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Alternative history: the 2008 championship without misfortune

This topic contains 29 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by Avatar of GeorgeDaviesF1 GeorgeDaviesF1 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #130983
    Avatar of mnmracer
    mnmracer
    Participant

    2008 was an amazing year in Formula One, with the title fight between Hamilton and Massa literally going down to the last corner! However, how much of this was influenced by the drivers being closely matched, and how much was down to bad luck on either driver’s side? In alternative history, we have a look at how the 2008 Formula One world championship would have turned out if the title candidates would not have encountered bad luck.

    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, an undeserved penalty
    What does not count as misfortune: wrong tactical choices, crashing their own car, penalty by the driver’s own doing

    Grand Prix of Australia
    Due to a fuel pressure problem, Kimi Räikkönen had to start in 16th place. If not for that, he could have realistically qualified 5th, just behind Massa, who was slightly faster in Q1. In the race though, Räikkönen had a great start and a good pace for most of the race as well. While his mistakes in the race were his own fault, he arguable wouldn’t have been in the position for such mistakes if if it wasn’t for how woes in qualifying. Second place for the Finish driver would have been realistic, setting Heidfeld back to 3rd. Massa spun in the first lap, which set him back quite far. When his engine blew up, Massa was however not that much faster than Heidfeld, so p4 for Massa would have been realistic.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 10pt, Räikkönen 1pt, Massa 0pt
    Alternative standings: Hamilton 10pt, Räikkönen 8pt, Massa 5pt

    Grand Prix of Malaysia
    Although the McLaren duo was penalized in qualifying for creating a dangerous situation, it doesn’t constitute as bad luck. Neither did Massa’s spin on lap 30, so nothing changes for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 14pt, Räikkönen 11pt, Massa 0pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 18pt, Hamilton 14pt, Massa 5pt

    Grand Prix of Bahrain
    While almost stalling the McLaren at the start could be considered bad luck, Hamilton running into the back of Alonso and dropping down the field with a broken nose, is entirely one’s own fault. So again, no changes for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Standings 2008: Räikkönen 19pt, Hamilton 14pt, Massa 10pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 26pt, Massa 15pt, Hamilton 14pt

    Grand Prix of Spain
    Another uneventful race in the context of this article, with all the title contenders finishing with no real issues.

    Standings 2008: Räikkönen 29pt, Hamilton 20pt, Massa 18pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 36pt, Massa 23pt, Hamilton 20pt

    Grand Prix of Turkey
    Another uneventful race in the context of this article, with all the title contenders finishing with no real issues.

    Standings 2008: Räikkönen 35pt, Massa 28pt, Hamilton 28pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 42pt, Massa 33pt, Hamilton 28pt

    Grand Prix of Monaco
    While Räikkönen plowed into the back of Sutil as if he had seen a champagne glass in the German’s hand and wanted do strike pre-emptively, this was his own fault and does not change the outcome in the context of this article.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 38pt, Räikkönen 35pt, Massa 34pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 42pt, Massa 39pt, Hamilton 38pt

    Grand Prix of Canada
    Canada 2008 is of course remembered for the pit stop incident in which Hamilton ran into the back of Räikkönen. So while this doesn’t do anything for the Brit in this article, Kimi was not at fault here, and could have won the race, as he pulled out before the eventual race winner, Robert Kubica. Felipe Massa meanwhile had to make an extra stop due to a refueling problem. Giving Massa back the time he lost with the extra pit stop, he would have not finished 5th behind Heidfeld Glock, but 4th in front of Glock and Coulthard.

    Standings 2008: Massa 38pt, Hamilton 38pt, Räikkönen 35pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 52pt, Massa 44pt, Hamilton 38pt

    Grand Prix of France
    Receiving a drive-through penalty for cutting corners, albeit a little harsh, Hamilton has only himself to blame for. Räikkönen suffered from an exhaust problem, which gifted the win to Massa.

    Standings 2008: Massa 48pt, Räikkönen 43pt, Hamilton 38pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 62pt, Massa 52pt, Hamilton 38pt

    Grand Prix of England
    Although Massa was unable to set a second lap time in Q3, he would not have qualified much higher, and would not have made any difference in the two laps he was down to Hamilton at the finish, after having an abominable race in the wet conditions at Silverstone.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 48pt, Massa 48pt, Räikkönen 48pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 67pt, Massa 52pt, Hamilton 48pt

    Grand Prix of Germany
    While not an uneventful race, nothing happened to the title contesters in the context of this article.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 58pt, Massa 54pt, Räikkönen 51pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 70pt, Massa 58pt, Hamilton 58pt

    Grand Prix of Hungary
    With Hamilton puncturing a rear-tyre while in second place, and Massa blowing up his engine from first place three laps before the end, lady luck was obviously asleep today. Massa would have won the race, in front of Hamilton, setting Räikkönen back from p3 to p5.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 62pt, Räikkönen 57pt, Massa 54pt
    Alternative standings: Räikkönen 74pt, Massa 68pt, Hamilton 66pt

    Grand Prix of Europe
    Although Räikkönen was not too sharp driving away with the fuel hose still attached, the later engine faillure cost him a probable 5th place finish.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 70pt, Massa 64pt, Räikkönen 57pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 78pt, Räikkönen 78pt, Hamilton 74pt

    Grand Prix of Belgium
    Räikkönen lost his own race when spinning into the wall, but the mayor factor in the Belgian Grand Prix was Lewis Hamilton’s penalty for overtaking Räikkönen after cutting the bus-stop chicane. To this day, a subject that no one agrees on, so we’ll leave it as a consideration in the end. In my book though, it was an undeserved penalty, so for now we’re giving him back first place.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 76pt, Massa 74pt, Räikkönen 57pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 88pt, Hamilton 84pt, Räikkönen 78pt

    Grand Prix of Italy
    In Sebastian Vettel’s first ever pole-position and victory weekend, Räikkönen and Hamilton put themselves in a difficult position by qualifying down the field. In the race, neither of the three championship contenders had bad luck to speak of in the context of this article.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 78pt, Massa 77pt, Räikkönen 57pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 89pt, Hamilton 86pt, Räikkönen 78pt

    Grand Prix of Singapore
    The inaugral Singapore Grand Prix will be remembered for one thing: crash gate. While Räikkönen threw away his own race, Massa saw victory slip through his fingers when he was sent off from his pit stop with the fuel hose still attached. Hamilton too was affected by Renault’s schemes, as he would have normally finished second behind Massa. So in that sense, we give Massa the win and promote Hamilton from p3 to p2.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 84pt, Massa 77pt, Räikkönen 57pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 99pt, Hamilton 94pt, Räikkönen 78pt

    Grand Prix of Japan
    Hamilton and Massa were just all over the place in Fuji, ruining not only their own races, but also those of others. Räikkönen would have won the race if Hamilton hadn’t pushed him off the track, and Massa was clearly to blame for the incident with Bourdais. For that, Massa is given the 25 second penalty that was given to the Frenchmen, dropping him outside the points to p11, and Räikkönen is given the win.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 84pt, Massa 79pt, Räikkönen 63pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 99pt, Hamilton 94pt, Räikkönen 88pt

    Grand Prix of China
    Another uneventful race in the context of this article, with all the title contenders finishing with no real issues.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 94pt, Massa 87pt, Räikkönen 69pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 107pt, Hamilton 104pt, Räikkönen 94pt

    Grand Prix of Brazil
    A spectaculair final race either way, albeit one that in the context of this article would have been ‘over’ sooner, as Hamilton would have had to win with Massa 3rd to become champion; something that quickly became clear not to be likely to happen.

    Standings 2008: Hamilton 98pt, Massa 97pt, Räikkönen 75pt
    Alternative standings: Massa 117pt, Hamilton 108pt, Räikkönen 100pt

    In conclusion I
    * Kimi Räikkönen lost a net 27 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
    * Felipe Massa lost a net 20 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
    * Lewis Hamilton lost a net 10 points due to mechanical failures and other misfortune.
    * If one considers the the penalty given to Hamilton in Belgium to be fair, the final results would have been: Massa 119pt, Hamilton 104pt, Räikkönen 100pt

    In conclusion II
    First off: wow! Massa a clear world champion, rather than just missing out on the title. Actually hadn’t seen that one coming. While Hamilton has also lost quite some points during the season, those were often his own fault, while Massa lost a lot of points due to simply bad luck. While Räikkönen still had an aweful season, losing 25 points due to bad luck didn’t quite help him either.

    Coming up next in Alternative History F1: the 2005 world championship was Fernando Alonso’s first title, with Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari and the Bridgestone tyres being far off the pace. But how much bad luck did Räikkönen have with his McLaren, and should he have won the 2005 title instead?

    #194582
    Avatar of matt90
    matt90
    Participant

    “While his mistakes in the race were his own fault, he arguable wouldn’t have been in the position for such mistakes if if it wasn’t for how woes in qualifying. Second place for the Finish driver would have been realistic.”

    “While almost stalling the McLaren at the start could be considered bad luck, Hamilton running into the back of Alonso and dropping down the field with a broken nose, is entirely one’s own fault.”

    These two approaches seem at odds. If you think Hamilton’s near stall was not his own fault (debatable) then he never would have run into the back of Alonso.

    Also there’s still no Grand Prix of England.

    Otherwise, interesting as always.

    #194583
    Avatar of
    Anonymous

    In conclusion II
    First off: wow! Massa a clear world champion, rather than just missing out on the title. Actually hadn’t seen that one coming

    I knew this was coming and it really hurts. Pure agony.

    #194584
    Avatar of glue
    glue
    Participant

    Kimi would have finished higher at Silverstone if the team had changed his intermediates at the first pit-stop; he was right behind Hamilton by then

    edit: just saw the disclaimer discounting wrong tactical choices as misfortunes

    but nevertheless, it was a much better season for Kimi than it has been made out to be

    #194585
    Avatar of Bobdredds
    Bobdredds
    Participant

    I always felt Felipe was the best driver in 2008 and deserved the championship title. This is not to say that Lewis did anything wrong apart from errors but Singapore was where Felipe lost it. The stats show that ontrack he performed peerlessly and beat Kimi fair and square in equal machinery, something no other driver has managed in F1, in a year you would have expected Kimi to be stronger as WDC. By the end of the season no one could touch him and he had even made Turkey his personal stamping ground by winning 3 in a row. He did the same in Brazil, giving one win to Kimi so he could beat Lewis. In spite of two difficult years, if he can beat Kimi, he can beat Alonso IMHO. A lot will be down to the car but if Felipe is happy behind the wheel he will be a contender.
    The only chink in Felipes armour is that if he’s not happy for any reason it tends to bother him more than others. Last season he had tyre problems, which Fernando handled better and that masked his real performance. 2012 looks to be different, and he knows what he has to do. Last season was a shock for him but probably removed any emotional fallout from his accident and now all he has to do is focus on the job at hand and beat Alonso.

    #194586
    Avatar of GeorgeDaviesF1
    GeorgeDaviesF1
    Participant

    Lewis had sticky wheel in Malaysia
    I did this with Kovalainen aswell once, its quite interesting

    #194587
    Avatar of Fixy
    Fixy
    Participant

    I agree with @steph :(
    Thank you so much @mnmracer, these Alternative History threads are very interesting!

    #194588
    Avatar of plushpile
    plushpile
    Participant

    So lets take this alternate history a step further, have a think about how our perceptions of Massa and Hamilton may have changed…

    I really don’t see Massa driving much differently – he was excellent in 09, but following the unfortunate incident in Hungary he’s now just a shell of his former self.
    As a WDC Ferrari may have allowed him to keep Germany 10 however.

