Monthly Archives: December 2014

Marciello signs as Sauber reserve driver for 2015

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Practice Day - Austin, USA

It was announced this morning that Ferrari protege Raffaele Marciello will be Sauber’s test and reserve driver for the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Marciello, a long-time member of Ferrari’s driver academy programme, made his F1 testing debut for the Maranello squad in Abu Dhabi last month.

The 20-year-old Italian will combine a second season of GP2 with his Sauber commitments, staying on with the Racing Engineering team in the F1 feeder category.

In his interview with the media today, Marciello is delighted to have signed as a reserve driver for the Sauber team, Marciello stated the following:-

‘I am really pleased to become a member of the Sauber F1 team, which has a long tradition of building up excellent drivers. I really think that this is the best choice for my future career.

‘I am also happy to compete for one more season in the GP2 Series, which, together with my new F1 role, will give me a very busy 2015 season.’

It is clear for all to see that Marciello is delighted to have signed as a reserve driver for Sauber next season and why wouldn’t he be. As he rightly points out Sauber have given young drivers such as Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa a platform and a foundation to develop their skills as a driver which has seen both drivers driving for Ferrari in their careers for example and Marciello knows that this opportunity could also not only be the best option for him and his career right now but also the chance to gain experience within the sport in the process.

But even though Marciello does have other racing commitments in 2015 with competing in the GP2 series, I am sure that he will be able to balance effectively both commitments without compromising his ability to perform on the track at every single race or opportunity to test in Formula One next season.

In her own interview with the media, Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said Marciello’s deal with her Ferrari-powered squad included some appearances in grand prix practice sessions. Kaltenborn stated the following about signing Marciello to the Sauber team next season:-

‘He proved his great talent in junior formulas, and his season in the European Formula 3 Championship with 13 wins and the title victory was particularly impressive.

‘We will give Raffaele the opportunity to become familiar with Formula 1, which also includes him taking part in some free practice sessions on Fridays.’

From what Kaltenborn has stated this morning, it is clear that Marciello’s showing in the European Formula 3 Championship this season has been a factor in the team signing him up as a reserve driver next season. And you can understand why Sauber have provided him with the opportunity especially after achieving 13 wins which is a fantastic achievement to have under his belt and giving him this opportunity is a reflection of his hard work this season and also Sauber believing that he is more than talented enough to acquire the opportunity to gain some Formula One experience next season.

However, even though Marciello is clearly talented enough by what he has shown this season, you could also say that Sauber’s arrangement with Ferrari as their engine supplier could have also had a factor in Sauber’s decision to sign him up for next season.

Personally, this arrangement for me could benefit both parties in regards to Sauber could receive more updates on their engine throughout the course of the season in exchange for giving Marciello an opportunity to develop his talent further by acquiring some Formula One experience which could prove very handy for him if he was to gain a Formula One race seat in the near future.

But overall, it is clear that Sauber signing Marciello as a reserve driver for the 2015 season is an arrangement that both parties are happy with and both are looking forward to the new season ahead in partnership together.

It is clear that Marciello has done a superb job in the European Formula 3 championship this season to have been selected by Sauber and to be given a chance to nurture and develop more as a driver and as a talent by acquire some Formula One experience that could prove very handy for him in the near future.

As Marciello rightly points out himself, Sauber are known as a team that has brought in young and talented drivers over the years such as Raikkonen and have given them a chance to shine and also develop as a driver that has allowed them to gain a race seat in the sport.

This opportunity could be very beneficial for Marciello to develop more as a driver and acquire more experience in the sport. Because as we know Marciello is a Ferrari Academy driver and even though Ferrari supply Sauber their engines, you could say that Ferrari may have had a hand in this but does not take away the fact that he has the talent to succeed.

All Marciello can do is show Sauber (also Ferrari as well) what he can do in a GP2 and Formula One car next season, get to know both of his team behind the scenes and how they work and concentrate on getting the best of himself and car when the opportunity presents itself on the track. I look forward to seeing how he performs at Sauber over the course of next season.

Bianchi to start rehabilitation therapy

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It was announced this afternoon by Jules Bianchi’s family in a statement to the media that even though Jules’ neurological state remains unchanged, he has begun a rehabilitation therapy programme in France.

In the latest statement released on behalf of Bianchi’s parents Philippe and Christine, the family said there was no new significant information to report regarding the French driver’s health following his crash during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Bianchi had been finally transferred to a French hospital at the end of last month, seven weeks after his dramatic accident at Suzuka.

In their statement today to the media, they confirmed that Jules continues to breathe unaided while unconscious and that he has started his rehabilitation. The Bianchi’s family stated the following on Jules’ condition as follows:-

‘As we reach the conclusion of a difficult year for our family, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide a further update regarding Jules’ medical situation, per our pledge to communicate continued information, when appropriate, to his many fans.

‘It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends. This is very important for Jules and also for us.

‘Since that time, Jules has received the very best treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and now at the CHU’s rehabilitation centre for this kind of trauma. Jules’ neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided.

‘Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would, and this has enabled the medical professionals caring for him to commence the planned, but very painstaking, programme of rehabilitation therapy.’

Further on in their statement today, the Bianchi family said it continued to be touched by the overwhelming support received during the past weeks. The Bianchi family added the following:-

‘As we reflect on the events of the past few months, we would like to acknowledge once again the overwhelming warmth and affection shown towards our son.

‘These continue to be challenging times for our family, but the knowledge that he has touched the lives of so many people all around the world has helped us through. We would also like to acknowledge the respect and support shown by the media towards our family during this time, for which we are extremely grateful.

‘We will continue to provide information when it is possible to do so and our sincere appreciation to everyone who continues to pray for Jules.’

It is nice to hear that Bianchi has made a small step forward with his health and his condition can be as stable as it can be considering the circumstances. Even though this is a difficult time for the Bianchi family, his friends and his colleagues, it is nice to see the F1 Family supporting and thinking of the family who I simply cannot imagine what they are going through right now.

It is clear from the statement made by the Bianchi family that Jules has the best possible medical care that he could have and the medical team will be doing everything they can for Jules, his health and his recovery and also for the family too and will released further information as and when they feel it is right to do so.

I will keep you updated with Bianchi as soon as we receive something official from the hospital, Bianchi’s family, the Marussia team or any official publication such as Autosport. But our main concern and priority right now is that Jules is okay after his accident and that he is as well as he can be under these difficult circumstances.

All I can say is that all at my thoughts and prayers are with the Bianchi family, his friends and colleagues during this sad and difficult time. And we are all behind you Jules and keep fighting. #ForzaJules

Lotus listed as ‘subject to confirmation on 2015 F1 entry list

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It was announced yesterday that Lotus are listed on the entry list of the 2015 season as ‘subject to confirmation’ which is fuelling speculation and rumour in the paddock that all is not well behind the scenes at the team.

The Lotus team have confirmed their current driver line up of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado for next season as well as switching engine manufacturers from Renault to Mercedes for 2015.

However, the financial strife of the multiple-championship winning outfit has been well documented in recent years and after a dismal 2014 dropped from fourth to eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, missing out on valuable prize money. The poor on track performance also means the team have now lost their seat on the F1 Strategy Group.

The Times newspaper have reported recently that there are fears amongst F1 executives that ‘a third team will collapse in the new year as the sport dithers over a multimillion-pound plan to slash costs’ but nothing has been confirmed by the FIA about this issue as of yet.

Also, Caterham and Manor F1 (formerly known as Marussia) are both still included on the entry list, subject to confirmation, despite the two teams remaining in administration and the latter’s assets being auctioned off in mid-December.

The updated entry list also revealed that Lewis Hamilton will opt not to carry number one on his Mercedes in 2015, with the reigning world champion deciding to remain with the number 44 on his car.

In regards to the news of Caterham and Manor F1 still being on the list for 2015, I really do hope that both parties are able to race in 2015, even though I do believe that Manor F1 would be the most unlikely to return due to Marussia’s assets being auctioned off earlier this month. But at least Caterham have a small hope of returning next season with administrators still talking to potential buyers and it would be an achievement if a deal could be reached on the matter.

On the subject of Lotus being ‘subject to confirmation’ on the 2015 entry list, we just really cannot afford to lose another team on the grid and it would be a shame with the past successes of the Lotus team and also under the guise of Renault, Benetton and Toleman to lose a team that know how to win races and championships in the sport; but have lost their way especially this season.

But overall, I really do hope that Lotus’ status on the entry list for 2015 is confirmed as soon as possible and that the rumours circulating their financial status are not true after everything they have been through in the past few years and are able to race for 2015, I really do.

2015 F1 car numbers

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It was announced yesterday by the FIA the car numbers the 18 confirmed drivers will be racing with when the 2015 F1 season gets underway in Australia.

The car numbers released by the FIA are as follows:-

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: 44
Nico Rosberg: 6

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo: 3
Daniil Kvyat: 26

Williams

Valtteri Bottas: 77

Felipe Massa: 19

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel: 5

Kimi Raikkonen: 7

McLaren

Fernando Alonso: 14

Jenson Button: 22

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg: 27

Sergio Perez: 11

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen: 33

Carlos Sainz Jr: 55

Lotus

Romain Grosjean: 8

Pastor Maldonado: 13

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson: 9

Felipe Nasr: 12

Classic #jonesonF1: 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix.

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix.

The 2001 Austrian Grand Prix: Round 6 of 17 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher led the Drivers’ Championship with 36 points, ahead of McLaren driver David Coulthard eight points behind in second place with 28 points and Rubens Barrichello in third on 14 points.

A staggering performance in the final sector of the A1-Ring allowed Michael Schumacher to clinch his fifth pole position out of six races in what looks set to be a record-breaking season for the German when it comes to starting from the top spot of the grid. The German’s cause was also aided by the changing winds at the Austrian circuit, where they can have such a big influence on the drivers’ speed.

By setting his second consecutive pole after the Spanish Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver also ended a disappointing series of performances at the Austrian track, where he has qualified no better than fourth in his previous appearances. However, his top position was not the best news for Schumacher, as his McLaren rivals “screwed up” – in the words of their own team boss Ron Dennis – and had to settle with the fourth row of the grid.

The perfect weather conditions at the very slippery Austrian circuit saw the crowd having to wait a massive 21 minutes before the hills were brought alive with the sound of a Formula One engine. Once Enrique Bernoldi with the Arrows decided to open the proceedings, the rest of the drivers crowded the circuit.

Jacques Villeneuve during qualifying for the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

Jacques Villeneuve during qualifying for the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

A committed Jacques Villeneuve was the first one to fall victim of the slippery surface, spinning his BAR while he was starting his first attempt. It wasn’t to be the only incident for the Canadian, who was clearly trying too hard, even for himself.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished second in qualifying for the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

Juan Pablo Montoya finished second in qualifying for the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

Twenty six minutes into the session, Montoya would set the ball rolling in the first of the four three-lap attempts that the Michelin-shod teams went for lapping only two tenths slower than last year’s pole position time. David Coulthard was the next big hitter to come out, but the Scot lost his first run and returned to the pits without having set a time. It was the beginning of a very tough session for the McLaren team.

Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello would top the timesheets before Michael Schumacher came out to make his first of three four-lap attempts, breaking into the 1:09s bracket on his second lap, after running wide at the end of the straight on the first one.

Michael Schumacher clinched Pole Position for 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher clinched Pole Position for 2001 Austrian Grand Prix

The German’s time was already a second quicker than Mika Hakkinen’s pole from last year, and more than six tenths faster than anybody else. The order remained unchanged until the two Michelin-shod Williamses returned to the track. Ralf made it an all-Schumacher front row in his second run, only some two tenths slower than his brother, but Montoya would immediately break the German dominance as he completed his second attempt being slightly faster than his teammate.

While Mika Hakkinen set the fifth fastest time in his first run, Coulthard was unable to post a competitive time on his second and was only eighth quickest 40 minutes into the session, the Scot looking more affected by the headwind problem than other drivers.

Schumacher, whose Ferrari was running with new rear and old front tyres, jumped onto the track for the second time with some 20 minutes remaining, but it was starting to become evident that the wind conditions would make it very difficult from drivers to improve, and he, as well as Hakkinen, Barrichello, Montoya and Ralf stayed where they were after their second run.

Though most of the top contenders were close to Schumacher’s time in the first and second sectors, they were unable to equal the Ferrari driver’s pace in the third, all of them losing more than two tenths. Not even Hakkinen and Coulthard could improve over their poor positions, though the Scot was able to jump in front of the Finn to place himself in seventh position.

The final minutes of the session saw the field completing their final attempts in vain, as most of them were unable to improve. Schumacher wasn’t even able to completed his final lap after Jos Verstappen spun right in front of him, forcing him to go off track. Nevertheless, the German was happy with the 37th pole of his career, but more so to see the McLarens on the fourth row. However, he refused to write them off for the race and as it turned out, rightly so.

Montoya, who finally was able to endure a trouble-free first practice on Friday, took full advantage of his past experience at the A1-Ring and clinched second place alongside Schumacher. Teammate Ralf Schumacher was third, while Barrichello was fourth, in front of Jarno Trulli and a brilliant Nick Heidfeld in the first of the Saubers.

Juan Pablo Montoya leads his team mate Ralf Schumacher and Michael Schumacher at the start of the 2001 Austrian GP

Juan Pablo Montoya leads his team mate Ralf Schumacher and Michael Schumacher at the start of the 2001 Austrian GP

On race day, launch control was a concern as four cars were left on the grid as they stalled as the race started. There were no incidents or accidents as a result of the cars stalled on the grid. The two Williams drivers were in first and second position after the start: Juan Pablo Montoya was leading and Ralf Schumacher was second. Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari was in third position.

The Safety Car comes out at the end of Lap 1 of the 2001 Austrian GP.

The Safety Car comes out at the end of Lap 1 of the 2001 Austrian GP. All rights reserved to LAT.

The safety car was deployed on the first lap as two of the cars which stalled could not be removed from the grid before the race completed the first lap. Jarno Trulli was one of the drivers that stalled their car but who had been recovered to the pit lane, was then disqualified for leaving the pit lane while the red light was on as the safety car and the cars behind it passed the pit lane exit.

Juan Pablo Montoya leads his team mate Ralf Schumacher in the early stages of the 2001 Austrian GP.

Juan Pablo Montoya leads his team mate Ralf Schumacher in the early stages of the 2001 Austrian GP. All rights reserved to LAT.

At the restart, Montoya was in lead again while Ralf Schumacher retired soon after with brake problems. Soon afterwards, Montoya began to experience tyre graining, which allowed Michael Schumacher to close on him. Furthermore, Rubens Barrichello got closer to his team mate and was followed by Jos Verstappen, David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen causing a line of cars behind Montoya.

The incident between Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher during the 2001 Austrian GP.

The incident between Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher during the 2001 Austrian GP. All rights reserved to LAT.

Montoya tried to hold them all off but then Michael Schumacher made his move on the outside of the tight second corner. Montoya outbraked himself and this resulted in both drivers running off the track, leaving Barrichello in the lead. Both Montoya and Schumacher went back on the track but were down the field now. Verstappen meanwhile pitted soon after with a much lighter fuel load.

David Coulthard leads the latter stages of the 2001 Austrian GP ahead of Michael Schumacher

David Coulthard leads the latter stages of the 2001 Austrian GP ahead of Michael Schumacher

Schumacher fought his way back up to third, while Montoya was able to get up to fourth before retiring with hydraulic fauliure. At the sole round of pit stops, Coulthard jumped Rubens Barrichello to lead the race, but appeared to be struggling during the closing stages, allowing both Ferraris to close right up to the McLaren.

On Lap 54, Schumacher made a mistake and went out on the grass, as he had done already immediately after his pit stop, managed to recover and stayed in the race, but lost precious time and the hope to win the GP. While his team mate Barrichello, meanwhile was making life difficult for Coulthard who seemed not to be as fast as before on his new set of tyres.

Jenson Button retires from the 2001 Austrian GP a few laps from the end.

Jenson Button retires from the 2001 Austrian GP a few laps from the end. All rights reserved to Getty Images.

With a few laps to go, Button finished his very non-descript race by spinning out to the side with flames gashing out of the back of his Benetton. Button had been almost constantly at the back of the pack throughout the weekend and his poor performance reflected that of the Benetton team as a whole, which appears not to be anywhere near finding a way out of the crisis that hit them.

Michael Schumacher passes his team mate Rubens Barrichello on the final lap of the 2001 Austria Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher passes his team mate Rubens Barrichello on the final lap of the 2001 Austria Grand Prix

 

Fisichella performed slightly better than the young Briton, but he was noticeable mainly by his absence from any action that took place. But during the last lap, Barrichello was ordered by the Ferrari team to cede second position to Schumacher, so that he could gain points to defend the driver’s title. Barrichello did not comply until the final corner of the last lap.

David Coulthard wins the 2001 Austrian GP ahead of second place driver Michael Schumacher and third place driver Rubens Barrichello.

