Will any of today’s F1 drivers beat Michael Schumacher’s records?

Michael Schumacher won seven world titles and 91 Grands Prix

Michael Schumacher won seven world titles and 91 Grands Prix

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

Most F1 race wins (click the enlarge)

Most F1 race wins (click the enlarge)

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 race wins (percentage) (click to enlarge)

Most F1 race wins (percentage) (click to enlarge)

Most F1 pole positions

Most F1 pole positions (click to enlarge)

Most F1 pole positions (click to enlarge)

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 pole positions (percentage) (cick to enlarge)

Most F1 pole positions (percentage) (cick to enlarge)

Most F1 fastest laps

Most F1 fastest laps (click to enlarge)

Most F1 fastest laps (click to enlarge)

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 fastest laps (percentage) (click to enlarge)

Most F1 fastest laps (percentage) (click to enlarge)

Most F1 laps led

Most F1 laps led (click to enlarge)

Most F1 laps led (click to enlarge)

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

Most F1 points scored (click to enlarge)

Most F1 points scored (click to enlarge)

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?

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47 comments on Will any of today’s F1 drivers beat Michael Schumacher’s records?

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  1. Gut feeling tells me that Hamilton has a chance to beat some or all of these records, however, he’s got more competion in similar cars: Alonso, Räikkönen, Massa, Vettel et cetera. Schumacher had Häkkinen, Villeneuve… and that’s about it.

  2. Patrickl said on 24th December 2008, 14:00

    I don’t think anyone will beat Schumacher’s records.

    He doesn’t just have to be an exceptional driver, but he also must have the killer political instinct to render his team mate incapable of having much success. I’d say any really good driver doesn’t normally have that last trait. I don’t think Hamilton, would demand no 1 status and have this put in his contract. Neither would Vettel. Maybe Alonso.

  3. I really doubt that any of them will surpass his WDC record. The competition is too strong now, the only way a driver will be able to get an easy title in the near future (due to a dominating car) is Hamilton and Alonso as they have really weak team mates, Massa and Raikkonen would fight each other, and Kubica has Heidfeld to fight (I know he is not considered as one of the best drivers, but I think he would be able to put up a decent challenge). You just have to compare the Senna/Prost McLaren days when they had the best car, to the Schumacher days when he had the best car. I hope if we do have a super car from a team that they have 2 strong drivers for entertainment.

    Alonso could have been 4 times world champion by now if the McLaren relationship worked out, but in the end he didn’t… Personally I think Alonso will be the one out of the current drivers to have the most titles. (Like Prost of his generation) Raikkonen spent too much of his career in crappy McLarens and wasted this year to get more titles and will probably be the Mansell (Runner up a few times but managed to be a champion). I am excluding Vettel from this as we have to first see whether a top team picks him up or not.

    • Drop Valencia! said on 24th December 2012, 0:14

      Love this comment from 2008, ironically a top team didn’t pick him up but he is obliterating records regardless!

  4. My hope is that whoever is the next contender for greatest ever driver gets there by being impressive instead of prolific.

  5. How could Hasemi have the fastest lap and also being passed by SEVERAL cars on that LAP??

  6. Rob R. said on 24th December 2008, 14:55

    PatrickL, it doesnt have to be “in a contract”. Hamilton is already the de facto No. 1 at McLaren, Ron Dennis clearly has no problem with having a weak second driver for his precious Lewis. If he wanted a good driver he wouldn’t have renewed him for 2009.

  7. Rob R. said on 24th December 2008, 14:57

    Oops, that was meant to say Dennis wouldn’t have renewed Heikki Kovalainen for 2009.

  8. nitpicker said on 24th December 2008, 15:02

    91 > 41 + 31

  9. Daniel said on 24th December 2008, 15:04

    Well, I think the most difficult record to surpass is the number of race wins… Before Schumacher, the record was 9 wins in a season (Mansell, 1992)… Schumacher equalled this record three times before breaking it twice, setting the bar on 13 wins…

    For me, winning seven championships will be easier than 91 races… Hamilton, for instance, was champion with only five race wins in the season… Raikkonen, last year, with six…

  10. Daniel said on 24th December 2008, 15:06

    In fact, Senna won 41 and Prost 51 races…

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th December 2008, 15:17

    Indeed, 51 and 41, not 41 and 31 – fixed.

  12. I found funny that people try to make predictions of the sort… we’ll have to wait 10 years to see if any current driver surpass any Schumacher record, and frankly, we can’t even predict what Mosley will come up tomorrow… Less indeed if a team will be able to make a successful car 8 or so years in a row.

    The most laps leds statistic… really? *Only* 5 thousand? Only 5 times more than Alonso? I expected that would be a lot more…

  13. His records are unlikely to be beaten as there are too many good drivers competing with each other now. When he was a driver his only real competion was Hakkinen and that was only for three of the seasons he was competitive.

  14. How many drivers have driven for a top team for 10+ years?

    Senna would have destroyed these records had he raced the same number of years. I think if Hamilton’s heart stays in racing, he has a change to beat the WDC record.

    Like was mentioned. One team should never be so dominant. Shu owns most of those records because of a mixture of skill, luck ,determination and constructor. Hamilton has all four of those at the moment, time will tell if he manages to stay in a top team.

  15. The only drivers capable of breaking some records are Hamilton and Alonso.
    But as many will say, you have to judge drivers by competition and times.

    Like Schumi has more Poles but Senna is definatly the best qualifier ever in F1 (when looking at the times and others and the difference)

    Poles is the one that can be beaten by a man like Lewis.
    The 7 championships is hard, you need the car and motivation for a long time!

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