Formula 1

Ranking the Top 25 Moments of the 2014 Formula 1 Season so Far

Matthew WalthertFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

Ranking the Top 25 Moments of the 2014 Formula 1 Season so Far

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    Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
    Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Bahrain Grand Prix.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    Formula One is on its summer break. The factories are shutting down, and the teams are on holidays.

    The season is just past the halfway point and, with that in mind, we are looking back at the top 25 moments so far.

    From first podiums and victories, to thrilling overtaking manoeuvres, to defied team orders, it has been a very exciting season so far.

Criteria

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    Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
    Nico Rosberg and Lewis HamiltonDrew Gibson/Getty Images

    To select the top moments of the season, we considered each moment's:

    • newsworthiness
    • effect on the championship
    • comedic value
    • rarity or unexpectedness
    • overall quality

    These were combined in a very unscientific way to produce the following (mostly) definitive list:

25. Finally, a Wet Race!

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    Rosberg's car throws up spray near the beginning of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
    Rosberg's car throws up spray near the beginning of the Hungarian Grand Prix.Drew Gibson/Getty Images

    There was not a single wet race in the 2013 F1 season. Before Hungary this year, the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix was the last rainy race.

    Although it did not really rain during the Hungarian Grand Prix, a downpour just before the start forced drivers to start on intermediate tyres. As the track dried, several drivers were caught out, producing one of the most exciting grands prix in years.

24. Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa Test Their Roll Structures

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    Massa flips in Germany.
    Massa flips in Germany.Associated Press

    Both Esteban Gutierrez (in Bahrain) and Felipe Massa (in Germany) have had scary rollover crashes this season. Both drivers walked away uninjured.

    Both of those crashes demonstrated how much F1 safety standards have improved since Pedro Diniz's roll structure failed at the 1999 European Grand Prix.

23. Nico Hulkenberg's Pass at Portier

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    On Lap 32 of the Monaco Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg pulled off a sublime passing manoeuvre on Kevin Magnussen at Portier. 

    There are not many passing locations at Monaco, and Portier is definitely not one of them. All the same, Hulkenberg dove down the inside of the McLaren and took the place cleanly.

    After the race, Force India owner and team principal Vijay Mallya said that his driver, "pulled off one of the best overtaking moves of this season," per GPUpdate.net.

    Hulkenberg told the official F1 website, "On a track like this where overtaking is almost impossible, this move was the icing on my cake this afternoon!"

22. Luca di Montezemolo and His Taxi Drivers

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    Luca di Montezemolo
    Luca di MontezemoloPaul Gilham/Getty Images

    Just before the start of the season, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was complaining about the need to conserve tyres and fuel under the new regulations and said, "I don't like his sort of taxi-cab driving," per Autosprint (via Autosport, translation by Michele Lostia).

    Since then, we have been treated to one of the most exciting F1 seasons in recent memory. Meanwhile, Di Montezemolo continues to try to fix the sport.

21. The Stewards Allow More Wheel-Banging

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    Drivers fight for position at the start of the British Grand Prix.
    Drivers fight for position at the start of the British Grand Prix.Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    Before the Austrian Grand Prix, Autosport's Jonathan Noble reported that the FIA told race stewards to be more judicious in their investigation of racing incidents on the track.

    That decision certainly played a part in the drivers deciding to engage in the fantastic battles we have seen recently, particularly at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.

    Amid double points and standing restarts, this is one rule change that the FIA got right.

20. Formula 1 Returns to Austria

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    The 2014 Austrian Grand Prix.
    The 2014 Austrian Grand Prix.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    After years of holding new races in every corner of the globe, F1 returned to a more traditional location this year. The Red Bull Ring, as it is now known, hosted the first Austrian Grand Prix since 2003.

    The race was a success, with big crowds, a beautiful setting, an exciting track and good racing. How about a return to France, next?

