Hamilton vs Rosberg: How reliability has decided team mates’ title battles

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It is in F1’s nature that sometimes one team will have the best car over the course of a season and the drivers’ championship becomes a contest between their two racers.

When this happens the battle between the pair can be strongly influenced by how reliable their cars are. Lewis Hamilton is acutely aware of this at the moment, as race failures in Australia and Canada plus problems during qualifying in Germany and Hungary are a large part of the reason why he is 11 points behind team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton might feel hard done by if he were to lose the championship by that amount, but he wouldn’t be the first driver to lose out in this fashion. Here are some of the more memorable championship battles between team mates where unreliability was arguably the deciding factor.

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Juan Manuel Fangio vs Giuseppe Farina, 1950

The first championship grand prix gave a strong indication how the inaugural title would be settled. Giuseppe Farina won the race and was joined on the podium by two of his Alfa Romeo team mates.

But one of the four Alfas did not reach the chequered flag at Silverstone. Juan Manuel Fangio had retired eight laps from home when his engine died.

Fangio hit back at the second race, winning in Monaco while Farina crashed out (pictured). But while Fangio did not have the monopoly on car problems – fuel pump problems for Farina in the penultimate race set up a showdown at the season finale – Fangio plainly had the worse luck of the pair.

The title was decided in the last race at Monza where fortune favoured Farina once more. A stone went through Fangio’s radiator, forcing him into the pits where he took over team mate Piero Taruffi’s car. Then the engine failed on Fangio’s second machine, which left Farina to win the race and take the title.

Jack Brabham vs Denny Hulme, 1967

After achieving the unique feat of winning the world championship at the wheel of his own car in 1966, Jack Brabham lost the championship to team mate Denny Hulme the following year. And it may have been the case that by tinkering a little too much with his own car Brabham tipped the balance towards his team mate.

The pair began the season running the BT20 chassis which Brabham had took the title with the previous year. He started his points haul with fifth at Kyalami having pitting to investigate an electrical problem.

A more serious failure wrecked Brabham’s race in Monaco. Having qualified on pole an engine problem forced him into a spin at Mirabeau on the first lap, so he left the principality without adding to his score while Hulme won.

The new BT24 let both drivers down on its debut in Belgium, but it proved its worth when Brabham led a one-two in the French Grand Prix. However his race at Silverstone was typical of the kind of niggling faults that undermined his championship defence – a severe vibration caused both mirrors to fall off, which left him defenceless against Hulme’s attack. He then delayed the progress of Chris Amon’s Ferrari, and by doing so inadvertently protected Hulme’s lead.

The championship situation became more difficult for both drivers in the second half of the season as the new Lotus 49 with its Cosworth DFV engine was clearly the class of the field. Jim Clark used it to win the last two races of the year, and Hulme had only to follow him home in Mexico to grab the title off his team mate.

“I must say that Jack gave me a very useful car for the season,” said Hulme afterwards. “Maybe I didn’t always have the latest equipment on my car, but it was possibly more reliable than his because of this.”

“There were occasions when Jack carried out some experiments with his car that didn’t come off – like trying a big-valve engine which didn’t prove successful. Mind you, if the experiments had worked, he might have won, so I was perhaps in the happier position of not having to drive a ‘guinea pig’ car.

Gilles Villeneuve vs Jody Scheckter, 1979

The iconic image of Gilles Villeneuve is of him dragging his three-wheeled Ferrari 312T4 back to the pits at Zandvoort in 1979. While his car let him down more often than team mate and eventual champion Jody Scheckter’s did that year, few would dispute there were occasions when Villeneuve exacted a higher toll on his machinery.

That’s not to say he was always to blame for the problems that held him back that year, and there were plenty: a blown engine in Argentina, a broken rear wing in Germany and – most cruelly – running out of fuel after a heroic recovery drive to third place in Belgium.

With three races left to go, Ferrari called off the fight. Villeneuve dutifully followed his team mate home at Monza, guaranteeing Scheckter the title. Another win and a second place for Villeneuve over the final races left him four points behind his team mate in the final reckoning. Whatever the causes of Villeneuve’s car problems, they had cost him dearly.

