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GP Week : Issue 215
21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: If you're enough of an F1 fan to be reading this, the chances are that over the next few weeks you'll be confronted with more than a few lists of the good and the bad, not to mention the quick and the slow, in expert analyses of the season now gone. So let me jump in here before the established pundits get a chance and offer you my own assessment of who covered themselves with racing glory in 2014 (and of those who didn't). Drivers of the Year 1. Lewis Hamilton. Yes, he's unquestionably the most annoying world champion ever with his hair- fluffing and God-bothering, not to mention the tacky tattoos, but you can forgive all that when this bloke steps into his Benz. In terms of always-on commitment and speed when it matters, he's the tops. 2. Daniel Ricciardo. Daring Dan's fearless overtaking lightens up the dullest GP. Smart, loveable and gifted with great gnashers just like his favourite animal, the honey badger (find the BBC clip on YouTube, you'll love it), he has owned his team-mate so effectively that SebVett has fled to Ferrari for 2015. 3. Fernando Alonso. No signs of slowing down in his 14th season of F1, the Spaniard's forté has always has been that rare ability to extract speed out of a car that it clearly doesn't have. Sadly, he's also in the running for Chump of the Year for his idiotic decision to quit Ferrari before securing a seat elsewhere. Race of the Year GP of Bahrain. On a circuit which has traditionally produced tediously processional races, the combination of short-lived Pirellis and Mercedes' closely-matched driver pairing changed all that this year. Your correspondent thought he'd never see anything to match the finesse of Rindt v Stewart at Silverstone in 1969, but for sheer street-fighting spectacle it's going to be difficult to top Hamilton v Rosberg in the desert. Rosberg complained of his opponent's low blows, but not too loudly (see a possible reason why below). Enigma of the Year Nico Rosberg. The grace with which he accepted defeat at Abu Dhabi in post-race interview provided an eloquent contrast with his team- mate's tongue-tied hesitance to say anything constructive. Without prompting, and expressing himself in perfect English, Nico rejoiced in his own superior tally of pole positions but admitted that when it came to ultimate performance, he had come up short too many times. Coming so soon after the end of the deciding race, this was classy stuff – even though he had surely been resigned to losing out on the title since the previous round. Less praiseworthy, though, was that incident in qualifying at Monaco when he stuffed Lewis's final attempt at pole by shooting down an escape road and red-flagging the session. The doubts about the German's sportsmanship were hardened on lap two at Spa when he clipped the other chap's car from behind and crippled it. Deliberate or not, the incident triggered the Political Row of the Year, while at the same time unbalancing Mercedes' almost painful determination not to favour either driver. To be continued ... Dud of the Year Ferrari. Not only was this the Scuderia's worst showing in 21 years (the last time it ended a season without a win was 1993) but it departed Abu Dhabi without the best driver (Alonso) that it has had since Michael Schumacher. There are signs, too, of the team collapsing into the sort of panic which used to be the hallmark of Ferrari in the bad old days before Mr Ferrari was forced to accept that his team's fortunes were best served by hiring a balance of non-Italians to provide the engineering and management skills required to win. Some of the blame can be attributed to new team boss Marco Mattiacci, who has hardly impressed since arriving in June and must take responsibility for triggering Alonso's departure with a year still to go on his contract. There are unhappy signals that Ferrari, not for the first time, is about to fall under the control of clueless part-time suits appointed this time by the powerful Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne, who has already disposed of long-time President Luca Montezemolo and is on the verge of firing Mattiacci. Ferrari's hopes for 2015 rest on its slim chances of finding a competent engineering leader, a position which has already been turned down by past miracle- worker Ross Brawn. What the hell was Sebastian Vettel thinking when he allowed himself to be sucked into this mess? Embarrassment of the Year One is tempted here to nominate the Williams team, which attracted huge international attention by nominating Suzie Wolff, a competent person of the female persuasion, as a test driver, and then providing her with clockwork which failed after two laps in her first public appearance at Silverstone. However, the Wolff/Williams incident can be dismissed as sheer bad luck, which is not the case with the F1 Crisis that currently assails the sport. Just how many insolvencies will it take, or pleas from one-time big-name teams that they are headed in the same direction, before someone steps in to stop the rot and put an end to the appalling tempest of negative publicity for F1? It is clearly impractical to expect the competing teams to set aside their competitive instincts. Nor can we expect Bernie Ecclestone, whose powers are limited by his subservience to the private equity monsters to whom he sold the sport, to provide any serious answers. The solution, if there is to be one, can only come from the FIA and its President, Jean Todt, to step in and knock heads together. Todt is therefore my nomination for Embarrassment of the Year. He alone has the power to heal divisions and to make the hard decisions required to make F1 affordable by more than three or four established behemoths. Unless he makes a serious effort to shrug off our Embarrassment title, it is entirely possible that this will be the last time I get a chance to nominate my Champs and Chumps of F1 ... champs and chumps of 2014 OPINION OPINION MIKE DOODSON "What the hell was Sebastian Vettel thinking when he allowed himself to be sucked into this mess?"