So after months and months of fears that the controversial double points introduced for the 2014 season would have a dramatic bearing on the overall result of the Drivers’ Championship, in the end it ultimately made no difference. Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and with it the Driver’s championship, taking his tally of World Championships to two. With team mate and rival for the ultimate prize Nico Rosberg facing reliability problems that ultimately forced him out of contention, Hamilton in theory could have stayed home and still won, but that isn’t Hamilton’s style. Instead, a fantastic start saw him leap ahead of Rosberg into turn one and from there he never looked back.
The race mirrored much of the 2014 in that sense – Rosberg outsmarting Hamilton to a rapid pole position only for the British charger to take control when it matters on race day. Unfortunately for Rosberg, car problems robbed him of the opportunity to push Hamilton to the chequered flag into a possible mistake and instead, the German driver was left to rue what might have been in 14th place. Rosberg was, as expected, gracious in defeat, acknowledging that Hamilton had been the stronger driver over the course of the campaign. In a post-race interview, Rosberg said “I’m very disappointed but all in all Lewis deserved to win the championship. That’s clear.”
If Rosberg can carry his qualifying pace this year into 2015 and become a little stronger mentally, then he can look forward to challenging Hamilton even more seriously next season.
Another element of F1 in 2014 that just didn’t go away was the noise, or rather lack of it. One of the side effects of the much more advanced V6 turbo engines over the previous V8 engines of old was a very different sound and notably to those at the track and the TV cameras, less of the ear splitting shriek to which we’re all accustomed. Unsurprisingly this was a sore point for series promoter, Bernie Ecclestone, who claimed that the new engines don’t “sound like racing cars” and that the lack of noise would lose the sport fans given it is one of the main reasons people watch the sport, particularly in person. However, as the season got into its stride the sound issue was put to one side as close racing and a Hollywoodesque inter-team rivalry at McLaren took centre stage. Yet with the smaller teams struggling to stay alive due to the huge cost of these new engines, the expense and volume of these new power units once again became a talking point in the latter part of the season. The question is, will they be changed for next year?
Mercedes made a fantastic engine for 2014 that helped propel them to a dominant brace of driver and team championships as well as help revive Williams, a point that irked fellow manufacturers Renault and Ferrari. Seemingly unable to agree on a compromise that would allow extra development of engines over the winter, fans are likely to be looking at the same slightly muted engines in 2015 with Mercedes the engine to have again. However, 2016 could see a complete change in the rules and with it, hopefully for the purists and Mr. Ecclestone, a return to the screamers of old.
Another quiet element of the final race of the season was potentially the final F1 outing for 2009 world champion Jenson Button. Finishing a very solid 5th, Button has performed well this season in a car that has struggled for fundamental grip throughout the season. A series of updates towards the end of the year has improved the fortunes slightly of McLaren, but the real question is what will Button be doing in 2015? It would appear very likely now that Fernando Alonso will join McLaren but the decision on who will join him has yet to be made or confirmed. Logically it comes down between Button and his young team mate Kevin Magnussen who has shown flashes of speed but struggled for consistency in his debut year. McLaren need to decide whether they want to go for experience or youth to join the feisty Alonso.
Don’t be surprised to see Button continue racing in 2015, though it could well be in another series such as sports cars where he would join his Australian mate Mark Webber. Webber recently tweeted Button saying “@JensonButton matey just sign that sports car contract and get on with it. Be mega to have you with/against us next year.#greatracing #JB22.”
Another driver on the move in 2015 is 2013 champion Sebastien Vettel. The German will be glad to see the back of his 2014 Red Bull car and will be hoping next season he no longer also has to stare at the back of his teammate’s rear wing again.
Expect to see management changes at Ferrari too as they do everything in their power over the winter months to reverse what has been a very challenging 2014 campaign. Group F1 Editor Jon Noble at AUTOSPORT tweeted today “@NobleF1 Big change at Ferrari. Team principal Marco Mattiacci steps down.”
On a final Ferrari related note, it was great to hear young Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi is now on the road to recovery in his home country after recently being moved from Japan to France. His accident in the Maussia at Suzuka will take time to recover from but we will wish Bianchi all the best and hope to see him in a racing car again in due course.