Alternative history: the 2007 championship without misfortune
24th February 2012, 22:05 at 10:05 pm #130975
2007, the year in which Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton tied with the same amount of points, just one point short of Kimi Raïkkönen who started the last race third in the championship. How did they all get so close to eachother in the last race? Was Raïkkönen’s title a lucky shot, or could he have had a bigger lead? So, how would things have turned out if the title contenders did not have any misfortune?
DISCLAIMER: While anyone having watched Back to the Future understands that you can’t simply alter one thing in history without other things being affected, and thus these results are not completely definitive, they can’t be completely ignored either, considering any Formula One will always push for the best results. This article provides some context to the raw statistics of world championships.
What counts as misfortune: mechanical failure, being crashed in to by another driver
What does not count as misfortune: wrong tactical choices, crashing their own car, penalty by the driver’s own doing
Grand Prix of Australia
Felipe Massa had to change his engine after qualifying and started the race last. He finished in 6th, just behind Fisichella. While starting further to the front would have most likely put him in front of Fisichella, he was not that much faster that he would have been likely to finish in front of Heidfeld, so we give Massa 1 extra point for p5.
Standings 2007: Räikkönen 10pt, Alonso 8pt, Hamilton 6pt, Massa 3pt
Alternative standings: Räikkönen 10pt, Alonso 8pt, Hamilton 6pt, Massa 4pt
Grand Prix of Malaysia
While Massa dropped to 5th after a failed attempt to overtake Hamilton, it doesn’t count as misfortune.
Standings 2007: Alonso 18pt, Räikkönen 16pt, Hamilton 14pt, Massa 7pt
Alternative standings: Alonso 18pt, Räikkönen 16pt, Hamilton 14pt, Massa 8pt
Grand Prix of Bahrain
Nothing much happened in terms of misfortune.
Standings 2007: Alonso 22pt, Räikkönen 22pt, Hamilton 22pt, Massa 17pt
Alternative standings: Alonso 22pt, Räikkönen 22pt, Hamilton 22pt, Massa 18pt
Grand Prix of Spain
When Kimi Räikkönen’s gear box failed, it cost him a certain top 4 placement. It is debatable if he could have stayed in front of Alonso, but considering the pace of Ferrari today, it is very possible, so Kimi gets 3rd place and Alonso drops back to 4th.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 30pt, Alonso 28pt, Massa 27pt, Räikkönen 22pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 30pt, Massa 28pt, Alonso 27pt, Räikkönen 27pt
Grand Prix of Monaco
Although Hamilton was slightly held up in qualifying, it probably didn’t matter enough to cost him pole position. Räikkönen’s qualifying problems were caused by himself.
Standings 2007: Alonso 38pt, Hamilton 38pt, Massa 33pt, Räikkönen 23pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 38pt, Alonso 37pt, Massa 34pt, Räikkönen 28pt
Grand Prix of Canada
While Alonso had a very bad race, none of it is due to unfortune. Massa leaving the pitlane with the red light on, was also his own fault, so nothing changes in Canada.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 48pt, Alonso 40pt, Massa 33pt, Räikkönen 27pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 48pt, Alonso 39pt, Massa 34pt, Räikkönen 32pt
Grand Prix of the United States
Despite the chaos in the first corner, not much happened to the title contenders.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 58pt, Alonso 48pt, Massa 39pt, Räikkönen 32pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 58pt, Alonso 47pt, Massa 40pt, Räikkönen 37pt
Grand Prix of France
Alonso’s gear box problems in qualifying meant he started at p10. Based on Q2 times, he could have started from p5, just behind Kubica. Considering the McLaren’s race pace was not that good, chances are that Kubica would have stayed in front of Alonso, so we give Alonso 5th place, 2 places up from his 7th place finish.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 64pt, Alonso 50pt, Massa 47pt, Räikkönen 42pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 64pt, Alonso 51pt, Massa 48pt, Räikkönen 47pt
Grand Prix of England
Massa’s engine stalled on the grid, which meant he had to start from the pit lane. With Massa’s strong pace working his way through the field, and Hamilton’s slow pace after the last pit stops, Massa would have probably taken third place from the young Brit.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 70pt, Alonso 58pt, Räikkönen 52pt, Massa 51pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 69pt, Alonso 59pt, Räikkönen 57pt, Massa 54pt
Grand Prix of Europe
A problem with a wheel gun meant Hamilton crashed in Q3, starting him from p10. Based on his speed in Q2, he would have probably started from p4. While Hamilton was caught in the first corner chaos, his eventual spin was his own doing and not related to his qualifying position. Räikkönen’s hydraulic problems while he was catching up to the leaders, did cost him a likely win.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 70pt, Alonso 68pt, Massa 59pt, Räikkönen 52pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 69pt, Räikkönen 67pt, Alonso 67pt, Massa 60pt
