Formula 1Season Review

2014 Formula 1 Season Review – Part 1

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It was a new dawn for Formula 1 in 2014, with regulation changes seeing a changing of the guard, and after four years of domination from Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing, it was the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team that came out on top, with Lewis Hamilton clinching his second World Drivers’ Championship, six years after his first.

For the 2014 season, 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines replaced the 2.4 litre V8 engines that had been standard since the 2006 season, with three engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari – supplying the eleven F1 teams. With a five-power unit limit enforced, some teams found it difficult to stay within that limit, with grid penalties coming into play later in the year.

The driver line-ups for the 2014 season were vastly changed, with only two teams, Mercedes and Marussia, keeping the same drivers as in 2013. Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continued at Mercedes, while Marussia, who were now Ferrari-powered after the withdrawal of Cosworth, kept on both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.

Daniel Ricciardo joined Vettel at Red Bull after Mark Webber’s retirement from the sport, with GP3 Series champion Daniil Kvyat taking the Australian’s seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso alongside the retained Jean-Eric Vergne.

Felipe Massa left Scuderia Ferrari after eight seasons to join Valterri Bottas at Williams Martini Racing, with Kimi Raikkonen returning to the Scuderia from the Lotus F1 Team, joining Fernando Alonso. Taking Raikkonen’s place at Lotus alongside Romain Grosjean was Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado who had left Williams after three seasons at the Grove team.

After just one season at McLaren, Sergio Perez was ousted by the team in favour of 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Kevin Magnussen who joined Jenson Button at the team. Perez ended up at Sahara Force India, where he partnered Nico Hulkenberg, who returned to the team after a year at Sauber.

Replacing Hulkenberg at Sauber was Force India outcast Adrian Sutil, who partnered the retained Mexican Esteban Gutierrez. Kamui Kobayashi returned to Formula 1 with Caterham after a year in the World Endurance Championship, with the Japanese driver being joined by Marcus Ericsson, who became the first Swedish F1 driver since Stefan Johansson back in 1991.

There was also a change to the schedule for 2014, with the Indian and Korean Grand Prix being removed from the calendar, with events in Austria and Russia coming in, and the race in Germany switching from the Nurburgring to Hockenheim as part of their race-share contract. In terms of the visit to Russia, it would be the first time Formula 1 had raced in the contract since its inception in 1950 and took place at Sochi, the scene of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Pre-season testing showed the first signs of what was to come, with Mercedes showing good speed throughout the tests in Jerez and Bahrain, while reigning champions Vettel and Red Bull struggled with the new Renault power unit components, missing some days and stopping on track on others after just a handful of laps.

R1 – Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton took the first pole position in a wet Albert Park qualifying session, but the biggest cheer was reserved for home hero Ricciardo who put in a great last lap to take second place ahead of Rosberg, while Vettel, who took an amazing thirteen pole positions in 2013, could not make it through into Q3.

Rosberg made a storming start to take the lead into the first corner, but for Hamilton and Vettel, their races were over before the end of the third lap with engine issues. Massa and Kobayashi were the first retirees of the season, with the Caterham driver’s rear brakes causing him to crash into the Williams at the first corner.

Nico Rosberg took victory in the season opener in Australia (Credit: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)

Nico Rosberg took victory in the season opener in Australia (Credit: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)

Rosberg dominated the race from the front, never being headed, while Ricciardo finished second, but was controversially disqualified post-race after his Red Bull was found to have exceeded its maximum fuel flow level. This promoted McLaren-Mercedes duo Magnussen and Button into second and third, with Alonso finishing fourth for Ferrari. Bottas was fifth, scoring more points for Williams in one race than the team scored during the whole of 2013, and could have been higher had it not been for a mid-race spin and puncture.

Hulkenberg finally completed a racing lap of the Albert Park circuit on his fourth attempt and finished sixth ahead of Raikkonen, while Vergne and Kvyat secured a double points finish for Toro Rosso ahead of the second Force India of Perez.

R2 – Malaysian Grand Prix

Hamilton again took pole position in Malaysia in another session affected by the rain, ahead of Vettel who joined the Briton on the front row. The German managed to beat Rosberg, who started third alongside Alonso, with Ricciardo and Raikkonen on row three.

For the second race in a row, Mercedes led from lights-to-flag, but this time it was Hamilton who would lead every lap. He finished just over seventeen seconds clear of Rosberg in the teams’ first 1-2 finish of the season. Vettel took his first points of the season with third place, with Alonso fourth again.

