Category Archives: Season 2014

GP of Abu Dhabi

Vettel eighth for his last

Lewis Hamilton became World Champion for the second time in his career, thanks to a victory in the final in Abu Dhabi. He has succeeded Sebastian Vettel, the title-holder over the last four seasons, who finished eighth for his last race with Red Bull.

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The facts

Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, competing for the title, once again found themselves sharing the front row, as has often been the case. The start went in the British driver’s favour and the duel commenced, before technical problems hit the German’s single-seater, forcing him into slow-motion all the way to the flag. When his team asked him to withdraw, he insisted he wanted to finish.

Hamilton won with night falling, ahead of the two Williams driven by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The first of the Red Bulls, Daniel Ricciardo’s, took fourth place. The Australian achieved a magnificent comeback after starting (as did Sebastian Vettel, 8th) from the pit lane. Vettel scored a few points for his last race with Red Bull and can now turn to face his new challenge, Ferrari, where he will have the difficult task of replacing the Spaniard, Fernando Alonso.

The 2014 season came to a difficult end for Lotus. Pastor Maldonado withdrew before mid-race when his car’s engine burst into flames. His team mate, Romain Grosjean, finished out of the points, in 13th place, just in front of Rosberg. With two appearances in the top ten for Grosjean, and only one for Maldonado, the 2014 final result is meagre; we can hope the Enstone team will do better in 2015 with a car powered by a Mercedes engine that has proved itself in performance this year.

The figure

5 – Vettel, 8th in Abu Dhabi, finished fifth in the Championship, his worst ranking since his arrival in Red Bull in 2009. Nary a win, nary a pole position – perhaps the time for a change had come.

The quote

“Danke”(German for thanks). This word was written on the Red Bull garage floor as a valediction for Sebastian Vettel. The quadruple World Champion also sported that word on the top of his helmet. After six seasons crowned with many successes, his “childhood dream” of driving for Ferrari is coming true.

The anecdote

For this last time, Vettel started last. He was penalised, along with team mate Daniel Ricciardo, for a front wing the race committee considered too flexible. Consequently, the two Red Bulls began the last Grand Prix of the season, from the back of the pack.

Rendez-vous in 2015!

Race of China (Macau)

Lopez deserves a ten

A champion when he arrived in Macau for the last event of the season, Jose Maria Lopez bagged a tenth win for Citroen, a beginner with resounding records on its first season in WTCC.

Facts

In the streets of the former Portuguese settlement in China, the last two races of the season were a perfect summary of the year. Within the squadron of ruthless Citroën C-Elysees, Lopez remains top. The Argentine began Saturday by securing the pole position ahead of Sebastien Loeb and Yvan Muller, his two teammates who could not see more than his rear bumper during the race.

The Argentine went to pick its way a tenth win of the season and the record of points scored in the competition over twelve months. Trailing him, Loeb and Müller were caught by the pack and bowed to the Honda Civics of Norbert Michelisz, Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro.

In the second race, Pechito was starting from too far, because of the reverse grid rule, Rob Huff was the winner at the wheel of his Lada Granta. Lopez ended up 5th, ahead of Loeb, while Müller signed off with a magnificent second place.

Figure

17/23. – Citroen completes his first year in a circuit world championship with 17 wins out of 23. It’s beyond the expectations of the beginner who had obviously perfectly prepared his case!

Story

During final round of the 2014 season, Citroën announced they would renew their current driver line-up for 2015 with Lopez defending his crown alongside Loeb et Muller. Two other 2014 Citroen C-Elysees chassis will be handed to Sebastien Loeb Racing (SLR) and the Chinese Ma Qing Hua is favorite to drive one of them.

Quote

“I was expecting Yvan out of reach on this circuit.” Lopez was a little surprised to win so easily in Macau, a Muller kept hunting.

Next up

2015 season

Rally of Great-Britain

Final podium of Ostberg

The curtain fell in style on the 2014 World Rally Championship season with a second place in the Constructors’ classification for Citroen, best of the rest to Volkswagen, a class apart. Sébastien Ogier flew to another win to Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen who beat Mads Ostberg for second place.

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Facts

Leading from light to flag on the roads surrounding Deeside, Wales, Ogier has honored his second title secured in Spain at the previous event. Behind the former Citroen driver, they fought hard and some high-profile drivers went out.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Ogier’s teammate, started Saturday morning in the ditch, joined twenty-four hours later by Chris Meeke on the DS3 WRC, while the Northern Irishman was fighting for a place on the podium.

