F1 showed its best and worst in 2014

Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:40pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One entered a brave new world in 2014 but sometimes the glamour sport seemed more cruel than cool, and more determined to alienate than attract new fans.

There was plenty to savor, of course, with dominant Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg taking their wheel-to-wheel duel down to the wire in one of the great rivalries of recent years.

Amid all the flare-ups and frostiness, culminating in the 'Duel in the Desert' showdown also known as 'Abu Double', Formula One presented a compelling storyline at the start of a new V6 turbo hybrid era.

When Hamilton took his 11th win of the campaign, he became the first 'Silver Arrows' driver to take the title since Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955 and the first Briton to become a multiple champion since Jackie Stewart in 1971.

If that recalled glories of old, with Hamilton in tears as he celebrated his second crown, the 'cruel sport' also revived darker memories.

Only months after marking the 20th anniversary of Brazilian Ayrton Senna's death at Imola in 1994, Formula One endured its worst moment since that last driver fatality.

Jules Bianchi, racing for the struggling Marussia team, skidded off at a wet Japanese Grand Prix in October and slammed into a recovery tractor. The Frenchman suffered severe brain injuries and remains critical.

The tragedy hung over the next race in Sochi, the first ever held in Russia, and the remainder of a season that had started with Michael Schumacher fighting for his life after a skiing accident.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg (R) of Germany offers a hand to Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain before a news conference at the Yas Marina circuit before the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in this November 20, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/Files