David Coulthard wins the 2001 Austrian GP ahead of second place driver Michael Schumacher and third place driver Rubens Barrichello. All rights reserved to Reuters.

But it was David Coulthard finished first, just ahead of both Ferraris of Schumacher and Barrichello, with a fourth place for Kimi Räikkönen in his Sauber and Olivier Panis who finished fifth in his BAR-Honda 003.

The 2001 Austrian Grand Prix will be remembered as Coulthard’s second win of the 2001 season after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. This race will also be remembered with the incident between Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya that is still about and debated by many fans and pundits today.

But Coulthard’s victory lifted spirits a bit at McLaren, who were grieving for the death of Paul Morgan who passed away at the weekend of the race itself. As a mark of respect to Morgan, the race winner did not open his champagne to spray it around which was a pleasant gesture from Coulthard. This race also saw Coulthard close the gap down to Schumacher to four points and keeping himself in contention for the title.

In regards to the incident between Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, an identical situation happened at the race the following year and the ensuing podium procedure in which Schumacher ushered Barrichello to the top step resulted in a heavy fine for the Ferrari team, Schumacher and Barrichello, as well as the FIA later banning “team orders” altogether.

And as the 2001 World Championship continued to the next around in Monaco, Schumacher lead the championship still by 42 points ahead of Coulthard four points behind with 38 points and Rubens Barrichello in third with 18 points.

2014 F1 Team Review

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2014 saw a new era of Formula One being born after four years of domination from Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing; with the introduction of the turbo V6 engines, double points being on offer in Abu Dhabi being the main two talking points that pundits and fans talked about heading into this season.

For this season, 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines replaced the 2.4 litre V8 engines that had been standard since the 2006 season, with three engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari which supplied the eleven F1 teams on the grid. With a five-power unit limit enforced this season, some teams found it difficult to stay within that limit, with grid penalties being a factor in the latter stages of the season.

The driver line-ups for the 2014 season were vastly changed, with only two teams, Mercedes and Marussia, keeping the same drivers as in 2013. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continued at Mercedes, while Marussia, who were now Ferrari-powered after the withdrawal of Cosworth, kept on both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.

Daniel Ricciardo joined Vettel at Red Bull after Mark Webber’s retirement from the sport, with GP3 Series champion Daniil Kvyat taking the Australian’s seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso alongside the retained Jean-Eric Vergne.

Felipe Massa left Scuderia Ferrari after eight seasons to join Valterri Bottas at Williams Martini Racing, with Kimi Raikkonen returning to the Scuderia from the Lotus F1 Team, joining Fernando Alonso. Taking Raikkonen’s place at Lotus alongside Romain Grosjean was Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado who had left Williams after three seasons at the Grove team.

After just one season at McLaren, Sergio Perez was ousted by the team in favour of 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Kevin Magnussen who joined Jenson Button at the team. Perez ended up at Sahara Force India, where he partnered Nico Hulkenberg, who returned to the team after a year at Sauber.

Replacing Hulkenberg at Sauber was former Force India driver Adrian Sutil, who partnered the retained Mexican Esteban Gutierrez. Kamui Kobayashi returned to Formula 1 with Caterham after a year in the World Endurance Championship, with the Japanese driver being joined by Marcus Ericsson, who became the first Swedish F1 driver since Stefan Johansson back in 1991.

There was also a change to the calendar schedule for 2014, with the Indian and Korean Grand Prix being removed from the calendar, with events in Austria and Russia coming in, and the race in Germany switching from the Nurburgring toHockenheim as part of their race-share contract.

In terms of the visit to Russia, it would be the first time Formula 1 had raced in the contract since its inception in 1950 and took place at Sochi, the scene of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

During pre-season testing we saw Mercedes showing good speed throughout the tests in Jerez and Bahrain, while reigning champions Vettel and Red Bull struggled with the new Renault power unit components that saw them missing some days and stopping on track on others after just a handful of laps which at first signs worried the Red Bull team and also their fans who planned to gain their five consecutive Drivers and Constructors Championships.

But it was the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team that came out on top this season, with Lewis Hamilton clinching his second World Drivers’ Championship six years after clinching his first championship after a close battle with his team mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg.

2014 has been a season full of ups, down and controversies and will be remembered by pundits and fans in years to come as a season where we saw so much joy and yet also so much sadness at the same time. But read on to find out my views on each of the eleven teams’ seasons, what their good results were, what their bad results were and also my predictions for the 2015 season.

Read on…

11th place: Caterham- 0 points

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  • Drivers: Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi

2013 saw the Caterham team failing to retain tenth place of the Constructors Championship ahead of their rivals Marussia with Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix being enough to take position away from Caterham .

This is was all the motivation that Caterham needed to ensure that the 2014 season was the year that Caterham gained back tenth in the Constructors and wanting to fight in the midfield for their first points in Formula One with former Caterham Team Owner Tony Fernandez stating that this must be their aim in what he termed as a “very important year for the team.”

In order for Caterham to achieve this aim this season, they signed former Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi who brings not just money raised with him in order to gain the drive, but also many years experience he has gained in his career in the sport. To partner Kobayashi, Caterham signed rookie driver Marcus Ericsson who was promoted from GP2 after driving for the DAMS team.

However, the 2014 season has been appalling for Caterham. Even during pre-season testing, it was clear that the CT05 was going to be a handful of a car for Kobayashi and Ericsson to drive with the CT05 being plagued with Renault power unit issues and also reliability failures which has continued throughout the course of the season.

The best moments for the Caterham’s team this season was their strongest team result of the season at the Malaysian Grand Prix when Kobayashi came home in a respectable thirteenth position with teammate Ericsson a place behind in fourteenth. This was their best team result since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Also Ericsson at the Monaco Grand Prix finishing outside of the points in eleventh place was another highlight for the team after a great drive from the rookie and I feel that was their best chance of scoring their first points in Formula One and closing the gap to their rivals Marussia.

The worst moments for the Caterham team this season was that once again they simply just haven’t build a car that is good enough and is lacking the pace and the downforce to even challenge their rivals Marussia (who scored their first points in Formula One with Jules Bianchi finishing ninth at the Monaco Grand Prix) and despite bringing improvements to the car, they simply haven’t worked and stayed at the back of the grid when they was racing on the track.

Also, alongside their poor performances on the track, speculation surrounding the future of the Caterham team was forever lurking around them. It was announced in July that former owner Fernandez has sold the team to a group of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors with former Formula One driver Christijan Albers as Team Principal and former Formula One Team Principal Colin Kolles acting as an advisor.

With the new management signing off important updates to bring to the car that would help them fight to retain back tenth in the Constructors Championship, it would seem that Caterham were showing some determination to try and become more competitive in the second half of the season.

It was also announced that this race that Kamui Kobayashi would be replaced for the race in Spa-Francorchamps by Le Mans driver Andre Lotterer who despite a lack of Formula One testing, out-qualified team-mate Marcus Ericsson by one second. But as the rest of the season went on, Kobayashi was announced by the team to be racing for them race-by-race which sparked even more debate during the paddock that all was not well for the team and also for Kobayashi’s future in Formula One too.

But by mid-October, things were not as they should be been in the Caterham team. The team announced to the media that they had entered administration with a statement issued on behalf of Caterham said that the administrators, Smith & Williamson, were now in control of the team.

Subsequently, Caterham missed the United States and Brazilian Grand Prix as the team looked for a prospective buyer however they were unsuccessful thus turning to a crowd funding project. The team eventually raised 2.3 million meaning they could return to racing at the season finale in Abu Dhabi where Kamui Kobayashi was partnered with Formula Renault driver Will Stevens.

But despite their efforts to make the grid at the final race of the season, on the track, Kobayashi retired whilst Stevens finished last on his Formula One début. And with Caterham still looking for a potential investor, it remains to be seen whether they will be on the grid in 2015 for the Australian Grand Prix in March and it would be a big achievement if they can make it.

10th Place: Sauber- 0 points

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  • Drivers: Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez

The 2014 season saw the Sauber team slip to tenth place from seventh place in the Constructors Championship whereas the 2013 season saw them clinch seventh place in the Constructors Championship in front of their rivals Toro Rosso, Williams, Marussia and Caterham.

The Swiss-based outfit only picked up seven points in the opening ten rounds of the 2013 championship but an improvement of form in the second-half of the season saw former driver Nico Hülkenberg pick up fifty points pushing Sauber into seventh in the constructors’ championship.

