Practice Session, FP1/FP2/FP3:
A hot start to the weekend, as usual in Abu Dhabi but a slightly unusual place to watch the sessions from. It was the final FP’s of the season, but usual proceedings, as Mercedes took the top spot; Hamilton drew the first blood on Friday, but Rosberg came back on Saturday. The other spots were filled in by Williams, Red Bull and Ferrari. There was no doubt that the battle was to be close at the front, with so much on the line, but the battle of Williams and Ferrari was an interesting one as well, considering the double points on offer. At the bottom, Caterham returned after missing two races while Marussia tried their best, but failed to make it in Abu Dhabi.
For SFI, it was the case of staying ahead of McLaren, but the practice sessions didn’t look overly great. Perez stayed ahead of Hulkenberg all through the sessions; the team was happy with all the data they wanted. The qualifying pace though was still a worry but earlier on Thursday, Perez had conceded that, to fight the top teams, they have to take the “focus on Sunday”, approach. The long run pace looked decent enough, it was somewhere within the range of McLaren and STR.
The final qualifying session of the season under the beaming lights of Yas Marina circuit; Rosberg continued his Saturday dominance and took pole position from Hamilton. Behind them, it was Bottas completing the top 3. A post qualifying disqualification saw both Red Bull’s thrown at the back of the grid, which moved the likes of Button, Kvyat, Raikkonen & Alonso to a respectable position. It was a usual line-up in the bottom half, Sauber’s had one last chance to score points and with double points on offer, they just need to finish P10 to move ahead of Marussia.
Over at SFI, it was the case of utilizing every bit on the car in qualifying. Perez still stayed ahead of Hulkenberg, as they started P11 and P12, after the penalty to Red Bulls. Both failed to make it to Q3, but the team was considerably happy with the result, as they finished where they expected. But they hoped to finish in points because of their Sunday approach.
The outcome of the championship hanged in the balance at the start of the race, as the world waited to find out the champion. After all the races, it came down to the last race, to decide the important drivers’ championship. But it was an anti-climax end; the move from Hamilton in the opening lap almost sealed the title in favour of Hamilton. From then on, Rosberg was always playing the catching-up role. Massa got up to P3, as his teammate Bottas slowly moved backwards due to a poor start. Both SFI started well moving into the top 10 with Hulkenberg slotting at P9 and Perez at P10.
By mid-way, the title had been decided already after Rosberg suffered an ERS failure. His worst nightmare came true in the final race of the season and there was nothing he could do. He started dropping slowly as his rivals went past him easily. This helped Massa to get up to P2 while Bottas and Ricciardo slotted behind the Brazilian. The Red Bull duo had to make-up a lot of ground starting from the pitlane, but it was the Australian making the most of it while Vettel had the hard battle to overtake; he had some good battles involving Ferrari and SFI. Meanwhile, Ferrari’s appalling season continued as they were fighting for the lowly position of P9 and P10.
Over at SFI, it turned out to be a better race than their expectation; starting on the opposite strategy, they made the most, by going longer on all their stints. Both Hulkenberg and Perez were always running around top 5. It was an unfortunate situation with the penalty to Hulkenberg which probably made a slight difference to the result. Other than that, both the drivers were involved in a lot of battles; Perez’s move on Vettel was the best out of the lot. Going on the supersoft tyres in their last stint, gave them a fighting chance, as both of the drivers cleared the cars ahead, one by one.
Although, Massa was catching up Hamilton towards the end, but the Briton had it all under control, winning the race in style, to finish off the 2014 season as a double world champion. There is no doubt that he deserved the second title, probably this was the more satisfying one, considering the fights he has been involved in. Massa and Bottas completed the podium, giving Williams a strong result as they wrapped up their season ahead of Ferrari in the championship. Button’s P5 helped McLaren secure the P5 position, which even after SFI’s P6 and P7 finish couldn’t help the Silverstone based team to leapfrog McLaren.
It was a strong finish nevertheless for SFI, 155 points, their best till date. They gave it all in the last race and scored some good points. The team didn’t expect such a strong result, but they were more than happy to take it; the last stint on supersoft tyres helped them gain places after places. The biggest surprise of the season was Sauber finishing the season outside of points and couldn’t beat Marussia, who didn’t even race in the last three races of the season.
This closed the 2014 season. It was an amazing year all around, some fantastic performances. Until the 2015 season, it is a bye from me.
Thank you for reading.