F1: The Race for The Title

With Lewis Hamilton’s accumulated 24 point lead over Nico Rosberg now withered to that of only a 17 point gap, the race is truly on and will take everything to the wire in Abu Dhabi, which is due to take place on the 23rd November. After a thrilling chase in Brazil, with Hamilton taking the lead of the Grand Prix only to spin, force an early pit-stop, and ultimately allow Rosberg to reclaim the lead and win, Abu Dhabi is on track to bring all the action. Though this may be for the wrong reasons. Double points has caused an unprecedented amount of controversy this season, and is feared by many to overshadow this season’s ultimate showdown between the Mercedes duo.

Under the old regulations, which kept to the status quo and awarded single points (i.e. 1st – 25, 2nd – 18, 3rd – 15, and so on), Hamilton would only be required to finish in 6th if his teammate were to win. However, since the introduction of double points Hamilton cannot afford to finish below 2nd place if Rosberg steals the victory. While many believe that if Rosberg were to claim the Driver’s Championship as his own in two week’s time it would be due to his diligence, and his own tenacious driving ability, it would no doubt be considered by lifetime Lewis supporters a waste.

This is not to suggest that Rosberg has not done incredibly well this season. Having now 10 pole positions, more than any other driver, he is more than capable of proving his speed; however, Hamilton has twice as many race wins than him, and above that, an impeccable track record of finishes. In every race Hamilton has finished he has done so in no less than 3rd position. His only demon this season has come in the form of reliability, forcing him out of two Grand Prixs, and Rosberg’s ill-judged incident at Spa (which I am sure Mercedes are happy to forget). Either way, with both drivers approaching the final race it is business as usual, and they’re both out to win.

Hamilton has twice as many race wins than him, and above that, an impeccable track record of finishes. In every race Hamilton has finished he has done so in no less than 3rd position

While no other drivers have come close to matching the Mercedes pair throughout the 2014 season, many view Daniel Ricciardo as a promising star of the future, if not a star of today. With seven podium finishes, three of which are race wins, he has asserted his dominance across the F1 stage this season, and has even out-performed his four-time World Champion teammate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel, whose season has proved to be less than satisfactory, has only achieved four podium finishes. Yet even with the difficultly he is having finding his feet with the new hybrid engine, he is still fourth in the Driver’s Championship – with Fernando Alonso 2 points behind in fifth.

Despite the riveting tension on-track, delicate developments have been creeping their way into the foreground of the F1 sphere. With both Caterham and Marussia out of the paddock, and into administration, efforts have been underway by both teams, respectively, to find new investors and make it back in time for the final race in Abu Dhabi. Caterham has recently raised over £1 million via crowdfunding, allowing the general public to donate to the team, auction for company goods and even the opportunity to have their name on the side of the cars if the team does return on the 23rd November. These desperate measures have not only been criticised by Bernie Ecclestone, but reveal more tensions among the middle-tier teams that may face financial struggles in the near future.

It is unfortunate that the real action will take place weeks later across various boardrooms

Earlier this week Ecclestone revealed that there will be no more financial handouts, and that those who may begin to struggle (Lotus, Force India, and, Sauber) will have to find a way of generating the cash flow themselves, or face being driven out of the sport. In addition to this, Ecclestone has also revealed plans to introduce three-car teams in 2015. With Red-Bull and Ferrari being considered to run three cars in order to fill the vacuum left by Caterham and Marussia’s exit, it is argued that Ecclestone is orchestrating a scheme that will push the small teams out, enlarge those who already have a de facto monopoly over innovation, engineering, and ultimately wealth, and pull the reins in, making the business of F1 easier to control and maintain. It is frightfully apparent that in recent years F1 has been radicalised into a system whereby small teams by the likes of the old Jordan team 1991-2005 (owned by the BBC’s very own Eddie Jordan), and Minardi F1 1985-2005 (now owned by Red-Bull and named Toro-Rosso), are a thing of the past. Small teams have been disregarded, and it would appear that the F1 tycoons no longer care for the boisterous eccentricty of the smaller, more humble teams, who developed a ground-rooted connection with their fans throughout the 1990s, and even today, as they proved to be an exciting alternative to the big names.

It has become apparent that money talks, and pure will and humble determination don’t. While the drivers may all be preparing for the final showdown, with Mercedes almost destined to produce another one-two finish, adding to the 11 they have accumulated this season (an F1 record), it is unfortunate that the real action will take place weeks later across various boardrooms. Speculation is rife within all spheres of Formula 1, and controversy stems from every crevise, from the double points to engine development. Though most pressing is the issue of whether dedicated fans are to witness the return of the dogmatic small teams we have all grown to love and admire; the teams who have produced countless world champions, and act as a gateway into the top tier of F1 for those young future stars.

James Gable

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