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

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