The first nine races of 2014 had seen the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team win eight races, six of them as part of 1-2 finishes, with Nico Rosberg leading the World Drivers’ Championship by four points from Lewis Hamilton.
The Williams Martini Racing team had performed above expectation; with Valtteri Bottas taking his maiden podium finishes in Formula 1, while Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing had taken the only win not taken by the Mercedes drivers in Canada.
We also saw the Marussia F1 Team secure their first ever points in Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix with Jules Bianchi to place them ahead of both Sauber and Caterham into ninth place in the Constructors’ championship.
With ten races still to run, it was just a case of which Mercedes driver would prevail in the championship, but there would be many twists and turns yet to come, while at the other end of the championship, we would see driver changes, and a race tinged with sadness in Japan.
R10 – German Grand Prix
Rosberg took his fifth pole position of the season at Hockenheim, but the story of qualifying was a brake failure for Hamilton that pitched the Briton into the barriers, consigning him to a early exit from qualifying and a P20 start after a gearbox penalty. Bottas joined Rosberg on the front row, with the second Williams of Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren on row two.
Unfortunately for Massa, his race was over at the first corner as Magnussen pitched him into a terrifying roll after the Brazilian assumed that the Dane was not on his inside as he entered the corner. The stewards deemed the incident as a racing incident, even though Massa was clear that he laid the blame firmly at Magnussen’s feet.
Rosberg controlled the race from the front, winning by 20 seconds from Bottas, who held off the challenge of Hamilton in the closing stages after the Briton had made an amazing fight back through the field from his lowly grid slot. Hamilton made contact with Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Jenson Button’s McLaren during the race, but survived with just minor damage.
Sebastian Vettel finished fourth for Red Bull Racing ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and Ricciardo, with the three of them putting on a good show of respect with clean and exciting offensive and defensive driving. Nico Hulkenberg scored points for the tenth time in ten races for Force India in seventh, ahead of the two McLaren’s of Button and Magnussen, while Sergio Perez in the second Force India was tenth.
Rosberg’s win and Hamilton’s third place meant the gap opened up from four points to fourteen in the German’s favour, with Ricciardo a further seventy points back in third. Mercedes led the constructors’ championship by 366 points to 188 from Red Bull, with Williams ahead of Ferrari in third.
R11 – Hungarian Grand Prix
For the third race in a row, it was Rosberg who took top spot during qualifying at the Hungaroring, but for the second race in a row, team-mate Hamilton suffered mechanical woes during the session, with the Briton’s car catching alight in pit entry that saw him forced to start the race from the pit lane on Sunday. Vettel was on the front row alongside Rosberg, with Bottas and Ricciardo on the second row, while a mention goes out to Bianchi in his Marussia, who put in a storming late lap in Q1 to get through into Q2 at the expense of Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
For just the third time in 29 Hungarian Grand Prix, the race was affected by rain, and it meant all drivers started on intermediate tyres. Rosberg led away, but lost his advantage when the safety car was deployed to clear up Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham after the Swede lost control after he, Bottas, Vettel and Alonso were past the pit lane entry when the SC boards were deployed, with those behind them able to pit for dry tyres on the drying track.
Ricciardo took the lead, but the race came alive in the closing stages, with Alonso gambling on one less pit stop to take the lead, with Hamilton running in second ahead of Ricciardo. The Australian was not to be denied his second win however, overtaking Hamilton and Alonso on consecutive laps to take the victory. Alonso took his best result of the season in second, with Hamilton, despite his pit lane start and a first lap spin, holding off Rosberg for the final podium place.
Massa was fifth for Williams ahead of Raikkonen, with Vettel seventh despite a lurid spin exiting the final corner on lap 33, while Bottas took eighth after losing out dramatically in the early stages, dropping from second to eleventh. Jean-Eric Vergne was ninth for Toro Rosso after running second in the early stages of the race, while Button took tenth for McLaren after gambling on a rain shower that did not arrive in the early stages of the race, staying on intermediate tyres when everyone around him had changed onto dries.
Hulkenberg’s run of points scoring races ended with a crash at the final corner after almost colliding with team-mate Perez and taking avoiding action, while Perez also ended his race early with a crash exiting the final corner, catching a damp patch on the outside and spinning into the pit wall.
Rosberg continued to lead the Drivers’ championship, breaking through the 200-point barrier in the process, with Hamilton eleven points behind. Mercedes were now on 393 points in the constructors’ championship, with Red Bull far behind in second on just 219 points.