Their improved performance on the circuit in the second half of the 2013 season was mainly due to the change in tyre specification prior to the German Grand Prix after several tyre failures and explosions took place at Silverstone raising safety concerns with the Pirelli tyre compounds and structures.

As well as experiencing issues on the track, financial troubles surrounded Sauber for the majority of the 2013 season which impacted which drivers they would sign for this season. Sauber was dealt a massive blow when former driver Nico Hülkenberg left the team for fellow midfield runners Force India whilst Esteban Gutierrez was retained. Sauber then announced Adrian Sutil was announced as their second driver this season who would partner Gutierrez.

Sutil had spent all his career in Formula One at Spyker/Force India meaning this was the first time he had driven for a team that was not based at Silverstone. Gutierrez struggled to perform in 2013 and this was often qualifying on average one second behind teammate Nico Hülkenberg thus had a lot to prove going into 2014.

Looking at the team’s results this year, it is hard to imagine four podium finishes just two years ago with former drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi. Even at the start of pre-season testing, Sauber appeared slow in testing and also the Ferrari 059/3 V6 Turbo power unit did not perform as well as they would have hoped.

The pre-season tests of Jerez and Bahrain couldn’t reveal too much about the true performance respective to the rest of the field but it was reported that the C33 was close to 20kg overweight which would’ve hampered the speed and fuelled the driver weight debate which was a popular criticism of the regulations at the start of the year.

Going into the new season, perhaps Australia was the best chance for struggling teams to collect points as pre-season testing showed that the reliability across the field was very doubtful. The best moment of their season was Sutil and Gutierrez finishing in 11th and 12th places in Melbourne after Ricciardo’s disqualification as cars retired left and right.

The worst moments for Sauber this season was in the next 5 races of the season after Melbourne, the team had 7 retirements and with the first opportunity for teams to bring major upgrades is the Spanish GP and Sauber needed to improve. However, a sixteenth and seventeenth place finishes in Spain showed that they needed a miracle to finish in the top 10 any time soon.

The Monaco Grand Prix turned out to be the season defining moment for the teams at the back of the grid. Gutierrez and Sutil qualified 17 thand 18th and retired from accidents in the race. With their rivals Marussia scoring their first ever points in Formula One with an ninth place finish, this saw the team being relegated to 10th in the constructor’s championship behind Marussia.

With Sauber’s Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn admitting shortly after the race in Monaco that it would be difficult to score points afterwards. The next opportunity for Sauber to try and score some points was in Hungary, where a rain and safety car affected race shuffled the pack and Sutil ended in P11 who was less than a second away from Jenson Button’s McLaren.

Even though the reliability of the Sauber C33 had improved after the summer break and the weight of the car had been reduced, but this was not unique and the pace and performance still wasn’t there in the car. During the final seven races of the season, Sauber never finished higher than thirteenth place with either driver.

2014 will be a tough situation for Sauber to bounce back from. Sauber weren’t just poor this year, in my opinion Sauber were just anonymous all season. The TV cameras didn’t show them unless there were in an accident or incident on the track nor were they fighting for anything either.

In qualifying, it was a formality for one or both drivers to be eliminated in Q1. It was impressive when Sutil qualified in ninth place in Austin, but he retired in the first lap collision with Perez and nothing became of it. Even if the car was competitive (which it was not), their pit crew were losing up to a second per stop in comparison to the likes of Lotus and McLaren which is a hard struggle for Sauber to swallow and also to try and improve on as much as possible.

This season with their driver line up of Sutil and Gutierrez saw not only Sauber slipping three places down the Constructors standings to tenth place but also the team failed to score any points since their debut in the sport in 1993. And this is hard to believe given that Sauber are known for being the ‘underdogs’ who will challenge hard to score points in a season and it is a real shame for the small Swiss team who many pundits and fans have a small soft spot for in their hearts; no matter what team they support on the grid.

And I do believe that Sauber have a lot of work to do in 2015 with their young driver line up of former Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson and GP2 driver Felipe Nasr to get back to the midfield where the team ultimately belong.

9th Place: Marussia- 2 points

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  • Drivers: Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton

The 2014 season saw the Marussia team move up from tenth place to ninth place in the Constructors Championship. The 2013 season saw the team clinch tenth place in the Constructors Championship in front of their rivals Caterham after Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth place finish at Malaysian Grand Prix secured them a top 10 constructor’s finish for the first time in their history.

In order to build on what they had achieved in the 2013 season, this season saw some changes for Marussia. For the first time, both of the previous season’s drivers would be retained. Max Chilton brought cash to the team, whilst Jules Bianchi brought the second change. And following Cosworth’s withdrawal from the sport at the end of the 2013 season, Marussia moved to Ferrari engines which was in part financed due to Bianchi being a member of the Ferrari Young Driver Programme.

From as early as pre-season testing it was apparent Marussia made progress however it remained to be seen whether the Banbury based team could score their maiden Formula One points. The 2014 car appeared to be a major improvement on the 2013 model, with Chilton qualifying the MR03 in 17th place at the opening round, one place ahead of his team-mate. They beat Gutierrez’s Sauber, Ericsson’s Caterham and both Lotus cars.

But Marussia’s best moment of the 2014 season came at the Monaco Grand Prix. Despite qualifying in nineteenth and twentieth places, Marussia had their best ever weekend in the principality. It was Chilton’s turn again to finish last of the runners, but further up the field Jules Bianchi was putting in a storming drive.

He overtook car after car, putting in many a brave move that showed that he is without question a potential talent of the future, to come home in ninth place and give the team their first ever points. Not only that, the team moved up to 9th in the constructors’ championship for the first time in their history, a position they maintained after the final race of the year.

Also their performances in Qualifying in Silverstone and Hungary made people stand up and  take notice of the Marussia team. With wet weather playing a part during the weekend in Silverstone, Bianchi and Chilton made it into Q2 after both Ericsson and Kobayashi were eliminated in Q1 and were were joined by both Ferraris and the two Williams!

Also in Hungary, fans saw yet another surprise in qualifying. Bianchi managed to knock the works Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen out of qualifying which allowed the Marussia to qualify in the top 16 for the second time in three races. He improved to 15th in the race, followed home by Chilton as F1 headed into its summer break.

The worst moments of Marussia’s season was Canada when at this point in his career,  Max Chilton had never failed to finish a Grand Prix so far in his career, until Chilton collided with Bianchi on the opening lap of the race that forced both drivers out straight away and leaving the team’s faces as red as their livery.

Also their performances in Monza alongside the characteristics of the Monza circuit did Marussia no favours at all, with the Ferrari power unit struggling on the long straights with the car’s low aero efficiency. This continued into the next race in Singapore which gave the Marussia team little to cheer about either with the high downforce needed on the track, as well as straight line speed which meant their drivers finished last and second to last.

With regret, I have to say that their worst moment of the season was the tragic Japanese Grand Prix. A dry qualifying session on Saturday saw Bianchi line up in twentieth place and Chilton in twenty-second place, but the team were hoping that the soaking conditions at Suzuka for the race would allow them to move up the field.

The race was abandoned after Jules Bianchi aquaplaned on Lap 44. He spun off the track and hit a recovery tractor that was attempting to clear Adrian Sutil’s Sauber. Jules was taken to hospital unconscious, where he was put into an artificial coma on life support. The latest news is that, although he is still critical and unconscious, Jules is out of the coma and breathing on his own. He has also been moved to a hospital Nice, nearer his home.

And this is the last thing I need to write about Marussia for this review which is the inaugural Russian GP in Sochi. Sochi was a very sombre place just a week after Bianchi’s crash and with everyone’s thoughts with Jules and his family at this difficult time.

Marussia opted to run with just 1 car, that of Max Chilton, whilst Jules’ MR03 was ready to go in the garage as a mark of respect to their driver. It was an even more miserable weekend for the team. Chilton qualified last and failed to finish the race.

After the Russian GP, Marussia along with their rivals Caterham, were placed into administration. The administrators have announced that the team has ceased trading, with their assets up for auction this month and so it sadly looks as though Marussia will not be seen again on the grid in Formula One which is a real shame and the team will be missed.

8th Place: Lotus- 10 points

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  • Drivers: Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado

The 2014 season saw the Lotus team move down from fourth place to eighth place in the Constructors Championship. After becoming Lotus from Renault in 2012; Lotus became race winners once again with Kimi Raikkonen on the Finn’s F1 return. After Raikkonen left the team for Ferrari this season, their driver line-up for the new season featured their existing driver Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado who left the Williams team.

After their driver line-up was heavily debated and even criticised by many pundits and fans of the sport (myself included), Lotus soon realised that it wouldn’t be new car parts they would be focusing on, but rather getting their cars just to the chequered flag at the first race of the season.

