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F1 - Will Lewis Surpass 400 Championship Points Once Again?

F1 - Will Lewis Surpass 400 Championship Points Once Again?

HamiltonTwelve months ago we (OK, I, depending on where you are reading this) made a brave prediction that Lewis Hamilton would become the first driver in history to surpass 400 World Championship points in a single season. It was unlikely at that juncture as the Mercedes driver had already failed to win in Australia and Bahrain while missing the podium altogether in Azerbaijan. Furthermore in 2016, which was the first ever 21-race season, ten race wins were not enough to give the Brit more than 380 points or win the Drivers’ Championship. It went to Nico Rosberg who finished five points ahead.

However, Hamilton did score 384 points in a remarkable 2014 season. It was an astonishing tally due to the fact that particular year consisted of 19 races. And that form was franked in 2018 when a fifth World Championship title was accompanied by 408 points.

And so the big question, how many points will he and other drivers amass in 2019 a season which also features 21 races but has the potential to contain an additional 21 points courtesy of a new initiative awarding a championship point to the driver that records the fastest race lap providing they finish within the top-10.

Lewis, not one in a million but definitely one in 50

Hamilton has retired from just 6.5 percent of his races since his Mercedes career started in 2013. But that figure is falling race-on-race as the Brit is on a sequence of one retirement from his last 50 race starts. We are now four races into the current campaign and with Hamilton already on 86 points he is bang on schedule to better least season’s tally …four races represents less than one fifth of the 2019 roster and five multiplied by 83 equals 400+ right?

It’s not that easy, historical data indicates Lewis will endure at least one race retirement and he’s unlikely to claim more than four of the 17 remaining individual points awarded for a fastest lap. As added negatives his teammate seems far more competitive than he has been for either of the past two seasons and there is widespread belief the Ferrari has race winning pace within it and the lock to that potential may be opened during the European/summer season.

The predictions

So here, with a reminder there are a total of 2,121 championship points for ‘placings’ and an additional 21 for fastest laps, are our 2019 season long points predictions:

Lewis Hamilton: 415 Points

Valtteri Bottas: 365 Points

Sebastian Vettel: 290 Points

Charles Leclerc: 245 Points

Max Verstappen: 231 Points

Pierre Gasly: 154 Points

Points at the Top

In 2017 the top six drivers earned 1,558 points.

In 2018 their combined tally was 1,645 points.

With an added extra point for the fastest lap accolade so far only going to one of the ‘big six’ drivers (representing Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull) it would be easy to suggest they will surpass 1,700 points combined during the current campaign.

Backed up by the fact only once in 2017 and 2018 did a driver representing a team other than a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes take the podium finish – that was Lance Stroll who finished third in a Williams in Baku and Sergio Perez also third at the same venue last year – it looks a safe bet.

Lewis Hamilton: 415 Points

11 wins from 19 race starts in 2014, 10 wins in 2015 (also 19 races), 10 wins in 2016 (21 races), nine wins in 2017 (20 races) and 11 victories in 2018 (from 21 races) show the dominance of Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team.

He’s already on a fifty percent win-to-race ratio in 2019 with an additional pair of silver medals. There were genuine reasons behind one of those losses and suspicions he was ordered not to challenge his teammate in Baku last time. In any case he’s enjoying his brightest start to a season since 2015 and we know his team does not falter.

In addition to one retirement the Brit only missed the podium three times in 2018 (finishing fourth twice and fifth once). Giving him a hypothetical ten race wins and six seconds already gives him 358 points, throw in a pair of thirds and fourths a trio of fastest laps and one DNF and we have him on 415.

Valtteri Bottas: 365 Points

Bottas certainly knows how to keep his car on the track retiring just twice in 45 Mercedes starts (4.4 percent) and his prior record at Williams was equally impressive.

Three race wins amongst 13 podiums finishes in 2017 was very promising and gave him 305 points from the 20-race long season. But he disappointed badly in 2018 with no victories and just eight pieces of silverware netting 247 points which was only good enough for fifth in the standings.

Bottas has had a bright start to 2019, like Hamilton boasting two wins and two seconds but it’s doubtful he has really found the 20sec per-race a direct interpretation of 2019 results indicate. No matter how you slice it, Bottas’ 11.7 per-race points average of 2018 looks set to be smashed this campaign. With 87 points the Finn is already on a 21.7 per-race average and with Red Bull looking weaker than 2018 he could finish second in the Driver’s Championship for the first time.