Sebastian Vettel took his first podium finish of the season in Malaysia (Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel took his first podium finish of the season in Malaysia (Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Hulkenberg finished in the points again for Force India in fifth ahead of Button, with Williams duo Massa and Bottas seventh and eighth, although the team-mates were embroiled in a small row after Massa refused to allow Bottas through in the closing laps so the Finn could try and pass Button ahead of them after the Brazilian had tried and failed for a number of laps to pass the McLaren driver.

Magnussen was ninth in the second McLaren despite an early penalty for clipping Raikkonen’s Ferrari and giving the Finn a first lap puncture that took him out of contention. His fellow rookie Kvyat also scored points for the second race in a row in tenth.

Rosberg’s runners-up spot meant that he led Hamilton in the championship 43 points to 25, with Alonso on 24, Button on 23 and Magnussen on 20. Mercedes were already 25 points clear of McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship.

R3 – Bahrain Grand Prix

Rosberg took his first pole position of the season in Bahrain, securing first place ahead of Hamilton as Mercedes dominated the session. Ricciardo was almost a second shy in third but would start thirteenth after a penalty carried over from Malaysia for an unsafe release from a pit stop was applied. Bottas therefore inherited third ahead of Perez, meaning Mercedes-powered cars qualified 1-2-3-4.

Hamilton jumped ahead of Rosberg at the start, and the race saw a great battle between the two drivers as different tyre strategies played out. A late safety car period, to clear up a crash between Maldonado and Gutierrez that saw the Sauber driver rolling his car in spectacular fashion, brought the two drivers together, and over the closing laps, Rosberg tried again and again to pass his team-mate, but Hamilton clung on.

Bahrain saw a great battle for the win between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (Credit: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)

Bahrain saw a great battle for the win between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (Credit: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team)

Such as was the pace of the Mercedes drivers, Perez was almost twenty-five seconds adrift in third place, but the Mexican took only the second podium finish in Force India’s history. He just held off the charge of Ricciardo, who finished on his tail in fourth after a storming drive through the field. Hulkenberg was fifth again in the second Force India, with the second Red Bull of Vettel sixth.

Both Williams drivers had been in contention for the podium but excessive tyre wear meant extra pit stops for both drivers, so Massa and Bottas were consigned to finishing seventh and eighth. This was still better than what Ferrari could manage however, with Alonso and Raikkonen finishing ninth and tenth, a result that cost Stefano Domenicali his job as Team Principal.

Rosberg retained the championship lead but saw the gap fall by seven points, with Hamilton now 22 points clear of shock third placed Hulkenberg, whose consistent start to the season saw him riding high in the championship. In the constructors’ championship, Mercedes broke through the 100-point barrier in just the third race, and were 67 points clear of Force India who had overtaken McLaren into second place.

R4 – Chinese Grand Prix

For the third time in four races qualifying was held in wet conditions, and again it was Hamilton who prevailed, with the Briton being joined on the front row by Ricciardo’s Red Bull, while Vettel was third and Rosberg fourth.

Hamilton controlled the race from the front, while Rosberg finished second for the third race in a row despite his car’s telemetry failing early. He managed a late race charge to steal second from Vettel, who dropped to fifth behind Alonso and Ricciardo after the final round of pit stops.

Fernando Alonso was on the podium in China (Credit: Ferrari Media)

Fernando Alonso was on the podium in China (Credit: Ferrari Media)

Hulkenberg finished sixth ahead of Bottas, with Raikkonen, Perez and Kvyat securing the final points. Massa was on course for a top six finish after a problem with his rear wheel during his pit stop costing him almost a minute, and the Brazilian could only finish a lowly fifteenth.

Hamilton’s third consecutive win meant that he was now only four points behind Rosberg in the championship, with the German leading 79 points to 75. Alonso jumped up into third with his first podium of the year, relegating Hulkenberg to fourth. Mercedes extended their constructors’ championship lead to 97 points, with Red Bull Racing moving ahead of Force India into second.

R5 – Spanish Grand Prix

At the Circuit de Catalunya, Hamilton took pole position for the fourth time in five races, with team-mate Rosberg alongside him in second. Ricciardo qualified third but was over a second shy of the pole time, while Bottas was fourth ahead of Grosjean, who took his and Lotus’ best qualifying result of the season in fifth.