Niki Lauda vs Alain Prost, 1985

Niki Lauda, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, can sympathise with Hamilton’s plight from his own experience. Any hopes Lauda had of defending his third and final title were ruined by the mostly dreadful luck in 1985.

He’d beaten McLaren team mate Alain Prost to the 1984 title by half a point. But there would be no repeat of that close finish the following year as Lauda suffered the most appalling misfortune.

It began at the first round where the fuel metering unit packed up. A faulty piston ended his race in round two. He spun out in Monaco but the next four retirements were all down to the car: Canada: engine; Detroit: brakes; France: gearbox; Britain: electrics. Lauda cursed his misfortune, but trashed claims of a conspiracy within the team against him as “utter nonsense”.

By the tenth race of the season, his home grand prix in Austria, Lauda had only seen the chequered flag twice. He decided he had endured enough and announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. His race was ended by another turbo failure, but one week later at Zandvoort the car finally held and he took his sole victory of the year.

Normal service was resumed at Monza, where the transmission packed up. A wrist injury kept Lauda out of the cockpit at Brands Hatch while Prost clinched the championship. After the final two rounds Prost had amassed 73 points to Lauda’s 14 – the latter inevitably having retired from his swansong races in Kyalami (turbo) and Adelaide (brakes).

Nigel Mansell vs Nelson Piquet, 1987

After the thrilling end to the 1986 championship, the following season was an anti-climax. Williams team mates Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet fought each other with great verve during the year, notably at Silverstone, but during practice for the penultimate race at Suzuka Mansell injured his back, handing Piquet the title.

In the final reckoning Mansell took six wins to Piquet’s three, and would have had several more with better luck. A turbo problem put him out while leading in Monaco, another engine win cost him a potential win in Germany, and he was six laps from victory in Hungary when a wheel nut came off his car.

Such problems were few and far between for Piquet who only suffered a single mechanical failure – a broken exhaust in Belgium – before the title was decided. Despite the notorious animus between the pair at the time, Piquet later admitted Mansell had been unlucky not to win the championship in 1987.

Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost, 1989

The 1989 championship-decider was one of the most acrimonious the sport has ever seen. Ayrton Senna was poised to overtake team mate Prost for a crucial win in the penultimate race when Prost, knowing Senna would lose the title if he failed to finish, turned in and made contact.

The pair had gone into that race with the title hanging in the balance largely due to the misfortunes Senna had suffered earlier in the season. Despite that there were claims, propagated by no less than the president of the sport’s governing body, that Prost was receiving inferior equipment.

However it was Senna who suffered race-ending mechanical trouble while leading in Phoenix, Montreal and Silverstone, and he dropped out on the first lap at Paul Ricard when his differential packed up.

Accusations that McLaren’s engine supplier Honda was giving Senna better equipment peaked at Monza, where he out-qualified Prost by 1.7 seconds. FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre weighed in on Prost’s side, but on race day it was Senna’s McLaren which failed to go the distance. His car broke down again while he was leading – another setback which put the pair on a collision course at the penultimate round.

Reliability in the 2014 title fight

The misfortune Hamilton experienced in the last two races could have been much more damaging to his championship chances. He has done well to keep the deficit to his team mate down to 11 points, and with 250 available over the final races there is still everything to play for.

As the championship calendar has grown in recent seasons, drivers have more opportunities to make up for misfortune earlier in the year. The 2010 championship is an example of this: arriving at the final race Sebastian Vettel trailed team mate Mark Webber partly due to costly car failures in Bahrain, Melbourne and South Korea, but Vettel clinched the title in the finale at Abu Dhabi.

However Hamilton and Rosberg will be acutely aware that this year the final race offers double points, so any mechanical misfortunes will there be punished twice as severely.

Over to you

Which other championship battles between team mates were strongly affected by unreliability – in F1 and other series? Do you expect reliability to decide the outcome this year?

Have your say in the comments.

