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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Crowd Sends Caterham Packing for Abu Dhabi F1 Finale

Photo Credit: Caterham F1 Team/ Charles Coates/LAT Photographic

While the likelihood of success for some of the habitually slower cars winning a grand prix race is slim, a deep Formula 1 field makes for a better spectacle. Through the recent visit to the Americas for the United States Grand Prix and Brazilian Grand Prix, there were two fewer teams part of the trek. Caterham F1 Team and Marussia F1 lost what was a struggle to keep their cars on the track for the full 19-race 2014 Formula 1 season. With the subtraction of 4 cars, events at the Circuit of the Americas and Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace consisted of  just 18 cars. Those two races had the fewest starters since the bizarre 2005 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis where only six cars started due to problems with tires supplied by Michelin. For what will be the final event of the 2014 season occurring November 21st to 23rd, one of the wayward Formula 1 teams will rejoin the grid.

The green machines fielded by Caterham F1 will be part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix thanks in large part to fan reaction to a crowdsourced financing method. Operated under the social media hashtag #RefuelCaterhamF1, Leafield stationed race team raised enough money for their symbolic single race effort by canvassing for online donations through Crowdcube. The current administrator of Caterham Sports Limited Finbarr O'Connell responded to the achievement saying, “We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it! In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible."

During the past week, financial contributors provided money to the team's crowdfunding campaign with an engaging twist. In exchange for the certain high-value pledges, Caterham F1 Team has provided a wide range of gifts. A rare chance to acquire race-used items and to have individuals place their names on a Formula 1 car enticed a large crowd. Race car components such as front nose sections along with brake discs were available from the start while driving suits belonging to past Caterham F1 pilots Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were added later.

Falling short of their goal of £2,350,000 through the #RefuelCaterhamF1 crowdfunding campaign, the Caterham F1 announced their participation at the 2014 Formula 1 season finale anyways on Friday. Raising more than £1,000,000 by Monday, the Crowdcube campaign slowed during the week. Still, the #RefuelCaterhamF1 effort reached 53-percent of the financial goal by Wednesday. Since confirming they are competing at the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates, Caterham F1 Team extended their Crowdcube campaign to the date of the 2014 Formula 1 season ending race. The opportunity still remains to contribute to the team. As of the morning of November 16th, Caterham F1 has reached 81-percent of their financial goal. Formula 1 fans continue to have the chance to acquire unique memorabilia.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rock Steady Rosberg Rolls to Brazilian Grand Prix Win

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

With 17 races completed in the 2014 Formula 1 season, only a pair of grand prix events remained heading to Brazil. Lapping the 4.309-kilometer Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace race track, 18 drivers and their respective teams have experienced an overall contrast of a Formula 1 tour. While Mercedes AMG can only continue to fortify their historically dominant season, drivers all over the 2014 Formula 1 grid still have a lot to prove over the course of the final two races. Sunday's 71 laps at the circuit formerly known as Interlagos remained an important chapter for teams wanting to end the year strong and drivers who may be auditioning for rides for 2015.

Since the notorious inter-team rivalry in the Mercedes AMG team reached critical mass at the Belgian Grand Prix, both Rosberg and Hamilton have been showing a more civil relationship between each other on the race track. As the championship fight entered the latter stages of the season, the tamer teammate attitude has arguably played into the hands of Lewis Hamilton. Combined with a fast Mercedes-Benz powered #44 race machine, Hamilton's skill and seasoned talent as 2008 Formula 1 World Champion has allowed him to take command of the 2014 points title. With Hamilton winning the previous five Formula 1 events heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Brit has overcame a 29-point deficit. Holding a 24-point advantage heading into the event at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace track, Lewis Hamilton remains challenged by his fast and maturing teammate Nico Rosberg in qualifying. On Saturday, Rosberg took pole position by a narrow 0.033-second advantage.

