What if…

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Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Hungaroring, McLaren-Mercedes, 2007 | DaimlerWith just one point separating three drivers at the end of the season, the two that lost will be cursing the twists of fortune that cost them the points that would have made them champion.

While Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso may rue their misfortunes, Kimi Raikkonen will be relieved that his brushes with chance (car failure at Catalunya and N???rburging) were, in the end, not enough to knock him off course in the championship.

Montreal: Alonso and the safety car

For me, the cruellest twist of fortune for any of the championship contenders this year.

The rule against pitting under the safety car is a controversial one. Like so many of the safety car rules it’s basically borrowed from American racing. But where safety car periods are common in the likes of the Indy Racing League, they aren’t over here, and a mis-timed pit stop in F1 can be disastrous.

Alonso was already on his way to the pits when the first safety car period began in Montreal, and his penalty played a large part in dropping him to seventh at the flag. Apart from Nico Rosberg at the same race, it hasn’t happened to another front runner all year.

Monte-Carlo: Hamilton trips over Webber

Despite carrying several more laps of fuel than Alonso in qualifying, Hamilton might well have pipped him to the crucial Monte-Carlo pole had he not been held up briefly by Mark Webber.

Had the McLarens started the other way around in the race, they might have finished that way too.

Magny-Cours: Gearbox woe for Alonso

Alonso’s only significant car problem of the year, but it confined him to tenth on the grid at a track where overtaking is tough. He gave it his best shot, muscling past Nick Heidfeld in magnificent style, but finished only seventh.

Nurburgring: Everything goes wrong for Hamilton

I wrote an entire post about the many twists of fortune Hamilton suffered at the Nurburgring. In the end, what started it all was his crash in qualifying on Saturday, caused by a faulty wheel gun, that left him tenth on the grid. After that came the great start, the puncture, the spin, the crane, the tyre blunder etc, the lapping…

Hungaroring: Alonso’s Schumacher moment

Alonso was clearly furious at Hamilton refusing to let him past at the start of qualifying in Hungary, as the team confirmed Hamilton was supposed to.

Had he not chosen to take the law into his own hands and block Hamilton later on, Alonso would have started the race second at worst and could have expected to have finished in the same race, becoming champion.

Istanbul: Hamilton’s tyre failure

Hamilton’s second car failure of the year came when his right-front tyre disintegrated in Istanbul. He fell from third to fifth, losing two points that in the end was the difference between him and the championship.

Photo: Daimler

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “What if…”

  1. Really everyones had misfortune, McLaren messed up big time with Hamiltons tyres in China. They should have just bought him in and settled for like 5th or something! He only need 4 points from the last 2 races to be champion, what was he playing at!
    I don’t think Alonso should have been done for Hungary, I meen its like to football players getting in a fight when there on the same team, the ref can’t send them off!

  2. I don’t think that’s true, I’m sure I heard about two Newcastle United players being sent off for fighting each other once.

    Besides which Alonso broke the rule against impeding another driver during qualifying – whether it was his team mate or not is not relevant (and that has been discussed many times here: Alonso is not the victim of a McLaren conspiracy)

  3. It’s unusual that for once the bad luck has been spread between 3 drivers – and that there has been so many controversial moments in one season!

    I’d say the safety car rules have got to change – if the team simply have to pit then there should be a way of proving it to the FIA and therefore avoid a penalty.

    Hungary qualifying was just a mess all round as far as McLaren were concerned – Alonso shouldn’t have done what he did, but I think everyone could understand why he did (once the full story was known anyway).

    And yes, Kerion Dyer and Nicky Butt had a punch-up on the pitch for Newcastle United, and both were rightly sent off so it does happen in other sports too!

    Of Alonso and Hamilton, I’d imagine it’s Hamilton who is most peeved at missing out on the title – Alonso hasn’t enjoyed this year much at all so may have simply written it off as a bad experience totally.

  4. I’ll go against the flow and say I like the safety car rule. It’s just that the teams weren’t so good at working with the rule. In NASCAR, IRL, and other motorsports with such a rule, teams don’t let their drivers run on fumes. They always leave a fuel allowance so that the drivers can run longer than the planned stint if a safety car came out on their pit lap. If other motorsports can live with it, why not F1?

    Hamilton doesn’t mind much, probably. Remember, HE’S JUST A ROOKIE. He still has much time to win a title. Alonso, on the other hand, is more concerned. He’s practically on the verge of leaving McLaren, Ferrari won’t have a free seat for another year or two, and Renault is a shadow of what they were in 2005-2006. His only consolation is that he’s already a double WC and Lewis isn’t.

  5. Agreed Journeyer, having a greater fuel allowance will allow you get into the pits. But it cant guarantee you will get out of the pits when you want.

  6. Journeyer: In most of the other racing series the amount of fuel on board does not have such a dramatic effect on the performance of the car. Nascars 3,000 pound bloted sedans are really not effected at all by fuel loads. Formula One runs on a much tighter weight restraints.

