Not everything in 2014 lived up to the hype. And here are the things that, varyingly, left us unexpectedly cold, disappointed, confused or just downright miserable. Don't be too disheartened though - chance to stick the knife in or not it's a cathartic exercise to get our biggest disappointments off our chests. And hope for better things in the year ahead!
I'd be the first to admit that, when you introduce empirical data, the M4 is better than the E92 M3 across the board. It's faster, grippier and less punishingly expensive to run. But as an experience, something has gone missing. It's become inert, slightly aloof. It's sold its soul for a quicker Nordschliefe lap. And it sounds like a vacuum cleaner at high revs.
Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde
This arguably shouldn't be a disappointment given I wasn't expecting it to be very good anyway. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? But not only was the MiTo more underwhelming than expected, it was also more expensive than predicted too at £20K. Given the rivals it faces in that segment it is way off the pace. That I want Alfa to do well, that everyone does, makes its mediocrity all the more frustrating. Salvation could (and should) arrive with another Alfa Spider based on the next MX-5.
Nurburgring sales fiasco
The drama of the Nurburgring’s
privatisation and sale
is an ongoing farce that long since passed the boundaries of believability. Each time I’m forced to report on another twist or turn in this typically German scandal, it breaks another piece of my heart. To some people the Nordschleife is just a big, old, racetrack. To others, myself included, it’s a symbol. Like A Christmas Carol it represents motorsport past, present and future. It’s possibly the last place on Earth where you can take your brand new performance car on any given Sunday and push it to the limit without it ending in a police escort or a room without a view. This freedom of choice, the very epitome of personal responsibility, results in dozens of broken cars and fences every public day. But it doesn’t deserve to be demonised, restricted or (even) closed. And yet that’s what might happen if the farce continues any longer. When I learnt that the shadow behind the curtain of the stage was a Russian oligarch, my heart fell into my boots. Now ‘local boy’ Robertino Wild and Capricorn are officially ‘out’ of the Nurburgring, leaving only Adam Osieka of Getspeed to
partner the rich Russian
Lamborghini Huracan's steering
There are two steering systems available for the Lamborghini Huracan; a standard passive system or the optional variable ratio active alternative. At the pre-launch tech event I asked Lamborghini's chief test driver which he'd choose. Without pause he said the passive one. And when I later
got to drive it
I understood why. The Huracan is a fabulous modern supercar. Completely let down by the one bit of Audi influence it could have done without. With a rack that constantly varies its gearing between hyperactive 9:1 and a lazy 17:1 at the whim of the black boxes every corner is a guessing game of how much steering angle you'll get for a given input, destroying your faith in the front end for the sake of easier driving around town. Both a symbolic and very real demonstration of how pointless tech can ruin an otherwise lovely car.
Having three team principals in one year isn't exactly a good way to inspire confidence in your employees, is it? This one point perfectly sums up a turbulent season for Ferrari - without question the Modena squad takes the Christmas biscuit for the biggest disappointment in motorsport 2014. Stefano Domenicali was followed by the internal promotion of Marco Mattiacci, who was pushed in favour of fag man Maurizio Arrivabene - how long will he last in 2015? Not even money could solve a problem like the F14 T. With a 44m euros
between Alonso and Raikkonen, the car was so poor this year marked the first in 21 that Ferrari didn't take a win all season long. With the Godfather,
no longer there to watch over the Ferrari family, and volume-crazed money man Sergio Marchionne now in charge, the future's not much brighter for 2015, even with Vettel in the hot seat.
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