F1 2014 Season Review: MotorSportsTalk’s Driver Rankings

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As part of MotorSportsTalk review of the 2014 Formula 1 season, we’ve compiled a complete ranking of the drivers that raced this year, following on from our mid-season review after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Who has moved up and who has dropped in the second half of the year?

We have decided to omit both Will Stevens and Andre Lotterer from the final rankings given that they only took part in one race each (and, in Lotterer’s case, one lap).

Without further ado, here are the driver rankings for 2014 – let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

We must start with the champion. Hamilton called his title win in Abu Dhabi “the greatest day of my life”, and rightly so. Whereas some may have doubted whether he was truly the best driver in 2008, this year, there was no question about it. 11 wins and never finishing off the podium when he saw the flag, Lewis was the undisputed king of F1 in 2014.

Season Highlight: Fighting back from P4 to win the Italian Grand Prix at Monza – an important psychological victory.

2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull

Few could have predicted Daniel Ricciardo’s incredible first season with Red Bull that saw him claim three opportunistic wins at Mercedes’ expense. The affable Australian brought a sense of fun to the paddock once again in 2014, leading Red Bull’s charge and outclassing Sebastian Vettel across the course of the year.

Season Highlight: Dominating the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa after Hamilton and Rosberg clashed.

3. Valtteri Bottas Williams

After a difficult rookie year, his sophomore season brought Valtteri Bottas far better things. Six podium finishes and running the Mercedes drivers close on a number of occasions, the flying Finn led Williams’ revival in 2014, and has marked himself as a possible future world champion.

Season Highlight: Finishing second at the British Grand Prix after dropping out in Q1.

4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes

Given that he ran Hamilton close for the title, it may seem harsh to rank Nico Rosberg down in fourth place. He did unquestionably enjoy his best season in F1 to date, but after cracking under pressure at Spa, Hamilton was allowed back into the title race. A fighter to the end, his demise in Abu Dhabi was a sad end to the title race, but Rosberg will be back for more in 2015.

Season Highlight: Soaking up Hamilton’s pressure to win the Brazilian Grand Prix.

5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari

Yet again, Fernando Alonso spent his season dragging the sub-standard Ferrari car up the grid, but could only score two podium finishes in 2014. It proved to be enough to force him out of Maranello for next season. The Spaniard did all he could this year under difficult circumstances, proving once again that he is one of the most naturally talented drivers in the sport.

Season Highlight: Finishing second at the Hungarian GP, losing the lead with three laps to go.

6. Felipe Massa Williams

After joining Williams at the beginning of the season, Felipe Massa rediscovered his former self in 2014. Away from the pressure of Ferrari, Massa was unlucky not to match Bottas in the final standings due to a number of incidents, but did manage to pick up three podium finishes and one pole position across the course of the season. If Williams can make another step forwards for 2015, expect Massa to flourish again.

Season Highlight: Finishing 2.5 seconds shy of a double points race win in Abu Dhabi.

7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull

How the mighty have fallen. Sebastian Vettel’s title defence in 2014 was, speaking generously, tame, as he failed to win a single race. In fact, he finished on the podium just four times, leading only one lap across the course of the year. Seb struggled with the new Red Bull RB10 car, and will be hoping for better with Ferrari next year.

Season Highlight: Finishing second in Singapore ahead of Ricciardo.

8. Jenson Button McLaren

A difficult year for Jenson Button following the death of his father in the off-season, but the Briton rallied to finish eighth in the final standings for McLaren. His podium finish in Australia was the obvious highlight, yet his end-of-year flourish with four top five finishes in the final four races gave McLaren quite a dilemma for its driver line-up for next season. Your move, Ron.

Season Highlight: Coming so close to an emotional podium finish at the British GP as Silverstone turned Pink for Papa.

9. Jules Bianchi Marussia

Under difficult circumstances, Jules Bianchi kept Marussia’s flag flying high through the first half of the year, claiming an incredible ninth-place finish in Monaco – the first ever points in F1 for both the driver and the team. Further excellent displays at Silverstone and Spa followed, reaching Q2, but his racing season ended when he suffered severe head injuries at Suzuka. The F1 community continues to send its love and support to Bianchi and his family – #ForzaJules

Season Highlight: Points at Monaco – a remarkable achievement.

10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India

After a sensational start to the year, Hulkenberg’s form tailed off towards the end of the season, finishing in the points just five times after the summer break. Nevertheless, he led Force India’s charge to its best-ever season in F1, picking up 96 points. That long-awaited podium still eludes the German, though.

Season Highlight: P6 in Abu Dhabi with a quietly confident performance.

11. Sergio Perez Force India

Much like his teammate, Perez had a solid if unspectacular year, but he did manage to claim just the second podium for Force India since it entered the sport in 2008. That result in Bahrain was the peak for Perez, though, with a last-lap crash in Canada costing him a possible podium, although a solid final race in Abu Dhabi saw him sneak into the top ten of the final standings.

Season Highlight: Finishing third in Bahrain behind the Mercedes duo.

12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren

K-Mag’s season started so brightly in Australia with a second place finish, but that would be the pinnacle of the Dane’s rookie season. He would finish in the top five on just one more occasion, failing to match Button in the sister McLaren, but he is yet to show what he can truly do in F1 thanks to the difficult MP4-29 car that made 2014 a baptism of fire for Magnussen.

Season Highlight: P2 in Australia after Ricciardo’s disqualification.

13. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

In a year that was meant to see Raikkonen and Alonso come to blows, the intra-team battle at Ferrari quickly fizzled out. Kimi struggled to get to grips with the new F14 T car, but did have a couple of stand-out moments in Monaco, where he should have finished third, and Spa, where he came home fourth. He improved as the season went on, but it was still a disappointing return to Ferrari for Raikkonen.

Season Highlight: Fourth at Spa, a result that proved the Finn still has some of his old spark.

14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso

JEV led Toro Rosso’s charge in 2014, scoring almost triple the points of teammate Daniil Kvyat. However, it wasn’t enough to get him the promotion to Red Bull that went to the Russian, nor will he remain at Faenza for 2015. In Hungary, he ran up in second place for a while before dropping back, and was impressive en route to sixth in Singapore. F1’s loss could be IndyCar or WEC’s gain next year.

Season Highlight: Charging to sixth in Singapore with a superb final stint.

15. Romain Grosjean Lotus

In the face of adversity at Lotus, Romain Grosjean proved that he had not lost any of the maturity that he showed towards the end of 2013, even if his on-track results left much to be desired. In Spain and Monaco, he ran well to finish in the points, and although no more top ten finishes followed, the Frenchman firmly proved that he is team leader at Lotus with some impressive outings this year.

Season Highlight: Qualifying fifth in Spain before finishing eighth in the race.

16. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso

Kvyat’s debut season was good, but not great. His qualifying performances were highly impressive, starting fifth in Russia and Abu Dhabi, but a highest finish of ninth doesn’t scream quality. Nevertheless, it was enough to get a promotion to Red Bull for 2015, but he will need to quickly prove his worth after failing to turn too many heads this year.

Season Highlight: Qualifying an excellent fifth on home soil in Russia.

17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber

While Valtteri Bottas flourished in his sophomore year, Esteban Gutierrez’s campaign proved to be the ‘difficult second album’ for F1 drivers. The Sauber C33 gave him little hope of living up to the credentials he built up in his junior years, but his best chance for points in Monaco was lost due to a silly error. He’s set to take up a reserve role for 2015, so don’t go thinking his F1 career is over just yet.

Season Highlight: Hungary when points were possible before his car stopped.

18. Adrian Sutil Sauber

Like Gutierrez, Sutil’s efforts were hampered by the C33 car in 2014, allowing the German to more than live up to his billing as the most average driver on the grid. He now enters the off-season in a legal wrangling with Sauber given that he does have a contract for 2015, but this could prove to have been an underwhelming end to Adrian Sutil’s F1 career.

Season Highlight: Coming close to points in Hungary, finishing 11th.

19. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

2014 saw Pastor Maldonado enjoy his most anonymous season to date, scoring just two points at the United States Grand Prix and, yet again, getting more recognition for his off-track excursions than anything else. There’s even a website called hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com.

Season Highlight: Two points in Austin for ninth place.

20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham

As debut seasons go, Marcus Ericsson’s was pretty unique in the modern F1 we know as he failed to reach the end of the year thanks to his team’s demise. Caterham’s financial struggles appeared to mark the end of the Swede’s F1 hopes, but he landed on his feet, securing a seat at Sauber for 2015. He really came alive in the second half of the year, suggesting there is more to come from the Swede.

Season Highlight: 15th in Singapore, beating Bianchi at the end.

21. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham

Like Ericsson, Kobayashi stood little chance this year due to the financial and managerial mess being created at Caterham, but he’ll undoubtedly be regretting his departure from a works Ferrari drive in the WEC. A sad end to an F1 career that appeared to hold far more than his solitary podium finish.

Season Highlight: 13th in Malaysia after a gutsy drive.

22. Max Chilton Marussia

After a good start to the year, Chilton’s season faded towards the end before Marussia’s withdrawal. Again, he stood little chance, but the Briton did very little to prove he is worthy of a place on the grid. Expect a switch to WEC or DTM for 2015.

Season Highlight: 13th in Bahrain.

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area. The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean, who finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full season, said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps another his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”