Down to the wire in Abu Dhabi
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix sees the culmination of a fascinating 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship; and what a finish we have in store. As cliff-hangers go this one has all the pulsating ingredients set to a background of extraordinary seasonal ups and downs. The two leading protagonists - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – are separated by just 17 points with a total of 50 points available for the race win at Yas Marina Circuit. The various computations that will see the championship decided to the benefit of one driver or the other are numerous.
Simply put Rosberg can win the race with Hamilton in second and the 2014 Championship title will be Hamilton’s. There are numerous other equations that can be drawn but the one that Mercedes team bosses fear is that a failure or incident to either of the cars robs the sport of a tantalising finale. Whichever way, one thing is certain; a Mercedes driver will win the coveted title. Hamilton his second – Rosberg his first.
There are plenty of examples of championships that have gone down to the wire but never have double points come into the equation. When all is said and done we will have to wait until Sunday evening in Abu Dhabi when, in front of a packed crowd, the two Mercedes team-mates will (hopefully) fight it out in gladiatorial fashion. May the best man win!
Yallabahrain will bring you the excitement as it unfolds over the weekend starting with free practice on Friday. Saturday follows with qualifying with the race on Sunday evening starting at 16.00 Bahrain time. Images, as always throughout this extraordinary season, come from Sutton Images.
Hamilton lays down a marker in Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton set the pace and laid down a marker at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday ahead of Sunday’s championship decider during the first day of practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The championship leader was quicker than his German team mate Nico Rosberg in both of the day’s sessions and was quoted as saying that he felt like a “kid at Christmas” with the performance of his car.
Hamilton needs to win or come second to Rosberg in order to seal the 2014 Formula One Drivers’ World Championship, but one imagines that taking the easy option and following his team-mate round all evening on Sunday doesn’t feature on his mind. Only a win will satisfy Lewis who will be aiming for his eleventh of the season.
Rosberg meanwhile has been concentrating on his own championship aspirations. He trails Hamilton by 17 points but with double points on offer a win on Sunday with Hamilton anywhere lower than second will give him his first title.
Of the rest the Dane Kevin Magnussen was third quickest for McLaren, almost a second slower than the Mercedes twins. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who was officially confirmed as a Ferrari drive for 2015 earlier in the weekend, was fourth, Valtteri Bottas for Williams fifth and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull sixth. Kimi Raikkonen seventh and Jenson Button, in what could be his last race in F1, eighth.
Hamilton meanwhile is focused on victory and his second world title. No stranger to final day dramas, the Englishman won his only championship in 2009 but was in the mix for titles in 2007, 2008 and 2010. He has won in Abu Dhabi before, in 2011, but has also been leading the race on two occasions only to be side-lined by mechanical failures. He will be hoping to avoid such a catastrophe on Sunday.
Strike one to Rosberg prior to Abu Dhabi F1 show-down
Abu Dhabi had all the party spirit on Saturday evening with qualifying under lights, celebrities wherever you looked and yachts bobbing up and down in the Marina. The on-track activities were almost secondary, but amongst it all Nico Rosberg got the better of his World Championship rival and team-mate Lewis Hamilton and stuck his Mercedes on pole for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Rosberg was sublime throughout qualifying and holds a slight psychological advantage going into tomorrow evening’s final race. Hamilton’s qualifying could not have been more different and was very scrappy. Nevertheless, the Englishman knows that all he has to do is to follow the German home and he will be Champion tomorrow night.
As Prince Harry, Pharrell Williams (who will play to a packed house along with The Who later) and Spice Girl Gerri Halliwell looked on, the Williams twins of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa very nearly gave Hamilton a big headache with a blistering qualifying pace. The Williams seems to be made for the Yas Marina Circuit and their pace today could be the one spanner in the works that Hamilton will be looking to avoid tomorrow. It is crucial he gets a good, clean start, as he will be very conscious of the trouble that the Williams boys could cause to his championship aspirations.
Fifth and sixth on the grid are Red Bull team-mates (for the final time) Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, but with the legality of the car’s front wing called into question buy the FIA it is likely that the pair will either race under appeal or start form the back. Daniil Kvyat and Jenson Button were seventh and eighth, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton – World Champion - “Hammer Time”!
Lewis Hamilton clinched his second World Championship title by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; his eleventh win of the season. He won the race from the Williams twins of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas while his season-long rival for the Championship, Nico Rosberg, suffered cruel luck with car failure, but still managed to finish the race albeit in 14th place – his championship dreams in tatters.
Hamilton secured the first Drivers’ title for Mercedes since the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955, and received congratulations over the pit to car radio from Prince Harry as he picked up a Union Jack and flew it proudly on his slowing down lap.
As emotions got to Lewis prior to the podium celebrations he was joined by his team-mate; the two embraced and the memories of an often bitter championship duel were put behind them.
Thousands of patriotic Britons made the trip to Abu Dhabi to support their man. 60,000 filled the Yas Marina circuit to capacity and there to watch were Lewis’ girlfriend and Pussy Cat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger together with his father, brother and step-mum.
Daniel Ricciardo completed a great season to finish fourth in the race and third in the championship, while Jenson Button, possibly in his last race for McLaren, finished fifth with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez sixth and seventh for Force India.
So Hamilton, the boy from Stevenage, took the spoils with the final throw of the dice in Abu Dhabi after enduring a sometime acrimonious season-long battle with Rosberg. For many Lewis’ Championship victory was the right result and the correct conclusion to a fantastic season. As his father put it following the race, “If you apply yourself decently and honestly the right things will happen….”