R12 – Belgian Grand Prix
In another rain-affected qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, Rosberg took pole number seven of 2014 ahead of Hamilton, with the two Mercedes two seconds faster than third placed Vettel, who was joined on the second row by Alonso. Down near the back, Bianchi once again made it through to Q2, this time at the expense of Hulkenberg’s Force India.
Just for this weekend, multiple Le Mans 24 Hour winner Andre Lotterer replaced Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham, and was able to out-qualify the team’s regular driver Marcus Ericsson. At fellow back markers Marussia, Alexander Rossi was initially entered to replace Max Chilton after a few financial issues at the team, but although the American took part in the first free practice session, Chilton was back in the car for FP2 and the rest of the weekend after those issues were solved.
After Hamilton made the better start to jump into the lead, the championship battle became personal when heading into Les Combes on lap two, Rosberg, whilst attempting an overtake, clipped the back of his team-mates car, causing damage to his front wing and a puncture to Hamilton’s car. The Briton managed to nurse his car back to the pits but his chance of points had disappeared. Hamilton appeared to accuse Rosberg of deliberately crashing into him, although the stewards deemed it a racing incident.
With the damage to his wing, Rosberg was forced to switch strategies, which enabled Ricciardo to take his third win of the season, and although Rosberg was by far the quickest driver in the field in the final stint, he was unable to close the gap to the Red Bull driver, ending just 3.383s behind the Australian in second.
Bottas returned to the podium in third place for Williams ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who had his best race of the year to finish fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Vettel and Button, while Alonso, who initially failed to get off the line on the formation lap was seventh. Both Button and Alonso had benefited from a penalty to Kevin Magnussen, who was deemed to have forced Alonso off the road down the Kemmel Straight and was handed a twenty-second penalty, relegating him from sixth to twelfth.
Sergio Perez was eighth for Force India ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, while Hulkenberg climbed from eighteenth to finish in the points in tenth. Unfortunately for debutant Lotterer, his race was over after just one lap, with an electrical fault sidelining the German driver.
Rosberg’s second place combined with Hamilton’s retirement meant the German now led the Briton by 29 points, while Ricciardo’s third win of the season closed the gap to Hamilton to 35 points. Mercedes were still well clear in the constructors’ championship; 411 points to Red Bull’s 254.
R13 – Italian Grand Prix
Hamilton broke Rosberg’s run of four consecutive pole positions by taking top spot in qualifying at Monza, with the Mercedes duo once again the class of the field – Bottas in third was over half a second adrift of the pole time, with his team-mate Massa fourth. Kvyat became the first driver to be forced to use a sixth power unit in 2014, with the Russian driver taking a ten-place grid penalty as a result.
Hamilton lost the lead at the start after a brief loss of power, with both Magnussen and Massa moving into second and third behind Rosberg. Hamilton managed to get back into second, and then took the lead after Rosberg made a mistake at the first chicane, missing his braking point and being forced to go down the escape road.
Massa held on to third for his first podium of the season in front of the Tifosi whom adored him throughout his eight-year spell at Ferrari. Team-mate Bottas recovered from a dreadful start to finish fourth, making a good number of passing manoeuvres, especially into the first chicane.
Ricciardo once again got the better of Vettel in the race, passing his team-mate superbly to take fifth, while Magnussen was penalised again post-race, this time only five seconds for forcing Bottas off the track while the Finn was attempting to pass the Dane, but it allowed Perez to score points again for Force India in seventh, with Button and Raikkonen also moving up the order with Magnussen ultimately tenth. It could have been worse, when, within five seconds of the McLaren driver, Kvyat had braking issues on the final lap that saw him fall back from the battle when in line to score the final point, while Fernando Alonso retired with a rare Ferrari mechanical issue early on.
Hamilton’s win brought him seven points closer to Rosberg in the championship, with now only 22 points between them. The teams’ seventh 1-2 finish of the year, combined with Red Bull only finishing 5-6, meant Mercedes were now 182 points ahead in the constructors’ championship.
R14 – Singapore Grand Prix
For the third time in Singapore and for the sixth time during 2014, Hamilton took pole position during the qualifying session under the lights, with Rosberg joining his team-mate on the front row once more, although the chasing pack was closer than they had been for many a race, with third placed Ricciardo less than two tenths of a second behind the pole time, with Vettel, Alonso and Massa all within a tenth of a second in positions four, five and six.
Electrical issues for Rosberg before the race denied everyone the possibility of a battle for the lead, with the German unable to manually start the car. He ultimately joined the race at the back of the field, but was obviously down on power and struggled to compete even with Marussia and Caterham, before he retired on lap 13.