Again the fight for the win was between the Mercedes duo, and for the fourth time in a row it was Hamilton who finished ahead of Rosberg, but with different tyre strategies playing out once more, it was the German who was closing fast on the Briton, and Rosberg believed that with one more lap, it would have been him standing on the top step of the podium rather than Hamilton.

Romain Grosjean had his most competitive weekend of the year in Spain (Credit: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team)

Romain Grosjean had his most competitive weekend of the year in Spain (Credit: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team)

Ricciardo claimed his first podium finish that he was allowed to keep with third place, but was almost fifty seconds behind the two Mercedes. He was still ahead of team-mate Vettel, who finished fourth ahead of Bottas and the two Ferrari’s of Alonso and Raikkonen.

Grosjean claimed his and Lotus’ first points of the season in eighth despite suffering with a sensor problem that affected his speed, with the Frenchman believing he should have finished higher than he did. Perez was ninth ahead of team-mate Hulkenberg, who kept his run of races where he scored points going with tenth.

Hamilton’s win propelled him into the championship lead for the first time, moving to 100 points to Rosberg’s 97, while Alonso retained third despite now being 51 points back from the championship lead. Mercedes extended their constructors’ championship lead still further to 113 points over Red Bull, with Ferrari going ahead of Force India into third.

R6 – Monaco Grand Prix

Rosberg continued the Mercedes domination of qualifying with his second pole of the year in Monaco, but it came in somewhat controversial style after the German made a mistake on his second fast lap and caused yellow flags to fly that affected those behind him, including Hamilton who was on course to beat Rosberg’s time. Ricciardo and Vettel made it an all-Red Bull Racing row two, with the Ferrari’s of Alonso and Raikkonen making up row three.

Rosberg led from start to finish to take his second win of the year ahead of Hamilton, who kept him honest throughout before complaining of dirt in his eye that saw him fall back from his German team-mate into the clutches of Ricciardo, who claimed his second consecutive podium finish. Fernando Alonso was fourth and was the final driver to be on the lead lap, despite two safety car periods.

Marussia and Jules Bianchi scored their first ever points in Monaco (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

Marussia and Jules Bianchi scored their first ever points in Monaco (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

Hulkenberg was an impressive fifth for Force India ahead of Button’s McLaren, with the Briton scoring his first points since Malaysia in sixth. Massa finished seventh despite crashing with Ericsson’s Caterham during qualifying, with Grosjean taking his second consecutive eighth place for Lotus despite finishing behind Jules Bianchi.

Yes, Jules Bianchi. The French driver finished on the road in eighth place but was handed a five second penalty for starting in the wrong grid slot when Maldonado was unable to take the start in his Lotus. But his classified ninth place enabled his Marussia team to score their first ever points in Formula 1, much to the delight of everyone in the team. It was certainly one of the feel-good factors of 2014. He finished ahead of Magnussen’s McLaren after the Dane collided with Raikkonen’s Ferrari late in the race.

Raikkonen’s race was compromised during the second safety car period to clear up the crash of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber when, while running third, he was clipped by Chilton’s Marussia that resulted in an unscheduled second pit stop and a finish outside the points. Perez, who crashed out on the opening lap, caused the first safety car.

Rosberg’s win meant the German reclaimed the championship lead from Hamilton by four points, with Alonso retaining third ahead of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Mercedes were now running away with the Constructors’ championship, 141 points clear of Red Bull.

R7 – Canadian Grand Prix

Rosberg claimed pole position number three of the year at Montreal, with Hamilton once again making it a Mercedes 1-2, while Vettel was third ahead of Bottas, Massa and Ricciardo, the four of them covered by just 0.041s, but all over half a second adrift of the two Mercedes drivers.

For the first time in 2014, a Mercedes driver did not win, with Ricciardo claiming his maiden Formula 1 win in thrilling style after both Rosberg and Hamilton were affected by matching MGU-K failures, and while the Briton was forced to retire with brake issues, the German held onto the lead until just a few laps from the end when a determined Ricciardo, who had moments earlier passed Perez for second, took the lead into the final chicane.

Daniel Ricciardo took his maiden F1 win in Canada (Credit: Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo took his maiden F1 win in Canada (Credit: Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images)

Rosberg held onto second ahead of Vettel, with the race ending behind the safety car after a heavy crash between Perez, who was nursing his car home, and Massa heading into the first corner on the final lap. Button finished fourth after a late race charge, with Hulkenberg fifth and Alonso sixth. Bottas claimed seventh for Williams ahead of Vergne’s Toro Rosso, while Magnussen and Raikkonen completed the points scorers.

