What if ... ?


Staff Member
It's probably not widely (if at all?) known, but the original idea for the CTA overtaking database was as a sort of "what if" engine.

The idea was you would be able to filter out or change specific results and see what the impact would be. (In hindsight a really stupid idea which would never have worked.)

So, taking 2007 as a baseline, what if BMW had been found guilty of breaking the rules during the 2007 Brazilian GP, or Ferrari hadn't deliberately delayed Massa at his pitstop, to allow Raikonnen to gain that crucial point?

Or going further back, if McLaren had brought Hamilton in for a pit stop 1 lap earlier in China, as Bridgestone had been demanding? ( Ron Dennis intimated that he would spill the beans about that but never did.)

Anyway ... how different would things be now,?

In particular for McLaren, who are apparently in dire straits and are looking to mortgage their HQ and museum to stay afloat.
Um, I don't think it would have been much of a point, it would make far too many difference that the ones you're thinking of.

Even if you were to decide to see what the results would looked like, if say Hamilton had to be in the pit stop, one lap earlier, there would be other factors that could still change the results. Your What-If results would further be changed by something else.

Driver A pits on lap 20, and at end of races, you see the result, which may show Driver A is the winner, Driver B is in second place. But if you think, What If Driver A pits on lap 15 instead, let's see what the result would looked like. You may think the results look interesting, maybe Driver B wins the championship, and Driver A is in second place.

Sadly, there are other factors that could change the What-If results you were expecting. For example: In reality, Driver A pits on lap 20, rejoin the race, no problems. But if Driver A pits on lap 15, and since we can never know what would really have happened, who knows? Driver A had an unsafe release, crashes into Driver B, causing Driver B to be out of the race, so Driver A still wins, or is in second place, or 3rd place. Or grid penalty in the next race.

Timeline is like a tree. The main trunk of the tree is the real-life history, the bottom of the tree on the ground is the present event, the roots under the ground that you can't see, is so many different possible outcome. What if you turned right instead of left, what if you slept in instead of get up early, what if etc.? The branches are like your What-If immigration. What-If something happened, so let's image the tree split into two branches, one is the real history, the other is a What-If history, but sadly, the What-If branch splits into two or three more branches, showing different history.

What if Ferrari hadn't deliberately delayed Massa at his pitstop? Would it really make a difference to the results? Who knows, if Ferrari did not delay Massa, maybe couple of laps later, Massa crashed into another car, and is out of the race. So you got a What-If result for if Massa had not been deliberately delayed at the pitstop, but there's another What-If result if he was not delayed, but crashed, yet another What-If result if he was not delayed but FIA gave the other driver a time penalty.

What-If are fun to image, but a headache because you got to image other What-If affecting your What-If.

You know, like we all always tend to say stuff like "Oh! That was close! If I had been a couple of seconds earlier, it could have happened to me!"

Results are hard to image if you try a What-If plan, since the What-If can be affected by another What-If event.

So to answer your "how different would things be now,?" question: Far too many different options, it's enough to drive you around the bend.
for me Brogan on purely lewis Hamilton weirdly he was correctly a 6 time world champion but should've won 2007 & lost 2008. because had Hamilton pitted I will never understand why ron dennis didn't pit because even the worst Ferrari strategist knew it was obvious to pit what was it 5-7 seconds a lap he lost. so he would've won the title before the title decider in brazil because he would probally considering his wet pace in Fuji & being on pole position he would've got back ahead of kimi & stayed ahead of Alonso. even if he couldn't overtake kimi it was title won

2008 ive always thought that but for ferrari shooting themselves in the foot. (good job they havent got a track record in that) & take the fuel hose with them dragging it down the pit lane. then massa wouldve been a world champion.

but sport has a weird way with fate because if Ferrari had a successful pitstop. you wouldnt have the iconic ending of 2008 season. which would have a huge hole in f1 heritage. if lauda hadnt had his accident. if schumacher had played by rules for once in his career. 1976 & 1994 wouldve Been walkovers. my football team is same team because if we had won playoffs in 2012 or 2014. then we might have still been league 1 or fighting relegation in championship. Chris wilder wouldve gone elsewhere take another team to 6th in premier league
There are two seasons which, for me at least, have very big "what if's".

1976, without Lauda's accident he would, without a shadow of a doubt, won the title that year.

1982, Enzo Ferrari gave Didier Pironi a trophy which said "The true World Champion of 1982" but what if Villeneuve hadn't died in Belgium? What if Arnoux had let Prost by in France? 1982 throws up many more "what if's".
If Hamilton had pitted in China and gone on to win the 2007 title then in reality, very little that followed on from that would have changed. Perhaps Kimi may not have spent so long at Ferrari without a world title to his name but in most other aspects I don't see too much changing.

The big what if for that season would have been what if Spygate never happened? Then I think in all probability, Alonso not Hamilton would have been World Champion in 2007. With Alonso remaining at McLaren for 2008 the points he would have taken from his team mate would have seen neither win the title and we know that McLaren were falling away by 2009. Alonso would certainly have left McLaren at the end of 09 and probably still gone to Ferrari. The question then, with obvious talent but without a world title to his name, would Hamilton's career have led to Mercedes?
Because, Alonso's relationship inside the team could have been more effective. Attempting to blackmail your own team in Hungary is hardly likely to gain more support for your championship hopes.

Read the book The Mechanic by ex McLaren man Marc Priestley, which covers in great detail the atmosphere inside the team in 07.

Without Spygate, the atmosphere would have been different.

The McLaren mechanics were so fed up with the season they'd had, they went off to the hotel and celebrated with Kimi.

Lewis Hamilton lead the world championship from round 3 to til final round

That's not quite true. Alonso returned to the top of the championship (all be it on Count back) after winning in Monaco.

The whole season was a mess. I think without Spygate affecting the whole team dynamic then Ferrari wouldn't have been able to creep back into contention.
Last edited:
i will have to find that book. might be interesting help understand ferrari. but i knew it was horrendous atmosphere it was why i was very shocked he returned to mclaren in 2015. because i wouldve assumed that their were quite a few factory workers that wouldve still been there in 2007. it wouldve been like Micheal Schumacher joining Williams

That's not quite true. Alonso returned to the top of the championship (all be it on Count back) after winning in Monaco.

The whole season was a mess. I think without Spygate affecting the whole team dynamic then Ferrari wouldn't have been able to creep back into contention.

ah yeah i saw the round by round standings but obviously that only had points & i didnt know about countback. but he was never behind from rd 3. so it was joint lead or on his own. but i think that hamilton was too good. i think even if things were pleasant Hamilton shouldve won & if Hamilton taken the responsibility he wouldve now. said i need to pit i coming in & then had more reliability in brazil. he couldve won title by 15pts
What if the FIA had made it illegal for team managers/owners to manage drivers?

Well 2008 would have been completely different. Flavio wouldn't have needed to cheat to get Alonso some good PR with a win to secure that Ferrari contract so the Massa pitstop would never have happened in the Singapore Grand Prix and he'd have won it and the championship.

Bottas would never have signed for Mercedes.

Mark Webber would never have got a seat at Red Bull.

Probably many more.
My biggest what ifs

2007 Hamilton in China was just like Mansell in 1986 Adelaide the only difference would have been banded rookie world champion

2007 Alonso had not walked out of McLaren - surely he would have 2008 world champion and probably 2010 as well

2011 if Kubica did not have his rally accident given the Enstone team had competitive cars for 2012 and 2013

2012 Brazilian GP - what if Hulkenberg had won the race
They would still have been shit for years but they would have been a lot friendlier about it.

yes because as we know now. its the chassis that caused the drag issue & not power unit

Il_leone i dont see alonso winning in 2008. as another 12 months of expierence wouldve been even better. 2010 yes probably although it feels like. Hamilton 2007 massa 2008 2010 was the title webber shouldve won
F1Brits_90 2008 as a championship season was in some ways odd . The main protagonists did not really feature except Hamilton. No one showed consistency throughout the season which is usually Alonso 's forte. I am sure secretly he will regret walking out. You have to wonder if BMW had been fully focused who knows what it might have done for Kubica's career. The BMW under Kubica was a seriously quick car.
Top Bottom