Earlier this week, TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk’s team of writers revealed our competitors of the year for 2014, however behind every great driver or rider is a great team, and today we select our standout squads from the last twelve months in the latest instalment of our ‘TCF Picks’ series.
Pete Allen: DAMS
Champions in both GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 this year, the French squad are undoubtedly the team to beat at that level of the single-seater ladder. They gave Jolyon Palmer the car to consistently qualify at the sharp end of the grid and consequently score big points time and time again, and helped Carlos Sainz Jr to finally realise his potential and absolutely dominate on his day. Their finest moment was in Monaco, when they won all three of the single-seater races on the Monaco Grand Prix support bill courtesy of Palmer, Stephane Richelmi and Norman Nato.
Next year, they could be even more of a force in GP2, seemingly poised to ditch their tendency to favour experience and instead assemble a French dream team of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. That should have the rest of the teams should be running scared.
Aaron Rook: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes are my team of the year. I think it’s hard for any team to come close really. Mercedes dominated Formula One in 2014 and they look set to do it again in 2015.
From as early as winter testing it was clear that they would be the team to beat, and they were. They finished on 701 points, almost 300 ahead of nearest rivals Red Bull and as expected took both championships. The only time they were beaten on track was when they hurt themselves, other than that they were faultless and handled their drivers superbly.
A lot of credit has to go to Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and of course the architect behind the 2014 car, Ross Brawn.
Tom Errington: Porsche WEC
Many will choose Mercedes, but Porsche’s return has been excellent. Taking their first win at Interlagos in the final round of the WEC season was the perfect reward for a season that only got better as the season went on.
Late heartbreak at Le Mans will overshadow a year that saw them take one fastest lap, four poles and one win in their first eight races with the 919 Hybrid. Challenging Audi isn’t an easy feat and it’ll be fascinating to see how 2015 goes. No wonder Nico Hulkenberg is looking forward to racing with them.
Jake Handley: Nigel Lamb’s Air Race Team
Picking a team of the year is a tough one, with both Toyota Hybrid Racing and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 both good calls for the title of team of the year, but my team comes from the fastest series of all, the Red Bull Air Race.
Therefore my team of the year is the team behind Nigel Lamb’s Breitling- sponsored MXS-R, with the Brit and his team getting the plane setup perfectly across the season to beat Hannes Arch in a tantalising finale in Austria.
Louis Suddaby: Marc VDS Racing Team
MotoGP may be the pinnacle on two wheels but the lower classes of Grand Prix racing are bursting with quality and if anyone demonstrates that strength in depth, it’s the Marc VDS Racing Team in Moto2. The Belgian squad came so close to the 2013 title with Scott Redding but in 2014, nothing would stand in their way.
Moto2 is moving dangerously close to becoming a single-constructor series, with Kalex ruling the roost, and with similar machinery throughout the field, it places extra importance on the teams themselves to extract the most from their equipment. Marc VDS did just that with Esteve Rabat and Mika Kallio combining to claim ten Grand Prix victories from a possible eighteen, including four one-two’s, with the pair fighting a private battle over the Moto2 crown.
Rabat prevailed in the end, and will subsequently defend his title with the team in Marc VDS but the biggest news of all came when the team announced their ascension to MotoGP, joining forces with Scott Redding once again with a factory Honda RC213V. For years, Marc VDS have been a MotoGP team in all but name, now they can finally take their place amongst the elite where they belong.
Alex Goldschmidt: Mercedes AMG Petronas
No other answer than Mercedes AMG Petronas, who finally broke the deadlock of dominance that Infiniti Red Bull Racing enjoyed for four seasons in Formula 1, breaking records set by Red Bull and McLaren in the process. The Brackley-based outfit just showed how much further ahead they were with not just the power units that have given them that edge, but also with the fact that the W05 AMG Hybrid was even quicker than a lot of their rivals had thought.
The biggest thing that impressed me above all was that Hamilton and Rosberg were allowed to race as per Toto Wolff’s mandate, which made for great viewing all the way through the season, especially when the pair were fighting each other tooth and nail when the Bahrain night race happened early on in the season.
Simon Paice: HHC Motorsport
2014 was a stellar year for HHC Motorsport. With Charlie Robertson behind the wheel, the team sensationally won the Ginetta GT4 Supercup in their first season in the category, carding eight race wins to fend off a host of more experienced teams and drivers.
