Timing is everything or is it luck – Maybe it’s both

Have you ever missed out on something that you really wanted through no fault of your own? Be it just missing the bus/metro or not able to make the green light because the person in front of you was driving too slow? What about concert tickets that you were desperate to buy only to find out they sold out in 15 minutes despite the fact that you were at the website as soon it was open for purchase?

How about we take this a step further, what about the job that you always wanted but you were always in the middle of another job and your conscience wouldn’t let you just quit on the employer you were committed to? How about the ultimate: girl or guy that has had eyes for you for a long time and you for them, but bad timing never allowed the two of you to pursue what would have definitely been fireworks?

Surely one of these scenarios is familiar to you if not all of them. Yep, timing is everything and nowhere else is this so crystal clear than in reviewing what transpired in Malaysia last weekend.

If Lewis Hamilton’s defection to Mercedes was a brilliant move and Felipe Massa’s move to Williams was lucky, then Sebastian Vettel’s leaving Red Bull, the only team he has really known (BMW aside, at least in F1), to take a seat at Ferrari was both brilliant and lucky and let me throw one more into the mix, absolutely unbelievably lucky…

Right about here I want to point out to everyone that Vettel’s win is just that, one win. Fernando Alonso won on many occasions for the prancing horse and for the record, won on his very first outing for the Scuderia, at Vettel’s expense it must be said. So in that regard Alonso beat Vettel to the punch so to speak. My point here is, no use getting carried away, not just yet anyway. I have seen this all before with the Spaniard and with many drivers when they change teams and it all goes well right from the get-go. Just look at Daniel Ricciardo and his success last year. Not so much this year..

The smiles, the statements from the team describing an environment in the garage that would have you think it is heaven on earth, etc. The over-the-top headlines that the F1 media like to create to sell more of whatever it is they are selling. And of course the input and comments from F1 fans that passionately follow the sport, the teams and the drivers to the point of either diatism or hatred of particular drivers or team, commonly both.

Whether or not the Ferrari can sustain this new-found competitiveness, whether or not Vettel can really challenge Hamilton or Rosberg for a 5th championship, whether Kimi Raikkonen will be put in the shade again or will get in the way of Vettel is for another post and don’t you worry, they are coming in addition to plenty of copy about Fernando Alonso and whether he will save face in his second tour at McLaren. This post will be a examination of timing, make that perfect timing and right about now it looks like Vettel’s timing is spot on.

This would be a good time for a Sebastian Vettel history lesson.

Vettel substitutes for Robert Kubica after a horrible crash in Montreal with BMW when they actually designed a good car – lucky and good timing to be a BMW reserve driver, no?

Vettel wins in the rain in Italy due to his driving skill but also due to McLaren getting the timing of the rain completely wrong in qualifying, seems a little lucky to me.

Just when Adrian Newey was about to focus his attention on boats and make doodles on napkins of hauls, DC convinces him to come to join Red Bull. Does it get any luckier???

Due to Renault’s pioneering of off-throttle blowing to maximise rear end grip and the Newey’s deft skill in the black art of aero Vettel has a car that is quite literally years ahead of the competition. Luck personified…

David Hobbs has a habit of saying on many occasions that he would rather be lucky than fast and I have to say that watching Vettel’s career one can see how good luck has played its role.

Who else has been lucky?

Going back some years Alain Prost enjoyed the one and only year Williams was allowed to run its active suspension – pretty damn lucky

Michael Schumacher got a race seat due to a Jordan driver being arrested. A good first race and then off to Benetton with Ross Brawn and two championships. Then off to Ferrari and we all know how that turned out for him – how much more lucky can it get?

Fernando Alonso was in the right place at the right time when Renault bought Benetton, not to mention the regs mandating a single tire for an entire Grand Prix meant Bridgestone was never going to challenge Michelin and in the next year Micheal gets a flat tire in the last race in Brazil. Result two WDC on the trot. Following year jumps ship to McLaren and continues to win races just as Renault loses their competitiveness and finally ends up at Ferrari, every driver’s dreams. Two world championships and considered the best by many – lucky, lucky, lucky anyway you luck at it, more titles or not.

Jenson Button driving a Ross Brawn-conceived car and his clever double diffuser which the FIA gave a stamp of approval to, I’d say kinda lucky wouldn’t you?

Lewis Hamilton entered the sport not just with a top team but one that was still able to win races on a regular basis – you just know all the other drivers were saying about the rookie – Lucky bastard…

Staying with Hamilton for just a second, what perfect timing to switch from McLaren to Mercedes. And although I have given quite a bit of credit to Hamilton for his bold decision in leaving McLaren for his new employer, it still was a leap of faith and could have just as easily backfired. It did not and one could say Hamilton lucked into the seat that would provide him the chance to fight for a championship and more.


Has Vettel lived a charmed life so far in F1? Maybe, maybe not. What is your opinion? I would like to know. Has Vettel just lucked into the Ferrari upswing without putting in the blood sweat and tears that Schumacher did to get that team to the front?  Jenson Button recently said, “He [Vettel] has definitely lucked into a situation, I would say,” said the McLaren-Honda driver. “It is one of those situations which sometimes works out for you.

No doubt there will be plenty of people that will give Vettel all the credit for the win in Malaysia and he did put in a very good drive but I think there were many contributing factors. James Allison’s first true effort for Ferrari is heading in the right direction and he and the design team really deserve a ton of credit. So does the engine department which has found a substantial horsepower boost. 

The safety car was a blessing in disguise and the heat has been pointed to as major a factor as well. By the way Mercedes just might have been caught sleeping at the wheel it could be said as well. 

But is there something else, is there something more that is going on? It takes quite a bit more to win races and championships. Sheer will and determination will not get it done in the post modern day of F1, just ask Alonso about that one. No, David Hobbs says it best, to win in a sport that is so competitive, where everyone is beyond the charts smart and highly motivated, you need perfect timing, to be in the right place at the right time and then if you’re lucky as well, even the best drivers won’t be able to stop you.

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Joseph Simmons

Luck maybe part of the equation, but other factors would be hard work, determination, talent, sheer will, sacrifice, highly analytical, attention to detail, and selfishness. But there is another area or competency, which the great drivers have been able to forge which would be strong relationships with key personnel. For example Michael Schumacher, he made it mission critical to have a strong bond with Todt, Bryne, Brawn, Bridgestone, and the engineers on his side of the garage. Vettel has been able to develop and leverage those same soft skills at Red Bull with Horner, Newey, Renault, and his engineering side… Read more »


Vettel is easily one of the luckiest drivers F1 has ever seen, from his maiden victory in Monza (when only TR brought the superior brembo brakes) to an eye-wateringly dominant car at RB and an uncompetitive teammate, to transitioning to Ferrari just during their upswing (with another uncompetitive teammate). Thanks to the amount of data teams are now able to capture driver input actually matters relatively little for car development.

2014 truly shows what Vettel is actually capable of – mediocrity.


So one bad year means mediocrity? By that logic most of the F1 greats were mediocre as well.