Did Hamilton’s unreliability stop him winning the title?

2016 F1 season

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After seeing his title chances fail yesterday, Lewis Hamilton had a clear view about the role unreliability played in his championship defeat.

“Obviously we had a lot of problems this year,” he said, “and that’s inevitably why I’m in this position.”

Technical problems are an inevitability in motor racing. And if car failures can be said to have cost Hamilton a championship this year that was certainly also true of other drivers before him – particularly those who lost titles to their team mates.

But has the role Hamilton’s unreliability played in Nico Rosberg’s world championship victory been exaggerated?

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Rosberg’s only DNF was his collision with Hamilton in Spain
Looking at the big picture, on the face of it Hamilton should be pleased with the reliability he’s had. Only three drivers on the grid who entered every race had fewer race-ending technical problems than he did during 2016.

Unfortunately for Hamilton, one of those three was his team mate. The Mercedes W07 has been very reliable, as has the the Mercedes PU106C power unit which is also in the back of six other cars.

There is a paradox at work here: The more reliable a teams’ car is, the more damaging a breakdown is for a driver.

For example, compare the situation to two years ago. In 2014* Mercedes had five failures which led to non-classifications. Of those Hamilton had two and Rosberg three. With 25 points available for a win, 40% of the potential lost points occurred on Hamilton’s side of the garage. This year Hamilton had the team’s single failure and therefore took a full 100% of the team’s points lost due to breakdowns.

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In this respect Hamilton was clearly hard done by. Simple championship arithmetic rams this point home: his Malaysia engine failure resulted in a 28-point swing against him and his only lost the title by five.

However he and Rosberg also suffered non-race-ending technical problems during the season. These have to be included in any analysis as well, but calculating how many points these cost the drivers is more difficult.

Here’s an overview of the significant technical problems each driver experienced during 2016:

RaceRosberg notesHamilton notes
ChinaPower unit problem in qualifying left him last on the grid. Also had a five-place gearbox change penalty.
RussiaPower unit problem in qualifying left him tenth on the grid
MonacoPower unit problem in qualifying limited his runs in Q3.
EuropeLoss of power in second practice limited his running. Had same engine mode problem as Hamilton but it occured shortly after a settings change which he was able to reverse.Spent part of race in wrong engine mode as team were not allowed to tell him how to change it.
AustriaSuspension problem in practice caused crash which resulted in five-place penalty for gearbox change. Brake-by-wire fault on last lap allowed Hamilton to attack.
Great BritainGearbox problem led to Mercedes giving him outside assistance which resulted in a penalty.
BelgiumStarted last after taking a grid penalty for power unit component changes
SingaporeHydraulic problem in second practice limited his running
MalaysiaEngine failed while leading.
United States
Abu Dhabi

Trying to determine which driver has lost more points due to reliability invites a high degree of interpretation.

Rosberg may well have had his pole positions and subsequent victories in China and Russia even if Hamilton’s qualifying sessions had been trouble-free. Trying to unpick what influence Rosberg’s suspension failure in Austria had on his final finishing position is a Butterfly effect question.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2016
Two technical glitches struck Rosberg in Austria
And then there’s a question of which technical failures were truly outside the driver’s control. Rosberg’s mystery problem in Monaco? Hamilton’s glazed brake in Mexico? These could be considered to have been influenced by driving style.

Clearly it isn’t the case that Hamilton was the only Mercedes driver to experience technical problems in 2016. Sometimes these problems were similar to setbacks Rosberg experienced yet for Hamilton they had a greater impact. For example, Hamilton lost running in second practice in Singapore and Rosberg did in Baku, yet Rosberg won both races.

But even putting the most positive spin on these outcomes for Rosberg it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that Hamilton’s potential points haul was greatly diminished by the problems he experienced.

The retirement in Malaysia, the back-of-the-grid starts in China and Belgium and the tenth-place start in Russia all badly limited Hamilton’s ability to beat his team mate. Rosberg did not have a single reliability-related setback which was as damaging as any of these four were for Hamilton.

This is not to say unreliability made it impossible for Hamilton to win the championship this year. But in the final reckoning he only needed a little less bad luck to hold onto his crown.

*See here for a more detailed analysis of how reliability influenced the 2014 championship

2016 F1 season

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Author information

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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199 comments on “Did Hamilton’s unreliability stop him winning the title?”

  1. It’s undeniable that reliability has played a part on this year’s championship battle.
    Hamilton’s poor starts also certainly played a role and Rosberg capitalised on those opportunities so all credit to him. A very worthy champion for sure.

    1. I agree, Hamilton did indeed suffer greater from unreliability, but there were few occasions where he had full control of his own fate but didn’t take full advantage. Ultimately neither Hamilton or Mercedes fully held their respective ends of bargain.

      The world championship doesn’t go to the best driver, it goes the driver who takes the most advantage of the circumstances offered to them, Rosberg did so, he is a worthy champion.

      1. Well said and completely agree.

    2. You could say Hamilton capitalised on Rosberg’s baulk in Germany too. The fact that both cars were running means I don’t consider them.

      The fatal wound to Lewis’s campaign was (IMHO) solely Malaysia – everything else was simply switching to plan B, which he often executed to the best of his ability (and what the track/other cars would let him).

    3. Rosberg had own problems as well. Little less. But 3 years ago it was much more. Same way Hamilton got his first championship with Mercedes.

      1. Hamilton had the same issues 3 years ago. It was the way he got his first championship with Mercedes.

        1. 3 issues for both but there was also Spa with another DNF for Lewis, and remember 2014 ended with 67 points diff, not 5 points.

          1. Rosberg finished outside of the points at Abu Dhabi in 2014, also remember that in 2014 it was double points…

            Mercedes also told Rosberg that the he should retire from the race, the only reason he didn’t was due to it being the final race of the season and destroying the PU wouldn’t have been detrimental to any further race. Rosberg wanted to try and finish the race, regardless of position.

    4. The thing is people keep using the “poor starts” as if that was down to Hamilton’s driving..Toto said they were having a hardware issue with clutches that was random and did not correlate with what Lewis was doing in the car, and said it will take more than 1 race to fix. Hence why Hamilton was concerned that it will likely continue for the time being and that it could have an effect on the season. Once they confirmed they had fixed the clutch issue the poor starts stopped?

      It feels like people just lost interest and didn’t follow the first half of the season. Because so many comments seem to only say Malaysia but Hamilton’s unreliability started pretty much from the get go Having multiple engine components fail and need replacing. So unless people think Hamilton has suddenly taken to engineering and started messing with his own car these comments blaming Hamilton for his unreliability are just mind blowing.

      1. cogito ergo sum :)

        It is appalling right, in 2014 Lewis would have pretty much walked away with the championship bar his first round KO, and the rampant qualifying mechanical issues which brought Nico back in to the fold.

        Last year, Lewis won the championship in the first half of the year, but after Mercedes started playing with the balance of the car, something Lewis talked about publicly, for which Toto was very dismissive of, he managed to snatch it, but with out any real mechanical issues in the extreme.

        This year, Lewis had serious issues with starting (not just his fault), had multiple qualifying mech issues early on which gave his teammate a large gap, Lewis closed the gap, and as soon as he went over, his mech issues came back. The mechanical issues are the only reason why he lost this year, he could have made the same bad starts and still won by over 2 races this year, if he had the same reliability as his teammate.

        Mercedes will NEVER publicly admit to sabotaging one of their cars. But their advantage is so great, SO GREAT, and the competition, so horrible, (purposefully so, per FIA regulations), that what is really important is people keep watching races on TV, so they can enjoy Mercedes commercial.

        Mercedes are allowed to put on such a poor show/spectacle, because people willingly play stupid and take such an uncritical mindset to this spectacle. You have to be a sleep to believe this dream, at night you can see the ‘stars’, but unfortunately things can be oh so dim, and quite perfunctory/predictable.

        I guess I would just add, maybe the one stat people love to overlook is qualifying reliability, as for what ever reason, starting from the back of the grid or P10, doesn’t have some sort of effect on winning a race (beating your teammate). But the ever predictable response would be, but look at Max last race, with out adding the fact that the race was slowed down considerably at the front. Mercedes should really be ashamed of themselves, unfortunately, people seem to want them to keep winning everything, so nobody says anything to challenge them, and thus the lame same old same old keeps on going around the same broken record.

    5. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend we’re always confronted with the same discussion. Remember in 2005, when Kimi had all the speed, but all the unreliability? he was called the true champion because of this. We could say the same about 2008 and Massa’s cruel engine failure in Hungary or the farce that was Singapore. Or 2010, with all he failures Vettel’s car suffered. Even 2006 when Schumacher’s Ferrari failed him at the worst possible moment after years of complete reliability.

      Things happen. Failure analysis is a lovely subject within engineering. Who knows how many more problems both drivers could’ve suffered that were resolved because of either Hamilton or Rosberg’s past problems? the objective is to failures not to reocurr, and that’s something both Nico and Lewis can be sure: they are enjoying one of the best cars in history, and they know that in the years to come they’ll still have much bigger chances of repeating their sucess than the rest of the poor souls stuck in a McLaren-Honda, a slow Renault engine or a pitiful Ferrari…

      1. I hate to break it to you, Fer, but Hamilton and Rosberg happen to be teammates, which means this has nothing to do with the cases you mentioned. In 2005 Kimi and Alonso were given different cars with different levels of reliability by different teams. This season Hamilton and Rosberg have been given different cars with different levels of reliability by the same team. That’s the whole reason why this story seems so dodgy.

    6. Rosberg deserved the title in 2014 but definitely not this season.

      1. How on earth did Rosberg deserve the title in 2014 @f1fan-2000? Hamilton out raced him on several occasions and got something like 11 wins to 6. At no point did Rosberg show the same wheel to wheel prowess as Hamilton in 2014

  2. No. Places like Baku when he couldn’t reset his PU or had bad starts are more of a factor I think. Its F1 and you are driving a car that can fail at times!

    If people want to watch something with no chance of mechanical failure maybe try ping pong or something- In F1 cars do blow up and others crash into you !

    Just watching the replay – did he just call him ‘Crazy Max” ?? LOL

    1. For the umpteenth time, his inability to resolve his problem in Baku, was not his doing.

      Will Buxton put it best, “Hamilton was trying to solve a crossword puzzle without being given any clues”

      Mercedes stated that they had preprogrammed the car incorrectly before the start of the race, so when Lewis started to have the problem, he didn’t know how to fix it because he didn’t know what to fix. He didn’t cause the problem. As for Rosberg, it was more simple as it only affected him after he made his stopped and changed engine mode. So once they told him that it had something to do with the mode he was in, it was relatively easy for him to just undo what he had previously done.