We are putting him on 365 points with is extremely high given Hamilton scored 380 in 21-race 2016 and lost the championship to Rosberg on 385. That was a combined 765 points – and we are suggesting Hamilton/Bottas can conspire to score 780 this time around.

Sebastian Vettel: 290 Points

The German averaged 15.2 points per-race in 2018 and he is currently earning an average of 13 points per-race which has to be a concern given he has gained considerably more points in the first half of the last two seasons with his point scoring tapering off towards the seasons close.

Seb scored 397 and 392 in an invincible Red Bull back in the day (19 race seasons) and 10 gold or silver medals in 2017 contributed to his season haul of 317. 2018 delivered five golds and four silvers netting 320 points but he may struggle to get close to that in 2019.

A fast team mate who may not always be allocated No. 2 status and an improved Valtteri Bottas are sure to be thorns in his side. Seven retirements in an 85 race Ferrari career (8.2 percent ratio) means he can expect two DNF’s in 2019 and if you stop to consider seven seconds, seven thirds and seven fourths would give any driver 315 points (his 2019 record to date is: 4-5-3-3) you will understand why we have him marked down to 290 at the season’s end.

Charles Leclerc: 245 Points

Leclerc appears to have considerably more raw speed than Kimi Raikkonen who he has replaced this year. The veteran recorded 251 points in 2018 but it’s unlikely the 21-year-old Leclerc will be able to show the same point scoring consistency – he is entitled to some mishaps – and there are already clear signs he will not be given a free rein (neither was Raikkonen I suppose).

Pit-wall fun and games designed to benefit Vettel could cost him dear. But his is a fast car which should earn at least ten podiums (Raikkonen had 12 last year) and a victory or two.

Max Verstappen: 231 Points

204 points in 2016, a poor 168 points during his first full year at Red Bull due, in part, to seven retirements (mainly mechanical issues) and 249 last year indicate the Dutchman is on an upward trajectory. With the competitive Daniel Ricciardo no longer a teammate most would think he will improve his score once again.

However, he can be clumsy and has a high retirement ratio. His Red Bull looks a defined third best in 2019 and he’s done well to claim a third and three fourths this campaign. That averages him at 12.75 per-race and with a retirement or two inevitable it’s very unlikely he can see out the year on a 12.75 average which would be 268 points.

I (sorry, we) would see him taking a few extra points for a handful of ‘fastest laps’ but even so, 231 is the best we can put him on.

Pierre Gasly: 154 Points

Pierre Gasly has taken over from Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull this year. The Australian only registered 170 points last season but was quite luckless with eight retirements.

Nevertheless we have given his 23-year-old replacement an even lower quote of 154 points, which is an average of just over seven points a race (or an average finishing position between sixth and seventh).

On what we have seen in 2019 so far Gasly, who has only scored 13 points courtesy of a sixth and eighth placed finish, is the driver who is most likely to find a McLaren, Force India, Renault or Alfa Romeo in front of him on the odd occasion – that is in addition to his superior teammate, Ferraris and Mercedes.

Furthermore, based on the Red Bull’s ‘previous’, it is not inconceivable a long sequence of disappointing results could see him replaced by a Toro Rosso driver – Alex Albon if he continues to impress.

Without the ‘Big 6’

The ‘B category’, the best of the mid-field teams, is a fascinating scrap but in fear of sending you into a coma I’ll revert to the bookmakers odds who have priced up a market on the driver that will be highest placed (excluding the top three teams) in the Driver’s Championship by the season’s end

Driver Odds Aprox probability

Sergio Perez 7/2 22%

Kimi Räikkönen 4/1 20%

Daniel Ricciardo 9/2 18%

Carlos Sainz 13/2 13%

Nico Hulkenberg 13/2 13%

Lando Norris 15/2 12%

Kevin Magnussen 12/1 8%

Alexander Albon 16/1 6%

Daniil Kvyat 25/1 4%

Lance Stroll 25/1 4%

Sergio, the seventh man

In 2018 Nico Hulkenberg did the ‘best of the rest’ finishing seventh with 69 points. In 2017 it was Sergio Perez which finished seventh with 100 points and he filled the same position in 2016 with a total of 101 points.

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