Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hamilton Triumphs Over Rosberg for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and 2014 Championship Victory

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The last race of a 19-race tour started in mid-March in Australia, a 20-car field of advanced gasoline/electric hybrid Formula 1 race vehicles sat on the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. During 18 races, the clean slate that drivers and teams entered 2014 filled up in the favour of Mercedes AMG. Winning 15 races before arriving in the United Arab Emirates, Lewis Hamilton's late-season roll has permitted him to stand 17 pounds ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. With the championship on the line thanks to double points being awarded for the final grand prix of 2014, Rosberg charged to the pole on Saturday with no plans of letting the title slip away. Only 55 laps remained to decide which one of the Mercedes AMG teammates would be crowned the 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship.

Right from the time the lights went out to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton set out to do everything he needed to go to lock up the 2014 championship. Hamilton seize a poor start by the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG race car to gain the lead right off the bat. By the second lap, Hamilton held a 1.4-second advantage ahead of Rosberg.

Behind the Mercedes AMG cars, the final start of the 2014 Formula 1 season did not go without incident. Realistically driving for his job with McLaren in 2015, Kevin Magnussen made contact with both Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil on lap 1 of the race. By closer examination by the race stewards, it was ruled that Hulkenberg was at-fault for forcing Magnussen's McLaren off the track. Kevin Magnussen continued to the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but was unable to score points. Despite a five-second penalty levied against him, Nico Hulkenberg brought his Force India-Mercedes across the line in sixth place.

Photo credit: Pirelli Photo Service

A race starting late in the afternoon at the Yas Marina Circuit, natural light from a boiling sun lessened on the 5.554-kilometer track. With much of the field starting on Pirelli supersoft slick tires, pit stops came early for the Mercedes AMG cars with Hamilton in on lap 10 and Rosberg pitting on lap 11. Felipe Massa was able to lead the grand prix briefly until he pitted on lap 14. Lewis Hamilton regained the lead with a 2.3-second interval on Nico Rosberg as the two Mercedes AMG cars lapped at the top of the field.

While Lewis Hamilton appeared to be maintaining the upper hand on his teammate by the time the race was reaching half distance, the championship challenge attempt of Nico Rosberg lost momentum (literally). Around lap 24 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG race car of Rosberg was lapping the Yas Marina Circuit slower. Through telemetry, the team realized the lost pace on track was the result of the Energy Recovery System (ERS) failing. Typically resulting in over 150 horsepower from the integrated gasoline/electric powertrain of the Mercedes AMG W05 Hybrid race car, Rosberg quickly lost ground with Hamilton and was caught and passed by Felipe Massa on lap 27. Running slower than the pace of the leaders, Rosberg backslid through the field. Through the mechanical gremlins biting the car of Rosberg, the 2014 championship because Hamilton's. Showing the poise of a champion, Rosberg would heroically finish the race in his wounded race machine in 14th place.

Without having to even finish the race the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Nico Rosberg dropped down the running order, Lewis Hamilton was by no means willing to quit. Maintaining the pace he showed all this season, Hamilton concluded the 2014 season crossing the finish line at the Yas Marina Circuit first. Collecting his 11th win for the year, the newly-crowned two-time Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion Lewis Hamilton tied himself with the second-most in a season with Michael Schumacher in 2002 and Sebastian Vettel in 2011. When Hamilton won his first championship in 2008, he captured only five grand prix victories.

Driving for the modern Silver Arrows, Hamilton's win marks the first drivers' title for a full-fledged Mercedes-Benz factory Formula 1 driver since Juan Manuel Fangio's 1955 championship. Following the event, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Dr. Dieter Zetsche said in a statement from the German automaker, “He has truly earned that title with a fantastic performance this year. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate his team-mate Nico Rosberg and all of our staff in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart on this fascinating and highly successful season.". On the Mercedes AMG team's website, Lewis Hamilton was recorded saying he felt ".. a bit lost for words really".

