Formula One 2014 season review

Several major changes were made to the Formula One regulations before the start of the season and while the Mercedes team dominated the Constructors' Championship with 16 victories in 19 races, the Drivers' title was a seesaw battle throughout.

Under the new regulations, 2.4-litre V8 engines were replaced by 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 power units with complex ERS systems, brake-by-wire systems were incorporated, teams were only allowed 100kg of fuel per car to complete a race – about a third less than in 2013 – and drivers were restricted to five power units per season as opposed to eight the year before.

To add to that, blown diffusers were banned and controversially, double points were awarded for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Pre-season testing confirmed that the Mercedes team, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg behind the wheels, would be the team to beat, with the other Mercedes-powered cars McLaren and Williams in particular capable of racing at the front of the grid when conditions suited them.

Rosberg immediately took the ascendancy in the Drivers' Championship with a commanding victory in Australia after Hamilton suffered a spark plug insulation problem at Albert Park, leaving with German with a 25-point gap to his expected title rival.

Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber's replacement at Red Bull as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel's team-mate, thought he finished on the podium in his second race only to be black flagged for exceeding fuel limits. 

For Red Bull, though, that non-result was a sign of things to come as Ricciardo continuously outpaced Vettel throughout the season and ended up being the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race in 2014 with victories in Canada, Hungary and Belgium.

After his non-finish in Australia, Hamilton responded by winning the next four races – Malaysia, Bahrain, China and Spain – but only managed to gain the lead in the title race from Rosberg after the fourth of those victories after the German claimed a strong of performances as well.

Whilst Hamilton and Rosberg had a friendly rivalry throughout their careers, comparisons with the fiery Ayrton Senna/Alain Prost rivalry of yesteryear were being drawn in the next race in Monaco.

With Rosberg on provisional pole but Hamilton's final qualifying run still to come, the German controversially dove into the escape road at Mirabeau and denied his team-mate the opportunity to beat his time. He was then able to turn his pole position into a victory to once again reclaim the lead.

Rosberg then extended the gap in the Championship in Canada, where Ricciardo won after both Merc drivers struggled with a ERS/rear brake problem – Hamilton retired but Rosberg came second behind the Australian.

For Ricciardo, the victory was a much deserved one after his disappointment from Albert Park, fourth place in Bahrain and China, and third in Spain and Monaco. His team-mate Vettel, though, struggled to get to grips with the handling of the RB10 on the exit from corners in particular and managed only three podiums in the year.

The two Mercedes drivers traded victories in Austria, Britain and Germany, with both drivers winning their home races after the other suffered rare reliability problems.

The relationship between them reached boiling point in Hungary, when Hamilton refused a pit wall request to let Rosberg – who was on a different strategy in a wet/dry race – past. As a result, Hamilton kept his third place in front of his team-mate as Ricciardo won ahead of Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari in second, his best finish of a disappointing final season at Maranello.

At the next race, in Belgium, Rosberg retaliated. During a challenge on Hamilton for the lead, his front wing clipped the Briton's left rear, which caused Hamilton to retire from the race. Rosberg dropped down to second after a successful nose change to finish behind Ricciardo, who for the third time was on the top step of the podium.

As a result, Rosberg opened up a 29-point lead to his rival with seven races left in the season.

In the next five races – Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and USA – Hamilton produced arguably some of the best driving of his career as Rosberg simply had no answer for his pace, retirement in Singapore notwithstanding.

With his Championship hopes on the racks, Rosberg fought back in Brazil to stop Hamilton's victory run and keep his own aspirations on track with the double points race in Abu Dhabi to come.

Hamilton still had the advantage, but needed to finish at least second to guarantee his second World Championship crown.

In the end, though, what was billed as a title deciding race ended up a damp squid after Rosberg suffered various mechanical problems throughout the race and eventually retired from 14th place as Hamilton won his 11th race of the season.

While it was a record-breaking season for Mercedes, it was one to forget for Ferrari and Red Bull, Ricciardo's three wins and third-place finish overall notwithstanding.

For the most part, the Mercedes power units were just more powerful than their Ferrari and Renault counterparts.

Ferrari, in particular, had their worst season in 20 years with no victories and just two podiums, as Alonso and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished in sixth and 12th place respectively.

Raikkonen, much like Vettel – who will be his team-mate at Scuderia in 2015 – struggled to get to grips with the mechanical changes that were enforced on the teams and seldom looked like the driver he was for Lotus the previous two seasons.

Williams were arguably the surprise package of the season, after Felipe Massa secured the only non-Mercedes pole position in Canada, and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fourth overall with six podiums.

For McLaren, the season was an improvement on the disappointing 2013 campaign but Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen never again hit the heights of Melbourne throughout the year. 

Further down the field, Lotus were arguably the disappointment of the season. Following the departure of Raikkonen and Eric Boullier in 2013 – to Ferrari and McLaren respectively – and battling financial difficulties, the Enstone outfit struggled with various issues throughout the season.

Romain Grosjean tried his utmost for the most part and showed glimpses of his talent – a series of eighth-place finishes in the first part of season the highlight, but team-mate Pastor Maldonado had a horror outing.

The Venezuelan racer finished with just two Championship points thanks to his ninth place finish in the US and found himself near the back of the field more often than not.

Force India, though, continued to perform better than expected after the return of Sergio Perez and Hulkenberg and finished in a credible sixth place on the Constructors' Championship standings. At one time, they were even in with a shot of challenging McLaren and Ferrari following Perez' podium in Bahrain and Hulkenberg's run of points finishes, but fell away slightly in the second half of the year.

Daniil Kvyat was arguably the rookie of the year with some impressive performances for Toro Rosso, even though the eight Championship points the Russian achieve doesn't really reflect that.

Lotus wasn't the only team to struggle financially.

Backmarkers Marussia and Caterham failed to participate in United States and Brazil due to financial constraints. 

Marussia in particular had a tragic year: After Jules Bianchi handed them their first points since starting racing in 2010 with a ninth place in Monaco, the highly-rated Frenchman's crash in Japan left the Banbury outfit with little to be pleased about.

For Sauber, it was the first time since entering the sport in 1993 that they failed to score even a single point, with Adrian Sutil's 11th place in Hungary the closest they got to breaking that duck.

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