F1 serves up usual drama

F1 serves up usual drama

F1 serves up usual drama

Champion Lewis Hamilton

Chaos, controversies, court cases, crises, disputes, fall-outs and financial oblivion – just another regular season of Formula One then.

For those bored of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s domination of the sport over the previous four years, there was at least early cause for celebration.

Vettel and Red Bull suffered repeated technical setbacks with the new power unit, limiting the German’s time on track during pre-season testing.

Vettel was equally unimpressed by how little noise the new engines made compared to the old ones, with Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker saying he would be looking through his contracts with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to see if he could sue for lack of entertainment.

The decibels debate soon cooled, and Ecclestone soon had far bigger fish to fry in protecting his own position as the figurehead of the sport.

F1 serves up usual drama

Bernie Ecclestone

He had been charged by the Munich district court with bribery, and the 84-year-old went on trial at the end of April knowing if he were to be found guilty he faced the possibility of 10 years in prison.

To allow Ecclestone the time to continue to run F1 on a daily basis, it was agreed the court would only be in session for one or two days per week.

By early August, though, Ecclestone had had enough, opting to take an escape route provided by Bavarian state law allowing a defendant to end his trial by making a payment to a non-profit making organisation, or the treasury.

The cost of freedom for Ecclestone was a staggering 100million US dollars (£60million at the time), later declaring himself “a bit of an idiot” for paying.

A later summation by the judge suggested in all likelihood Ecclestone would have been declared not guilty if the trial had run its course through to the middle of October.

But then what is £60million to a man of Ecclestone’s means?

Such ’entertainment’ behind the scenes overshadowed the drama on the track, as it very quickly became apparent that the title race would be a two-horse affair between Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes had stolen a march on fellow power unit developers Ferrari and Renault and with no scope for any in-season development on the system, no one had a prayer of gatecrashing their season-long party.

Red Bull at least recovered from their miserable start, with the ever-optimistic Daniel Ricciardo – not Vettel – winning three races over the middle period of the campaign as Mercedes stumbled slightly.

It was, however, going to take a tumble of epic proportions for Mercedes to fall flat on their faces.

It was not to be as the constructors’ championship was clinched with three races to spare, leaving Hamilton and Rosberg to take their own personal feud all the way to the wire in Abu Dhabi.

There has been controversy and the disintegration of a friendship along the line, notably following Rosberg’s ’stunt’ in qualifying on pole for the blue-riband Monaco Grand Prix.

Rosberg’s actions that day, when he drove off the circuit and then reversed back on, so denying Hamilton pole position, were deliberate in the eyes of many expert observers of the sport.

There were tensions throughout the season between the two Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton

His manoeuvre in Belgium, when he opted against pulling out of a collision with Hamilton and caused damage that ultimately led to the Briton retiring late on, further stoked up the rivalry.

The fact their season-long showdown managed to stay the course came as no surprise, albeit overshadowed by another controversial ruling with the advent of double points for the final race.

In the event that decision only had the effect of making Hamilton’s championship win look even more emphatic, as he won the race with Rosberg 14th after an engine problem.

And so the campaign has come to an end, but for one man who started it, his fight of a very different nature goes on.

A thought and a prayer for Jules Bianchi will continue to be offered over the coming weeks and months as he battles for his life following his horrific crash during the Japanese Grand Prix on October 5.

F1 serves up usual drama

Jules Bianchi

Bianchi will be unaware since then that his team, Marussia – with whom he scored their first points in May at Monaco – have gone out of business, with fellow backmarkers Caterham poised to follow suit.

That is due to the financial folly of teams who continue to wallow in self-interest rather than protect the greater good of the sport as a whole.

But then F1 has long been a sport of ego and greed.

There are times though at the end of a year like this when, for the sake of Bianchi and the millions of fans around the world, the sport should take a collective look at itself and realise the damage it is causing to its image before the wounds sustained become too great to bear.

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