      1. He lost by a handful of points, not 25, not 50….

        If Hamilton wasn’t good enough to make up those very few points then the better driver won this year.

        Latch on to something like Baku – the hamfosi needs these desperate measures to prove the pointless point – ham was in control of his destiny and all he wanted was 2nd place.

        1. Hamilton did make up a 30+ points deficit…twice! I think it’s blindingly obvious who the better driver is.

          1. Yes, Hut the Champion is rosberg!!!

          2. Rosberg made up the points difference he needed to and maintained it. Even after being hit in Malaysia, recovering from 17th to 3rd and then securing a dominate win in Japan, a drivers track!

            Once this win was in the bag he only needed 2nd places to win the WDC. He earned that right and used it.

        2. Duke…

          Really don’t what you’re talking about, because you’d have noticed my Baku comment was about the technical issue he had, I said nothing about points.

          And if you’re going to reference Baku points loss, he went on to win the next 4 races, which mitigated the potential points he theoretically lost.

          He outscored Rosberg 100 to 57 over those 4 races.

          Yes he controlled his own destiny, but that was taken from him when he lost 28pts to his teammate. You can choose to ignore it all you want and latch on to something in desperation to ignore that despite the bad starts (which Rosberg had his fear share of) to say, Malaysia was not the defining moment of the season. Twice Rosberg had a good points lead and each time he saw them whithered away. He won the championship, rejoice that he has and that he has finally got the upper edge hand over his greatest adversary.

          You accuse his supporters of desperation, the same could be said of those who aren’t fans. In fact they’re the ones who are far more desperate, because they spend every ounce of energy they’ve got, trying to trample over everything he has accomplished.

          1. Unfortunately Ignorance Is Strength to people who cling on to the establishment quo my friend.

            ps. I dig your ‘avatar’. “Follow Truth Wherever It May Lead” (T. Jefferson)

          2. In the modern reliability formula that has been the last few seasons – you plan on and expect at least 1 DNF.

            Lewis lost by 5 points. He left more on the table with his own errors and own goals. That’s why he lost.

      2. Yes, but Lewis started 10th in Baku because he clouted the wall in qualifying, damaging his suspension and preventing further qualifyng runs. That certainly was driver error, completely in his control and you can’t blame that on the team. That poor starting position affected his ability to advance to claim more points. He showed speed preceding that incident that would likely have given him pole, so you could say those lost points cost him the championship. So he had it in his hands and is looking for excuses. Look at the times Rosberg finished 1st in 2016 and Lewis didn’t finish second. If he was that much superior to Nico, how do you explain that?

        1. Nico is a great driver but not a great racer thats why all his wins are when hamilton is no where near him.

          1. Ask then, why, if Lewis is such a great racer in the best car on the grid, was he nowhere near Nico when Nico won? And why are other drivers, in supposedly lesser cars, between the two of them? You can’t have it both ways and Lewis didn’t have enough technical issues this year to explain it away. Yes, Lewis has been the better of the two over their careers (and the one I’d put money on race by race) but Nico upped his game this year. Out of 9 Nico wins, Lewis placed 2nd to Nico only three times. Out of 10 Lewis wins, Nico finished 2nd to Lewis 5 times (including the last 4 races where that was all that was required).

  3. Hamilton’s engine Problem in Baku was like a knob showing the driver it was on level 6 while internally it was calibrated to be on level 5. From what I understood, he was never going to figure it out, because it wasn’t an obvious problem.

  4. Great article. I think this was Rosberg’s year. He was driving well and had some luck with reliability. Doesn’t mean his driving was bad. Overall he managed to best Hamilton. Well deserved achievement. Can’t wait to see them again next year. Rosberg really came into this season with a strong determination to win. 7 in a row. Now let’s see hamiltons reaction.

    1. Nonsense. The first four races Hamilton had car problems and Rosberg benefitted from, cut the nonsense how Rosberg was some how determent to win, Hamilton was simply hampered. Why people like you can’t see that, Rosberg’s WDC is not deserved. When your car has no failure the whole season but you win by 5 points is a shame really. A fake champion who can’t race in the rain and need so much team coaching.

      1. Nonsense, Lewis nullified those lost points and was ahead later in the season. Seems people forget that part. Nico deserved the win.

        1. Yes he was and just like in Sochi & China, he was given another easy victory in Spa. Let’s not kid ourselves, the reliability issues played a massive role in this championship.

      2. I can’t say Ros doesn’t deserve the championship. I think he does. It’s just when doing analysis, all problems have to be evaluated. Some things more than others. That reliability is being completely brushed off and bad starts and Baku are the emphasis as to why Ham lost, is mind numbing. That Ham should have had a more perfect season, also mind numbing. If Rosbergs engine blew up in Aby Dhabi, would people be arguing about his bad starts and what Ros could have done to be more perfect than he was? I doubt it. I would be. If that happened, I’d be blaming Mercedes for Rosbergs loss, not Rosberg. They both won a crap ton of races, people want one person to win even more or do more and not the other? That’s what I’m seeing here. Both won as many races as possible given what was thrown at them. This is why Nico deserves the championship. That Nico is the worst champion is hyperbolic. Eight wins, seven podiums is the worst champion? Also mind numbing. Keep in mind this is just for analysis purposes as to how the season went but Nico is champion, period.

        1. Meant to say, I would be blaming Mercedes for Rosbergs loss. A dnf is more detrimental to the championship effort.

      3. I dont get what is wrong with coaching. Everyone has to learn and evolve to another level so with that rosberg can bring out his true potential.

      4. Not deserved? Based on your sentiment probably half the driver’s who have won WDC’s are not deserving. Reliability and luck (for lack of a better word) nearly always factor in to the end result of a championship. Sometimes it balances out, sometimes not. It doesn’t make Nico not deserving.

        1. 100% agree. Rosberg had the luck and reliability this year and deserved the championship. That said, if i had to pick one of them to drive my car tomorrow, i’d still pick Hamilton.

    2. I don’t want to belittle Rosberg but I actually don’t understand these ” he really stepped it up this year ” comments. Over the last 3 years it’s always been very close between the two in both the races and qualifying. Look back over the results and see all the races both drivers finished only a few seconds or less behind each other. The margins in qualifying have always been small with Rosberg actually doing the better job in 2014. He’s always been a quick, solid driver and I honestly don’t see any difference in that this year. There’s no doubt he’s WDC material having pushed Lewis so much over the past 4 years, but I just don’t see a big jump in form for this year over last. He started the season well, but keep in mind Hamilton started at the back for 3 of his 9 wins. If you remove those it’s still a solid 6 wins, around the same as what he’s had over the last couple of seasons ( 6 last year and 5 in 2014). Keeping that in mind I think he’s just the same Rosberg we’ve seen for the last few seasons. The only real difference is he was able to complete 3 wins where his teammate was out of the picture. He’s still the Champion and to be fair to him he deserves it for how he’s raced the past few years, but I just can’t agree that he’s upped his game this season as I honestly see no difference from last year or 2014.

      1. I’m not sure he’s upped his game but as you say, he definitely deserved to win for the way he drove. What I don’t agree with is saying the guy doesn’t deserve the championship.

  5. You know, I always disliked Rosberg. Thought he was arrogant but the emotion he showed when he won kinda changed my mind. I’m glad he won and to be honest I do think he deserved it. If Hamilton is one of if not the best of the current drivers then Rosberg is too, they are very close. This coming from a big Hewis Lamilton fan too.

    1. Hewis Lamilton…hmm…

  6. It is funny how people expect Hamilton to have the perfect season to win the title, yet don’t expect the same of Rosberg. Talk about double standards. Of course, Lewis has had weekends where he could have done better, but so has Rosberg; and there is nothing unusual in this in itself. These are human beings, not robots. So why is this standard only applied to Lewis? Of course, that is the way it has always been.

    It is irritating to constantly hear the ridiculous notion that Rosberg’s “consistency” won him the title. Truth is, he was no more or less consistent than Lewis. It was simply his car’s consistency that was the defining actor. Anyone who starts from the back twice, suffers a DNF, won more races and racked up more poles, has been more “consistent” in my opinion – irrespective of who wins the title..

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      28th November 2016, 14:28

      @kbdavies I think there are also three factors that, while not mandatory, helped Nico won the title because of Lewis ‘s problems, but also, in hindsight, helped Lewis score some points that wouldn’t be so “simple” to get (see number 2 and 3):
      1. All the other teams were so far behind, that it was not possible for them to win more, and, as a result, Nico (and Lewis) had a season that just depended on Mercedes themselves. When Seb had DNFs in 2010, Alonso, Button and Hamilton reduced the chances for Webber to win and capitalize from those DNFs.
      2. The DRS. That thing is so powerful that, together with Mercedes having a car so above the others, made irrelevant for Lewis and Nico to lose places at the start, or to stay behind after a grid penalty. And here, both Nico and Lewis benefitted from this. You can say not all their recovery passes were with DRS, granted, but it helped them too much, aided by Mercedes great car, to always finish on the podium, even after messy starts.
      3. Stewardship and rules’ lack of consistency. Lewis couldn’t fix his problems with the engine mode for the coaching ban, Nico got a penalty for the same reason… Only for the rule to be dropped just after that. And I still see Canada and Mexico as two races where Lewis benefitted from controversial (lack of) application of the rules.

      1. Mercedes were in a position they could not lose from when they told Rosberg what to do with his Gearbox. Essentially this was potentially a race ending issue, so telling him over the radio what to do was potentially to no loss… Speaking ‘ifs’, but, If Mercedes didn’t tell him what to do, his race was over, the subsequent penalty was minor and at worst, would have been no more than the potential race ending result of keeping quiet…

        It could also be said that Hamilton cost Rosberg a victory when they collided in Spain, aggressive defence on an equally aggressive offence…

  7. Jamie MacPherson
    28th November 2016, 13:10

    No one really seems to be focusing on his poor start performance which hindered him as well. It is like everyone wants to focus on things out if his control and create a hard done by story.

    All true of course but he wasn’t good enough consistently for parts of the season with his starts and apparently didn’t really ‘show up’ at Singapore in terms of performance.

    On form and on point he is clearly mighty but he is less emotionally consistent compared to rosberg and in a season long competition that relates to levels of performance. As a result even for all of his speed and ‘talent’ he fell short this year.