The race was also notable for Max Chilton’s first ever retirement from a Grand Prix, but it happened in unfortunate circumstances when he collided with team-mate Bianchi on the opening lap, eliminating both drivers. It was a big comedown for the team high after their maiden points in the previous race. After their respective incidents Perez and Chilton were handed five and three-place grid penalties for the next race.

With Rosberg able to bring his car home, he extended his lead over Hamilton to twenty-two points, with Ricciardo jumping into third ahead of Alonso. Red Bull closed the gap to Mercedes by twelve points, but they were still well adrift of the German team.

R8 – Austrian Grand Prix

After seeing their winning run come to an end in Montreal, the Mercedes team saw their pole position run end in Spielberg, with Felipe Massa taking his first pole position since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix. He was joined on the front row by his Williams team-mate Bottas, with Rosberg third and Hamilton down in ninth after two mistakes during the session.

Despite not starting at the front, Rosberg claimed his third win of the season on the Sunday, with Hamilton clinching a Mercedes 1-2 finish ahead of Bottas, who took his maiden Formula 1 podium finish, while pole sitter Massa dropped to fourth, just ahead of Alonso’s Ferrari who had a great last part of the race.

Felipe Massa took his first pole position since 2008 in Austria (Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic)

Felipe Massa took his first pole position since 2008 in Austria (Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic)

Despite starting fifteenth after his Montreal penalty was applied, Perez finished an excellent sixth, ahead of Magnussen, while Ricciardo was only eighth in Red Bull’s home Grand Prix. Despite this, he pulled off one of the best overtaking manoeuvres of the race on Hulkenberg on the penultimate lap, passing the German around the outside of four. Hulkenberg ultimately took ninth, with Raikkonen’s Ferrari tenth.

Ricciardo’s eighth place was the only performance of note for the Red Bull family, with Vettel retiring while running last after initially losing drive on lap two before getting back up to speed albeit a lap down. Sister team Toro Rosso suffered a double retirement, with Kvyat’s suspension breaking while running inside the top ten on lap 24, and Vergne’s brakes giving up on lap 59.

Rosberg’s win took him 29 points clear of Hamilton in the championship, which had already become a two horse race. Ricciardo was well adrift in third, ahead of Alonso and Vettel. Mercedes now had more than double the amount of points of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship – 301 points to 143.

R9 – British Grand Prix

Rosberg claimed his fourth pole position of the season in the mixed conditions during qualifying at Silverstone as Hamilton decided early to give up his lap believing the track was not good enough to improve. However it was the final sector that was providing big leaps in time, and Hamilton dropped to sixth as a result. Vettel joined Rosberg on the front row, with Button a seasons-best third ahead of Hulkenberg.

One of the stories of qualifying however was the performance of the two Marussia’s, with both Bianchi and Chilton making it through to Q2 at the expense of both Williams’ and both Ferrari’s. Bianchi’s twelfth was the best ever starting position for the team.

Lewis Hamilton took victory in front of his Silverstone fans (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

Lewis Hamilton took victory in front of his Silverstone fans (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

The race had to be red flagged before the end of the first lap after a big crash for Kimi Raikkonen on the Wellington Straight that also ended the race of Massa’s Williams. The guardrail that Raikkonen struck needed to be replaced, and the race was delayed for an hour.

Hamilton claimed his second career British Grand Prix win as Rosberg’s strong run of podium finishes ended with a retirement due to a gearbox issue. He was leading when he started to encounter problems, and retired to the delight of the British fans just after Hamilton had taken the lead.

Having started fourteenth, Bottas claimed his best F1 result to date with second place, with Ricciardo third after a tyre gamble that paid off, as he was able to beat Button to the podium after completing more laps on a set of tyres than most believed possible.

Vettel beat Alonso for fifth after a titanic battle between the two, with Magnussen seventh ahead of Hulkenberg, while the two Toro Rosso’s of Vergne and Kvyat completed the top ten.

Hamilton’s win and Rosberg’s retirement meant the championship battle closed up once more, with the German only four points ahead of the Briton. Mercedes continued to dominate the constructors’ standings.

Look out for Part Two of the season review, covering rounds 10 to 19.

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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