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Capturing two spots on the podium, the Williams Martini Racing organization finishes off what has been a productive 2014 season. A season-best grand prix result for Felipe Massa, he leapfrogged his teammate Valtteri Bottas early in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and stayed ahead for the checkered flag. Finishing within 2.5 seconds of the factory team, the customer Mercedes-Benz engine inside the Williams of Massa got close to Hamilton at the end. "It was good to be racing and pushing the Mercedes. I hope this is a strong building block to go on for next year. The team progressed so much throughout the year, which is why we were able to get podiums in the second half of the season; we will continue this forward movement into next year." said Felipe Massa in a team release. Posting more consistent results in 2014, Bottas claims a higher position in the overall drivers' standings after 19 races. In fourth place, Valtteri Bottas is the highest placed non-winner in the points launching over Sebastian Vettel thanks to the double points headed out at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With six Mercedes-Benz powered cars finishing in the top-10 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, many of customer teams performed well in the season finale. Besides the already-mentioned Williams team, Jenson Button took fifth place with a McLaren-Mercedes in what was the last race where the team and engine supplier will be together. With both cars finishing in the points, Force India posted a total of 28 points as Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and Sergio Perez crossed the line in seventh.

With qualifying times excluded due to a rules infraction on their Red Bull-Renault race cars, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel ended the 55-lap distance inside the top-10. In fact, Ricciardo finished in fourth place, 8.3 seconds behind third place. Vettel finished in eighth place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix driving his Red Bull-Renault. Finishing 2014 fifth overall in the drivers' standings for 2014, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing ends the season much differentially than 2013. Already announced as leaving Red Bull Racing after capturing four world drivers' championships in a row with the outfit, Vettel's new home in Formula 1 should be confirmed soon. Strongest rumours indicate the German will be driving a Ferrari next season.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

The Red Bull Racing cars existed as the only Renault-powered competitors to score points at Abu Dhabi. Jean-Eric Vergne driving for Toro Rosso finished 12th while Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean crossed the line 13th, one lap down. The Caterham car driven by Will Stevens in his first-ever Formula 1 race went the whole distance of the event to finish 17th but the teammate driver of Kamui Kobayashi retired due to a bad vibration. Renault's showing in the final race was also embarrassed by a reported electronic problem on the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and a fiery eruption of the powerplant on the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.

In the final two point-paying positions, the red Ferrari race cars with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen allowed the Italian team to capture fourth in the constructors' points. Along with Vettel, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked the final race that Fernando Alonso would run with Ferrari. Finishing 2nd overall on three occasions, Alonso's time at Ferrari was fruitful but concluded without the ultimate goal the driver/team pairing had wanted.

After 19 races, the 2014 Formula 1 season concludes with a fantastic show of dominance by the Mercedes AMG team and another championship for Lewis Hamilton. With the 2015 season four months away, the victors will possibly spare themselves a little time to celebrate their success this season before turning attention to next year.

2014 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
9 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
11 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
14 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
17 46 Will Stevens Caterham Renault
18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
19 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
20 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rosberg Takes Pole Ahead of Championship Deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

After 18 races, all that remains in the 2014 Formula 1 season is one last event. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix contains the final 55 laps for that will complete a season where Mercedes AMG launched themselves into a season where they have won all but three races and locked up the 2014 Constructors' title. Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg suit up this weekend knowing one of them will be the season's champion. Hamilton holds a 17-point edge over Rosberg preparing for competition at the Yas Marina Circuit.

In Saturday's qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton immediately made no secret that he wanted to be in prime position to capture his second world champion driving title. After the first two rounds of qualifying, Hamilton's Mercedes AMG race machine was at the top of the time sheet in lapping the 21-turn, 5.554-kilometer track. However, in the final Q3 session, it was Nico Rosberg who prevailed in capturing the pole. Rosberg's Mercedes AMG car completed a lap at 1-minute, 40.480 seconds to claim the top spot for Sunday's race. Outrunning his teammate by 0.386 seconds, the Rosberg will start with his championship rival on the front row.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

With a gap of 17 points existing between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg plus double points being awarded with the results of the final grand prix round of 2014, Hamilton wins the championship if he finishes ahead of Rosberg. If the Mercedes AMG drivers remain in their starting positions after the 55 laps of the Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton will be crowned champion by a three-point gap. Rosberg can be crowned the 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship if Hamilton finishes in third place or lower provided the German wins the race.

As a familiar trend in 2014, the second-best group in qualifying was the Williams Martini Racing team. Both Williams-Mercedes cars occupy the two row of the starting grid at Abu Dhabi. Valtteri Bottas was almost a tenth of a second quicker than Felipe Massa. Winless this season, the Williams team's performance has been far improved over 2013. Obtaining just 5 manufacturer points last season, the 2014 season has resulted in the Williams organization being placed in third among teams.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/ Pirelli Photo Service

After qualifying, the fifth and sixth place vehicles belonging to Red Bull Racing came to attention of race stewards. Front wing pieces on the Red Bull-Renault race cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were found to have violated rules on flexible bodywork. As a penalty, both drivers will be starting the final race of the year from the back of the grid. Typically, the Red Bull-Renault race cars race pace has been better than their qualifying speeds in 2014 allowing the team to claim second in the constructors' standings.

