2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview


ABU DHABI – 2014 has been a difficult yet delightful year for Formula 1, meeting both triumph and disaster across the course of the season. The new regulations and engines may have divided opinion, but the on-track racing has been sensational.

Mercedes has been the dominant force in 2014, and the intra-team fight for the world championship is one that will go down in the history books. Double points aside, the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been an entertaining and intense one, spilling over at Spa when the two made contact.

All may have since been patched up between the duo, but the final battle will take place on track this weekend as the the 2014 championship is settled once and for all. With double points on offer for this weekend’s race, Rosberg’s 17 point deficit is not so daunting. A win will see the pressure be piled on Hamilton, who could only finish second to win the title if his teammate is victorious under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

As the only day/night race of the season, proceedings will kick off on Sunday at 5pm local time just as the sun begins to set. Come the checkered flag though, night will have fallen, with floodlights and the exuberant Viceroy Hotel lighting up the Yas Marina Circuit.

It has been an extraordinary battle for the championship, and will undoubtedly join the likes of Hunt versus Lauda and Schumacher versus Hill in the history books. But who will take the starring role in Abu Dhabi this weekend and be crowned world champion?

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Talking Points

The Final Showdown

Dubbed the ‘desert duel’ or the ‘showdown at sundown’, the final fight between Hamilton and Rosberg promises to be an entertaining and exhilarating one. Hamilton may only need to finish second to be champion, but winning the title in style by taking a second win in Abu Dhabi will be his aim. Lewis is not a man who does anything by halves, nor does he do it the easy way – as we have seen this season. This does present his best chance yet of winning the title, though, and he will be doing everything he can to follow up on his win in 2008 and becoming world champion for a second time.

As for Rosberg, all he can do is win. He mentioned in Brazil that his return to form might be ‘too little, too late’, and it is true. A win in Abu Dhabi won’t be enough if Hamilton finishes second, even with double points on offer. He soaked up the pressure in Brazil to claim a brilliant win – a repeat performance is all he can do this weekend, and then pray that someone can beat Lewis to second place at the flag.

This has been a classic fight for the championship – let us hope that it serves up a classic finish to cap it all off.

Double Trouble

Ever since the FIA announced last December that it would be awarding double points for the final race of the 2014 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been anticipated with bated breath and concern. What if double points does decide the title? Well, if Hamilton wins, it won’t have. If Rosberg does, it could. Under normal circumstances, Hamilton would need just eight points – a top six finish – to be sure of the title. Instead, he must finish in the top two. It’s a great deal of added pressure for the Briton.

Of course, double points are not just awarded for the championship protagonists. The race for fourth in the drivers’ standings will be settled between Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso this weekend, as will the battle for P5 in the constructors’ between McLaren and Force India. With double points on the table, anything could happen.

The Return of Caterham

After two races away, Caterham returns for this weekend’s grand prix in Abu Dhabi thanks to fresh investment apparently stimulated by the crowdfunding campaign that was launched. Although this may prove to be the last we see of the team, it does give the operation’s chances of racing in 2015 a huge boost, largely thanks to the financial windfall that is on the cards thanks to Marussia’s recent demise.

Marussia did come close to making a comeback, apparently, only for 11th-hour plans to collapse, meaning that the team will not be racing in Abu Dhabi. The “Manor F1” entry for 2015 does still remain, but this is all. Time will tell on what the future holds for the backmarkers, but this weekend at Yas Marina, it will only be Caterham who is racing.

The team has today confirmed that Will Stevens will be racing alongside Kamui Kobayashi in Abu Dhabi.

One Last Time

As my MST colleague Tony DiZinno wrote yesterday, this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi marks a number of ‘lasts’ within the F1 community. Renault’s 20-season association with Enstone comes to an end on Sunday as Lotus switches to Mercedes power for 2015. Mercedes’ own partnership with McLaren also ends ahead of the team’s switch to Honda engines, with the first run of the car already taking place at Silverstone last week. Quite whether this will be Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen’s last race for McLaren remains to be seen.

