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HomeSportsF1 racingFrom Hamilton’s Mercedes crystal ball to Mansell’s McLaren nightmare… 5 bold driver...

From Hamilton’s Mercedes crystal ball to Mansell’s McLaren nightmare… 5 bold driver moves that paid off – and 5 that didn’t | Formula 1®

Fernando Alonso adjustments groups once more for the 2023 season, as he leaves Alpine and hyperlinks up with Aston Martin in his quest for a 3rd world title. It acquired us pondering: what are one of the best examples of daring driver strikes that paid off, and people who backfired? We current 5 for both sides…

Moves that paid off

Emerson Fittipaldi: Lotus to McLaren for 1974

Emerson Fittipaldi made his F1 debut with Lotus in 1970 and, throughout solely his fourth race, grew to become Brazil’s first Grand Prix winner. He would set one other document a few years later, beating Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart to change into the then youngest-ever driver to win the F1 world title on the age of 25.

BEYOND THE GRID: Fittipaldi on flying the flag for Brazil and the loss of Senna

However, after a 1973 season that noticed the established Fittipaldi and new Lotus workforce mate Ronnie Peterson race freely for victories, the door was opened for Stewart to take the crown. Frustrated on the state of affairs, Fittipaldi accepted a profitable take care of McLaren and new headline sponsor Marlboro for 1974.

Money apart, swapping the workforce that gained the 1973 constructors’ title for the workforce that completed in third place was a courageous name, nevertheless it paid off when Fittpaldi narrowly acquired the higher of Ferrari rival Clay Regazzoni to say his second title – the pair having entered the 1974 finale stage on factors.

Top 10: Moments of Emerson Fittipaldi Brilliance

Niki Lauda: Retirement to McLaren for 1982

Niki Lauda was a double world champion when he initially walked away from F1, chopping quick a observe run for the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix and informing Brabham workforce boss Bernie Ecclestone that he now not had a need to “drive in circles”, bringing his profession to an finish there after which.

That was till McLaren chiefs tempted Lauda again into the cockpit just a few years later. With the Austrian’s airline enterprise off the bottom and the eagerness so as to add to his Ferrari glory days seemingly rekindled, Lauda returned to the F1 grid in 1982 – Marlboro once more enjoying a key function in developments.

READ MORE: How Niki Lauda’s final title-winning car, the 1984 McLaren MP4/2, changed F1

Lauda hit the jackpot when McLaren delivered the potent, Porsche-powered MP4/2 in 1984 and he edged out younger workforce mate Alain Prost for the title by half some extent. Prost went on to win the subsequent two titles for McLaren, whereas Lauda retired for good – now as a three-time champion – on the finish of 1985.

Lauda gained the final of his three F1 world titles with McLaren in 1984

Nigel Mansell: Ferrari (again) to Williams for 1991

Having completed runner-up with Williams in dramatic circumstances in 1986 and 1987, and following the workforce’s painful 1988 season within the wake of their Honda partnership breaking down, Nigel Mansell seemed elsewhere for a automotive that might give him a shot at successful that elusive World Championship he craved.

But whereas a transfer to Ferrari introduced a number of victories, the would possibly of McLaren (now with Honda energy) put the title out of attain – and he needed to take care of a difficult dynamic when Prost arrived because the de facto primary driver in 1990. Thus, with Williams enhancing once more, Mansell made a U-turn.

READ MORE: Vettel purchases Mansell’s iconic championship-winning Williams

After closing in on Ayrton Senna and McLaren with the Adrian Newey-penned FW14 in 1991, Williams took one other important step for the 1992 season thanks to its successor, the FW14B, which boasted know-how reminiscent of semi-automatic transmission, energetic suspension and traction management.

Mansell was unstoppable and, after a number of near-misses, secured the F1 title he had been chasing for therefore lengthy – scoring virtually double the factors of workforce mate and championship runner-up Riccardo Patrese.