As with all the Renault powered cars on the grid this season, their prospects of success for 2014 did not look good from pre-season testing. Lotus missed the opening test week in Jerez to continue with the construction of the car but this decision did not work in their favour. Overall, the Lotus E22 completed just 1288km of running in winter testing, the least of any team by a large margin. The car did however gain a lot of interest with its two-tusk nose design which was praised by many technical analysts.

But after two wins in the last two seasons, Lotus were in for their worst beginning to a Formula 1 season, and the future, did not look good. The season started badly for Lotus with a double retirement from ERS failures in Australia, but this was hardly surprising given their performance in the pre-season tests in Jerez and Bahrain.

The biggest surprise was that the two E22’s started from twenty first and twenty second places on the grid. This then left many fans of the sport wondering what has happened to the Lotus that we saw in 2013 and wondering if they could improve their performances on track by the first European race of the championship in Spain like the team believed they could do.

The best moments of Lotus’ season was them ending their point drought at the Circuit de Catalunya with an eighth place finish for Grosjean after he qualified an astonishing fifth place on the grid and in the next race in Monaco, Grosjean once again managed to finish in the points with an eighth place finish. Also In Austin, Maldonado finished in ninth place and scored his first points of the season while Grosjean wasn’t far behind just out of the points in eleventh place.

The worst moments of Lotus’ season was that they couldn’t finish higher than twelfth during the season (especially in the middle part of the season), Maldonado’s crashes on the track and also both drivers being penalised for engine components during the course of the season.

In a season that many fans believed Lotus could build on what they achieved during 2013, Lotus finished a disappointing 8th in the constructors championship, four places back from 2013 and leaving them with an awful lot of work to do to regain back the places they have lost this season in the championship; this time switching to Mercedes power for 2015 to help achieve this aim.

With the financial status of Lotus still unknown within the paddock even though the team have stated during the course of the season that everything is okay compared to last season for example even Team Principal Gerard Lopez in the latter stages of the season was one of 3 team principles to threaten to boycott a couple of races in protest of the prize equity they received from the FIA. But this did not come to fruition.

It is also clear that Lotus have made a fundamental mistake with their car this season and it has backfired on them completely. For the 2015 season, all teams (except Ferrari) have to change their nose design to comply with new rules.

Whether this is the change they need is doubtful in my view and they will probably need to adapt the rest of the aero as a result alongside making the most of switching to Mercedes power units (which are the best on the grid by a country mile), Lotus have a lot of work ahead of them during the winter break if they are to come back fighting during the 2015 season like they would want to.

If Lotus can bring everything together and give both of their drivers a competitive and consistently reliable car, I get the feeling that they could be back next year in the top 6 teams. The future can only be bright for Lotus, but sadly, it looks as though they’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of them before they can be fighting for victories once more. And I do truly believe that Grosjean is the best option and driver that Lotus have under their disposal to achieve this objective in the near future with Maldonado being shown the door if he cannot significantly improve his performance next season.

7th Place: Toro Rosso- 30 points

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  • Drivers: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat

The 2014 season saw the Toro Rosso move up from eight place to seventh place in the Constructors Championship. After Daniel Ricciardo got promoted to Red Bull Racing this season after impressing with his performances last season, Toro Rosso entered the 2014 season with a driver line up of mixed experience.

With current driver Jean-Eric Vergne retained for a third year with the team and being joined by 2013 GP3 champion, Daniil Kvyat, many were wondering why Toro Rosso went in the direction that they did. At 19 years of age, some begrudged the young Russian rookie his chance ahead of the more experienced Antonio Felix da Costa, however, at Helmut Marko’s request, Kvyat lined up in Melbourne as the sixth youngest debutant in F1 history.

Aside from a seemingly exciting driver line-up, Toro Rosso also fancied its chances in the Constructor’s Championship. After doing no better than eighth in the previous five seasons in the sport, the Faenza squad saw the new turbo V6 era as its big chance to climb the ladder and pick off some bigger midfield opponents.

The best moments of the season was beginning their season well enough in Melbourne, with Vergne and Kvyat qualifying in sixth and eighth places and finished the races in eighth and ninth that many fans did not see them realistically achieving straight away in the season. Also Vergne’s ninth place finish ahead of his team mate in Japan and an brilliant drive to sixth place in Singapore were memorable highlights for the team.

Also, their young rookie Kvyat scoring points three times in the first four opening races of the season is also a fantastic achievement and showed that he was a promising talent and driver in the making.

The worst moments of their season was seeing Vergne in no fault of his own in the second half of the season retiring nine times due to repetitive car failures and reliability issues which then struck Kvyat in the final stages of the season.

Despite impressive performances from Vergne and Kvyat during the course of the season, Toro Rosso has lost both of their drivers from their line up next season and have signed Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.

With the news that Sebastian Vettel was leaving Red Bull to join Ferrari next season, Kvyat has been promoted to Red Bull Racing while Vergne has left the team and is looking to stay in Formula One if he can, with the option of looking for a competitive drive in another motorsport series such as IndyCars.

As with the other three Renault teams on the grid this season, Toro Rosso have struggled massively with engine reliability, and when this hasn’t been a problem, they’ve found themselves down on power. Renault has not been solely to blame though, with a variety of retirements stemming from brakes, driveshafts and exhausts as well, only one of the nine retirements have been driver-initiated.

When the car has been reliable, Toro Rosso has had the seventh quickest car on the grid. On a good day, they’re in the mix with the McLarens and Force Indias, but on a bad day, they’re at risk of being swallowed up by Saubers and Lotus on the track. The question that continues to float inside my mind is without their reliability issues; just how much more could Toro Rosso have achieved this season?

And also in regards to 2015, as we know Toro Rosso will be going for a young and inexperienced line up of Verstappen and Sainz Jr who have impressed in F3 and Formula Renault 3.5 this season that has saw them gain a race seat in Formula One for 2015.

Even though both drivers have the right attitude and also the potential to succeed in the sport, they will just like Vergne and Kvyat this season have to take the chance to deliver on the track when the opportunities arise and also need to be given adequate time to get to grips with the challenges that Formula One presents.

I will urge caution however to Verstappen and Sainz Jr, Marko isn’t averse to firing young drivers where their potential is perceived to be going unfulfilled (ask Jaime Alguersuari) and do have young and talented drivers waiting in the background such as GP3 Champion Alex Lynn and Pierre Gasly if either driver does not meet the standard expected of them.

For 2015, I see Verstappen and Sainz Jr throughout the season making rookie mistakes as we would expect from them but if the car is competitive and everything comes together, they could spring a surprise or two. Toro Rosso has to ensure that they learn from their mistakes this season and provide their young drivers with a consistent and most importantly a competitive car to achieve their planned objectives for 2015 as much as they possibly can.

6th Place: Force India: 155 points

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  • Drivers: Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez

Just like last season, Force India has retained the sixth place in the Constructors Championship behind their rivals McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Red Bull and Mercedes.

After finishing in sixth place in the 2013 constructors championship and having to concede fifth place to McLaren during the second half of the 2013 season to ensure they were better placed than most to benefit from the overhaul in technical regulations for this year, the Force India team were hopeful that the decision to place more emphasis on the following season would bring better results for them this season.

This decision was taken by Force India due to the fact that the team would be running with the Mercedes power unit in 2014 and also it was heavily rumoured in the paddock at that stage in the 2013 season to have a considerable advantage over engine rivals Renault and Ferrari.

In the past few seasons, the Force India team are often described by pundits and fans as a team which “punch above its weight” year after year. And that is never truer than in 2014, especially in the first half of the season. This season has seen Force India replacing both of their drivers from the previous season for the first time in the team’s six year history and secured the services of Nico Hulkenberg once more who switched to midfield rivals Sauber for the 2013 season and bringing in Sergio Perez from McLaren to partner him thereby putting together two of the most highly-rated talents in recent seasons and probably forming Force India’s most exciting driver line up.

Pre-season testing seemed to show a Force India car that much like previous seasons gone by; would be comfortably one of the leading midfield runners in terms of performance on the track, but with Force India being equipped with a Mercedes engine that was superior in both reliability and horsepower after the first pre-season test, showed a clear indication to the paddock that the team was in a position once again to punch above their weight and this could serve them well in potentially causing a few surprises throughout 2014.

At the season opener in Melbourne, with both Hulkenberg (who beat his record of making it past the first racing lap at the Albert Park circuit) scoring points in sixth place while Perez managed to get a point onboard after being promoted to tenth place following Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion from the race started their season in the best possible way they could have imagined.