    1. @Jamie macpherson

      The tally is 3-1 and this year Lewis won everything except the reliability war. He certainly beat Nico on the emotional level. Clutch and reliability aside, this could, should and would have been a 15 win, 15 pole season for Lewis.

      If aero was not such a big component and he could race, it could have been even higher…

      So not sure what Nico won but surely Nico doesn’t deserve any mention on the championship when he simply gotlucky to win by more points when the other driver would have turned F1 history upside down that year.

      As good as Mercedes was this year and over the past 2 years, they weren’t as good as Lewis and that’s the theme of 2016. Mercedes has been the best of the best in the history of this sport but Lewis is showing them what being a champion really is and how far they have to go to reach the true pinnacle of motorsport.

      1. Oh and by the way, Lewis still managed to turn it upside down by setting all kinds of records this year.

        Only driver with 3 seasons with 10+ wins
        Surpassed Alain Prost with 53 wins
        Broke the century of poles – heading to beat Alonso
        Has the highest pole percentage of the top 10 drivers
        Has 1 win in every season for 10 years
        Is the only driver with 10+ poles in more than 1 season
        Is the only driver to have the highest reliability issues for a constructor and fight for the championship
        Broke the 60 race mark for poles
        Won the pole championship and gp championship and lost the WDC
        And now the kicker, did all of the above with a champion as his teammate
        Has competed 90% of this career against a champion and broken all those records
        This list never ends…. Nico’s list is very short and starts with reliability.

        1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
          28th November 2016, 14:34

          @freelittlebirds and all those records that he had broken are because of 1. Longer seasons, and 2. Mercedes providing him the right car to do it, so good that just 2 drivers had battled for poles and victories in these 3 years.

          I don’t understand why Lewis fans, when he breaks all these records, put the Merc car aside. It’s just Lewis!!! When the car breaks down JUST ONE TIME (ask Kimi and Lewis himself about their McLaren years) all conspiracy theories start.

          1. @omarr-pepper

            Let’s not talk about McLaren please:-)

            Nico’s had the same car as Lewis and he’s darn quick over 1 lap which is really, really important when you got a fast car…

            Nico’s only had Lewis to deal with over the past 4 years and he’s pretty much had every chance to win 15-20 races per season given his situation… but he couldn’t… Lewis can only win when his car is not on fire, the engine works, the car goes straight and the car starts.

            Lewis almost won from pit lane and the team managed to screw that one up too and were asking him to let Nico by, right??? When has Mercedes not screwed Lewis up? Even the US commentators can’t believe what they are seeing from Mercedes on track.

        2. While this probably isn’t a record, as I understand it both Mercedes cars finished the Brazilian GP on the same tyres they started the race on, which would be quite rare these days, but may have been common in the past.

    2. No one really seems to be focusing on his poor start performance which hindered him as well. It is like everyone wants to focus on things out if his control and create a

      Over the season Hamilton lost 14 points to Rosberg due to bad starts and between 40 and 80 due to mechanical issues. I think it’s pretty obvious which was the major factor in his final points total.

      1. Yet those starts would have made him the champion. Don’t forget that.

        1. Mechanical issues cost him the championship, dont forget that.

  8. Strangely, if Hamilton would have lost this by 20-25 points, I would have said that he got hard done by Malaysia.

    But now that he has lost by just 5 points, 5 points he could have gained anywhere – better start in any of the 4 races, figuring out PU problems in Baku quickly, better pace in Singapore – I start to feel that Hamilton did have many opportunities to win this title but he didn’t take them.

    1. And lets not forget at times he also got a little lucky or could have been much unluckier….

      Although unlucky to suffer his Qualifying problems if they had happened during the race it would have been much more costly
      At Monaco his team mate played the game and let him past, then Redbull shot themselves in the foot.
      At Austria anything could have happened, Hamilton came away with the win
      At Belgium where he had his penalties – besides his teammate only the Ferrari’s or Red Bulls had a chance of realistically finishing ahead of him – at the first corner both Ferrari’s and a Redbull collide clearing his path to a easy podium finish.
      At Malaysia his team mate had been hit from behind, nearly any other Sunday it would have been a 50 point swing

      The one thing I find a little ironic is that by backing up Rosberg and putting him under enormous pressure, it actually made Rosberg into a worthy champion in many peoples eyes. Further it may just cost him some deep down respect and trust within the team.

      1. Yeah he was gonna have a bad start at silverstone and brazil but aided by the sc start as well.

      2. Hamilton lost any opportunity to fight into a top 4 or 5 in China when one Saucer evading the Ferrari entanglement ahead turned into him taking away his front wing and forcing him to pit for 10-12s. People say Malaysia was his unluckiest race. And while they maybe right because of the potential points lost, the China race had a more serious effect on his championship effort. The failure in qualifying made it so that he was down one engine on his teammate and had to go into conservation mode 3 races into a season, the crash into T1 cost him a recovery drive nullifying any tyre advantage he might have had going into the race and RIC’s tyre failure while in the lead let Nico run into the distance for the race.

    2. That is some amazing reasoning back there. He did all he could to claw back the points he lost in Malaysia, Russia, China, back to a 5pt deficit, and he still didn’t do enough?? So his season has to be perfect for him to win the championship?? Wow!

      1. I am not saying my reasoning is right. Even I know its wrong, that’s why I wrote “Strangely” at the start of my post. What I am saying is, because the difference is just 5 points, the “what ifs” which were in Hamilton’s hand (the ones I mentioned in my post) now outnumber the “what ifs” which were not in his hands (Malaysia failure). And hence, paradoxically, I reach the conclusion that winning the championship was within his hands.

      2. Agree. That was flawed reasoning to the maximum. If Hamilton performed badly enough to lose by 25 points then mechanical woes lost him the title, but since he lost by 5 points, he lost it due to his inability to seize a championship?!?!

        It’s obvious that the mechanical problems were the difference between Hamilton wrapping the title up with a race to spare as compared to being down by 12 points at the season ender.

        Would he have beaten Lewis if they both had perfect reliability? Hell no! But hats off to Rosberg because he did whatever was necessary to win this year. He got a lot of luck from Lewis’ misfortunes and he capitalised on every possible opportunity. I doubt Robserg will be lucky enough to get another season where he would benefit as much from Lewis’ misfortune. He had one chance.. and he took it.

    3. Had Hamilton won Malaysia, I think Rosberg’s approach to the final 4 races would have been different. Would the outcome of the final 4 races have been different? Possibly, who knows. So, you can’t say Hamilton would have been champ if not for Malaysia.

      1. Yeah Rosberg probably would have made more mistakes in the last 4 races if he was actually under pressure to beat Hamilton.

    4. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      28th November 2016, 14:36

      +1 (we need those +1 and -1 buttons, ala Disqus)

    5. Couldn’t this be translated to Rosberg didn’t do as good as job as he should have? To win by 5 points and finish 1 race more than the competitor. Doesn’t matter the rest of the stats, when everyone says he was the most consistent this fact makes Hamilton look better.

      P.s Not only did Rosberg have bad starts too, which must mean the car was a big handful to get off the line, the Mercedes management all commented on how the Clutch was the issue and wouldn’t do what it said it would do and it could not be fixed quickly.

  9. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
    28th November 2016, 13:18

    Its very simple, Hamilton lost 25 points in Malaysia and that is the sole reason he isnt champion. The rest is all irrelevant in the face of that one moment and why it’s in extremely poor taste to be publically roasting him in the aftermath of Abu Dhabi.

    1. David (@billyboltaction)
      28th November 2016, 14:05

      I quite agree.

      HAM finishes the season with more wins, more poles, more podiums, more laps led (I think – correct me if I’m wrong) – But not more points! Which is the only metric for champion. He couldn’t compete with ROS on 4 of the 21 race weekends because of the car and he still beat him everywhere except for a few fastest laps (mainly because he had to protect his engines so much!) and that elusive 5 points. The start issues affected them both and they both had off weekends so that’s just the normal ups and downs of a season. HAM lost it because of the engine failures it’s as simple as that.

    2. No in fact nobody gets to just erase everything except one thing that happened in the season and forget how everything added up to the result we got. Malaysia is only one event out of many. Not only are there the times LH got a poor start, there are the actions of Nico too, which weren’t always perfect, but do also include all the times he won it or came second…in other words has always been a thorn in Hamilton’s side, unlike many other teammates of past Champions who weren’t nearly the constant threat Nico has been all along.

    3. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      28th November 2016, 14:55

      He lost the championship by being bad at race starts and crashing into Nico in Spain.

      1. Again I challenge you- so reliability played no role, despite the above evidence?

    4. @offdutyrockstar That’s like saying the 2008 championship was won in Hungary, though

      1. Or Spa, or Singapore @davidnotcoulthard @offdutyrockstar; Iin the end, reliability clearly played a big role in how it played out this year.

        Early lack of reliability clearly played a big role in losing Hamilton points/races, which influenced how Hamilton had to race through the summer and autumn – right as he got back from that, he got hit with more unreliability. The start issues plagues both drivers, increased the issue for HAM initially, then helped him make up points before the break, as Rosberg got hit by it.

        Because the car was so much faster than others, usually problems meant the other guy won the race. Both took advantage from that when they could, but the extra speed also regularly meant their teammate could get back onto the podium. In the end, the balance of points landed with Rosberg, so he’s champion.

        We didn’t often see a straight fight between them for the race lead this year, but when we saw it, Hamilton remained more likely to end up on top, so I am also not sure Rosberg upped his game, but he has kept being very fast so that Hamilton didn’t have it easy. I don’t think Rosberg was clearly more consistent, but unlike last year, he circumstances were such that he got a good lead (like in 2014?), and after that he was clearly determined not to let that slip away like in 2014. I think a 2-1 in WDCs over these last three years shows the balance between the two quite well.

  10. On the face of it, yes. Without the retirement from the lead in Malaysia then he would be champion. But people have forgotten that even at that stage, the Championship would still have been his if he had won every remaining race.

    Following the failure, Rosberg played his part to perfection, he took a crushing win in Suzuka which put the Championship in his hands and then did exactly what he needed to do and didn’t put a foot wrong. 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd = WDC. He said he was aiming to win, but in reality, why would he have done if the safe route was more than enough?

    Hamilton has not been entirely blameless this season, he had several bad starts in the early stages of the season which were entirely of his own doing.

