maandag 24 november 2014

F1 2014 - the look back

I didn`t realise I would ever say this, but at last the engines are silent in the paddock.

Is it because it was an utterly boring season like in some of Schumacher`s absolutely dominant years?  Not at all, the ratio of boring versus great races this year has tipped the balance in favor of the latter.

Surely, the new engine technology has reshuffled the cards, with the Mercedes engine being a step above the Ferrari or Renault power sources, and Mercedes itself of course profiting the most as they could build their car alongside the engine development.

Neither was the `slaughter` ever come through as was the case in the pre-season practices of engines and electronics failing.  Yes, there where issues along the field, but not in the hugely expected numbers in the beginning of the season.

We had a title challenge all along the way to the final grind prix yesterday in Abu Dhabi, though this is due to the artificial rules of the double points in the season closer this year.  But in the end, it was the guy with the by far most GP victories that took home the title, as it should be...

So let`s have a look at how the teams performed then, before going to the top 3 and flop 3 of the season in my own view...

Mercedes

The uber dominant team this year, taking home 16 out of the 19 victories, resulting in their first ever Constructor`s title (back in their previous dominant period in the first half of the 50s, that title didn`t exist yet).  They delivered numbers 1 and 2 in the driver`s championship, with Lewis Hamilton taking his second career title and becoming the most victorious british driver in history.

Red Bull Renault

Let`s face it, Adrian Newey is a genius.  The engine is hopelessly outpowered against the Mercedes engine source, straight line speed has never been the top point of the Newey Red Bull cars, but it is so well drawn it has always compensated it on the twist and turn sections of a circuit.  Oddly enough, it wasn`t Vettel who played the first violin, but newcomer Ricciardo.

Williams Mercedes

The come back boys of the year, after their abyssal season last year.  With the fast Bottas and the experienced Massa, the car proved to be the fastest in straight line speed.  Only a pity they couldn`t get that victory under their belt, though they have been close at times.

Ferrari

They did a study on the best aerodynamical form, resulting in the low nose.  They have two former world champion drivers in Alonso and Raikonnen.  But they forgot to incorporate one thing in the car: sheer speed.

McLaren Mercedes

They started furiously, but then fell back as the chassis wasn`t on par with some around them.  The updates for the second half of the season however managed to put them back on the right track and strong finishes, especially by `our man Jenson`, made their season look rather okay in the end.  Next year, they will be the only ones using the Honda engine that makes his return, and if history is any indication...

Force India Mercedes

They started the season very strong and looked to be more the challenger then Williams or Red Bull, including a podium for Perez.  However they fell back strong in the later part of the season, though Hulkenberg continued to be a steady scorer.

Toro Rosso Renault

I`m always suprised how big the gap to the team in front of them actually is at the end of the season points wise.  TR looks to be around in the results all the time, though usually the lower points range, and the junior team of Red Bull will be providing the new driver for their mother team for the second year in a row with Kvyat, who will be replacing Vettel.

Lotus Renault

From the top challenger last year to the backmarker this year, the difference is immense.  Yet why many criticised the forked nose, I actually found it one of the better looking cars this year.  But never the less, it won`t be coming back next year, when the noses will be changing back to a more regular look.

Marussia Ferrari

The first points scored since the three back marker teams entered in 2010, as Bianchi snatched a ninth place in Monaco.  Unfortunatly, they seem to be closing down like HRT did two years ago, and it is all but certain we will see them again, though they almost made the season closer under the name Manor GP.

Sauber Ferrari

For the first time since they appeared in F1 in 1993, the team failed to score points, something never happened before.  I guess that is what you can expect when you put a glorified test driver next to a money bag in a car that is just to heavy.  Next year, they have two drivers with big pockets, but Nasr at least has shown decent speed as Williams test driver in free practices.

Caterham Renault

It all went downhill this year for the green cars.  Okay, it was ugly with it`s snowplow nose, that was replaced at last in Monza, but a team sale that turned out to not being a sale, payment problems and the money bag driver Ericsson leaving the team all made it a bit worse.  But the team is loved, as thanks to a crowd funding process they managed to get to the finale!


So what are the good and bad points for this year for me?

The top - 3 moments

1. Mercedes

What more is there to say than the absolute show de force of the team, going on streak like McLaren in the mystic 1988.  The only small thing I want to point out though, is that they had 3 more chances for 1-2 finishes then McLaren had back then.

2. Daniel Ricciardo

On that slight chance that Mercedes had one or both of his cars break down, Red Bull`s aussie was there to pick up the pieces, resulting in the three wins Mercedes didn`t take this season.  For many he is perhaps THE driver of the year, thanks to his warrior driving style and impressive overtakes.

3. Williams

The beautiful livery, the pace, the style, and the fact everyone loves this british privateer team.  Williams was back this year, and the only stain perhaps is that even though they had the fastest car by far after the Mercedes, they couldn`t pick up the pieces for a win.  Bottas was the star of the team, but the two times Williams was really close to a win (Canada and Abu Dhabi), it was good old Felipe that almost pulled it off.

The bad - 3 moments

1. The Crash of Jules Bianchi

The whole year will be overshadowed by the horrific crash of Jules Bianchi in Suzuka.  he survived, barely, and just this week has been put out of his induced coma.  His driving days in F1 are almost certainly over, but he was a very talented youngster and all round loveable guy, and we keep hoping for the best.

2. The engines

God, I HATE the lawnmower sound they produce.  Hybrid and all might be good and whatever, but they should at least sound like a racing engine instead of a powered bike...

3. Ferrari

Okay, so Sauber and Lotus where just as abyssmal this year, but this is Ferrari.  The ultimate racers dream team to be contacted by, the mythic red cars that defined the history of Formula One...  Alonso at times managed to punch above his weight, but in the end Kimi, who struggled with the new car, showed where the car really belonged, around the 7th place at the finish...

And so the season comes to an end, it had highs and lows, a dramatic climax for the title fight yesterday in Abu Dhabi, and a lot of ugly cars with horrible sounding engines.  At least the nose issue will be resolved next season, so now let`s start counting down to the first new pre-season test days as that would mean we`re on the road again!

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