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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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?

48 comments on “Will any of today’s F1 drivers beat Michael Schumacher’s records?”

  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. 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.

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

  8. 91 > 41 + 31

  9. 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. In fact, Senna won 41 and Prost 51 races…

  11. 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!

  16. I think it’s a little unfair to say that he had competition from only Villeneuve and Hakkinen – Early in his carreer he was up against Senna, later he had Raikkonen, Montoya and Alonso to contend with.

    In the next decade I’m certain Hamilton or Vettel will be the ones to break some of his records. They’re young, they have all the time in the world to do so.

    1. Nice call mate . I love these comments from 2008.

  17. Hamilton is the only one with a chance but dont think he’ll stay in f1 that long

  18. F1 Drivers have won world championships with only 1 race win in the past 1982 Rosberg for example. I am against this medal table thing. How will the drivers who finnish below 3rd place be rated??

  19. my 2 cents:

    im sure some people might top off schumi. me being a die-hard/obsessed Ferrari fan even i have to admit lewis is a good driver along with new talents yet to come in f1. now i think they can beat the pole positions and race wins and stuch but maybe not fast laps and ill give my 2 cents on that:

    what really grinds my gears is the way the cars will look for 09. from lean&mean to womp womp.. =[ not only are the cars appearance hideous, they will be slower and have been getting slower since what…2006? i know it is to reduce costs in this economy but i believe the cars should look as they do now [2008] with slicks, i think the sport is entertaining enough, its my favorite of them all! =)

  20. Personally I dont think anyone will beat Shummacher – reason the cars are becoming too alike through the new rule changes and at the time the ferrari perhaps with extra funding behind it – they always had more test time on their own track – that wont stop – will it?
    Anyway – merry christmas Keith – and to one and all – roll on next year and the return of the circus and the little funny fella – all the best

  21. Very interesting statistics. I don’t think there is any current driver who is capable or indeed willing or dare I say motivated enough to beat Michael’s records.

    Incidentally Keith, are these your charts or can the complete charts be seen elsewhere?

  22. It’s really early to say if anyone will even get near Schumacher’s stats – the closest person, in terms of WDC wins, is Alonso, and he would be the only one who took the fight to Schumacher and still in the game.

    I do believe that it’s possible to beat Schumachers records – and there’s a lot of promise for some drivers to do well – but it would take an astronomical effort by driver and team over a long period. It would have to be a mission starting right now to beat it, otherwise it’ll take too long.

    You can take into account Schumacher’s lack of rivalry at the time, and number 1 status – etc. etc. – but you also have to remember you need a team that is as motivated as you. You hear about Schumacher making tea for his mechanics when they were working on his car – I’m not saying nobody else does this, but it’s all these small things which he did that helped BUILD a team into dominating winners.

    There’s a lot of factors, good and bad depending on how you view them, that contribute to Schumacher’s success – and I don’t see anyone having half of those factors just yet.

    Hamilton’s got a while, but he’s only finished his 2nd season so he’s got plenty of time to smash records if he so wishes.

    Alonso doesn’t have the same luxury, and unless he gets himself into a championship winning team – and stays put – then you have to say it doesn’t look like he’ll get close to Schumacher.

  23. Yes, with standardization is will be a lot more difficult. On the other hand, look at Jimmie Johnson of Nascar in the Sprint Cup Series with three titles in a row and the cars in those races are pretty much all the same.

  24. I don’t think Michaels record will be broken in the future. let’s say if any driver closing Michaels statistic, F1 is getting boring. Repetition of season 2002?? i hope not

  25. Hmmm someone else has started posting as K. That’s a bit confusing.

    Anyway despite being a big Michael fan I’d say yes at some point all of his records will be broken sooner or later.

  26. his world champion mark will be broken but not his race wins. 91 is a huge number, which just shows how dominant ferrari was…

  27. i really hope not for the simple reason it would be bloody boring!

  28. Some great stats compiled there, i must say. Well, 91 race wins is a pretty huge number. Such records happen in a life-time and you have to span a life-time to witness something of this sort. Having said that, no record can be left unbroken. It’ll surely be broken someday, but no driver of today can achieve this feat. One who can come seemingly close to it is certainly Lewis Hamilton.

  29. why you forgot ICEMAN who beat HAMILTO-ALONSO in 2007. as MASSA perform in 2008 next few season will be FERRARI 1 only like SCHUMI-BERRICHELLO dominate from 2000 to 2004. Hamilton is not fair driver, i think RON need a stewart with his teaw everytime who guide HAMILTON to drive under rules.. HE is kidding…

  30. no 1 can beat SCHUMI ever. why he had won more than others ?
    A engineer or michenic understand car more than the others and he only who did job of racing car mechanic and when a doctor of cars drive it himself no 1 can beat him ever and this is only fact of his dominancy in formula 1.

