Lewis Hamilton may have been beaten to pole position on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit by teammate Nico Rosberg, but points are handed out on Sunday’s race and the Englishman duly crushed his sole championship rival to become Britain’s first two-time Formula 1 World Champion since Jackie Stewart achieved the feat in 1971.
The Englishman burst off the line at the start and was never headed, leaving Rosberg to rely on talent, better strategy or a dose of bad luck to strike the championship leader. In the end, fortune played its cruelest card, with Rosberg striking an ERS failure that saw his championship hopes evaporate as those behind him steadily caught up and overtook him.
Rosberg ignored the calls of his team to pit in the closing laps and save himself the indignity of being lapped by the champion-elect, but he would have none of it: if he was going to lose, he would do it on track. He eventually crossed the line in fourteenth, and was among the first to congratulate Hamilton before the podium celebrations occurred.
It was the honorable way to lose and Rosberg knew it: it was the mark of a great future champion who will hopefully have his moment own in the sun. Both men drove outstandingly all season in what was clearly the best car by a country mile.
Rosberg’s troubles – which ultimately extended to a loss of hybrid power, lagging turbo and sticking brakes – gave Williams’ Felipe Massa the opportunity to stage a late charge for victory. The Brazilian veteran ran on an alternative strategy and led for much of the middle of the race before making a final pit stop to switch to the Super Soft Pirelli rubber.
The Williams driver quickly set about trying to close down Hamilton’s lead, but the Mercedes driver had enough in hand – and enough tyre life in his older rubber – to thwart Massa’s ambitions. Half a minute adrift, Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium to deliver Williams its first double podium finish since 2005, putting in a sterling recovery drive after an appalling start dropped him from third to eighth at the end of the first lap.
Speaking of recovery drives, undoubtedly the drive of the day would have to go to Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. After he and Sebastian Vettel were consigned to pit lane starts for falling foul of post-race scrutineering (their front wing flaps flexed too much and constituted illegal ‘moveable aerodynamic devices’), the Australian charged through the field to finish fourth. In typical style, the Perth driver put in some impressive overtaking moves while also trying to preserve his tyre life on heavy fuel to allow him to run a mammoth opening stint.
Jenson Button rounded out the top-five in what is possibly his final hit-out for McLaren – and perhaps his illustrious F1 career – and put in another highly credible drive to show that, on his day and in the right equipment, he can still mix it with the best. The British veteran shaded Kevin Magnussen all weekend, with the Danish rookie finishing out of the points in eleventh place.
Button kept the Force India duo of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez at bay, with the Indian outfit electing to run an alternative tyre strategy to make up for another midfield qualifying performance. Despite the double points on offer, Button’s fifth place ensured that the team wouldn’t overhaul McLaren for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Outgoing four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel pulled the curtain down on his final race with Red Bull Racing by finishing in eighth. As has been the case almost all season long, the German was unable to match or better Ricciardo’s efforts in the same machinery.
Whether he will be questioning the wisdom of his decision to join Ferrari remains to be seen, for the Italian ended its wretched 2014 campaign with a whimper as Fernando Alonso and team-mate Kimi Räikkönen rounded out the points in ninth and tenth respectively. Lacking in mid-corner grip and straight-line speed – Alonso was outdragged by a Caterham on the back straight! – neither driver will be unhappy to see the back of the F14T.
Despite the heat and a number of teams running power units well at the end of their lifespans, the race saw just three retirements. Daniil Kvyat parked his Toro Rosso early on with a loss of electrical power in the engine, while Pastor Maldonado’s retirement was more spectacular: his Renault turbo engine let go and triggered an ‘after-burner’ style fire at the back of his car, which the trackside marshals showed little urgency in putting out.
Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi was the race’s only other retiree, slowing his car and parking it in the garage with a vibration at the rear of his CT05, having set a fastest lap just 0.007 seconds slower than Alonso! Rookie teammate Will Stevens finished 17th and last of the runners, but in all it was an impressive showing from the team brought back from the brink with an inventive crowdfunding effort. Whether the last gasp showing will be enough to encourage a new buyer on board ultimately remains to be seen.
While the season is now over, the F1 cars don’t stop running just yet, with a two-day end-of-season test set to take place at Yas Marina early this week.
2014 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (55 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||55||1:39:02.619|
|2.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||55||+ 2.576|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||55||+ 28.880|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||55||+ 37.237|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||55||+ 1:00.334|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||55||+ 1:02.148|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||55||+ 1:11.060|
|8.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||55||+ 1:12.045|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||55||+ 1:25.813|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||55||+ 1:27.820|
|11.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||55||+ 1:30.376|
|12.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||55||+ 1:31.947|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||54||1 lap behind|
|14.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||54||1 lap behind|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||54||1 lap behind|
|16.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||54||1 lap behind|
|17.||Will Stevens||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||54||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||42||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||26||Engine|
|DNF.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||14||Engine|
Images via Sutton Images and XPB Images