    I think few would deny that Hamilton is the better driver, but Rosberg did everything he needed to do and is a deserving WDC.

    What happened has happened and to speculate otherwise is futile. “IF is F1 spelt backwards!”

    1. @ben-n No it’s not. 1F is F1 spelt backwards.

    2. he had several bad starts in the early stages of the season which were entirely of his own doing.

      Nope Mercedes have repeatedly stated they have a hardware issue with the clutch they cannot fix until next season. Hamilton and Rosbergs bad starts were not entirely their own fault.

    3. Rosberg did what he needed to do, because he’s champion @ben-n, but if you put the starts on Hamilton, Germany needs to be Rosberg not doing enough, because it gave Hamilton a lot of good points back and a good feeling going into the break, and while Spain showed Rosbergs determination, and while you might well argue Hamilton should have been less eager to pass his teammate, Rosberg made the mistake that enabled that crash. And let’s not mention Monaco either. So neither had a perfect season, but they were good enough that no one else was in the running, given their car advantage, so there was room for it, for both. The biggest difference, as this article shows, was reliability.

  11. Clearly Malaysia was the biggest contributor for Lewis, both sides of the garage had niggles and proportionately these took away much less than the clear 25 points lost for Lewis. The poor starts thanks to Mercs sensitive clutch setup hit them both, with Lewis slightly worse off. The stats tell the story, more wins, more poles more laps lead. Not to belittle Rosberg who fully deserves his WDC.

    2017 I would expect normal service to resume with Hamilton 3-1 up vs Rosberg since they have been together at Mercedes.

  12. The way how the championship developed with Hamilton suffering technical issues that cost him points also had an effect on how Rosberg approached the season. Especially in the last four races where finishing second each time was enough for Rosberg, he could afford to be less aggressive with his driving and race setup. That definitely also had a positive effect on Rosberg’s reliability.
    One could argue that Hamilton would have won the title if it wasn’t for his engine failure in Malaysia given that he beat Rosberg in the final four races. But had Rosberg not had the points advantage, he would have approached the final races differently and the outcome of those races would possibly be different. Hamilton clearly has a little bit of an edge over Rosberg in terms of outright speed, so it’s a question whether Rosberg could have beaten him on track if he needed to. But history does not ask such questions.

  13. I’m more a glass half full person.
    Hamilton team’s excellent car and stunning reliability gave him a 50+% chance to win the title; even before the season started.

    1. @coldfly that looks like a positive sign next to the 5 – did you mean -50% chance cause that sounds closer to the actual handicap that Mercedes imposed on Lewis… It’s amazing he overcame it twice and with 1 more race he proably would have.

      Ironically, the longest F1 season turned out to be too short for Lewis to undo the damage done by everyone else on track.

      1. trust me, looking at things ‘glass half full’ will cheer even you up ;-)

  14. The championship was decided by 5 points. The difference between first and second is 7. Hamilton did not win 11 races. Some of those were his own fault. Australia, Bahrain, and Italy all saw him win the pole only to get a bad start and fall back. He finished 2nd, 3rd and 2nd on those events. Win one and he wins the championship. Another thing on Baku. Despite the engine mode mix up, he also made a mistake in Q3 and started 10th, and finished 5th. No mistake in qualifying and he starts further up the field. A potential finish of at least 3rd, even with the engine mode, gives him enough points to just tie Rosberg. Most wins gives him the championship.

    Reliability only cost him points at a few races. Hamilton’s own mistakes cost him points at others.

    1. @dragon86 I think you are trying to say that Hamilton is always racing in F1 and he should just coast along more often especially since he’s the better driver on-track. But the day Lewis starts “coasting along” is probably the same day that F1 dies. He would have been so far ahead in the championship if Nico and Lewis had swapped cars and engines along with mechanics…

      Apparently, along with Nico’s mechanics he also got all the bad engines and parts and a clutch that would turn Webber into a school bus driver:-) They’d probably need a safety car for the first 10 laps until he could get the car rolling…

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis miraculously got the car going out of sheer spite…

      1. Never said he needed to coast along. Just saying, that he is just a responsible for losing the championship as Mercedes is.

    2. Sigh…..why does Lewis need to win 11 races to win the championship? Rosberg didn’t win 11, did he?

      Question is: why are we expecting Lewis to have a perfect season to win, yet not expecting the same of Rosberg??
      This is a guy who won more races and got more poles – despite starting from the back twice and not finishing 2 races. Yet we are saying he didn’t do enough.

      The silly narrative is – Rosberg is a “worthy champion; despite not doing as much as Lewis, nor suffering as much reliability. However, Lewis should have done better, if he wanted to win. It is unbelievable the double standards always applied to Lewis.

      1. @kbdavies


        People are claiming that if Lewis had the perfect season, the mechanical problems wouldn’t matter, but it’s not like Rosberg had a perfect season either.

        1. it’s not like Rosberg had a perfect season

          Not perfect, but pretty close. He was 9-6 wins ahead knowing 2nd places would seal it for him; his last 4 races were perfect enough for him.
          We all know that when ROS said he would still go for the win that he was as sincere as when HAM said he would not back up his team mate.

          1. ColdFly

            So you think the last 4 races Rosberg just decided he’d settle for 2nd place?

            That’s interesting, because he was on course to finish 3rd in Austin before the VSC and another 3rd place in Brazil before Red Bull messed Max’s strategy.

            So to suggest he just settled for 2nd places, is rather comical given he could not predict how the remaining races would play out.

          2. @coldfly

            Using the 9-6 stat doesn’t really paint the true picture. Rosberg trailed his teammate in qualifying, wins and also spent more laps behind his teammate. You cannot give him a ‘perfect’ season if he trailed his teammate most of the time. A lot of his wins also came because of Lewis’ problems in qualifying that left him starting dead last or in P10.

            In fact, Rosberg had a lot more questionable performances, such as Monaco. I would call Rosberg’s season far from perfect, but it’s probably the best Rosberg could manage given his abilities.

          3. ColdFly F1 (@)
            29th November 2016, 6:41

            You cannot give him a ‘perfect’ season

            Correct, @todfod!
            That’s why I called it ‘perfect enough’; which undoubtedly you’ll understand to be a word play on your ‘not perfect’ but still’ good enough’ ;-)

      2. I don’t see it that way. Nobody expected a perfect season from either driver. It just turns out that given the bottom line points gap it is easy to use hindsight to say that one less start issue for LH could have made the difference as much as one less bit of unreliability. One could just as easily argue that had Nico done better in some races he might have sealed up the Championship earlier, but the focus has been on the 3 time Champ probably because he is a 3 time Champ and therefore was expected to win. LH has had more wins, more poles, and more unreliability, so to me it is natural for the focus to be on him as the standard setter. Nico was just always there, with his own successes and failures and less costly unreliability, and won in the end, but certainly not by stamping his authority on it with wins…just consistency and being there in the thick of it, where many other teammates of past WDCers weren’t.

      3. Never said he needed a perfect season. Just saying that Lewis made a few mistakes that cost him points. A great start at Australia, he wins the race and the championship. Same could be said for Italy and Bahrain. He doesn’t even need to win Baku. A second or third would have been enough.

  15. Europe: Hamilton made a mistake in qualfying which meant he qualified 10th not 1st or 2nd. Even a 3rd place at that GP (instead of 5th) is +5 pts and he’s the new world champion. That’s excluding Bahrain and Japan where he put himself in trouble with bad starts. Don’t forget he won the 2014 title with 3 DNFs.

  16. This is a very good “if” article. People have been expressing similar opinions on different posts, but there is only one thing that I feel is flawed with the reliability card.

    Lets imagine that in Malaysia Hamilton’s car deosn’t blow up. This changes the scenery for the following races, I am sure Rosberg would have changed his approach, he played his cards how he thought would give him the best outcome, in the end he is champion.

    this article will only diminish what Rosberg accomplished, which isn’t fair at all

    1. +1

      It’s certainly not a given that Lewis would have won the last 4 had he been under any pressure to do so. You only need to look at his performances in Baku, Singapore and Japan to see how a bit of pressure can affect him (just like it does every other driver).

      In my view, it is too difficult to compare Nico v Lewis in the last 4 races… they were racing under completely different conditions. Lewis, a three time champ, with nothing to lose and a reliability card to play if it all went wrong; Nico with his best chance yet of clinching the title but also losing it embarrassingly through error. It is not surprising at all who came out on top in those circumstances. I think this is vindicated by the fact that Nico, who throughout the year has been there or thereabouts with Lewis in quali and race pace, became uncharacteristically off the pace.

      Reliability is always an issue in this mechanical sport (as it was in his championship winning years) and frankly Lewis’ problems have not been so great this year so as to discount the races where he did not perform. Ros also had issues, not as bad, but still costly.

      To understand why Ros won this WDC, you only have to imagine what it took to come in 2nd yesterday, after all the mind games, the pit stop delay, passing max and the tactics, it was a champion’s drive no doubt. Considering he is a man clearly susceptible to mental pressure and the underdog racing one of if not the fastest driver in the sport, his championship is inspirational.

  17. The simple maths are that if Hamilton had turned up in Singapore and in Japan and delivered a better performance worth his talent, even by finishing second to Rosberg in those races he would now be crowned champion.
    I just do not buy into the debate about reliability costing Hamilton the championship. The truth is Hamilton cost Hamilton the championship.

    1. @mccosmic In Singapore Hamilton had another car problems and he lost Free Practice time unlike Rosberg, reliability simply cost Hamilton the WDC how hard is that not to see. Rosberg had ZERO issues and could only secure his WDC by 5 points, that’s a shame really considered he had no issues at all.

      1. @patienceandtime With Hamilton having the edge on driving talent over Rosberg, I remain steadfast that, had Hamilton produced his A-game more consistently over the season, Baku was another example of him not doing so, then this whole talk of reliability would be inconsequential as he would be champion. Rosberg did not have ZERO issues he had LESS issues, was more consistent with what he was given and over the four seasons he and Hamilton have raced together at Mercedes, IMO is fully deserving of the WDC.

  18. @keithcollantine
    Do the two punctures that Rosberg had in Canada count? One could argue that a tyre is an essential component for a car if you intent to race it.

    1. Also Rosberg was spun around by Vettel in Malaysia by no fault of his own and after that probably drove the best race of his whole career.
      Still it’s not like Hamilton had the chance to come back from his engine failure like that…

  19. As soon as Lewis leaves Mercedes, I hope they find themselves in Sauber’s position and we can laugh our posteriors off.

    This championship was an utter joke – to put it in perspective:

    Alonso would have gotten Mercedes banned for life if he was racing for them :-)

    Webber got better treatment in his last year with Red Bull…

    Vettel would be moaning around every corner screaming Toto this, Lauda that, dropping f-bombs at everyone in the paddock instead of saying hello.

    Prost would have gone to Bernie and cried him a river to get Nico banned.

    Senna would have been banned for 2 years from racing for speaking the truth.

    Why? Because that’s what champions do when half the crap that happened to Lewis happens to them…

    1. What an excellent comment! And one that makes no sense at all.

      1. @sravan-pe

        Agreed, all factual too. 20 years of F1 history in a nutshell:-) We’ve watched all of these champions act that way for smaller issues – not 1 in a billion or trillion situations which we all know are more likely the result of interference than coincidence.

        1. What is more likely the result of interference than coincidence?
          That Rosberg let Hamilton pass him in Monaco?
          Or that Mercedes brought 3 engines in Spa to bring him back into the fight?

          Was he unlucky? Definitely yes.
          Could he have done better? Also yes.
          Did the team try to favour Rosberg over him? No!

          1. @exeviolthor

            Well, Rosberg was driving like a GP2 rookie at Monaco which incidentally is one of his best tracks…

            The track is hard to pass – you can’t stop your teammate who’s infinitely faster than you and force him to make a pass on the rain in Monaco without risking a DNF for both cars plus Nico would not have let Lewis pass without an order (see Spain, Austria). Even 10 car widths aren’t enough for Nico…

            But you’re right, Mercedes definitely screwed Lewis in that race to the tune of 10 seconds in addition to the time lost behind Rosberg nearly costing Lewis 2 Monaco victories and undoing a brilliant strategy call. Lewis was very lucky that Red Bull couldn’t capitalize on Mercedes’ call like Nico and Vettel had done the year before.

          2. @freelittlebirds
            What I am trying to say is that you are clearly exagerating when you say “what champions do when half the crap that happened to Lewis happens”.

            You basically accuse Mercedes of causing him to have engine problems. If that were true they would not have Rosberg let him pass in Monaco and they would not have tried to bring him back into the game by bringing 3 engines in Spa.

            Reliability sometimes goes against the driver we like (believe me I know as I am a Raikonnen fan). That is the nature of the sport and it is one of the things that make it beautiful.

            Also, you list what you think other drivers would do in his position and state that these are facts. How can something hypothetical be a fact?

        2. Lol…factual. Wow.

          1. @robbie

            Well, what part of is not factual? Surely, I made a mistake somewhere and I’ll gladly update it.

            I didn’t mention Mansell although I probably should have, right?

          2. Ok just as one example, support ‘Alonso would have gotten Mercedes banned for life.’ Tell me how, after making that comment, anybody should take you seriously.

          3. @Robbie Spygate, ring a bell?

        3. @freelittlebirds

          You didn’t read the second part of my comment, did you?

          1. @sravan-pe well the 2nd part didn’t make any sense with the 1st part, now did it? :-)

            I just assumed you don’t know how these champions have acted in the past for lesser things:

            Check out Nelson Piquet 3 time WDC beating another driver (it’s hilarious):

    2. @freelittlebirds Brackley or Stuttgart?

      Stuttgart will NEVER find themselves in Sauber’s position (car-selling companies and F1 teams are not the same).

      Brackley? So you wish bad upon the hundreds of people in brackley over things you probably think are done by people employed by Stuttgart?

      1. @freelittlebirds What manufacture was ‘banned for life’ after Spygate?

        1. @Robbie the intended outcome and the actual outcome were probably different than what Alonso had expected in 2007:-)

          Still it was pretty costly to McLaren nonetheless – WCC taken away, winnings taken away. WDC would have probably been stripped away had Lewis won it…

    3. @freelittlebirds Men i hope that too, let them go down as McLaren went. Mercedes panicked when Hamilton wanted to stop racing for them after Rosberg pushed Hamilton in the wall, Mercedes begged Hamilton not to stop cause they now how valuable Hamilton’s input is. Look Malaysia 2014 How Hamilton schooled Rosberg and how the team gave Hamilton’s data to Rosberg to study, i hope Hamilton leaves Mercedes.

      1. if he goes to Ferrari and Merc drop ~6/10’s and Ferrari pick up around 4/10’s, which I suspect is possible, especially if it happens next year (new tires/platform-ish) He might be considered the best, if he can return Ferrari to their former glory. Lewis, I feel still has lots more potential, his brain works a little different. :) I have seen how confused ROS can be when things are not going just right, a lot like Jenson to some degree. I can see it happening, but unfortunately, Ferrari would have to get the FIA to drop the 100kg/per race rule dropped. That is the rule holding back Ferrari and RBR from beating Mercedes. (with superior drivers @ Ferrari/RBR).

  20. Rosberg was ruthless this year, all i need to say is Austria GP. As the situation got more and more clear that he was firmly in the driving seat, he didn’t need to do as much to win the WDC. He’s driving the fastest car on the grid, his only real competition is Hamilton who is constantly having problems with either the car reliability or the clutch engagement on the starts.

    Looking back over the season, I feel Hamilton needed to get on top of the clutch problem as a priority as that was at least something he had control over. This is of course on the assumption that the clutch problem was merely a “human error” problem as opposed to another mechanical issue with the car. But judging by the clutch usage in the last few GP’s (except Brazil) he seemed to have it under control.

    What i will say, Rosberg’s overtake on Verstappen was the fairest pass he’d done all season, actually left room, avoided contact, got a better drive on the following corner and to me was the skill of a world class driver. So credit where credit is due, Rosberg fully deserved his title. Hamilton has only himself to blame. [Hamilton Fan].

    What i am in two minds about are the following:

    1) Interference from the Merc F1 management team
    2) Why they felt they needed to change the mechanics each driver were using

    I think both were unjustified. All i would expect is that the mechanics make 100% sure both cars are fit for the race and the management makes sure that neither driver does anything to bring disrepute to the sport in their fight for the title.
    Personally, if i was Toto or Lowe, i would’ve sat back and watched what was about to unfold. At the very least I would’ve expected the respective race engineers to be biased to their drivers so that they could get the best result, that would’ve been better to watch. I only say this as the Constructors was already won and both the Merc drivers had their hand it making that happen.

  21. Better Title:

    Would Lewis have won the championship if he was driving Nico’s car?

    I think the answer is a resounding yes in this case – the car made all the difference…

    1. Nico and Lewis have the same clutch, so Lewis would still have blundered 5+ starts this year and lost x amount of points.

      1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
        28th November 2016, 14:51

        @mark jackson – and even with those blundered starts, he’d still have wiped the floor with Rosberg but for his engine woes. His was simply miles better.

      2. Indeed he would have, but Lewis would have gained xxxxx amount of points and Nico would have lost xxxxx amount of points

    2. @freelittlebirds No the seats wouldn’t fit.

      1. The seats are swappable :P

      2. The car usually makes the difference. Almost always a WDC needed the WCC car to win. Never has even the best team with the best car in a given year been able to guarantee both drivers 100% reliability, nor equal reliability. Beyond that, if LH feels conspired against he should be asking why and also looking for another team. Many drivers could have won with Nico’s car…it’s what you need in F1 to win a Championship. LH’s problem is that he is convinced he has been conspired against and that it somehow isn’t possible for one driver to have more car issues than another without it being a conspiracy, and history simply doesn’t bare that out. I can understand LH’s disappointment and even anger, but I don’t get his sense of entitlement to have everything go his way always, when there are so many variables of which he is well aware.

        1. @Robbie but this is supposedly the same car with the same engine etc. at least according to Toto and Nikki – of course, none of us are privy to part sourcing and deals.

          I’m not saying that this is true but from what I’ve seen Nico’s car can withstand a lot of damage – the guy literally uses it as a battering ram which is very strange when you’re thinking about F1 cars. The only other guy who used his car as a blunt weapon that I know of is Pastor Maldonado but his side of the egg would crack everytime he hit another egg. Ultimately it cost him his career. Maybe it’s just bad luck…

      3. @davidnotcoulthard
        ha-ha I know – good one. I meant the engine components, of course, not the chassis although that thing is practically as strong as Kevlar (especially Nico’s).

        1. @freelittlebirds Hard to have a conversation with someone so biased and convinced he knows it all, when it is all such rubbish. Carry on believing yourself.

    3. Or better yet,
      Would Lewis Have Won A Race In Max’s Car

      Probably not.

      1. max’s car? you mean Ricciardo’s car?? max was given his win in spain when ricciardo should have won. Ricciardo then outdrove Hamilton (and Max by miles) In Monaco… so you are comparing the wrong Redbull driver.

      2. @dbHenry

        Fair point – but here’s the counterpoint. Could Lewis have been fighting for a championship in a Red Bull? I don’t think so but I think he would have been darn close assuming the team could keep up. There could have been a 3-way championship..

        Lewis has so far proven that he’s ahead of McLaren and Mercedes at their zenith – when you look at Lewis, Mercedes gets a B for the past 3 years and that’s good – McLaren flunked in 2012 while Lewis was getting A+.

        Could Red Bull be a solid A and deliver the same grade as Lewis throughout a season? They’d have to push themselves to the absolute limit and be inch perfect to quote Steve Matchett.

  22. Reliability played a part, yes, but I do believe that it was a combination of many things which led to Hamilton losing the championship this year. The poor starts, as well as the races where he didn’t seem to ‘turn up’ as such. Those five points could have been made up at a number of races this year – not just at Malaysia.

    But then again, Rosberg was hard done by at times as well. He had a slow puncture at Canada and three penalties which I continue to scratch my head over to this day. There are often little things between victory and defeat, as another German World Champion once said, and all of these little ebbs and flows between the two drivers across 21 races has resulted in this outcome.

    All in all, whilst Hamilton was faster, and has won championships by being faster in the past, the numbers game worked this time for Rosberg. It has worked for other drivers in the past, and I am sure that it will work for others in the future. Now what I do find interesting is how the relationship between the two drivers will be next year, as both will be World Champions.

  23. Most probably yes. The facts speak for themselves. That is why I believe that Hamilton will (rightfully) be ahead of Rosberg in most ‘driver of the year’ polls, awards or driver rankings, which are decided either by pundits or fans.