  31. I’m a big Schumi fan and his statistics are very impressive.

    What made him great for me though was that after winning 2 WDC titles with Benetton he could have gone to Williams or McLaren for an almost guaranteed championship winning car.
    Instead he chose to go to Ferrari, a team that hadn’t won anything since 1979, and help build a team that would dominate the sport for the next decade.

    He may have been offered a very big pay cheque & a guarantee of serious financial backing from the owners but, as we’ve seen with Honda & Toyota, this is no guarantee of success.

    He only agreed to go to Ferrari if they hired all of the engineers & mechanics that he wanted to work with as well as allowing him to be deeply involved with the design & testing of the cars.

    This gave him a connection with the team that most drivers can only dream of, add in his very clear status as the No 1 driver, his physical & mental preparation & his willingness to push the rules to their absolute limit and you can see why he was so successful in his career.

    I think it will be hard for any of the current drivers to beat his records but it’s not impossible, either way it’ll take them at least another 6 years to do so so who knows ?

  32. I think to be able to match or beat Schummacher is to be on the same team as Michael’s. If Alonzo will be at Ferrari few years from now, maybe he can. Lewis surely can’t and won’t. Kimi may also have the edge if he stays at Ferrari for a longer time, same as Massa. Lewis can only match Schummi’s popularity, and nothing else… trust me.

  33. Hamilton has chance to get more WDC maybe(or Vettel, but He need to get better team quick), but I think that only one is actually possible to break and it is most fastest laps. Kimi can do it…these two gategories are only possible…

  34. Nowadays is almost impossible to beat any of his records but i believe Hamilton has a chance in beating few of them.

  35. Hi Keith and Co.

    Been a while I know. But between forced redundancy (ten days before Xmas holidays), the holidays themselves and getting a new job, I haven’t had much time to leave a post on here. However I couldn’t leave this thread without my trademark long winded post!

    Anyway, if you didn’t already know let me make it clear. I’m a huge Schumi fan and Ferrari for that matter. To suggest his records may be broken by this crop of drivers is a moot point IMHO. I agree competition is tougher nowadays. Yet no one has realised one of the biggest reasons why. I believe it’s due to Michael’s brilliance and the records he’s set. Many drivers today will have there idols other than “Zeh German” yet I’m sure many were/are motivated to succeed due to Schumi’s achievements. If not to beat, at least taste some of this success.

    I don’t think Lewis can break Michael’s records but he will no doubt be one of the greats. One of the main reasons Lewis won’t do it is because of drivers like Vettel and even Felipe or Kimi. I also believe McLaren will always be handicapped by the fact that Mercedes could pull the pin at any time, as they have suggested recently. Placing a huge question mark over the longevity of Lewis behind the wheel of a competitive car.

    At the end of the day I put the question of will anyone break Schumi’s records, in the same category as the GOAT question.

    Slightly off topic – Does anyone have a link to any articles discussing a test conducted, where Schumacher went head to head with other elite athletes to test their reaction time etc etc. I believe it was determined that Michael was, at best, above average in most of the tests conducted. However the result that seperated him from the rest and explained his briliance as an F1 driver, was the mutli tasking test. I seem to remember the figure of 9 tasks at once. I really hope someone can enlighten me. With concrete evidence please. No abuse necessary!

  36. AussieLeb,

    here’s the Top Gear version of the test.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmolQryHxkM

    I would like to see the full article too.

  37. I don’t think any of the current crop of drivers will beat Michael Schumachers record seven championships, for many different reasons.
    As earlier mentioned on this site, Schumacher enjoyed many years with competitive machinery capable of winning championships. From 1997 until his retirement in 2006, on only two occasions was Schumacher unable to fight for the championship, in 1999 and 2005. It can be fair to assume that if Schumacher had not broken his leg in the now infamous Stowe crash, he may well have become an eight times world champion.
    This nine year stint of Schumacher’s career is without doubt the most dominant any driver has witnessed in modern motorsports. By comparison, other F1 legends faired differently.
    Aryton Senna’s reign at the top lasted between 1988 and 1991, inwhich every year he had a car capable of winning the championship. Alain Prost’s long career is all the more remarkable for winning championships spread out over more seasons, and with two different teams, much like Schumacher.
    However, inlike Schumacher, Prost and Senna both had team mates who at times, proved their biggest rivals, and who were destined to take titles away from them.
    Michael Schumacher never had that problem. As early as 2001, it was written in Rubens Barrichello’s contract at Ferrari that he would never criticise Schumacher or the team in public. Barrichello was sworn to adhere to team orders when the occasion arose, and that almost certainly meant giving way to Schumacher.
    Austria 2002 highlighted this better than any other occasion.
    This was a far cry from the Senna/Prost years at McLaren, or the more recent Alonso/Hamilton debacle. Everything was in place at Ferrari to avoid such skirmishes, that would only damage the teams morale, and lessen their chances to become champions.
    Marry this political stranglehold at Ferrari to superb reliability, a firm understanding of the FIA rulebook, and you have a very potent outfit indeed.
    From 2001 until 2005, Michael Schumacher also enjoyed the lack of mechanical strength from his rivals. McLaren’s engines by 2001, aswell as Mika Hakkinen, were getting used to the idea of retiring. Williams had great horsepower and Juan Pablo Montoya, but not the legs to compete with Schumacher.
    As with McLaren, the Grove built cars kept blowing up, often with either Montoya or Ralf Schumacher were leading races. Kimi Raikkonen, on a good day, could match Michael for pace, but like Hakkinen in 2001, often had to park the car early and walk home.
    Renault and Fernando Alonso changed this trend. Marry a fast, naturally gifted driver to a fast, reliable v10 and chassis, and Schumacher and Ferrari faced the enevitable. Their reign was over!
    The Ferrari team today are a different animal. This year, their second driver fought for the championship in the guise of Felipe Massa, not world champion Raikkonen. This would have been unthinkable during Schumacher’s reign.
    Renault, despite two wins, were far from dominant, a concern if Alonso stands any hope of unseating Schumacher.
    McLaren, to me atleast, look more like the Ferrari team of Schumacher’s time. The team is so obviously putting its efforts behind Lewis Hamilton, that you cannot help but feel sorry for Kovalainen as we did Barrichello and Irvine years ago. For this, Hamilton and his father Anthony can take credit. The relationship they have formed with Ron Dennis is without doubt the most potent at McLaren since the Hakkinen era, and without doubt, will aid them in their efforts to become multiple champions.
    The key for any driver wanting to set new records is to remain in a competitive car, for as long as possible.
    Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Lauda, Mansell, Piquet, Jones, Fangio, all started with lesser teams and worked their way up. Hamilton started his career in one of the best cars on any racetrack, any where.
    He has yet to experience a season in F1 in a less than competitive car. If he can avoid such experiences, then he can become a very potent challenger indeed to Schumacher’s legacy.

  38. Bernie and Max will keep changing the rules around to make sure that no driver can ever be as dominant as Schumacher. Lewis is great but he isnt going to win over half the races in any year. The competition is too strong now. Even if a driver won 12 races a year for the next five years that would still only be 60 wins which isnt even close to Schumi.

  39. I doubt any of Schumacher’s records will be broken, as I don’t think the circumstances that Schumacher set those records in will be replicated.

    I can’t see a team dominating the sport as much as Ferrari did in the first half of this decade. Even if a team did manage it a driver has to be at that team for all those years and make sure he has a weak team mate. You could argue that if Hamilton stayed at McLaren all his career he would be the number one driver in the team even if it wasn’t in any contracts, but I don’t see McLaren enjoying the dominance needed.

    When people said the sport was becoming boring when Ferrari were winning everything, others said it was no different to when Williams and McLaren dominated the sport in the 1980s and 1990s. However, because Williams and McLaren usually didn’t have an outright number one driver or drivers didn’t stay with the teams that long, no one driver was able to dominate like Schumacher did.

    As Keith mentioned in the article because of rule changes some of the records aren’t consistent. The poles earned during the race fuel qualifying period don’t compare to the poles set by the likes of Senna when it was a measure of the fastest driver on the day, not who had the lightest car and was fast.

    The record most likely to be broken is the most points scored, because just as the points system has been changed in the past I think it will be changed again meaning more points will be on offer at each race.

  40. Lewis already has 1 record Schumacher never had. Youngest WDC. And he did it in only his second year in F1. in his rookie year LH also has allot of records. But beating all Shumis records will be difficult because of all the rule changes Every year to get the cars even. In Shumis years Ferrari had a better car and was alowed to continue development on it and make it better. these days its not the same. So it will be difficult to break ALL the records but he is a great driver and will only get better and break some of Schumacher records without a doubt.

  41. I think Alonso has a chance of getting 1 or 2 of the records. Kimmi certainly has a shot at the fastest lap record if he doesn’t get bored of F1, and Lewis has the potential (looking at the time he has left in his career), but Lewis has proven to be inconsistent and there are other hot shots like Vettel who have raw talent and maturity. Lewis would have my vote if he didn’t throw away points in 2007 and 2008. He won the championship and I’m happy about that, but he must look at how many points he lost to Massa/Alonso/Kimmi in the last part of the season. It really shouldn’t have happened with the equipment he had. If Mclaren don’t have the same equipment in the years to come, then Lewis will have a lot of work to do to get the records, and I’m not convinced yet.

  42. Does Jackie Stewart not have 27 wins in 99 starts?

  43. Oh and Jim Clark? 25/73?

  44. Yes and yes – but Schumacher, Prost and Senna have more wins. Hit rate is not the focus here – see here for more on that: Michael Schumacher stats

  45. Oh I see, many thanks Keith. That was the link I was looking for, you see the recent f1fanatic server famine has affected my judgement :D

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