Top 10: Moments of Nigel Mansell Brilliance

Michael Schumacher: Benetton to Ferrari for 1996

Before Michael Schumacher’s dominance at Ferrari, the German claimed his first pair of F1 championships with Benetton, going back-to-back throughout the 1994 and 1995 seasons through battles towards Williams rival Damon Hill – together with that dramatic showdown and collision at Adelaide.

Moving to the Scuderia in 1996 marked a daring new chapter, and it will take 5 seasons for the well-known Italian workforce – beneath Jean Todt’s watchful eye – to return to title-winning methods, albeit with Schumacher’s disqualification in 1997, narrow defeat in 1998 and a broken leg in 1999 falling into the ‘what could have been’ class.

WATCH: Top 10 moments of Michael Schumacher brilliance

It was 2000 that in the end offered the breakthrough second, with Schumacher overcoming McLaren rival Mika Hakkinen to land Ferrari’s first drivers’ crown since Jody Scheckter in 1979 and kick-start a run that may stretch by means of the 2004 season – giving him a record seven titles.


Schumacher and Ferrari grew right into a formidable partnership through the years

Lewis Hamilton: McLaren to Mercedes for 2013

Lewis Hamilton burst onto the F1 scene with McLaren in 2007, virtually successful the title throughout his rookie season earlier than coming again a yr later and pipping Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in a hugely dramatic finale.

However, reasonably than kicking on from their championship success, McLaren endured a nightmare begin to 2009’s guidelines reset. While they have been again within the hunt for 2010, it will be the closest Hamilton got here to successful one other title for the Woking-based workforce – 2011 and 2012 yielding solely occasional wins.

READ MORE: ‘I’ll always be with Mercedes’ says Hamilton as he opens up on what an 8th title would mean to him

It is claimed that it was after his retirement from the lead of the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix that Hamilton made the choice to hitch Mercedes for the 2013 marketing campaign, having been charmed by then-team chiefs Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda about their plans to leap up the order within the soon-to-arrive turbo-hybrid period.

At the time loads of folks questioned why he would swap a seat with perennial title challengers McLaren for the workforce that had completed fifth in 2012, however Brawn and Lauda’s guarantees got here true when Mercedes took the rule adjustments by storm and, in a exceptional successful run, Hamilton racked up 5 drivers’ titles from 2014 to 2020 – equalling Schumacher’s total of seven.

The second Lewis Hamilton grew to become a 7-time world champion

Moves that didn’t repay

Emerson Fittipaldi: McLaren to Fittipaldi Automotive for 1976

While Fittipaldi’s transfer from Lotus to McLaren paid off handsomely, the identical can’t be mentioned a few subsequent change to the workforce he had co-founded along with his brother Wilson – Fittipaldi Automotive – for the 1976 season.

After successful two world titles and a hatful of races with Lotus and McLaren, his time at Fittipaldi Automotive was a battle to attain factors, and yielded simply two podium finishes throughout 5 years of competitors – one among few highlights being a second-place end on the 1978 Brazilian Grand Prix.

WATCH: Emerson Fittipaldi – A letter to my younger self

A modest tenth within the 1978 championship standings – and a haul of 17 factors that yr – was one of the best Fittipaldi might obtain whereas racing with the household title, earlier than he bowed out of the game on the finish of the 1980 marketing campaign.


There was little to have a good time for Fittipaldi when he co-founded an F1 workforce

Nigel Mansell: Williams to McLaren for 1995

Amid a public falling out with Williams over a future contract, and the specter of a reunion with former Ferrari workforce mate Prost, Mansell ditched F1 and went Stateside for 1993, taking on a seat within the Indy Car World Series.

Needing no time to settle in, the Briton grabbed pole place and victory on his debut, earlier than overcoming a nasty crash on the following spherical to select up 4 extra wins and beat the aforementioned Fittipaldi to the title – additionally coming near triumphing on the famend Indianapolis 500.

BEYOND THE GRID: Mansell on battling Senna, overcoming adversity, and why his 1992 title win left him ‘empty’

Mansell returned to F1 with Williams in 1994 following Senna’s dying, making a handful of appearances that included a pole-sitting, race-winning run on the Adelaide finale. However, regardless of that win, Williams opted to present teen David Coulthard a shot alongside Hill for 1995.

