The floodlight track of the desert town failed to provide any sparks as the last race of the 2014 Formula-one ended without any fight for Lewis Hamilton. The British driver claimed his second World Driver’s Championship title after winning the 11th race of the season. Much was talked about the challenge that Hamilton could face from Germany’s Nico Rosberg, who otherwise has had a great season himself, and going into the last race, the German was tantalizingly close to his only real competitor in this category of motor sports. On Saturday, Rosberg had taken the pole, pipping Hamilton to the second spot in the qualifying. Since the two drivers were only separated by a wafer-thin difference on points, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a perfect platform for them to turn the season finale into a nail-biting end. Well, that didn’t happen, as unfortunately for the German, technical glitches almost prevented him from even completing the race. Rosberg’s car lost power due to the failure of its hybrid energy recovery system at the halfway stage. It was a sad end for the German’s race as his challenge fell away. In the end, Lewis Hamilton came away unchallenged and win his second world champion’s title after 2008, much to the delight of a vast majority of British fans present at the venue. Among them on Sunday, was Prince Harry, who excitedly came on team radio to congratulate Hamilton on his great achievement and called Hamilton as a legend.
It was a great season, dominated by Mercedes and its two drivers, who rivalry became from bad to worse and deteriorated even further as the season progressed. Race after another race, the media focus failed to shift from Rosberg and Hamilton. Between themselves, they won 16 races out of 19 and that showed their class. The 2014 Formula-one season ended without any story on Sebastian Vettel, who was the reigning champion at the start but technical changes in engine configurations and other rules did not appear to benefit any constructor other than Mercedes. Manufacturers kept tinkering with their cars in the early part of the season but couldn’t come close to the master class of Mercedes. There is no need to mention here that it was Mercedes that won the constructors title as well. The two guys, who remained in the forefront all season; were great friends, beginning with team-mates in go-karting, when they had just entered their teen years. They shared rooms, football and pizza and always showed great camaraderie even as rivals. 14 years later, while they still represent the same team, they find themselves at the opposite ends of a spectrum. In the two-way battle for F1 championship, their relationship has turned extremely bitter. The season was full of their acrimonious stance against each other with a few on-track incidents that were entirely avoidable. After their clash at Spa in Belgium, Hamilton likened the incident to the beginning of a war and the Briton declared he was ready to fight tooth and nail. In Abu Dhabi, however, it was a total anti-climax as Hamilton rode on the failure of Rosberg’s hybrid system and raced away to win the world championship unchallenged.
The Abu Dhabi race began just as the sun was about to set on Sunday. But the atmospheric temperature was still between 26 and 33 degrees Celsius. As Rosberg shot off from his pole, Hamilton went to a chase from the very start and passed Rosberg at Turn One of the first Lap itself. The Briton increased his pace and kept widening the gap as he approached the hairpin. It was a remarkable first Lap, at the end of which Hamilton led Rosberg by 1.2 seconds. Afterwards, Hamilton continued to set the pace and never looked back. He led from Rosberg by more than 2 seconds and allowed Massa a brief period in front as pitted after Lap 13. But Massa went to the pits on lap 14 and Hamilton went in front yet again. Rosberg’s car problems forced him to go off track on Lap 23 and the race became worse for him, when he suffered an Energy Recovery System failure. By Lap 30, Hamilton was leading Massa by nine seconds and when he pitted again on Lap 31, Massa took the lead yet again by 14 seconds. By Lap 37, it became clear that Rosberg’s car was beyond help. After 40 laps, Massa still led by 14.2 seconds with Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas right behind in that order. By this time Rosberg had slipped to the eighth spot. When Massa went to the pits again on Lap 44, Hamilton regained the top spot and with not much time left, raced away to victory for the second world champions title. Felipe Massa took the second place and Valtteri Bottas third. But Abu Dhabi was all about the emotional Hamilton, who sprayed non-alcoholic champagne from the podium and allowed the great victory to sink in.