Sunday, 20 July 2014

Mid-season report card

(Williams Martini Racing)

The German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring today marked the mid way point in the 2014 Formula One season so it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the performance of the team's and driver's. Heading into 2014 there were a number of major changes in Formula One the main one being the switch from 2.4 litre V8 engine's to 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 power units.

The other big change this season was for the Williams team. Firstly they saw the arrival of Felipe Massa from Ferrari along with a supply of Mercedes power units. The team also welcomed new title sponsor Martini to their portfolio. 

It was announced over the Winter that Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn would be stepping down from the team and leaving Formula One. The Englishman's place was taken jointly by Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff who took up the position of Non Executive Director (Business) and Paddy Lowe Non Executive Director (Technical) after joining the team from McLaren. Mercedes immediately hit the crowd running as Nico Rosberg won the first race of the season while team mate Lewis Hamilton retired from the race.

It was a fantastic start to his Formula One career for McLaren's Kevin Magnussen as the Dane finished his first ever Formula One Grand Prix on the podium in 2nd place after Infiniti Red Bull Racing's new driver Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from the race for a technical infringement. Jenson Button finished the race in third place.

In Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton bounced back from his retirement in Australia by leading home team mate Nico Rosberg in a 1-2 finish for the Brackley based outfit while reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel finished the race in third place. 

In Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton once again showed that Mercedes team made the most out of the Winter winning the race with Rosberg coming home in second place to the claim the teams second consecutive 1-2 finish while Sahara Force India's Sergio Perez picked up the outfit's first podium finish since Giancarlo Fisichella finished the 2009 Italian Grand Prix in second place behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was one of the most exciting race's in recent Formula One history. For the first time since the circuit made it's debut on the F1 calendar in 2004 the race was run under floodlight's and that added to the excitement of the race. Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo made up for the disappointment of the opening two Grand Prix finishing the race in fourth place just 0.4 seconds behind Sergio Perez.

In China, Lewis Hamilton once again showed that Mercedes have a great package this season as he once again led home Nico Rosberg in a team 1-2 finish with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso giving the Italian team their first podium finish of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo did a fantastic job in China as finished ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel finishing the race in fourth place.

Heading to the European leg of the season starting with the Spanish Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took another dominant victory while Nico Rosberg finished the race in second place. Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo did fantastic job for the Milton Keynes based outfit as the Australian picked up his first every Formula One podium finish in third place just ahead of Sebastian Vettel. 

In Monaco, it was Nico Rosberg who won from Lewis Hamilton while Daniel Ricciardo once again did a fantastic job to collect another podium with a great drive to finish in third place just ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The Monaco Grand Prix also saw a breakthrough result for the Marussia F1 Team as Jules Biaanchi finished the race in 9th place to give the Banbury based outfit their first ever Formula One point's.

The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal saw another breakthrough result this time for Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian took his first ever Formula One victory and in doing so secured a hat-trick of podium finishes.

(Frederic Le Floc'h DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

The Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring turned out to be a turnaround moment for the Williams Martini Racing Team as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row, the Gorve based outfit's first lock out since the 2003 German Grand Prix when Juan Pablo Montoya started the race from pole position with Ralf Schumacher starting in second place.

In Austria, Valtteri Bottas did a fantastic job and collected his first ever Formula One podium finishing the race in third place while Felipe Massa finished the race in fourth place just ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton once again took home a 1-2 finish while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel retired from the race after 34 laps.

Williams test and development driver Susie Wolff made history by becoming the first female racing driver in over 20 years to compete in an official Formula One Grand Prix weekend practice session, Unfortunately for Wolff however, after just one lap she was forced to stop due to a power unit failure.

In the race itself, Lewis Hamilton made the most of home advantage as he won the race after title rival and team mate Nico Rosberg was forced to retire from the race with a gearbox failure. Valtteri Bottas once again showed that Williams are a force to be reckoned with as he picked up his best ever Formula One result finishing second in the race just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren's Jenson Button who put in a great drive for the Woking based outfit after starting the race from third on the grid.

It was a tough race for Kimi Raikkonen who returned to Ferrari this season after two season's with the Lotus F1 Team as the Finn was involved in a huge crash which the FIA registered as a massive 47G. The Finn has suffered an extremely tough return to the Italian team as he is currently in 12th place in the championship scoring just points so far this season.

The Finn has already confirmed that he has a contract in place with Ferrari for 2015 after speculation suggested that he may not be at Ferrari ext season, however the Finn and Fernando Alonso have been told by new team boss Marco Mattiacci that they will be with the team next season.

At today's German Grand Prix, home town hero Nico Rosberg, who started the race from pole position went on to win the race in the same week that Germany won the World Cup. Lewis Hamilton had a difficult qualifying session as the Britain crashed in Q1 and as a result started from 20th on the grid but came through the field to finish the race on the podium in third place.

It was another fantastic day for the Williams Martini Racing Team as Valtteri Bottas collected the team's 300th Formula One podium. As a result of the podium the Williams team move ahead of Ferrari into third place in Constructors championship as the F1 circus heads to Hungary for next weekend's Grand Prix.

Susie Wolff also had a better outing for the team on Friday as she completed 22 laps and finished the session just two tenths of a second behind team mate Felipe Massa.

This season, compared to last year the Williams Martini Racing Team are by far the most improved team. They have scored a total of 121 point's compared to just five points throughout the entire 2013 season. The Sahara Force India Formula One team have done a fantastic job scoring point's in every race so far this season.

Nico Hulkenberg is one of only two driver's to have scored point's in every race so far this season the other being Ferrari Fernando Alonso.

The Lotus F1 Team have struggled comparably to last season as so far this season they have scored just eight points so far this season all coming from Romain Grosjean. I t was announced this weekend that Pastor Maldonado will remain with the team in 2015.

It is clear that the rest of the Formula One grid are beginning to catch the Mercedes AMG F1 Team as Rosberg claimed pole position by just 0.219s from Valtteri Bottas. So in the second half of the season we can expect the field to be even closer.

© Ben Johnston 2014

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