F1 2014 Driver Review: Lewis Hamilton

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With the F1 season now over, MotorSportsTalk takes a look back at a classic year of racing, starting with our driver reviews. Unsurprisingly, we must kick things off with the champion: Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 19
Wins: 11
Podiums (excluding wins): 5
Pole Positions: 7
Fastest Laps: 7
Points: 384
Laps Led: 495
Championship Position: 1st

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

It was perhaps fitting that Lewis Hamilton was the man to start F1’s new era at pre-season testing in Jerez, being the first driver to roll out on track in a 2014-spec car. Now, as a two-time champion of the world, he has firmly established himself as an all-time great of the sport.

From the very beginning, it was clear that Mercedes was the team to beat, and few gave Nico Rosberg much chance in a straight fight with Hamilton for a teammate. However, the big reservation many had – myself included – was whether Lewis would defeat himself; whether his emotions would boil over, pushing too hard to give his more reserved teammate the edge.

Ultimately, it was Nico who boiled over at Spa, allowing Hamilton to get the psychological edge. After their on-track clash, Hamilton won six of the final seven races of the year, scoring a mammoth 193/200 points. It was fitting that he clinched his second world title with a win under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg certainly would have been a worthy champion, but it was Hamilton who was worthier. 11 wins and never finishing off the podium when he saw the checkered flag – this has to go down as one of the most emphatic title wins in F1 history.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Because he found success so early in his Formula One career, managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of World Championship victory as a rookie, then snatch victory from the jaws of defeat a year later, it seemed Lewis Hamilton was always going to be a title contender. But a challenging four years followed from there before he found new life once he moved to Mercedes.

Last year was good, but this year was where we saw “Hamilton 2.0” officially released, unveiled to the public as a clearly finished article. The precocious pace and swagger he showed as a rookie and sophomore was still there, but the determination and fight-back was even better this year. Scoring several wins from second when teammate Nico Rosberg beat him to pole was testament of that, with the Bahrain triumph standing as my personal highlight of the year.

The clear 11-5 win gap to Rosberg spoke volumes, as did Hamilton’s continual graciousness and humility he showcased throughout the year. If the Englishman could have been viewed a bit as “entitled” in 2008, he made sure to savor every second of his second title run – and one that was thoroughly deserved.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”