The doctrine of precedent, Daniel Ricciardo’s career set for a nosedive?
By TJ13 contributor Parth – The headline was quite dramatic and hopefully, it got your attention. I’m a Law student, and with that background I try and apply my understanding of how things can pan out, to understand what might happen in my chosen passion – Formula 1.
Anyway, before we can move on here, we need to know what we are on about. In Common Law countries, like UK, Australia, Canada, India etc. and to a certain extent United States (it’s not a common law country by the way, and if you want to get in the nitty gritty of this you can study Jurisprudence) – The essence of my point is that judicial process follows a system where we rely on the wisdom of the past decisions to settle similar matters of the present day.
To dumb it down for an average person and from my perspective as an Indian citizen, this is because when the British were conquering the world, they were faced with a peculiar problem. You see, the more jurisdictions they set up in different countries, the higher variety of decisions appeared for the same kind of scenarios. This is why we look at precedent.
Now apply this thinking to our shared passion, Formula One – Specifically, Daniel Ricciardo jumping the ship from a top three team like Red Bull to a manufacturer backed factory team of Renault.
Admittedly, this has been discussed to eternity and we would never know how it would turn out until the first wheel is not turned in the first pre-season testing at Barcelona. But this is, we’re still in the off-season and we or rather I, as a fan, has a lot of free time to kill.
For this analysis, we are going to take only two of the recent precedents, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton jumped the gun in 2013, he left a race winning and arguably fastest car on the grid in the form of Mclaren to go to Mercedes, many people doubted this move. Ultimately it paid off as Mercedes had heavily invested in their Hybrid programme and since the inception of the Hybrid era in 2014 until 2017, and they’ve virtually untouchable.
The aftermath of this Hamilton / Mercedes Hybrid combination is what we are witnessing till today. And the chances are, this is set to continue into the future.
Our second case study is of Fernando Alonso. The prodigious kid from a small Spanish town who defied the odds to reach the epitome of the open-wheel racing. The praise and criticisms for this man can itself constitute at least a 2 volume book. But after his driving in 2005 and 2006, even the bitter critic has to agree that he was bit “special”.
Unfortunately, for him his best of the achievements came to an end in 2006. He won fans, admirers and made a lot of money after those seasons. He drove wheels of the machines he was provided with and came within touching distance of further titles in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
The title drought and frustration at Ferrari meant that Fernando left for Mclaren to reunite with none other than Ron Dennis at McLaren. This reunion on paper was correct – a star driver, big engine manufacturer, a works team status, it should’ve been a winning combination. But oh boy, did this fail miserably.
Over the period of 3 years, Fernando faced a life that meant; zero wins and podiums, lots of DNFs and grid penalties and by the end of the disaster, Fernando more or less to quit F1 entirely to go race somewhere else.
The issues also forced Mclaren to become a customer of Renault, and the brutal truth is that this had they stayed with Mercedes in 2014, they’d likely be in a better position now as Renault are still lightyears away from the German manufacturer.
Now coming back to the subject matter in the hand, going by the aforementioned precedents outlined above, Daniel Ricciardo can go down both the roads.
The precedent set by Lewis Hamilton is possible and what happened to Fernando is also a looming threat.
To do what Lewis has done, Renault needs to turn around their fortune to the level Ferrari has done in the recent past. But here the issue still remains that Renault since 2014, has neither properly sorted out its power unit’s reliability, or have they matched Ferrari and Mercedes in power output.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Ferrari made the most significant strides after the 2017 rule changes, which were the biggest in recent history. Within the 2 year deal that Daniel Ricciardo has signed, there are no upcoming rule changes of that magnitude.
On an average Renault was anywhere from 1.5 to 2 seconds slower than Mercedes and Ferrari last season. This deficit was track specific but the average was similar. They need a revolutionary turn in their performance to close that gap and come within a second of the leading pack.
But then at the same time Renault have said that their rebuilding and restructuring programme at their Enstone factory will be completed and this year’s car would the first product of it.
Lastly, to contradict all that I have written a little, F1 is probably the last thing in the world that follows the precedents. Think back to 2009 and Brawn GP. Then to Kimi Raikkonen signing back with Sauber (Now Alfa Romeo). Danill Kvyat coming back to Toro Rosso… Give us your predictions in the poll below.