Grand Prix of Hungary
Judging the situation with Alonso holding up Hamilton in qualifying is tricky, as both Alonso and the McLaren team said it was not intentional, and Hamilton had caused the mix-up to begin with. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and put him back on pole, although his race speed was nowhere near that of Hamilton and Räikkönen, so we put him up just one place from p4 to p3. Massa’s low starting position, and consequent bad race, was due to a tactical error.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 80pt, Alonso 73pt, Räikkönen 60pt, Massa 59pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 79pt, Räikkönen 75pt, Alonso 73pt, Massa 60pt
Grand Prix of Turkey
After having jumped Räikkönen following the last pit stops, a puncture cost Hamilton second place, finishing 3 places lower, behind the Finn and team mate Alonso.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 84pt, Alonso 79pt, Massa 69pt, Räikkönen 68pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 88pt, Räikkönen 81pt, Alonso 78pt, Massa 70pt
Grand Prix of Italy
Yet another puncture for Hamilton, finishing in second place just six seconds behind Alonso, the puncture likely cost him the win. Massa retired from third place with a suspension faillure, so at the end of the day, the alternative standing would be Hamilton, Alonso, Massa and Räikkönen.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 92pt, Alonso 89pt, Räikkönen 74pt, Massa 69pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 98pt, Räikkönen 86pt, Alonso 86pt, Massa 76pt
Grand Prix of Belgium
The Belgian Grand Prix was quite uneventful in the context of this article, so no changes.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 97pt, Alonso 95pt, Räikkönen 84pt, Massa 77pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 103pt, Räikkönen 96pt, Alonso 92pt, Massa 84pt
Grand Prix of Japan
While Jean Todt claimed to have not gotten the memo about the tyre-requirements, it’s odd that Ferrari was the only one that claimed to have missed it, so we’ll leave it at that. Thus, the results for the Japanese Grand Prix are left unchanged.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 107pt, Alonso 95pt, Räikkönen 90pt, Massa 80pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 113pt, Räikkönen 102pt, Alonso 92pt, Massa 87pt
Grand Prix of China
Hamilton’s slip into the gravel was his own fault, leaving the outcome of the Chinese Grand Prix unchanged as well.
Standings 2007: Hamilton 107pt, Alonso 103pt, Räikkönen 100pt, Massa 86pt
Alternative standings: Hamilton 113pt, Räikkönen 112pt, Alonso 100pt, Massa 93pt
Grand Prix of Brazil
Lewis Hamilton suffered from gear box problems early in the race, which cost him a lot of time. Considering the time he lost there, and the race speed he had, he would have likely been able to finish third, ahead of Alonso. The Ferrari’s were much too fast for him for a higher finishing position though, so the alternative result would be Räikkönen, Massa, Hamilton and Alonso.
Standings 2007: Räikkönen 110pt, Hamilton 109pt, Alonso 109pt, Massa 94pt
Alternative standings: Räikkönen 122pt, Hamilton 119pt, Alonso 105pt, Massa 101pt
In conclusion I
* Kimi Räikkönen lost a net 12 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
* Lewis Hamilton lost a net 10 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
* Felipe Massa lost a net 17 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
* Fernando Alonso gained a net 4 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune from his direct championship competitors.
While mechanical failures did not affect this championship nearly as much as they did in 2010, I think it is most remarkable to see how well Hamilton actually did in comparisson to Alonso and how Räikkönen’s championship title was not that much of a lucky shot, although still greatly aided by Hamilton’s slip-up in China.
Coming up next in Alternative History F1: the 2008 world championship was literally decided in the last corner. Were Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton really that closely matched, or were the chances of one of them highly increased by bad luck of the other?24th February 2012, 22:21 at 10:21 pm #194064
One point, there is no ‘Grand Prix of England.’24th February 2012, 22:32 at 10:32 pm #194065
Very good, apart from the European GP. Had Hamilton qualified 4th, he would not have got the puncture, and would have been with the leaders on the 1st laps, passing turn 1 before the massive aquaplaning river was formed25th February 2012, 1:17 at 1:17 am #19406625th February 2012, 5:01 at 5:01 am #194067
A few small points;
- I’d say you’re a little harsh to say that Massa wouldn’t have got ahead of Heidfeld in Australia – as you said about Kimi in Spain, the pace of the Ferrari should be enough to show he would’ve had the speed to do that.
