Following the Brazilian Grand Prix there is just one race left of the season: the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. We see Lewis Hamilton head there with a 17 point lead over teammate Nico Rosberg, who won in Brazil. Hamilton is in pole position with Betfair amongst other bookmakers to win the Drivers’ Championship, however, with double points on offer in Abu Dhabi it is by no means a certainty. If Rosberg wins and Hamilton fails to finish second then his Mercedes teammate will take the title thanks to this nonsensical rule which obviously shows that Bernie Ecclestone is growing ever more senile.
In regards to racing this season, there have only been Rosberg and Hamilton in it. Mercedes have bossed the Constructors’ Championship, looking comfortable perched atop of the F1 team pedestal all season. In that regard, this season has been mundane. On the other hand, the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton has been thrilling and completely absorbing, it is a rivalry that we have not witnessed since the days of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, and credit to Mercedes for letting their drivers race.
Lewis Hamilton by Jaffa The Cake
Although it has been a one horse race, this season has still been exciting, excruciating and altogether memorable; so what have been biggest talking points of the season thus far?
Recent weeks have seen a maelstrom engulf F1 in regards to the financial discrepancies between sides. Caterham and Marussia have both entered into administration and their futures within the sport look very bleak indeed. The Grand Prix’s of Brazil and America saw just nine teams take to the grid due to Caterham’s and Marussia’s inability to finance a race, whilst there were also rumblings of a boycott of the US Grand Prix by Force India, Sauber and Lotus. Although those three did race in the end it does not look good for Formula One as a whole. Too much money is given to the teams at the top, and as history has shown, a trickle down economy does not work. Right now, the money in F1 solidifies the iron grip that the established teams have at the top whilst plunging smaller teams further and further into the red. Unless this problem is rectified we will see fewer and fewer teams take to the grid in future. Whether there will be an overhaul of the financial structuring of Formula One next season is unknown but if they don’t do something soon then the teams competing will shrink year on year.
Jules Bianchi’s crash
The Japanse Grand Prix in October saw Jules Bianchi crash out at the Suzuka Circuit. Driving in torrential rain Bianchi aquaplaned on turn seven, coming off the course and crashing head-on into the rear of a tractor crane that was being used to remove Adrian Sutil’s car from the course. The horrific crash, which has seen Bianchi in hospital for the past month, has once again caused questions of driver’s safety to emerge. Considering the conditions should the race have gone ahead: with the power of hindsight, no. Will Bianchi’s crash lead to a furthering in regulations regarding driver safety: again we do not know but we can certainly hope so. The FIA currently have a 10-man panel looking into the accident, two of the members, Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali, are the ex Team Principal of Ferrari. Their findings will be announced on December 3, so here’s hoping that they have a resolution that will make the sport safer for all those involved.
Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel has called time on his Red Bull career. This season the German has regularly been upstaged by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo – something that must give Mark Webber immense pleasure – and he has now decided to seek pastures new. Next year we will not be seeing Vettel in the blue of Red Bull, but rather the iconic red of Ferrari. Vettel’s move to the Italian outfit coincides with Fernando Alonso’s departure. Right now it is still unclear where the Spaniard is going, some suggest he will take a sabbatical, but, it looks more than likely that he will rejoin his old side McLaren and become their lead driver in their new McLaren-Honda car. With Alonso at McLaren it means that Jenson Button’s career is likely to be over. It is hard to fathom Button staying in Formula One and driving for someone else, simply due to there not being a car competitive enough to take his fancy. It is extremely rare to see three of the best drivers on the asphalt all move on simultaneously; the change has indeed been seismic.
As mentioned earlier, these two have been absolutely fantastic for the sport this season. Their rivalry, which is far from over, will long be remembered by F1 fans. The first source of contention came in Bahrain, where an aggressive Hamilton overtake caused Rosberg to angrily wave his fist and scathe about his British teammate in his radio discussion with the pit. At Monaco it was Hamilton’s turn to be irked. He had to abort his hot lap in the final part of qualifying due to Rosberg running deep at turn 5, before reversing back onto the track, prompting yellow flags, which stopped Hamilton from posting a quick lap and taking the strategically vital pole position. In the build up to the German Grand Prix Hamilton sniped that Rosberg wasn’t German but in fact Monegasque.
Nico Rosberg by Michael Elleray
But the biggest flashpoint between the two came at Spa, Belgium. During lap two Rosberg attempted to pass Hamilton but got it wrong, puncturing his teammates tire and slightly damaging his week. The collision eventually caused Hamilton to retire while Rosberg, who was correctly deemed to have been in the wrong, went onto finish second and distance himself between Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship. Since Spa it has all gone a little quiet, but that is mainly to do with Hamilton’s dominance, Rosberg has never been close enough for a contentious moment to occur. For all Formula One fans, it has been nigh on impossible not to talk about these two, and picking a side between the two is one of divisive brilliance.
Bernie Ecclestone’s Court Case
The Formula One supremo was in the dock this year amidst claims of bribery on his part. A German court pressed charges against Ecclestone following a two-year investigation into his relationship with Gerhard Gribkowsky, a man that Ecclestone supposedly paid £26 million in bribes to ensure a smooth sale of F1 to his preferred buyer eight years ago.
But the real talking point here is not the allegation of bribery but the punishment. On 5 August 2014, the Munich court that took Ecclestone to court allowed him to pay a £60 million settlement to end the case without having to enter a guilty plea. If there is anyone out there that can understand the court’s logic please come forward, because to many it certainly sounded like a back-hander.