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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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53 comments on “Hamilton vs Rosberg: How reliability has decided team mates’ title battles”

  1. Interesting article and fun to read about the long-past championship battles!

    Just a thought on the whole double points saga which was mentioned at the end… I hate it. I’m not what some people call a ‘purist’ as I’m fully in favour of little things to improve the show, such as DRS; however, this is clearly just ridiculous.

    While I hate it; it’s happening. The points system was approved and agreed pre-season and is not going to change, so we may as well accept it. So let’s enjoy it for the ‘gimmick’ that it is. I can’t deny that I will find it an added thrill, even if I don’t like it. It’s controversial, but controversy is in F1’s blood – frankly, it’s partly what keeps us coming back for more.

    I hope that this year is a one-off – but I do think it’ll be another interesting chapter of F1 history should anything controversial happen.

    1. so we may as well accept it

      I don’t see why.

      1. Because it’s happening whether we like it or not, and we may as well just enjoy it for the novelty (I hope!) that it is.

        1. @ben-n While I get your sentiment, and you do admit you hate it and hope it is a one-off, I think our level of enjoyment of it will depend on whether when all is said and done one driver was robbed and one driver won just because, in people’s perception.

          I think the best case scenario is that this is a one-off and the results would not have been different without double points when all is said and done.

        2. There are an awful lot of things which are practically inevitable. That doesn’t mean they have to be enjoyed in any way.

      2. @matt90 I accept that double points is going to happen, but I don’t accept that it is any good for our sport in any way, shape, form, whatever.

        1. I agree with you. Double points are ok in voluntary participation events like Golf and Tennis – but in F1, there is no reason for this. Even more so because of the 5 Engine limit – the last 5 races could be a complete lottery with respect to the starting grid positions, winners, and points scoring.

          1. The engine limit is the point of double points. Its meant to try and encourage engine manufacturers & teams to go for reliability to the very end of the championship instead of taking the penalty for extra engines. Up until the the first GP this year, everyone predicted severe unreliability, we expected the loudest noises to be engines exploding along the start finish line!! No one would have said RB would be 2nd in the standings, given the pre season noises coming from Christian and co.
            Given the amazing racing we have seen so far double points is not needed, but if the season was as unreliable as everyone feared, it could have added an interesting twist to the championship. As it is we could still witness a nail biting end to the season, it aint over till the car passes the finish line and until then anything can happen.

    2. Unfortunately for you and every sane F1 fan, the 2015 rules are out and the double points will still feature in next year’s final race. In SebVet’s words, “Tough Luck!”…

  2. A title belongs to man and machine. If one fails to deliver that is how it goes. The fact it is between teammates who drive the very same cars makes it harder to accept but it is still the way it goes. In the end Hamilton his troubles may aswell come from his driving style compared to Rosberg. We can never know.

    The 2003 title however that saw Kimi retire 3 times compared to Schumacher his 1 retirement is another story that is hard to let go. You might aswell argue Hamilton could have easily swept away with the 2012 title had his car never let him down as the McLaren was by a mile the fastest car.

    It’s part of the game and saying one deserves it more or not because of reliability is nonsense to me.

    1. @xtw

      In the end Hamilton his troubles may aswell come from his driving style compared to Rosberg. We can never know.

      But you’re going to speculate with this baseless nonsense anyway as it provides another potential angle with which to put down Hamilton?

      1. Ive been thinking that too, his car kept falling apart in 2012 too.

      2. @psynrg It’s in no way baseless. We saw how Hamilton running different brake bias for example led to his retirement in Canada while Rosberg salvaged that amazing 2nd place with no ERS.

        I don’t know about you, but sometimes people can see when a driver is being aggressive with his car.

        I know it’s not the case for everybody, because I often read or hear things said like: “you could not tell if the cars were 2s slower, so it does not matter..” And to me it seems totally absurd, of course I can.

        Last year in India, I was waiting when Webber’s car is going to fail for example, because it was obvious he was hurting the car on the curbs, all throughout the weekend. So just because you can not see it, don’t make the opposite claim.
        Do you, for example, pay attention to the brake bias Lewis and Nico runs at different stages during the weekend and at different parts of the track?