Today’s big news is that Sebastian Vettel has been confirmed as a Ferrari driver for the 2015 season, partnering Kimi Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso will leave after five years at Maranello, apparently bound for McLaren. For both drivers though, this will draw the curtain on their eras with their respective teams.

Forza Jules

Walking into the circuit on Wednesday, the F1 paddock was greeted by a giant sign reading “Tous Avec Jules” in support of Jules Bianchi following his accident at Suzuka in Japan. Following this yesterday evening, we heard the encouraging news that the Frenchman is now back in his native Nice and no longer in an artificial coma.

There is still a long road ahead for Bianchi, so we continue to send all of our support and prayers to him and his family. As intense as the championship battle may be, the big news this weekend will be Jules – it’s the note we wanted the 2014 season to end on.

Tous avec toi, Jules.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Yas Marina Circuit
Laps: 55
Corners: 21
Lap Record: Sebsatian Vettel 1:40.279 (2009)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:39.957
2013 Fastest Lap: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:43.434
DRS Zones: T7 to T8; T10 to T11

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 4a ET 11/21
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 8a ET 11/21
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5a ET 11/22
Qualifying: NBCSN 8a ET 11/22
Race: NBCSN 7a ET 11/23

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top

SuperMotocross Rankings season opener
Align Media

As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.

Dylan Ferrandis finished on the podium in his first race back after experience a concussion in Supercross Round 4 at Houston. – Align Media

It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.

Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.

Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.

MORE: Jett Lawrence wastes no time, wins first 450 race

After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.

Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.

Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.

450 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Jett Lawrence (26) 93.33 NA
2. Chase Sexton (1) 92.36 1 -1
3. Dylan Ferrandis (19) 89.00 NA
4. Adam Cianciarulo (8) 82.89 5 1
5. Aaron Plessinger (5) 81.20 9 4
6. Justin Hill (9)
Not racing MX
79.75 8 2
7. Ken Roczen (4)
injured | Not racing MX
79.13 3 -4
8. Jose Butron (30) 75.67 NA
9. Lorenzo Locurcio (29) 75.00 NA
10. Eli Tomac (2)
74.50 2 -8
11. Dean Wilson (10)
Not racing MX
72.88 7 -4
12. Cooper Webb (3) 71.17 6 -6
13. Jerry Robin (32) 70.33 NA
14. Justin Barcia (6)
70.00 4 -10
15. Kyle Chisholm (15) 65.36 11 -4
16. Dante Oliveira (36) 65.00 NA
17. Shane McElrath (11)
Not racing MX
63.63 12 -5
18. Ryan Surratt (38) 63.33 NA
19. Josh Hill (13)
Not racing MX
62.38 13 -6
20. Justin Starling (20)
Not racing MX
62.13 19 -1

Motocross 450 Points

A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.

Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.

Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.

Motocross 250 Points

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan scored a second-place finish in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.

Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.

250 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Hunter Lawrence (1) 89.56 2 1
2. Justin Cooper (42) 84.67 NA
3. RJ Hampshire (3) 83.67 3 0
3. Haiden Deegan (4) 83.67 8 5
5. Jo Shimoda (16) 82.33 7 2
6. Guillem Farres (46) 79.33 NA
7. Levi Kitchen (6) 79.11 5 -2
8. Max Anstie (5) 77.83 12 4
9. Max Vohland (8) 77.50 14 5
10. Enzo Lopes (10) 76.00 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg (13) 74.25 16 5
12. Carson Mumford (19) 71.22 17 5
13. Jordon Smith (7) 70.56 9 -4
14. Ryder DiFrancesco (48) 70.33 NA
15. Chris Blose (12) 67.00 13 -2
16. Chance Hymas (27) 66.00 19 3
17. Tom Vialle (9) 65.78 18 1
18. Jett Reynolds (55) 63.33 NA
19. Michael Mosiman (28) 62.33 20 1
20. Garrett Marchbanks (64) 59.00 NA

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Eli Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage