Abu Dhabi finale from a fan’s view.

It is points that count. The driver with the most points in the end of the season claims the champions’ crown. And this driver is the deserving champion. Number of wins, poles and fastest laps – they are for the statistics.

Do you believe in karma? Back in 2008 Lewis Hamilton in McLaren won the Championship despite the fact that his main rival – Felipe Massa in Ferrari – won more races that season. Many non-Hamilton fans were furious. More reasonable people knew it wasn’t the first time in F1 history this happened (ask sir Nigel Mansell, for example), also they believed Hamilton would have been much more motivated at Interlagos’08 if there weren’t 7 points between him and Massa before Brazilian Grand Prix (back then the race winner earned only 10 points). In that case the title was Hamilton’s to lose.

In 2016 Lewis has lost the Championship despite the fact he has won more races throughout the season. His main rival and the newly crowned World Champion Nico Rosberg did the math and made the right strategy. The title was Rosberg’s to lose after the Japanese Grand Prix.

If you prefer curses over karma, then there is a Hungaroring curse. Last driver who won the Hungarian Grand Prix and the title in the same year was Michael Schumacher back in 2004. Since that time no driver could do the same. In Lewis’s case he won in Hungary in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016 but he didn’t win there in his champion’s years (2008, 2014 and 2015).

Finally, if you believe in hard work Nico did his job better than Lewis this year. Rosberg has had a great season on and off the track right from the start. The latter might be even more important. Hamilton is a very fast and very talented driver. Also Lewis is just brilliant in mind games (one may recall Hungary 2007 or Spa 2014, for example). So if Rosberg wanted to beat Hamilton he had to do something different, something more than just being faster on Saturdays and Sundays. And he did it. Nico was fast but not always, Nico learned from his own mistakes, he concentrated on each race, he stayed cool even after Spain accident and, as I already mentioned, he did his math.

Hamilton didn’t lose the title at Sepang. In my opinion the game of ‘if’ and ‘but’ is pretty stupid. If Hamilton won in Malaysia, if Vettel didn’t crash into Rosberg in Malaysia, if Bottas didn’t crash into Hamilton in Bahrain, if Rosberg was’t penalized in Germany, if two Mercedes didn’t collide in Spain, if Rosberg didn’t let Hamilton through in Monaco, etc. Too many ‘if’. There is an interesting analysis on f1fanatic.co.uk about the technical problems both Mercedes drivers had this season. By the way, reliability issues are also part of motorsport and if you like to put everything in the perspective of ‘good old days’… well, ‘in good old days’ cars broke much easier.

‘You don’t win the championship by luck. Nico won the championship today. He’s a deserved champion.
Don’t forget the seasons when Nico car failed more than Lewis, it is just racing’.

 

Hamilton did nothing wrong on the final laps. Yes, his tactic might seem dirty to some fans and former drivers, but it was also smart. He knew that win is not enough for him and he was in the position when he himself could have influence on his main rival’s result. He drove as fast as he wanted so Nico couldn’t attack him, even close the gap to use DRS, and at the same time Lewis drove as slow as he wanted so other drivers – Verstappen & Vettel – could catch Rosberg. It was a suspense that even Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of.

‘I am a sportsman no I would not do this. This is wrong sorry’.

 

‘Lewis was doing an awesome job at that. He nailed it perfectly. He was pushing in the first sector to make sure I don’t come close where it’s possible to overtake, and then sandbagging in the rest. So that just made it unbelievably tough out there’.
/Nico Rosberg/

 

There is nothing unsportsmanlike in driving slow, it all depends on the angle at which you see this battle and the personalities involved. In 1992 Senna outraced Mansell using this slow defensive tactic. Many people still think that was fantastic. (Maybe sir Nigel Mansell would disagree with this as well). In 2001 again in Monaco Enrique Bernoldi in Arrows slowed David Coulthard in mighty McLaren. I think much fewer people were impressed (the least of all Ron Dennis and David Coulthard) by what that Brazilian did. More often you might hear that Bernoldi just ruined Coulhard’s race, drove like an idiot and so on.

In the end couple non-Mercedes thoughts about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I am assured Daniel Ricciardo had a chance to win the race if Red Bull took the risk of not pitting him so early. His 3rd position in the Drivers’ Championship as well as RBR’s 2nd place in the Constructors’ were secure, why not to gamble?

Force India clinched the forth position in the Constructors’ Championship! Wow! Great result for a non-factory team with limited budget. It’ll be tough for them to repeat this result next year with new rules and a rookie driver. On the other hand in recent years this team usually starts the season with very average results but raise its game in the second half of the season.

russian version

Abu Dhabi finale from a fan’s view.