In spite of one forecast calling for a storm, the Brazilian Grand Prix remained dry for roughly the whole hour and a half is took to finish the 71-lap race. Due to the fast tire compounds brought by Pirelli, lead teams chose to run a three-stop pit strategy. Only one driver who completed the Brazilian Grand Prix operated on a two-stop plan. While the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix contained it's share of action, the entire outcome of the race was decided on lap 28. Through the early stages of the event, once again it was the Mercedes AMG team cars driven by Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battling.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Rosberg preserved his pole position placement early but was under heavy attack by his Mercedes AMG teammate just ahead of the second round of pit stops for major teams. Hamilton asserted himself as the fastest car on track as he closed to within a second of the leading car of Rosberg. As Nico Rosberg was called to pit road on lap 26, Lewis Hamilton inherited control of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Knowing he could use clear race track to gain the full speed potential out of his already fast machine, Hamilton could end up ahead of Rosberg after his pit stop if he could gain enough track position. An aggressive charge by Lewis Hamilton ultimately became his undoing. Pressed hard on race-worn tires, the #44 Mercedes AMG race car lost grip in turn four spinning into the run-off area. Hamilton successfully fought to recover his vehicle but lost around six or seven seconds. That mistake gave away valuable time that could have changed the eventual podium positions.

Despite the late-season hustle by drivers and teams on-track, the Brazilian Grand Prix resulted in 16 of the 18 cars finishing (the reduced Formula 1 race field may also been a contributing factor). On lap 40, the first retirement was the only driver able to beat the Mercedes AMG team for 2014. Daniel Ricciardo had to park his Red Bull-Renault after a suspension failure. The retirement was the first since the 2014 Formula 1 season's second round in Malaysia. On lap 65, the second non-finishing driver Romain Grosjean brought his Lotus to a stop just off the course. According to the team, a power unit issue resulted in the premature end for the Frenchman.

A few instances this fall has saw Nico Rosberg's performance under pressure from his teammate fall short. The Russian Grand Prix was one example where the abilities of Rosberg appeared maintained his racing line even as Hamilton hovered into the one-second DRS range during much of the last 20 laps. Following-up on a close qualifying fight, the Mercedes AMG drivers delivered a close grand prix finish of 1.457 seconds. Snapping Lewis Hamilton's streak of consecutive grand prix victories at five, Nico Rosberg claimed his first win since July's German Grand Prix. With the win, Rosberg closes to within 17 points of teammate Hamilton heading into Abu Dhabi. 

While the Mercedes AMG broke a record with their dominating performance in 2014 in Brazil, a customer Mercedes-Benz engine vehicle allowed the German brand to sweep the podium. Garnering the greatest fan reaction, the Williams-Mercedes-Benz driven by Brazil's Felipe Massa maintained his qualifying spot. The Williams finished nearly 41 seconds behind the race winner Rosberg but we still piloted by a The third-place for Felipe Massa came as the Williams team endured a massive struggle on pit road. Receiving a five-second penalty for speeding on pit road during the first stop, Massa accidently drew his vehicle to a stop in the wrong pit stall for the third stop in the McLaren team pit area. "We’re not normally next to McLaren and in the light their overalls looked the same colour as ours so this caught me out." said Massa in post-race. Finishing tenth, Valtteri Bottas lost time due to an issue with his safety harness requiring an extended stay on pit road.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

In fourth and fifth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix were two past champions finding 2014 to be a challenge. 2012 winner in Brazil Jenson Button finished fourth on the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace course. Button's finish was the fourth time he took fourth place in for the 2014 season. In fifth place, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel ran his second-to-last event with Red Bull Racing. Vettel's spot was a highest spot for Renault and would be the French engine supplier's only powerplant in the top-10 at the completion of the grand prix in Brazil. Besides sharing uneasy series campaigns for 2014, the names of both Button and Vettel have also been widely-circulated in the Formula 1 rumour mill.

Also the subject of gossip for 2015, Fernando Alonso captured sixth place for Ferrari crossing the line over 10 seconds after Vettel's Red Bull-Renault. Finishing a narrow seventh behind Alonso in Brazil was fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. the second Ferrari was the only car making only two pit stops over the 71-lap distance. Gaining track position by not pitting a third time, Raikkonen was able to climb three positions from his starting spot. From a 12th place starting spot to eighth after 71 laps, Nico Hulkenberg credited points for Force India in what has been a difficult Brazil visit for the team. The second McLaren-Mercedes driven by Kevin Magnussen came across the line in ninth place ahead of Bottas.