- Not really an error, but Massa would’ve probably won Brazil in your championship, because he wouldn’t have needed to let Kimi through for him to win the championship.25th February 2012, 7:51 at 7:51 am #194068
Wow, what the hell is up with Alonso? Seems he was the luckiest championship contender in both 2007 and 2010, and yet he lost both of them…
(I’m saying this as an Alonso fan, so I’m most definitely not trying to downplay his skill or anything.)
Also, I agree with @ed24f1 on both accounts. Still, props for taking your time (again) to do all of this, OP.25th February 2012, 8:28 at 8:28 am #194069
I also agree with @ed24f1, Ferrari and McLaren were clearly better than the rest of the field.25th February 2012, 8:33 at 8:33 am #194070
Yes, Alonso in the years has really surprised me as well. Once I’m done with these, I wanna make an analysis on him, with this in mind. He’s obviously one of the best drivers, but his results seem to be influenced by luck. Though keeping your head cool and collecting the points is of course also a skill.
- Regarding Australia, it’s a tricky one because Heidfeld was having quite a good race, and the speed difference between them didn’t seem that big. I could live with handing him p4 though ;)
- Regarding Europe, I acknowledge the first corner problems. However, Button was in p4 (Hamilton’s ‘real’ starting position) when he spun off at turn 1, so being in the front wasn’t necessarily reason not to spin there. Besides, Hamilton made many more mistakes later on in the race. I agree this is tricky, but there will always be some guesswork in this. Although, in Brazil I gave him the benefit of the doubt when it came to the pit limiter, which some believe he activated himself. I try to kind of balance ‘benefits of the doubt’ out like that.
- Regarding Brazil and Kimi/Felipe, I’ve considered that, but with there still being only 3 points between them in the end, I don’t think they would have taken the risk.25th February 2012, 14:00 at 2:00 pm #194072
RE: Brazil – I think they would have stayed close throughout the race, but they would’ve given Massa another home win, Kimi would’ve been happy to remain in 2nd as long as he knew that was enough for the championship.25th February 2012, 19:40 at 7:40 pm #194073
- I’d say you’re a little harsh to say that Massa wouldn’t have got ahead of Heidfeld in Australia – as you said about Kimi in Spain, the pace of the Ferrari should be enough to show he would’ve had the speed to do that
Seeing as Massa had such bad luck in qualifying arguably he could have been on pole and won. Hungary and Silverstone he had bad luck in qualifying so arguably should have had at least podiums. In Japan a stupid tyre strategy meant bad luck again and maybe he could have been on the podium then too. In Italy he retired so should have had points then…wait, hang on…Massa should have been champ in 07!!! :P This is why I’m not a big fan of the guessing game. It’s ok for a bit of fun but a bit pointless as what happened happened and whoever wins deserves it. Every champion needed a certain amount of luck to win.25th February 2012, 20:20 at 8:20 pm #194074
Dont think Lewis had puncture in Italy, had vibration which was why he pitted early in first stint25th February 2012, 22:42 at 10:42 pm #194075
PamphletParticipant25th February 2012, 23:06 at 11:06 pm #194076
You appear to have given Raikkonen 1 point too few in Spain, and Hamilton 1 point too many in Turkey, so Raikkonen ‘should’ have won by 5 points.
A great read, though!26th February 2012, 6:02 at 6:02 am #194077
Were Hamilton’s punctures just luck, or as a result of his aggressive driving style?
Inherently these analyses are always flawed if you try to quantify something as elusive as ‘luck’.
Vettel’s engine blowing in Korea 10 is an clear example where you would say he would probably have won without the failure, would you say Webber getting baulked by Kimi in Silversone 09 Quali meant he lost a certain win? (which if you ask Webber I’m sure he’d say yes)
Interesting scenarios to read, but interesting in both cases 2010 and 2007 you’ve appointed the eventual champion in the alternate history as in the completed season…26th February 2012, 12:56 at 12:56 pm #194078
While it would be impossible (well, it would be possible, but I don’t have THAT much free time on my hands) to calculate every single thing, this is just an interesting alternative context to the statistics. I won’t say it’s fool-proof, but I think it’s the most reasonable way possible to
This just happened to be the case with those two championships, although I rather find it interesting to see that despite (quite) some bad luck, the champion in the end was who it should have been. Now, if you direct your attention to the 2008-thread, you’ll see a wholely different situation.
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