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

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