        1. @mateuss Even if there was actual objective evidence that Lewis’s driving style led to reliability issues then don’t you think the team would build things accordingly or for example instruct the driver to change to a less aggressive bias setting (which we do indeed hear them do when needed.)

          Trying to blame Lewis for actual car reliability issues (as opposed to for e.g. driving it off track or contact with another car) is just clutching at straws to try and make Lewis bad.

          At the end of the day it’s just down to bad luck and it can befall any driver at any random time. The vast number of variables in play make it so, there’s no need for snide speculation.

          1. What do you mean when you say just ” bad luck”?

            The cars are made and run to the highest possible stresses without breaking. There might be several pre-events to push one or multiple parts that bit further, like prior crash damage, manufacturing imperfection, material imperfection, mechanic’s finger work, miscalculation of track demands, or unexpected weather etc.
            BUT it is always at the hand of the driver when that part is pushed over the limit (unless you come out of the garage already with a broken car, which has happened). Small differences in how the driver uses his machinery can decide if the parts will or will not be pushed over that limit.

            Think of it as similar to tyre wear, each part has it’s life, but we don’t see them wear, and to a certain extent, neither does the drivers, but you can not seriously suggest that it’s “just random luck” (what ever you meant with that) that one driver wears his tyres more quickly than an other one? (Was it bad luck that Lewis had to do one more stop in Turkey because his tyres were being stressed too much all through the weekend?)

            And all those possible pre events are also absolutely true to tyres, no two tyres are the same.

            Most of the time we don’t have the evidence as fans, but sometimes we have enough to make a reasonable assessment of what happened and Canada is one of those cases. Both cars had the same ERS fail at the same time(which, among other things, puts extra stress on rear brakes) and Rosberg ran a brake bias some 10% towards the front, drove less aggressively (as Lewis was attacking at the time), and then his Hamilton’s rear brakes fail. Is this not evidence?

            And please answer what you mean by “luck” in you comment.

          2. @psynrg I struggle to take anyone seriously who gets very defensive about Hamilton’s abilities.

            And hasn’t Rosberg also had mechanical failures? Rosberg does use higher revs and changes mid corner to help turn the car. That could have very well played a part in his gearbox failure in Silverstone for example.

            My point was: like with tyre deg, the drivers absolutely, most definitely have effect on each part of the car. I don’t see how can you claim otherwise.

            And what did you mean by “just luck”? Please explain.

          3. John Sharpstone
            19th August 2014, 4:32


            I don’t really see how Hamilton is harder on the car, haven’t he generally been using less fuel and looking after his tires better this season as compared to Rosberg? Wouldn’t that point that he is in fact easier on the car?

          4. “The car” is not a single part. You can be more aggressive on some parts, while being easy on others.

            And fuel use might be also dependent on the set ups and engine setting they run, we don’t know, although Rosberg does seem to run higher revs in the corners these days.

            Sure, the generalization that Hamilton’s driving is generally more aggressive is not always true. For one, his driving style has changed over the years. For example, in the past, you could tell Hamilton apart from the way he was changing gears, just from the sound. He stopped that changing gears like that.

            I judge each driver race by race. Though, even his engineers of the past, have commented that he was a lot more of a car breaker. But I would not say that that is so much the case now, although I think it was also what made him that fast. I have not seen much of that, which I refereed to as “Hamilton magic”. So he has changed.

        2. Do you, for example, pay attention to the brake bias Lewis and Nico runs at different stages during the weekend and at different parts of the track?

          Do you? Does anyone? Sure, if you hear a team-radio, then yes. How would you know what he does with the break bias at different parts of the track? Attacking the kerbs is not necessarily a sign of a car breaking down, Schumacher used to do it consistently (I remember Canada 2011, he was hitting the sausage kerbs at the last chicane often) and I don’t think he suffered from poor reliability throughout his career. My two cents.

          1. @gicu Yes I do, Yes I did. I follow the onboards, on the Merc display it is easier to see the bias from the onboard camera.

