Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2011

Hamilton matches Clark’s record of team loyalty

2011 Australian GP stats & factsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2011

Lewis Hamilton reached an historic milestone in the Australian Grand Prix.

It was his 72nd start for McLaren, meaning he now shares the record for the longest F1 career spent driving for a single team with Jim Clark.

But while Clark took nine years to amass 72 starts for Lotus in world championship races, Hamilton has equalled the tally at the start of his fifth season.

Sebastian Vettel scored his first hat-trick of wins, adding his Australian victory to the two he scored at the end of last year. Indeed, he’s won four of the last five races.

It moves his wins total up to 11, giving him as many as Jacques Villeneuve, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello.

The last time the reigning champion won the first race of the year was Fernando Alonso in 2006. That was also the last time a driver successfully defended their title.

Vettel also bagged his 20th podium finish and 16th pole position – the latter matching the totals of Kimi R??ikk??nen and Stirling Moss.

Vettel’s pole position time of 1’23.529 (an average speed of 228.552kph) was the fastest-ever lap of the Albert Park circuit in an F1 race weekend, almost four-tenths faster than the previous best also set by Vettel last year.

However the fastest lap in the race (Felipe Massa, 1’28.947) was almost five seconds slower than the record set by Michael Schumacher in 2004, of 1’24.125. The Drag Reduction System, tyres that degrade more rapidly and the refuelling ban explain much of the difference.

That was Massa’s first fastest lap since Monaco 2009. He’s racked up 13 in his career, as many as Jacky Ickx, Alan Jones and Riccardo Patrese.

Until this weekend Red Bull had never been on the podium at Melbourne. Vettel put that to an end, but Mark Webber once again failed to better his first result in his home race – fifth for Minardi in 2002.

Rubens Barrichello set a new record for starting more seasons than any other driver. He has raced every year since 1993, giving him a record 19 seasons, beating the previous record of 18 set by Graham Hill.

Assuming the FIA’s decision to exclude Sauber from the results is upheld, Paul di Resta became the 70th driver to score a world championship point in his first race.

That mark should have fallen to Sergio Perez. Instead he and team mate Kamui Kobayshi became the first drivers to be disqualified from a race since Lewis Hamilton at the same circuit two years earlier.

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Melbourne, 2011
Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Melbourne, 2011

Vitaly Petrov scored his first Formula 1 podium – and the first for a Russian driver – in his 20th start.

The return of Pirelli meant we had our first non-Bridgestone win since Alonso won for Renault on Michelin tyres at Suzuka in 2006. Pirelli made their first appearance in an F1 race since Australia 1991 and won their first race since Canada 1991.

Spotted any other interesting statistics and facts from the Australian Grand Prix weekend? Share them in the comments.

F1 Fanatic’s 2011 season statistics pages will be launched ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

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Image ?? Pirelli, Renault/LAT