Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014

F1 wins as Mercedes lets Hamilton and Rosberg fight

2014 F1 season review

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[interactivecharts]Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014

Mercedes team stats 2014

Best race result (number)1 (16)
Best grid position (number) 1 (18)
Non-classifications (mechanical/other) 5 (5/0)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,110 (90.64%)
Laps led (% of total) 978 (84.02%)
Championship position (2013)1 (2)
Championship points (2013)701 (360)
Pit stop performance ranking6

Formula One enjoyed an exciting fight for the drivers’ championship in 2014 both thanks to and in spite of Mercedes’ efforts.

The daunting performance advantage the W05s hinted at in testing, which was confirmed at the first race weekend of the year, suggested we were in for a one-sided championship. But Mercedes’ willingness to let their drivers fight each other meant the drivers’ championship wasn’t decided until the last race.

It took until the third race of the season to see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg go toe-to-toe, but it was worth the wait. Hamilton, playing catch-up to Rosberg in the points standings following his retirement in Australia, beat his team mate to turn one and withstood a barrage of attacks to claim the win.

To their credit, Mercedes continued to let their drivers fight even as the rivalry between them threatened to get out of hand. Hamilton was suspicious of Rosbreg’s conveniently-timed dive into an escape road during qualifying in Monaco which prevented Hamilton from beating his pole position time. Although the stewards ruled they “could find no evidence of any offence” the incident was more than ambiguous enough to invite multiple interpretations.

Rosberg also bore a grudge, believing Hamilton should have left him more space on one occasion during their battle in Bahrain, although his team mate’s driving had been entirely within the rules. Nonetheless Rosberg’s ire was raised again in Hungary when Hamilton disregarded an instruction to let his team mate past while both were on different strategies.

However a line was crossed in Belgium, where the two drivers not only made contact but allowed Daniel Ricciardo in to take his and Red Bull’s third victory of the season. The collision was initiated by Rosberg, who was in the process of turning in behind Hamilton at the end of a failed overtaking move, and either didn’t realise or didn’t care he was too close to his rival’s tyre to avoid puncturing it.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Singapore, 2014The team closed ranks. Toto Wolff made it abundantly clear to both drivers things had gone too far. From then on whenever the drivers crossed swords again a deal more circumspection was involved. In Japan and the USA Hamilton pulled off clean passes on Rosberg to take the lead.

Mercedes did not need their drivers costing them points because they were already doing a good enough job throwing them away. For all the W05’s qualities, reliability was not its strongest card.

However it proved a match for anything its rivals could throw at it on any track. Had it not been for Hamilton’s scruffy qualifying session in Austria, Mercedes would have had a clean sweep of pole positions. And while their rivals were able to get close on some of the slower tracks, such as Singapore, elsewhere Mercedes were simply untouchable.

Just how far ahead Mercedes were of their rivals this year was not always obvious. But taking the season as a whole their raw performance advantage was far in excess of what Red Bull achieved in their four championship-winning seasons – almost twice as great as Red Bull’s was in their 2011 peak.

The eventual pay-off was a comfortable win in the constructors’ championship – the first for Mercedes, as the title did not exist during their original spell in Formula One six decades ago. And Hamilton delivered the championship he had aimed for – and many had not expected – after Ross Brawn hired him to join the team two years ago.

Brawn’s departure at the end of last season meant he was not around to see the team which once bore his name clinch the championship again. But his contribution was acknowledged by the team in their moment of triumph. He may well have laid the foundations for several years of success for Formula One’s new power.

2014 Mercedes race results


AustraliaMalaysiaBahrainChinaSpainMonacoCanadaAustriaBritainGermanyHungaryBelgiumItalySingaporeJapanRussiaUSABrazilAbu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton1111221331111121
Nico Rosberg122221211422222114

2014 F1 season review

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “F1 wins as Mercedes lets Hamilton and Rosberg fight”

  1. Fittingly, Keith left perhaps the best article title near the very end of the year.

    That Mercedes decision was probably the bravest decision of the season. No wonder it was also the best.

    1. Agree it was a good decision and actually was the only exciting thing this year. Everything else was the challenge of the struggle…

      Worst F1 year in over a decade…hence the rumors of V10’s coming back, etc, etc. Everyone looking for news – even F1 themselves. Says it all.

  2. Note that that should be “third race of the season” in paragraph 3. @keithcollantine

  3. LOL at the graph… bonkers…

      1. Ah I see, looks like the graph is wrong but DNF’s are not shown, just a straight line, a bit confusing at first!

    1. Maybe it would be better if the line stops when a driver DNFs. Don’t know if that’s possible though.

  4. You mention the 4th race as the one where Lewis and Nico went toe-to-toe. Shouldn’t that be Round 3 in Bahrain?

  5. Finally this year I managed to record every race, and having watched them back (well upto Monza thus far), what has also been great is just how many team mate battles there has been too, and most of them good wheel to wheel action.

