Hamilton clinches second F1 world title by winning Abu Dhabi GP

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ABU DHABI – Lewis Hamilton has been crowned the 2014 Formula 1 world champion in Abu Dhabi today after winning at Yas Marina Circuit, with title rival Nico Rosberg suffering a partial engine failure that left him languishing down in 13th place.

After passing Rosberg for the lead at the start, Hamilton enjoyed an advantage of a few seconds over his teammate until after the first round of pit stops when Rosberg’s pace plummeted, with the team quickly diagnosing an ERS failure on his Mercedes car.

As a result, he was unable to put up any kind of challenge to Hamilton, who crossed the line 2.5 seconds ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa to clinch his second Formula 1 world championship following his success in 2008.

Off the line, Hamilton made a perfect start to storm past Rosberg into the first corner and take the lead of the race, leaving his teammate watching his mirrors for the advances of Williams’ Felipe Massa in third place. Valtteri Bottas made a poor start to drop down the order. Contact with Adrian Sutil saw Kevin Magnussen fall outside of the top ten, whilst the Red Bull duo, starting from the pit lane, began to plot their path towards the points.

Hamilton soon began to put the hammer down, eking out a gap to Rosberg and moving outside of DRS range. Further back, the two Ferraris fought for position, but Fernando Alonso dived into the pits just a few corners after passing Kimi Raikkonen, sparking the first round of pit stops. Raikkonen dived in one lap later after losing a position to Daniil Kvyat, but could not pass the Russian in the pits.

The Mercedes and Williams drivers in the top four opted to wait a few laps longer before stopping, with Hamilton and Bottas the first of the quartet to take on fresh tires. Rosberg was told to “push like hell” on his extra lap out on track, but emerged from the pit lane after stopping behind his teammate once again. Two laps later, Massa pitted from the lead, releasing Hamilton at the front with a 2.5 second lead over Rosberg.

Having started on the prime tire in the pit lane, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo moved up into the top ten when the option runners pitted, but soon dropped down again when they made their first pit stop. Ricciardo, running fourth before stopping, was told not to embroil himself in a fight with the chasing Bottas, who duly passed the Red Bull driver to make up for his poor start.

Rosberg was told to manage the gap to Hamilton, with his engineers planning to run him longer than the Briton. However, a mistake on lap 23 saw him lose a huge amount of time to his teammate, falling to over seven seconds behind. He soon reported that he was “losing engine power”, with Mercedes saying that there had been an ERS failure on the W05. Within a couple of laps, Massa had eased past Rosberg in the Williams – his title bid was falling to pieces.

Massa, on the other hand, started to show signs of being a candidate to win the race when Hamilton also began to lose a great deal of time. Mercedes brought the Briton into the pits for another set of prime tires, with the Briton emerging behind Rosberg on track. However, Hamilton had no problem at all passing his title rival, who asked his team to simply get him to the flag “as safely as possible”, falling to fourth behind Bottas just one lap later.

With his car still ailing, Rosberg asked the team if he could still finish in a high enough position to win the title if Hamilton were to retire, but his engineer was skeptical. After pitting, the German sat sixth before falling behind Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Butotn, putting up very little resistance to their advances.

At the front, Massa continued to lead, going deep into the race before making his second pit stop, eventually coming in on lap 44. The longer second stint allowed the Brazilian to move onto the super-soft tire in a bid to catch Hamilton, trailing by 11 seconds upon exiting the pit lane.

Following Massa’s example, both Red Bull drivers waited until late in the day before making their final pit stops, fitting option tires for a last-ditch blitz towards the end of the race. Lying fourth, the Australian driver had more than made up for his exclusion from qualifying on Saturday night.

Massa began to close up on Hamilton at the front in the dying stages of the race, but could not get close enough. This day belonged to the Briton, who crossed the line after 55 laps at Yas Marina to claim his 11th win of the season and, more importantly, his second Formula 1 world championship.

Despite a spirited effort, Massa could not quite catch Hamilton, but did secure his best finish in two years in second place. Completing the podium for Williams was Valtteri Bottas, giving the team its best result of the year at the double points round.

Daniel Ricciardo finished an excellent fourth for Red Bull with Jenson Button fifth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Sergio Perez gave Force India a double points finish to the season in seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Rosberg came home in a lowly 14th, ignoring the call to retire with a few laps to go, and finishes a full 67 points behind Hamilton in the final standings. Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe sent his commiserations to the German over the radio, saying that he would come back stronger in 2015, but he will know that this was a big chance missed.

With this title win though, Hamilton becomes the first multiple British world champion since Sir Jackie Stewart in 1973, firmly taking his place among the legends of the sport with more than one championship.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”