Lewis Hamilton, GP2, Monza, 2006

The time a fastest lap bonus point won Hamilton a championship

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Formula 1 is considering a new rule which would award a point to the driver who sets the fastest lap during a race.

It’s not a new idea to F1. Maurice Trintignant was the last driver to be awarded a point for setting the fastest lap in a race in the United States Grand Prix 60 years ago.

Since then points in F1 have only been awarded to drivers who are classified at the end of a race. But other championships already award points for fastest lap.

Indeed, this was exactly how Lewis Hamilton won his last championship before he arrived in F1, in distinctly underwhelming circumstances.

Hamilton’s title-winning rookie GP2 (now F2) campaign in 2006 included some unforgettable highlights. A consummate performance on the streets of Monaco. A heart-stopping three-wide pass into the ultra-fast Maggotts complex in front of his home crowd. And his outrageous tear through the field at Istanbul, climbing from 16th to second in 22 laps of DRS-free magic.

Following the latter, the championship came to its conclusion in a final double-header at Monza where Hamilton had to contend with on-form title rival Nelson Piquet Jnr and an inspired Giorgio Pantano. The latter won the opening race in superb style, but Piquet resisted Hamilton for second place.

That meant the championship would go down to the wire. Piquet was still in with a chance – by just a single point.

Or so we all thought.

But after the chequered flag fell the stewards took a closer look at Pantano’s fastest lap of the race, which had earned him a bonus point. They ruled the FMS driver had failed to back off while passing the yellow flags which were being waved for Franck Perera’s stationary DAMS.

Pantano was stripped of his point for fastest lap, which was in turn awarded to the driver who had set the next-quickest lap: Hamilton. And so, hours after the race had ended with the stands long emptied, Piquet was mathematically eliminated from championship contention.

Hamilton was unquestionably a worthy champion that year. His efforts deserved a better coronation than the damp squib they got.

A point which those who are now lobbying for the same rule to be introduced to F1 should bear in mind.

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Start, GP2, Monza, 2006
Piquet (11), Hamilton (2) and Pantano (16) led the pack at Monza

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Keith Collantine
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14 comments on “The time a fastest lap bonus point won Hamilton a championship”

  1. Any type of rule can one year produce a anti-climatic end but on the other end can produce an exciting extra on the last race to the last lap. win some lose some.

    I don’t know, but did race 2 at Monza award a point for FL?
    Because if it was that way, Hamilton would have won anyway after race 1.
    Ofcourse it was a bit of a pitty the result came hours after the race.
    But that could have happened anyway (DQ of cars ahead)…

    1. Piquet needed to finished ahead of Lewis in both race with him having a DNF for him to win the championship.

      That bonus point had no bearing on the final result, which was known before Lewis even crossed the line since Piquet was down in 6th!

    2. I don’t know, but did race 2 at Monza award a point for FL?
      Because if it was that way, Hamilton would have won anyway after race 1.

      If Piquet had won the sprint race and taken the bonus point for fastest lap with Hamilton not scoring, he and Hamilton would have ended the year tied on points (108) and wins (five), and Hamilton would have won on count-back of second place finishes (6-3). So earning the bonus point for the feature race was what clinched the title for Hamilton.

  2. We. Didn’t. Need. This.

    And so, hours after the race had ended with the stands long emptied, Piquet was mathematically eliminated from championship contention.

    1. Except that was lie. Hamilton finished 2nd in the sprint race and Piquet finished 6th, which meant Lewis won the title even if they hadn’t taken the bonus point away from Piquet

      1. You’ve misunderstood: The bonus point wasn’t taken away from Piquet in the sprint race, it was taken away from Pantano in the feature race, as explained in the article.

  3. Yes.. And the next idea is using a VAR in F1.
    So Noone knows when a penalty is given.

    1. F1 already uses var for penalties, the stewards announce something as under investigation, then they look at the video evidence. Works quite well. Personally I’d rather see the right decision after review than a wrong decision instantly!!!

    2. New to F1 huh

  4. BlackJackFan
    7th March 2019, 4:15

    The point for fastest lap was always regarded as an extra aspect of the title chase. I remember it as being liked, and not for causing problems – which can happen at any time, anyway. I think that’s a weak argument – championships/races can still be won or lost by a single point, with or without it.
    However… I believe the practice was abolished because there was a tendency for fast drivers who had suffered in the race and were way behind the 6th-place point score, to do a quick pit-stop, fit new (soft?) tires simply in order to take fastest lap. I seem to recall the ‘powers-that-be’ considered this to be ‘dangerous’.
    I would also like to see a point for pole position… and then revert to having the cars line up side-by-side, instead of this stupid staggered grid, apparently because modern drivers are otherwise unable to avoid hitting each other – but it still happens, because some drivers become even more ‘careless’.
    Use YouTube to watch F1 race starts when the cars lined up 3-4 cars abreast. That was exciting… Please lose all these stupid PC, alleged ‘safety’ rules!

    1. Safety is stupid pc??? Give us a break.

      1. BlackJackFan
        7th March 2019, 18:25

        “Safety is stupid pc???”
        Sorry to disappoint you but this is not what I wrote. And sorry to have so easily confused you… ;-)

  5. And don’t forget the shambolic was the second Formula E season ended. The two title protagonists hit each other on lap 1 of the title decider, and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon fighting their own private competition over setting fastest lap – involving lots of backing off to give themselves space for a clear lap while everyone else was still trying to race.
    Ideas like this might sound good in theory, but they can easily throw up a massive anti-climax to the season.

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