|Beat team mate in qualifying||7/18|
|Beat team mate in race||10/14|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||480/976|
|Lewis Hamilton 2014 form guide|
Key stat: Beat Rosberg on merit on four occasions when he had started behind his team mate – something Rosberg never managed
Did the right man win the championship? Absolutely. From an early stage in the season there was no doubt the crown would go to one of the two Mercedes drivers, and with eleven wins to his team mate’s five Hamilton indisputably did the better job.
So why isn’t the champion at the top of the driver rankings? Because he was clearly capable of inflicting a more decisive defeat on Nico Rosberg than he did. He could have made life a lot easier for himself on Sundays had he gone better on Saturdays.
One of the biggest surprises of the season was that Hamilton, a one-lap specialist, was out-qualified by Rosberg over the course of the year. The margin was a fairly slim one, and Rosberg was aided by Hamilton’s car problems in Germany and Hungary, but it was representative of their form.
Hamilton’s performance margin on Sundays suggests this was partly a case of him prioritising his race set-up over honing the perfect flying lap. But on too many other occasions he simply made mistakes: such as in Bahrain, in Canada and on both his Q3 laps in Austria.
On home ground at Silverstone he hastily abandoned his final flying lap on a damp track, expecting he would be unable to improve his time. Rosberg kept his foot down, passed his slowing team mate and snatched a surprise pole position off him.
Significantly, Hamilton rarely made such tactical misjudgements or straight driving errors in the races. He may have started behind Rosberg more often than not, but he seldom failed to push the other car hard. On the few occasions he didn’t beat Rosberg there was usually a good reason why.
Following a retirement due to an engine problem in the first race of the year, Hamilton reeled off four wins in a row. The highlight came in a thrilling scrap with Rosberg in Bahrain where the pair repeatedly swapped positions.
But in Monaco Hamilton was rattled by his team mate’s mysterious swerve off the road during qualifying. Hamilton clearly felt the incident, which prevented him from being able to improve his own lap, was some ploy on Rosberg’s part. In the race he spied an opportunity to make an early pit stop to jump ahead of his team mate but shied away from taking the gamble – a decision he soon regretted.
This began a seven-race spell where the only victory which came Hamilton’s way was courtesy of Rosberg’s gearbox problem at Silverstone. Hamilton had technical failures of his own – slightly more than Rosberg over the balance of the season – which spoiled his victory chances in Canada, Germany and Hungary.
But in Belgium Rosberg was to blame for Hamilton’s failure to score after giving his team mate a puncture on the second lap. This proved another turning point. From then on Hamilton was back to his forceful best, and only let a single victory slip through his fingers in the remaining seven races.
That was in Brazil where Rosberg again took pole position but Hamilton’s race pace was clearly superior. He spun off while trying to pit two laps later than his team mate, and after resuming in second place he pushed Rosberg hard to the chequered flag.
It’s true that had Mercedes unreliability struck Hamilton instead of Rosberg in the final race, Rosberg would have been champion. That gives a false impression that Rosberg was almost a match for Hamilton this year, but is more a reflection on the shortcomings of F1’s current points system.
While Rosberg eked out an advantage over his team mate on Saturdays, Hamilton was emphatically the strongest on Sundays. Rosberg seldom looked capable of beating Hamilton in a straight fight for race victories, so while Hamilton’s campaign was far from spotless he was conclusively the better driver.
Was pushed hard by Rosberg which forced him into some qualifying errors, but was supreme in the races. He always looked like the stronger bet for the championship even after reliability woes early in the season left him trailing.
How the rankings are produced
All the data I refer to while producing the rankings can be found on the site. They include notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.
The final two parts of the F1 Fanatic 2014 Driver Rankings, and the poll for your Driver of the Year, will be published tomorrow.
2014 F1 season review
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- The Stats and Facts highlights of 2014