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F1 Season Finale Preview

Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi will once again be the host circuit of the Formula 1 Season. Throughout the year there has been huge criticism on the engine sounds after downgrading from a V8 to  V6 while limiting fuel consumption to 100 kgs. per race. But it will be the first time in F1 history that any race in the calendar gives double points. Regularly the first place would take 25 points, second place 18 points, third place 15 points, 12 for fourth, 10 for fifth, 8 for sixth 6 for seventh, 4 for eight, 2 for ninth and 1 for tenth. The easiest way to understand this is to just multiply the available points for each position times two.

This will highly benefit the constructors points who will earn money needed for the development of their 2015 cars and secure a spot in the starting grid at Melbourne next year. While Mercedes already took the title in this category, Ferrari would like a god share of the prize after a disaster of a season in 2014, but right now they are sitting in fourth. Way behind the close to perfect performance by Mercedes is Red Bull in second place. The team that had dominated the Formula for the past four years with Vettel winning pretty much every race, including the one in Yas Marina in 2010 to claim the first of his four world titles has now picked most of its (Red Bull) 373 points via Daniel Ricciardo, who came from Toro Rosso and is the only pilot this season to know what it means to win besides Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Vettel won his last race in the season finale at Sao Paulo last year.

In third place comes a team that has been performing above the expectations many critics had before the season started. Williams assembled a team that may not be getting many podium finishes but is definitely doing things right. Valterri Bottas is currently in sixth place, helping out a veteran Felipe Massa who is eight in the drivers championship score important points for a team where I can say the combination of a veteran like Massa and a upcoming talent like Bottas has paid off nicely.

Fourth place as already mentioned is currently held by the only team that has not missed a Formula 1 season since 1950, Ferrari. Here, even with having two world champions like Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen behind the steering wheel, the results have been way below what was expected. Zero wins for a historic team is beyond unacceptable. Apparently the car has not favored the drivers and while Alonso regularly finishes in the top-5, his teammate usually has a hard time scoring any points. The spaniard heads into Abu Dhabi for his last race with the team, Sebastian Vettel is set to take his spot.

It is no longer a rumour that Alonso will be driving with the fifth place of the constructor’s championship. McLaren has just had a couple of good races this season but besides that consistency has been an issue for a team lead by world-champion Jenson Button. The british driver is currently in the seventh spot, but his teammate barely fits into the top-10. Both drivers have an uncertain future after what happens in Yas. Alonso recently declared that he would like Button to be his teammate, but with a very expensive contract the spaniard seems to be requesting from the british team, the safer bet for McLaren from a financial standpoint would be to let Jenson go and probably retire. The decision is set to come in December.

In sixth place we find Sahara Force India. A team that seems to be happy with both of his drivers as it is almost a sure thing that both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg will return with the team for 2015. Hulkenberg has been more consistent than Perez who has had a rough last four races scoring only two points and retiring on the first lap at the U.S. Grand Prix. In Bahrain, the mexican claimed the first podium finish for the team. Nico has picked up points in every but three races this season. I do feel that keeping both drivers is the right call, specially with the F1 heading to Mexico next year.

Toro Rosso, the “driving-school” of Red Bull can call it a good year with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat as their drivers and hoping that the squad doesn’t suffer any changes for next season. Even though both drivers are outside the top-10 with Vergne leading the charge at 13th, they are taking advantage of the poor performance by even better-funded teams like Lotus which is eight in the constructors championship. Lotus will not suffer changes to its squad coming next season. They just announced that despite their troubles to fight for the top spots on the grid they are keeping both Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean.

With only two points we find Marussia in the ninth spot.The team has not been competing since the U.S. Grand Prix. In Russia they only had one driver after Jules Bianchi , who was yesterday declared out of coma, suffered a horrific accident at the Japan Grand Prix. He will hardly drive in F1 again but he did manage to get those two points for his team in the streets of Monaco. The team will not see action at the Yas Marina circuit but unless Sauber and Caterham don’t score any points they will keep their position and could get money from Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 organization for next year.

Sauber, a team that runs with a Ferrari engine is about to close the 2014 season without a single point. After Esteban Gutierrez had a strong finish to his 2013 season he has not found any type of success in 2014. It was recently announced that he did not come in the plans for the team coming 2015 so he is either looking at Marussia or a practice pilot spot, unless a big surprise sets him in a better team. He was expected to run for Lotus but that will not happen. The team will face a complete renovation for 2015 with even Adrian Sutil stepping down. Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr will be the new drivers for the swiss team.

At the end we find Caterham. with Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens. Another team that has gone scoreless for the past 18 races including the two they had to forfeit due to financial difficulties. With a crowdfunding campaign and the help of Bernie Ecclestone they will be back for at least the season finale, without 2015 being a sure thing, and obviously the drivers not knowing if they have a secure seat.