        3. Forgive me my lack of statistical facts but I seem to remember that Hamilton had suffered some misfortune in Canada that forced him to push the car harder in order to catch Rosberg so it is possible that his driving style resulted in a more complete machinery failure than Rosberg but can you blame a race driver for driving faster than the leader?

          1. @hohum You said it yourself. Make excuses if you wan’t, but it does not change the fact that his driving is what likely led to the break failure.

          2. *brake
            I’am truly terrible at proof reading my own writing :/
            It is one of my failings, I seem to read my text as I meant it, not as I wrote it.

        4. @mateuss Hamilton’s different braking bias allowed him to go faster and put the pressure on Rosberg, fighting for P1. However, I also think he should have changed it as soon as the MGU-K failed or, at least, be advised to do so.

      3. Tired of this “hard on the car” superstition. This is not 1985. All the but the steering in the cars now is electronics-mediated. Indeed, all aspects of “stress” on the car are closely monitored and often adjusted for via telemetry, directly or by instruction to the driver. The only time where a driver has an acute input into reliability is managing a system or component failure, but this often comes down to applying the correct electronic settings on the team’s advice and driving accordingly.

      4. Its difficult to say but if it was the case I’m sure someone with the data would have noticed a long time ago. Secondly, no one knows whether the brake that failed in Canada was the same as Nico was using. It was mentioned that Brembo brakes had failed earlier in the year, when exactly and on which car no one knows, so there is a possibility Lewis was using Brembo and Nico CI in Canada, which led to one overheating when the other didn’t. And if it was due to driving style why doesn’t Lewis always have brake failures, burning engines, cracked spark plug pipes ?????

    2. In the beginning of his F1 days he had great reliability so I’m sure that isn’t the case.
      Just look at the Australian grand prix, just plain bad bad luck.

    3. Hamilton his troubles may aswell come from his driving style compared to Rosberg. We can never know.

      Yep, we will never know, we only can guess with some clue, like: Hamilton always saves more fuel and tyre than Rosberg, so can we guess that Lewis is more gentle with his car than Rosberg with his?

      1. I thought Hamilton was “bad” at managing tyres. Ive assumed he has been running less than 100kg since he found out how efficient the car is.

  3. Maybe somebody should create a similar article on drivers losing the championship down to unforced errors!

    Really don’t know why people are making such an issue of mechanical failures. Firstly, it’s part of the sport. Secondly, it’s not as one sided as people are making out.

    LH in Aus and NR at Silverstone cancel each other out – 1 each. They had the same issue in Canada but Rosberg managed it better – so 2 each!

    The bad luck NR had in Hungary (weather / safety cars etc) actually cost him more than LH’s issue in quali.

    So that just leaves the ‘brake failure’ in German quali. To re-emphasise, it was QUALI! Not the race. Yep he started out of position as a result but still finished 3rd (and would have been 2nd had he not driven in to the back of JB, which is arguably where he would have finished without the issue in quali).

    And the slower pit stops are mainly due to the fact that he keeps overshooting his marks!

    1. Ahh, I see a true Lewis Hamilton fan!
      I rarely comment on these blogs, however I must respond to what has become quoted almost as a fact that Nico managed his brake issue better than Lewis. Proof is given that Nico finished, whilst the reckless car breaker Hamilton didn’t have the skill to manage this problem. As has been commented by others, Lewis was following behind which subjected his brakes to higher temperatures (of course this was his ‘fault’ for not qualifying on pole). Also considering they use different brake materials, and different lifecycles of components it’s impossible to put the credit down to one driver rather than the other.
      One more comment, about Hungary. Even after the safety car Nico was in front of Lewis with 2 cars between, but still finished ahead of him.
      This is not a comment bashing Nico, I rate him very highly but get tired of the constant bashing of Lewis Hamilton for reasons I don’t quite understand. Lets just enjoy the rivalry this season!

      1. One more comment, about Hungary. Even after the safety car Nico was in front of Lewis with 2 cars between, but still finished ahead of him.

        Nico was 35 seconds in front of Lewis when the safety car came out! He wouldn’t have got near him had it not been for that! That cost Nico more than Lewis’ issue in quali – that was my point!