In the next few races, Force India’s distinctive race strategies put them in a great points-scoring position that they made the most of. An example of this can be seen in the Malaysian and Austrian Grand Prixs where Hulkenberg adopted a two-stop strategy to finish 5th in Malaysia while Perez’ one-stop strategy in Austria saw him climb up to 6th from 15th on the grid.

These strategies that the team used during these two races showed their car’s strength in making best use of the tyres when need be and this did make up for the car’s weakness over a single-lap relative to race pace despite Hulkenberg being able to reach Q3 more often than not.

The big surprise and best moment of Force India’s season came in Bahrain, where Perez capitalised on his best grid start of the year and alongside another differing race strategy and some help from Hulkenberg fending off the Red Bulls in the latter stages of the race to come home in third place and grab the team’s first podium since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2009 with Hulkenberg following behind in fifth place which saw Force India record their highest points total in a single race and that is unquestionably the high point of their season this year.

I would also say Hulkenberg in Monaco was also a highlight for the team after battling with way through the grid to gain fifth place in the race ahead of his team mate Perez and the double points finish at the final race in Abu Dhabi where Hulkenberg and Perez finished in sixth and seventh places and carrying forward some momentum into the winter break.

The worst moments of Force India’s season was in the Canadian Grand Prix, with Perez running as high as second place when set to pounce on race leader Nico Rosberg and his brake problems before experiencing similar problems himself and a likely podium finish (along with a possible race win) which faded as he dropped behind Ricciardo and crashed out dramatically on the last-lap after his high-speed collision with Felipe Massa at Turn 1 of the circuit. Also at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Hungary,  the team suffered their first double retirement of the season and this happened as well in Austin.

But the main moment I would say that is worse for the Force India team  struggled to keep the pressure on McLaren to retain fifth in the Constructors Championship as McLaren brought upgrades quicker to the track than Force India did.

It has been clear during this season that Force India have had a strong, competitive and consistent car (especially in the first half of the season, where they was ahead of McLaren in the Constructors Championship, but due to lack of finances alongside taking the wrong aerodynamic direction with their car in the second half of the season, they struggled to extract the pace and performance needed to keep the fifth position in the Constructors Championship ahead of their rivals McLaren who brought the upgrades at the right time.

With Force India’s Team Principal Vijay Mallya declaring his happiness that both of his drivers will be staying with the team next season, all the team need to do in my eyes is to provide both of their drivers with yet another strong, consistent, competitive and reliable car for 2015.

And if Force India can provide both of their drivers with this, Hulkenberg and Perez may once again surprise pundits and again in 2015. With two young, experience and talented drivers, the future is looking extremely bright for the Force India team and anything can be achieved if they are able to put everything together in a race weekend.

5th Place: McLaren: 181 points

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  • Drivers: Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen

Like the 2013 season, McLaren has retained fifth place in the Constructors Championship behind their rivals Ferrari, Williams, Red Bull and Mercedes. However, it was apparent from as early as the 2013 pre-season testing period that McLaren had taken the wrong approach with the ‘radical’ MP4-28 and should have evolved their predecessor which was the MP4-27 the fastest car of the 2012 season.

During the 2013 pre-season test, it was found that after fitting their suspension the wrong way round and also illegally, McLaren lost up to two seconds on their rivals which made it extremely difficult for them to catch up to their rivals last season. As a result of this, McLaren since the 1980 season failed to get either of their drivers on the podium, even though during the second half of the 2013 season their current driver Jenson Button and their former driver Sergio Perez (more so Button) managed to find some performance on the track.

But the outstanding fourth place that Button achieved in the Brazilian Grand Prix at least ensured that McLaren ended their troublesome 2013 season with their best result of the season. This was all the motivation that McLaren needed to ensure that the 2014 season was the year that McLaren produced a competitive car to try and get back to the front of the grid once again.

However before the 2014 season began, McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis returned to lead the team “back to competitive ways” again. His first change in the McLaren team and its management structure was former Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh being sacked after many years with the team replaced by former Lotus Team Principal and McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, with the objective to “restructure the team and to deliver success” as quickly as possible.

In order for McLaren to work towards achieving this aim, they retained Jenson Button who brought with him fifteen years experience in the sport and to partner him, McLaren signed rookie driver (just like Caterham with Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso with Danil Kvyat) Kevin Magnussen who was promoted from Formula Renault 3.5 series after winning the title with DAMS team in his second year in the series.

However, the 2014 season has been a mixed bag for McLaren. From their performance in the pre-season test sessions, it was clear that the MP4-29 was a slight step forward from the 2013 car, but it still needed to a lot of work in order to get McLaren back to where they want and need to be on the track.

The best moments for the McLaren team was at the season opener in Albert Park score their first double podium of the season with Magnussen and Button (after it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from second place due to exceeding the fuel limit during the race) in second and third place finishes. From first impressions, it would seem that McLaren had learnt their lessons from last season and started their year as they really wanted to achieve after a dismal season last year.

Button’s performances at Silverstone, Sochi and Brazail alongside Magnussen’s performances in Austria, Belgium,  in particular spring out to mind with both drivers extracting the most they could from the car to achieve a strong points finishes ahead of their rivals Force India.

The worst moments for the McLaren team was yet again the slow start to the season and not being able to get the Pirelli tyres to work in the window. Also, Button’s retirement in Singapore spelled an end to his impressive run of finishing races this season.

Even though in the second half of the 2014 season, McLaren took small but significant steps forward with the development of their car that allowed them to regain and retain fifth place in the Constructors Championship ahead of Force India. By scoring points in every race since Belgium with either Button or Magnussen individually or collectively (even though Button retired in Singapore), it is clear that McLaren simply have built a car that is good enough to challenge for points when the opportunity is there but it is severely lacking the pace and the downforce to challenge their rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull who finished ahead of them this season once again.

Even though McLaren did bring improvements to the car very quickly during the first half of the season (though they struggled during the Hungarian Grand Prix very badly), they continued this process as quickly as possible throughout the second half of the season in order to regain and most importantly retain fifth place in the Constructors Championship for a second consecutive season which has made all the difference.

Alongside this, speculation surrounding McLaren’s 2015 driver line up has developed rapidly over the past few months. Many pundits and fans have been awaiting the news of who McLaren have signed for the 2015 season. Boullier has given several interviews to the media during the season that McLaren would look at “every viable option” regarding their driver line up for next year and have stated their intention to lure a big name driver such as Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel or even Lewis Hamilton to the team as they look to build the team for the future with their new engine supplier Honda who they will be reuniting with starting next season.

It has been announced this month that McLaren have signed Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button for the 2015 season, with Kevin Magnussen being demoted to a reserve driver in the team. On paper, it would seem that McLaren have picked the best two drivers on the grid that they feel is the correct decision for their first year back with Honda power in their quest to be at the front of the grid once again. But will this reap any reward in 2015?

Even though the futures of Button and Magnussen have now been confirmed by McLaren as of yet, their performance this season will ultimately provide the team with a strong platform to build upon and try to improve upon next season. With McLaren reuniting with engine manufacturer Honda next season, the McLaren team need to ensure that they can bring everything that they can to in order to improve their performances from this season and close the gap to their rivals as much as possible over the winter ready for the 2015 season.

It is imperative that McLaren learn their lessons from this season and show during the winter break and throughout the 2015 season more significant steps and improvement on the track to take the battle to their rivals Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes who will also be looking to improve or even maintain their current form going ahead into the 2015 season.

It is now time for the McLaren team to work hard over the winter, to use the resources and personnel that they have at their disposal provide their two drivers which will be racing for them next season with the tools to deliver and gain back another position or two (if they can) in the Constructors Championship as McLaren continue to build themselves up for the future under their new organisation and management structure under the leadership of Dennis and Boullier; while also being reunited with Honda power once again and the chance to maybe replicate the success of the partnership of season’s past.

4th Place: Ferrari: 216 points

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  • Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen

The 2014 season has seen the Ferrari team slip one place from third to fourth in the Constructors Championship behind their rivals Williams, Red Bull and Mercedes.

Ferrari came into the 2014 season with what many people were calling the ‘strongest’ driver line-up on the grid. Fernando Alonso was retained for a fifth season, whilst Kimi Raikkonen rejoined his championship winning team to replace Felipe Massa. The excitement, however, was short-lived.