While the team missed out on a third successive Ginetta Junior title, they still hugely impressed with nine race wins and six one-two finishes taking James Kellett and Lando Norris to second and third in the points. They successfully defended the Winter Series title too, Jamie Caroline securing the honours.
In BRDC Formula 4 meanwhile, they battled for the main title with Raoul Hyman and Sennan Fielding before clinching the Winter crown with Will Palmer. All-round another hugely impressive campaign for a team only established in 2010.
Joe Diamond: Marussia
It’d be an understatement to claim that Marussia have had a bitter sweet season 2014, with the drama and tragedy of the last few months outweighing the triumph of their first points in Monaco owing to the heroics of their fallen hero, Jules Bianchi. Indeed, the Frenchman’s incident in Japan has, and will continue to remain a dark cloud hanging over the 2014 season, but the strength the team showed to make to it to the following race in Russia cannot be underestimated.
Each team member, under the stress of financial plight and the worry for their injured colleague and friend, battled on to ensure the team kept racing. What a shame then, that factors out of their hands determined the team’s fate come the rule of the administrators.
Lee Bonham: Team BMR
Chrome Edition Restart Racing (Team BMR) is in my view one of the most underrated teams of BTCC 2014. The four cars entered were immaculately turned out and competitive as well, giving Aron Smith the opportunity to take two victories. The team was also the perfect environment for Alain Menu’s BTCC return and if the team are able to retain Smith and Menu, a title charge must be on the cards for 2015.
Dan Mason: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes must take all the credit for their dominant Formula 1 efforts in 2014 with the W05 Hybrid, Lewis Hamilton having had faith in Brackley that they would be more prepared for this season’s technical changes than any of their rivals.
So it proved. The Mercedes team had already wrapped up the Constructors’ crown after the trip to Sochi, only conceding three races besides their 16 triumphs.
Williams were the rejuvenation story, and they justifiably stole the only non-Mercedes pole position of the season at Austria, however it was all about the Merc men at the front who gave the crowds an intense fight to the flag as the team bravely let them duke it out all season.
Nick Smith: Williams Martini Racing
The team of the year for me has to be Williams Martini Racing. They came from nowhere to provide the only sustainable challenge to the Mercedes juggernaut in Formula 1, proving to many doubters, including me, that they were still the team which claimed championships and deserved top level drivers.
They fielded a great car with one of the best two driver teams to be seen all year. They looked the part in their new livery which felt right from the first outing. They went about business in their own way, doing the right things at the right time and getting the right reward.
Despite the lack of race winning silverware, Williams Martini Racing is a proper British success story again.
Matt Bristow: XtremeRX
Not as obvious and I thought I would look at the domestic championship for this one. XtremeRX raced in the MSA British Hot Hatch Championship and secured the championship with a round to spare. But this is not the only reason, it’s also the fact that the whole team are such a tight knit group that clearly love what they do.
Joe Hudson: Toyota Hybrid Racing
The strength that was always present in the TS030 was brought to the fore in the TS040 by Toyota. They dominated almost every race of the season – except the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and finally showed they could take the fight to the four rings.
Paul Hensby: DAMS
There are not many teams that can say they won both GP2 Series titles and Formula Renault 3.5 Series titles in the same year, but in 2014 DAMS can lay claim to that record.
They took Briton Jolyon Palmer to the GP2 Series crown, with the Briton winning four races, while his Monegasque team-mate Stephane Richelmi also claimed a victory during the season at Monaco.
Over in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr was taking the title on his way to securing a Formula 1 drive with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team for 2015, and the Spaniard took a record breaking seven wins. French team-mate Norman Nato also headed to victory lane, winning in Monaco and Hungary.
The standout weekend for the team has to be in Monaco. It is the only weekend where both GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 share the bill, and DAMS topped every practice session, took both pole positions, and all three wins on offer. It was a weekend of near perfection, with Palmer winning the Feature race and Richelmi the Sprint race in GP2, and Nato on top in FR3.5.
What do you think about our selections? Let us know your 2014 teams of the year through Twitter @thecheckerflag with #TCFPicks, or with a comment below.