Ostberg took the opportunity to net a fourth podium this season and pip Thierry Neuville for the fifth place in the Championship, the second best ranking for the Norwegian.

Figure

2 – For only two points, with the third place of Ostberg and Meeke’s sixth, Citroën secured the runner up title at the expense of M-Sport. “The second place allows us to achieve one of our goals,” said team principal Yves Matton.

Story

World Championship is over but not the domestic season. The WRC DSS3 resumes service at the end of the month for the Rallye du Var with Sebastien Loeb at the wheel. Nine-time world champion will be co-driven by his wife Severine. It will be Loeb’s first appearance First rally Loeb – who is currently learning WTCC – Condroz since 2013, he won with Severine.

Quote

“I have never experienced this before.” Ostberg will not forget his first season with Citroen, a team that has not yet released its driver line-up for next year.

Next up

2015 season

Race of Bahrain

#7 wins, #8 World Champion!

Toyota Racing definitely made its mark on the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship as Bahrain 6 Hours came to TS040 HYBRID #7 of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway. At the wheel of the #8, Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson secured the drivers title with one event remaining.

Facts

In Sakhir’s circuit sunset, Toyota was alone to counter Porsche’s power for this seventh round of the season. Front-line starters, behind pole-sitters Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, Davidson and Buemi even managed much better than that, taking the lead in the first laps.

Both Japanese cars were leading when the #8 was caught by a serious alternator issue, which required the piece to be replaced, depriving it from a chance to win or to end on a podium, only to finish 11th. Whatever, Swiss Buemi and British Davidson were the new champions. The #8 went on to take the win more than 50 seconds ahead of two Porsches.

Number

1994 – The year of the previous drivers title won by Toyota as an official entrant. It was in World rallies with Frenchman Didier Auriol. Twenty years later, the Japanese marque is back to top.

Quote

“To win a championship when you are competing against Porsche and Audi is a fantastic achievement.” Buemi relished his first big title. In Interlagos on 30 November, he has all chances now to also clinch the Constructors’ title as Toyota heads to Brazil 40 points clear to Audi.

Story

On Saturday, Toyota qualified on the front row of the grid for the tenth time in a row, demonstrating team performance and consistency. The win of #7 was the fifth for a Toyota within the seven races of the season, the third in a row, a record for the team.

Next up

Sao Paulo Six Hours (Interlagos, Brazil, 30 November)

GP of Spain (Valencia)

A One-Two for Tops

For the last race of the season, the Grand Prix of Valencia saw Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio and the Marc VDS team sign off with a superb one-two in the Moto2 World Championship.

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The Races

After taking the title in Malaysia, Tito Rabat dreamed of culminating his fantastic 2014 season by making it to the highest step of the podium in Valencia. The Spaniard, wearing stunning black and gold colors for the occasion, believed in his chances until he came out of the last corner. “It was much colder today and the bike skated a lot during the race,” he said. “Maybe I also drove too far on the track … Anyway I missed the few drops of gas I needed to win this last Grand Prix. I’m disappointed of course, but on the other hand it’s the only problem I’ve experienced this season.” Mika Kallio meanwhile didn’t make it past the first lap. Hit by Viñales, the Finn fell along with the Spaniard. In MotoGP, Stefan Bradl finished his last Grand Prix with the LCR Honda team in eighth position, 45 seconds behind the winner. Miguel Oliveira once again signed the best performance of the Elf riders in Moto3 by finishing in eighth place as well. Andrea Migno stalled in eighteenth place while Jorge Navarro fell while trying to avoid two riders who had collided in front of him.

The Championship

Even if he was unable to carry off the seventh victory he wanted to score on his home turf, Tito Rabat concluded this season’s Moto2 World Championship with a total of 346 points, something no other rider has ever managed to do. “Finishing the season with a new points record scored in the intermediate class is a real satisfaction,” said the new world champion. Despite his fall, Mika Kallio managed to keep his second place in the overall standings, allowing the Marc VDS team to notch up a well-earned one-two. In MotoGP, Bradl concluded his three seasons with the LCR Honda team with a disappointing ninth place. Miguel Olivieira managed to make it to the top ten of the Moto3 World Championship. On the other hand, there were no changes for Navarro and Migno, who finished respectively in twenty-third and twenty-fifth place in the overall standings.

