I've followed the development of F1 2009 for some time and even though I was put off for a time due to the Beta videos/screenshots I was impressed enough by recent updated video footage to buy this shortly after release....and was glad I did!
Codemasters have done a fantastic job considering this is their first true F1 title (Toca RD3 had F1 championships in it but this was only a small part of a mutli-car class racing game) and they have delivered. True there are some rough edges here and there such as the odd slow down (especially on split screen), the lack of tv style commetary, basic damage model and lack of mid-season driver changes (odd considering the game was released after the season had finished - I want to race as Krazy Kobayashi damn you! :D) but this doesn't detract from the package as a whole.
The control system is great, I have only used the Wii wheel mode so far so can't compare to the remote/nunchuck, classic controller or Logitech wheel methods but it is great fun once you get used to it. Treating it like Mario Kart will stick you into every barrier you can see so you have to be gentle and use slight steering movements and with enough practice you can become an armchair Lewis Hamilton though after several hours i'm still more like Jaime Alguersuari! The KERS system is well implemented though every car has it and not just the select few as per the real 2009 season though this does keep the cars balanced rather than a few teams having the advantage over others.
The single player mode has a plethora of options to choose from including Quick Race (jump into a race with a driver and track of your choice), Race Weekend (a single race weekend including all practice & qualifying sessions prior to the race), World Championship (the 2009 season with full race weekend options), Time Trial (great for practice and there are bronze, silver & gold times to beat for awards), Challenge (75 challenges to beat including passing as many checkpoints within a given time, winning a race (sometimes with a catch - dry tyres on a wet track etc), overtaking as many rivals, cornering (higher speed and 'kissing' the apex earns more points) and many more) and finally Career mode. In career mode you have 3 seasons (as yourself, you 'create' your driver when you first set up your profile) to become World Champion by taking test drives with teams and moving your way up the rankings. An email system is used to offer test sessions and keep you up to date with news and developments
The two player split-screen is great fun - you can take part in a single race (with all the options of a single player race such as race length, damage, fuel usage/tyre wear (which forces pitstops), flags (with penalties), weather etc), a full championship and challenges. The only downside is the slowdown I mentioned at set points on the track (usually where there is a lot of scenery - the stadium hairpin at Abu Dhabi for example) though this doesn't ruin the fun too much, to be honest I took little notice of it! The only major gripe with multi-player is the two player splitscreen is all you get, no online or even four player split-screen though the amount of single player options make up for this in my opinion.
The sound is very good and the graphics are some of the best I have seen on the Wii - slightly better than a PS2 though still very clear and sharp with a good draw distance and the HUD interface is clear and informative and complete with a TV style position indicator (similar to the one Sony used in F1'06 on the PS2/3).
Overall then F1 2009 is a great title and a fantastic first effort from Codemasters though a few minor niggles deny it the 5-star rating.