Spielberg from a fan’s view.

The most controversial topic of the Austrian Grand Prix is of course the collision between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the race. Yes, they collided again. But before I share some thoughts on this topic I want to highlight another one: the stunning performance by Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein.
For the first time this season young German has found himself on a familiar track. He used to race at Red Bull Ring as DTM driver. This fact alongside with the unpredictable weather and the inability of some drivers to race within the limits of the track helped Wehrlein not only get to Q2 but to repeat the best starting position for Virgin/Marussia/Manor/ by taking 12th on the grid (as Jules Bianchi did at Silverstone in 2014). Even if this was all Wehrlein would already be given praise. But Pascal went on to score his first point and give the team its second points finish in its six-year history.

NB: Unlike Wehrlein it’s not enough for Nico Hulkenberg to be really good on Saturday.

Well, all of this might not have happened if the stewards penalized Wehrlein for reversing on the grid prior to the start of the race. Moreover the stewards could’ve cancelled the start, giving the drivers an extra warm-up lap, and then there would’ve been a race with only 70 laps. And everything might’ve ended differently for everybody including Mercedes duo.

If top teams haven’t pay attention to Wehrlein yet, from now on they will look closely on a young German’s progress. But (there’s always a ‘but’): Pascal Wehrlein would make an awful ‘number 2’ driver. The German’s teammates and rivals in DTM might agree with that statement. On one hand there’s nothing criminal in the driver’s desire to be the leader and the winner. Only this way one can become a champion. On the other hand, the management of every top squad must decide very thoroughly which driver they see as a leader and which as a good team player. For example, if Mercedes decides to replace Nico Rosberg with Pascal Wehrlein, they might find themselves in a situation very similar to the battlefield we saw in McLaren in 2007.

Ok, Mercedes. I think the problem inside the German squad is that they cannot control both their drivers. The team can control only 1 of their drivers – and it’s Nico. Rosberg is a great team player. Everything goes wrong when Nico starts to bare his teeth. After the collision between Rosberg and Hamilton on the last lap of the race in Austria Totto Wolff was terribly disappointed. Instead of a guaranteed 1-2 the team almost got the second double DNF this season. Wolff even threatens to introduce team orders. But Mercedes have already used team orders: this season in Monaco Rosberg was told to let Hamilton through. And Nico obeyed. Moreover after the race Rosberg said that was the right decision to make.

What about Lewis? The Brit doesn’t ‘like’ team orders and I don’t think he will obey any orders. He is here [in F1] to win no matter what the price is. Well, actually nobody can blame Lewis for that. He is talented, quick, impertinent. He is the triple world champion for God’s sake. He sets himself above the team and above his teammate. He can do whatever he wants, the team will always find excuses for his actions. After all people don’t worship Patrese, Barrichello, Coulthard or Berger. Team players don’t win the championships. But people do worship Senna, Schumacher, Prost and Vettel.

Probably this season is the last chance for Nico Rosberg to join the Hall of Fame. And the only way to do so is to continue to fight with Lewis, with the team, to continue to ‘bare his teeth’. He has no time and real opportunities to start all over again in any other team. There are no vacancies and every team already has their lead driver.

It’s good that Nico fought with Lewis in Austria. He lost that battle, he even got a penalty for his actions afterwards. But it doesn’t matter. To keep fighting is the only way to stay ahead in the championship. And if Nico lets the Monaco situation repeat, or if he cannot stand the outside pressure (like we saw after Spa’14), or if he lets Lewis force him out of the track (remember Canada’16 or USA’15)… Well if let any of these happen he’ll lose the championship long before the last Grand Prix of the season.

Spielberg from a fan’s view.

Baku From a Fan’s View.

Baku is a street race so it is understandable people would like to compare this circuit with Monaco. But Baku is not Monaco and will never be. Baku is more like Valencia, including the fact that both circuits hosted the Formula One European Grand Prix. And it was really frustrating to watch pretty dull Valencia-like race after such a colorful qualification the day before. I wasn’t expecting the mayhem like that in GP2 but at least some fighting, maybe couple drivers’ errors here and there, pressing, something exciting… but no, only unfair (in my humble opinion) DRS overtakes.
Anything remarkable? Sergio Perez’s qualifying and the race, Nico Rosberg’s brilliant ‘Grand Slam’, sub 2 seconds pit-stop by Williams and radio Hamilton.