The Background

By finishing first and second in the Moto2 World Championship, Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio offered the Marc VDS team a historic one-two. Since 2000 and the title taken in the 250 class by Olivier Jacque for the Tech 3 squad ahead of Shinya Nakano, no other team has succeeded in placing its two riders at the top of the Grand Prix intermediate class. “This result rewards the hard work and dedication of the entire team,” says Michael Batholemy, head of Marc VDS Racing Team. Next year, the Belgian squad will begin a new chapter in their history. Alex Marquez, new Moto3 world champion, will replace Mika Kallio as Tito Rabat’s teammate. The Marc VDS Racing Team will also be present in MotoGP with a Honda RC213V ridden by Scott Redding. In so doing, the Brit will rejoin the family with which he made such an impact in Moto2. The Belgian team has decided to partner with the Monlau squad led by Emilio Alzamora which has entered the Moto3 and Spanish championships. “The idea is to create a branch that will train young talents and help them reach the highest level of competition,” says Michael Bartholemy.

GP of Brasil

Vettel had not forgotten

Nico Rosberg won the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton and reduced the gap in the Drivers’ Championship to seventeen points in the run up to the last meet this season, in Abu Dhabi. Felipe Massa figured as third man on the Interlagos podium, on home territory. Sebastian Vettel, 5th, “relived memories” of 2012.

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The facts

Fastest in the three free trials and in the qualifiers, Rosberg held out throughout the race to finish one second ahead of his team mate and take the chequered flag at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel, who started in sixth position, as he did in 2012, went wide at Turn 4 and dropped two places before making good his loss over the 71 laps of the circuit. The quadruple World Champion, who will compete in his last race with RBR in Yas Marina, finished in fifth position. Daniel Ricciardo, less comfortable this weekend, was forced to withdraw due to a broken front suspension. It is nevertheless guaranteed that the Australian will finish the season in third position.

The figure

x2 – Reminder: for the final race in Abu Dhabi, on 23 November, points will be doubled down to new controversial regulations that will finally set up a pulsating end

The quote

“I have been very privileged these last years. I have experienced technical problems like everyone else. Sometimes they got fixed, sometimes not. This year, nothing seemed to want to get fixed, but that’s just how it is sometimes,” remarked a fatalistic Vettel after a 2014 season without a single victory.

The anecdote

This was only the second time that Daniel Ricciardo has withdrawn in 2014. Prior to the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Australian was the only driver in the paddock to have failed to reach the chequered flag just once this season. That was in Sepang, in Malaysia.

Next up

Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) 21-23 November.

GP of Qatar

Salom 2014 EVO Champion

Riding brilliantly since the opening of the championship, David Salom was the logical winner of the first EVO title in the history of the Superbike World Championship. Despite making the podium twice, Tom Sykes had to give up his crown after the last race of the season.

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The Races

Arriving in Qatar, the pressure was on the shoulders of Tom Sykes. Threatened by Sylvain Guintoli, the Kawasaki rider had to react after the difficulties he had on the Magny-Cours track. “I was never able to keep up with Sylvain,” regretted the British rider the night after the final race of the season. “We knew the Losail circuit wouldn’t be our best. That was confirmed even though I managed to take third place in both races. I am obviously disappointed to lose the title after leading the standings for so long, but you have to admit defeat and learn from it. Fortunately for me the winter will be short: we’ll quickly be back for the first race of the 2015 championship.” Second in the first race, Loris Baz finished seventh in the second after being involved in a collision at the first corner. “I was forced off the track, which cost me six or seven seconds,” he explained. I managed to climb back to seventh place, but I’m still disappointed about finishing my last Superbike race that way.” In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu chose the wrong tires and was forced to settle for eighth place.

The Championship

Arriving in Qatar as the leader in the standings, Tom Sykes left the Losail circuit without the crown he so brilliantly won last year and seemed able to keep this season. The Kawasaki rider can still be pleased with being runner-up, as well as his sixteen podiums and five Superpoles. Loris Baz concluded his last season with the Kawasaki Superbike team in fifth place overall, after making it to the podium eight times. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu had one of his most difficult seasons. The former world champion who won only one of the season’s races finished eighth in a championship in which he was top dog for years.