19. New Teams Added for 2015 and 2016

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    Gene Haas
    Gene HaasJared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    It has been more than four years since Marussia, Caterham and HRT started in F1 (the first two, under different names).

    Now, two new teams are on the way. Gene Haas, already the owner of a NASCAR team, is planning to debut his new American F1 team in 2016. Meanwhile, the Romanian Forza Rossa team might be ready for 2015, per Fox Sports.

    Two new teams means more opportunities for drivers and, hopefully, more competition up and down the grid.

18. Michael Schumacher Leaves the Hospital

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    Fans show their support for Schumacher outside the hospital where he was being treated.
    Fans show their support for Schumacher outside the hospital where he was being treated.Associated Press

    Last December, Michael Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma following a skiing accident. For nearly six months, there was not much positive news. Then, in mid-June, he left the hospital.

    While his recovery remains far from certain, the knowledge that he was able to leave the hospital is at least reassuring.

17. Susie Wolff Breaks a 22-Year Drought for Women on a Grand Prix Weekend

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    Wolff heads to the track during British Grand Prix free practice.
    Wolff heads to the track during British Grand Prix free practice.Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Before this year's British Grand Prix, it had been 22 years since a woman had taken part in a race weekend (Giovanna Amati was the last).

    That changed when Susie Wolff took to the track for Williams. She only managed one timed lap before the engine gave out, but she was back in the car two weeks later in Germany.

    At the same time, former IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro is training with the Sauber team, with the goal of securing a race seat for next season. It is a good time for women in F1.

16. Sergio Perez Scores Force India's 1st Podium Since 2009

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    Perez on the podium in Bahrain.
    Perez on the podium in Bahrain.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Force India have an underrated driver pairing and the best power unit available, so you could argue that only one podium so far this season is an underachievement.

    Still, they are fifth in the Constructors' Championship—which would be their best-ever finish—and Sergio Perez's podium at Bahrain was only the second in the team's history.

15. Kevin Magnussen's Podium Debut

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    Magnussen on the podium in Australia.
    Magnussen on the podium in Australia.Rob Griffith/Associated Press

    At the Australian Grand Prix, Magnussen became the first driver since Hamilton in 2007 to finish on the podium in his first race (coincidentally, both were McLaren drivers).

    Magnussen originally finished third, but he was promoted to second following Ricciardo's disqualification. It may have been a false dawn, though, as the Dane has not finished higher than seventh since that race.

14. The Break-Up of Ferrari and Stefano Domenicali

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    Stefano Domenicali
    Stefano DomenicaliMark Thompson/Getty Images

    After a disappointing start to the season, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali resigned and was quickly replaced with Marco Mattiacci, a man with no racing experience.

    While Domenicali's resignation was a shock, the aftermath—no discernible improvements from Ferrari—is not.

13. 'Felipe, Valtteri Is Faster Than You'

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    Massa at the Malaysia Grand Prix
    Massa at the Malaysia Grand PrixAssociated Press

    At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Felipe Massa refused to yield to his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, when he received the message from the pit wall that, "Valtteri is faster than you—do not hold him up."

    His defiance may have had something to do with the choice of wording. At the 2010 German Grand Prix, Massa—who was leading the race—was asked by Ferrari in nearly identical words to give up his place to Fernando Alonso. On that occassion, the Brazilian complied.

12. FRIC Ban

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    Ferrari mechanics at work
    Ferrari mechanics at workChristopher Lee/Getty Images

    One of the major talking points of the season has been controlling costs, as some of the smaller teams continue to struggle.

    So, in the middle of the season, the FIA decided to ban front-to-rear interconnected suspension (FRIC) systems. The ban was in effect for the Hungarian Grand Prix, meaning that the teams had to spend more money to redesign their suspensions.

    It is not yet apparent whether the changes will have any effect on the relative competitiveness of the teams, and Hungary was not a good test because of the weather conditions and safety cars.

