Analysis: How the points, and the title, slipped away for Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2012   |  10:02 am GMT  |  269 comments

If Lewis Hamilton felt that Sebastian Vettel’s had been “lucky” to rescue a third place finish in Abu Dhabi, it was certainly not a word you could apply to the McLaren driver’s own race on Sunday, or indeed his season as a whole.

Although Hamilton has been effectively out of the title running for several races now, confirmation that his wait for a second drivers’ title would stretch into a fifth season, and beyond the end of his McLaren career, officially arrived under the lights at Yas Marina the moment his MP4-27 pulled off the road with a fuel pressure failure on lap 20.

Martin Whitmarsh insisted afterwards that McLaren’s recent reliability problems were “not related or endemic, it’s just one of those things”, yet the evidence suggests they and operational mistakes have nonetheless proved massively costly to Hamilton’s title aspirations.

Abu Dhabi was the third time season that Hamilton could point to a reasonably certain race victory being prised from his grasp through no fault of his own. The other two were in Spain, when he was stripped of what had been a dominant pole for McLaren fuel irregularites and demoted to the back of the grid, and Singapore, when a gearbox failure struck.

Had he duly won on all three of those occasions, then he would currently have 71 points more to his name in the championship (he ultimately did score four points for eighth place in Barcelona). Those additional points alone, combined with the negative knock-on effect for his rivals’ scores, would eradicate much of Hamilton’s current 90-point deficit to Sebastian Vettel and mean he was very much still in the title hunt heading to Austin.

McLaren also paid a big price for its early-season pit stop problems, before new Sporting Director Sam Michael and his group put in place a more reliable and faster pit-stop process.

We’ve done some analysis on Hamilton’s season; it certainly shows how things could have been very different if the team had enjoyed the same reliability and opertional record as Ferrari or Lotus for example.

Although the nature of F1 makes it impossible to quantify exactly how many points have been squandered through car failures and team mistakes, the below list of examples and considered estimations on likely finishing positions and points losses nonetheless serves as an illustration of how Hamilton’s overall points tally has been severely compromised:

China – Qualifies second but started seventh due to gearbox change penalty. Finishes third. Estimated points loss: three

Bahrain – Running third but following two slow pit stops ends up eighth.  Estimated points loss: Eight to ten

Spain – Qualifies on pole but demoted to back of the grid for McLaren fuel infringement. Finishes eighth. Estimated points loss: 21

Monaco – Running third but suffers slow pit stop and loses positions to first Alonso, who stops a lap later, and the even later-stopping Vettel. Finishes fifth. Estimated points loss: Two to five

Europe – Slow pit stop when running third drops him to sixth and behind ultimate race winner Alonso. Spun out on final lap from third after collision with Pastor Maldonado while struggling with tyre wear. Estimated points loss: 15 (based on likely position ahead of Maldonado in closing stages without pit-stop delay)

Singapore – Running first when gearbox fails. Result: DNF. Estimated points loss: 25

Korea – Rear anti-roll bar failure early in race plays havoc with tyre wear. Drops down order from fourth. Result: 10th. Estimated points loss: 11

Abu Dhabi – Leading the race by three seconds when fuel pressure problem grounds car to a halt. Result: DNF. Estimated points loss: 25

Estimated total of lost points: 110 points

Hamilton’s Japanese GP weekend was also hampered by rear suspension problems, although the result he would have achieved with a fully-functioning car is hard to quantity so is left out of the sample. He also had a further DNF in Germany due to puncture damage.

Of course, as in any title battle, Hamilton hasn’t been alone in suffering setbacks and both Vettel (alternator failures in Valencia and Monza) and Alonso (first-corner collisions in Spa and Suzuka) can also both justifiably point to probably more than 30 points being lost through misfortune. Nonetheless, with around a century more points to his name, Hamilton would be well within striking distance of the pair of them with a car capable of winning races.

Even with a more cautious estimate than the one above, a more reliable 2012 McLaren would have put a very different complexion on both driver and team’s final season together.

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I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


I have been playing it and I have enjoyed it but there are a few things I’m not fond of.

Oddly enough, this partcular retailer doesn’t list GTA

5 for PC or Xbox One, though a different retailer did so earlier this month.

It feels aimed more towards the 18 to 49 demographic rather than the disobedient adolescent.

If air travel better suits you, players can now place

an order for the new Vestra luxury jet. Early attempts

to fix the problems damaged save data for the single-player GTA V.