        But to your comment, Mercedes didn’t have a clue what was the best strategy so they split them. Nico’s was the faster option but he needed free track for it to work. Lewis’ strategy was slower but he had track position. That is the only reason it didn’t work out! Definitely more through good luck than good judgement!

        1. Lewis was 10 seconds ahead of Nico in Bahrain when the SC came out, tough thats what SCs do they bring people closer together.

          1. That point is irrelevant because Lewis still won the race in Bahrain – cit didn’t cost him anything. It cost Nico the race in Hungary!

        2. Nico was 35 seconds in front of Lewis when the safety car came out! He wouldn’t have got near him had it not been for that! That cost Nico more than Lewis’ issue in quali

          But he was only 35 seconds ahead because of Hamilton’s quali failure. So how can losing that advantage be more damaging for Rosberg than Hamilton having the failure in the first place? There’s absolutely no consistency in that argument. Rosberg going from 35 seconds ahead to still 2 cars ahead clearly wasn’t as big a hindrance as Hamilton’s failure- otherwise Rosberg would have dropped behind Hamilton at that point.

    2. Gideon Hadi (@)
      18th August 2014, 16:02

      I agree with you, Rosberg should have won the Hungarian GP and the Canadian GP

      1. Yes, he should have won the Hungarian Grand Prix, even after the safety car. But he was too slow, and too lacklustre in traffic!

        1. Rosberg should have won Hungary, Canada, and Silverstone IMO.

          1. lewis was ahead before his brakes started to fail in canada.also in hungary lewis looked quicker up until his car caught on fire in quali.so lewis had a realistic chance of getting pole in hungary as well as germany.and in silverstone lewis was on it,so it wasnt definite nico would have won that.

    3. If weather counts as bad luck then bad luck cost Hamilton pole in Britain, meaning Rosberg subsequent failure was only equal to losing a 2nd rather than a win. The idea that Rosberg managed the problem in Canada better is a desperate attempt to make the stats go in his favour.

      1. Err, wrong on 2 counts! He lost pole in Silverstone due to his own stupidity in believing the track was slower, rather than just finishing the lap and seeing what happened (like just about every other driver did). Not bad luck, stupidity!

        And in Canada, whatever way you look at it or want to believe, they had the exact same issue at more or less the same time. Rosberg eased off more, more lifting and coasting (to the annoyance of Hamilton for about 3 laps because he believed he was being held up), somehow kept all but Ricciardo at bay, and finished 2nd. Hamilton retired within 3 laps. fact!

        1. He believed the track was slow due to weather, namely extreme changeability. The only reason it wasn’t slow was due to very random track conditions- i.e. weather- where just 1 or 2 sectors improved in speed by about 4 seconds in the space of 2 minutes. I’m only using your logic.

          Please show me a shred of evidence that Rosberg was intentionally looking after his car more than Hamilton, besides that he simply preferred the feel of less rearward brake bias and had the benefit of not running in another car’s hot air.

          Hamilton retired within 3 laps. fact!

          Within 3 laps of what exactly? Why are you shouting fact and what about?

    4. @ Chris Lawson How do you know that he always overshoots his mark in the pit stops. The only time that he did that was in Austria so i think mechanics are responsible for this. I don’t know why you mention that he would have finished 2nd even if he didn’t have brake failure.

      1. If you read it properly, I said ‘arguably would have finished 2nd’. We don’t know and will never know. Same as we will never know who would have won Australia and who would have won Silverstone. The nearest clue we have is that Nico’s long run pace in practice was faster.

    5. Rosberg spun off in China. That equals out Hamilton’s spin in Austria.

      Rosberg also spun out in Monaco, but that “error” actually gifted him pole and the win.

      Rosberg didn’t manage anything better in Canada The team said he was simply lucky that his brakes didn’t fail. Might also have been just a difference in brake supplier. The same Brembo brakes failed again in Hockenheim.

      Rosberg could easily have won in Hungary. Even Alonso finished second coming from several places behind Rosberg after the fist safety car. Rosberg’s inability to overtake and actually being overtaken by Alonso and Vergne is what cost him the win and even the podium.

