Who was the best champion of 2014?
Article by Jacob Black, photo courtesy Mercedes F1.
The 2014 Formula 1 World Champion was crowned on Sunday. Lewis Hamilton took a commanding race win in Abu Dhabi to clinch the title ahead of Nico Rosberg, whose car limped across the line for a disappointing 14th.
It was an unfitting end to a genuinely exciting season, with fans robbed of a straight-out fight between Rosberg and Hamilton due to mechanical failure. It was perhaps poetic justice, though, that Rosberg suffered issues as it was Hamilton’s bad luck with reliability that gave Rosberg an early points lead in the beginning of the year. Throughout the year there was plenty of action with passes on track for the lead on multiple occasions, including some beautiful moves by rising star Daniel Ricciardo. The new cars slithered around the track in wild fashion thanks to the instant torque of the hybrid power units, and for the first time in a long time F1 cars looked genuinely hard to drive.
Next year will be intriguing if the others can catch up to Mercedes-Benz. It will also be interesting as Sebastian Vettel moves to Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (probably) moves to McLaren with new Honda powerplants.
The one sad note on the intriguing silly season dances is Jenson Button, who likely drove his final grand prix on Sunday without proper fanfare. The Briton took the opportunity to perform some swan song burnouts for the crowds in the stands, but it’s a poor send-off for the former champion.
The culmination of the Formula 1 season comes one week after the end of the NASCAR season and two weeks after the completion of the MotoGP championship.
Marc Marquez won the final MotoGP race in Valencia, breaking the record for most wins in a season with a total of 13. Marquez’s imperious year saw him wrap up the title three races early and gives him a 100 percent title-winning record in the premier class.
The MotoGP season might have been wrapped up early, but it was an enthralling one with Valentino Rossi’s renaissance providing plenty of fireworks. Jorge Lorenzo took too long to get into gear but came on strong in the second half of the year; expect the Yamaha duo to put up a better fight in 2015.
Dani Pedrosa by contrast was disappointing. The Spaniard is in his eighth season with the factory Honda squad and has been soundly beaten by each of his teammates, including Nicky Hayden, Casey Stoner and now Marquez. Honda’s unconditional love for Pedrosa is becoming questionable.
In NASCAR, Kevin Harvick won the final race of the season to claim the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup. Harvick’s drive in Homestead was dominant and helped rescue NASCAR from embarrassment. The new Chase playoff format saw four rounds, with sixteen drivers whittled down to four, who battled amidst the full field in a one-race runoff for the title – the rest of the drivers were simply traffic to make things interesting (we wouldn’t want it looking too much like the the climactic scene of a cartoon movie…). The format was supposed to reward winners, but Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski were both left out of the hunt after the penultimate round. Adding to their frustration, winless Ryan Newman did make it into the four. NASCAR execs must surely be grateful that Harvick claimed the win.
It has to be said that the Homestead race was anti-climactic, with the Miami circuit failing to provide close racing yet again. Formula 1 has the same problem. The Abu Dhabi circuit is stunning but lacks character and is known for producing snore-fest races. Worse, alcohol was banned from the podium (in Abu Dhabi, not Miami), forcing Lewis Hamilton to toast his emotional victory with fizzy water instead. That’s about the lamest thing in the history of motorsport.
Speaking of lame celebrations, Jamie Whincup secured his record-breaking sixth V8 Supercars crown at Phillip Island last week but you’d hardly know it. Whincup could barely crack a smile as he half-heartedly spoke to trackside reporters – his team principal on the other hand was in tears. Whincup is now the greatest driver in the category’s history but struggles for a fan base because of his wooden personality.
The IndyCar season ended the sporting equivalent of eons ago now, but mention must be made here of Will Power’s championship. Power has been a runner-up for the past few years and developed a reputation as a choker after throwing away commanding leads in the final race in years gone by. In 2014, Power managed to hold it together to take a long-awaited title.
Who was your favourite motorsport champion of 2014?