Clip The Apex
Cider’s driver ratings with a scrumpy metaphor:
5 Flagons – A true Wurzel
4 Flagons – A farmer
3 Flagons – A gardener
2 Flagons – A hanging basket owner
1 Flagon – A muddy puddle
(As I’ve decided not to award half flagons, the drivers are also listed in my order of performance)
So, to get the post season debate going, I’d thought I’d give the drivers an overview based on nothing more than my subjective performance of them this year. Let the debate begin:
Lewis Hamilton – The only real choice for the top award. While he may have been shaded by his team mate in qualification it made no difference on the Sunday. 11 wins in a season got the job done in style. Yes he had the car of the year but you’ve got to beat your team mate in the same car and you’ve got to avoid making mistakes over a race weekend. What made the real difference though was the noticeable change in attitude throughout the year. The Hamilton of old would visibly be emotional to the point of being openly moody, upset and rattled. Baring the forgivable outburst in Monaco, he’s got his head down and let the driving do the talking, especially from Spa onwards. World title number 2 in the bag. Job done.
Nico Rosberg – Nico has suffered in the past from being labelled quick but not actually tested against the quickest drivers (see the Schumacher Merc years as an example). This season, he’s proved he’s quick. Saturday was his and his alone on genuine merit throughout most of the season. The difference between him and his team mate however, was on race day. Rosberg couldn’t convert that speed into a race winning position on a number of occasions. Maybe not through lack of race craft but through the pressure of not being quite able to shake off that second Merc in his rear view mirror. There were a number of talking points throughout the season, especially the “did he / didn’t he” of Monaco and Spa, then the very public telling off by his own team after Spa which may have contributed to his over all performance but we can have no doubt now, Rosberg is a top quality driver.
Daniel Ricciardo – Hands up who thought this guy, who was broadly similar in pace to JEV, would be toast at the hands of Vettel and “his Red Bull team”? I will admit I was one. The surprise driver of the season who, with his infectious smile, proved that, though they may have had issues at the time, the Mercs weren’t the only team who could stand on the top step. To capitalise on the issues of your rivals you have to first get yourself into a position to do so. Ricciardo was always in that position when it mattered. If the Red Bull in conjunction with Renault can develop more speed for next year then Ricciardo will be right in the mix.
In 64 seasons of Formula One racing, the eventual Champion has trailed entering the final round on 10 occasions and they are fairly evenly spaced out over this time frame. No driver has ever led the Championship entering the final round on 2 separate occasions and failed to capture the crown both times, although Fernando Alonso was ahead of the eventual Champion in the standings in 2007 and leading the Championship in 2010 before being overhauled. 8 of the 10 men to lose the Championship in this manner were former/future World Champions.
Before Final Round: Fangio 26 pts - Farina 22 pts
After Final Round: Farina 30 pts - Fangio 27 pts
Monza, Italy - Juan Manuel took Pole Position but dropped to third immediately after the start. He then retired two different Alfas (setting the fastest lap) while Farina led nearly the whole race en route to capturing the title on home soil. Nino would win just two more races in his career while Fangio became a legend.
Before Final Round: Hill 39 pts - Surtees 34 pts - Clark 32 pts
After Final Round: Surtees 40 pts - Hill 39 pts - Clark 32 pts
Mexico - In one of the most incredible motor races of all time, the title changed hands 3 times on the final lap culminating in the Ferrari's swapping places at the last moment securing John Surtees the Championship. Jim Clark was set to capture back-to-back titles until his already struggling engine called it a day with less than three miles to go. Graham Hill would then have retained his Championship lead if Lorenzo Bandini hadn't realized what had occurred and duly slowed down for the formerly fourth-place Surtees.
Before Final Round: Lauda 68 pts - Hunt 65 pts
After Final Round: Hunt 69 pts - Lauda 68 pts
Fuji, Japan - Drama abounded in 1976 and the season finale was no different. Having nearly lost his life less than three months earlier, Niki Lauda retired his Ferrari on Lap 3 of a soaking wet Japanese Grand Prix opening the door for the leader of the race, James Hunt. He led every lap through to 61 before relinquishing the lead, eventually making a pit stop and dropping back to fifth (and out of Championship winning position) with just three laps remaining. Hunt passed both Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni on the 71st lap however and P3 was enough to nick the title by one.
I have read a lot of comments on here and elsewhere about how the WDC is worthless this season due to the superiority of the Mercedes package.
However, it has more often than not been the case though that each season there is a dominant car, so one would have to question why that particular view is being touted only now.
In 2009 it was the Brawn, until the rest of the field caught up mid-season.
From 2011 to 2013 it was the Red Bull, in the hands of Vettel.
Granted, the Mercedes has been very dominant over the entire season, but that is due to the fact that the performance differential comes mainly from the engine, on which there is a development freeze.
No amount of aero tweaking is going to make up that sort of deficit, especially considering Mercedes are also free to tweak their aero as the season progresses.
It's not really that different to what we saw last season, with Vettel winning 13 races, including the last 9 in a row. (Even with an extra race this season, Hamilton isn't going to match that.)
I don't recall reading comments from the same posters how that WDC was worthless due to the superiority of the Red Bull though.
If anything, it's a lesser achievement than this season's due to the fact that Vettel was completely unchallenged.
To put it in perspective, Vettel finished 155 points clear of Alonso in second place and 198 points clear of his team mate, who barely had half of Vettel's points total.
Hamilton and Rosberg are just 17 points apart going into the final race; one second place finish.
Rather than the 2014 WDC being worthless due to the superiority of the Mercedes, I would say it will actually have been more hard fought than recent seasons.
Both Mercedes drivers have led the standings at some point, both have won races, both have qualified on pole and either one could win it at the last race.
The ridiculous double points rule notwithstanding, whichever driver wins the WDC this year will have thoroughly deserved it.
It is often said in F1 the first person you have to beat is your team mate and that has been perfectly exemplified this season.