11. Daniel Ricciardo's Australian Grand Prix Disqualification

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    Ricciardo celebrates before his disqualification.
    Ricciardo celebrates before his disqualification.Rob Griffith/Associated Press

    Daniel Ricciardo could not have hoped for a better Red Bull debut than he had at the Australian Grand Prix. He qualified second, ahead of Nico Rosberg, and then finished the race in the same position, becoming the first Australian to finish on the podium in his home race.

    And then it all disappeared.

    Shortly after the race, it was announced that Ricciardo was under investigation for breaching the new fuel-flow limit. Five hours after the chequered flag, the Australian was disqualified.

    Red Bull appealed the decision, but it was upheld. Maybe Ricciardo can aim for the win next year in Melbourne.

10. Jules Bianchi and Marussia's 1st Points

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    Bianchi in Monaco
    Bianchi in MonacoMark Thompson/Getty Images

    For more than four years, Marussia and Caterham (and, before the team folded, HRT) toured around the back of the field, rarely even threatening to crack the top 10. Then, in Monaco, a perfect storm of retirements, Marussia's increased pace and Jules Bianchi's boldness allowed the team to score their first points.

    As the retirements mounted early in the race, Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi was originally positioned the best to take advantage of the situation. But then, Bianchi seized the initiative, forcing his way past the Japanese driver at La Rascasse.

    From there, the Frenchman held on and, assisted by an ill-advised attempted pass by Raikkonen into the hairpin, finished ninth. Those points currently have Marussia ahead of Sauber, as well as Caterham, in the Constructors' Championship, and in line for a big payday.

9. Sebastian Vettel Twice Told to Let Daniel Ricciardo Through

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    Ricciardo leads Vettel in Canada.
    Ricciardo leads Vettel in Canada.Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images

    In Bahrain, Red Bull ordered their defending champion, Sebastian Vettel, to let his new teammate, Ricciardo, through. The German allowed Ricciardo to pass him and finished the race sixth, two spots behind his teammate.

    Two weeks later, in China, the same call came from the pit wall. The first request had been justified by the fact that the two drivers were on different tyres. In China, when he was told Ricciardo had the same tyres as him, Vettel's response was succinct: "Tough luck."

    Eventually, he did let the Australian pass and once again finished behind him. In fact, that has become the norm for Red Bull. In the seven races both drivers have finished, Vettel has beaten Ricciardo just once.

8. Lewis Hamilton Wins at Home

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    Hamilton celebrates at Silverstone.
    Hamilton celebrates at Silverstone.Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    Since 2000, the British Grand Prix had only been won once by a British driver—Lewis Hamilton in 2008. This year, Hamilton qualified sixth and, assisted by Rosberg's retirement, won the race in front of the packed Silverstone grandstands.

    Rosberg also won his home race (although there is no home advantage in F1), in Germany, but the half-empty grandstand (and the fact that he had already celebrated a "home win" in Monaco), means only Hamilton's win makes our list.

7. Daniel Ricciardo's Maiden Victory

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    Ricciardo celebrates his victory in Montreal.
    Ricciardo celebrates his victory in Montreal.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    For the first six-and-a-half races of the season, it looked like no one would ever catch Mercedes. And then, in the middle of the Canadian Grand Prix, both Silver Arrows were suddenly crippled with the same problem with their energy-recovery systems.

    Hamilton soon retired, while Rosberg saw a huge lead evaporate before he was eventually passed by Red Bull's Ricciardo. When Massa and Perez collided on the final lap, bringing out the safety car, the Australian's first victory was assured.

    Ricciardo, with his ever-present smile, was a popular winner—more so because he broke the stranglehold Mercedes had held on the season.

6. Nico Rosberg's Monaco Qualifying Error

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    As the drivers were starting their final flying qualifying laps in Monaco, Rosberg held the provisional pole position ahead of Hamilton.

