Formula 1 Insight

The Cruelty of Luck

I have come to the conclusion that Lady Luck is a bully, especially when it comes to F1. It cannot be coincidence that when the Lady decides to smile upon you as a driver or a team, it seems that you never put a foot wrong. Equally, if not more so, once you're in the Lady's bad books, you can reckon that the old saying will become your motto: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Kazuki Nakajima
Kazuki Nakajima

We can put much of Ferrari's recent blunders and breakages down to the departure of Ross Brawn and others of the Triumvirate but I suspect that is not the whole story. Certainly, Ross had nothing to do with Kimi's abrupt exit from the Canadian GP over the weekend. It may well be that Lady Luck noticed Stefano Domenicali's assumption of the reins at the Scuderia and has decided to give him a hard time.

That would only help in validating my prediction of a Ferrari degeneration after the breaking of the Dream Team, but what I did not expect was the disastrous series of events happening at McLaren. Their design chief, Mike Coughlan, put an end to their hopes for last season very effectively and this year they are experiencing so many glitches and mishaps that it looks as though the Lady has not finished messing with them yet.

In contrast, BMW seem to have a charmed life at the moment. Their reliability has been impeccable and Robert Kubica has hit upon a period of form that must make him a contender for the title this year. Nick Heidfeld has struggled in qualifying so far but still manages to score on most occasions.

It is true that much of what we call luck can be traced to preparation and efficiency but that is not the whole story. Take Kazuki Nakajima's exit from the GP last weekend, for instance. He had a very minor coming together with the rear end of Button's car, just sufficient to break the front wing support and require a visit to the pits. Normally, he would have toured round, had a new wing fitted and be back in the race - but, no, the wing chose the moment of his entry into the pit road to break off, drop down into the path of the front wheels, lift the nose and deprive Kazuki of steering just at the moment he really needed it. Had the wing lasted a few more yards, he would have made it back to the pits somehow.

Lady Luck steps in at such moments to make or break a team's results in the race. And I say she is a bully because she hits harder on those teams who are already struggling. Look at how mean she has been to poor Force India, a team doing creditably well considering their circumstances, only to suffer a series of blows at the very moments when reward seems about to descend upon them. Adrian Sutil's exit from the Monaco GP was one of the cruellest misfortunes I've seen in a long time. Fisichella has been doing an excellent job for the team, too, and yet has still to grab one of those points that mean respectability.

Renault have beavered away for little return as well. Laden with expectations now that Alonso is back, they have tried their best to give him a car worthy of his talents and, at times, he has been able to fight it out near the front. But suddenly the team's reliability begins to desert them and they are left with little but determination for the next race.

I could go on with many more examples but the point is made. When things start to go wrong, they don't stop going wrong quickly. And when the Lady smiles once more upon you, it can be so sudden and unexpected that it takes everyone by surprise. Look at Mark Webber enjoying a run of uncharacteristic good luck from out of the blue. Last year he was the unluckiest driver of them all but now he seems to have handed that mantle to his team mate, David Coulthard.

Red Bull must be hoping that the turn around in fortunes of their drivers in Canada was only a brief break in Webber's series of good races. With so long a history of misfortune behind him, it would be cruel for his bad luck to return after so short an Indian summer.

This is what worries me about BMW, of course. At any point of the season, the Lady could turn her back and all the team's hopes and dreams would be deflated. So it is good in a way that Nick has had his problems so far. With his difficulties maybe he pays back some of the luck that BMW owe and raises the chances that the good times will roll for a little longer.

But cruel could be Lady Luck's middle name - she seems so keen on winners and hard on losers. Ever since I started to watch the sport, there have been moments of despair when a driver has had a truly deserved win almost within his grasp, only to have it snatched away by some chance event. Unfair, we cry, but the Lady just turns away, thinking perhaps of her next victim...


Tisk, tisk, tisk, Clive. You are a chronic Ferrari basher.

Certainly what happened to both Massa and Kimi in Monaco and what happened to Kimi in Canada(America JR.) is not the fault of the team. But, the reliability is not what it used to be.

I wouldn't write them off just yet!
Date Added: 10/06/2008

Oh I have admitted my dislike of Ferrari right from the start, Aracer. But I was not intending to infer that the incidents you mention were part of the team's errors - they are just good examples of luck deserting them at the same time as the team loses its customary efficiency.

I never write Ferrari off. That is part of the reason I dislike them - they win too often!
Date Added: 10/06/2008


First, CONGRATULATIONS… Bob has done a terrific job and deserved the BMW first win, although a thought think Nick could have done it too with the same glory.

And best of all, that great team work is a better way of keep Mr. Alonso away from BMW and preserve Nick and the harmony.

Sorry Aracer, but here is a best place to read a “healthy” bias and dislike of Ferrari and this is one of the things (a minor, in fact!) that make me read this blog every day… ;)

Clive, keep it this way.

Date Added: 10/06/2008

Thanks, Becken. I have to keep the blog this way, actually - it's the only way I know!
Date Added: 11/06/2008

Keith Collantine
For proof that "Lady Luck is a bully" surely we need look no further than Heikki Kovalainen?

Melbourne - Strategy spoiled by safety car
Sepang - Docked five places on grid
Barcelona - Crashed heavily after car failure
Istanbul - Puncture on first lap
Monte-Carlo - Electrical failure on grid
Montreal - Strategy spoiled by safety car
Date Added: 11/06/2008

You are absolutely right Keith! Of all the top drivers Heikki is the one whose current form is virtually impossible to assess, as he has had so little unhampered running - if any at all.
Date Added: 11/06/2008

You're absolutely right, Keith - Kovalainen's luck this season has been atrocious and unrelenting. Fortunately for him, the rare opportunities he's had for showing his pace have been enough to enhance his reputation, even so.
Date Added: 11/06/2008

Oh, I enjoy Clive's blogs and his objectivity myself. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we do not, that's all part of being a race/sports fan.

Clive's blogs are the first place I go to get my F1 daily reads.
Date Added: 11/06/2008

Thank you, Aracer - kind of you to say so.
Date Added: 12/06/2008

life insurance lead
Give please. The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
I am from Bulgaria and also now'm speaking English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "Live transfer health insurance lead provided exclusively by."

THX :(, life insurance lead.
Date Added: 19/08/2009

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