What did we learn from Yas Marina?


Well, we learned that Mercedes lost one car but won two championships, Williams secured two podiums and Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the rest.

After a magnificent start, it was obvious that Hamilton was never going to be headed, and the only question mark was going to be reliability, but it was title aspirant Rosberg whose car harvested the energy recovery gremlins, leaving him a woeful 14th at the finish.

“A great day for England,” I was told by one of the audience in Jameson’s Irish Pub, echoing Prince Harry’s, “Lewis, you are a legend. Thanks for not making the British public sweat.” And so a second World Driver’s Championship (WDC) for Hamilton.

Afterwards the mass hysteria escalated in the post-race period, comparing Hamilton to the previous British double championship drivers Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart (Our Nige, only won one WDC). So, did we learn something of Hamilton’s talent compared to those who went before? It is always difficult comparing drivers in different eras and in cars with different technologies. I suspect that the modern F1 cars are easier to drive than those from 30 years ago, as we see new faces in Friday practice sessions immediately up to speed, with no apparent learning curve. And let us not forget that the Mercedes cars this year have been one second a lap quicker than anything else, leaving Hamilton to only battle with one car – his team mate, who fell at the final hurdle.

However, Mercedes earned their Constructor’s championship and their WDC and are keeping their two drivers for 2015, there being no reason to change.

Surprise package for the race was Felipe Massa in the Williams, with a gritty drive to second place, besting team mate Valtteri Bottas again. Will the resurgent Williams continue as a threat in 2015? They certainly have the drivers if their designers can come up with the car.

Another satisfied driver was Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth in his Red Bull in the race and third in the WDC, totally eclipsing Vettel who never got the opportunity to wave the finger aloft all year. He will be going to join Ferrari and have the dour Kimi Raikkonen as his partner. I cannot predict great things for that driver pairing.

The media was pushing hard to try and drum up enthusiasm for purported battles for seats for 2015, which would depend on the outcome of the Yas Marina race. Prime was the seats at McLaren, with Alonso leaving Ferrari after five years and returning to McLaren according to the paddock gossip – and ex-King Carlos of Spain who said, “He’s going to McLaren!” Of the two incumbents Button and Magnussen there is much discussion, and whilst Button has been head and shoulders above Magnussen, what must not be forgotten is what salary does each expect? Button is an ex-driver’s champion and very well experienced – but my spies would suggest that he has to decrease his salary demands if he wishes to stay. Uncle Ronster is going to announce the line-up December 1. Expect Button out and Magnussen to remain.

Force India is hanging in there, despite financial worries for its owner Vijay Mallya, and its drivers are hanging in there as well. Hulkenberg can always be relied upon, but without money for development, they will continue to be just also-rans. Other drivers and teams continue to amaze. Not for results or uncovered talent, but for the fact that they are still there, and that covers “Lotus”, Sauber, Caterham, Marussia and Toro Rosso.

2015 will be a watershed year for F1, and I am not sure that Jean Todt’s FIA has any real idea of the crisis, or what to do about it!