By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. For Lewis Hamilton, 2014 has proven to be a pivotal year. Bringing home his second F1 World Driving Championship, the 29-year-old British racer now has 33 wins in 148 race starts, with 38 pole positions. A precocious talent from an early age, Hamilton approached McLaren team principle Ron Dennis at the age of ten suggesting he not only wanted to race for McLaren one day, but that he would. Hamilton was signed to McLaren and Mercedes-Benz Young Driver Support Program, and the rest is contemporary racing history.
Readers of this column know I am not a fan of the current state of F1. The constant thrum of money and politics, as orchestrated by Bernie Ecclestone, is almost too tedious for words. F1 has gotten so far removed from what it once was and what it should be, that it's almost incomprehensible to contemplate. But putting all of that aside, Hamilton's accomplishments cannot be ignored, because he simply did a superb job this year.
In this age of computer programs and the fact that these modern F1 cars can be programmed to lap any racing circuit in the world without a driver, it's the human element that remains compelling in racing. Hamilton's season-long duel with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg rescued F1 from becoming totally consumed by the Greed Circus persona that Ecclestone fancies as being somehow attractive. The fact that Hamilton and his mates on the F1 grid still have to actually drive the cars, even though everything is being exhaustively overanalyzed by the millisecond prevents the whole thing from becoming an exercise in futuristic robotics.
As I said it's the human element that rings true here with Hamilton's second F1 World Driving Championship. He pushed and struggled with Rosberg to the end, which made his triumph that much sweeter, and that much more interesting to watch.
I'm afraid that F1 will continue devolving before our eyes, succumbing to its aimless pursuit of profits from countries and fiefdoms willing to be duped to be part of the circus, but as long as there are real drivers pushing real human limits in pursuit of the top rung of the sport, it will remain compelling at least on that level. Congratulations to Lewis and his entire Mercedes F1 team.
Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD
(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Silverstone, England, July 14, 1973. Peter Revson (No. 8 McLaren-Ford) on his way to his first F1 win in the John Player British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The race was marred by a massive first lap crash which took out almost half the field. Watch a video here and here.
Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out www.fordimages.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD