After 6 races, F1 paid its visit to Canada, a track known for exciting races every season. Rosberg took pole position and the race, as it progressed looked like the one with the usual Mercedes battle for victory. This changed though, as both faced power issues ensuring a new winner this time: Daniel Ricciardo, who took his maiden victory of his career and became the first non-Mercedes race winner. Massa and Perez collided heavily ruining each other’s chances of a good result.
F1 then returned to Austria at the Red Bull Ring after its 10 year absence from the calendar. Unlike the previous 7 occasions, the pole went to Williams’s driver Felipe Massa-his first pole since Brazil, 2008.
Who knew that he’ll remain the only non-Mercedes driver on pole for the entire 2014 season. The race wasn’t too good for him though, having had a slow start. Rosberg won the race while his team mate finished second as both of them were involved in yet another epic duel over the race. Bottas was third, awarding Williams their first podium since the race victory in 2012, while the man on pole Felipe Massa finished fourth.
After 8 races, it was clear that the fight for championship was set to be extremely close between the two Mercedes drivers and that there will be no other driver who was going to challenge the two for the Championship. Mercedes had allowed them to race freely and the heavy intense battle between the two was a treat to watch for the racing fans. After Austria, even the ever so challenging Fernando Alonso said,’ it’s impossible to beat Mercedes in 2014′.
Next Stop: Great Britain. At this point Nico Rosberg was 29 points in the lead from the home boy Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg was again on pole while Hamilton started sixth. Start of the race involved a huge crash involving Kimi and also taking out Felipe Massa. Kimi recorded an impact of 47Gs but walked away with some minor bruises but caused a half an hour period of Red Flag. Rosberg was set to win the race up until lap 29, when his gear box gave in and Lewis went on to win his home race. Bottas finished a career best second.
With Rosberg’s lead cut down to a mere 4 points, Formula One’s new home was Germany. Nico Rosberg was again on pole while his team mate crashed out in Q2 owing to a brake failure resulting in a damaged chassis. Rosberg had a clean start and went on to win his home race much like his team mate two weeks before. Hamilton started with the soft tyres and was able to charge through the field thanks to the roaring beast that the Mercedes W05 was. He finished third behind Bottas who considered ‘beating a Mercedes fair and square’ the biggest achievement of the race for him.
It was a super week for Nico who won his home race, got his contract renewed for Mercedes, married his longtime girlfriend, and celebrated his country winning the football world cup.
For round 11 of the 2014 season, F1 moved to Hungary which provided the most exciting race of the season. It rained heavily 40 minutes before the race leading to a wet track initially which dried rapidly. Rosberg took pole position again and was leading comfortably. He was later stuck behind the safety car while others behind him pitted for slicks. His lead was cut down, while his team mate having started from the pit lane was up to 13th. Safety car came out once again and Nico dropped to fifth behind Hamilton. Hamilton was asked to move over for Nico due to them being on different strategies which he simply refused. Mercedes panicked. While all this was happening, Alonso and Ricciardo were gearing up to take a shot at the victory. Ricciardo overtook Hamilton and Alonso to gain the lead in the last two laps winning the race. He showed the class and skills of a future champion and impressed everyone with his ballsy moves in the last two laps. Alonso was second, Hamilton third and Nico finished fourth.
This race was the start of the rising tension that would develop in the Mercedes garage later in the season. They completely forgot that they needed to allow the drivers to race for their own. Both drivers were angry at the team. They rubbed the salt dirty sick game of team orders into the already deepening wounds in the childhood friendship. After the Webber-Vettel turmoil in Red Bull last year, Mercedes made sure nothing as such developed and quickly apologized.
The eventful Hungarian Grand Prix was followed by the summer break. Rosberg led Hamilton by 11 points going into the summer break. The first half had been a Mercedes dominated half with just two wins and one pole out of the 11, going to a non-Mercedes driver. Both the Mercedes’ drivers were at par with each other. The heroes of last year, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel clearly suffered as his best position until now, was only a mere third. The first half also saw the rise of Daniel Ricciardo, who won two races and proved to everyone that he filled the shoes of Mark Webber pretty well.
After a month long summer break, Formula One’s next stop was Belgium: the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The beautiful 7 km circuit famous for its elevations, high speed corners, varying weather conditions, provided one of the most interesting race over the seasons. This year was no different. Continuing his great run in the qualifying, Nico secured another pole with Hamilton behind in second place. He had a poor start and dropped to third behind Vettel on lap one but also regained second due to the former’s mistake. He was chasing Hamilton on lap 2, when he attempted a rather bold and an unexpected overtaking move around the outside of Les Combes which resulted in Rosberg’s front wing puncturing Hamilton’s left-rear tyre. From the front, he was thrown to the back with a limping car.
This played well for Ricciardo who took the lead on lap 5 and went on to win the race. Rosberg finished second after a late charge on soft tyres and the sheer pace of the Mercedes W05, helped him in his endeavors to make up for his 2nd Lap incident .
What everyone feared would happen, did finally happen this time. The battle for championship turned childhood friends against each other. After this race and this incident, their relationship or the level of trust never remained the same. History had shown that whenever two drivers almost equal in skill and talent were paired up, it led to nothing but fireworks. Nico dubbed it as a racing incident while Hamilton accused him of deliberately colliding. Mercedes were deeply angry with Nico though refused to label it as“deliberate action”. He might not have done it intentionally, but could have avoided it easily. Their relationship turned sour, there was great unrest among the Mercedes team members and clearly what was now a very clean battle for championship, was bound to get dirty.