What about pit problems for lh in malaysia that cost him an almost certain victory?


This places him barely into the lead, but doesn’t take into account the fact that had Lewis been winning all the other drivers would have their points tally reduced as the points would have went to Lewis.


My final words to McLaren: IT’S A SHAME!

Like many other Hamilton/ McLaren supporters, I will support Mercedes the next years.

To say it with the words of “Adele”

(Lewis farewellsong for this season & McLaren should be):

*There’s a fire starting in my heart

Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark

Finally I can see you crystal clear

Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your ship bare

See how I’ll leave, with every piece of you Don’t underestimate the things that I will do


The scars of your love remind me of us

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless I can’t help feeling:

We could have had it all!

WDC & WCC was your to lose Mclaren


(*Adele – Rolling In The Deep Lyrics)


Can’t wait to read the next instalment from XIX entertainment. Hopefully David Beckham will get a mention!

Tornillo Amarillo

Excellent post James, yes I think we had the best from Hamilton this year, and maybe the worst from McLaren, bad luck!

And there is no new opportunity next year to try again, because it seems that Lewis thought that enough is enough and he moves to Mercedes. Maybe he will give us fantastic battles in the midfield!


Yeah fantastic battles in the midfield with Jenson probably 🙂


I’m sure someone in JAonF1 land has this data handy.

How many Champions since let’s say 1990 won the first race of the season and went on to win the championship that same year? Just wondering if that statitic holds any truth to seasonal form from the very first race.


But unless I’m mistaken, a far greater percentage of those 17 happened in the first 50% of this 22 year time span than did over the second 50%. Am I right?


Vettel had his own bad luck (Valencia, Abu Dhabi), Alonso too (Spa, Monza where a sure pole is lost due to his rollbar malfunction) and Suzuka. That’s 40 points lost in my opinion.

But you win as a team and you lose as a team. Maybe a more reliable car would be less efficient. Newey’s aero design are well known to put engines and other car parts into more stress, ferrari`s car looks almost like a tank (remember how Barichello crashed into alonso in belgium two years ago and the car was barely damaged) but less performant. That’s the way it is, crying about it is pointless.


Hamilton has driven well all season long, but McLaren can’t deliver, yet again. It is definitely not his fault, and it will be a complete injustice now if he doesn’t finish ahead of Webber and Button in the championship. I think if Mercedes can develop the car better, Hamilton will make McLaren look silly next year.


Lewis is unfortunate with the team letting him down way too many times.

Similar to Michael Schumacher’s 2012 campaign. Michael has been performing way better but getting lots of harsh penalties from running into other drivers had cost him a lot. I mention the 2 penalties because Webber and Rosberg (Abu Dhabi 2012) also had the same accident but no action done to them.

On top of that, Mercedes really ruined Schumacher race too many times.

And lastly, Mercedes announced Hamilton to replace Schumacher before Schumacher announce his retirement. That really puts the final nail to the coffin.

I really feel sorry for Schumacher and Hamilton this year.

finally, I think Hamilton’s comments of calling Vettel lucky is just plain disrespectful and low.


but vettel was lucky, it wasn’t really the drive of the season, no matter what anyone says.

Starts in pitlane so RBR can do work on the car

Passes the slow cars (HRT, Caterham, Marussia)

Safety Car 1

Almost drives into the back of Ricciardo and crashes into a DRS board

Pitstop changes his strategy into a better one which causes him to jump into fourth

Safety Car 2

During SC2 closes in to JB and is able to pass him for third

If that isn’t lucky, then what is?


‘I think Hamilton’s comments of calling Vettel lucky is just plain disrespectful and low.’

It shows Hamilton’s frustration about the fact that Vettel has outraced him for the fourth season in four years.


Can this be justification for calling Vettel lucky? That is, venting his frustration (caused by his team) by disrespecting a fellow competitor and a triple world champion.

Hamilton’s attitude is disrespectful and very low indeed.


I can only imagine life is preparing Lewis for great things. But then again, he is already extremely lucky(conceptually speaking) to be a World Champion in a sport where many capable drivers never become World Champions, despite their talent.


” But then again, he is already extremely lucky(conceptually speaking) to be a World Champion in a sport where many capable drivers never become World Champions” – The only one who was lucky was Kimi Raikonnen, in 2008 the FIA did everything they could to stop Lewis, hance they gave his victory in Spa to Massa remember ?


