With a fantastic start and a reversal of fortunes, Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit to capture his second F1 World Championship over teammate Nico Rosberg, whose Mercedes W05 suffered from some of the mechanical and electrical reliability problems that plagued Hamilton throughout the 2014 Formula One season.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 23, 2014
The 29-year-old becomes only the fourth Briton to win more than one world title, joining Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart. Rosberg’s title challenge was hit by a failure of the ERS (energy recovery store) and from that moment he only went backwards. Hamilton clinched his 11th victory of the season while Rosberg crossed the line in 14th, a full lap adrift.
This article titled “Lewis Hamilton’s return to title-winning form shows he has come of age” was written by Paul Weaver in Abu Dhabi, for The Guardian on Tuesday 18th November 2014 06.08 America/New_York
Following the fortunes of Lewis Hamilton this season has been like watching Peter Pan grow up, for in 2014 Formula One’s most dazzling driver has come of age and become a consummate competitor.
He goes to Abu Dhabi this week on the brink of becoming a multiple world champion and achieving a status that looked impossible for a driver who was close to meltdown just three years ago.
His emotional immaturity was perhaps the natural consequence of growing up under the stern control of first his father, Anthony Hamilton, and then Ron Dennis, the autocratic boss of McLaren, who might have been born to play Malvolio.
That uncertainty, that impulsiveness of nature, is still there in part. But he does have more autonomy now, both personally and professionally, and the confidence of the self-governed has been reflected in the most successful season of his career: he has won 10 races and leads his great rival Nico Rosberg (who has won five times) by 17 points as he goes into the final race.
If he succeeds in winning his second championship on Sunday, by finishing first or second, even his many detractors will have to usher him into the hallowed grid of the grand prix greats. If he fails – which could happen through the larceny of the double points that will be awarded at the Yas Marina circuit – those same doubters are likely to cite this as the latest example of his inability to make the most of a God-given talent.
It has long been the case that those who recognise Hamilton as one of the most naturally-gifted drivers the sport has seen have been matched by those who, for whatever reason, always view him with a certain churlishness. He has never been given the credit that was due for his breathtaking performances in his rookie season of 2007, when he finished on the podium in his first nine races, had the audacity to win in Montreal and would have carried off the championship but for some poor fortune in the final race.
Hamilton was just as fast as – and sometimes faster than – his double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso and led the championship for much of the year, the youngest driver to do so. A bewildered Alonso quit the team at the end of the season.
He did win his first and only title the following year, albeit with an overtake on the final corner of the last lap. At 23 he was the youngest F1 champion in history. But while people who insist there should have been more titles since then are right, those who casually blame him for this are being a little unfair.
In 2009, 2010 and 2012 Hamilton drove well and was often the class of the field, but his McLaren car was not up to the job, and nor was the Mercedes he drove last year. Only in 2011, when he imploded with problems on and off the track, was the task clearly beyond him.
In 2009 he was fifth in the championship in a poor car and the season could not have got off to a worse start in Australia. He was 18th on the grid after McLaren incurred a penalty for changing his gearbox during qualifying. He managed to come third but was then disqualified for giving stewards “misleading evidence”.
He described it as the worst week of his life and even talked about walking away from F1. But, driving an uncompetitive car, there were still four poles and victories at the Hungaroring and Singapore.
In 2010 successive wins in Turkey and Canada prompted speculation about a second title. There was also a fine wet win at Spa. But this was the year that marked the start of the dominance of Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel and he had to make do with fourth.
Only the ghoulish would take pleasure from dwelling on his 2011 season. Again the car wasn’t up to the challenge but on this occasion nor was the driver. He riled Red Bull when he described them as “just a drinks company”. He clashed with stewards at Monaco and said he felt victimised. “Maybe it’s because I’m black – that’s what Ali G says,” he commented. Felipe Massa, with whom he had a number of run-ins, said Hamilton was “incapable of using his brain”, and that year he was probably right.
The British driver still produced three wins, and his victories in China and Germany were of the highest quality. But his personal life was in disarray and he said that mentally he had to get back to being in “a good place”.
It was in 2012 that we first saw the signs of a new maturity. He was, arguably, in the best form of his life and would have won a well-deserved title but for his unreliable mode of transport. Again, McLaren failed him but he had the strength and good judgment to leave the team for Mercedes at the end of the season when most people thought it was a crazy move.
Mercedes were not ready for world championships last year. This year, though, they were and Hamilton has been superb, with four successive wins early in the season and then five on the spin before the last race in Brazil.
Rosberg, his calculating and extremely diligent opposite, has done well to cling on to his slipstream. But Hamilton deserves the 2014 championship, especially when you consider what has happened to him since he won six years ago.
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