It’s been a full 10 years since F1 last touched down in France for a grand prix and how things have changed. Back then cars had all sorts of weird winglets, V8 engines, we were at race eight and cruising through an 18-race calendar, and Max was three months shy of his 11th birthday. Yes, indeed Formula 1 was a whole different sport when we raced at Magny Cours in 2008. Here are seven of the decade’s other signs of change…
1. Eight world titles – Back in 2008, we were heading to France on the back of scoring our third podium finish, with David Coulthard, who would retire at the end of the season, taking third place in Canada after starting from P13. The following year Sebastian Vettel would score the team’s first win, in China, and the year after the young German helped us to a Drivers’ and Constructors’ title double. He repeated the feat consecutively for the following three seasons.
2. 57 wins – The team’s form was good in ’08 but a major regulations reset for 2009 gave us the opportunity to contest for wins and the team seized the opportunity with both hands. In the decade since the last French Grand Prix we’ve taken 57 wins, the most recent being Daniel’s superb drive to the top step in Monaco this year.
3. Power Units – 10 years ago we just called the thing housed behind the driver an engine. That all changed in 2014 when F1 embraced efficiency and ditched the old, normally aspirated V8 engines in favour of 1.6-litre, turbocharged, hybrid that were dubbed power units, as strictly the internal combustion bit, the ICE, is just one element of an enormously complex system that also develops electric power from energy recovery systems. Have we loved them? Well, if we still had V8s you’d mercifully not be able to hear our verdict.
4. Location, location, location – The calendar in 2008 was a very different beast indeed. For example, back then we still had a Turkish Grand Prix and when we turned up at Magny Cours in ’08, Valencia’s F1 debut was two months away and the Singapore GP wouldn’t arrive until September.
5. They come and they go – As well as the European GP in Valencia and Singapore, in the decade since France, we gained the following races: Abu Dhabi (2009), Korea (2010), India (2011), USA (2012), Austria (2014), Russia (2014), Mexico (2015), Europe (2016), which then became Azerbaijan in 2017 and France this year. In that time we have lost: Turkey (final race in 2011), Valencia’s European GP (2012), Korea (2013), India (2013) and Malaysia (2017). A few others have experienced blips along the way, with no Canadian race in 2009, no German race in 2015 and 2017 and no race in Bahrain in 2011.
6. Who’s in Charge – Perhaps the biggest change has been at the top of F1. In 2017, the commercial rights of the championship were sold to Liberty Media and the era of Bernie Ecclestone, which had lasted for more than 30 years, came to an end. It’s been all change since. The sport’s governing body has seen change too. Back in ’08 Max Mosley was in charge at the FIA and Jean Todt was a rival competitor, leading Ferrari’s challenge. He’s now President of the FIA and his then technical director was current F1 Managing Director, Motorsports, Ross Brawn.
7. Youth culture – When teams turned up in Magny Cours 2008, Fernando Alonso was the sport’s youngest winner, having taken his first victory, at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, at the age of 22 years, 26 days. That record fell on September 7 2008 when Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix aged 21 years, 73 days. Then, on May 15 2016, Max Verstappen carved more than two years off Vettel’s record, winning his first grand prix at the wheel of a Red Bull Racing car in Spain, at the tender age of 18 years, 228 days.