Perez put his heart and soul into this race. Without his mistake in FP3 Checo would have started from the front row and who knows what would have happened in the 1st corner.
There is always a list of who could be a new Ferrari driver, and Sergio Perez might be on the top of this list. His two fantastic podiums in Monaco and Baku this year put him ahead of Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, Stoffel Vandoorne and other hundred or so possible candidates to replace Kimi Raikkonen. By the way, it was Raikkonen with whom Checo fought for the podium in Baku. And yes, Kimi got a penalty and Perez knew about it, but anyway Checo successfully passed Kimi on track and it was really more satisfying [as Perez said himself after the race].

To tell the truth Iceman has had only 1 good year in Ferrari and it was back in 2007. It seems that afterwards Kimi lost his passion, his ‘hunger’ for the game. The Finn was great after his comeback with Lotus and he earned another contract with the ‘red team’, but he is a good team player now, good number 2 driver, not the man who fights in every single race on every single lap. And maybe the team is happy and doesn’t want to replace him as everybody thinks. When Kimi is great everybody knows he’s great, but now Kimi is just good. Let’s hope Ferrari could give him an engine to fight in Spa. (And of course, it’s so easy to judge from the outside.)

NB: Raikkonen spent 3 years with Ferrari in 2007-2009, and now it’s the 3rd year of his second term with the Italian team.

——————–

I thought radioban was introduced so the driver could cope with the car all by himself and in this case it was strange to hear all the complaints. After the race Toto Wollf admitted there were similar problems with both cars. Unfortunately we don’t know the content of Rosberg-Mercedes pitwall dialogues, but we all have heard “radio Hamilton”. Funny thing the drivers wanted to be more independent and now some of them think it’s dangerous. Come on, “Let’s just get our head down and focus on the job”. Sometimes it seems the Brit doesn’t like to race if he’s not fighting for the top-3.

That’s it. Oh, wait. Nico Rosberg completed the 2nd ‘Grand Slam’ in his career (the previous one came just 4 races before in Russia, Nico loves former Soviet Republics). And it seems no one cares because Mercedes is such a dominant force today that it goes without saying that their driver should be the fastest man on track, should win poles and races and lead every single lap.

 

Baku From a Fan’s View.

Personal numbers

Since 2014 F1 drivers have to choose their own permanent racing numbers they should carry throughout their F1 career. A permanent number cannot be reallocated except if the driver hasn’t driven in the championship for 2 seasons in a row. After 2 years of absence or more the number could be chosen by any rookie or another ‘comebacker’. This situation is quite possible if one remembers Kimi Raikkonen’s leave of absence in 2010-2012 or Michael Schumacher’s leave in 2007-2009. Here is the list of Formula 1 drivers numbers:

 ##  Driver  Period of use
 1*  Sebastian Vettel  2014
 3  Daniel Ricciardo  2014-2016
 4  Max Chilton  2014
 5  Sebastian Vettel  2015-2016
 6  Nico Rosberg  2014-2016
 7  Kimi Räikkönen  2014-2016
 8  Romain Grosjean  2014-2016
 9  Marcus Ericsson  2014-2016
 10  Kamui Kobayashi  2014
 11  Sergio Pérez  2014-2016
 12  Felipe Nasr  2015-2016
 13  Pastor Maldonado  2014-2015
 14  Fernando Alonso  2014-2016
 17**  Jules Bianchi  2014
 19  Felipe Massa  2014-2016
 20  Kevin Magnussen  2014-2016
 21  Esteban Gutiérrez  2014, 2016
 22  Jenson Button  2014-2016
 25  Jean-Éric Vergne  2014
 26  Daniil Kvyat  2014-2016
 27  Nico Hülkenberg  2014-2016
 28  Will Stevens  2015
 30  Jolyon Palmer   2016
 33  Max Verstappen  2015-2016
 44  Lewis Hamilton  2014-2016
 53  Alexander Rossi  2015-2016
 55  Carlos Sainz  2015-2016
 77  Valtteri Bottas  2014-2016
 88  Rio Haryanto  2016
 94  Pascal Wehrlein  2016
 98  Roberto Merhi  2015
 99  Adrian Sutil  2014

* #1 is reserved for defending world champion, who can choose to use either #1 or his own number.

** Following Jules Bianchi’s death the FIA has announced that car #17 will no longer be used in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Unfortunately #17 is not the only ‘fatal’ number in F1. If the FIA has decided to retire all those numbers as a mark of respect for the drivers who were killed during a championship Grand Prix weekend or who succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident during a championship Grand Prix weekend, such a list would include:

 ##  Driver  Fatal Grand Prix
 2  Luigi Musso  France, 1958
 Peter Collins  Germany, 1958
 Ayrton Senna  San Marino, 1994
 4  Bill Vukovich  USA, 1958
 Pat O’Connor  USA, 1958
 Wolfgang von Trips  Italy, 1961
 Piers Courage  Netherlands, 1970
 6  Onofre Marimón  Germany, 1954
 François Cevert  USA, 1973
 Ronnie Peterson  Italy, 1978
 12  Stuart Lewis-Evans  Morocco, 1958
 14  Roger Williamson  Netherlands, 1973
 15  Chet Miller  USA, 1953
 16  Alan Stacey  Belgium, 1960
 John Taylor  Germany, 1966
 Peter Revson  South Africa, 1974
 Tom Pryce  South Africa, 1977
 17  Jules Bianchi  Japan, 2014
 18  Lorenzo Bandini  Monaco, 1967
 Jo Schlesser  France, 1968
 19  Helmuth Koinigg  USA, 1974
 22  Jochen Rindt  Italy, 1970
 24  Gerhard Mitter***  Germany, 1969
 27  Gilles Villeneuve  Belgium, 1982
 28  Mark Donohue  Austria, 1975
 29  Carel Godin de Beaufort  Germany, 1964
 32  Riccardo Paletti  Canada, 1982
 Roland Ratzenberger  San Marino, 1994
 36  Chris Bristow  Belgium, 1960
 51  Bob Cortner  USA, 1959
 57  Jerry Unser  USA, 1959
 62  Keith Andrews  USA, 1957
 73  Carl Scarborough  USA, 1953
 88  Manny Ayulo  USA, 1955
This list does not include fatal accidents during tests or non-championship races.
*** Gerhard Mitter died during practice ahead of the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 1969 driving BMW Formula 2 car. F1 and F2 cars participated in that event simultaneously, but were classified separately.

Personal numbers

#27

In 2014 the FIA allowed F1 drivers to pick up their own permanent numbers for the rest of their careers. Such numbers cannot be reallocated unless the driver hasn’t participated in the championship for 2 seasons in a row. Many tifosi hoped one of the Ferrari drivers would choose legendary #27, but neither Fernando Alonso, nor Kimi Raikkonen, who drove for Scuderia in 2014, didn’t make such choice. Besides, the number belongs to a driver and not to a team (as it was in the past), so there were even less chances that #27 would be on Ferrari car for a long time.
Jules Bianchi, former Ferrari protégé, was one of the drivers who picked #27 but he had the lower hand and the number has gone to Nico Hulkenberg. Funny thing, the talented German was about to move to Ferrari several times and he practically got the seat in 2014, but then the bosses in Maranello has chosen Kimi Raikkonen instead. In 2015 the story was almost repeated and again Raikkonen “beat” Hulkenberg. So since 2014 we can see #27 on the front of Force India car.

OK, but what was all the fuss about #27? Why is it so famous and so important for tifosi? It’s time to look through the F1 history books to get the answers.

Stats of #27 up to the end of 2015.
 GPs   Wins   Podiums   Pole positions  
 420   25   86   24 
Up to mid-1973 there were no strict rules about the numbers’ distribution. Everything depended on the organizers of each GP and #27 wasn’t as popular as one might think today. Cars with this number appeared on the grid once or twice a year and usually it wasn’t assigned to the best team or the fastest driver. Nonetheless at the Austrian GP 1970 the driver with #27 on his car finished 2nd in the race. The driver was Clay Regazzoni and the car, by pure coincidence, was Ferrari!

In mid-1973 the FIA decided to assign permanent numbers to the teams (not the drivers). Hesketh Racing was the first team that had #27 on its car. This car was driven by James Hunt. But the success for #27 cars came in the late 70s when this number belonged to Frank Williams’s team for several seasons.

At the British GP 1979 Alan Jones took maiden pole position both for himself and for #27. Just 2 weeks later #27 car finished first at the German GP on the race day. The Aussie didn’t even think to stop, in 1980 Alan Jones became the World Driver Champion driving #27 Williams. Consequently, Williams got #1/#2 for the season of 1981 and #27/#28 went to… Ferrari.

Let’s go a little bit back in time. In 1979 Ferrari won WCC, Jody Scheckter became the champion and Gilles Villeneuve, favourite of the public and Enzo Ferrari, became vice-champion. But it was hard to defend both titles in 1980, moreover 1980 was the worst season in Ferrari F1 history. The team ended 10th in WCC and the best result in the race was the 5th place. And after that disaster the team got #27(Villeneuve)/#28(Pironi). In 1981 the situation became better, Villeneuve even won 2 GPs. Unfortunately the Canadian was not able to fight for the crown driving #27 Ferrari, he tragically lost his life during the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.

With the exception of the season of 1990 #27 remained in Ferrari up to 1995. The team won 2 WCC during this period, but the drivers couldn’t win WDC. In 1990 Alain Prost, the reigning world champion at that moment, joined the squad bringing #1/#2 with him while #27/#28 have gone to McLaren. Ironically McLaren and Ferrari exchanged their numbers back just a year later, Ayrton Senna won the WDC in 1990 driving #27 McLaren. In 1996 the FIA changed the numbering system again and #27 was gone… until 2014.

Just think about it. For 4 years Alan Jones (Williams, 1978-1980) and Ayrton Senna (McLaren, 1990) brought more glory to #27 than Ferrari drivers for 14 long years! All in all 57 different drivers have used #27 throughout their careers, among those Ronnie Peterson, Carlos Reutemann, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, the head of Red Bull junior program Helmut Marko and Jules Bianchi’s uncle Lucien. Today this number belongs to Nico Hulkenberg and maybe, just maybe it isn’t so bad Nico doesn’t drive for Ferrari. Isn’t so bad for both Hulkenberg and Ferrari. Let’s hope the German will have luck with another team in Formula 1 paddock.


Alain Prost /#1, Ferrari/, Ayrton Senna /#27, McLaren/, Japanese GP 1990 (? ©)
 ##   Driver   Team  Season(s)  GPs  Achievements 
 1   Walt Ader   Rae   1950   1    
 2   Duane Carter   Deidt   1951   1    
 3   Johnny Claes   Simca Gordini   1952   1    
 4   Tony Bettenhausen   Deidt,
 Kurtis Kraft 
 1952, 1957   2    
 5   Louis Chiron   O.S.C.A   1953   1    
 6   Alan Brown   Cooper   1954   1    
 7   Ed Elisian   Stevens   1954   1    
 8   Rodger Ward   Kuzma   1955   1    
 9   Cliff Griffith   Stevens   1956   1    
 10   Louis Rosier   Maserati   1956   1    
 11   Red Amick   Epperly   1960   1    
 12   Gerry Ashmore   Lotus-Climax   1961   1    
 13   Keith Greene   Gilby   1962   1    
 14   Giancarlo Baghetti   Automobili Turismo
 e Sport 
 1963   1    
 15   Kurt Kuhnke   Lotus-Borgward   1963   1    
 16   Peter Revson   Lotus-BRM   1964   1    
 17   Chris Amon   Lotus-BRM   1964   1    
 18   Lucien Bianchi   BRM   1965   1    
 19   Brausch Niemann   Lotus-Ford   1965   1    
 20   Dan Gurney   Eagle   1966   1    
 21   Piers Courage   BRM   1968   1    
 22   Bill Brack   Lotus   1968   1    
 23   Jacky Ickx   Ferrari   1970   1    
 24   Clay Regazzoni   Ferrari   1970   1   Podiums: 1 
 25   Ronnie Peterson   March-Ford   1970   1    
 26   Silvio Moser   Bellasi   1970-71   2    
 27   Jo Bonnier   McLaren-Ford   1970-71   2    
 28   Andrea De Adamich   March-Alfa Romeo   1971   1    
 29   Howden Ganley   BRM   1971   1    
 30   Henry Pescarolo   March-Ford   1971   4    
 31   Helmut Marko   McLaren,
 BRM 
 1971-72   2    
 32   Mike Beuttler   March-Ford   1971-72   2    
 33   Carlos Pace   March-Ford   1972   1    
 34   Derek Bell   Tecno   1972   1    
 35   John Love   Surtees   1972   1    
 36   Tim Schenken   Surtees   1972   1    
 37   Carlos Reutemann   Brabham   1972   1    
 38   Rolf Stommelen   Eifelland,
 Embassy Hill 
 1972, 1974   6    
 39   Reine Wisell   March   1973   1    
 40   James Hunt   Hesketh Racing   1973   8   Podiums: 2 
 41   Peter Gethin   Embassy Hill   1974   1    
 42   Guy Edwards   Embassy Hill   1974   10    
 43   Mario Andretti   Parnelli   1975-76   14    
 44   Larry Perkins   Boro   1976   1    
 45   Patrick Neve   March   1977   11    
 46   Jean-Pierre Jarier   Equipe Ligier   1977   1    
 47   Alan Jones   Williams   1978-80   45   Wins: 9
 Podiums: 16
 Poles: 6
 WDC 
 48   Gilles Villeneuve   Ferrari   1981-82   20   Wins: 2
 Podiums: 4
 Poles: 1 
 49   Patrick Tambay   Ferrari   1982-83   23   Wins: 2
 Podiums: 8
 Poles: 4 
 50   Michele Alboreto   Ferrari   1984-88   80   Wins: 3
 Podiums: 19
 Poles: 2 
 51   Nigel Mansell   Ferrari   1989   16   Wins: 2
 Podiums: 6
 52   Ayrton Senna   McLaren   1990   16   Wins: 6
 Podiums: 11
 Poles: 10
 WDC 
 53   Alain Prost   Ferrari   1991   15   Podiums: 5
 54   Gianni Morbidelli   Ferrari   1991   1 
 55   Jean Alesi   Ferrari   1992-95   63   Wins: 1
 Podiums: 13
 Poles: 1 
 56   Nicola Larini   Ferrari   1994   5   Podiums: 1
 57   Nico Hulkenberg   Force India   2014-…   38 