Penalization of the Red Bull Racing team promotes all the remaining teams and drivers up two positions for the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. First to benefit is the Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat who will be joining the Red Bull squad next season. With uncertain plans for 2015, Jenson Button is start sixth for McLaren. With Button's teammate Kevin Magnussen is starting ninth, Sunday's event will mark McLaren's last race with Mercedes-Benz engine power after 20 consecutive seasons together.

For Mercedes-Benz, Rosberg's pole allows the automaker to lock-up a rare honour of powering every pole winner in qualifying for a Formula 1 season. At but one of those times it was accomplished by the Mercedes AMG group. The Mercedes-Benz hybrid powerplant setup's dominance in 2014 will clearly lead to concerns from the established Renault and Ferrari operations heading into the off-season. The engine performance wildcard is Honda's re-entry in the sport for next year with McLaren.

Facing its first winless Formula 1 season since 1993, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will start on the fourth row of the grid. Leading into this weekend, Ferrari confirmed that Alonso is not to be part of the 2015 team driver line-up. It is widely speculated that Sebastian Vettel is to be announced as the new Ferrari pilot when this season ends. A Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne will start on the 10th spot for the start of the main event on the Yas Marina Circuit.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/ Pirelli Photo Service

The starting field of the final 2014 Formula 1 race has grown to 20 cars thanks to the return of Caterham F1 Team. Through an online crowdfunding effort, the race team was able to field two cars for Kamui Kobayashi and rookie driver Will Stevens. Stevens make his Formula 1 debut through Caterham after winning the World Series by Renault 3.5 championship in 2014.

The final Formula 1 race of the 2014 season is slated to begin at 5 PM local time (8 AM Eastern time).


2014 Formula 1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
5 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
9 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
16 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
17 46 Will Stevens Caterham Renault
18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
19 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
20 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Best and Worst of Teammate Championship Battles in Formula 1

This weekend, the 2014 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship will be decided with the outcome of the final race of the tour's season; the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the dominant duo of 2014 wheeling the Mercedes-Benz F1 W05 Hybrid race cars for Mercedes AMG, stand 17 points apart heading into the race event. Though their collective efforts resulted in 15 victories in 18 races in 2014 providing the Mercedes AMG team with a constructors' title, Rosberg and Hamilton are left to duke out the outcome of the drivers' title.

Since 1950, the teammates have finished in the first and second place in the Formula 1 World Championship 17 times in past seasons (if you include the 1997 season Williams drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Herald Frentzen finished at the top after Michael Schumacher was excluded from the official results). For Mercedes-Benz, it is the second time their drivers will be placed in a one-two scenario in the points. Juan Manuel Fangio won the championship over Mercedes teammate Sterling Moss in 1955. The last time teammates finished at the top of the points occurred a decade ago when Michael Schumacher convincingly prevailed over teammate Rubens Barrichello at Ferrari.

Below are five examples of teammates who matched each other in neat identical equipment knowing, between the two drivers, only who could be proclaimed a champion.

1950: Alfa Romeo with Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio

In the first season of the Formula 1 tour, the young post-war racing scene of 1950 was immediately dominated by Alfa Romeo. The Italian automaker won all but one of the races involved in the 1950 Formula 1 schedule (the Indianapolis 500 was originally scored as a Formula 1 points race allowing a Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser driven by Johnnie Parsons to claim a victory on the schedule). For the inaugural world drivers' championship, it was Italian Giuseppe Farina and Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio in battle against each other. With only the best four of seven race finishes counting on the tour, Giuseppe Farina won the title thanks to wins at Silverstone, Monza and the Swiss Grand Prix at Circuit Bremgarten. Farina's one and only Formula 1 title, Fangio would win his first of five championships the following season. The two drivers are also recorded as the oldest competitors to be crowned Formula 1 champions.