The Background

This season, the promoter of the Superbike World Championship decided to introduce a new category in the competition to expand the grid while reducing costs. A formula which proved to be a winner in MotoGP with the CRT class when it became Open in 2014. Sponsored by Kawasaki, in Qatar on the evening after the last race of the season, David Salom became the first rider to hold the EVO title in the history of the Superbike World Championship. The Spaniard even won the trophy at the finish of the first race, riding hard on the heels of his main rival, Italian Niccolo Canepa. “I would have liked to win the title by finishing as the first EVO rider,” explained Salom, “but my front tire quickly degraded and I was not in a position to catch up with Niccolo.” The Kawasaki biker had his revenge in the second race, finishing eleventh overall and the first Open rider. “The results for this season are more than positive,” said Salom. “I won thirteen times, finished first EVO rider, and twelfth overall with a well-earned eighth place at Laguna Seca. Our Ninja ZX-10R can be proud of herself.”

Race of Shanghai

Buemi, Davidson, Shanghai masters

Toyota upheld their dominance over the World Endurance Championship. After their double in Fuji, Japan, the TS 040s Hybrid did it again in Shanghai 6 Hours, in China, with victory to Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.

Facts

As for Fuji, the Japanese prototypes nursed in Cologne (Germany) were on top of the race pace. Things were even easier when both cars pitted for new tyres and more fuel, in an early Safety Car period, therefore eliminating the need for a short refuelling stop late in the race.

With one less stop, the No. 8 of Buemi and Davidson and No. 7 of Stéphane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz and Nakajima Kazuji engaged in a duel in which Buemi managed a stunning performance in the traffic and to skip Wurz.

When the Swiss handed the steering wheel to Davidson, both Toyota already had lapped the competition. Under the chequered flag, the sister cars, were separated by one minute and twelve seconds.

Figure

3 – This second double in two races for Toyota is the third this season. Before Fuji there was Silverstone, the first race of the season. Now Davidson and Buemi, who won three races, plus Spa, comforted their first place in the league.

Story

For the first time in a WEC qualifying, two cars have managed exactly the same time 1 min 48 secs 300. In line with the regulations, Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani’s Porsche was awarded the pole position at the expense of Buemi-Davidson having netted their time first.

Quote

“It’s exactly the result we wanted for the World Championship.” President of Toyota Racing Yoshiaki Kinoshita was a happy man after the race as another double stretched his lead to 29 points ahead of Audi in the Constructors table with two races remaining.

Next up

Bahrain (Nov. 15)

GP of the United States

Ricciardo, the best of the rest

Lewis Hamilton notched up a fifth consecutive victory this weekend in Austin. The British driver finished ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.

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The facts

Hamilton took another step towards a second World Championship title with this success in Texas and will arrive in Brazil next week with 24 points in hand, but the Championship will only be decided in three weeks’ time, in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg had made the better start from pole, but Hamilton did not allow him to develop too much of a lead, patiently waiting for the right moment to make his decisive attacking move on the 24th lap, his DRS engaged, for a dive inside his rival at turn 12. Rosberg did not have a single opportunity for the rest of the race.

Ricciardo had made no secret of wanting to mount the podium on this, one of his favourite tracks. The Australian fulfilled his contract, finishing third and getting the better of the two Williams thanks to his superior pit stop management. He alone could have deprived the Mercedes drivers of the World Championship, but that’s now settled and he will not be World Champion at the end of the year.

His team mate Sebastian Vettel finished seventh, making a fine comeback from a start in the pit lane following a sixth engine change. Pastor Maldonado chalked up his first points this season for Lotus, finishing ninth; Romain Grosjean just missed a top ten finish.

The figure

18 – There were only eighteen cars on the starting grid this weekend. The Caterham and Mariussia teams, which recently went into administration, did not travel to the United States. They may also miss the last two Grand Prix of the season.

The quote

“We did what we could,” declared Ricciardo after the race. It’s been like that since the beginning of the year; there’s Mercedes and there’s the others.

The story

Romain Grosjean paid tribute to Christophe de Margerie this weekend, sporting his name on his helmet – the CEO of Total died tragically on 20th October last, in an aircraft crash in Russia.

Next up

Brazilian Grand Prix (7-9 November).