Monday 3 November 2014


The age-old jinx in Formula One has finally been broken and it took some time coming. A F1 car with the number '13' has scored points in a race for the first time.

At yesterday's US Grand Prix, when Pastor Maldonado made a brave move to pass successfully Jenson Button before being overtaken by Vettel - the mercurial Venezuelan driver was threading a thin line in the 10th place, knowing it might all change if there was a slight error from his part. With less than 2 laps to go, Maldonado pulled off another overtaking manoeuvre on Jean-Eric Vergne. He finished the race in the ninth position and yet it was not certain if he would hold on to his place.

With a five-second penalty owing to exceeding speed limits in the pit lane - a further five seconds was taken off which placed Maldonado in tenth position. After the investigations on Vergne's sudden plunge at the first corner which forced Romain Grosjean out of the racing line, Maldonado was reinstated to ninth place placing Vergne in tenth position (he too received a five seconds penalty).
Amidst all the confusion, for the first time in the season Pastor Maldonado has scored points and personally I believe this was the second talking point of the race after watching Lewis Hamilton become the most successful British F1 driver with 32 victories.

In my other article early this year (Read: Return of number 13 in F1) - I stressed upon the reluctance of F1 drivers and FIA to a great extent in using number 13 in the livery. Pastor Maldonado chose to be brave and ignored all the previous superstitions associated with '13' - when drivers were given the option to choose numbers starting from 2014, instead of FIA allocating numbers depending on constructor's championships. The last time number '13' car appeared dates back to 1970's. What a myth F1 was creating for itself!

With team Lotus, in 2014 Maldonado had a disastrous season which saw him retire four times, finish outside of points scoring position on 11 occasions and in Monaco, he did not even start. Such numbers are not worth talking about and sooner or later, Triskaidekaphobia (fear of number 13) might have hovered all around him and the team. His teammate Romain Grosjean equally had a terrible season and has 8 points courtesy of two top ten finishes. It was not driver's fault - blame goes to Lotus and their incompetent cars.

I am happy for once this jinx has been settled once in for all. For a sport which deals with billions of dollars, such superstitions only makes one message to be heard loud and clear - "Irrespective of how big the organisations grow, how much ever the profits are - as long as you have humans involved, there can never be all-logic". This probably explains why till date only four drivers ever muster the courage to have '13' on their livery.

On an interesting note - I now wonder what would have happened if Maldonado would have finished the season with no points. Would he have considered a change in the number?  

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