Over the course of his career, Lewis Hamilton has had an extremely complex relationship with Lady Luck, in some cases she is the Briton’s best friend and in others his worst enemy.
Given his fortunate win at Baku last Sunday, we thought it would be interesting to look back at just how pivotal a role Lady Luck has played in the four-time world champion’s career.
The Good Times…
2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
After Sebastian Vettel’s lock up and Valtteri Bottas’s tyre puncture, Hamilton found himself leading the race and the championship standings. It was most definitely a lucky win for the 33-year-old, a fact which he himself acknowledged after the race.
“It felt awkward standing on the top step of the podium, but I have to take it,” he said.
“Days like this don’t come too often, I have definitely been really unlucky in times in my career when I was leading the race and lost it so I have to take this,” said a somber Hamilton after the race.
2010 Turkish Grand Prix
Just like the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix saw two Red Bull drivers collide. As a result of the crash between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, Hamilton inherited the race lead and left the Istanbul Park Circuit smiling.
2017 Singapore Grand Prix
After two consecutive race wins, Hamilton arrived in Singapore way off the pace of the Ferrari’s. He qualified 5th while Vettel took pole. However, when the lights when out, the Mercedes driver took full advantage of the crash that took 3 of the top 4 qualifiers (Vettel, Räikkönen and Verstappen) out of the race. Arguably had that crash not occurred, Vettel could have been the one to claim victory at a circuit where track position is key.
2014 British Grand Prix
Hamilton arrived at Silverstone looking to make amends for the loss he faced on home soil in 2013. Unfortunately, a miscalculation during qualifying saw him start the race from 6th while his team mate Nico Rosberg scored pole position.
Rosberg was leading out in front as Hamilton made his way back up to second. But when the German retired with a gearbox failure, the home boy hero took over the race lead to score his second home victory in front of his adoring fans.
Hamilton believed that he would have managed to overtake the German even if he had not retired. Rosberg alleged otherwise. It’s a question we will never have the answer too but the Briton’s job was most certainly made easier that day.
…And The Bad Times
2018 Australia Grand Prix
After a dominant qualifying performance, Hamilton began the first race of the 2018 season leading the pack. However, an ill-timed virtual safety car provided third place runner Sebastian Vettel with a pit stop window to jump the Mercedes driver and take the race victory.
2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
— BBCF1 (@bbcf1) June 25, 2017
This wacky race looked to be under the control of one Lewis Hamilton. But then the most unusual thing occurred – the Briton’s head rest came loose. As a result, he was forced to make an extra pit stop which dropped him out of contention for the win.
2016 Malaysian Grand Prix
Probably Hamilton’s most rued technical failure occurred at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix. The 33-year-old was comfortably in the lead when his engine literally blew up. The engine failure not only cost him a race victory but arguably the 2016 driver’s championship as well.
“It is not my lowest point – I have had lower points for sure – but in terms of feeling helpless that is the most helpless I can be at this point,” said the world champion.
2013 British Grand Prix
— Sky Sports F1 🏎 (@SkySportsF1) June 30, 2013
All was looking well for the Briton at his home grand prix. He started from pole and was looking good for the win when he suffered an unexpected tyre failure. Losing on home soil was particularly painful for Hamilton.
“Obviously I’m massively disappointed, and it is down to the tyres,” stated Hamilton after the race.
2012 Singapore Grand Prix
Hamilton took pole and got away cleanly under the flood lights. But on lap 23, the then McLaren driver’s gearbox failed, handing the victory to Vettel who was running second.
2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Just like the Singapore Grand Prix earlier that year, the Briton qualified on pole and was leading the race only to be let down by McLaren after another technical failure on lap 20.
It is evident that Lewis Hamilton knows the pain that comes with losing a race through no fault of his own. Hamilton has lost more wins through bad luck than he has gained with good luck – but that’s the name of the game.
Luck and motor racing go hand in hand. It is almost impossible for a driver to win every single race in a season. But often what defines a championship is the ability of a driver to place himself in the best possible position to capitalise on any misfortune that other drivers may experience – just as Lewis Hamilton did last weekend at the Baku City Circuit.