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Big TC

Thoughts on the 2014 F1 season

Well, Hamilton made a bit of a meal in winning the championship in a superior car - let's face it, Rosberg shouldn't really have been that close to him! It was a bit of a surprise to see the Mercedes so far ahead. I wish Hammy would stop speaking in that quasi-American accent too - he comes from the same town as me but sounds nuffink like me!

Also surprised to see Ricciardo deal with Vettel so comprehensively. Give him a competitive car next year and he'll be fighting for the championship. Although finishing as 2nd best constructor, Red Bull were well and truly wiped the floor with by Mercedes. Which I suppose is down to the under-performing Renault power unit - I wonder how they would have gone with a Merc donkey in there.

Ferrari's fall from grace was even more surprising, considering that they had arguably the best driver pairing. Although it did seem that Kimi lost interest at times when it was proved how shit the car was. Much as I dislike him, Alonso again proved what a strong racer he is. Hope he doesn't go back to McLaren, mind.

A very pleasant surprise was the turn around in fortune for Williams - my favourite team in F1. For me, Valterri Bottas has marked himself out as a star of the future and I really hope he gets into a top car soon where I suspect he will win races for fun. Now, if they could just do something with the Martini livery!

I've been a bit of a fan of Nico Hulkenburg, but he seemed to go off the boil a bit this year and was certainly no better than Perez. I fear that this particular Nico's chance of a top drive has gone.

What the fuck happened to McLaren? Ok, they became just another Mercedes customer, but at times they were woeful. Glad to see that Button comprehensively outscored Magnussen, but it will be a travesty if that isn't enough for him to keep his seat next year. Hopefully, Honda will rescue him. It was also strange to see them without a title sponsor - a team with such an illustrious history. No doubt that will change with Honda on board for next year. Have I said before that I hope Alonso doesn't go back there?

Sorry to see Marussia go, and I don't suppose Caterham will survive for much longer despite what's written in the press. This is a real shame, because F1 really needs 12 or 13 teams (IMO). Difficult to see how that being achieved, what with the huge costs involved to run a team.

I didn't think I would get used to the noise of the '14 cars, but I did, to an extent. For me, the sight of the cars and racing was no less exciting than normal - let's hope that the issue of the sound made by the current cars can be improved for next year.
Alf McQueef

It was another example to me of how it is mostly about the car. Not just the raw speed, but how (despite what that useless wanker Eddie Jordan has to say about the subject) a car with a different instrinsic balance, and changes in tyres, can suit one driver in a team over another. I think that's part of the explanation for Ricciardo doing so well - though he is clearly WC material. And seems a nice guy to boot. Vettel being so clearly out paced was a surprise - not so long ago the press had him down as the new messiah and untouchably better than the other drivers etc etc.

No doubt they will be saying the same about Lewis if he wins next year - I think that's highly likely, like Webber, I think Rosberg will become the clear number 2 now that his team mate has been WC within that team. Rosberg did do exceptionally well in qualifying though - Lewis is usually very quick over one lap, but proved this year he is quite Schumacher-esque over a stint as well. His race pace was relentless, the odd mistake aside.

It was a big shame Mercedes were so far out front. It was great to see Williams - one of the few old style private teams - do so well (and yes Bottas is class) but when one car is so much better, the championship is a 2 horse race and that is bad for the sport. The FIA should be more blatant about allowing rule changes to help the chasing group mid-season. They write the rule book after all.

McLaren were a shambles and not for the first time in recent years. Perez did well this year so was probably quick last year, I think Button drove well too (sadly, he picked up when it was too late - shame he did not attack the early season as hard). My conclusion is that the car and team are mostly at fault, and with their budget and experience that's a travesty. If The Eyebrow returns and Button is sacked, I am no longer a McLaren supporter - and I've supported them since about 1990. Button is a good driver and a good human being, as well as a WC - to get to the end of the season not knowing if he has a drive is a disgrace.

Ferrari were a mess also, Alonso showed his class and Kimi was poor - I think he did better in cars you could just rag flat-out all race. All those buttons are probably tricky with a hangover.