Finally, one of the most interesting things about the Yas Marina race is that it starts during the day and ends at night, making it harder for the drivers to choose an adequate visor. The circuit has many curves, but long enough straightaways to provide good spaces for overpassing. Seeing cars crash is a common site in this circuit, which could compromise the fight for the drivers championship between Rosberg and Hamilton. The latter one has the lead but the first one has the ambition. On sunday, at 7:00 am lights will be out and 55 laps later we will know who is the new F1 Champion.

Nico Rosberg (left) could win his first F1 ChampionshIp at Abu Dhabi.
Nico Rosberg (left) could win his first F1 ChampionshIp at Abu Dhabi.

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Changes at the Speed of F1

When the 2014 Formula 1 Season started in march there were big changes to what we were used to see before. For the first time in a very long time Sebastian Vettel wasn’t the winner and he still hasn’t managed to be on top of the podium with less than half the season remaining. The sound of the new engines was widely criticized by fans which now creates part of its power by a Energy Recovery System. On the bright side we have seen a tougher competition among the whole field with the exception of the Mercedes Benz drivers who have won all but three races of the season so far.

Ferrari has not been the same team ever since Michael Schumacher left the team. They have not lived up to its name and Stefano Domenicali resigned from his position as team principal of the Ferrari Formula One team on mid-august. Marco Mattiacci, former president and CEO of Ferrari North America replaced him. Fernando Alonso has done more for the team than what his car has to offer. The two-time world champion has repeatedly performed at a world-class level but will not be with the “Cavallino Rampante” starting next season. Four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel is about to make his move to Ferrari official any minute. Alonso could be going back to McLaren.

I’ve been following Formula 1 for a bit now and I can assure you that this one has been the most exciting one. Besides Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo being the only three pilots who have won races this far, the battle for second to 23rd place is always up for anyone. Mexican driver Sergio Perez is having his best season. He finished third in Bahrein and has been able to rack up some points in nine races currently sitting on the tenth spot overall. Esteban Gutierrez had a strong finish in the 2013 season, but the changes to his car have not been positive and so far he has no points, either has his teammate Adrian Sutil. Hamilton leads the board just ten points over Rosberg.

Just to show how tough these drivers are, they have endured extreme temperatures in places like Singapore and a close typhoon in Japan. At the first one Danii Kyvat and Kevin Magnussen reported burns and dehydration during the night race. That was nothing compared to what happened in Japan. The race started under a yellow flag due to the heavy rain. After a short pause it resumed and it was impressive to see how short of a visibility range drivers had along the course while still driving over 200 km/h.

The race was about to end when Adrian Sutil lost control of his car on turn 12 and crashed with a safety wall. There was a provisional yellow flag issued (which should have resulted in the safety car immediately). One lap later Jules Bianchi lost control of his Marussia in the same exact spot. The result was him crashing against the crane that was lifting Sutil’s car at around 160 miles per hour. it took a while for the press to know what was going on since there was no video of the incident.

What should have been a week of celebration in the wake of the first Russian Grand Prix ever, has been a week where Bianchi is fighting for his life in Japan and all the attention is on increasing an already tight security around Formula 1 plus really knowing what happened in what is surely Bianchi’s last lap ever as a F1 driver. Some experts say that race should have not even happened under the conditions it was raced in.

Sergio Perez at the Japan GP under heavy rain conditions. (Force India)
Sergio Perez at the Japan GP under heavy rain conditions. (Force India)

But now Russia is set to host a Grand Prix. Next year Mexico will have the return of the highest category in automotive racing come to a city where many stories were written. Austin is setting itself as one of the driver’s favorite places to race at with just two years in existence, the rumor is New York could be next and it could actually be a street-circuit and not on an actual track. You can already tell safety will be made an even higher priority from now on at old and new circuits.

Safety measures are bound to change, but what spectators around the world hope that does not change is the excitement of the current F1 season. Many of us were tired of the dictatorship that drivers like Vettel and Schumacher had at every race. If Bernie Ecclestone wants more fans to tune into F1 activities, a season as exciting as this one should be a common situation.

But for now lets just hope Jules Bianchi survives a horrifying incident. #ForzaJules

Viewer Discretion is advised to watch this link containing the crash of Jules Bianchi.

Top 5 Drivers: 1) Lewis Hamilton, 2) Nico Rosberg, 3) Daniel Ricciardo, 4) Sebastian Vettel, 5) Fernando Alonso

Top 5 Constructors: 1) Mercedes, 2) Red Bull, 3) Williams, 4) Ferrari, 5) Force India

Races to go: 4 (Russia, United States, Brazil, Abu Dhabi)