      Rosberg also threw away the win in Silverstone already with a poor stop. Perhaps he followed Vettel in the wrong strategy or he just failed all on his own because he is less able than Hamilton to manage the tyres.

      Rosberg also had a whole series of bad starts. Especially the one in Bahrain cost him the win.

      That whole list of unforced Rosberg errors cost him a lot more than the qualifying mishap that Hamilton had in Silverstone. In fact that didn’t cost Hamilton anything since he would have won that race anyway.

  4. I think that Brabham sabbotaged Jack Brabham.

    1. It seems that by trying to give himself an advantage he shot himself in the foot or maybe he was such a decent man that he thought all new experimental stuff should be put on his car for test since he is the owner of the team.

  5. Surely @ben-n the thing is to make the biggest fuss possible, to stop Berniie doing it again next year.

    And just cross everything that DP doesn’t decide the championship this year by exaggerating a reliability issue. Because @xtwl the competition is supposed to be about skill and excellence rather than mere chance – so for a team to produce a more reliable car than another team is a valid difference, but for one car in a team randomly to break more than the other is not. Yes unless one of them bashes kerbs and walls obviously.

  6. This article really shows off my driver sympathies. I feel really awful for Gilles, Nigel and Nikki, as if a huge injustice has been done and ‘someone ought to do something’. But as lots of people say, that’s racing. Its true that a driver can have some influence through car sympathy (kerb-hopping, managing temps) and having some influence on part-selection (I’ll take the older, reliable front-wing, thanks), but mostly it’s luck of the draw, just like safety cars, the weather, having a reserve driver bin your car in practice, a slow pit stop, a fuel-flow miscalculation, illness, an accident that isn’t your fault… And listing things like this makes racing seem like a lottery. So its testament to the professionalism of some teams that they consistently perform. This is especially true of teams with smaller budgets, where car performance isn’t always there and points come from a lack of operational errors and good reliability.

  7. I’ve been limited for time and wanted to chime in earlier but for now would just say I lean toward what @xtwl and Chris Lawson have been saying.

    In general, even though I pull for NR, I do think that LH has had the slight upper hand in performance when all things are equal. But this is the first season NR has had the WDC level equipment, and LH has had far more experience from that aspect. So I think NR is doing a marvelous job against a tough opponent.

    I also think that between luck and reliability issues and mistakes it is far more even between the drivers than most seem willing to admit. And far more even between them than the examples Keith gives above where reliability truly affected the Championship.

    There is much to come and NR may have some trouble that evens things out moreso for those who want to strictly add up DNFs and then claim NR leads ONLY because of that, while ignoring the fact that when LH won his WDC just barely, FM had had 3 DNFs to LH’s 1 that year.

    DR has been analyzed as driver number 1 so far this season…would that be the case if SV hadn’t had so much time and rhythm interrupted with his far greater unreliability than DR has had? Perhaps, because just as for NR he still has to go out there and do his best…do his race…but what if SV had more chances earlier on to learn more and get into a rhythm with the car and therefore head DR in more races? Yet that seems to not matter and DR is number 1.

    1. You forget that Massa was himself responsible for a ton of unforced errors. Like spinning off in the first two races and doing a whole ballet recital in Silverstone. Even the Alan Donnely stepping in and taking away Hamilton’s Spa win gifting it to Massa wasn’t enough to overcome all that.

  8. May not be on the list but 2005 was definitely down to reliability.

  9. I remember in 1993 i was holding my finger up for the Mclaren-Ford not to break but it was breaking quite often. It wasn’t just that Senna was doing awesome things with and it was a beautiful car to watch but it was also that Senna at the time was in a similar position to Ricardo this year(although the Difference to Williams was probably bigger than Mercedes to Red Bull) with the difference that the Williams was one driver show unlike the Mercedes duo. Basically he was keeping close and looked like he could fight for the championship against a much stronger car but unfortunately the unreliability ruined the possibility of the season being more exciting due to a real championship fight between Prost and Senna for one last time.

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