With the dust settling on the German Grand Prix, many in the media have been maligning the ‘bad luck’ of Lewis Hamilton in this year’s championship. Most have positioned Hamilton as the better driver, hindered only in his championship challenge by bad fortune. Nothing more, nothing less – just plain, intangible, hard to define bad luck.
I can recall when Jenson Button – in his first season with BMW Williams – experienced a season of mechanical failures. Team mate Ralf Schumacher seemed to avoid them and the German driver/German engine supplier theories kicked off in the British media. Patrick Head was challenged to respond and pointed out that Button’s driving style used more engine braking than Schumacher’s – thus placing greater strain on the relatively untested BMW engines and components.
Hamilton has retired twice – Australia and Canada – to Rosberg’s one DNF. Allied to his Hockenheim brake failure it seems he has not been in favour with lady luck. The counter-point is of course that Rosberg suffered similar brake issues in Canada but managed to drag his car to the finish. Could/should Hamilton have done similarly so? No one knows but little details like that seemed to have been forgotten.
By applying the same ‘luck as a mystical thing of the gods’ principle, Hamilton’s daring overtakes in the German GP could be argued to have benefit extensively from ‘good luck’. Scything through the field his moves – particularly on Raikkonen and Button – not ending in disaster owed much to ‘luck’ not to end in disaster.
To attribute a drivers’ relative performance to ‘luck’ is not only subjective but also belittles the microscopic detail that, in F1, can make the difference between winning and losing.