    Nevertheless, some fans and journalists ought to learn the difference between driver rankings and the world championship standings. We cannot know if Hamilton would have won the championship if reliability had not been an issue. He might as well have crashed in Singapore on the final lap. Or Rosberg might have approached the last races in a different manner if he had not been ahead in the championship. In other words, if things had been different, then things would have been different. That is why F1 champion is not decided by fans, experts or Bernie Ecclestone. It is still the driver, who scores most points.

    Will I place Hamilton ahead of Rosberg in my personal 2016 driver rankings? Absolutely. Does that make Rosberg an unworthy champion? Of course not.

    1. Sorry, Malaysia, not Singapore.

    2. +1, sums up my thoughts as well.

    3. @girts – “Driver of the Year” polls are actually a very interesting, and relevant, perspective. For most people, their top five performers of the year will be some sequence of Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz and Alonso. In addition to the championship title, there is always a driver that woos the most plaudits for his season-long performance level by fans, pundits and teams. Whilst there is no official poll for these things, in 2015 it was probably Vettel, in 2014 it was definitely Ricciardo, in 2013 it was obviously Vettel again and in 2012 the paddock was amazed by Alonso’s herculean effort. Having scored the most points does not mean you’ve done the best job, but it does mean, especially when paired with a driver of Hamilton’s brilliance, that you are a worthy champion.

      In terms of “Driver of the Year”, taking into account Hamilton’s phenomenal steamrolling of the past four races, and inversely Ricciardo’s slight dip in form since his win in Sepang, I would give it to Lewis. Some costly mistakes considered, in the final four races especially, we have seen flashes of a driver so complete, so confident and so capable that you could realistically rank him as one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. Senna-esque in qualifying trim, surgical in wheel-to-wheel combat, serene in the wet and perhaps surprisingly, one the best on the grid at preserving tyres and fuel. His driving arsenal is log-jammed, and as an experienced, chisel-jawed champion, I would still rate his chances of coming out on top if Mercedes find themselves on a more even playing field with Red Bull next year.

  24. Certainly, unreliability helped Hamilton to lose the title, albeit so did poor starts in Melbourne, Bahrain, Monza and Suzuka. However had Nico been the same driver he was in 2015, no amount of mechanical meltdown was going to get him anywhere near Lewis’ season tally. Rosberg hobbled into the 2015 US Grand Prix third in the standings (behind the Ferrari of Vettel) had the further embitterment of a pure driving error handing a third title to his teammate. Rosberg responded to his nemesis’ second title in a row with three victories from pole.

    But Hamilton no longer had the motivation of a title to chase, right? Come 2016, those “sexy laps” that generally put Hamilton half a second down the road the previous year barely got his nose ahead in Bahrain, CotA and Interlagos. Whilst in 2015 Lewis found it all too easy to maintain or extend his practice margin over his teammate, this year those seemingly one-sided weekends have all too often seen Nico within touching distance come the end of qualifying or the race. Hamilton’s 2015 monopoly on virtuoso weekends was also broken by prodigious efforts from Nico in Baku, Singapore and Japan.

    The influence of these marginal performance gains on Nico’s side versus the infinite counterfactual permutations that would have handed the title to Hamilton is a topic for the eternal abyss of internet comment threads, but this is undeniable: Nico Rosberg picked himself up and dusted himself off after two consecutive title defeats and found a new performance level in himself in a way that only a great sportsman can.

    Frankly, that is more important to me than what hypothetically could or should have happened. As a driver who has consistently performed with utter aplomb against the best efforts of one of the finest competitors the sport has ever seen, I am only too happy to call Nico Rosberg world champion.

    1. Really ties things up with a bow nicely, @william-brierty Nico handled Schumacher as a teammate very well when they were together, when I thought the mere signing of MS would have him (or many drivers if they were in his shoes)
      cowering. Instead it was like it bolstered him. Then they hired LH, and they certainly didn’t do that so Nico could win WDC’s but rather to have arguably one of the strongest driver pairings on the grid. Having just handled MS one could understand if Nico, upon hearing of the signing of LH, put forehead in hand and uttered ‘oh great!’ But he has never not kept LH on his toes, just as with MS, which is more than many drivers would have done in the same circumstance.

      One can easily argue LH is a better driver, but that does not mean Nico is not also worthy, and he certainly has proven it over his career and especially his tenure at Mercedes. He’s had a ton of input in a car that has been dominant. He’s earned this Championship even if others before him have stamped greater authority on it. Not everyone can be a Great, but having even ‘just’ one WDC is a great achievement.

  25. In Austria @keithcollantine I thought the suspicion was Rosberg broke his suspension on a kerb? And his T4 incident was caused by him turning in to T1 a fraction early and taking too much kerb, which gave Hamilton the run on him.

  26. To be honest, I’m starting to think that all the criticism against Nico is actually massively magnifying his endeavour. To me it’s starting to seem like a TITANIC feat, like David versus Goliath, as he had all the world against him.

    Nico managed to do a thing that very few drivers in the history made: to beat his team-mate starting from a factual “number 2” position. He did what Webber could not do with Vettel, or Massa with Schumacher, or Kovalainen with Hamilton, or Coulthard with Hakkinen, or Herbert with Schumacher and so on. No matter if Lewis was unlucky during the season. In collective immagination the weakest ones always have to rely on circumstances to ged rid of favorites. It was the thunderous revenge of underestimated drivers!

    And Lewis’ tactic during final lap has done nothing else than exalt this, at least in my opinion. I’m proud not to be a “fan” of anyone, but I cannot avoid to get very emotional in the end. It was very very intense, and I didn’t expexct it at all. I was following F1 for last 32 years and, for what I remember, only Ayrton gave me similar feelings.

    I’m not saying this to irritate Hamilton’s fans, I really don’t see the point in doing such a thing now. I don’t even have a clear opinion about Lewis strategy, don’t know what I’d have done in his shoes. But I think I know how his supporters are feeling now.

    Just wanted tho share this.

    1. to me instead of David vs Goliath, it shows me how overrated Hamilton is… he has been the luckiest driver in the history of f1 having had a world championship winning capable car in 07,08,10,12,14,15,16 and race winning car EVERY season… NO other driver has had such opportunity in 10 season of f1! but I also note Jenson Button scored more points then Hamilton in therir partnership as McLaren teammates and Nico Rosberg so often beats Hamilton…. to me this shows Hamilton is not an all time great, as Button and Rosberg are A-minus drivers… so I don’t think Rosbergs achievement is a David vs Goliath moment, as Rosberg is in a similar class to Hamilton, maybe slightly slower on average, but good enough to beat Hamilton to about 20 race wins in the same car. if only we still had Robert Kubica, who beat Hamilton and Rosberg convincingly in junior race series.

  27. Rosberg really improved over the years with consistency and keeping calm under pressure.. That is what won him this years title. He is a great and fast driver and probably does deserve the championship in his carreer. So did Massa however and Lewis is in my eyes vastly superior to Rosberg. The technical issues Rosberg suffered had nowhere near the concequences of those of Hamilton and the difference of 5 points in the end just prooves that the only way how to beat Lewis is to not having him finish or having him start in the rear because of penalties for replacing unreliable parts. Lewis certainly made some mistakes during this seasons, but even with these mistakes if things that are not in their hands were taken away from the equation Lewis would win by quite a margin.
    So I am certainly happy that Nico won, but I believe that Lewis deserved it more, and probably always will. But that is not how sport works. Big Congratz to Nico

  28. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    28th November 2016, 14:48

    Even with the bad starts, Hamilton would have won this year if he’d had better reliability: winning Malaysia alone would have seen him WDC. That suggests he had a huge advantage over his teammate.

    Remove the engine problems in qualifying for China and Russia, and the grid penalty necessitated in Spa in order to replace damaged equipment, and he’d have won this season easily. Rosberg has rarely looked a match for Hamilton through the season, he has just been much much luckier.

    1. you only mentioned a few races to back your oppinion, what about baku????? what about how Hamilton smashed Rosberg out of the race in Spain???

      1. You mean the crash Rosberg helped cause by being in the wrong mode coming out of turn 3?

  29. Didn’t expect such pointless article here. Reliability is always a part of motorsport, so what’s there to discuss? That Hamilton didn’t win, because it’s F1, it’s not Olympia 100 meter sprint? Hamilton himself said that it’s mentally much easier to be the hunter, if the situation wasn’t so dire for Hamilton, if Rosberg didn’t had to win any more, the results of the last 4 races might be different, it pointless to look back now.

    In the end, Rosberg was good enough to take profit from Hamiltion’s reliability problems and Hamilton was not good enough to overcome his reliability problems, that’s why he lost, end of story. Seems unfair, don’t like it? Go watch formation crochet then.

  30. We could prefer to think ROS won the championship even after offering a Monaco win to HAM.

  31. It was not Hamiltons reliability that cost him the championship it was the reliability of the car/engine. However that is not to say that Rosburg was an unworthy champion – he has driven well and fast – he just does not have the constant flair of Hamilton or Verstappen Perhaps we will see a new Nico emerge next year- that is my wish. I am a 44 and 33 fan until that happens

  32. Ok.. so Nico won.. Live with it now..

  33. Hamilton had more than enough opportunities to win the title but the facts speak for themselves, without reliability issues and penalties for such he would have won the title. Yes, Nico would have had give a different approach to the last four races and may have picked up wins in that, but he would also have to have pushed his car more, stressing parts and maybe leading to mechanical failures? It’s all relative. Poor starts cost Hamilton Monza sticks out to me, thrashed Nico on the Saturday then couldn’t get the car off the line. Better reliability would have made Hamiltons task much easier and Nico’s much harder but Hamilton also made mistakes. Best thing all year is Rosberg was made to work to the last lap for his title and drove very well in Abu Dhabi was a ‘champions’ drive and I personally have to say had Lewis drove off into the sunset and let Nico cruise behind to the title I wouldn’t have felt Nico earned the title as much as he was gifted it.

    1. Also forgot to add, Lewis won the most poles yet had an average start position of 4th on the grid, compared to Nico’s 2nd, got 17 podiums compared to 16 and 10 wins compared to 9. Hamilton is more than within his right to feel agreaved by the loss of the title. Mercedes contributed to him being put in the position he was in Abu Dhabi so I think the only real action they can take with Lewis is to apologise that he was unlucky this season with failures and take no further action for him backing up Nico

      1. sour grapes to you.. most poles and only 4th position starting average says the story of why Hamilton is not champion… fluffed starts.

