mikeyg123 wrote:Swapping Hamilton and Palmer last year would have created at least a 2 second swing. I reckon they'd be fighting over the back end of the top 6.
I don't think so. I reckon yes, Palmer would consistently be near the back of the top six, but I don't think Lewis could take that Renault into contention for those top six places. Looking at a sample of Palmer's last five races with Renault, and assuming that he's a full second a lap slower than Hamilton (which I don't honestly think he would have been - there would have been times where he was a lot closer, but I've made it a whole second throughout):
NOTE: Since Palmer rarely made Q3, I actually just took 2 tenths off Hulk's numbers for this simulation.
Hamilton (Renault) 1:40.8 - P6
Palmer (Mercedes) 1:41.1 - P7
In Singapore, Mercedes' worst track and possibly Renault's best, Lewis does actually manage to get into the top six, with his teammate Hulkenberg right behind him. Palmer is out-qualified by both Renault cars.
Palmer (Mercedes) 1:36.5 - P1
Hamilton (Renault) 1:37.8 - P11
Hamilton's gap over the field was so huge that Palmer is still on pole, with Lewis unable to break into Q3. This is a bit of a weird one, however, and I think Palmer would probably have been more than his usual gap slower than Hamilton here.
Palmer (Mercedes) 1:43.5 - P5
Hamilton (Renault) 1:44.7 - P7
Hamilton once again qualifies right ahead of Hulk at the top of the midfield, while Palmer splits the Bulls, half a second back from his Mercedes teammate.
Hamilton (Renault) 1:17.2 - P6
Palmer (Mercedes) 1:17.7 - P9
In a shocking display, Palmer would have qualified his Mercedes all the way down in 9th for the Hungaroring (although it should be noted that this was a poor performance for Hamilton, being outqualified by Bottas).
Palmer (Mercedes) 1:27.6 - P4
Hamilton (Renault) 1:28.6 - P6
At this power track, Hamilton has no answer for Palmer, who still manages to out-qualify everyone who isn't a Mercedes or Ferrari.
Okay, so it was actually closer than I would have thought. But this isn't swapping an average midfield driver with Hamilton - this is swapping a man who was universally considered unfit for F1 with Hamilton.
If you swapped Hamilton and a mediocre driver, you'd just get a Ferrari WDC and that driver would be safely in the top six most every race.