I’m inclined to think that we all have a lucky number. I have a fondness for 42 and would definitely choose it as my racing number if I ever got the call up.
Unlikely I know, but just in case anyone else out there wants to pinch it, hands off!
With my birthday being on the 19th of the month I have from time to time put a few chips on ‘Lucky Number 19’ on the roulette table and once, in Vegas, my luck came in when the ball settled on just that. Hence as far as I’m concerned now, 19 is lucky, even if I probably lost more than I won on that trip.
Sportsmen and women of course, have to deal with luck all the time and it’s way more costly or beneficial to them than a bit of profit or loss on the roulette table. I’m fascinated by the subject of luck in the opening three races of this year’s Formula 1 season and in China on Thursday I had a little conversation about it with Nico Rosberg.
I put it to him that he was getting the rub of the green so far and had he thought about that at all?
“So that’s an easy one to answer”, he said “It’s two races into the longest F1 season we’ve ever had, so thoughts like that don’t come across my mind because it’s just massively early days. Yes, I’m really happy with how it’s gone”, he continued, “but I’m battling Lewis and we all know how quick he is and his track record in the last few years, and that’s not going to be any different this year. He’s as focused and as motivated as he ever has been so there you go.”
Good answer, but I followed it up by reminding him that Lewis had been quicker in every session in Australia but then got a bad start, as did Nico. Ferrari then went the wrong way on strategy and Nico won the race. Meanwhile in Bahrain, Valtteri Bottas couldn’t slow down enough into turn 1, hit Lewis and once again it worked out in Nico’s favour. Then before a wheel had even turned in China, the defending champion had picked up a 5 place grid penalty.
So looking at the evidence, fortune was on Nico’s side, and was that really a bad thing for a driver to accept that and say, it’s good, it’s positive?
“Sorry, no, I can’t see why and I’m not having those thought patterns at all”, he replied, “Because I’m just looking at getting my job done at the moment, but I appreciate your opinion.”
He smiled as he answered and we moved on but two days later, he got another lucky break when Lewis suffered the MGU-H failure, failed to set a time in qualifying and as a result, had to start at the back of the grid. I took a photo from the commentary box as the cars lined up on the grid. Given that they’d locked out the previous 8 front rows, it made for a rare sight to see one Mercedes at the front and the other right at the back.
As we all know, more ‘bad’ luck followed for Lewis in the race and more ‘good’ luck went Nico’s way when the two Ferraris made contact and then Daniel Ricciardo picked up his puncture.
Nico now leads the Championship by 34 points and for the record I think he’s driving really well, not making mistakes and if he is getting some good luck, he’s more than doing his job right, to put himself in a position to benefit from it. But lucky he has been and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting that.
From Nico’s answer on Thursday though, I get the feeling that he’s in the Gary Player camp when it comes to being lucky. “The harder I practice the luckier I get” the golfing legend once declared.
They like a lucky cat in China too; I found this one at the airport on Sunday night, to be fair there were a lot of them on sale, harder really to miss. They also like the number 6 in China as well, it’s considered lucky in business.
But not the number 4, some buildings don’t even have a 4th floor, not sure about the 44th floor, but surely that number has to be doubly unlucky doesn’t it?
Saying that, Lewis Hamilton has had plenty of success in Shanghai over the years, so number 44 hasn’t done him too much harm. It’s just that this year, fortune seems to have deserted him at times and headed to the other side of the garage. Lewis isn’t complaining about that, nor is he seemingly affected. But that’s 6 wins in a row for his team mate now; three since Lewis took the title, three at the start of this year, and every time a driver has won the opening three races of a season before, they’ve gone on to win the title that year. If Nico’s good luck, coupled with good driving, continues, at what stage does it start to play on the mind of his team mate?
It was Donald Trump who once declared that everything in life is luck. That’s taking things a bit too far for me but the swing in fortunes has added a fascinating extra dimension to what have been three excellent Grands Prix so far. And it’s left us with a Championship table that not many would have predicted before the start.
I hope Ferrari bought some of those ‘Lucky Cats’ on their way home and their luck starts to improve as well. One thing that was evident in China was that the Scuderia are on the cusp of really challenging the Mercedes domination. Red Bull too have a car that looks the business and two drivers capable of producing the goods.
And the sport, despite fears that it would be too complicated and not produce much variation, has a set of tyre regulations that has really spiced up the racing. Whether it’s by luck or judgement, I don’t know, but they’ve worked and for a man who always feels lucky to be commentating on this wonderful sport, long may it continue.