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.
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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

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Abu Dhabi finale from a fan’s view.

#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.

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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

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.

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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