russian version

#27

No #1 on the grid

In 2014 Lewis Hamilton won his second WDC and decided not to exchange his #44 for the sacred #1. I doubt he’ll change his mind next year after his triumphal 2015 campaign.

The absence of #1 on the grid is not unusual in other motor sport series (e.g. MotoGP, IndyCar) where drivers/teams also have their own personal numbers. But it’s still something new for Formula 1.

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Lewis Hamilton (? ©)

Last time with no #1 on the grid was back in 1993 and 1994. And in both cases there was the same explanation: there was no defending champion on the grid. Nigel Mansell, the 1992 world champion, moved to IndyCar, Alain Prost retired from racing after winning his 4th WDC in 1993. Both drivers won their titles driving for Williams, that’s why the team used #0 and #2 in 1993-1994. Damon Hill was always allocated #0 in both seasons, while several drivers used #2 (Alain Prost (1993)*, Ayrton Senna, David Coulthard and Nigel Mansell (all three in 1994)).

Have there been any other exceptions in Formula 1 history when there was no #1 on the grid? Or has Lewis created a precedent for the future generations?

Imagine this: until 1974 pretty much any driver could drive a car with #1 on it and the owner of this magic number sometimes would change not even from season to season but from one race to another. And sometimes there was simply no #1 on the grid and it was OK. The cause of such anarchy was that race numbers were assigned on a race-to-race basis by the local organizers.

When full sponsor liveries came on stage at the 1960s, sponsors began to pressure teams to stick to the same race numbers throughout the season, so the teams started to request the same numbers from different organizers.

In 1973 the sport’s governing body decided to control this number assignment issue. First permanent numbers showed up in mid-1973 (starting from the Belgium Grand Prix). And starting from 1974 the reigning champion would get #1 while his teammate got #2. Following numbers should be assigned to the teams (not the drivers) according to WCC’73 standings.

Well, it didn’t go smoothly. Sir Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell) won the title in 1973 and… retired from motor racing. Lotus won the Constructor’s Championship that year, Tyrrell was second in the standings. So who should have gotten #1/#2 in 1974? It was decided Lotus got these numbers (#1 for Ronnie Peterson, #2 for Jacky Ickx), then Tyrrell got #3/#4, McLaren – #5/#6, and so on.

art20197420ronnie20peterson20lotus20emerson20fittipaldi20mclaren_zpsfu6vyo9f

Ronnie Peterson /#1, Lotus/, Emerson Fittipaldi /#5, McLaren/, 1974 (? ©)

That wasn’t all. According to the new rules the only changes to the race numbering system were meant to be if a team had the reigning world champion, in that case only could that team get #1/#2. At the same time the team’s old numbers were transferred to the team which had had the champion driver the previous year (see the example in the table below). Everybody else stayed with the same 1974 numbers up until 1996 when the FIA introduced new numbering system. That’s why for many F1 fans #3/#4 are associated with Tyrrell (even if the team doesn’t exist for a long time), or #27/#28 are sacred for tiffosi.

1974 1975 1976
##  Driver  Team ##  Driver  Team ##  Driver  Team
 1  Peterson  Lotus  1  Fittipaldi McLaren  1  Lauda  Ferrari
 2  Ickx  Lotus  2  Mass McLaren  2  Regazzoni  Ferrari
 3  Scheckter  Tyrrell  3  Scheckter Tyrrell  3  Scheckter  Tyrrell
 4  Depailler  Tyrrell  4  Depailler Tyrrell  4  Depailler  Tyrrell
 5  Fittipaldi  McLaren  5  Peterson Lotus  5  Andretti  Lotus
 6  Hulme  McLaren  6  Ickx Lotus  6  Nillson  Lotus
 11  Regazzoni  Ferrari  11  Regazzoni  Ferrari  11  Hunt  McLaren
 12  Lauda  Ferrari  12  Lauda  Ferrari  12  Mass  McLaren
WDC WDC WDC
 5  Fittipaldi  McLaren  12  Lauda  Ferrari  11  Hunt  McLaren

New teams were usually assigned the lowest available numbers. If a team left the championship, its numbers became vacant. For example, Toleman made its debut in 1981 and got #35/#36. In 1983 the team took over vacant #19/#20. Then in 1986 the team changed its name to Benetton but still got #19/#20. Finally in 1993 when McLaren took over vacant #7/#8 (ex-Brabham numbers and the first numbers run by the team in the MP4/Ron Dennis era in the early 80s), Benetton got #5/#6 (ex-Mclaren numbers).

