Millennium Post

Fast and furious

Hard to believe he’s now nearly 30 years old and coming off the back of his eighth season in Formula 1. It only feels like yesterday when this phenom of British talent burst onto the scene with McLaren in 2007, coming off the GP2 Championship as a rookie and coming just one point shy of becoming a rookie F1 world champion. Eight years on, in near-dominant fashion, he captured his second World Championship over Nico Rosberg in a title fight that went down to the wire.

The season ushered in the most significant rule changes in F1 history, with the normally aspirated 2.4-litre V8 engines replaced by new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 power units with their complex ERS systems that gave the sport a much cleaner and greener image more relevant to developing road car technologies. Teams now had to complete races on 100 kg of fuel, around 30 percent less than in 2013, whilst drivers were only allowed five power units per season rather than eight engines.

The battle for the title between Hamilton and Rosberg held centre stage throughout the season and was not decided until the final race. And Mercedes deserved full credit for letting their men race at all times, even when things got very tense mid-season.

The technology was expected by many to favour the cerebral Rosberg, who had studied subjects as complex as aerodynamics. But while he, perhaps surprisingly, had the upper hand during qualifying, with 11 poles to Hamilton’s seven (though the Englishman had problems in qualifying in Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Hungary), it was Hamilton who more often than not had the edge in race conditions.

Following Rosberg’s season-opening victory in Australia, Hamilton won four races in a row, in Malaysia, Bahrain, China and Spain, to take the points lead for the first time. But after Rosberg’s controversial trip down the escape road at Mirabeau during qualifying at Monaco, which effectively clinched him pole position by denying Hamilton a final shot at it, the German won to get his nose back in front. Rosberg then extended his lead with a gutsy second place in Canada when Hamilton retired with the same ERS/rear brake problem that the German was forced to cope with. That race gave Red Bull their first victory of the season, but it did not come, as one would have expected before the season started, from Sebastian Vettel. The reigning world champion was roundly eclipsed by new team mate Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, the Australian having moved up from Toro Rosso to replace countryman Mark Webber.

The RB10’s wayward rear end was never to Vettel’s liking and he struggled badly to get the best from himself and his car. Ricciardo, however, was the revelation of the season. He’d finished second to Rosberg in Melbourne, only to be excluded for fuel flow rate abnormalities, but thereafter he was fourth in Bahrain and China, and third in Spain and Monaco. When the duelling Silver Arrows hit trouble in Montreal, he was the hugely popular winner after a gritty drive.

In Britain it was Hamilton’s turn to avenge himself on Rosberg who had won the previous year’s race when Hamilton, leading, suffered a tyre failure. It wasn’t straightforward, the Briton had screwed up qualifying on home ground as tricky track conditions had dissuaded him from pushing hard for pole on his final attempt, but he redeemed himself on Sunday. He was already catching Rosberg when the latter suffered downshift problems, forcing him to retire.

Despite seeing his points lead slashed, Rosberg wasn’t down for long, and took advantage of Hamilton’s brake failure-induced off in German qualifying to claim his own home soil triumph next time out.

Fighting for his championship hopes, Rosberg showed his resilience in Brazil by beating Hamilton and thus setting up the situation where Hamilton had to finish second in the season finale at Abu Dhabi to guarantee himself of a second drivers’ crown. Rosberg took his 11th pole of the season at Yas Marina, but Hamilton owned the race from the start and Rosberg was beaten before an ERS problem dropped him back to 14th place, effectively evening the score between them to three failures to score points apiece.

Meanwhile, with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez on board, Force India continued to punch above their weight  in 2014 with the stand-out performance of their season being Perez’s excellent third in Bahrain. For a good period the Silverstone-based squad led McLaren in the constructors’ standings, though they eventually slipped back to a still creditable sixth.

Former F1 driver Mark Blundell reckons the only thing that could deny Hamilton consecutive world titles is his team Mercedes. Blundell considers Hamilton to be a “special individual” and argued if Mercedes can give him a top car in 2015, the 29-year-old Briton will have a big shot at back-to-back world championships.

