Who is better off? 2013 vs 2014 F1 points comparison

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After the first four rounds of the 2013 Formula 1 season, the stage appeared to be set for a tight championship battle. Sebastian Vettel led the way with two wins, but Kimi Raikkonen – who was the surprise victor in Australia – trailed by just 10 points. Fernando Alonso had also claimed a win and was waiting in the wings, whilst Lewis Hamilton had made a great start at Mercedes and sat third in the championship. Of course, we all know what happened from then on…

What a difference 12 months makes. The championship has been turned on its head, and we are now staring down the barrel of a season of Mercedes dominance that could make Red Bull’s exploits look tame.

In order to put how much has changed into perspective, let’s take a look at how the current scores stand up against the tallies from the first four rounds of the 2013 season.

2013 VS 2014 – POINTS COMPARISON AFTER FOUR RACES

THE WINNERS

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2013: 14 points. 2014: 79 points. Difference: +65
Of the entire grid, Rosberg has made the biggest gain over last season. One win and three second places has given him the championship lead, but his teammate is in hot pursuit.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2013: 5 points. 2014: 36 points. Difference: +31
The other German Nico has also made a great start after leaving Sauber to return to Force India. He still inexplicably lacks that maiden podium, but surely this is the year for Hulkenberg. He finally looks at home with the Indian team.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2013: 50 points. 2014: 75 points. Difference: +25
His start to 2013 was by no means bad, it’s just this year has been better. Three imperious wins has given him 75 points, and had it not been for a DNF in Australia, it could easily have been the maximum 100.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2013: 0 points. 2014: 24 points. Difference: +24
What a difference a year makes. Bottas’ F1 career started in quiet fashion thanks to the lackluster FW35 car, but he has now proven just how good he is. In fact, 24 points actually short changes the Finn given his great races.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
2013: 6 points. 2014: 24 points. Difference: +18
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare Red Bull with Toro Rosso, but Ricciardo has still made a huge step up. Two fourth place finishes, like Bottas, leaves him short. Factor in the 30 points lost in Australia and Malaysia, and he’s got a very good return indeed.

Jenson Button, McLaren
2013: 13 points. 2014: 23 points. Difference: +10
JB struggled in 2013 with the troublesome MP4-28 car, but he has ran better so far this year. However, it’s not the seismic step forwards that many at McLaren expected, having scored just 8 points since Australia.

Sergio Perez, Force India
2013: 10 points. 2014: 18 points. Difference: +8
Same as Button. Rubbish car last year, a bit better this year. Was unfortunate to not start in Malaysia.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso
2013: 1 point. 2014: 4 points. Difference +3
A minimal increase for Vergne, who must be feeling worried with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Antonio Felix da Costa eyeing his seat.

THE LOSERS

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2013: 67 points. 2014: 11 points. Difference: -56
Probably the most surprising statistic from the first four races. The Finn appears to be struggling with the new regulations and the Ferrari F14 T; a far cry from his win and two second places at the start of last year.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2013: 77 points. 2014: 33 points. Difference: -44
Frankly, 33 points is still a remarkable haul for Red Bull considering where the team was during pre-season. Still looking decidedly average, and sounded like a troublesome kid in kindergarten in China.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2013: 26 points. 2014: 0 points. Difference: -26
It’s a dire situation at Lotus, meaning Grosjean has stood little chance of scoring any points in the first four races as he did last year. Progress is being made, though, as he was set for points in China before retiring.

Felipe Massa, Williams
2013: 30 points. 2014: 12 points. Difference: -18
Another weird stat, given that he’s in a quicker car than before and also under less pressure. Some bad luck in Australia, Bahrain and China hasn’t helped, though. Probably deserves more.

Adrian Sutil, Sauber
2013: 6 points. 2014: 0 points. Difference: -6
Three straight retirements for Sutil, but it’s not like he would have made the top ten anyway.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2013: 47 points. 2014: 41 points. Difference: -6
Not much in this one for Alonso. He scored 43 in the first four races of 2012, so it’s a pretty regular start. Similar story, too: car isn’t quick enough, but he still makes it work. Great result in China with P3.

ALL THE SAME

Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi and Pastor Maldonado have all broken even. That said, they couldn’t lose any points. Zero in 2013, zero in 2014.

Here’s a full table of the comparison for all you F1 stat lovers out there. It’s not just me, right?

Maverick Vinales wins MotoGP opener in Qatar after rain delays start

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Maverick Viñales made a flying start to life with Yamaha in MotoGP by winning on his debut with the factory team in Qatar on Sunday night.

Rain throughout the weekend had already forced qualifying to be cancelled on Saturday, with Viñales claiming pole by virtue of setting the fastest time in practice.

Officials decided early on Sunday that they would not be amending its schedule for races, with the Moto2 and Moto3 events going ahead as planned.

Just minutes before the MotoGP race was set to get underway at 11pm local time, rain started to fall once again over the Losail International Circuit, prompting the stewards to delay the race start after a number of riders went off during an installation lap.

A 45-minute delay followed as a number of officials from both MotoGP and the teams remonstrated on the grid before being asked to take their discussions inside, away from the cameras and the watching world.

With the rain easing to a light drizzle, the stewards confirmed the race would start as planned, albeit reduced to 20 laps.

On a moist track, Viñales made a tentative start from pole, dropping to fifth as Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone made the best getaway to lead into the first corner.

