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The More I Practise...

FEATURE BY GUEST AUTHORS
08/11/2012

Perhaps the most churlish quote of the past weekend came from Lewis Hamilton when he said that Vettel "must be the luckiest driver in F1" after finishing 3rd having started 24th. A view which most British correspondents have been happy to promote. Interestingly the same writers were quick to hail Button's equally impressive drive at Canada last year without any reference to Lady Luck.

Whenever luck is cited as a factor in any endeavour the words of Gary Player come to mind; "The more I practise, the luckier I get." In a similar vein Peter du Toit, one of the prime movers behind South Africa's best circuit, Zwartkops, once said to me that you make your own luck in motorsport. The point being that it's easy to say Vettel benefitted from the safety car periods but he had to get himself in a position to profit from its deployment. Then when it was deployed he and the team made all the right decisions at the time.

A similar phenomenon can be observed in rugby. When a team is on song it looks like all the bounces and finger tip moments go their way as if by divine intervention. In reality there will have been untold hours spent on cold practice fields far from adoring crowds honing those moves and skills so that under the pressure of big match situations the seemingly impossible is second nature.

Diligence is the mother of good luck

If we apply the rationale which some pundits have to minimise Vettel's performance on Sunday then we would have to take that to its logical conclusion and conclude that Alexander Fleming only discovered penicillin by good luck. It's too easy to say that his discovery and consequent Nobel Prize were purely down to his luck that the penicillium notatum mould happened to grow in his lab when in actual fact it was the careful application of all his scientific learning which led him to correctly identify that something which had occurred unexpectedly was in fact worthy of investigation and useful. Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said that "diligence is the mother of good luck".

Like all sportsmen there are things one can find to dislike about Sebastian Vettel but let's not pretend that he progressed from 24th to 3rd because of good luck as if all he did on Sunday was turn up and point his car in the right direction. The 62% (at the time of writing) of respondents to the poll on this very site who think it was down to luck should know better because not only does that opinion devalue Vettel's achievement it devalues the whole sport.

Dr Anton Zimmermann

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