Wanted: An ounce of racing luck

By David Thomson on Sat, 14 Jul 2018

To what extent are there genuinely unlucky drivers in the rarefied world of Formula One?


For those who subscribe to the unlucky driver theory - defined here as drivers whose results never matched their talents - Englishman Stirling Moss and Kiwi Chris Amon have long been touted as leading examples.

Sometimes referred to as the greatest driver not to win an F1 championship, Moss won 16 Grand Prix and finished runner up in the championship four times. But, for a range of reasons, he never secured the championship crown many felt he deserved. Amon, meanwhile, had a rare talent for joining a team just as it produced an unreliable car, and for leaving it just before things came right. He qualified on the front row for 19 world championship Grands Prix, led races for 193 laps, made the podium 11 times, but never won.

Brendon Hartley is comparable with neither Moss nor Amon in his calibre as an F1 driver. But just as they certainly did, he must be wondering once again - after last weekend's British Grand Prix - what he must do to secure even an ounce of racing luck.

Thanks to a suspension failure in practice, the Kiwi didn't even make it into qualifying at Silverstone. And then, after being forced to start the race proper from pit lane, he was out after a lap thanks to a faulty power unit connector.

According to my records, Hartley has now failed to finish seven of the 14 Grands Prix he has so far contested. Five of those retirements have been due to his cars' mechanical failures, one to another driver hitting him (when on course for a top-10 result) and the other due to a racing accident that was at worst only partly Hartley's fault.

By contrast, his team-mate Pierre Gasly has retired just three times in 14 starts, once due to a mechanical failure, and twice due to crashes, in one of which he was the innocent party, and the other in which he was partly to blame.

Hartley has also suffered from more mechanical issues than Gasly in practice and qualifying, which goes some way to explaining why the Frenchman has started ahead of the Kiwi on the grid at eight of the last nine Grands Prix.

Formula One takes a break this weekend before resuming in Germany next weekend. So, if anyone has a spare ounce of racing luck hidden away at home, there's time to bundle it up and send it by courier to Mr B. Hartley, c/o Torro Rosso Racing Team, Hockenheimring, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

It doesn't need to be the kind of luck needed for an F1 podium, let alone a race win, just sufficient to secure a trouble-free run through practice and qualifying (preferably to Q2 in qualifying), and on to a points-scoring finish in the race itself.

David Thomson