Ferrari’s aerodynamic woes continued throughout the season and the Ferrari power unit was nowhere near as powerful as their Mercedes’ rival. Throughout the season, Raikkonen suffered mainly with brake-by-wire issues that certainly didn’t help him get to grips with the F14T. The F14T was also designed for Fernando Alonso’s style; with the car lacking the sharp front end that Kimi needs to perform on the track and that does need to be remembered especially when looking at Raikkonen’s performances this season.

The best moments of the season for Ferrari were Alonso’s podiums in China, Spain and Hungary and Raikkonen’s fourth place finish in Spa who shows that if they can everything together, they can deliver on the track very well. There has also been news that Ferrari have secured the services of Jock Clear and also Sebastian Vettel starting next season.

The worst moments of the season for Ferrari were both drivers eliminated out of Q1 at Silverstone, Raikkonen being outqualified by Jules Bianchi in Hungary, Alonso retiring with an ERS failure in Italy in front of the tifosi, former Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali losing his job after the Bahrain Grand Prix and was replaced by Marco Mattiacci for the rest of the season who was then also replaced by Maurizio Arriavbene after the season ended.

Also we saw the departures of Luca Di Montezemolo, Luca Marmorini and Pat Fry who lost their jobs due to the restructuring going on within the Ferrari team at the moment.

In what looks like another disappointing year for Ferrari, can the once great team go back to their dominant winning ways in 2015 which labelled them as the greatest team to ever grace the sport of Formula 1?

In conclusion, the Ferrari team have had a terrible season. For the first time since 1993, they have failed to win a race. Since 2010, Ferrari has been unable to provide a car good enough to challenge for the world championship consistently. 2011 never really came together, 2012 was a one-off title challenge, 2013′s early season hopes soon dashed away and 2014 has seen them continue this run of form.

Without a win since May 2013 at the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari has endured a tough time with the new 2014 regulation changes. Fernando Alonso has picked up the teams only podium finishes of the season at the Chinese and Hungarian GP’s, completely out-performing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Being out-raced by a team-mate at every race is something Raikkonen will not have been used to. But Alonso has stamped down his authority at Ferrari despite him leaving the team for McLaren next season.

Just two podium finishes from two drivers who were expected to lead the ‘Prancing Horse’ to title glory once again, was not what anyone had in mind. Also, what many believe to be the two most consistent drivers have failed to deliver in what is ultimately a mid-field car at best.

But Alonso showed why he is considered by many as the best driver on the current grid and showing once again that he can get himself into strong points finishes with an uncompetitive car that we all thought would be impossible to reach.

Heading into 2015, Ferrari has now lost their star driver, two team principals and various key employees this season. I do believe that Vettel and Raikkonen have their work cut out rebuilding this team but it can’t get much worse next season, can it?

3rd Place: Williams: 320 points

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  • Drivers: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas

The 2014 season has saw the Williams team move up six places from ninth to third place in the Constructors Championship behind their rivals Red Bull and Mercedes.

After a disastrous 2013 season only scoring five championship points, Williams went into the 2014 season hoping for better. This season welcomed major changes to the technical regulations which would inevitably change the grid’s running order. For 2014, Williams switched to the Mercedes power unit after being supplied by Renault for the previous two seasons.

Williams retained Valtteri Bottas for 2014 after impressing in his rookie season, his best performance qualifying third at the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix. Former driver Pastor Maldonado left the team for Lotus allowing 11-time race winner Felipe Massa to join Williams for 2014. After eight seasons with Ferrari, Massa was replaced by Kimi Raikkonen this season.

It was clear from the first test in Jerez that Williams had made significant steps over the winter and looked to be the nearest challenger to the Mercedes who were clearly the quickest team on the grid. Despite having a quick car, the team failed to capitalise on their performance advantage.

The best moments of the season for the Williams team was at the Austrian Grand Prix, Williams locked-out the front row in qualifying and finished third and fourth in the race. This was followed by two more podiums at Silverstone and Hockenheim courtesy of Bottas who continued to impress in his second season in Formula One at this point of the season. 

I would also say all of the podiums that Bottas and Massa secured for the team especially in the case of Bottas his three consecutive podiums in Austria, Silverstone and Germany and in the case of Massa his podiums in Italy and at his home race in Brazil.

The worst moments of the season for Williams were a wet qualifying in Australia highlighted the flaws of the FW36 as Massa qualified in ninth place and Bottas in tenth place. The race however would be more successful for one side of the garage with Bottas coming home in fifth place after clipping the wall and causing a puncture on the right rear tyre on lap eleven. On the other hand, Massa was taken out by Kamui Kobyashi on the opening lap.

This then continued in the next race in Malaysia with both cars failed to make it into the final part of qualifying.  Also, Williams came under scrutiny at this race as they asked Felipe Massa to move over for Bottas who had been marginally quicker as the Brazilian was unable to pass Button in sixth place. Massa ignored the team order and came home in seventh place ahead of Bottas in eighth place.

I would also say Bahrain is also a bad moment for Massa especially as he was running in third place for the majority of the race fighting off the Force India’s of Perez and Hulkenburg, however a late safety-car and excessive tyre wear meant the Brazilian lost several positions and finished in seventh with Bottas having similar issues to come home behind him in eighth.

Felipe Massa’s incident with Sergio Perez in Canada was the biggest one of all as Massa had an opportunity to win the race however but was stuck behind teammate Bottas for several laps. Massa caught up to the back of Vettel but struggled to pass eventually costing the Brazilian a chance of winning. On the final lap of the race, in an overtaking attempt Massa’s front right tyre collided with the back of Perez’s car which caused them both to crash into the barriers at high speed.

I would also like to mention that Massa did have the speed on the track but he was continually involved in incidents with other drivers. At Silverstone, Raikkonen re-joined the track in an unsafe manner collecting Massa in the process and at Germany, Massa turned in on Magnussen on the opening lap forcing the Brazilian to retire from the two respective races.

Even though many pundits and fans have argued that Williams in selected races of the year such as Australia and Austria for example did not have the chances to perform even better than they did, they still were able to take the fight to Ferrari and finish third in the Constructors Championship this season and if they carry on in the direction that they have this year, anything could be possible for the Williams team, Massa and Bottas for 2015.. if they able to have the perfect weekend required to be successful.

2nd Place: Red Bull: 405 points

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  • Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo

For the first time since the 2010 season, Red Bull failed to win the constructors championship, nor was Vettel crowned champion. Despite this, Red Bull has had a largely positive season with 3 wins from Ricciardo that has secured them second place in the constructor’s championship.

For 2014, Red Bull lost Mark Webber who retired from Formula One to race for Porsche in the WEC series and also in Le Mans. Mark Webber’s replacement came in the shape of fellow Australian and previous Toro Rosso and HRT driver Daniel Ricciardo who had been picked over Vergne to join Red Bull for the 2014 season.

Pre-season testing was a nightmare for Red Bull. Whether the car would run or not was “hit and miss”. In Jerez, the car’s running was measured in corners, not laps. In Bahrain, the RB10 looked much more reliable… some days. It seemed that cooling was a big issue for Renault engined cars, with some teams suffering more than others.

The best moments of Red Bull’s season was Ricciardo’s three wins in Canada, Belgium and Hungary where we saw him take the fight not only to his team mate but also every other driver on the track which for me as saw him be one of the surprises of this season.

Also his performance in his first qualifying session with the team in Melbourne, Ricciardo split the Mercedes in P2, whilst his reigning 4-time world champion team-mate was eliminated in Q2!

Vettel’s podiums in Malaysia, Canada, Singapore (especially their second double podium of the season) and Japan also were the highlights of a difficult year for both parties who have struggled to get to grips with the new technical challenges that were presented to the teams and the drivers this season.

The worst moments of Red Bull’s season was at first race of the season in Australia, where the team came up with some cooling solutions and despite the hotter conditions at the Albert Park circuit and managed to run for the majority of practice. Whilst Vettel retired on Lap 3 in the race, Ricciardo stormed to a second place finish in front of his home country on his Red Bull debut, only to be disqualified for exceeding the fuel limit afterwards and being stripped of his second place.

Their performance in the team’s home race in Austria showed that they would be unable to realistically win their fifth consecutive drivers and Constructors title where Mercedes were so far ahead of them in the standings.

Many pundits and fans were asking the following question; what was happening to Vettel? His new team mate had been in the team for less than a year and was stealing the spotlight completely. Sebastian was vocally annoyed earlier in China and initially refused to let Ricciardo pass to maximise the potential of his strategy, replying to the teams request with “tough luck”. Vettel’s form was about to improve in the next couple of races after Italy.

