THE BLOG

2014 Review: Top 5 Motorsport Highlights

28/12/2014 22:56 GMT | Updated 27/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Anthony Davidson, Porsche, Mark Webber: 2014 gave so many motorsport thrills that it ranks as one of the best years for racing from national level to the peaks of Formula 1. And what made it even better was the success of home grown talent as Brits claimed some of the most prestigious world championships.

So, in no particular order, here are my motorsport top five highlights from 2014.

Lewis Hamilton

The Mercedes were streets ahead of the F1 competition so it was odds-on for a Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg title but that didn't diminish the pressure on either driver. Where Hamilton edged it over his team-mate was in his tenacity; he didn't give up even when Rosberg out-qualified him (11-7) or he made errors (Montreal, Silverstone). The Briton appeared to draw on his experience and a deep inner strength to overcome the setbacks and after the flashpoint at Spa he was formidable and with 11 wins to his name, a worthy champion. Who would bet against title #3 in 2015?

Anthony Davidson is a world champion

For so long it looked like Anthony Davidson would be one of those 'what if' stories from motorsport. After seeing his way into F1 effectively closed, he turned to sportscars where he came close to winning Le Mans with Peugeot. He has still to win that race but this year he got arguably the bigger prize when he won the FIA World Endurance Championship title with Sebastien Buemi for Toyota. After taking the opening round at Silverstone, the pair were consistent throughout the season, finishing on the podium in all but one of the eight rounds and winning four. A more deserving champion would be hard to find.

Daniel Ricciardo

Lewis Hamilton won the F1 title but Daniel Ricciardo earned the plaudits thanks to an outstanding season in which he completely dominated his team-mate and four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel. Right from the first race in Australia and the podium that wasn't, Ricciardo was a delight to watch and the best driver not in a Mercedes. Wins in Canada and Hungary were impressive but it was at Spa where he showed how he could take advantage of others' errors and not buckle under the pressure. If Red Bull can provide this young man with the car his talent deserves, 2015 will be intriguing.

Audi: from disaster to near triumph at Le Mans

Le Mans 24 Hours and defending champions Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval were joined by Lucas di Grassi in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro but faced a mountain to climb before they had even qualified the car. Duval crashed at the Porsche Curves so heavily in practice he spent the next day - his 32nd birthday - in hospital and was replaced by Marc Gene. Audi managed to rebuild the car in time and what happened next was one of the greatest recoveries in the famous race with Kristensen miraculously leading the field near the end of the topsy turvy 24 hours before gremlins struck. The win would go to their Audi team-mates but second place was sweet reward and an incredible story.

Kris Meeke cheers British rallying

After years of knocking on the door for a factory drive in the World Rally Championship, Kris Meeke finally earned a full year with Citroen - and he didn't disappoint. His third place on the opening event in Monte Carlo was the first WRC podium for a British driver since Colin McRae in 2003 and his performances got better throughout the year. More third places followed in France, Argentina and Finland and in Germany he nearly claimed his first WRC win before crashing out whilst in the lead. Regarded as the best drive outside of the VW team, Meeke will again be one to watch in 2015.

Honourable mentions

BRDC F4

If you want to see the future of single-seaters, go and watch Formula 4 and its grids bulging with talent.

Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi's ninth place on Monaco was one of the F1 good news stories in 2014. How Marussia celebrated their first points!

Porsche's back

Mark Webber garnered much of the initial attention but Porsche's return to sportscars was a welcome sight. And they finished with a flourish when the 919 Hybrid won the final race of the FIA WEC season.

Jenson Button's new F1 contract

McLaren dithered for too long but eventually decided Jenson Button will be in F1 for a 15th successive year. Cue joyous Brit celebrations.

More Brits

Jolyon Palmer won GP2, Alex Lynn won GP3, Jack Harvey finished runner-up in his debut IndyLights season and Sam Bird ended the year third in the inaugural Formula E championship. Much to smile about from 2014.