Two weeks after Brazil, the 2014 Formula 1 will conclude with the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With double points at stake, the championship fight between Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will be contentious. As final race of 2014, the November 23rd event could also be a place where teams like Red Bull Racing and Williams might want to send the final message for the year.

2014 Formula 1

Brazilian Grand Prix

Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

By a Narrow 0.033-Second Margin, Rosberg Grabs Brazilian GP Pole

Photo Credit: Pirelli/ Andrew Hone
The second to last race in the 2014 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace track is hosting nine race teams with various mindsets. Many drivers and race organizations are looking forward to 2015. Questions remain for where high-asset properties such as Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and last year's World Drivers' Champion Sebastian Vettel will end-up for next season. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz AMG team, the team has reason to savoir the 2014 season. The German team is rolling through the final two events having already claimed their first-ever manufacturers' title (also the first for Mercedes-Benz as a full-fledged factory effort). A 24-point gap separates teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for the 2014 drivers' championship entering Brazil. While the public sparring between both drivers have cooled from what was seen during this summer, qualifying resulted in one of the most contentious battles for the pole by the Mercedes-AMG teammate.

Right from Q1, the Mercedes-AMG cars were dueling for the top time. From the start, Nico Rosberg obtained the advantage ahead of Lewis Hamilton by 0.11 seconds in the first qualifying round. It was in the final Q3 session where the teammates attacked the 4.309-kilometer Brazilian circuit spiritedly for preferential placement on Sunday's main event grid. From the start of the final 10-minute session, Hamilton set fastest time early only to be immediately countered by Rosberg. Rosberg's Mercedes was only 0.029 seconds faster than Hamilton's. With time quickly winding down for the Q3 session, both Mercedes-AMG returned to the track for a final run. With a 1-minute, 10.056-second lap time, Hamilton took the top spot on the speed chart with roughly 2 minutes remaining in the session. Predicting that his British teammate could eclipse his team, Nico Rosberg went out on the track. In the dying moment of Q3, Rosberg achieved a 1-minute, 10.023-second lap to take his 10th pole position for 2014.

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG

Nicking Lewis Hamilton's time by a slim 0.033-second margin, Nico Rosberg claimed some vengeance against his teammate for stealing the United States Grand Prix victory away. It should be worth noting that Rosberg started ahead of Hamilton last week. A championship fight between the two drivers remains hot between the two drivers with Lewis Hamilton holding the advantage late in the season. "Of course, I need a bit of help from my team-mate to make the World Championship happen. But I’m still highly motivated and will continue to push as hard as I can all the way." said Rosberg. Double points for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale means the triumphant Mercedes-AMG will not emerge until after the November 23rd race regardless to the outcome in Brazil.

Mercedes-Benz engine power being at the front of the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix has maintained a year-long streak for pole positions by the powerplant supplier. Mercedes-AMG has accounted for all-but one of those poles. The only pole-winning driver outside the 2014 Silver Arrow juggernaut has been Felipe Massa. Racing at his home grand prix, Massa gave a hard-fought effort in qualifying third on Saturday with a Williams F1 Team car. "This track has a special place in my heart as I was born here in São Paulo and I always get a lot of support. The car has been feeling really good all weekend and although the Mercedes cars still had more raw pace than us, the gap seems to have closed." said Massa who was about two-tenths of a second off the pace of the modern Silver Arrows. Similar to the fight between the Mercedes-AMG cars, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas also enjoyed a close fight for positioning on the second row of the Brazilian Grand Prix grid. Bottas' top lap time was only 0.058 seconds longer than his Brazilian teammate. The McLaren-Mercedes cars of Jenson Button in fifth and Kevin Magnussen placing seventh in the starting line-up also reveal a solid effort in qualifying for Mercedes-Benz engines.  

In sixth place, the Red Bull-Renault of Sebastian Vettel will be the highest-starting non-Mercedes-Benz powered entrant for the 2014 Formula 1 race in Brazil. From eighth to tenth, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen round out the top-10. Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez driving a Sauber-Ferrari will start 11th in the field. The Sauber team is still chasing a world championship point for 2014.

The back of the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix starting line-up will have two penalized entrants. While Russian Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was fast enough for Q2, his vehicle had to serve the remainder of an engine change penalty from the previous event at the Circuit of the Americas. The final car on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix will be Sergio Perez. The Force India driver was assessed a penalty for the collision at the start of the United States Grand Prix.

The Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session consisted of 18 cars as the troubled Maruassia and Caterham F1 Team are again sitting out due to lack of funding. Both races failed to part of the United States Grand Prix last week. Caterham F1 Team is presently engaged in a crowdfunding initiative meant to place the race on the grid for the finale in late November at Abu Dhabi.

Scheduled for Sunday at 2PM local time (11 AM Eastern time), forecasts are calling for the chance of a wet, stormy Brazilian Grand Prix.

2014 Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix
Starting Line-up

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

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

Caterham Looks to Crowdfunding to Field Effort at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Caterham F1 Team/ Charles Coates/LAT Photographic

If you have noticed, the Formula 1 grid has been shallower recently. The race in the United States and this weekend's event in Brazil feature only 18 cars as two teams have recently pulled out of competition based on lack of funds. The loss of vehicles evolved from the Marussia and Caterham F1 Team struggling to sustain their off-track race operations after months of barely holding heads above financial waters. While it appears Maruassia's Formula 1 endeavour is essentially over, Caterham might race at least one more event in 2014. Currently in an ownership dispute, Caterham has been trying to remain business as usual through much of the summer into the fall. However, the trip to the Americas late in the season was unobtainable. In an effort to running at the finale event, the struggling grand prix team is hoping to earn their way to Abu Dhabi by the help of online backers.

Under the hashtag #RefuelCaterhamF1, the Formula 1 team has established a crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube in order to finance their involvement in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend in late November. On the website, Caterham F1 Team is looking to raise £2,350,000 (roughly $3,730,000 in US funds) to place themselves back in the paddock area so they can finish their 2014 Formula 1 effort on-track rather than idled in the Leafield Technical Centre in Oxfordshire.

Asking for as little as one pound, the team's crowdfunding page is offering an intriguing selection of items for contributions at certain levels. With small trinkets like branded earplugs offered at a £6 amount, larger investments into the Caterham F1 Team garners race-used items or other perks. Rear wing, nose cones, carbon fiber brake discs, wheel lug nuts and even a Formula 1 steering wheel are some of the pieces offered from the Caterham Formula 1 cars from the past three years. Driver-used equipment to be used in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix such as race gloves and boots are also part of crowdfunding effort. For £2,000, £5.000 and £10,000 amounts, companies or individuals could have their logo placed on the current CT05 Caterham-Renault race car. To simply have your name printed on the race car, there are 30 £1,000 spots available. Each of the four branding options come with a professionally taken photograph as confirmation for the contributor.

This crowdfunding campaign is offering a fairly irregular opportunity to acquire authentic Formula 1 items and it appears Caterham F1 Team has a chance of making Abu Dhabi through the funds for those pieces. With a little less than 5 days and 15 hours remaining in the Refuel Caterham F1 campaign, the effort has reached 29 percent of its funding goal. Raising £696,992 of the £2,350,500 goal from a total of 1,667 backers, some of the limited availability funding souvenirs have already been claimed. A £5,500 nose cone from a 2012 race car has already been sold out as has a rear wing from the 2013 vehicle. Of the 100 £275 carbon fiber brake discs available, 93 have been claimed by contributors on Crowdcube. What remains can still be an attractive gift for the Formula 1 fan ahead of the holiday season.

Formula 1 race team funding is becoming a troubling issue in the final stage of the 2014 season requiring some debate heading into the off-season. However, if the Caterham F1 Team reaches their funding goal by sometime this Friday, there may be two more cars on the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale.