Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Mike Cloud
A lot has been written and discussed about the cars, their powertrains, the tyres and the aerodynamics effects for this season, but little has been said about one of the other important factors – the drivers. What will motivate them to succeed?
In any team there is motivation to beat one’s team mate, get your first pole position, get your first podium and to win your first Formula 1 race. There is also the desire to win the World Drivers’ Championship before the end of one’s career. So how do the drivers who are likely to contest the championship shape up?
If we start with Ferrari they have 2 former champions. Fernando Alonso (32) and Kimi Raikkonen (34) have a rich wealth of experience to draw upon with a combined age of 66 – old enough to claim a state pension here in the UK. It will not just be rivalry at stake this year, as both will feel they have a point to prove which of them is the better driver. Both must be considered to be in the swansong of their careers, which can only increase the desire for a WDC title. On many occasions Alonso has mentioned 3 titles to be his personal target; the reason being it was what Senna achieved.
Mercedes can also boast a talented line-up with Lewis Hamilton (29) and Nico Rosberg (28). Hamilton must be hopeful this year can give him his 2nd title, which many feel he should already have (read in 2012), while Rosberg will see this year as his best chance yet. There should be no expectations of any quarter to be given by either of them in pursuit of their dream. We have already seen the mind games begin between the two in Bahrain, with Lewis commenting on how hard Nico works.
McLaren have 2 drivers, the experienced Jenson Button (34) and the new kid on the block Kevin Magnussen (21). Button, with 1 title already from the last time the rules drastically changed, must be hoping this year’s car is a serious contender. In truth, this will likely be his final hope of winning another title before he retires – that is if you believe the rumours of his McLaren seat being uncertain in 2015. Will he stamp his authority on Magnussen in support of his goal?
Of course, Red Bull have to be mentioned because this is about motivation to win. They will, inevitably, catch up to the others eventually and when they do Sebastian Vettel (26), will have even more desire to win the title. With the double points for Abu Dhabi, arguably, the possibility is still there to make it 5 in a row. Whether he becomes “reckless” and desperate in his quest remains to be seen. As for Daniel Ricciardo (24), the jury is still very much out on him. Was he brought on board by the team to be a compliant No2, or as a serious contender? Time will tell on this one I’m sure.
Williams would seem to once again be contenders. Pastor ‘Crashtor’ Maldonado must be kicking himself! Felipe Massa (32), has all the motivation you need after being “rear gunner” for so long. Having missed out so narrowly in 2008, there is no doubt he would love to win the title before he retires – something I would be very much in favour of.
Force India have resigned Nico Hulkenberg (26) after his sabbatical at Sauber, as well as Sergio Perez (24), both of whom would love to finally prove their abilities and try to get into a top team at the next reshuffle. Many feel this should have already happened for Hulkenberg, with Perez being unlucky he ended up at McLaren in the worst year of their 50 year existence. The Mexican sometimes gets a bit wild when driving, but if he can control that tendency he may manage to keep up with Hulkenberg.
I, like many, feel much sympathy for Lotus as they are left with only the tea-stirers mate to do everything. Crashtor (28), and Romain Grosjean (27), will pilot for them in 2014. Crashtor, it seems, likes to drive beyond his capabilities and now he has an even faster car in which to do it. I hope they have a good supply of sticky tape for the car because I am not sure they can afford all the extra spare parts. Grosjean I think has matured and will outclass Crashtor throughout 2014.
Sauber sees Adrian Sutil (31) and Estetban Gutiérrez (22) face off. Whether experience will tell here remains to be seen as both had patchy form in 2014, although it should be remembered it was the Mexicans first season in the sport.
Daniil Kvyat (19) enters the sport after an impressive showing in GP3 and European Formula 3. He will partner Jean-Eric Vergne who goes into his third season with the Red Bull ‘B’ team, even though he is only 23. The young Russian was impressive in his free practice displays, but whether he can outscore his teammate remains to be seen.
Max Chilton (22) will once again be joined by Jules Bianchi (24) as the Marussia team look to build on a successful 2013. With a new Ferrari powertrain in their boot, the pair will be hoping it to prove their worth for seats further up the grid. Chilton has some way to go to shake the ‘pay driver’ tag he is currently laced with.
Kamui Kobayashi (27) will try and prove his worth, especially as a Japanese motor manufacturer is back supplying engines (sorry, powertrains) next year – even if opportunities are few and far between further up the grid. He will drive alongside Marcus Ericsson (23) in what Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes has dubbed “the final chance” to prove their potential of the project. What more motivation could either driver need?
So many ifs, buts and maybes that will be answered oh so soon! Who do you think will spring the biggest surprise in 2014? Also, who will be put to shame as they fail to deliver?