F1 2014 Primer: The Drivers

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As part of MotorSportsTalk’s preview of the new Formula 1 season, we have put together a run-down of the drivers that will be racing in the sport this season. With three rookies joining the fray and nine of the teams making a change to their line-up, the grid is looking incredibly different to where we left off in Brazil last November.

RED BULL RACING

#1 – Sebastian Vettel –¬†four-time world champion chasing an unprecedented tenth straight win in Australia, but may be denied by problems with the RB10 car.
#3 – Daniel Ricciardo – promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso as Mark Webber’s replacement; yet to truly prove himself as a front-runner, but a strong qualifier.

MERCEDES

#44 – Lewis Hamilton – 2008 world champion looking for a second title; 2014 could be his best chance in years.
#6 – Nico Rosberg – three-time race winner, and an intelligent and astute driver. He may be a dark horse for the title.

SCUDERIA FERRARI

#14 – Fernando Alonso – two-time champion, but yet to claim a title with Ferrari. Could be a case of fifth time lucky, but rumors of a move to McLaren in 2015 persist.
#7 – Kimi Raikkonen – 2007 champion returns to Ferrari, the team with whom he won the title. Known for his blunt personality, but possesses great ability.

LOTUS F1 TEAM

#8 – Romain Grosjean – likeable Frenchman who came of age in the second half of 2013, losing his crash-kid label. Due his first grand prix victory in 2014.
#13 – Pastor Maldonado – one-time GP winner but very inconsistent, scoring just one point in 2013. Yet to prove himself in Formula 1.

MCLAREN MERCEDES

#22 – Jenson Button – 2009 champion and the second oldest driver on the grid. Known for smooth and calm driving style.
#20 – Kevin Magnussen – one of three rookies, but impressed McLaren enough to warrant Sergio Perez’s departure. Could be one to watch this year.

FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM

#11 – Sergio Perez – failed to impress at McLaren, although his efforts were hindered by the MP4-28. Could revive his career with Force India.
#27 – Nico Hulkenberg – one of the top drivers yet to win a grand prix; tipped as a possible successor to Alonso or Raikkonen at Ferrari.

SAUBER F1 TEAM

#99 – Adrian Sutil – after seven seasons with Force India, Sauber is only Sutil’s second team. Yet to reach the podium, occasional points scorer.
#21 – Esteban Gutierrez – ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2013, albeit with only six points. Yet to truly show what he can do, and under pressure in 2014.

SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO

#25 – Jean-Eric Vergne – entering his third season, and has shown glimpses of potential, but missed out on the Red Bull seat. Hard to envisage a long-term future with Toro Rosso.
#26 – Daniil Kvyat – 2013 GP3 champion and surprise choice as Ricciardo’s replacement; has impressed during practice run-outs and in testing.

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING

#19 – Felipe Massa – joins Williams after eight years at Ferrari; could flourish out of Alonso’s shadow and without the pressures of Maranello.
#77 – Valtteri Bottas – debut season was hampered by troublesome FW36, but certainly has the makings of a capable driver.

MARUSSIA F1 TEAM

#17 – Jules Bianchi – Ferrari protege who single-handedly won Marussia P10 in the constructors’ last year; a star in the making.
#4 – Max Chilton – only person in F1 history to ever finish every single race during his debut season, but rarely came outside of the bottom two classified drivers.

CATERHAM F1 TEAM

#10 – Kamui Kobayashi – returns to F1 after one year away, a real fan favorite with a huge following in Japan. Known for his aggressive driving style.
#9 – Marcus Ericsson – the third and final rookie, stepping up after four years in GP2. First Swedish driver since Stefan Johansson in 1991.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski