Happy belated holidays and welcome to the 2008 Golden Slingshot nomination special for the Formula One World Championship. Well, here we are knocking on the door of 2009 and another season will soon be upon us.
I know I am very over due with these awards, the holiday season soaked up what little free time I've got left so I am sorry for the tardiness of this article. I do promise that the Golden Slingshots will be passed out no later than December 30th. So without further ado, I give you the nominees.
Driver of the Year:
Lewis Hamilton: The new world champion and a much deserved one at that. Backed with a clear number two driver in Heikki, the Briton managed to carpe diem and with a little smile from lady luck, became world champion in the most dramatic of fashions.
Felipe Massa: Fighting back from a dismal season start, it was once figured that his time at Ferrari was short. With impressive wins in Valencia, Turkey, and Brazil the young Brazilian managed to close the gap to points leader Hamilton once he was the clear challenger to Hamilton. He was even the de facto World Champion for a little over a minute as Hamilton languished in the late rain at Interlagos.
Fernando Alonso: The double world champion had a roller coaster of a season. He down played the chances of his Renault even challenging for podiums, and at times looked like he almost regretted leaving McLaren. The low point of the Spainard's season came in Valencia where he was sent to the pits early in front of a packed home crowd. That would all change in the final races of the season where he made history by winning the first ever night race, due to a safety car period and mistakes made by the front runners. Dismissing the win in Singapore, the Spaniard followed the victory up by winning in Japan just 6 days later, holding off the heavily favoured BMW of Robert Kubica.
Race of the Year:
Brazil: This one needs no introduction or explanation. The best race of the decade, if not one of the best races of all time.
Japan: Following a dramatic start which shuffled the field and a first lap incident between the two title contenders, the entire paradigm of the championship shifted as the two contenders emerged and postured themselves for the title showdown of the decade. The win by Alonso disproved the doubts held about the legitimacy of his Singapore victory, and also his potential and future at Renault as he scored 48 points in the last few races of the season, more than any other driver on the grid.
England: A wet drivers paradise. With the lack of traction control and some doubts over the car control abilities of both Hamilton and Massa, this race was a showcase for the new era of non-traction controlled grand prix machinery. Lewis, having missed his chance for pole passed his team mate in a stunning move on Hangar straight. The Briton would then put on a rain driving clinic the likes of which haven't been seen since the day Ayrton Senna walked on water at Donnington Park in 1993.
Venue of the Year:
Singapore: An amazing visual display of neon lights, the colors of the cars, and the majesty of the city architecture blended into a visual orchestra that played the sounds of speed for a weekend. It was if the F1 circuit was placed in a cyberpunk setting with the visual hues of old Singapore as a backdrop to an eventful race, which would eventually hold world championship implications.
Canada: A sun splashed day in June gave the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve gave the drivers exactly what the circuit is known for, high speeds and world title changing events. As the sun bounced off the office buildings of downtown Montreal and the St.Lawrence just a stones throw from the track, Robert Kubica took his maiden victory on a track which favoured the BMW almost better than any other car on the grid. Adieu, Montreal.
Valencia, Spain: The second brand new course to be introduced this season gave way for a blase race but allowed for spectacular visuals. Massa won in dominating fashion on a street circut that allowed little to no overtaking, but the contrasts between the bright hues of the cars combined with the harbor front and the circut's bridge allowed for some wonderful images of Formula One in 2008.
Suprise Win of the Year:
Fernando Alonso, Singapore: Strictly a case of being in the right place at the right time. The double world champion followed up a disaster of a qualifying session with a historic night win in Singapore.
Sebastian Vettel, Monza: The former Minardi squad took pole the day before but not many expected that the rain would hold and the young German could hold off the rain masters for long. His race craft gave Gincarlo Minardi ample reason to smile as the Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari powered Vettel to the top of the rostrum on a rain soaked Sunday in Italy.
Felipe Massa,Spa: Post race sanctions applied to Lewis Hamilton handed Massa the win and gave the Brazilian the second chance he needed to keep the world championship within reach. Granted a win is a win, but it should be from the wave of the checkered flag, not the stroke of a pen.
F1 Intro of the Year:
ITV, UK: The visuals coupled with the rhythmic tunes of Moby's "Lift Me Up" gave UK F1 fans something to look forward to when the turned the channel over for race coverage. It is a shame ITV has lost the rights to F1 because their recap packages are almost second to none.
Fuji TV, Japan: Epic is the only way to describe these intros. Last year it was the animated drivers being introduced to Queens "Flash Gordon" theme. Coupled with extensive pre-race packages that re-caps the season up to the race, along with the fantastic editing, it is no exaggeration that Japan is passionate about F1.
Speed TV, United States: With almost the same intro every year, F1 fans in the US have come to expect and enjoy the visual history of F1, along with the fantastic pre-race introductions done by Sam Posey that give the race a much needed dramatic flair before sinking to your chair, snapping open a can of "Red Bull" and watching the generic FOM intro provided to us from world broadcast control in the host country.
Worst News of the Year
Super Aguri and Honda withdrawing from the grid: Aguri Sazuki's JV Honda effort proved that little teams could fight the good fight and occasionally achieve glory. Four drivers and several hundred support staff rendered jobless. It's a shame really, but lets hope Prodrive and David Richards saves the day.
David Coulthard ends his career on a sour note: As the bagpipes played in the Red Bull pits as the Flying Scot took to the grid one last time, the white Red Bull Renault rolled to the grid for a driver who was called up in the wake of Aytron Senna's death. Once considered one of the best drivers on the grid, DC's Red Bull career had been rocky at best. It was just a shame how he exited the grid.
The loss of the Canadian Grand Prix: To leave all of North America out of the "World" Championship is just a shame. For almost 30 years, the Canadian Grand Prix became a staple of the F1 calendar and for many North American fans, their only chance to experience the magic of grand prix racing. I had the opportunity to attend the 2004 and 2005 Canadian Grands Prix and it is just a damned shame that future generations of F1 fans in North America may have to board an international flight just to experience a Grand Prix.
Feedback will be appreciated, who deserves to win? Thank you for reading and you can expect the slingshots to be handed out before the 30th