  7. Every driver has had good and bad luck during the season, all of them, for different reasons but I think that Alonso can be really dissapointed for one simple reason, after the classification at the end of the season with one point difference with the winner, he knows he lost it in Hungary.

    I can´t remember any case that a driver gets punished when his team mate disagrees of team’s version for an internal problem (remenber Ron´s version to the media) and acuses personaly to you. That weekend Alonso spent 10 seconds more in teh pits asking why he was with different tyres than the ones expected (wrong preassure in the ones he should be using), and of course I think that having Lewis waiting didn’t worry him at all, but he crossed the starting line with 4 secs, I realy think he couldnt make it on purpose (maybe he would like to), but he can’t make the aritmetics so quickly and take such a big risk for himself.

    Lewis didn’t respect the team rules when he had to, and even in the case Alonso stayed 10 more seconds in the pits for purpose, not respecting the team order of leaving, the only one who got punished was Alonso, and Hamilton had the race served, that’s all, ¿Do you think Alonso would had cried to the FIA saying Lewis didn’t respect the team rules and ruined his pole when he destroyed his cualifying planning and he lost one burning lap? NO, that’s teams internal problem.

    Just imagine the opposite situation, Lewis loosing the pole because Alonso didn’t respect the team rules, ruined the whole team’s cualifying plan and cried to the FIA…….

  8. A nice, organized list-and especially meaningful as the points totoal was so tight.
    I think the cruelest was in Canada-but Lewis in the pitlane gravel trap was pretty, tough, too.
    Like they say, F1 is IF backwards!
    2007 was a great season.

  9. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Felipe Massa!!

    1. Australia – Fastest man all weekend, mechanical failure in qualifying, starts last and fights to 6th, loses podium.
    2. Malaysia – Fastest man all weekend, gets duped by Lewis, sulks, comes 5th, loses podium.
    3. Canada – Brain explosion and drives through red light at pit lane exit, DQ loses podium.
    4. Britain – Car problem on grid, starts last, finishes 5th loses podium
    5. Italy – Faster then Kimi all weekend, mechanical failure, loses podium

    Five races blown due to mechanical problems (3 times) and head problems (twice)

    At this point… He was quietly told to start supporting Kimi. A bit more luck and Kimi would have been riding shotgun for him!

    PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting that Felipe is better then Kimi, Nando or Lewis merely to suggest that he had a TERRIFIC season and is definately in their class.
    This guy was on it all season long and deserves the kudos.

  10. oliver, that’s an aspect that does need to change. When you open the pit entrance to let the cars pit, might as well open the pit exit too, right? Carldec, it’s a matter of adjusting to it. I think F1 guys are smart enough to be able to adapt to the rule.

  11. Mark, I would add France to your list, where Massa was pole and led until the second pit stop, when, part for his fault of not being fast enough to avoid risks, part for the heavy traffic he faced, he lost it to Kimi, handing him two valuable points and the positive psicological effect of winning.
    Besides that, the late shower at the Nurburgring, when he was leading, and the alleged vibrations that made him clearly slower than Alonso, who only managed to pass him after an one and a half lap battle.
    And, of course, Brazil itself meant two points less he wouldn’t have to give up, had he arrived as a championship contender.

  12. Massa IS a champion, whether crowned by the feeble FIA or not!

  13. You’re spot on Daniel, He dominated ALL WEEKEND at France and would have won Germany if not for the late shower.

  14. Mark I don’t agree about Massa but this will be the subject of an article in the F1 Fanatic 2007 season review, starting Monday…

  15. interesting issue to debate. but this “what if…” could also include Kimi and as Mark listed out Massa too.

    Kimi – DNF in Spain and Germany(European GP), mistake in Monaco qualifying, resulting in 8th place finish only, mistake with tyres in Japan, not exactly benefiting from the Canadian safety car periods, finishing 5th…

    but at the end, after Japan, it was only Hamilton’s title to loose. It looked like almost an impossible task… But he managed to do exactly that and now he can never be the first rookie to win the title.

  16. Journeyer:

    Lets assume, your original pit stop is scheduled for lap 18 and you have perhaps 2 or 3 extra laps of fuel on board. Do you then still stop of lap 18? or do u make it 20 or 21? I’m simply saying, even if u stop on any of those laps, you could still have a situation bring out the safety car while your in the pits, and have to wait in there until allowed out.

    In Canada, Massa and another driver didnt wait in the pits while the RED LIGHT were on and they got disqualified. Kubica waited and eventually was able to get back on track but had lost position.

    Massa deserved to be up there, but there was no way Ferrari was goin to let that happen.

  17. Lewis’ problem at Turkey seems to be real shame now.
    He earned that place, and the race was as good as done.
    And then his tyre gave up on him.
    2 points that he needed, gone for good.

    But that’s racing :)

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