But fellow British racer Anthony Davidson also set a record in the last race – a most unusual and obscure one somehow befitting the cult status of his Super Aguri team.
Find out about Davidson’s achievement and all the other landmarks that passed in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
There was a huge amount of fuss in the press about one particular statistical achievement – Lewis Hamilton becoming the first ever driver to score three consecutive podiums in his first three races.
He’s also the second driver to lead – or jointly lead – the championship despite not having won a race, which Jean Behra also achieved after the 1956 Monaco Grand Prix.
Bahrain gave us the oldest podium so far this season (average of 25 years, 2 months and 7 days) – and yet the sixth-youngest of all time. Malaysia ranks fourth and Australia second. The youngest ever podium remains the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix top three of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya (24 years, 7 months and 12 days).
The race also caused a three-way tie for the lead of the championship between Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. This hasn’t happened since the 1950 world championship when, three rounds in, Giuseppi Farina (the eventual champion), Juan Manuel Fangio and Johnnie Parsons were tied on nine points.
Under the 1991-2002 points system Hamilton would not be part of the tie. Raikkonen and Alonso would have 18 each, Hamilton 16.
Alonso scored his 400th point moving up to 403. He is tenth overall in the ‘most points scored’ list with an average of 4.52. That is some way behind Michael Schumacher (5.52) and Juan Manuel Fangio (5.43) and just a fraction behind Alberto Ascari (4.54).
(From the point of view of comparison with Fangio and Ascari it is worth remembering that points and lesser positions were worth fewer points in their day, as indeed they were earlier in Schumacher’s career.)
No F1 championship has ever ended on a points tie – although Alain Prost and Niki Lauda were separated by just half a point in 1984. And don’t say it will never happen, because it did in the Indy Racing League last year. Sam Hornish Jnr and Dan Wheldon tied on 475 points – but Hornish had four wins to Wheldon’s two, and won the title.
Adrian Sutil finished a race for the first time this year. But David Coulthard, the oldest driver on the F1 grid, is yet to do that.
The reliability rate has been better than 2006 so far. Mechanical failures so far account for only 14% of failures to finish, and 76% of starters have finished. Last year, 18% of starts ended in mechanical failure and 69% of starters finished each race on average.
However, none of the four Red Bull cars finished, for the first time ever.
Nick Heidfeld scored his third consecutive fourth place making him, remarkably, the first person ever to do this.
Anthony Davidson‘s car stopped on lap 51 with engine failure. However, as he had completed over 90% of the race distance (51 laps according to the regulations), he was deemed to have finished the race. Nonetheless, he is still allowed to change his engine before the next round and not incur a penalty, as Jenson Button did at Melbourne last year.
A by-product of this is that he, like Heidfeld, now holds a new record for three consecutive finishes in the same position: 16th. Indeed, this is the lowest position that anyone has finished in for three successive races, the previous lowest being Timo Glock, 15th in the Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix of 2004.