Lewis Hamilton has won his 2nd Formula One world championship after taking victory at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg finished second in the championship after mechanical problems pushed him down to 13th place.
Everybody knew that Mercedes were a force to be reckoned heading into the season opening round of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Winter testing had shown that they had massive amounts of pace without the massive reliability problems experienced by rivals Red Bull; who barely had a day where their car stopped.
Lewis Hamilton took the first pole position of the season, with Nico Rosberg only 3rd after a superb lap from home hero and new Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. It was Nico Rosberg who led into turn 1 however as Hamilton developed an engine issue and retired from the race, along with reigning champion Sebastian Vettel. Nico Rosberg took the win ahead of Ricciardo, much to the delight of the home fans. The result didn’t stand however, as Ricciardo was disqualified after his car exceeded the maximum amount of fuel flow. This promoted Kevin Magnussen, who had finished in 3rd (equalling Hamilton’s rookie start in 2007), to 2nd place! Team-mate Jenson Button took 3rd place as a result – a great drive to remember his father who sadly passed away in the pre-season.
With Lewis 25 points behind Nico heading into the 2nd round at the Sepang International Circuit, he had to start finishing ahead of his team-mate before the gap grew too large. Once again, Lewis got the pole, with Nico only 3rd after a great lap by Sebastian Vettel saw him miss out on pole by under a tenth of a second. Lewis flew away at the start and won the race by an astonishing 17 seconds ahead of Nico.
The 3rd round of the championship was the 900th World Championship event in Formula One history. It was also the 10th anniversary of the Bahrain Grand Prix and the first to be held under the floodlights at night. It turned out that the 900th Grand Prix would end up being of the most exciting. Nico Rosberg had pole position, but Hamilton took the lead away on the run down into turn 1. Rosberg stuck with Hamilton and attempted to pass time after time, but Lewis would not relinquish the lead. Hamilton held on to take his 2nd win of the year ahead of his team-mate. Force India took their 1st podium since 2009 after a great drive for Sergio Perez.
The lead of the championship finally changed hands at the Spanish Grand Prix, with Hamilton getting his 4th win in a row by 6 tenths of a second over Nico. The lead went back to Nico in the next race though, with Rosberg getting a controversial pole after causing a yellow flag in the final minutes and then leading from pole to his 2nd win on the famous streets. Jules Bianchi made history for the Marussia F1 team by coming home in 9th place to take his and the teams first ever points in Formula One.
Hamilton hoped to get the championship lead back at the track where he took his first ever Formula One win, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada. It was Rosberg who started on pole, but Lewis tried to get around the outside of him at turn 1. Rosberg locked up and went wide, pushing Hamilton off and down into 3rd, with Vettel inheriting 2nd. Hamilton re-took 2nd and then took the lead after his 2nd pit stop. He wouldn’t keep the lead for long however as Hamilton would retire for the second time in the season after suffering brake problems. Rosberg wouldn’t get the win either after power issues. The win instead went to a man who had never stood on the top step before; Daniel Ricciardo. Rosberg held onto 2nd, with Vettel inheriting the final spot on the rostrum after a massive crash for Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez on the last lap.
After another retirement for Lewis, the championship lead was now 22 points in Rosberg’s favour. The gap would further increase with Rosberg leading another 1-2 for Mercedes in the return of the Austrian Grand Prix. Both Silver Arrows stormed to the front despite being beaten to pole position for the first time this season by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for Williams. Bottas took his first F1 podium in 3rd place.
29 points was now the gap heading into the British Grand Prix, with Lewis hoping for a 2nd home win to bring the gap down. He failed to get pole position in changeable weather conditions after a last gasp improvement for Nico Rosberg. However the troubles turned around during the race with Rosberg failing to finish for the first time this season. Hamilton would cruise to take the win, with Lewis now just 4 points behind Rosberg.
Once again, the roller-coaster of fortunes gave Hamilton another hit of bad luck in qualifying for the German Grand Prix. A brake failure hit the #44 car in the second session and he then received a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change. This meant that Lewis would start in 20th, with Nico on pole. Rosberg cruised to a home victory, with Hamilton fighting his way through the pack to take 3rd place. A similar situation struck in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Hamilton’s car bursting into flames before he could set a lap. Rosberg was on pole once again, but he would finish behind Hamilton after the Brit fought his way up after a pit-lane start to take 3rd place. Daniel Ricciardo once again capitalized on a bad race for the Mercedes drivers as he took his 2nd win of his career ahead of Fernando Alonso.
The Belgian Grand Prix was the first race after the August summer break. Rosberg had the championship lead by 11 points with 8 races to go. Rosberg got pole position, but Lewis was strong at the start. Hamilton tried to get around the outside of Rosberg at Les Combes, but the pair made contact. Hamilton got a puncture, Rosberg had damage to his front wing. Lewis finished outside of the points, with Ricciardo taking another win at the expense of the Silver Arrows cars. Rosberg finished in 2nd, but the crowd showed their disapproval during the podium ceremony as boos rang out.
