The 2014 motorsport season certainly produced some memorable moments that will live long in the memory, and in this second part of TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk’s annual ‘TCF Picks’ series, our team of writers have selected their favourites from the last twelve months of racing.
Joe Diamond: Rosberg, Hamilton, Les Combes
A lot was said during the 2014 F1 season about the mind games at play between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, but the biggest mental shift in momentum came as a result of what happened in September at Spa-Francorchamps on lap two of the Belgium Grand Prix.
Eager to make a point, Rosberg tried an ambitious move around the outside of Hamilton, only to clip and puncture his teammates left rear Pirelli, taking the Brit out of contention. What happened in the days after clearly knocked Nico for six, with the backlash from Lewis, the team and fans around the world seemingly forcing a number of errors in the races that followed, gifting Hamilton the points the ultimately won him his second world title.
James Broomhead: Dead Heats at the Nurburgring 24
Picture the scene. I’m slightly sleep deprived, the need for shut-eye papered over with plenty of sugar and caffeine, while following the Nurburgring 24 Hours. The race has developed into a wheel to wheel battle between the best of the Audi and Mercedes teams as the race ticked off its 100th 28km lap.
Despite the distance and time behind them, as the two leaders came across the line after 102 laps there was nothing between them. Literally nothing. The official timing couldn’t shoehorn a gap between them as they raced off towards turn one. As if one dead heat in the midst of an endurance race wasn’t enough, the following lap, the pair having diced for the lead all the way around the lap, brought up another 0.0 gap on the timing screen. I fully admit to giggling like a school child at the remarkable stat as I recorded it into my notes.
Pete Allen: Bianchi’s Monaco Moment
The ‘new’ teams that joined the sport in 2010 had often been a laughing stock over the years, rarely able to race anybody other than themselves, and never able to register points. They often employed some talented drivers, but they never had the tools to impress. That changed in Monaco this year when Jules Bianchi, after some impressive performances down the order, really came of age as an F1 driver.
The Marussia package had improved, but it was Bianchi’s prowess behind the wheel between the armco that really delivered the team’s first points with a ninth place finish despite a penalty that he ended up having to serve twice.
Driver and team were rewarded for their hard work, and at that moment their futures both looked great. What happened on that terrible day in Japan was made even more difficult to stomach by the promise shown by both parties in finer weather back in May. Marussia’s season lasted just one race weekend longer than their star driver’s, and both were left fighting for survival, no longer just for points.
Paul Hensby: Mercedes Implode At Spa
In a year when the Mercedes duo battled it out for the World Drivers’ Championship, it all came to a head at Spa-Francorchamps when Nico Rosberg, whilst trying to overtake on lap two of the race, clipped the rear wheel of Lewis Hamilton, puncturing his team-mates tyre and ending any chance he had of scoring points.
Throughout 2014, the Mercedes drivers were virtually untouchable, and it usually took the team to implode, whether mechanically or otherwise, to allow anyone else to have a chance of victory, and at Spa, the clash allowed Daniel Ricciardo to take an unlikely victory for Red Bull.
Despite his retirement from the race, Hamilton acknowledged it was at Spa where the title began to swing in his favour, as he knew he could not afford any more slip ups, and he pushed to win the next five grand prix and ultimately the title. It was almost like Rosberg had unintentionally pushed Hamilton to the next level, and the German could not claw back the gap.
Louis Suddaby: Rossi’s Triumphant Homecoming
Valentino Rossi’s revival has arguably been the story of 2014 in MotoGP and Misano brought a moment that none of us will ever forget. The Doctor had come close on a number of occasions to winning earlier in the year, only to be beaten by Marc Marquez but this time, Marc cracked and slid off while trying to give chase.
What made this victory so much more significant than his comeback win at Assen was that there were no caveats. Jorge Lorenzo wasn’t injured this time, he had been beaten fair and square and the very reason Marc Marquez had crashed was because he couldn’t keep pace with the home favourite.
What makes this my moment of the year is not just the victory itself, but the euphoric reaction that followed. Rossi was mobbed by supporters and marshals as he returned to parc ferme and the sea of yellow across the start/finish straight when he stepped onto the podium was enough to give anyone goose bumps.