“He’s [Hamilton] got the ability to do that. At the end of the day he’s only as good as what he’s driving so the pressure is more on Mercedes Benz to produce a grand prix winning race car again and not so much on Lewis Hamilton. We’ve all seen what he can achieve, we can see what [Mercedes team-mate] Nico Rosberg can do as well. I think a great battle there will roll out again in 2015,” Blundell said.

Blundell was thrilled Hamilton returned to the top of the pile this year and claimed his fellow Brit was clearly the best F1 driver in 2014. “Lewis is the guy who should have won from the outset because at the end of the day he was the dominant force, 11 grand prix wins, well deserved. Unfortunate that at the last race Nico Rosberg didn’t have the car beneath him to have a battle on the circuit on the weekend in Abu Dhabi. But Lewis is a special individual and two-time world champion. I’m sure there’s more in the bag for him,” he added.

‘No time for kids’
F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said both he and his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger have no time to start a family. Hamilton, 29, however, said that he and the Pussycat Dolls singer are good with kids, reported Digital Spy. “With our careers people perhaps don’t understand that she lives in LA, I live in Monaco and we’re in and out all the time. Schedules are changing all the time. She’s doing Cats now, which means she’s in the UK for the next two months, and I go away and do my training, so during the year we’re always apart, but people can see there’s a lot of depth there - we’ve been together for almost seven years. She’s amazing with kids, I think we’re both pretty good with kids... but we don’t have time for that at the moment,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s helmet was made yellow so that his father could tell which kart his son was driving back in his karting days. Hamilton chose the colours blue, green and red and they were originally in a ribbon design; however before entering F1, Hamilton felt the design was “a bit old hat” so it was changed. In later years a white ring was added and the ribbons were moved forward.

Hamilton, Rosberg are now friends

Lewis Hamilton said last week the tension with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg has disappeared, a week after the Briton won the world drivers’ championship ahead of his German rival. Hamilton’s victory at Abu Dhabi in the season finale saw him crowned world champion for the second time as he finished 67 points ahead of Rosberg after their battle for the 2014 title went to the wire.

The pair appeared at Mercedes’ end of season party in Stuttgart in front of 50,000 fans with Hamilton saying all the friction between the pair during the season is now long gone. “All the tension disappears and we have gone back to being two normal individuals, talking about the normal things guys talk about,” said Hamilton when asked about relations with his team-mate. Rosberg, who resumed testing on Tuesday, is already looking ahead to the 2015 season. “I didn’t reach my big goal, but there was a lot of positive things to take from the season and things I can perhaps do differently. I will focus on 2015,” said the German. Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of next season and the Briton was relaxed about extension talks.

“I feel at home here and I also still have a contract until 2015, so there is no rush,” he said with Rosberg under contract at Mercedes until 2017. “I hope we can sit down and talk about it before Christmas.” Hamilton said he hopes to start a new era with Mercedes to dominate the world drivers championships in the seasons to come. “It is totally possible, this is definitely the start of something special,” added Hamilton who won his first world title in 2008. 

Following milestones

LEWIS HAMILTON was named after the US Olympic double 100m gold medallist Carl Lewis, and his first driving victory came at the age of six, with a radio-controlled car in a Blue Peter competition

Having won karting and F1 titles in a number 44 car, it is the driver’s lucky number, and he has the digits tattooed behind his right ear

Girlfriend Nicole  Scherzinger said she was proud of his “heart, dedication, sacrifice” after watching him win world title in Abu Dhabi

Hamilton is Britain’s first multiple world F1 champion in 43 years. Jackie Stewart last achieved the feat in 1971 and would win the title for a third and final time in 1973

Most consecutive podium finishes from debut 9 podium finishes: 2007 Australian Grand Prix – 2007 British Grand Prix

Youngest driver to lead the World Championship
22 years, 4 months, 6 days at the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix

Most wins in a debut season
Four wins (record Lewis Hamilton shared with Jacques Villeneuve in 1996)

Most pole positions in a debut season
6 in 2007

Most points in a debut season 109 in 2007
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