|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 ranking||6|
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.
The 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
2014 F1 season review
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2014 season review
- F1 Fanatic’s must-read articles of 2014
- F1’s most popular drivers and teams of 2014 revealed
- F1 defies critics as fans praise 2014 racing
- The Stats and Facts highlights of 2014