The DNFs of Hamilton and Vettel last Sunday were interesting to me, in that I wondered just how big an impact it would have on their chances to win the World Championship. So I decided to look back at the results of the last 20 years. As it turns out, all but two of the eventual champions finished in the Top 4 in Round 1. The other two were DNFs (Villeneuve out due to a collision in 1997, and Hakkinen out due to a throttle issue in 1999).
Year Champion First Race Result
2013 Vettel Australia 3rd
2012 Vettel Australia 2nd
2011 Vettel Australia 1st
2010 Vettel Bahrain 4th
2009 Button Australia 1st
2008 Hamilton Australia 1st
2007 Raikkonen Australia 1st
2006 Alonso Bahrain 1st
2005 Alonso Australia 3rd
2004 M Schumacher Australia 1st
2003 M Schumacher Australia 4th
2002 M Schumacher Australia 1st
2001 M Schumacher Australia 1st
2000 M Schumacher Australia 1st
1999 Hakkinen Australia DNF *
1998 Hakkinen Australia 1st
1997 J Villeneuve Australia DNF *
1996 D Hill Australia 1st
1995 M Schumacher Brazil 1st
1994 M Schumacher Brazil 1st
While it would be silly to say that Hamilton and Vettel’s chances suddenly became non-existent on the basis of a DNF in Round 1, I do wonder if it puts pressure on them and their teams to play catch-up by being more aggressive. Being more aggressive, in turn, makes it more likely for them to miscalculate or make mistakes.
None of those 20 seasons had double points, of course…
It would be amazing, and unlucky for Hamilton, if that’s Mercedes’ only car failure this season – but as it stands Rosberg has a useful lead over him.
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