|© AP Images/ F1 Pulse
Lewis Hamilton’s bid for the title this year was dented a bit at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to a retirement but Mercedes’ non-executive chairman stood up to provide his star driver some solace.
Hamilton took encouragement that his teammate Nico Rosberg won the race comfortably and that Mercedes is clearly ahead of the field performance-wise, while Lauda reminded the Briton that he had been in a similar situation before.
Lauda won the 1984 world championship, his last of three titles, despite retiring from the first race of the season that year. He bagged the crown at the final race that year by half a point from teammate Alain Prost.
But the odds are against Hamilton.
In the 29 years after Lauda took the aforementioned title, 17 drivers who emerged victorious in the first race of the season went on to become world champions at the end of that championship.
In that same period, only four drivers who failed to finish the first race of the season (which included one disqualification) went on to clinch the title giving Hamilton a statistical 13.79 percent chance of claiming his second crown.
It gets even darker for Hamilton if only the last 14 seasons are considered as no eventual world champion failed to finish the first race of their respective title-winning seasons.
In that same period, nine drivers who won the season-opening race went on to win the title that year with a percentage chance of 64.28 largely credited to the successes of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
From 1990 and 2011, only five drivers across the 22 year period who failed to win the opening race went on to become champions with a success rate for first-race winners amounting to 77.27 percent.
The last driver to win the title despite registering a DNF in his first race of the season was Mika Hakkinen in 1999.