    Hamilton would be an interesting one, take away the title of 2008 WDC and you have an obviously talented driver, but the questions about his temperament would be much louder. His WDC results would be 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 4th, 5th – results more akin to a talented journey man…

    Flame away

    #194589
    Avatar of Pamphlet
    Pamphlet
    Participant

    @plushpile – No flaming warranted, it’s pretty much how I think as well, albeit with a few differences…

    Brazil ’08 Hamilton – Let’s go with the easiest scenario imaginable – Glock did not spin, meaning that Massa and Hamilton were tied on points at the end of the season. Massa wins the title by virtue of having more wins. It’s hard to believe that Hamilton would’ve taken another title loss as well as he did in ’07 (or as well as his rival eventually did), especially not one that was even more painful than that. (1>0)

    ’09 Massa – No changes for Massa. He took his title loss in ’08 extremely well and was pretty confident in the following season, despite having a weak car. Before McLaren got some much needed upgrades he was destroying Hamilton, something which I think would have affected the latter a bit, but not too much. People would’ve been a little more affected by Hungary, though.

    ’09 Hamilton – Australia damaged him and his relationship with McLaren, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he took it even worse in this hypothetical scenario. Otherwise, no changes. Maybe he would’ve been a little less confident, but I don’t think his results would’ve been any worse.

    Hungary – How would Hamilton have taken it? Would it have been the same? Would he have secretly been glad to see that a fairly strong (albeit in a bad car) champion was out of the picture? Would he have been even more saddened, possibly even worried for him?

    ’10 Massa – People would’ve still been disappointed with his performance. Cue rumors about him not being a worthy champion. He still wouldn’t have won Germany though, but since he already had a title he would’ve probably felt well enough to let Alonso through willingly.

    ’10 Hamilton – No changes here. Hell, I think Hamilton would’ve performed even better, especially with Massa finally being back and Lewis likely wanting to one-up him (and Vettel!).

    ’11 Massa&Hamilton – We know that Felipe was pretty critical of Lewis, with the latter not really knowing how to treat this fiasco. I wonder if Massa would’ve treated his rival even worse though. If so, then that, ’07&’08, the break-up and Button’s ascension would’ve been pretty painful to deal with.

    #194590
    Avatar of plushpile
    plushpile
    Participant

    @Pamphlet it would put the on track scuffles in ’11 into a much different light, agreed.

    #194591
    Avatar of gameprotage
    gameprotage
    Member

    @Plushpile I think all that can be gleaned from this is how much luck can be the deciding factor in who wins a championship, for example Lewis was one gearbox glitch in 2007, and one wheel rim failure in Barcelona 2010, away from becoming a triple world champion. When you factor in that he’s never (imo) had the fastest car then that along with scoring the highest points in the second half of 2009 when the car became good show he’s definitely not just a talented journeyman.

    #194592
    Avatar of Adam Tate
    Adam Tate
    Participant

    Yes, yes, yes. Thankyou! I have long grown tired of defending how Massa was easily the best driver of 2008 and was robbed of the Championship. Your research reinforces what many of us already knew to be true.

    These posts are quite fantastic, it just goes to show that the best driver of a season doesn’t always win out in the end.

    #194593
    Avatar of ed24f1
    ed24f1
    Participant

    Yes, I agree, I wasn’t really surprised by the results – I’ve been through similar alternative situations before for 2008.

    It’ll be interesting to see 2005, Kimi did have a lot of failures.

    #194594
    Avatar of Asanator
    Asanator
    Participant

    yeah, it’s interesting and I have had this argument with so many people about Massa in 2008. The same with the whole Ferrari only won the 2007 WCC because of McLarens Constructors points being taken away!…Errr no…do the maths!!!

    #194595
    Avatar of matt90
    matt90
    Participant

    @asanator
    What maths show that Ferrari would have won 07 regardless of McLaren being penalised?

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