. Conversely, while Renault had a tough start to the season, their return to form at the end of the year was a great news story. So too was Toyota’s form. While not on race-winning pace, their regular points hauls were all that could be expected with three top teams in such ominous form. The Red Bull teams duked it out between themselves, with the baby boomers coming out on top, thanks in part to Ferrari engines, thanks in part to Giorgio Ascanelli and thanks in part to Sebastian Vettel. Williams was up and down, but most recognised that the FW30 could have gone far faster than it had been made to look this season. Nico Rosberg is a talent, but many felt he wasn’t pushing himself in 2008, simply content to stand by and do all he needed to look better than his team-mate. Honda and Force India … probably best to forget 2008 ever happened for these two. Sure Honda got a lucky podium, but the fact their car self combusted at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix spoke volumes. And of course there was Super Aguri. The plucky team of giant killers did all it could to survive in a world of crumbling economics. Embarrassing its sugar daddy Honda in 2007 by regularly outperforming the works outfit had been its undoing, and the big boys started applying unbearable pressure. When a shiny set of new prospective owners waltzed in, it seemed too good to be true. It was, and by then it was too late. Super Aguri had come into Formula 1 as a flyweight and, against all the odds, had KO’d a number of heavyweight giants. F1 folk don’t like the natural order to be shaken quite so hard and, paradoxically, it was in doing so well that they signed their own death warrant. The argument over Aguri led to the question of customer cars to be raised … again. A silent compromise was reached, but when Vettel and Toro Roso won in Italy, the controversy reared its head once more. But with the world’s finances at an impasse, customer cars are now appearing to be a realistic prospect for the future. Even Force India is thinking about using them. How ironic for Super Aguri that 12 months down the line theirs is a business model which may yet be adopted in order to salvage the future of the sport. Politics was a big topic of discussion in 2008. Aside from customer cars was the role of the FIA and, in particular, its President. The sordid revelations over Max Mosley’s personal fetishes in the run-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix cast a shadow over the whole season. As Mosley refused to move, the very fabric of the FIA appeared to become unstable. As he attempted to show he was still in control by forcing through seemingly extreme regulation changes, he caused widespread fear 33