Despite all of Mclaren’s short comings & mistakes we tend to be frustrated but that doesn’t mean we will ever forget what the team especially what Ron Dennis did for our dude’s career.

So yes, a big thank you to Big Ron & blessings go out to him, his family and the team wishing you all lots of happiness and success in the future.


If but maybe my uncle could have been my aunt! 😉 Ultimately you make your own luck like Valencia he could have conceded the corner on shot tires to Maldo and at least had 12 points. In the end the deserving WDC is the guy who scores the most points – anything else is a subjective wishful exercise.


Thanks so much for taking the time to write this article – I was literally thinking after Sunday that I’d love to know this information and hoped you would do this article!

As a die hard Hamilton fan I completely agree he lost the 2011 championship with silly mistakes, but this year he has been impeccable and McClaren have totally squandered it for him

Ah well – bring on 2014!


Would have, could have, should have.

I think the same applies to other drivers so will we see and “in depth” look at their seasons ?


Since Mika Hakkinens second title in 1999 McLaren have won just one drivers title with Lewis in 2008. Im a huge McLaren fan but it always makes me wonder if with such a poor record does the team really justify their top team billing? Year after year they have one reason after another as to why they could not win the title. McLaren should come out of their PR speak cocoon and face reality with respect to their technical and operational mistakes over the years. It smacks of some fundamental changes that need to happen in the way McLaren operate. It wont be too long before drivers think twice about signing up.


I believe Hamilton would be second in the championship if he, Vettel and Alonso had not had any problems. It is a big loss for the constructors championship only. Other than that he would have missed a trip to India or wherever they have the Championship ceremony. Nothing else. Being a runner up doesn’t make any difference.

As for why he is leaving McLaren, the main reason is problem within the team. He has antagonised many people within the team. So it is a sensible move. Only time will tell if he made the right decision.


I was thinking to put myself in the shoes of McLaren operatives. The situation is: Hamilton is leaving the team next year, but Button stays. So, wouldn’t it be helpful to the 2013-motivation of Button if he — “by any means” –scores more points than Hamilton? Well, ther are still two races left, and JB has a very good chance to snatch enough points and bit LH for two consecutive seasons. McLaren certainly is in trouble!


And they very nearly did it 😉


If you add the 110 points from this analysis to the current point standings it pits Hamilton 20 points ahead of Vettel. I think that’s the biggest reason lewis is diving a Merc next year


Don’t you then need to give back Vettel two wins 50 pts for the two races where Renault Alternator failures caused DNF’s instead of 2 wins and Alonso his wipe out

Ironic that Lewis’s Abu Dhabi failure was a Merc supplied (engine package) fuel pump so not a McLaren failing


You also have to subtract all the points the other drivers wouldnt have scored if lewis hadn’t had problems. made by Mclaren, and so its the suspension, oh, and pit stops too, or are the pit stops.made be a different manufacturer too?


The same would apply to all the other racers had they not had “bad luck”. To play the “IF” game you have to use the same rules for everyone. At the end of the day its all nonsense anyway the official FIA scorings will decide the titles and thats the end of it


What do you think James, how much weight those issues at McLaren had in Lewis decision to leave the team ?

I would really appreciate your opinion here.



Some, but operational things can be fixed

I think he wanted a fresh challenge and more commercial freedom

Tornillo Amarillo

and maybe he wanted also less arrogance from Ron Dennis when the later was talking to journalists about him.


Next year will be interesting for Mclaren when Jenson will be No.1, but there’s no doubt they are gona miss Lewis’s raw pace in qualifying, jenson’s only pole so far for Mclaren has been Spa this year, that tells alot.


James, any idea what Rory Byrne is currently doing ? I ask as he has been the only designer to have beaten Newey in terms of car designs.

Wonder if Ferrari would be wise to lure him back out of retirement.

unF1nnished Business

“What if” – The story of Lewis Hamilton.


Agree, Hamilton is the most unfortunate driver of the season, or even previous couple of season (except last year, he did a lot of mistakes).

Starting the season with the best car and even having the fastest car in 10 or more races (first races, before summer break, Singapore and even now), McLaren is the most disappointing team this year.

Going from Hamilton+Alonso to Button+Perez in 5 years also doesn’t help. I don’t see them fighting for the championship in 2013.


I think 2013 will be tough – but McLaren will be there for much of the championship – they always are


I would agree if Lewis was still there. I’m not convinced they will be there with Jenson but never know.

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