On the face of it, a modest 20-car average grid, three top drivers unable to complete a full campaign, and a runaway title winner may not look like much to write home about, but this was still largely a good season for British Formula 3.
The category's high-downforce/low power combination is not known for producing great racing, but there were some excellent spectacles in 2009. The sight of Nick Tandy carving through the field on the Silverstone GP circuit, Wayne Boyd decimating the field to win in the damp at Donington Park, and the slipstreaming classic that was the Algarve double header, kept those spectators that were paying attention on the edges of their seats.
The tragic loss of team boss Joe Tandy in a road accident, which sparked the decline of his JTR team and the end of his brother's promising British F3 campaign, was a terrible black spot on the season. As (for very different reasons) was the ongoing row caused by Renger van der Zande's participation as a wingman for Walter Grubmuller at Hitech Racing. It was great to see the Dutchman when he was racing properly, but Trevor Carlin is right to point out that British F3 is a drivers' not a teams' championship. If van der Zande had been allowed to compete properly, we could have seen a real fight for the title.
The start of the Silverstone round © LAT
On a cheerier note, Volkswagen came back as engine supplier to two teams, creating a genuine arms race with Mercedes and thus a welcome extra element of intrigue and competition.
VW made its return thanks to its links with Red Bull and it was the energy drinks giant's junior driver Daniel Ricciardo who really stood out from this year's crop of talent. The fact the first Australian to win the British F3 title in 20 years strolled to the title by a massive 87 points says as much about the depth of the field as it does for his obvious ability.
But we also had 10 different winners across 20 races this season, which is evidence of the strength in depth of the teams that ply their trade in this series.
It is their loyalty, and belief in the benefits it can bring to young drivers, that keeps British F3 going and the teams were the first to collectively spring to its defence when, before the year began, many were writing it off - arguing that the F3 Euro Series was higher profile and more competitive, and that the relaunched Formula 2 would undercut budgets and send British F3 into decline.
While F2 probably did take potential drivers away from British F3 (mainly in the National Class, where only four drivers completed a full year), grids were down across the world. No series could escape the effects of the recent meltdown in financial markets and British F3 was no different.
As for the Euro Series question, it is probably fair to say there were more talents on that grid this year, but that is all down to promotion. Drivers are attracted to the Euro Series because of the DTM and the media circus that surrounds it - offering greater exposure for their sponsors.
The F3 Euro Series is no different from British F3 in its essence; it is simply a German equivalent that is better promoted, only with less of the testing that drivers need to develop.
British F3 teams are right to focus on the fact their formula is about training drivers, not putting on a show for fans, but that's where the series promoter comes in.
The teams are reluctant to criticise SRO, which allows them a certain degree of autonomy in the running of their championship, but its hard to see a company that has GT racing at its heart really stretching to make British F3 the most talked about single-seater series in the world.
If it did, perhaps more of those potential talents that British F3 can train so well would be queuing up to join the grid.
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