No injustice as driver with most wins is crowned

No injustice as driver with most wins is crowned
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates with his team after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 23, 2014.

Fernando Alonso got it right in Abu Dhabi. He had no doubt that the right man, his erstwhile rival Lewis Hamilton, had deservedly clinched a second world title.

"The best man won," Alonso said. And that summarised the 2014 season perfectly.

With 10 wins to rival Nico Rosberg's five going into the twilight showdown, with its controversial yet ultimately unimportant double points stakes, Hamilton had established superiority in races, and Rosberg in qualifying.

But the general belief in the paddock was that it would have been a travesty if double the victories had not made the Englishman the champion once again.

Rosberg, however, deserved his shot and was never less than a worthy contender.

Generally, until the final race where his Mercedes' energy recovery system failed and took a toll too on the brakes, the German had the upper hand in the reliability stakes.

Hamilton took pole for the season-opener in Melbourne but, soon after the start, his Mercedes retired with a spark-plug insulation problem. Rosberg's victory put Hamilton on his back foot, 25 points down.

But four consecutive victories put him into the points lead until Monaco, where the calculating Rosberg knew he had to get into his team-mate's head in order to stop him. He employed subterfuge with a "moment" in under- braking at the Mirabeau corner, ensuring that Hamilton could not beat him to pole and duly heading him home in the race.

Unsettled, Hamilton then pushed hard after Rosberg in Canada after overshooting the final corner kerb helped Rosberg to double his lead, and paid the price with another retirement due to fading brakes after ERS failure.

Rosberg's second place helped keep him at the top.

The winner in Britain, Hamilton had to start from the pit lane in Hungary after a fire in qualifying, but finished third after a brilliant drive, ahead of a disgruntled Rosberg, after refusing an order to let the German by because he was on a different strategy.

In the next race, in Belgium, a still angry Rosberg clashed with Hamilton, cutting a rear tyre.

After Hamilton retired, Rosberg later admitted that he had deliberately not avoided a collision.

He was fined heavily by the team and a determined Hamilton responded by winning the next five races. Rosberg, however, finally stopped that with a fifth victory, in Brazil, setting up last weekend's finale.

In a season in which the new eco-friendly 1.6-litre turbo engines met with criticism and gave Mercedes a huge advantage which overthrew past champions Red Bull and left Ferrari gasping feebly, it was Mercedes' willingness to let their drivers race one another that injected much-needed interest and kept the sport alive.

But they also drove up the costs to the point where the little teams Caterham and Marussia went into administration while Lotus, Force India and Sauber attempted to steer through rocky financial waters.

It also saw the death of Jenson Button's beloved father John and popular Frenchman Jules Bianchi was left in critical condition with severe head injuries after a horrible accident in Japan in which he struck a rescue vehicle.

It was thus a year of highs and lows, and celebration and controversy, and there is no sign of that abating as a freeze on engine development threatens to help Mercedes to retain their advantage in 2015.

But whether it might be Hamilton who repeats for a third time, or Rosberg who finally emulates his father Keke's 1982 title, is far too close to call right now.


This article was first published on November 25, 2014.
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