Rosberg’s momentum seemed to switch to the other side of the garage at the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton took pole position, but he had a slow start which gave the lead to Nico. Lewis came back at him over the race, with Rosberg making a mistake into the first chicane, which allowed Hamilton to blast past and take the win. Rosberg would then suffer a 2nd mechanical failure of the year at the Singapore Grand Prix. He had missed out on pole by 7 thousandths of a second, with Lewis taking the pole. Rosberg’s car developed a major electrical issue on the grid, which necessitated a pit-lane start. Once out on the track, he barely had the pace to pass the Caterham and Marussia cars as his car continued to malfunction. He would later retire with Lewis taking the win and the championship lead by 3 points.
The Japanese Grand Prix would see Lewis win for the third time in a row in a treacherous race at the Suzuka circuit. He passed Rosberg around the outside at turn 1 to take the lead, but the race was stopped early after an awful crash for Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman suffered major head injuries after aquaplaning off-track and into a recovery vehicle that was recovering Adrian Sutil’s crashed Sauber. Jules is still unconscious in hospital as a result of the crash and all of the Formula One world’s thoughts remain with him to make a full recovery.
Drivers and teams were reeling after the awful crash for Bianchi, but just a week later they were racing again at the Russian Grand Prix at the brand new Sochi Autodrom. Lewis Hamilton took pole position, but Nico Rosberg had a great run in his slip-stream down into turn 1. The German couldn’t get the car stopped as he heavily locked both front tyres. The tyres were so damaged that he had to pit at the end of the lap and then had to try to go to the end on those tyres. He was able in finish in 2nd place, with Hamilton taking the win after leading every lap of the race. The result sealed Mercedes the constructors’ championship victory for the first time.
The title battle was heating up with just 3 rounds left in the season. The United States Grand Prix saw Hamilton take a 5th win in a row after passing pole-sitter Rosberg in an out-breaking manoeuvre. The headlines were dominated however by the absence of both Caterham and Marussia. The two teams who had joined the sport back in 2010 as Team Lotus and Virgin Racing had gone into administration prior to the race and looked as though they would not be on the grid again.
The penultimate race of the season was staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Nico Rosberg had a perfect weekend as he topped every single session to take his 5th win of the year. Lewis Hamilton had been the faster driver in the race, but a crucial spin just before his first pit-stop denied him the chance of getting into the lead. Hamilton decimated a 7 second gap to get right back onto the gearbox of his team-mate, but he was unable to make it a 6th consecutive win.
Double points were on offer for the final race of the season, with just 17 points separating championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2nd. Nico Rosberg edged out Lewis Hamilton after a mistake for the British driver in the final session. Would Hamilton claim a second world championship, or would Nico, son of former champion Keke take his first title.
Lewis Hamilton may have made the mistake in qualifying, but he launched himself from the second grid-slot to take the lead into turn 1. Nico Rosberg attempted to give chase, but after the first pit-stop, disaster struck. A similar problem to what befell the Silver Arrow duo in the Canadian Grand Prix hit Rosberg. He was losing power due to his energy recovery system failing, which was also impacting his brakes. He slid further and further down the order to an eventual finishing position of 13th.
This allowed Lewis Hamilton to take the victory in both the race and championship. His 33rd win, 70th podium and his 2nd championship, adding to his victory 6 years ago with McLaren.
Nico Rosberg takes 2nd place in the standings, his highest ever finish in the world championship. Daniel Ricciardo takes a fantastic 3rd place in the standings after his first year with Red Bull Racing. He took the 3 wins that neither Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg won.
Valtteri Bottas finished 4th in the standings in only his 2nd year of Formula One. He finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving Red Bull to go to Ferrari to replace 6th placed Fernando Alonso. Neither driver took a single win this year, a stark contrast to the last few seasons where Vettel had dominated. Felipe Massa took 7th in the standings in his first year for Williams ahead of Jenson Button, in what may be the British drivers last year in Formula One. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez complete the top 10 in the standings for Force India.
2014 Formula One drivers’ championship standings:
2014 Formula One constructors championship standings:
World champion, Lewis Hamilton: “I can’t really explain how much this means. It means even more than the first one. It feels like it’s the first time and I feel so blessed. Nico put on an incredible fight throughout the year, he was a phenomenal competitor. We met each other back in 1997 and we always said it’d be amazing to be racing in the same team and fighting for the world championship. He did an amazing job today.”
Runner up, Nico Rosberg: “It was a great battle between us, and that’s what I race for, for such battles, to go up against Lewis in the team. Very intense at times, of course, but most of the time fantastic and very proud, also, to be a part of this moment with the team. It’s been special. Having such a car, unbelievable.”
Runner up, Daniel Ricciardo: “It was pretty much a faultless race. We did everything we needed to. It wasn’t boring but one step better would have been nice from the pit-lane. It’s been a pretty much perfect year without holding a world title. It was nice to start and finish the season well.”
Preparations for the 2015 season get under-way next week with the young drivers test at Abu Dhabi. Drivers making their débuts next year such as Max Verstappen will get valuable track time, but the test will also be important for the teams to try out new components for next season. For example, Stoffel Vandoorne, GP2 runner-up, will be driving the McLaren which will have its Honda power unit on-board in preparation for the partnerships’ revival for the first time in 23 years.
2015 car launches are expected to take place from late January until the 1st of February, which is when the first pre-season test of the year takes place at the Jerez circuit. 2 more sessions will follow that at the Circuit de Catalunya before the teams and drivers fly out to Melbourne for the first Grand Prix of the 2015 season! Only 90 days to go!