Dan Mason: #ForzaJules
It does not take long to contemplate the moment that sticks in the mind most of all in 2014. One that brought the world of motorsport to stunned silence, but for all the wrong reasons.
On a dark, miserable day at Suzuka, the weather was poignant of the sombre mood felt after the race won by Lewis Hamilton on 5 October, the winner himself not in the mood for any celebrations afterwards.
Having shown he was ready to step up to potentially greater things, Jules Bianchi’s horror crash at the Dunlop Curve as he collected a recovery vehicle suddenly left the Marussia driver fighting for his life.
The 25-year-old Frenchman remains in our minds, his father Phillipe commenting that his son ‘remains strong’ in the fight we all want to see him battle through triumphantly.
Matt Bristow: Jordan’s Wildcard Podium
My moment of the year was Andrew Jordans wildcard third place at round two of the World RX at Lydden Hill. His first time back driving a rallycross supercar for seven years and in-front of a packed home crowd. I for one have never heard cheering like it at a rallycross event.
Jake Handley: Hamilton’s Title Glory
The moment of 2014 has to be Lewis Hamilton winning the 2014 Formula One title after an intense battle over the year with Nico Rosberg. There is nothing that this season didn’t have, with the battle between the pair running from Australia to Abu Dhabi, with the outcome being the moment of panic in Rosberg’s voice when his car started breaking down at Yas Marina, providing drama until the last minute.
Lee Bonham: BTCC 2014 Is Go!
Probably the lights flickering out at the start of Round 1 of this year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. After all the winter’s anticipation it was fantastic to get proceedings underway. The finale at Silverstone from said same series is about equal as well, the first time really that we had six of the seven former champions together on track.
Aaron Rook: Spa Day For Mercedes
For me the moment of the year has to be ‘that’ incident between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Spa. I was there at Spa and the reaction by the crowd was simply astounding. I have never seen such shock among fans. The podium as many of you would have heard was no different.
That particular incident in my opinion was also a huge turning point in Hamilton’s season. You could say that if that coming together hadn’t happened then Hamilton may not have went on the superb winning streak he did.
Simon Paice: Super Touring Return
As one of many who grew up during the Super Touring era of the British Touring Car Championship, seeing the cars from that period on track on the same weekend as the modern day series at Oulton Park was something I couldn’t wait for.
It certainly didn’t disappoint either. Whether it was trekking out to the Island hairpin in Friday testing or watching the opening race from the inside of Lodge, it was a nostalgic thrill for me seeing those machines up close and personal on track once again.
Joe Hudson: Gio Goes Sideways At Croft
Fabrizio Giovanardi crashing massively at Croft. I was marshalling at Sunny In and watching the Italian just about hold the car and miss a big collision with the barriers by about a foot is something I won’t forget in a hurry!
Alex Goldschmidt: Ricciardo’s First Win
Daniel Ricciardo’s maiden F1 win in Canada was the standout moment for me, especially with the fact that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were a class above the rest. It was not the easiest of starts for Red Bull, when the new hybrid era of Formula One went out on track for the very first time.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel would struggle all year round, whereas Ricciardo was shining in this new dimension of racing. Canada saw the culmination of his skills as a credible future champion. It was just great to see that Cheshire cat grin on the top step for the first time, which was only the start of things to come.
Nick Smith: Formula E Begins
For me the moment of the year came on a quiet and chilly Thursday morning in the midlands when the Virgin Racing team opened a new era of motor racing. The first wheels turned in testing for the FIA Formula E Championship uncorked a bottle the genie will never return to. Not only do the cars look great and sound, erm, different but the series is paving the way into a new and sustainable way of going racing.
Tom Errington: Hamilton v Rosberg at Spa
The moment of the year has to be the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Spa. After Mercedes proudly told anyone who would listen that there the rivalry wouldn’t spill over, the way Mercedes expertly handled the fallout showed they were in total control of all aspects in 2014 when it could have been so easy for the wheels to fall off.
What was your standout moment from the 2014 season? Let us know on Twitter @thecheckerflag with #TCFPicks, or comment below!