Michael Schumacher’s colossal achievements means he dominates the F1 record books.
Will anyone ever rake his place at the top of the lists of race winners, pole sitters, and pretty much everything else? Could it be one of the drivers on the grid today? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Most F1 race wins
With 91 wins, Schumacher has almost as many as the next two most winning drivers combined: Alain Prost (51) and Ayrton Senna (41).
In order to stand any chance of matching Schumacher’s record, today’s top drivers will need to spend at least as much time in race-winning cars. Schumacher had a car capable of regularly winning races for 11 years (1994-5, 1997-2004, 2006). On top of that, like Fernando Alonso this year, he still won races in years when his car wasn’t a front-runner.
Given the length of his career, Schumacher’s victory hit-rate is an extremely impressive 36% (below). The driver most likely to match that – if McLaren remain competitive – is Lewis Hamilton, currently on 25%. Even then it’ll take him a decade or longer to reach 91 wins at his current rate.
But with increasing standardisation of F1 car parts the days of one team winning almost all the races in a season – as Ferrari did in 2002 and 2004 – may be over. That will make it even harder for anyone to surpass Schumacher’s record.
Most F1 pole positions
Schumacher narrowly surpassed Ayrton Sen’a tally of pole positions – but Senna’s 40% hit-rate is far better. Other drivers with shorter career lengths managed even better hit rates.
But a pole position in 2008 isn’t what is was in the time of Senna, or Clark or Fangio for that matter. Today it’s about fuel load; before it was a question of who could set the fastest single lap. With the prospect of refuelling being banned in 2010, hopefully qualifying will soon become more meaningful again and comparisons like this will be possible.
Most F1 fastest laps
Kimi Raikkonen is well on the way to catching Schumacher’s record for most fastest laps. He has 35 to his name – ten of which he set this year, despite only winning twice.
Hamilton isn’t getting as many fastest laps though – only three so far.
In percentage terms, Masahiro Hasemi is untouchable – he only did one race and he set the fastest lap. Well, he’s credited with the fastest lap at Fuji in 1976, but as he was overtaken by several cars on the lap it happened there’s some dispute over whether he actually did it. Timing then wasn’t what it is today…
Most F1 laps led
Over 5,000 laps led is a measure of Schumacher’s abilities – and how dull F1 races were in the early 2000s. Frankly I hope no-one gets anywhere near this record.
Most F1 points scored
Schumacher is the only driver to rack up more than 1,000 points, although when Alain Prost started his F1 career drivers only got nine for a win – today they get eight for second.
Will any of today’s F1 drivers beat Schumacher’s career totals? Could any of them match his seven world championships?