Who doesn’t love a spot of fan fiction? The internet has become a breeding ground for theories spawned from those ‘what if’ questions generated at the end of films, TV series and even sporting spectacles.
What if Anakin Skywalker had the ‘high ground’ on Mustafar at the climax of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith? Or, closer to home, what if Lewis Hamilton didn’t catch and pass Timo Glock on the final lap at a soggy Interlagos in 2008?
The 2017 Formula 1 season has featured several intriguing narratives thus far that could trigger many ‘what if’ scenarios. For instance, in a world without the elite three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, what would the championship picture look like at this halfway stage?
With the numbers crunched, here are the facts and figures;
Unsurprisingly, both tables bare a resemblance to the real championship standings after 11 rounds in 2017. Force India, for example, head both the drivers’ and constructors’ standings here, while Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon sit seventh and eighth respectively on the actual table and Force India lies fourth in the constructors’.
What is striking is the margin by which they lead the field. With the top three teams removed from each race result and the points re-issued accordingly, Perez’s three race victories coupled with six additional podium appearances place him 23 points clear at the head of the standings.
Esteban Ocon’s consistency has been royally rewarded. The Frenchman has scored points in each and every race making six visits to the podium and finishing second a staggering five times. On three occasions, he is second in a Force India one-two.
Despite their points advantage and as Ocon’s failure to win a race would exemplify, Force India has not dominated the top step of the podium. Instead, race victories have been shared among seven drivers and six teams.
Victories in Russia, Spain and Canada mean Perez leads the pack in the race win stakes, but Williams’ Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz have both taken two wins apiece.
Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso have all won a race, with Alonso’s only champagne Sunday in 2017 to date coming at the Hungarian Grand Prix – his third points scoring finish of the season.
What’s most curious is the fact that while teams universally score more points in this midfield championship, the margins between Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault in the constructors’ standings remain tight. 15 points separate Williams in fourth to Renault in eighth in the real standings, while the gap only increases to 20 in a world where the availability of points is trebled.
However it is quantified or assessed, the midfield battle in 2017 is hugely fascinating. Force India has defied the pre-season concerns to build a sizeable advantage over their rivals at the halfway stage, but the finest of margins are defining the battle behind.