That despatched Mansell within the route of a fading McLaren, however sadly for driver and workforce, he couldn’t match into the slim MP4/10B and had to get replaced on the first two rounds. When he lastly raced, Mansell was sad with the automotive’s dealing with and retired from F1 for good after a pair of difficult occasions.

McLaren MP4-10 Launch

Mansell was all smiles after becoming a member of McLaren – till he tried to hit the observe

Damon Hill: Williams to Arrows for 1997

In what was a recurring theme throughout Williams’ glory years, Hill grew to become yet one more driver to win the championship for the workforce and go away instantly afterwards, following on from Prost, Mansell and Nelson Piquet.

After reviewing gives from a number of outfits, the in-demand Hill signed to race with Arrows, a workforce who had solely scored some extent in 1996 and had not reached the highest step of the rostrum throughout an virtually 20-year spell within the sport.

F1 NATION: Damon Hill on helmet swaps, his ideal team mate, and doing a TV ad with Murray Walker

With a Yamaha engine and tyres from F1 newcomers Bridgestone, the Arrows bundle was a handful for Hill, who virtually did not qualify for the season opener and would solely rating factors on two events throughout the 17-race marketing campaign.

One of these races was the Hungarian Grand Prix, the place Bridgestone held a bonus over Goodyear, enabling Hill to qualify third and leap into the lead on race day. That was until a hydraulic issue scuppered his efforts late on and opened the door for former workforce mate Jacques Villeneuve to take the win.

Formula One World Championship

Hill was near taking a shock win with Arrows in Hungary earlier than technical bother struck

Fernando Alonso: Renault to McLaren for 2007

Fernando Alonso made headlines within the winter of 2005/2006 when – shortly after successful his first world title with Renault – it was introduced that he can be becoming a member of rivals McLaren from the 2007 marketing campaign.

By the time he arrived at his new workforce, the Spaniard was a two-time champion, having additionally picked up the 2006 crown on the finish of a season-long scrap with Ferrari rival Schumacher. But what was speculated to be a dream transfer to proceed his title-winning run become a nightmare.

READ MORE: McLaren’s Hamilton-Alonso line-up ‘strongest there’s ever been’ says Pedro de la Rosa

With highly-rated GP2 champion Hamilton slotting in alongside Alonso and impressively hitting the bottom operating, tensions soon grew at McLaren as each drivers mounted title challenges – and took useful factors off one another – alongside the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Massa.

A sequence of run-ins, together with a bizarre qualifying incident in Hungary, and off-track drama with the Spygate scandal, solely added to the plot as Raikkonen beat Hamilton and Alonso to the title by one level. Alonso would return to Renault for 2008, whereas Hamilton stayed at McLaren and gained the title.

FERNANDO ALONSO: His best rivals

Sebastian Vettel: Red Bull to Ferrari for 2015

Sebastian Vettel stormed to 4 successive championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013, however the arrival of F1’s turbo-hybrid period for 2014 brought that sensational sequence to a shuddering halt – rivals Mercedes operating away with each titles.

While new workforce mate Daniel Ricciardo fared higher amid the adjustments that season, bagging three victories and 5 extra podiums, Vettel needed to accept solely 4 rostrum outcomes and, because the yr went on, discovered himself considering his future.

READ MORE: How should Sebastian Vettel be remembered – and how good was he really?

In the top, the enchantment of Ferrari gained out, with Vettel leaving the Red Bull household that introduced him to F1 to hitch the Scuderia for 2015. And it seemed as if the transfer would repay instantly when Vettel gained solely his second race for the workforce, whereas grabbing 5 podiums from the primary six Grands Prix.

But Mercedes have been the stronger pressure because the marketing campaign developed, a narrative that repeated itself in 2017 and 2018, the place a string of errors from Ferrari and Vettel noticed the partnership snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After six years – and like Alonso earlier than him – Vettel left Maranello with out one other title.


Vettel’s time at Ferrari confirmed loads of promise, however he was unable to take the title in purple



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