Overall it was good to see Lewis win but it was not a vintage season, and Bernie buying himself out of a bribery case then pressing the flesh with Putin, after all that has gone on in Ukraine, left a bad taste for me. Time for change at the top.
Twelfth Monkey

Glad to see Williams do well, hoping for even more next year.

Bored by Mercedes dominance, but Da Ham deserved to win.

McLaren bafflingly bad, hoping Honda power will help.

Glad to see Ricciardo beat Vettel, as the latter is a great driver but he's won four on the trot because of car dominance, not because he's in the Senna/Schumacher league.

Ferrari were lamentable.  I didn't care for the changes at the top but they were probably necessary.

The minnows dying? Sporting natural selection, I'm afraid.

Overall, one of the most boring seasons I can remember.  And not just down to the anodyne sound - I think the on-track action was a bit of a let-down, probably because the gap between Mercedes and the rest was so great, though I think DRS was less effective than before.

My main feeling about F1, and it's been building for some years, is that (as alf says) the best driver can end up nowhere.  And I think it is getting worse.  Love or loathe him, the last few years have shown that 'Nando is the best overall driver package, and to leave Ferrari without a single title doesn't say great things about the sport.  You can argue that it was ever so, but it's got to the point where I struggle to be arsed to watch any more.  If it ends up being a Sky-only sport, a once-reluctant decision to decline would now be rather easier...
Big Blue

Not the greatest season in terms of competition at the front and not helped by the fact that the 2 protagonists for the world title are just such bland characters. Hamilton deserved to win for the number of wins but that shows more how much weaker Nico is as a team mate than how good Hamilton is. Button ran him much closer at a team that Hamilton had ruled the roost at for years before he arrived as can be read here. Regardless of anything else, the car won it and anyone else that suggests that Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso or even Button could not have won the title in that car is living on cloud 9. Maybe Maldonkeynardo would have struggled....

Don't think this machine dominance thing is just for F1. In motoGP the Honda has just been a rocketship for 2 years and the win for Rossi in San Marino and his second in the title race says more about what "legend" means than all the records Marquez has broken this season and last put together. Ergo, Hamilton is a long way from being a legend.

Ferrari were frankly embarrassing. Whatever they didn't do over the winter in terms of chassis or power unit needs to be changed and I reckon I have the solution. When Ferrari were the kings of the world they had an English engineering leader and a German driver (ie keeping the Latino hissy fits under control); this year a Germanic team leader and an English driver won the title; at Red Bull it was an English-led team and a German driver - anyone seeing a pattern, here? So if Vettel (quite Anglicised) can insist on a few Englishmen around him we might see some better results as the emotions are removed from the situation.

Kimi admitted he hated the feel of the car, particularly the front end, so it's no real surprise he was bettered by the incumbent Alonso. Kimi's driving in the Lotus says enough about his ability and despite everything you'll struggle to find a more loved driver over the past decade and a half.

Alonso got frustrated and I reckon the "resignation" of Domenicali didn't help along with the politics around Marchionne which reminded him that he was NOT top dog at the whole of Ferrari. A shitty end to what was actually a pretty good 4 years previously, despite not winning a title.

Red Bull. ha ha ha ha ha ha. Still haven't stopped laughing. They have bent the rules for 5 years (since mid 2009) and this year got fucked over. I'm happy - as I'm sure many non-tifosi were when the same thing happened at Ferrari. As to Seb - didn't like the car and the power unit; Danny - best entertainer award. Great overtakes showing that aggressive driving is not necessarily dangerous driving (are you listening 2012 Grosjean, you French cunt that cost Alonso a title). I hope he has a good season next year (and Red Bull too, now they've learned their lesson ).

McLaren - oh dear. No doubt the Whitmarsh affair hasn't helped (this has been overlooked in the light of the Ferrari politics, I fancy) and Ron needs to learn to step back and allow some succession if he wants Mclaren to have a legacy like Ferrari. The Button / Magnussen thing is a farce at this late stage and I'd love it if Kimi said "I've had enough, actually" and McLaren offered JB a seat after he had already signed for the red team. The car this year looked great but was clearly a relative piece of shit as the power unit was fine, as shown by Mercedes and Will.i.ams.