In 1996 the FIA decided to create a numbering system based on WCC’s standings in the previous season. The defending champion driver and his teammate still would get #1/#2. But all other teams would change their numbers from season to season (see example in the table below):

1995 1996 1997
##  Driver  Team ##  Driver  Team ##  Driver  Team
 1  Schumacher  Benetton  1  Schumacher  Ferrari  1  Hill  Arrows
 2  Herbert  Benetton  2  Irvine  Ferrari  2  Diniz  Arrows
 3  Katayama  Tyrrell  3  Alesi  Benetton  3  Villeneuve  Williams
 4  Salo  Tyrrell  4  Berger  Benetton  4  Frentzen  Williams
 5  Hill  Williams  5  Hill  Williams  5  Schumacher  Ferrari
 6  Coulthard  Williams  6  Villeneuve  Williams  6  Irvine  Ferrari
WDC WDC WDC
 1  Schumacher  Benetton  5  Hill  Williams  3  Villeneuve  Williams
WCC WCC WCC
 1  Benetton  1  Williams  1  Williams
 2  Williams  2  Ferrari  2  Ferrari
 3  Ferrari  3  Benetton  3  Benetton

Finally in 2014 the numbering system has changed yet again. From now on every driver (rather than team) picks the number which he will use throughout his entire F1 career***. And the defending champion can choose whether he wants to use #1 or prefers his personal number. Sebastian Vettel decided to race with #1 in 2014, while Lewis Hamilton likes his #44 and doesn’t want to swipe it for #1.

But Lewis can always do something like this:

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*A unique achievement belongs to Alain Prost. He’s the only driver who has won the F1 championship driving the car #2.

** When Nigel Mansell signed to race for McLaren in 1995 the team got #7/#8. McLaren formally requested to swap numbers with Williams (#5/#6) so that Mansell could have his famous “Red 5”. Either Williams or the FIA said no.


*** If the driver doesn’t compete in the championship for more than 2 years his personal number becomes vacant.

 

russian version

No #1 on the grid

The real champion

After winning his second title in 2014 Lewis Hamilton joined a very special “club” of Formula 1 drivers who has won WDC with two different teams. The Brit became only the 10th driver in F1 history who has achieved such a great result.

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport nevertheless it is a pretty young and not very widespread kind of sport. In 2015 we all witness only the 65th championship. And of course you should be a hell of a racing driver to win at least 1 race, not to mention the whole championship. So, we have 65 years of F1 racing and there are only 32 different champions among the drivers. 16 of them have won the championship more than once and only 10 did so with at least two different teams. Juan Manuel Fangio holds the record.

 Driver  Team
 Juan Manuel Fangio Alpha Romeo (1951)
Maserati (1954*, 1957)
Mercedes (1954*, 1955)
Ferrari (1957)
 Jack Brabham Cooper (1959-1960)
Brabham (1966)
 Graham Hill BRM (1962)
Lotus (1968)
 Jackie Stewart Matra (1969)
Tyrrell (1971, 1973)
 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus (1972)
McLaren (1974)
 Niki Lauda Ferrari (1975,1977)
McLaren (1984)
 Nelson Piquet Brabham (1981, 1983)
Williams (1987)
 Alain Prost McLaren (1985-1986,1989)
Williams (1993)
 Michael Schumacher Benetton (1994,1995)
Ferrari (2000-2004)
 Lewis Hamilton McLaren (2008)
Mercedes (2014)

You won’t find Sebastian Vettel in this table. And I’m sure his ill-wishers will be happy. But you can’t find Fernando Alonso, Mika Hakkinen or Ayrton Senna there neither. Yes, Senna is not in this “private club”. These 4 drivers are multiple champions but they have won their titles racing just for 1 team** even though all of them drove for different teams during their careers and also won races wearing different outfits (except Hakkinen). But they are not as special as those 9 “real” champions. Or are they? And if they are not “real” champions what can you say about famous Jim Clark. He won 2 WDC but he raced all his 73 GPs for Team Lotus.