        1. I know this won’t change your unfavourable opinion on Hamilton kpcart, but you must know that’s not how that statistic works – it is where you start on the starting grid, ie. before the actual start. For Hamilton this year, that was mainly due to the unreliability and its effects on his grid position (like Rosberg also had the Austria gearbox penalty putting him down the grid by 5 places), so it does show what ForzaF1 wants it to: whenever he had the chance, he usually won pole, despite Rosberg being fast and in the same car. Doesn’t change who’s WDC though.

  34. No, Hamilton lost the championship fair and square. He’s just a big whiner and a poor sport. Nothing is ever his fault, according to him.

  35. The Blade Runner (@)
    28th November 2016, 15:24

    @keithcollantine An interesting article Keith, thanks.

    Out of interest, do have stats on what the respective pit-stop times were for HAM and ROS throughout the season i.e. overall averages plus the times for each pit-stop in each race? Just interested to see whether one side of the garage gets more luck than the other in that area and whether pit-stops affected any key races.

    HAM had a delayed release yesterday due to an incoming Ferrari which added over a second to his pit-stop time. This deficit was wiped out though when ROS was delayed for even longer, again for an incoming Ferrari.

  36. One day we will know the reason why Merc decided to do what the did with the mechanics at the beginning of the year, until that day it’s easy to just say that unreliability is part of F1. The problems with that start when one driver experiences far better reliability than the other because of a change the team made, particularly when the previous years were closer to equal unreliability as you would expect.

    1. Hamilton won 2 championships with certain mechanics – it could mean Hamilton only won those championship because he had those mechanics. in the past 3 years, it has been equal, Hamilton and Rosberg had 4 mechanical failures each during races. the difference this year was one driver fluffing his race starts far too often, that is what was made the difference, because Hamilton as we all know is a bit faster then Rosberg, but Rosberg scored more championship points so is the fair winning champion.

      1. Here are the engine component used startistics but hey, just keep blaming Lewis for his poor starts, let’s not look at these.

        #44 Lewis Hamilton: ICE – 6 | TC – 8 | MGU-H – 8 | MGU-K – 6 | ES – 5 | CE – 5
        #6 Nico Rosberg: ICE – 5 | TC – 5 | MGU-H – 5 | MGU-K – 5 | ES – 4 | CE – 4

  37. the 28 points nico was gifted in malaysia,at a crucual part of the season,was the final nail in the coffin.

    also when it comes to reliability,its not just about how many times,its also about when it happened.

    lewis still did well tho.he still got more podium finishes than nico,
    more wins and more poles.

    1. listen matt, in the last 3 seasons Nico and Lewis both had 4 mechanical race ending failures… it is EQUAL – should we say Hamilton did not deserve his championships? please consider hamilton’s race starts this year in your equation, ie DRIVING ERRORS. Nico made far less driving errors this year then Hamilton – THAT is what won Nico the championship – driving as good as was needed to win the world championship – the final race of the season was the most worthy drive of a champion, the way Nico held his nerve against Hamilton and did not try to pass him. Lewis had the stats at the end, but that was expected, but don’t forget Rosberg got the poles and wins when it counted most, -ie when Hamilton was stuffing it up.

  38. Lewis has a lot to be thankful for. Drivers have been robbed in the past through reliability and poor strategy decisions. Mercedes have given him close to perfection in the past.
    I bet most drivers on the grid will take the risk of being ‘the unlucky one’ for a drive in the Merc next year if he still has a problem. Many would put in equal performances too.
    I’m guessing he and his fans will bemoan his bad luck if Red Bull get the upper hand. Some sense of entitlement going on.

  39. Hamiltons starts cost him the title. as for unreliability, in the last 3 years Hamilton and Rosberg have both had 4 technical retirements each – so overall it has been fair in team Mercedes. lets not forget how team Mercedes helped Hamilton after his engine failure, by using the loophole to give him many fresh engines for the rest of the year. it is swings and roundabouts, but it all has come to a fairly even end.

    1. It’s not just about the DNF’s. It is when you get them and how much they cost you. For instance, Nico got his equaling mechanical failure at the last race of 2015. He was lying in 2nd when it happened, and would probably have finished 2nd had it not happened. However, he still wouldn’t have won the championship even IF he came first (double points debacle).

      Of course, you already know this caveat, but you choose to ignore it. A lot of calculations have been done of both driver’s mechanical failures, DNF and points lost this season. Lewis lost out more – EVENhen you take the bad starts into consideration. How difficult can this be to understand?

  40. I used to admire Hamilton greatly but, that has changed over the last year and his comment blaming the car and thus the team for his 2nds place points finish was the last straw.
    A driver who was fortunate enough to be given one of the greatest cars in the history of motor sport and thus given the position of having only one true competitor each race should show some class and gratitude and Hamilton did not.
    Some have noted that Hamilton started in the rear more than once and moved up through the pack and cite this as proof of his skill,is he a skilled driver ? Yes, very much so but in that car I would expect no less from any competent driver. Further and in addition to having a great car he has had the advantage of preferred treatment by the stewards and Rosberg has not ( case in point the nuevelle chicane at this years Monaco race.)
    Were the car’s failings a factor in Hamilton’s point total ? of course but, so was were his failings like his lack of patience in Spain and his series of bad starts .The point is this :while he credits the team when things go well he blames them when things don’t go his way and that is a lack of class and loyalty .
    More than half of his titles ,more than half of his poles and more than half of his wins cam while driving that Silver Arrow . Is he a top driver ? Yes but, one of a number of top drivers but, there is only one other Silver Arrow so give credit where credit is due,to the car and the team . They have helped Hamilton MUCH MORE than he has helped them. is there any doubt that if say Alonzo was given that car he could have won 2 titles ? but, if Hamilton was in Alonzo’s Mclaren would Hamilton still have won 2 drivers tiles and get a 2nd in the other year ?
    Further , as to class and loyalty , note than when Lowe gave Hamilton a DIRECTIVE to speed up at the end of the race so Ferrari and RB had no chance of catching the 2nd car and thus taking the coveted 1,2 finish from Mercedes Hamilton ignored it. It was his obligation to help the Team finish 1 and 2 especially after all the team has done for him but all he cared about was his title. Compare that to Monaco where Rosberg had brake problems and was told to let Hamilton pass – that is what Rosberg did. That is class and loyalty .The team comes first ,Rosberg saw that and acted appropriately. It seems that Hamilton cannot see past himself .
    So in the big picture Hamilton has not displayed the class that anyone as fortunate as he has been should display . In light of what I now know about Hamilton I for one am so glad that Rosberg won the title. Am I a big Nico fan ? No but, I respect him more than I respect Hamilton so as far as I see it ,in this instance Justice was served .
    Congratulations Nico !

  41. Fair assessment. @keithcollantine what about the fluffy starts?

  42. Everyone seems to be missing the point here because they make the assumption that the champion is the best driver of the year. That has never been true. The champion is often the driver with the best reliability record, sometimes the one with the best luck (usually in the form of the best car) and only occasionally is recognised as the best driver. I doubt that anyone thinks the championship makes Rosberg the best driver of 2016, just as there is plenty of room for agument regarding any claim for Hamilton being the best in his championship years. The championship is some indication of quality, that’s true, but there are so many other factors involved that it becomes an award for consistency rather than brilliance.

    So to talk of a championship being deserved is a bit silly. Rosberg totted up the numbers and so is champion; Hamilton ended up with five points fewer and isn’t. But we all know who is the guy we’d rather have in our fantasy team, don’t we? ;)

  43. Mercedes-Mercedes:
    Lewis Hamilton: ICE – 6 | TC – 8 | MGU-H – 8 | MGU-K – 6 | ES – 5 | CE – 5
    Nico Rosberg: ICE – 5 | TC – 5 | MGU-H – 5 | MGU-K – 5 | ES – 4 | CE – 4

    Valtteri Bottas: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3
    Felipe Massa: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3

    Force India-Mercedes:
    Sergio Perez: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3
    Nico Hulkenberg: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3

    Pascal Wehrlein: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3
    Rio Haryanto: ICE – 3 | TC – 3 | MGU-H – 3 | MGU-K – 3 | ES – 2 | CE – 2
    Esteban Ocon: ICE – 4 | TC – 4 | MGU-H – 4 | MGU-K – 4 | ES – 3 | CE – 3

    Can you spot the odd one out ?

    1. Yep Rick, quite powerful.

      1. Wow, nice to see it that way. Nice to see it that way.

        Here are totals.

        The median is 22. Rosberg is 6 over the median and Lewis is 16 over the median and a whopping 10 over Nico – almost double what Nico was over the median himself and triple the total. When you look at this, it’s really impressive that the championship was so close without taking all other things into account.

        Lewis Hamilton: 38
        Nico Rosberg: 28

        Valtteri Bottas: 22
        Felipe Massa: 22

        Force India-Mercedes:
        Sergio Perez: 22
        Nico Hulkenberg: 22

        Pascal Wehrlein: 22
        Rio Haryanto: 16
        Esteban Ocon: 22

    2. Question: How many of those from Hamilton were introduced at Spa? I do remember a certain level stockpiling, hence the rule change for next year.

      Also, I thought the components went to the car and not the driver. So shouldn’t Ocon and Haryanto be listed together?

      1. @dragon86 Good point. The stockpiling as a strategy at Spa needs to be deducted. Lewis will still have higher numbers but not quite as has been portrayed.

  44. Lewis had bad starts blah blah well… so did Nico. Lewis had some scruffy races, well, so did Nico. It’s a long, long season so this is expected. The thing is that since those happened, in the end mechanical failures were absolutely determinant to the result of the championship. Without only one of them Lewis would be champion, simple as that. Rosberg deserves it? Of course he deserves it, he was great through the season, but he was not “supposed” to win, he won because (not only because of that, of course) os his teammate misforutnes. Pundits spent the last day justifiyng why he won it and why he deserved it. We didn’t see that in 2015, 2014, 2013, etc…
    Just like Button and Raikkonen, Rosberg make the most of the opportunities that were given to him, so he is a worthy champion, but (IMO) a vey, very boring one.

  45. I remember watching an interview at the end of last season where Hamilton said he was happy to be 3 time wc like his idol senna and had no desire to go beyond 3-4-5 championships like schumi and vettel. Anyone remember that interview?. That interview plus the way he backed off towards the end of last season led me to think he would not win this years championship.

    1. not saying he lost because he backed off, but i dont think this year he had the same motivation as last year. Last year he was desperate to be 3 times wc, then maybe he rested on the laurels too much.

