Lewis Hamilton wins second F1 world title

The greatest measure of a modern racing driver is how they perform when they face adversity.

At several points this season, one driver had faced such adversity and it looked as though his assault on the world drivers’ title would never bear fruit.

But cometh the hour, cometh Lewis Hamilton.

His performance this season, winning 11 times in 19 races, was at times glorious and at times ruthless.

However, from the very first race in Melbourne he had to battle back from a big points deficit.

After a catastrophic pre-season which threatened mass unreliability amongst the whole grid, it was perhaps no surprise that there were several casualties throughout the opening weekend.

Complex new hybrid power units, the cause of these problems, came complete with an intricate turbo incorporated into the design in the interests of green automobile technology.

Such sophistication under these new regulations warranted a massive learning curve for the teams but Mercedes, Hamilton’s team, had appeared to master them in the three pre-season tests.

Yet when the Briton pulled away from the start line in Australia to begin the formation lap his car was already experiencing problems and he retired shortly afterwards.

His teammate and childhood friend Nico Rosberg then cantered to victory and the scene was set for an intense battle between the two.

Hamilton, already 25 points down, would have to retrieve a desperate-looking situation.

In emphatic fashion, he did just that.

A dominant victory in Malaysia preceded a gripping wheel-to-wheel duel in Bahrain which conjured the best racing of the season.

Hamilton, disadvantaged on a harder compound of the Pirelli tyres, was being hunted down by a rampant Rosberg in the twilight of the race.

The German had planned his tyre strategy so that he would be the faster of the two in the last laps of the race and would then have the chance to overtake Hamilton for the win.

It was a good plan, in theory at least, but he had not calculated the tenacity with which Hamilton would defend his lead and despite being passed a couple of times, Hamilton brilliantly passed him back and held on for a psychologically crucial win.

He went on to consolidate that memorable drive with imperious victories in China and Spain to lead the championship by three points from a dazed Rosberg.

Then, a controversial moment in qualifying at Monaco rocked Rosberg’s credibility.

The German, pushing hard down the hill into Mirabeau, overshot the braking point on his flying lap and dived down the escape road, necessitating yellow flags.

Consequently, the drivers behind – including Hamilton – had to slow down under the FIA’s safety guidelines.

That meant that Hamilton could not beat Rosberg’s time and the German took a vital pole position at the famous street circuit which presents very few overtaking opportunities.

Rosberg managed to keep Hamilton behind him all race and he denied Hamilton what would have been his fifth straight win, snatching the championship lead to boot.

Further bad news was to follow in Canada when both Mercedes drivers hit brake trouble, only for Rosberg to manage the situation better.

Hamilton’s car was deemed too dangerous to drive and he retired, while Rosberg calmly found a way around the problem and took second place, extending his lead to 22 points.

All the momentum seemed to be with Rosberg and a blunder in qualifying from Hamilton left him languishing in midfield in Austria.

Typically, he made a stunning start and recovered to within a car’s length of Rosberg, but he could find no way past and Rosberg took his fourth win of the season.

At the next race in Silverstone Rosberg took pole again, but it was his turn to encounter reliability problems and he retired, leaving Hamilton without a challenger to claim a euphoric home win and cut the gap to four points.

Adversity soon caught up with Hamilton at the next three races, though.

Another glitch in qualifying saw his brakes fail at Hockenheim and he had to drive through the field to salvage a superb podium while Rosberg claimed a faultless home victory.

In Hungary, once more in qualifying, a car fire left him dead last while his rival took his sixth pole of the season.

Unusually for Hungary, it rained on race day.

Despite a nerve-jangling spin at the back of the field, Hamilton regrouped to pass Rosberg in the pit stops and then fend off his rival’s attempt at passing him for third.

Significantly, Rosberg had yet to prove he could defeat Hamilton in wheel-to-wheel combat – and so in Spa the German decided to erase those doubts.

Starting from pole, Rosberg lost the lead to Hamilton and on the second lap at the end of the Kemmel straight he clipped Hamilton’s left rear tyre, puncturing it and causing damage to the floor of his car, robbing him of downforce.

The damage forced Hamilton into retirement despite a game effort to carry on, but front wing damage sustained by Rosberg in the clash saw him limp to second – a measure of the dominance Mercedes enjoyed this season.

Rosberg did not intend to deliberately end Hamilton’s race, but the message that he would not be intimidated was plain for the world to see.

Spurred on by the incident, Hamilton turned up the pressure on Rosberg as he set about eating into the 29-point chasm between them.

At Monza, Hamilton relentlessly chased Rosberg down, forcing the German into a mistake at the Rettifilo chicane and he took to the escape road, allowing Hamilton to pass him and take the win.

Rosberg then suffered his second retirement of the season in Singapore and had to watch Hamilton score his second win in as many races to claim the championship lead by three points.

Starved of a duel between the two since Spa, the world watched at a saturated Suzuka circuit as Hamilton closed in on Rosberg.

It took a pass of breathtaking bravery around the outside of Rosberg at the high-speed turn one to wrestle the lead from his rival and he went on to take the win – later dedicated to colleague Jules Bianchi after he sustained brain injuries in a heavy crash.

Hamilton was the beneficiary of a Rosberg error in Russia when the German passed him for the lead, but flat-spotted tyres ruined Rosberg’s race and he drove terrifically to clamber back to second.

Hamilton again passed Rosberg convincingly in Austin to take his lead to 24 points, before an authoritative weekend from the German in Brazil set up a tense finish in Abu Dhabi with double points looming large.

Needing second to clinch his second world title, Hamilton duly qualified on the front row after Rosberg notched his eleventh pole position to underline his superiority in qualifying this season.

Under a setting sun at Yas Marina the tension was palpable as the cars lined up for the last time in 2014.

As the lights went out, Hamilton rocketed away from second while Rosberg was bogged down in revs.

Hamilton edged the gap to 2.6 seconds at the first stop but soon afterwards Rosberg’s ERS system began to misbehave and it deteriorated throughout the race.

Just as in Canada, though, the problem could have affected both Mercedes cars, meaning Hamilton had to conserve his car under late pressure from Felipe Massa while a wounded Rosberg slipped down the field.

But like on so many occasions this season Hamilton overcame adversity and held off Massa to record win number 11 and take the title by a whopping 67 points.

What made his second title win so impressive was the belief he had in his capability.

Despite falling behind in the standings three times and suffering reliability gremlins, Hamilton recovered each time and was a worthy winner.

Even though his performances in qualifying were unusually poor throughout the year, his ability to maximise his performance in race trim was unmatched – fatally so – by Rosberg, who continually had no answer to his rival when the two locked horns.

Adversity had given its utmost to prevent Hamilton from winning the title and at times Rosberg seemed destined to take his maiden championship victory.

Yet just when he needed it most Hamilton was able to reply with a stunning victory and with it, his second world title.

Cometh the hour, cometh Lewis Hamilton.

  • You can follow me on Twitter @NeilWalton89
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