    I think one thing that stands out has been the Torque from the new power units, and different stages of tyre life and type.

    But I agree with the article, Mercedes letting the drivers battle and the fans response, showed F1 can be a sport and entertaining. It was also quite noticeable how the Red Bulls were allowed to race , perhaps due to just wanting to maximise rather than scripting an outcome in not the best car this season, still it was good to see.

  6. Mercedes could let their drivers battle because their car was so dominant, had there been a 3rd rival to the title then they may have had to come down in favour of one of their drivers to secure the win.

    Indeed a Turkey 2010 style tangle would probably have gone down well behind the scenes at Mercedes; anything on track drama that gets your cars in the headlines is good for business :)

  7. Yes huge kudos to Mercedes for honoring both their drivers as well as the globe’s fans for not robbing us of a great rivalry by designating one rooster. This is the way it should be. The benefits to the entity of F1 of what Mercedes did massively outweigh the alternative which only saves a little uncomfortableness within the team and ruins it for the rest of the world. Perhaps even Ferrari sees this as they continue with 2 WDCs on the team.

  8. I believe that had Ross Brawn was still in charge of Mercedes, we would not have seen the duo fighting. To me he seems to be someone who believes in clearly defined number 1 and number 2 is the way forward. Toto and paddy seems to be more likeable.
    Similar problem I felt during the Red bull domination days. If both Mark and Seb had fought closer, I would not have been complaining that it is boring. Dominance by any in itself might not be boring provided we see both their drivers on equal footing as far as the team is concerned.

    1. @aks-das Based on how it was at MS/Ferrari I would agree as no driver has ever been a more clearly defined number 1 than Schumacher, but then when MS went to Mercedes it appeared that NR was free to race with him. Now that might have been because NR asserted himself right away and MS surprisingly didn’t, since Brawn had even claimed MS would be WDC in his first year there, but anyway it’s not like NR was contracted to be subservient. So I would say it is not a given that Brawn would have designated a number 1 (presumably LH since he already had a WDC when he joined the team) nor that Nico would have stayed if those were the conditions.

  9. It was a really good season following 2013, and I can’t say it was boring because of the Mercedes Domination, every race had something good to tell! (Except for China and Russia). The championship kept more and more alive every race, it reminded me of the 1984 season with Lauda and Prost battling with their turbo monster McLaren.
    However, if reliability didn’t affected so many times Rosberg and Hamilton during the season, it could have been an intense end to this championship.

  10. Did they really acknowledge Brawn’s contribution? I must have missed it. The mention I saw was started by the interviewer, and in response Toto went on about all the talent and effort in the current team.

  11. Sorta distracting when the graphs are continuous when there is a missing data point. The proper way to do it is to break the graph. Indicating that no data is there. So there should be breaks for the DNF’s. With no break in the graph one could look on the Britain race and think both Rosberg and Hamilton came first.

  12. I think a convincing arguement could be made that Hamilton’s retirement in Spa should be classified as “other”. The damage caused by his tire is what made them retire the car.

  13. I just think this is all a bit wrong. Hamilton’s win in 2008 was much more flawed. This year he battled against a lot of adversity, twice from the pit lane after mechanical issues in qualifying (serious brake failure and car catching fire) that could have been demoralizing. Monaco. Spa! Recovering from those issues to win a string of races on the bounce was phenomenal. Also some seriously brave over-taking in the rain (Japan), some superb defending to never let Rosberg past, extremely astute race pace timing to get past Rosberg on track (Austin), aggression at just the right moment to push his rival into a mistake (Monza), consistency, tire preservation – you name it, Hamilton has ticked all the boxes and done so without resorting to dubious tactics. I think that deserves a higher ranking.

    1. Bit I forgot to add: the issue removing him from first seems to be his qualifying against Rosberg. However, a point for consideration: Rosberg, as we know, was mining Hamilton’s data on Fridays and Saturdays all season, and usually closing the gap Lewis had on him (more often) by qualifying. Hamilton is on record as saying that he altered his approach after Spa. What does he mean? I think he means he became *really* determined to focus on the title and the title only, sacrificing the ego-thrill of winning on Saturday to maximize his chances in the race, *knowing* he could get past Rosberg on track (the only exception was Interlagos, where the team pushed him into an extra lap on worn out tires sometime unnecessarily). That tells you two things: one, Rosberg was indeed seriously competitive and Hamilton had to maximize race speed where he could, and two, Hamilton was much more canny and calculating than he’s given credit. If Button or Prost had done the same, it would be all about their cool intelligent approach to winning across the season…

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