F1 Racing - - 2014 SEASON REVIEW -

Fer­rari and Honda, the con­cept has suc­ceeded. The hy­brid units are as in­ge­nious as they are for­ward-reach­ing – even if the PR peo­ple still face the prob­lem of how re­ally to tell their com­pli­cated story to the pub­lic at large.

Against that, F1 re­ceived pub­lic scorn for its new, wa­tered-down en­gine noise; two teams – Cater­ham and Marus­sia – missed races postSuzuka due to a lack of funds (ex­ac­er­bated by the in­creased cost of the power units); Sauber also strug­gled to sur­vive; and, most wor­ry­ing of all, F1’s TV rat­ings con­tin­ued to de­cline. As fas­ci­nat­ing as the new power units are to those who take the trou­ble to un­der­stand them, even the Ger­man fans stayed away from Hock­en­heim, de­spite the na­tional team be­ing as­sured of vic­tory, the in­cum­bent cham­pion be­ing Ger­man and Nico Ros­berg, another Ger­man, start­ing from the pole (and romp­ing to yet another win). Hav­ing been proved cor­rect on vir­tu­ally all points – but pow­er­less to do much about it – Ec­cle­stone’s last throw of the 2014 dice was char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally out­landish: he pushed through a mo­tion for the dou­ble-points con­cept. In the face of so­phis­ti­cated F1 tech­nol­ogy – and the long-term ar­gu­ment about how much of F1 is ‘sport’ and how much is ‘tech­ni­cal ex­er­cise’ – this ap­peared to be noth­ing more than a trite gim­mick. Which, given the way things had gone, was prob­a­bly Bernie’s in­ten­tion.

As with many new reg­u­la­tion changes, the 2014 sea­son was dom­i­nated by the one team that got it right. Lewis Hamil­ton’s rst test run in the Mercedes W05 was char­ac­terised by a dra­matic front-wing fail­ure, but that messy prob­lem in Jerez be­lied the suc­cess that was to come. The Mercs were as dom­i­nant as they had been in 1954-55 (when the F1 for­mula had also changed); and just as in 1955 when Stir­ling Moss stretched Juan Manuel Fan­gio to the limit, the rac­ing be­tween Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg was spell­bind­ing.

After a rst half-year of evenly split re­sults, Spa was the turn­ing point – lit­er­ally and gu­ra­tively. Lewis was clearly in front as they ap­proached Les Combes, Nico a very close sec­ond. It was lap 2 of the Bel­gian GP. Then, in a mil­lisec­ond that would in­duce months of an­guish, Nico’s right front wing end­plate slit the side­wall of Lewis’s left-rear Pirelli.

For both driv­ers it was a cathar­tic mo­ment. Lewis was ini­tially in­censed, fu­ri­ous that Nico could have been so bru­tal. Nico, by con­trast, had an hour in the car to think about what he

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