Hamilton took the win ahead of Vettel, but was forced to pass the Red Bull driver on track after a safety car period to clear up debris from Perez’s Force India after the Mexican clipped the back of Sutil’s Sauber, with Hamilton still to make his final stop. When the safety car went in, Hamilton stormed away at the front, and almost made a big enough gap to stay in the lead. He came out just behind Vettel, and was passed the German driver within a lap.
Ricciardo finished third in the second Red Bull ahead of Alonso, while Massa was a distant fifth after being forced to manage his tyres so to secure the position. Vergne was a brilliant sixth, passing a number of cars in the closing laps and making a big enough gap behind him after being penalised (for the second time during the race) five seconds for exceeding track limits and gaining an advantage.
Perez recovered from his wing breakage to claim seventh, ahead of Raikkonen, while Hulkenberg and Magnussen completed the top ten, the Dane completing the race despite his seat becoming hot and his water in his drinks bottle boiling. Bottas tried to do the same strategy as Massa and was running sixth for a long spell before his tyres ultimately gave in a few laps from home, with the Finn dropping to eleventh at the flag.
Hamilton’s win propelled him into the championship lead ahead of Rosberg by three points, with Mercedes 174 points clear of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
R15 – Japanese Grand Prix
The Japanese Grand Prix of 2014 will always be remember for the horrific accident that befell Jules Bianchi on lap 42, when, in worsening conditions, he lost control of his Marussia car and hit at speed a recovery crane that was removing Sutil’s stricken Sauber from the scene of his own accident. The race was red flagged and called a result on lap 46 (with results going back to lap 44) but Bianchi remains in a critical but stable condition in a French hospital, and all the thoughts of TCF remain with him and his family in this difficult time.
Rosberg had taken pole position on Saturday ahead of Hamilton, with Bottas and Massa once again confirming Williams’ pace with third and fourth. Believing rain was coming on Sunday for the race, Red Bull plucked for a set-up that would enable them to be faster should the rain arrive and could only qualify sixth for Ricciardo and ninth for Vettel as a result.
The promised rain did arrive, and the start was made behind the safety car, although at the end of the second lap, red flags flew and everyone went back to the pits in formation. Twenty minutes later, the race restarted behind the safety car, but for Alonso his race was over early when he pulled over with an electronic issue.
With everyone on wets behind the safety car, it was a gamble for those as when to pit to switch to intermediates, and it was Button and Pastor Maldonado who made the leap first, following the safety car into the pits on lap nine. For Button, who excels in tricky conditions, it was an inspired decision, and when everyone else pitted he had moved into third place behind the Mercedes drivers.
The battle for the lead between Rosberg and Hamilton was determined once and for all when the Briton passed the German on lap 29, while Red Bull’s wet set-up gamble paid off with Vettel finishing third and Ricciardo fourth, both managing to get ahead of Button. Bottas and Massa were a distant sixth and seventh as the team struggled once more for wet weather pace, while Hulkenberg was classified eighth despite coming to a halt behind the safety car. Luckily for the German, on count back, he was able to reclaim his position, ahead of Vergne and Perez.
Hamilton now led Rosberg by ten points in the championship, while the result confirmed that Vettel would not be winning a fifth straight title, he was now 127 points behind with only 125 available. Mercedes were now on the brink of the constructors’ championship, 190 points ahead of Red Bull.
R16 – Russian Grand Prix
Just a week after Bianchi’s horror crash in Japan, a shocked F1 family arrived for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at Sochi. Alexander Rossi was initially selected by Marussia to take the place of Bianchi in the team, but as a tribute to their fallen star, they only raced with one car for Chilton, while Bianchi’s car was built in the garage but was not raced.
Hamilton took the first ever pole position at the circuit, with Rosberg again on the front row, with Bottas third on the grid for Williams ahead of the revitalised Button, while Kvyat qualified an excellent fifth in front of his home fans.
Most of the action of the race was at the first corner, with Rosberg out-braking himself whilst attempting to pass Hamilton, with the German being forced into the pits at the end of the opening lap with heavy flat spots on both front tyres. It gave Hamilton an easy run to the flag for his fourth win in a row, while Rosberg made the same set of tyres last the entire race to finish second ahead of Bottas.
Button and Magnussen were fourth and fifth for McLaren, ahead of Alonso, with Ricciardo and Vettel seventh and eighth ahead of Raikkonen and Perez. Kvyat’s excellent qualifying came to nothing as both he and team-mate Vergne struggled with fuel consumption and tyre wear, both finishing outside the points.
Hamilton was now seventeen points clear of Rosberg in the championship with just three rounds to go, while the teams’ ninth 1-2 finish of the season confirmed them as the 2014 Constructors’ Champions, the first time Mercedes had taken this accolade.