And what of Williams? Another example of a great car and a team taking a risk with a young driver. Bottas was superb in both qualifying and the races but the car played a huge part. How do I know this? Because Filipe Massa got podiums in it. I think they screwed up in Austria and could have won what was a short track race if they'd been more aggressive but after the 2013 season they'll be happy with this one.

Others: Kvyat impressed hugely and got his just reward with a step up. On that, despite what I think about Red Bull Racing the ethos of bringing drivers through the ranks is commendable and shows that short term money grabbing is not the way ahead. I'd be sad if J-EV doesn't get a drive next year but as to all the other drivers: meh. You're just some drivers that got to the top. There are doubtless 14 year olds on the Kart circuit that are at least your equal and we shall see how Verstappen Jr performs next season to prove the point.

As to the demise of the small teams: this happens. Look back in Autocourse and see some of the names of the teams from the past. New ones will come to replace them. The huge costs and risks are illustrated best by the refusal of Trevor Carlin to get involved. Carlin is one of the best F3 teams of the last 2 decades but can't see the benefit of fucking his business model up for F1. Fair play.

And so - on to 2015.
Eff One

F1 is in as dire a state as I've ever seen it. The teams that went under (and the three that are hanging on by their fingernails) are in that state primarily because they're royally fucked over by a commercial arrangement that has half of F1's $1.5 billion annual revenue sucked straight out by a bunch of leeches collectively known as CVC, with most of the remainder going to the four richest teams.

The right man won the championship, at least; kudos to Mercedes for allowing them to duke it out. Imagine how dull it would have been otherwise!

I have no idea what Mclaren are doing. They have umpteen problems, but the drivers aren't among them. Paddock insiders seem pretty unanimous that it will be JB making way for Alonso, which would be a travesty.

Ferrari looks a lot like the blame-cultured, politically charged mess it was in the early '90s. But I hope they build a half-decent car, because Vettel and Raikkonen both have something to prove in 2015.

Drivers of the year - Ricciardo and Bottas, for obvious reasons.
Team of the year - Williams. Wonderful to see them back where they belong at last.

I'd happily shift to a parallel universe where we were all bemoaning the most boring season in history after Mercedes instigated team orders and won every race, with not a single real overtaking move all year - if it also contained a healthy Jules Bianchi with a Sauber or Ferrari contract for 2015.
Chris M Wanted a V-10

The only time that Ricciardo was outsmiled was by Hamilton after he had won the Championship.
Great to see Mercedes allowing, if not actively encouraging, their drivers to race each other (Ferrari 2002 anyone?)

Interesting to see Red Bull moan so much now that they aren't dominant, despite one of their drivers coming 3rd in the championship.

Ferrari, McLaren: 2 well-funded and experienced teams, but really what where they up to all season? Especially McLaren with the best engine in their cars.

Good to see Williams regain form and good to see Massa doing so well after being dumped by Ferrari. I hope he derives much pleasure from beating the red cars so often in 2014.

Disappointed that Sauber fell from grace but at least they didn't complain like Red Bull did.  I hope that they survive 2015.

Sad to see the money woes of the lower teams, the disappearance of Marussia and the near-death of Caterham.  But much of that is down to Formula One Limited, the unfair way that the money is dished out and the introduction of the most expensive rule changes ever, at a time when money is tight.  Not just the need for new engines, but an entire redesign of the whole car to fit in all the bits associated with ERS etc.

Really delighted that Lewis won the title; 11 wins from 19 races is pretty good going. Lauda must have seen something work forking out millions of Mercedes' money for, despite having Rosberg in the team.

Roll on the 2015 season !

I thought Formula 1 was fantastic in 2014. Principally because the extra torque and lower downforce levels made the cars brilliant to watch. It was very noticeable just how much more the cars were sliding about, and drivers had to use more track to get the thing straightened up compared to previous years. Also, the higher top speeds but reduced downforce under braking made for great racing.

Pirelli elected to bring more conservative tyres to races in 2014 to avoid a repeat of their 2013 issues, but that in itself illustrated a powerful argument for the racing this season. No longer were rapidly-degrading tyres needed for excellent racing, the looser-nature of the cars with the new regulations was responsible for a lot of the wheel-to-wheel combat. It was also encouraging to see how drivers could stay relatively close in the turbulent air to the car in front.

