THE FINAL ROUND
#1 – The battle for the title
After 19 races spanning the globe from the likes of Bahrain to Japan and Italy to Brazil, the F1 World Driver’s Championship has come down to the final round of the championship. Between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, it would appear that the title is Hamilton’s to lose. Most draw this conclusion not only because he leads heading into the final round in Abu Dhabi this weekend, but also because Hamilton already has one title under his belt to Rosberg’s none.
However, there are a few things going for Rosberg.
Double points are on offer at the final round for the first time, meaning any mistake Hamilton makes will be doubly punished. Rosberg really needs to win the race, but if Hamilton is third or lower, the title becomes Rosberg’s. Given Mercedes inconsistent reliability during the 2014 season, it isn’t inconceivable for Hamilton to face a reliability problem at some stage during the race weekend.
Additionally, Hamilton has form for losing a championship at the final round of the championship. Cast your mind back to 2007 and you will remember how Kimi Raikkonen stormed through from a 17 point deficit to pinch the title from under Hamilton’s nose. Will Hamilton make the same mistake again all these years later? It’s unlikely, but never say never!
#2 – Ferrari and McLaren
On Thursday Ferrari made an announcement everyone had been expecting – Fernando Alonso was leaving the team and Sebastien Vettel, the reigning world champion, would be replacing him at the Scuderia. Many see Alonso as the most complete driver on the grid today, but without the right car underneath him during his time in red, he has been unable to bring home a driver’s title to Maranello. His departure will make way for another frustrated figure elsewhere, Vettel.
Vettel probably expected 2014 to be another walk in the park and another romp to a driver’s title with Red Bull Racing, but a combination of a lack of form, a weak Renault engine and a brilliant and dominant Mercedes has meant Vettel has decided to turn his back on a team with which he has a working relationship since he was a boy.
All drivers dream of driving for Ferrari, but is moving to a team that’s in a transitional period really the best career move right now? Only time will tell, but with Daniel Ricciardo doing a great job all season of putting Vettel into the shade in terms of results, perhaps now was the right time for the German to move on.
These driver changes may mean however that this weekend’s race is the final F1 race for 2009 champion Jenson Button. The popular British driver is still waiting to find out if McLaren wish to retain his services next year to partner the increasingly likely #1 driver Alonso. If it is to be Button’s final F1 race, he can hold his head high of having enjoyed a good career with plenty of highlights down the years.
#3 – Caterham
The financial plight of some of the slower teams has already seen the end of Marussia and many thought Caterham too. However, thanks to the crowd funding efforts of fans and sponsors, Caterham has managed to get two cars onto the grid this weekend. Racing this weekend will be regular driver Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens, a young British driver making his F1 debut – talk about being thrown in at the deep end!
Nobody expects Caterham to be hugely competitive this weekend, but it is a huge achievement for the team to field two cars and they will be keen to just get both cars home in one piece, before deciding how they are going to survive in 2015.