    Rosberg was ahead on the track, and heading into Mirabeau, he seemed to lock his brakes for a moment and then, instead of trying to take the corner, he drove straight ahead into a run-off section. The resulting yellow flags meant Hamilton could not improve his time and guaranteed the all-important pole position for Rosberg.

    Hamilton was not happy, suggesting that Rosberg had caused the yellow flags on purpose, and he was even more upset the following day when Rosberg took the victory, ending Hamilton's four-race winning streak.

    Since Monaco, the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg has been decidedly less friendly.

5. Lewis Hamilton Defies Mercedes Team Orders

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    Hamilton refused to allow Rosberg to pass in Hungary.
    Hamilton refused to allow Rosberg to pass in Hungary.Drew Gibson/Getty Images

    In Hungary—with Hamilton leading Rosberg, but the German needing to make one more pit stop—Mercedes asked Hamilton to move aside for his teammate.

    Hamilton—rightly—refused, telling the team, "I'm not slowing down for Nico. If he gets close enough to overtake, he can overtake," per ESPN F1.

    Team orders are fine when one driver has a real shot at the championship, and his teammate is expected to support him. In this case, though, with both drivers fighting for the title, it was a mistake for Mercedes to ask Hamilton to let Rosberg through.

4. Fernando Alonso vs. Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone

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    At Silverstone, two former world champions without championship aspirations this year duelled as though the title was on the line.

    Their battle was not only a brilliant display of driving skill, but it was also a wonderful example of sportsmanship, with each man leaving just enough space for his opponent at every turn. Or at least it would have been a wonderful example of sportsmanship, if the pit radios had been muted.

    Unfortunately, in the midst of the race, television viewers were treated to repeated calls from each driver to have the other one penalised for running wide on certain corners.

    Thankfully, neither driver received a penalty, and we can enjoy the replays on mute.

3. Daniel Ricciardo's Overtaking Manoeuvres to Win in Hungary

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    Ricciardo homes in on a Mercedes in Hungary.
    Ricciardo homes in on a Mercedes in Hungary.Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

    Overtaking is anything but easy on the narrow, slow Hungaroring—think Monaco, without the glamour of the Cote d'Azur. This year's race was an exception, though, thanks to a wet start and two safety cars that mixed up the field.

    Ricciardo made the most spectacular of the many passes in the Hungarian Grand Prix, taking second place from Hamilton around the outside of Turn 2 just three laps from the finish. By itself, that move was incredible, but it probably would not have been enough to make our list.

    On the next lap, though, Ricciardo passed another world champion, Alonso, to secure his second victory in five races. The win also extended his surprising lead over his teammate, the defending champion Vettel, to 43 points.

2. Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg in Bahrain

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    Hamilton and Rosberg battle in Bahrain.
    Hamilton and Rosberg battle in Bahrain.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    In Bahrain, Hamilton and Rosberg went wheel-to-wheel on the track for the first time this year, and it was a real treat to watch. They battled for the lead early in the race, but that was just an appetizer for the final 10 laps.

    After a safety car (thanks to—you guessed it—Pastor Maldonado) bunched up the field late in the race, Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe begged his charges to bring their cars home in one piece.

    That did not stop Rosberg from harassing Hamilton for the last 10 laps. Several times the two Silver Arrows were side-by-side, but somehow they managed not to touch. In the end, Hamilton held on for his second of four straight victories.

1. Mercedes Takes a Creative Approach with Their Turbocharger

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    No one will catch Mercedes this year.
    No one will catch Mercedes this year.Jens Meyer/Associated Press

    This moment occurred before the 2014 F1 season began, but it has defined everything that has happened this year and, as such, is the top moment of the season so far.

    At some point, while the 2014 cars and power units were being developed, a Mercedes engineer said something like, "What if we split the turbocharger?"

    The team did, and it led to the development of the most powerful engine on the grid. Mercedes have won nine of 11 races and have commanding leads in both championships—thanks mostly to that revolutionary power unit design.

     

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