F1 2014: Driver of the season 

The Sport Space’s F1 contributor, Kyle Archer, gives an analysis on the greatest Formula One drivers of 2014.

The year is over, the season is done and dusted but who was the best Formula One driver on track in 2014? Up and down the grid, week in and week out drivers scrapped and battled to move ahead but who impressed the most? Today I look at my top drivers from this year’s championship and explain why they cut above the rest. 

7) Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) 

Looking at the stats you would see Kevin did not have a very successful season. But in his first ever F1 Grand Prix he secured a podium for McLaren after ending the Australian Grand Prix in third before being promoted to second place. What’s more, McLaren were unable to get a foot on the podium in 2013 after a poor first season without Lewis Hamilton.

Kevin also took the fight to the World’s best this year and throughout the season he was showing why McLaren where right to give him the drive over Sergio Perez. Looking back at the Belgium Grand Prix in August, Kevin was involved in a great scrap with Fernando Alonso. For lap after lap he placed his McLaren perfectly to avoid loosing a position to the two-time World Champion. However, one overly aggressive defensive move late on in the race left the Dane with a 20-second post race penalty demoting him from fifth to 12th.

Despite Kevin loosing his 2015 race seat at McLaren to Fernando Alonso after he departed from Ferrari, he has been kept at the team as reserve & test driver and one day I believe he may regain a race seat.

6) Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 

Jules-Bianchi HD

Next up comes Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman in the Marussia spent most of the season fighting it out with his teammate and the Caterham’s but on occasion would be seen pushing on and challenging for the higher spots.

Jules also shone in qualifying throughout the season compared to the drivers around him and was able to drag the Marussia into Q2 on three occasions. Given Marussia were unable to produce a single upgrade for the car all year due to their financial issues, Jules’ achievements this year look far more impressive.

Overall his average finishing position may have been just 16th, but on a grid of 22 that’s impressive for a so-called ‘back marker’. Not forgetting in Monaco Jules also made history to be Marussia’s first ever point scoring driver after finishing the race in ninth place.

5) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 

The first driver in the top five is the championship runner-up, Nico Rosberg. The German opened the season with a comfortable win in Australia following Lewis’ early retirement. From that point forward, Nico was consistent in bringing the car home and staying ahead in the championship despite Lewis racking up the wins.

Then in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix he took provisional pole ahead of Hamilton. It’s a race often decided in qualifying but this year Nico secured pole via a potentially deliberate lock up which brought the yellow flags out, preventing Lewis from challenging. If he did actually make the lock up on purpose he deserves a lot of credit as he even managed to avoid punishment after an investigation into the incident.

His pole in Monaco was not his only pole as well, across the season he managed to rack up 11 and take home the pole position trophy. But despite Rosberg taking the fight to Hamilton across the season and getting the better of him on the Saturday, it was very rare that he could challenge Lewis on track come the Sunday leaving him with far less wins than his teammate. Nico also appeared to struggle under the pressure in races as seen in Italy when he locked up gifting Lewis the lead.

4) Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 

Valtteri-Bottas HD

In fourth comes Williams’ Finn, Valtteri Bottas. When he broke onto the F1 seen his talents were clear from the off but this year the team were able hand their drivers a car capable of challenging at the front, allowing Valtteri to rake home six podium finishes, two front row starts and 186 points.

Valtteri was probably the driver to take the challenge to the Mercedes the most come the second half of the season as the tracks needed a high speed car compared to the more aerodynamically stronger Red Bulls. But unlike Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas was unable to get in front of both Mercedes to take a race win.

3) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 

Coming home in the last podium slot is Fernando Alonso. He may have struggled this year to challenge for the wins and even podium finishes in his final season at Ferrari but the Spaniard was ever consistent in dragging a poor prancing horse into the top 10. In fact, there were only two races in which the top 10 did not feature Fernando and those were because of electronic failures forcing him to retire.

Fernando’s average finishing position may have been just seventh but almost every race weekend you could see him pushing the car beyond its capabilities and achieving far more than Kimi could in the other Ferrari. In total, Raikkonen ended the season 106 points worse off than Alonso and outside the top 10 in the Drivers championship whilst Fernando came home in sixth, behind the two Mercedes, two Red Bulls and Bottas, with just six points separating him from Vettel in fifth.

In every race Alonso also guaranteed action as he battled anyone he came up against and one of my highlights of the season was his fight against Vettel at the British Grand Prix back in July. This fight makes it into my highlights of the season due intensity of the fight and the sheer bravery by Alonso when he took Copse flat out and went around the outside of Vettel.

2) Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 

The runner up for driver of the season 2014 is Red Bull’s Aussie, Daniel Ricciardo. He was the only man outside Mercedes to win a race this year and was the closest challenger to the Silver Arrows in the Drivers Championship. By the end of the season he had amassed three Grand Prix victories, whilst his teammate and four-time world champion only managed a single second place for his best result.

One of the main reasons Ricciardo comes in at second place is the way he turned Red Bull on its head. For so many years Vettel has dominated the sport in a Red Bull but this year Ricciardo flipped all that and got the better of his teammate in ways no one would have imagined, even leaving people questioning Vettel’s abilities.

But that was not the only reason for Ricciardo securing the runner up spot, he also took the challenge to the Silver Arrows and picked up the wins when they slipped up. In Canada, he secured his first ever Grand Prix victory when the Mercedes suffered break issues and in Spa he picked up his third victory when Rosberg punctured Hamilton’s tyre, but it was his victory in Hungary that was his best of the season. Here he did not take the lead after the Silver Arrows slipped up, instead he had to work hard for it and pull off magnificent moves on the likes of Alonso and Hamilton. Soon enough he may even be able to put together a stronger challenge for a world title of his own.

1) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 

Lewis Hamilton

But for 2014 the Formula One World Champion, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and my driver of the season is Lewis Hamilton. The boy from Stevenage proved all the doubters wrong and showed that his move to Mercedes was the right decision after leaving McLaren at the end of 2012.

Over the course of the year he put his retirements in Australia, Canada and Spa behind him to come back even stronger and rack up win after win. When he retired from the first race in Australia he came back and won four races in a row for the first time in his career and then after his retirement in Belgium he came back and won five races in a row before taking the title with a win in Abu Dhabi.

But between those strings of victories, he had to come from the back of the grid in Germany due to a break failure in qualifying and Hungary when his engine went up in flames during Q1. And both times he battled his way through the field to end the race on the podium.

Now we must look ahead to next season, which kicks off in Melbourne on March the 15th. Will Lewis Hamilton be able to retain his Formula One crown or will his Silver Arrow be shot down from the top step of the podium? If it is, there are plenty of worthy drivers lining up for their chance at the title but only time will tell.

The Sport Space

The Sport Space’s F1 contributor, Kyle Archer, gives an analysis on the greatest Formula One drivers of 2014.

The year is over, the season is done and dusted but who was the best Formula One driver on track in 2014? Up and down the grid, week in and week out drivers scrapped and battled to move ahead but who impressed the most? Today I look at my top drivers from this year’s championship and explain why they cut above the rest. 

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