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.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.