1967: Brabham with Denny Hulme and Jack Brabham

An almost ridiculously impossible idea in modern Formula 1 racing, the recently-departed Sir Jack Brabham was a driver and team owner through the second-half of the 1960s. Not only was Brabham able to win races the with the same name, the Australian won a championship in 1966. For 1967, the Repco-engined Brabham race cars driven by Jack Brabham and teammate Denny Hulme faced Lotus and their all-new Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 engine. While the Lotus-Ford was powerful and quick, the Brabham-Repco proved more consistent over the course of the 1967 season. With 9 of 11 races being tallied for the drivers' title, the New Zealand driver Denny Hulme 2 wins and 8 podium finishes gave him a 5-point edge over his boss. Hulme moved to McLaren in 1968 while the Brabham team would perform poorly a season after winning the driver and constructor title.

1979: Ferrari with Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve 

The Ferrari team's long tenure in Formula 1 has resulted in 15 constructors' championships and four occasions where two team drivers finished one-two for the drivers' title. In 1979, teams hunting for a technological edge with ground effects and turbocharged engines contributed to a season plagued with front-running drivers claiming numerous race retirements. Ferrari team drivers Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve enjoyed a more reliable 1979 campaign with five DNFs combined (less than the total non-finishes of the third-place in points Alan Jones. With one fewer retirement, Scheckter was able to claim a four-point edge over the Canadian driver.

The title was a well-earned honour after much hard work for Scheckter as a veteran in Formula 1. The South African driver finished second in the championship in 1977 driving a Wolf-Ford owned by Austrian-born Canadian Walter Wolf. The 1979 Ferrari season produced Jody Scheckter's only championship and was the highest points placement in the career of Gilles Villeneuve.

1984: McLaren with Niki Lauda and Alain Prost

Frenchman Alain Prost would gain the status as a Formula 1 legend between a career that stretch from 1980 to 1993 consisting of 51 race victories within at time. While he would win four championships, Prost would finish second two consecutive times in the drivers' point before claiming his first. On the second occasion was in 1984 when Alain Prost returned to McLaren after three seasons with the Renault team. Competing in his 12th season in Formula 1 competition, returning McLaren driver Niki Lauda was aggressively challenged by the young Frenchman in the team's Porsche-powered race machine. Prost posted seven win in the 1984 compared to Lauda's five but the more veteran Formula 1 pilot's four second-place finishes kept him in the hunt. A rain-shortened Monaco Grand Prix ultimately cost Prost the championship. Instead of nine points for a win, the race being called prior to the half-way distance resulted in 4.5 points for Prost. Niki Lauda won the 1984 drivers' title by half a point becoming the closest season-ending championship result in the history of the open wheel racing tour.

The championship victory for Niki Lauda was his third and final Formula 1 title. Defending his title, Lauda retired from the sport after the 1985 season where Prost assumed champion honours.

1989: McLaren with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna

The 1989 Formula 1 season was a battle among two motorsport titans. Teammates at McLaren, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost rapidly shifted from having a generally cooperative relationship to being bitter rivals. Joining the team in 1988, Senna claimed his first championship with McLaren by overcoming Prost by three points thanks to eight race wins.

In 1989, the catalyst to what morphed into an outright poisonous relationship between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna was the second race of the year at San Marino. Acting against an pre-race agreement, Senna passed Prost on a restart to win the event. First and second in the championship with the top eleven finishes coming for the championship, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost headed into the second-to-last race in Suzuka, Japan. Failing to finish in five races, Senna required a good finish at the Japanese Grand Prix to contend against Prost. Both McLaren-Honda race cars started on the front row with Senna taking pole. During the race, Alain Prost gained the lead but Ayrton Senna was able to caught the other McLaren on lap 46. With a chance to pass Prost, Senna ran alongside his teammate intent to take the lead. The two cars fought their each other into a corner and made contact. Prost retired following the collision but Senna continued in his McLaren-Honda. Despite crossing the line first, Formula 1 stewards ruled Senna missed a chicane and disqualified the Brazilian driver effectively heading the 1989 world drivers' title to Alain Prost. A similar incident occurred the next season at Suzuka with Ayrton Senna remaining with McLaren and Prost joining Ferrari. That time, Senna came out as the victor for the 1990 championship.

The Senna/Prost battle for the 1989 championship is considered the ultimate inner-team fight some Formula 1 observers were expecting to see arise in 2014. An altercation during the Belgian Grand Prix saw a rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg erupt in a very public manner. However, after what seemed to be some stern words from team principal Toto Wolff, the relationship between the two championship contending teammate has appeared civil. The outcome of the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will conclude whether the fight between the Mercedes AMG drivers will be another storied one.