People used to say “this is great for an F1 race”. Not this year, races like Bahrain, Montreal, Hungary and Monza were brilliant races in their own right. Bahrain and Hungary rank as some of my favourite motor races in 2014 of any series.

It was interesting to see just how uncomfortable Vettel looked with these new regulations. Vettel looked totally at-one with the blown diffuser, he seemed to relish the rear stability the Red Bull previously had with the way he would use all of the outside entry kerb, fling the car into the turn and the rear would hang on.

There were a lot of occasions in 2014 where Vettel still tried to turn-in with the immediacy of the Red Bull predecessors, but the rear just couldn’t live with what Vettel wanted. A short clip at Abu Dhabi in practice finely demonstrated this – he tried to use almost the whole width of the kerb into turn 1, turn in with the same immediacy of 2013 but the rear stepped out.

I wonder if Vettel is the right man for Ferrari. Quite frequently Vettel has made his dislike of these regulations well known; he seemingly doesn’t like the reliance on the motor generators and harvesting of energy. Alonso is someone who is so adaptable that it is hard to know which regulations he prefers, he’ll just brilliantly no matter what he is given. I hope Vettel isn’t centred on a particular driving style and era of car, because another championship-contending machine from Marenello could be a few years away yet, so I wonder if Vettel will be able to handle more years in a sub-par car that doesn’t do what he wants.

Despite the sheer dominance of Mercedes-Benz, the teammate rivalry was fantastic to watch. I think Rosberg deserves more credit than he is receiving, you don’t get that close to a driver like Hamilton without being a great driver. There were a number of occasions where Nico had the measure of Lewis, but like all great champions, Lewis managed to extract critical little advantages in the heat of the moment that allowed him to grow the gap to Rosberg from Monza onwards.

Bahrain for me was the most telling Grand Prix of the season. Rosberg got pole, but Hamilton got a slightly better start and had the optimum line into turn 1. However it was clear to see Rosberg was faster than Hamilton; Hamilton was seemingly dealing with a loose rear in the opening stint. Rosberg had multiple chances to get past Hamilton; indeed Lewis would leave the inside line open for Nico entering turn 1, but he would force him to drive in at such an acute angle that he couldn’t get it stopped and turned to fully complete the pass.

Nico managed to finally pass Hamilton into turn 1, but the latter stayed in Rosberg’s slipstream and went to the outside at turn 4, got an overlap and managed to get the inside line for the first part of the esses and get back into the lead.

The first pitstops separated the pair due to different tyre strategies, but the Safety Car deployment managed to close them up again after Maldonado flipped Gutierrez. This presented a significant advantage for Rosberg because he had the option tyre for a very short final stint, whereas Hamilton had the prime tyre that had longevity but wasn’t needed due to how short the final stint was.

Again Rosberg tried to go up the inside at turn 1, but repeated his mistake of driving too deep in the turn, and Nico at this point had a bigger pace advantage compared to earlier in the race. Hamilton eventually won the race, but Bahrain was one of the few times that Nico had stronger race pace compared to Lewis, but he threw away opportunities that were almost presented to him in terms of raw, wheel-to-wheel combat.

It was a telling race because Nico had greater raw pace and a strategic advantage towards the end, but Lewis’ more robust race craft meant he kept tricking Nico into mistakes. It was the similar situation in Russia, the unusually long front stretch allowed Nico to get the inside line into turn 2, Nico had the corner and only needed to ensure that Lewis couldn’t get a cutback, but he managed to spectacularly lock the fronts and had to immediately make a pitstop.

It is tricky for Nico because wheel-to-wheel battles are not something that he can train for in a simulator, it is very much situational. I just think that Lewis performs especially strongly in those racing duals, but if you've watched him pre-Formula 1, it has always been his forte.

Sav, you really should look at a career in motorsport journalism (if you aren't already).
Big Blue

Giant wrote:
Sav, you really should look at a career in motorsport journalism (if you aren't already).

Had that discussion with him on FB.

Sav, see if there's an internship position at Autosport or some such.

Then we can have our second (or third. I think Dan Prosser's now at Evo) motoring journo from these forums.

Thanks chaps – you never know…  

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