Iannone was quickly passed by Tech3’s Johann Zarco, who completed his first lap in MotoGP as the race leader, and soon began to forge a lead over the chasing pack.

Zarco’s hopes of a debut win were dashed when he slid off the track in the tricky conditions, allowing Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to assume the lead ahead of Iannone.

When Iannone fell and third-placed Marc Marquez began to drop off the pace as his tires faded, Viñales and Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi began to close on Dovizioso, setting up a grandstand finish.

Viñales found a way past Dovizioso, only to lose the lead a couple of laps later, before then taking it back with two laps to go, curbing the Ducati’s straight-line speed advantage as they headed into Turn 1 for the final time.

From there, Viñales was able to keep his cool and cross the line half a second clear of Dovizioso to record his second MotoGP victory, his first coming with Suzuki last year at Silverstone.

Rossi crossed the line a close third, much to his surprise after a torrid pre-season, while Marquez was left to settle for fourth place to begin his riders’ title defence.

Dani Pedrosa finished one place behind his Honda teammate in fifth, while Aleix Espargaro was one of the unsung heroes of the race, crossing the line sixth for Aprilia.

Scott Redding wound up seventh ahead of Jack Miller and Alex Rins, while Tech3 debutant Jonas Folger rounded out the top 10.

Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo had a forgettable debut with Ducati, finishing a lowly 11th after an off-track excursion on the opening lap.

The MotoGP season continues with round two of the season in Argentina on April 9.

Ocon picks up maiden F1 point in Australia, finishes as top rookie

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Esteban Ocon picked up his first point in Formula 1 during his maiden outing for Force India in Australia on Sunday, finishing the race 10th and as the top rookie.

Ocon made his F1 debut in Belgium last year with the backmarker Manor team, completing the final nine rounds of the season before moving into a seat with Force India for 2017.

Embarking on his first full season of F1 (and therefore still a rookie) in 2017, Ocon qualified 14th in Australia on Saturday before spending much of the race battling with Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, the trio going three-wide down the main straight at one point.

Ocon was able to come out on top, clinching the final point on offer in Melbourne by finishing P10 to complete a double-points finish for Force India after Sergio Perez ended up seventh.

“Very happy with today. It’s been a tough weekend but a great reward at the end,” Ocon told NBCSN after the race.

“Fighting with Alonso made things difficult. It was side by side. Then I had the better pace with him. It’s so much harder to overtake, but I made the pass and got the point.

“I’m learning all the time. It’s good what we’ve done here. This is good for the team. We hope we can score many more for the championship.”

Ocon emerged as the top rookie in Melbourne, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 12th and 13th respectively. Williams’ Lance Stroll – making his first start in F1 – retired due to a brake disc issue.

F1 Paddock Pass: Australian Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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And so, the 2017 Formula 1 season is officially underway with the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are on top, having beat Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes both on strategy and on pace to kick off this new era in the sport’s history.

A recap of the day from the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne occurs below in the latest edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series, Paddock Pass, as F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales go into the paddock to run down the stories of the day.

MORE: Full Australian Grand Prix event replay; Mosaic replay

The podium saw Vettel ahead of Hamilton, with Mercedes’ new driver Valtteri Bottas coming third on debut for the team.

Other interviews that occurred during NBCSN’s post-race coverage on F1 Extra included with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen, who came fourth and fifth respectively, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon who scored his first career point, and with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who doggedly dragged his McLaren Honda into a potential points-paying finish before a late-race retirement.

Paddock Pass is in three parts and can be viewed below.

Haas’ sophomore F1 season starts badly with double DNF in Australia

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The Haas Formula 1 team’s sophomore campaign got off to a bad start on Sunday as drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were both forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, making its debut in Australia 12 months ago.

Grosjean scored a memorable sixth-place finish on that day in Melbourne, and looked poised to repeat the result in 2017 after qualifying sixth on Saturday.

A poor start was Grosjean drop to seventh, but he managed to hold position through the opening stint of the race ahead of the pit stop cycle.

However, Grosjean had no chance to wield some strategic genius as Haas did last year, with a water leak forcing him to retire while inside the top 10.

“I suddenly lost a lot of power. I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car,” Grosjean explained.

“It’s a pretty disappointing result, but again, right now I’m hot and we’re all disappointed to lose a seventh-place position, but the car was there in qualifying in P6. The start wasn’t ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there’s huge potential in the car.

“I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn’t have last year, where I’d be fifth in Bahrain then 19th in China. I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results. If we do that, then I’m sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points.”

Grosjean’s new teammate for 2017, Kevin Magnussen, suffered an early setback when he clashed with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson on the first lap, and ultimately retired due to a suspension issue stemming from the incident.

“I had Ericsson on the outside and I understeered into the side of him, which was unfortunate. I lost my front wing and damaged the car a little bit,” Magnussen said.

“We changed the front wing and then I went for a long test session to feel the car and learn a bit more about it, which was good. It feels good and the car is fast.

“That’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there. We just have to make it finish and score points.”

Team principal Guenther Steiner added: “Not the race we wished for, or we expected. With Romain it looks like we had a water leak. We don’t know yet where that came from.

“Obviously, Kevin’s race was destroyed in the third corner after the contact with Ericsson. He then ended up later with a suspension failure, which we still have to investigate why.

“The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China in two weeks.”