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GP Week : Issue 72
THE 2009 F1 season was characterised at its very start by a new set of technical regulations which reduced the overall downforce available and seriously changed the look of F1 cars with huge front wings, skinny rear wings and far simpler lines the order of the day. There were also changes afoot with Bridgestone's tyres as larger gaps between the two compounds to be used over race weekends came into effect. After a while, those gaps had to be shrunk after too many complaints that the gaps had been too vast. But the change to the regulations added an extra element of spice to racing strategy, and was ultimately a success. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems were also permitted. The systems had varied success, with only one team running them for the whole season. For the others they either completely ignored the device, or found it frustrating. But perhaps the biggest technological development of the season was in the area of double decker diffusers. Only three teams turned up to Melbourne with the devices, but by the middle of the season if you didn't have one you weren't going to win anything. It was a simple but genius idea, effectively reintroducing a type of ground effect to the rear end of an F1 car. A grey area to begin with but declared legal after not too long, the diffuser controversy was the first big test of the season for the teams and their unity in the new FOTA body. FOTA itself was one of the stories of the year, as for the first time in almost 30 years Formula 1 drew realistically close to a civil war. Its position of strength came despite numerous arguments over the course of the season between the teams themselves that threatened to weaken FOTA's unity, but in spite of that the split was averted, FOTA got the Concorde it wanted and the body remained united. Ironically though, no sooner had the teams showed their unity, than the warnings of FIA President Max Mosley over the long term sustainability of the manufacturers involvement in F1 came true. First BMW shocked the establishment by announcing their withdrawal from F1 at the end of the season, and then just a few weeks ago Toyota followed suit. With Renault also wavering, leading figures in the sport have been moved to admit that the era of manufacturer dominance is over. Another era which came to an end was that of FIA President Max Mosley. An often controversial figure, Mosley's reign had seen F1 taken to the brink of destruction. His final acts as President started to smack of desperation, as his steadfast stance in the war with FOTA brought him many critics. Ultimately, however, he was proved right ... or as Ferrari went on to claim, his long term plan simply played itself out. Either way, his tenure at the top came to an end following a bitter Presidential 26