- Decade Review - Part Two
A decade painted red
Team of the Decade
In the 2000s Ferrari finally reaped the rewards of a major overhaul by Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher. The team took seven constructors' titles in ten years, five with Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, and two with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. There have only been two years, 2005 and 2009, when it has been off the pace and in both of those it still managed to win one race (albeit a six-car affair at Indianapolis in 2005). It's dominance was not always good for the sport, but it was mightily impressive.
On paper it may not have been the best decade for McLaren as it won just one drivers' title and no constructors' championships. But this time the statistics don't do the team justice. It won at least one race in almost every season and would have taken the 2007 title had it not lost points in Hungary, and later been disqualified over the Spygate affair. For better or worse, the team maintained interest in the sport over the past ten years, bringing a combination of triumphs, scandals, driver bust-ups and an uneasy relationship with former FIA president Max Mosley to the back pages of the papers.
Renault has been on the ultimate roller-coaster ride in the past decade. In 2000 it was still running under the Benetton name but without the success it enjoyed in the mid 1990s. In 2002 Renault took full control, and with Flavio Briatore reinstated as team principal, started making progress back up the grid. In 2003 Briatore introduced his protégé Fernando Alonso and by 2005 the Spaniard had become the youngest world champion. It took both drivers' and constructors' titles in 2005 and 2006, but when Alonso left the team for McLaren in 2007 its pace fell away. In 2009 it experienced the ultimate fall from grace, when the team was found guilty of race-fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Briatore was handed an indefinite ban and Renault announced it wanted to reduce its involvement in the sport. Heading into the new decade the majority of the team will be owned by investment company Genii Capital.
Crashes of the Decade
Winner: Robert Kubica at Montreal, 2007
The most dramatic crash in F1 this decade left Kubica with little more than a sprained ankle. The impact was huge, as he glanced off a concrete barrier at 150 mph and barrel-rolled down the back straight. When the car finally came to rest in the run-off area of the next corner, Kubica's feet were visible through a hole in the monocoque. Remarkably the safety cell stood up to the impact, and after missing just one race, he was back on the grid for the French Grand Prix.
Second: Allan McNish at Suzuka, 2002
It's not very often that a car goes through the safety barrier. But McNish's accident in qualifying at Suzuka left what remained of his Toyota on a grass bank beyond the tyre wall. He slid wide on the exit of the 180mph 130R corner, and as he caught the rear-end, the car whipped round and headed backwards into the Armco. The back of the car was destroyed but the driver safety cell remained intact. He was hauled clear by marshals, and although unharmed, he understandably sat out the race the next day.
Third: Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve at Melbourne, 2001
It was a stark reminder that, even in the modern era, F1 is an extremely dangerous sport. Villeneuve's BAR took off after hitting the back of Schumacher's Williams, and then smashed into the catch fencing at the side of the track. A tyre broke away from Villeneuve's car and flew through a small gap in the fencing, hitting a marshal who died later in hospital from his injuries.