After Vettel scored his final podium of the year at the following race in Japan, which was the same time he announced that he would leaving the team to join Ferrari in 2015 with Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat replacing him next season could be a worst highlight of their season.  The Red Bull team were also disqualified for the second time this season in qualifying in Austin for failing to pass a front wing flex test that wouldn’t have helped them at all.

After four straight driver’s and constructor’s championships, the pressure was always on Red Bull Racing (RBR) to maintain their supremacy in 2014 and push on for five straight titles. And they’ll have turned all their focus to 2015 already.

Whilst the rule changes shook everything up, Red Bull have not had a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. Behind Mercedes, they’ve often been clearly, or fighting for, second best, and occasionally, beaten the Mercedes as well.

However, for a team that scored nine straight victories at the end of 2013, and became accustomed to their four years of total domination, to not be setting the pace would always be a disappointment and a step back for them but this gives them a platform on which to develop the car and improve as they head into the 2015 season with a mixture of youth, talent and also experience in their driver line up.

1st Place: Mercedes: 701 points

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  • Drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

The 2013 season was a brief snapshot of what 2014 was going to bring for the Mercedes team: greater success, with the team having exceeded their expectations of last season, with them taking three race wins and nine podiums, especially with the expectations of Lewis Hamilton’s first season with the team.

All the recruitment and poaching of technical bosses and upheaval in management was always in preparation for the 2014 season which the new V6 turbo-charged hybrid engines making a introduction to the sport, which Mercedes felt would see themselves as worthy championship contenders.

You could argue that the final step towards the completion of the Silver Arrows project was former Team Principal Ross Brawn leaving the team and handing the reins over to Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, jointly running the team as executive director (business) and executive director (technical) respectively in a management reform.

With the early rumours of the Mercedes’ power unit being ahead of their rivals Renault and Ferrari concreted them as being pre-2014 favourites and began to bear some truth in pre-season testing with their power unit proving its worth both on reliability and performance terms. Continuity with their driver line up was always on their side with the Mercedes team being the only team on the grid to retain both drives for the new season, while other teams have made one or wholesale changes to their driver line ups such as their main rivals Red Bull and Ferrari.

The best moments for the Mercedes team this season was every single victory that Hamilton and Rosberg achieved for the team that allowed them to be crowned champions this season. Also, the W05 being the fastest car on the grid as to be a highlight as without the car, their success on the track wouldn’t be been possible.

Their advantage in qualifying this season is a feat to celebrate especially in races such as Bahrain where Mercedes locked out the front-row and Rosberg’s pole lap being almost a second faster than the closest non-Mercedes driver in Daniel Ricciardo.

With close races such as  Bahrain saw both Rosberg and Hamilton in a league of their own and battling for the win both intensely on-track and on different strategies until a safety car wiped away their substantial advantage. But despite a safety car, both of the Mercedes drivers restored a sizeable advantage afterwards with the drivers lapping over two seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field despite Rosberg and eventual race winner Hamilton duelling once again on-track and the latter on the slower tyre.

The two “home” races for the Mercedes team that they won in Silverstone and Germany, are also no mean feat and are treasured victories for the team.

Their worst moments would have to be unreliability that they suffered with the W05 with Hamilton’s misfiring cylinder in Australia and in Canada as the two cars, after another front-row lockout and race lead, experienced MGU-K failures which proved fatal to Hamilton’s brakes and forced him into retirement, while Rosberg limped home to second having to nurse his brakes and conceding the race lead and win to Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

I should also mention that unreliability that Hamilton suffered especially during through qualifying is something the team wouldn’t have liked and showed that even though they were clearly the fastest team on the grid, they were also suspectible to reliability issues just like anyone else.

Also Rosberg suffering unreliability at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi which denied us the chance to see both championship contenders battling on the track in the manner they and the fans wanted to see.

The Monaco GP has to be one of their worst highlights. This saw the Mercedes team enter new territory as it transpired that Rosberg and Hamilton illegally used unique engine settings to aid their race efforts in Bahrain and Spain respectively. This then proved to be the foundation of the tension that grew when Rosberg took to the escape road on his final Q3 lap when topping the times and brought the yellow flags out, deterring drivers including team-mate Hamilton from putting in a quicker lap and therefore secured pole.

As a result of this, Rosberg went on to convert his Pole Position on race day and take the championship lead back while Hamilton was left frustrated on the team radio after the team over-ruled his suggestion of pitting to get ahead of Rosberg with the risk of a safety car period looming after Adrian Sutil crashed out, alongside his own suspicions of Rosberg’s off-track excursion in qualifying.

We then saw Hamilton after the race ended being subdued on the podium and friction growing between him and Rosberg as he declared post-race that they were no longer “friends” but “just colleagues” while Rosberg himself took a mild-mannered approach and insisted that they’ll always be friends. Suddenly, cracks began to form in the team and shadows of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s tumultuous relationship at McLaren were about to make an appearance, with non-executive chairman Niki Lauda and Wolff facing the challenging adversity of restoring at least a civil relationship between the two.

Mercedes managed to achieved this with Hamilton backtracking on his comments and saying on social media that the pair had put Monaco behind them and have been “friends for a long time and as friends have had our ups and downs”.

In Hungary when Hamilton found himself battling through the field after an engine fire ended his qualifying as soon as it started – and ahead of pole-sitter Rosberg, who led from pole once again but was caught out by the safety car.

With the Mercedes team knowing their drivers had found themselves battling other drivers for the lead on strategy, the team ordered Hamilton to let Rosberg pass for the sake of the latter, but Hamilton refused and cited giving away any kind of advantage to his championship rival and Rosberg not actually being close enough to effect a pass as the main reasons for not letting him by.

After the summer break, things between Hamilton and Rosberg finally seemed to have boiled over at Spa as Rosberg after being jumped off the line by Hamilton at the race start, clipped his team-mate on the second lap which inflicted a puncture and eventual retirement for Hamilton.

While Rosberg sustained front wing damage and limped home in 2nd behind Ricciardo once more. Significantly, it was the first on-track incident between the two and finally bit the team hard with valuable points lost, this then prompted Wolff and Lauda to intervene in the situation after they both declared it “unacceptable”, with Hamilton publicly saying that Rosberg admitted to touching him on purpose as well as the powers-that-be blaming the German for the coming together afterwards.

But tensions never went beyond those at Spa for the remainder of the season, much to the relief of the Mercedes camp. Both Rosberg and Hamilton were still granted the license to race freely, providing nothing like Spa occurred again but Spa was pivotal to the Drivers championship as Hamilton reigned supreme in all but one of the remaining seven races and five 1-2 finishes that followed and helped Mercedes clinch their first constructors title in Sochi as well as place Hamilton well for his 2nd title.

But in a season that has been testing and challenging the Mercedes team and their management, all you can say is that Mercedes have been the best team on the grid, they have delivered in the W05 a consistent and competitive car that has saw them win their first Drivers and Constructors Championships since Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955 and they are in the best position possible to extend and improve their advantage they currently hold over the field; with one of the strongest, fiery and talented driver line ups on the grid.

Well, I hope you enjoyed looking back at the 2014 season of Formula One. A season full of controversy, rumours, records being beaten and  showing once again that Vettel and his dominant display over the past few years where stopped and that Mercedes have taken the mantle and have dominated this season and they show no sign of ending anytime soon I feel.

All Formula One fans are now looking, hoping and praying that with the change in drivers up and down the field, the V6 engines staying for a second season, the double points rule now being dropped (at last)  and also in season testing that’s approaching sets up the 2015 season nicely and we see close racing once again next year.

What will happen in 2015? It is anyone’s guess but my money is on Mercedes still dominating the sport; the question is will it be with Hamilton or will it be with Rosberg? Only time will tell.

Sauber’s 2015 car passes their crash tests

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Later this week, the Sauber team confirmed that their 2015 challenger has been given the green light after a series of crash tests.

The Hinwil-based squad have confirmed that the C34 chassis is FIA homologated after going through the mandatory process, adding on Twitter that “rear crash test will follow in January, as usual”.

Sauber are coming off a difficult season on and off the track as Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez failed to score a single point while they have also struggled financially.

Sutil and Gutierrez have been replaced by Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr for the 2015 campaign though.

It was announced last week that McLaren’s 2015 car the MP4-30 has passed the crash tests in preparation for the 2015 season. And all you can say about this is that Sauber’s 2015 car has already passed a series of crash tests and they can now concentrate more on developing and improving the car before the start of pre season testing.

And with Sauber having a young driver line up next season alongside the fact they have an unbelievable amount of work to do to get back into the midfield where they belong, this can only be the first sign of progress for the team and a sign that things are going in the direction that they need to be for Sauber too.