If you’ve read part one of our 2014 Awards, you’ll be ready for part two. This instalment concentrates on motorsport and media, compared to the purely mechanical slant of the first instalment. So, providing you’ve appropriately recovered from New Year’s Eve, here we go.
There’s another five awards to be dished out, so without any further delay, here’s the first one:
Man of the year – Dr Gary Hartstein
In the past we’ve honoured motorsport world champions with this award. However, Dr Hartstein is more than a racing driver. For those of you unsure of his biography, Dr Hartstein served as the FIA Medical Delegate for the Formula 1 World Championship. He was also the man who rode alongside the late, great, Professor Sid Watkins in the F1 medical car for a number of years.
What makes Gary Hartstein our man of the year is quite simple. Over the past 12 months his experiences from both the F1 world, and as a Clinical Professor of Anaesthesia and Emergency Medicine, have led to him producing one of the most outstandingly knowledgeable blogs, period. In the wake of Michael Schumacher’s horrific skiing accident a year ago, Dr Hartstein was the one person able to give an objective and realistic analysis of the situation, on someone he knew personally. There was no sensationalist scaremongering; here were the clear facts, no matter how unpalatable they may have been.
Once again, following Jules Bianchi’s crash during the Japanese Grand Prix, Dr Hartstein was again the one voice better qualified than any to explain what was happening and, ultimately, what might happen. Quite frankly, there has been no one else in the past 12 months who deserves recognition more than him. The fact the FIA seemingly have an issue with what he has to say only further strengthens his message, and, ultimately the power of blogging. It’s just a shame we only seek his counsel in times of tragedy rather than joy.
BTCC Driver of the Year – Colin Turkington
Although it might seem obvious to name this year’s championship winner as Driver of the Year, Turkington’s reason for this award goes beyond merely amassing the most points. Throughout the season, 99.9% of the moves Colin made were fair and reasonable; contrast that against most of his championship rivals.
He drove accurately and methodically, but knew when to go all out and push to secure the points he needed to keep his title campaign going. Only an arguably unfair grid penalty following the Snetterton rounds truly spoiled his ability to keep the eBay Motors BMW 125i away from being in contention to win. Compared to many who, by their own admission, only compete in the BTCC for fun, Turkington is one of the very few drivers who you could class as professional.
Perhaps Colin is the single example of everything that is right, and wrong, with BTCC at the minute. Right in that the actual best driver can be champion but, at the same time, can face uncertainties (for the second time) as to whether he’ll even be able to compete in the series the following year. For 2014, as a double champion, there’s no doubt for us that CT was the best out there by a mile; we’re absolutely delighted to make him our BTCC driver of the year.
Race Car of the Year – Mercedes F1 GP W05 Hybrid
Unadulterated dominance is probably the only real way to describe the performance of the W05 Hybrid during the 2014 F1 season. With a wholesale series of changes to the Formula 1 technical regulations, Mercedes were the team which nailed the brief straight out of the box. The PU106A Hybrid engine/power unit was more powerful than anything the rest of the field could manage, with a chassis more competent than any of its rivals. A 94% pole position record – only Austria slipped through the net – and a 84% win rate are simply staggering numbers, with those 16 wins making the W05 statistically the most dominant F1 car ever.
Perhaps more scary is the fact things were not perfect in 2014. The team experienced troubling reliability issues at times, with brakes proving to be the biggest issue; see Hamilton in both Canada and Germany. The infighting between Hamilton and Rosberg was the most substantial barrier to ultimate domination, however, and the W05 should have had an even bigger advantage than the 296 points it held over Red Bull at the end of the season.
With engine regulations set to remain closed, at the time of writing, there seems little doubt that 2015 will bring further domination for Mercedes. The scale of the success probably only depends on whether the team can manage Hamilton and Rosberg better than they did in 2014.
Driving Song of the Year – David Guetta ‘Dangerous’
This was a fairly late entry to the competition. In all honesty, it was the full-length F1 themed video which won us over, with the cameo appearance by Romain Grosjean being the clincher. A tongue-in-cheek reference to the Hamilton v Rosberg ‘feud’ throughout 2014 is also a nice touch. Our only concern is whether Lotus F1 might plan to introduce ‘those’ uniforms for 2015; we’re pretty sure they’re not fireproof for a start. See the video right here:
Also, there’s a rather cool ‘dual screen’ experience available here too.
Best Video Game – Forza Horizon 2
Forza Horizon 2 wins for the simple proposition; it takes all your favourite cars – both affordable and Euromillions win only – and places them in a beautiful Mediterranean environment for you to go crazy. Whilst some may criticise it for being too arcade based in terms of handling and dynamics, FH2 adds an important ingredient missing from games such as Gran Turismo 6: fun.
Racing a Lamborghini against the Italian Air Force display team is stupid, but hilarious at the same time. Barreling down a mountain in your Bugatti Veyron is foolish, but funny. Deciding against taking a Renault Clio Williams over a Ferrari 458, demonstrates not only FH2‘s sense of enjoyment, but also its realisation that motoring pleasure comes in many forms.
The game is also breathtakingly gorgeous on the Xbox One, with immense lighting effects and a weather system that will make you want to find shelter when the heavens open. Endless customisation options abound for your chosen favourite ride, there’s a multitude of single-player challenges to entertain you, and then there’s the humongous adventure against real people online too. If video games are meant to be escapism, then FH2 was the ultimate motoring expression of this in 2014.
That’s it for the 2014 ESM Awards. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them, and we’ll see you in 12 months time for the 2015 edition. Happy New Year!