In recent years there was too much buzz about Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. They won 4 titles (both WDCs and WCCs) in a row. Quite a record*. But many fans were not happy when Seb and Red Bull did their best. And it’s totally ok, if you are not their fan. But there was (and there still is) a lot of disrespect towards the driver and the team. Remember podium booing in Canada in 2013? Yes, Seb won titles in 2011 and 2013 in dominant fashion. But so were Schumacher in 2002 and 2004 or Mansell in 1992. The point is Red Bull wasn’t as dominant car in 2010-2013 as Scuderia Ferrari in 2002 or Mclaren in 1988 or Mercedes in 2014.

 year  Driver  GPs  Wins (%)  Podiums (%)  Poles (%)  DNFs (%)
 2004  Michael Schumacher 18 13 (72,2%) 15 (83,3%) 8 (44,4%) 1 (5,6%)
 1963  Jim Clark 10 7 (70%) 9 (90%) 7 (70%) 1 (10%)
 2013  Sebastian Vettel 19 13 (68,4%) 16 (84,2%) 9 (47,4%) 1 (5,3%)
 2002  Michael Schumacher 17 11 (64,7%) 17 (100%) 7 (41,2%) 0
 1965  Jim Clark 10 6 (60%) 6 (60%) 6 (60%) 3 (30%)
 2011  Sebastian Vettel 19 11 (57,9%) 17 (89,5%) 15 (78,9%) 1 (5,3%)
 2014  Lewis Hamilton 19 11 (57,9%) 16 (84,2 %) 7 (36,8%) 3 (15,8%)
 1992  Nigel Mansell 16 9 (56,3%) 12 (75%) 14 (87,5%) 4 (25%)
 1971  Jackie Stewart 11 6 (54,5%) 7 (63,6%) 6 (54,5%) 2 (18,2%)
 2001  Michael Schumacher 17 9 (52,9%) 14 (82,4%) 11 (64,7%) 2 (11,8%)
 year  Car  GPs  Wins (%)  Podiums (%)  1-2 (%)  Poles (%)
 1988  McLaren MP4-4 16 15 (93,8%) 25 (78,1%) 10 (62,5%) 15 (93,8%)
 2002  Ferrari F2002 17 15 (88,2%) 27 (79,4%) 9 (52,9%) 10 (58,8%)
 2014  Mercedes F1W05 19 16 (84,2%) 31 (81,6%) 11 (57,9%) 18 (94,7%)
 2004  Ferrari F2004 18 15 (83,3%) 29 (80,6%) 8 (44,4%) 12 (66,7%)
 1996  Williams FW18 16 12 (75%) 21 (65,6%) 6 (37,5%) 12 (75%)
 1984  McLaren MP4-2 16 12 (75%) 18 (56,3%) 4 (25%) 3 (18,8%)
 1963  Lotus 24-25 10 7 (70%) 9 (45%) 0 7 (70%)
 2013  Red Bull RB9 19 13 (68,4%) 24 (63,2%) 4 (21,1%) 11 (57,9%)
 1971  Tyrrell 001-003 11 7 (63,6%) 11 (50%) 2 (18,2%) 6 (54,5%)
2011  Red Bull RB7 19 12 (63,2%) 27 (71,1%) 3 (15,8%) 18 (94,7%)
 1992  Williams FW14B 16 10 (62,5%) 21 (65,6%) 6 (37,5%) 15 (93,8%)
 1989  McLaren MP4-5 16 10 (62,5%) 18 (56,3%) 4 (25%) 15 (93,8%)
 1993 Williams FW15C 16 10 (62,5%) 22 (68,8%) 1 (6,3%) 15 (93,8%)

And if we speak about switching teams…

The great MotoGP champion Mick Doohan won all his 5 titles with Honda; the most successful rally driver Sebastien Loeb got 9 WDCs and all of them driving Citroen; even Michael Schumacher won 5 out of his 7 titles exclusively with Scuderia Ferrari.

Hamilton’s achievement is astonishing and he should be given a standing ovation, but his rivals’ successes should not be underestimated. Only the best drivers become World Champions. Maybe you need some luck sometimes, but there is no such concept as “the true champion”, or a “more real” champion.

* Juan Manuel Fangio started 1954 season with Maserati and ended it with Mercedes.

** Sebastian Vettel has won all his WDCs with Red Bull Racing; Fernando Alonso – with Renault; Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna – with McLaren.

*** This is a record in terms of winning first 4 titles. Only Michael Schumacher and Ferrari won more – 5 – championships in a row, but those were not the first titles neither for the German nor for Scuderia.

russian version

The real champion