  46. Hamilton’s unreliability did stop him winning the title, anyone who disputes that is ignoring the facts.

    However reliability is a part of F1, one of the reasons it is such a big point this season is that his teammate, Rosberg, had no significant reliability problems all season, so in an age when F1 cars are generally very reliable, when two teammates are fighting for the title and one has almost perfect reliability but the other has 3 engine failures it stands out and obviously influences the outcome of the championship when there was only 5 points in it at the end.

    A lot of comments only seem to mention Hamilton’s engine failure during the race in Malaysia which denied him a certain win and resulted in a swing of 28 points to Rosberg in the championship battle.

    But just as important were the two engine failures Hamilton suffered early in the season at China and Russia and then the resulting grid penalties he received when he had to replace those engines at the Belgium GP.

    These all meant he started further down the grid than he would have otherwise, although he did recover to score significant points and podiums in some of those races they still cost him points overall.

    If you look at those three races when engine failures affected his starting position, without the failures and penalties I think he probably would have started on pole for at least 2 out 3 races and I think he would have finished ahead of Rosberg in at least 2 out of 3 of those races instead.

    I know some will dispute this and say you can’t know what would have happened if Hamilton had not had those engine failures or others will say even if he had started on pole with his bad starts Rosberg would have beaten him anyway. But if you look at other races this season you see that when neither driver had problems Hamilton qualified ahead and finished ahead of Rosberg more often than it being the other way around.

    Also another point people seem to overlook this year is the fact that both Mercedes drivers have made bad starts, it is just that Hamilton made more than Rosberg, I have read conflicting reports about how many of those bad starts were down to the driver and how many were down to the car, it would be nice to have a definitive answer to this.

    As they were the two drivers who were fighting for the title and usually started on the front row, any bad starts or mistakes were noticed and highlighted a lot more than other drivers, when other drivers have had bad starts or made mistakes this season they did not stand out as much so people don’t remember them as much.

    Reliability is more important in F1 now than when I started following the sport in the early 1990s.

    Firstly you have the fact that overall reliability is better for every team, I can remember it used to be a case of even if a driver had a big lead you were never certain of the result as the car could suffer problems, however now it is much rarer for reliability problems to affect the top championship chasing teams in that way. It used to more common for smaller teams to score points due to other cars dropping out even though points were only awarded to the top six.

    Secondly the rules themselves encourage reliability, with only a limited number of engines allowed each season and gearboxes having to be used for a number of races. In the 1990s the top teams would go through multiple engines each weekend. Now if there is an engine failure not only does the driver suffer at the race weekend in question but they will also suffer when they have to use an extra engine later in the season in the form of grid penalties.

    Thirdly the points system also rewards reliability, with the old 10-6-4-3-2-1 system if a driver had a DNF and his rival won he could make up for the loss in 2.5 races even if his rival finished second, whereas under the current points structure of 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 it takes 3.5 races to make up the difference.

  47. hamilton lost the championship at Monza.
    To be half a second quicker than his team mate and give him the win on a silver plater with another awful start was a huge wasted oportunity.

    And Monza was the 15th race of the year and he has been starting poorly since race 1.

    If he had adressed this problems earlier, he would be the champ now, easily. Rosberg doesn’t have anything on Hamilton when he is behind after the first lap.

  48. Keith, youre missing the gearbox penalty for HAM in china.

    1. Thanks I’ve added that – obviously it was much the smaller part of what went wrong for him that weekend!

  49. Assume Hamilton and Rosberg hypothetically had similar reliability spread over the season – who wins the title?
    So simple even my three year-old son can work it out.

    1. They should have pulled the double points for the final win, as they did previously, oh sorry that’s only for when Hamiltons running away with the title.

  50. I’ve tried to read all the comments, and don’t see anyone blaming the FIA’s rules and regulations. The engines (plus all the recovery bits and pieces) are mandated so that everyone has a warm and fuzzy feeling for “being green” and “road relevance.” For cost savings (?) you get grid penalties for “new bits and pieces” (in the old days we used to call that repairing your car.)
    I think (correct me if I’m mistaken) — and it’s totally hypothetical — that if you take the engine/gearbox grid penalties out, the WDC might have been different (for the record, I dislike the whole question of in season, tokenized, non-development and driver penalties for mechanical failures.)
    So it’s maybe better to blame the FIA for taking less account of driver skills while piling up “send them to the back of the grid” decisions which (unless one driver is more “engine friendly than the other) really has nothing to do with the sportsmanship of the drivers’ championship.

  51. Take into consideration that on the beginning of the 2016 season Mercedes decided to switch mechanic crews for no apparent reason and suddenly Lewis began experiencing mechanical problems. I believe that Mercedes wanted German driver to win in a German car to stave the falling interest in F1 in Germany.

  52. I thInk that everyone is missing one very important factor, this was a contract year for
    Nico, and while he is not Lewis’s equal in
    anyway, Mercedes wanted him to win a title to justify the new contract. The switching of Lewis’s team at the beginning of the
    season, the unreliability issues, Mercedes wilingness to give Nico tips ( against F1 rules)
    when they did not do the same for Lewis in a previous race; all point to the fact that the season was engineered. So now that Nico was given a title; I hope that Lewis goes into 2017 with incredible focus and that Mercedes let their drivers drive.

  53. In a word, no.

    IMO, Lewis lost the title due to his *several* poor starts, not because of reliability. The starts are a part of the race where both Nico and Lewis were on equal footing and Lewis simply didn’t consistently execute at the same level as Nico. If Lewis had just done a better, proper job at just one of those poor starts, he would have won the title.

    That’s what I love about F1 and similar racing series. EVERY aspect of EVERY race over the entire season has equal significance for the title points. A mistake in any race can decide the title outcome and consistency is rewarded.

    There’s no doubt that Lewis is a bit faster than Nico but F1 is not solely about that and that’s why Nico is a very deserving champion: his *overall* performance in all aspects of a full season of 21 races was the better of Lewis’s. That requires sustained focus over 9 months and that’s an area where I think Lewis wasn’t as keen as Nico this year. It seemed that Lewis dropped his focus and intensity for just a few races and that was the difference.

  54. Lewis’ unreliability & subsequent penalty’s certainly hurt his championship hopes but he also cost himself quite a few points due to his poor starts & 2 mistakes during Q3 in Baku.

    Without the bad starts he’d have been closer to potentially winning another few races (Including a few where he was starting on pole) rather than having to fight back to 2nd/3rd’s, Had he not had the poor start in Bahrain he’d not have been in a position to be spun by Bottas & without the 2 mistakes in Q3 at Baku he’d have almost certainly started on the front row rather than 10th & more than likely finished on the podium rather than 5th (That alone would have been the 5 points needed to beat Rosberg to the championship).

  55. there are a lot of people looking at hamilton having less reliability than rosberg this year & trying to suggest the team were giving him the worst components or favouring rosberg or whatever.

    but consider this, hamilton had the worse of the reliability at mclaren compared to his team mates and also left mclaren in part based off his cars unreliability through 2012.
    so is it not possible given how reliability has affected him more than his team mates through his f1 career that its simply down to something he does in the car?

    there have been drivers in the past who always suffered from poor reliability compared to there team mates. drivers like jean alesi & rubens barrichello for example are drivers who in every team they ever drove for suffered more technical issues than there team mates & it was always put down to the way they were driving or the way they were attacking kerbing…. maybe lewis is just the same?

    1. you should be aware that Hamilton’s first reliability related retirement was Abu Dhabi 2009, the last race of his third season.

      And that in 2015 he had only one retirement, compared to Rosberg’s two.

      If everybody is saying that was just an unfortunate failure, there’s no reason to say it is up to the driver. They don’t even push this engines all that much anyway. Everything is “lift and coast” these days.

  56. But if Lewis didn’t have that problem, Nico might drove differently as in more aggressive in the latter races because Nico was looking like he drove for the championship instead for winning (as in he drove safely).
    Of course the easy way is just to imagine removing those problem for Lewis and simply add the possible point. But like in the article said, butterfly effect.

    1. i doubt he could do anything different than settling for 2nd even if he tried hard to win. Hamilton stopped with the awful starts that were the key for at least 3 Rosberg wins.

      It only would increase his chances of making mistakes on races like Brazil.

  57. Off topic. Keith, any idea why Hamilton doesn’t follow pre-race protocol as other drivers? I have noticed that while all drivers align side by side for the national anthems Hamilton is somewhere else, sometimes standing besides the representatives of the hosting country. Is the reigning champion supposed to do so?

  58. Yes, Hamilton lost the title due to shoddy work by his mechanics and the subsequent reliability issues.

  59. Of all the races Hamilton had a chance to win the championship on his own, Baku is where he failed. Given the chance to reenact the season and take redo just one race weekend, I think he asks for a redo of Baku. In Malaysia there’s nothing he could realistically do to stop the engine failure but he can DO Baku different.

    Lewis was the better part of half a second faster than Nico on Friday. He easily had the pace to outdo him the whole race weekend. Then came Saturday and whatever tweaks he made on the car just messed his whole setup. He was constantly locking up in FP3 and even before the crash in qualifying he was still constantly locking up. I doubt he got a single clean lap in on the whole Saturday. Still wonder what happened to his car overnight or whether he was just over driving it.

    Even then, if he just cruised in to 2nd in qualifying and maintained the same position come Sunday, he’s world champion by 3 points. We’ve seen the coast into the podium some weekends approach work for Marquez in MotoGP this year. But Lewis is Lewis and he always wants to drive to the best that the car can afford him to. I respect him from it. But on this one occasion he could have won the WDC by fighting his instincts.

    1. @deidunxf1 the team had made changes for Saturday which they didn’t do quite right which had nothing to do with Hamilton – so he messed up trying to find speed that at that moment wasn’t actually in the car, and it also influenced his race, while it hardly did for Rosberg, according to the team itself.

    2. Remember Brazil 2014, the WDC wasn’t yet decided and he raced hard for the win and spun on the middle of the race while trying to undercut Rosberg.

      Can you imagine Rosberg doing that?

      That said, Monza was also a huge blow. Half a second faster on a track that is mostly flat out, to throw all the superiority away with another awful start.

      1. “Can you imagine Rosberg doing that?”

        What making a mistake under pressure? Yeah he has done it loads.

  60. Great article. Only thing missing is the 3 or 4 races where Hamilton’s clutch had issues as well which made him lose several positions in multiple race starts BEFORE turn 1. That was icing on the cake of reliability.

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