2014 Brazilian Grand Prix: Race Analysis

High Time For A High Five

His fifth win of the 2014 campaign was undoubtedly overdue, yet Nico Rosberg has finally nabbed another 25 points, just in the nick of time. A comfortable cruise, it most certainly was not, as the German faced sustained pressure from his title rival Lewis Hamilton throughout the duration of the race. Other than the notoriously unique Monte-Carlo, this is the first win of 2014, in which Nico has beaten Lewis in a straight fight. Now, this ever enthralling title dice rolls forward to Abu Dhabi and with 17 points splitting the Mercedes duo, the tension is palpable.

Too Much Hammer Time

“Hammer Time” has become almost as famous as “Multi-21” over the course of this season. The call given to Lewis Hamilton when the time comes to put the proverbial pedal to the metal. However, in Brazil, “Hammer Time” struck a blow in the wrong direction.
When Nico Rosberg made his second of three pit-stops, Lewis began to push. Typically, the phase will take place over the course of a single lap, (the in-lap), meaning that keeping tyre temperatures at stable levels does not usually add an additional factor to the equation. It was the vulnerability of the Pirelli tyres on the sweltering Brazilian track, coupled with a double dose of “Hammer Time” over the course of two laps that forced Hamilton into a spin at Turn 4. His rear tyres had overheated during the first lap, meaning that when he arrived at the corner, the rear axle locked and he became a passenger on old tyres which were incapable of providing sufficient grip to hold the slide. Ultimately, the seven seconds lost in this incident cost Lewis the chance of jumping Nico at the stop. Judging by the immense pace he demonstrated on the lap prior to the spin, setting a 1:14.303, (albeit over-driving) it is fair to assume that Lewis would have had the pace to maintain a lead.
However, take nothing away from Nico Rosberg, who drove not only an immense race, but an immense weekend. The German was hugely impressive, holding off Hamilton for the entire final stint and showing a determination to win. It was the drive of a champion – he may not have been the fastest man come Sunday, but he was cool, calm and collected and will now take great momentum to Abu Dhabi. While an identical result will not be enough to guide him to the title, all he can do is win the race and hope that it is not Hamilton who cruises home directly behind him as a buoyant runner-up.

Divorce Confirmed?

Two Ferrari’s fighting for track position; on a split strategy; Fernando Alonso as the aggressor – team orders have historically shaped these scenarios. However, on this occasion, Alonso was not supplied with a free pass, but had to instead take the position from his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Is this the most definitive sign yet that the Spaniard is off to pastures new?
The short answer is, difficult to tell. All roads lead away from Maranello and this is merely another piece of evidence to suggest that he is heading for the exit door. The fact that Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button were potentially within reach for Fernando had he not been entangled in a fight for supremacy against Kimi, did undoubtedly seem strange.
However, I am most certainly not complaining. The fight between the two champions was exceptionally entertaining, as Raikkonen defended valiantly from his teammates advances. While he failed to prevent the eventual overtake, it was great to see the Finn going toe-to-toe with the sport’s elite drivers once again, in what was a much more promising weekend for him. In terms of race-craft, Kimi Raikkonen has lost none of it, despite his anonymous season.

Un-Costly Mistakes

Mistakes in Formula 1 usually lead to poor results, but for Felipe Massa, a trouble-filled affair ended in jubilation. The Brazilian crowd met their hero on the Interlagos podium once again, as he finished in a comfortable third behind the Mercedes pairing.
Firstly, after a good start, Massa faced a five-second stop and go penalty, (perhaps the best 2014 regulation innovation might I add), for speeding in the pit-lane. Once this was served, he emerged and continued to run in third, yet later faced another pit-stop delay when he drove in McLaren’s pit-box, as the mechanics awaited Jenson Button. Upon being waved through by the men waiting to service the chrome liveried car, Massa trundled into the right box, but again, emerged with his position in tact.
Felipe Massa is certainly not the first, and will not be the last driver to head for the wrong pit-box. Jenson Button famously committed a similar embarrassment at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2011. Here, Button managed to find the Red Bull crew. Massa’s mistake is far more excusable than the former, as at least both sets of mechanics were wearing similar overalls, and Williams had changed their pit-lane position to accommodate the absence of Marussia and Caterham and provide easy access for Sir Frank Williams from the garage to the Williams hospitality suite.
Ultimately, Massa’s Mr.Meaner provided some light-hearted entertainment during the race and failed to alter the outcome – I doubt anyone is about to loose sleep over *dare I say it* a missed opportunity, (viewers of Sky Sports F1’s post qualifying analysis will understand that particular reference.)

Conclusions

Driver of the Day
Jenson Button
In what could prove to have been the Englishman’s penultimate outing, he certainly impressed. The overtake on Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages was clinical and critical to maintaining his advantage over Sebastian Vettel in the fight for P4. Once again putting Kevin Magnussen in his shadow, it was a mighty drive and a mighty pitch to the powers-that-be.

Race Result
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3 Felipe Massa Williams
4 Jenson Button McLaren
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
15 Sergio Perez Force India
16 Adrian Sutil Sauber
R Romain Grosjean Lotus
R Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull  

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