R17 – United States Grand Prix
The 2014 United States Grand Prix at Austin saw the lowest entry level for a Grand Prix since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, after both Caterham and Marussia withdrew after entering administration following the Russian Grand Prix. It also meant that the qualifying procedure was altered, with four cars being eliminated in both Q1 and Q2 rather than the usual six.
Rosberg continued his good form in qualifying with his ninth pole position of 2014, dominating the session ahead of Hamilton, with Bottas and Massa once again lining up on row two. For the first time in 2014, Sauber managed to get a driver into Q3, with Adrian Sutil qualifying tenth. Vettel decided to use this race as the event to introduce his sixth power unit to his car, with the German deciding to start the race from the pit lane.
Sutil’s joy turned sour on the opening lap, when he was taken out of the race by Perez, necessitating the introduction of the safety car. Rosberg led the first stage of the race before he was passed on lap 24 by Hamilton into turn 12, with the Briton holding on for his fifth win in a row ahead of his team-mate, while Ricciardo jumped ahead of both Williams cars to finish third.
Massa and Bottas were fourth and fifth, well clear of Alonso in sixth, while Vettel used a different strategy to snatch seventh in the closing laps from Magnussen, while Maldonado scored his first points of the season for Lotus in ninth ahead of Vergne, who was penalised five seconds for forcing the second Lotus of Grosjean off the track at turn one that allowed Maldonado to score two points rather than just the one.
Hamilton now had a twenty-four-point lead in the championship from Rosberg, with just two races to go in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
R18 – Brazilian Grand Prix
For the tenth time in 2014, Rosberg was on pole position at Interlagos, beating Hamilton by just 0.033s, and with Massa and Bottas third and fourth and Button fifth, it meant Mercedes power lined up 1-2-3-4-5 on the grid. There were once again only eighteen cars on the grid, with the continued absence of Caterham and Marussia.
Rosberg also broke Hamilton’s run of five consecutive race wins with victory, which came with a bit of luck when the Briton spun while trying to make up ground after the German pitted. The Constructors’ champions were once again the class of the field, with Massa taking a home podium for Williams over forty seconds behind in third.
Button was fourth ahead of Vettel, while Ferrari duo Alonso and Raikkonen were sixth and seventh, and enjoyed a close battle with a few laps to go for position, with neither willing to give the other an inch. Hulkenberg was eighth for Force India, having led early in the race after deciding on an alternative tyre strategy, with the German finishing ahead of Magnussen, while Bottas was a lapped tenth after two bad pit stops.
With just one round of the season to go, Hamilton had a seventeen-point advantage over Rosberg, while Ricciardo was now confirmed in third position, despite retiring from the Brazil race with a broken suspension on lap 39.
R19 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
All eyes were on the championship battle in Abu Dhabi, with one of Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg going to take the 2014 crown, although the advantage was most definitely with Hamilton despite the dreaded double points possibly coming into play. Hamilton only needed to finish second to clinch the title.
Rosberg took the first advantage with his eleventh pole position of the year, and thus collected the inaugural pole position trophy introduced for 2014. Hamilton was second, ahead of Bottas and Massa. Both Red Bull drivers were sensationally disqualified after the session for illegal front wings after qualifying fifth and sixth respectively, although both were allowed to start the race from the pit lane.
We were back to twenty cars for this race, with Caterham back on the grid after a crowd-funding project enabled them to race, although Ericsson had quit the team, with his place alongside Kobayashi being taken by Formula Renault 3.5 Series race winner Will Stevens.
Hamilton jumped into the lead at the start and was never headed as he took the win and his second World Drivers’ Championship, while Rosberg finished a lowly fourteenth after his car developed a number of faults, although he asked his team if he could at least see the chequered flag after the team suggested he retire the car. He was gracious in defeat and was happy to see his team-mate claim the crown.
Massa had a good race to finish a season’s best in second, with Williams finishing with both cars on the podium for the first time since Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber finished second and third in the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix after Bottas claimed third. Riccardo finished fourth despite having started from the pit lane, with Button fifth ahead of the two Force India’s of Hulkenberg and Perez sixth and seventh.
Vettel was eighth, unable to make the same progress as his team-mate, while the Ferrari’s were ninth and tenth, Alonso ahead of Raikkonen. It was Vettel’s last race for Red Bull before moving to Ferrari, where he would replace Alonso who was McLaren-bound.
But after nineteen races, eleven race wins, three runners-up spots and two third places, Lewis Hamilton was the deserving 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers Champion.