Eleven races down, eight more to go in the 2014 Formula One season.
A hectic first half of the 2014 Formula One season came to an end with a thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix; the first half portion of Grand Prix’s covered more than half of the season’s tally. Only eight races remain on calendar with, as many as six fly away races, including the brand new Russian Grand Prix. The start of the season was much talked about because of the major regulation changes this year; the change from 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged powertrain was the headlined news everywhere.
The pre-season testing gave nothing but nervous times, to not only the fans but also the teams and drivers. The Mercedes powertrain looked the best among the three, while Renault fell behind with major issues in their powertrain. Ironically, it was Renault who had pushed for the V6 change and they were the one who got the least mileage during the testing period. Another major point of debate was the lack of noise, the decibel level was considerably down from the V8 era. The rough noise of V8 engines was replaced by smooth sound of V6 powertrains.
Reliability of the new era
It was evident at the start of the season that reliability was going to be the biggest difference between teams; the pundits and analysts even went on to predict that the fans could see majority of the field suffer problems with their new systems and break down in the first few races. But surprisingly, this wasn’t the case. Apart from a few accidents and some failures on the cars, it was fairly good start from all the teams. As the season progressed, the issues starting to crop up, many teams and drivers are on the cusp of getting penalties for using one extra component to see through the season. What looked like would happen at the start of the season is starting to happen at the midway point, suggesting that the components are not lasting enough.
One team dominance, fight on for best of the rest
The Mercedes powertrain supplied teams had an upper hand for most part of the first half but Red Bull and Ferrari were always among the fight for podium places. Mercedes were naturally unbeatable as the difference could be seen, the whole race package delivered as expected baring few issues every now and then; they have managed to take a comfortable lead in the championship. Red Bull was the only team to have notched up wins apart from Mercedes, while Williams was the only team to have secured a pole position apart from Mercedes. The best of the rest fight was always judged by the track features as the podium places was shared between Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams, Sahara Force India and McLaren by and by.
At the midway stage the fight is on for the third place in the championship with Ferrari leading the resurgent Williams, Sahara Force India and McLaren; the second half could see a massive battle on track as well as off track for these teams to stay in the hunt to finish the third best team and even push for second place if Red Bull falter.
The backpack is lead by Toro Rosso, who in patches, have looked good but reliability problems have always costed them points. Although Lotus have got some points to stay ahead of Marussia, Sauber and Caterham, they have struggled massively for reliability and pace. The surprise has been Marussia who earned their first ever points in Formula One when they finished ninth in Monaco Grand Prix. They are ahead of their long time competitor Caterham but the major breakthrough for the small team is staying ahead of Sauber, who is the other team like Lotus who has been struggling with everything in the first eleven races.
Drivers fight for the title and respectable championship positions
Nico Rosberg leads the championship from his teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton; the lead hasn’t come easy for Rosberg. Certainly, he had some luck along with reliability and pace aided with some good driving to stay ahead of Hamilton, who although managed to notch some great wins, has had his season rocked by reliability issues during both qualifying and races. One would never know what the championship would have looked like had Lewis had straight races; even with the issues and lead, the championship will likely go right down to Abu Dhabi where an interesting gimmick of double points could make the difference.
Meanwhile, with two wins in his debut season for Red Bull against the four time and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo stands third ahead of Fernando Alonso and Vettel of course, who is languishing at sixth behind the mighty impressive Valtteri Bottas in the battle for best the rest.
Alonso is still fighting his way with yet another poor Ferrari car (by their standards) while Vettel is still finding his feet in the new era, having only secured two podium finishes. Ricciardo in contrast found pace from the word go, and has looked a far better driver than the German. Along with Ricciardo, the other young driver Bottas is taking big strides, after notching up his first podium in Austrian Grand Prix, finishing third, following it up with back-to-back podium finishes at British Grand Prix and German Grand Prix, finishing second on both occasions.
Nico Hulkenberg had a perfect start to his season finishing the first ten races in the points, though the podium still eludes him. On the other hand, his teammate Sergio Perez at Sahara Force India gave the Indian outfit their second podium since 2009, when he finished third in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Jenson Button and debutant Kevin Magnussen were the other two drivers to have finished on podium. The biggest disappointment has been Kimi Raikkonen, who is outside the top ten, with sixth being his best finish this season, coming in the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Finn’s talked about replacement Jules Bianchi is doing no harm to his credentials as he scored his first points in his young Formula One career and certainly has been driving pretty well in the Marussia.
To the second half we go
The first half has given us some spectacular races, which included some great wheel-to-wheel drives from the racers. The second half should give us some more action and great racing. The fans would certainly want races like the Bahrain Grand Prix, Canadian Grand Prix, German Grand Prix and Hungarian Grand Prix where the teams and the drivers put on a great show.
The one team dominance still remains the only major blot on 2014 but the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg has produced some edge of seat stuff. The scarp behind the leaders is also very tight as budgeted teams try to make the most out of the changes.
The second half is surely going to be a cracker as the fight for championship positions continues. The double points gimmick in the last race will see some teams and drivers joyous with the results while others will be hit hard if things don’t go the way they had hoped.