Williams make worst season start for over 30 years

2011 Chinese GP stats and facts

Clay Regazzoni, Williams, Buenos Aires, 1979

Clay Regazzoni, Williams, Buenos Aires, 1979

Williams have made their worst start to a season since 1979 having failed to score in any of the first three races.

Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado posted their first finishes of the year in China with 13th and 18th respectively.

The highest position Maldonado has occupied in a race so far is 15th – for just one lap.

The last time they failed to score in the first three races was in 1979, at which time they had never won a race before. However they did have two ninths and a tenth place, which are worth points today, so arguably this is their worst ever start to a season.

But there’s some cause for optimism. After replacing the FW06 with the FW07 they won five of the last seven races in 1979.

Hamilton’s 15th win

Lewis Hamilton brought Sebastian Vettel’s four-race streak of victories to an end with his 15th career win.

That puts Hamilton 15th in the all-time list of race winners. It continues his run of winning a race in every season he’s started – now five in a row. This was McLaren’s 170th win.

Having been in the points in all of last year’s races, McLaren are continuing the streak this year and have now scored points in 22 consecutive races.

Hamilton also became the first driver to win the Chinese Grand Prix twice. All the other previous winners were on the grid with one exception – Kimi R??ikk??nen.

Vettel added to his tally of pole positions with his 18th, giving him as many as Hamilton, as well as Mario Andretti and Rene Arnoux.

Fastest lap went to Mark Webber for the second race in a row. Coincidentally, he’s now matched Hamilton’s tally of fastest laps – eight – a feat also shared by Gilles Villeneuve, James Hunt and Ralf Schumacher.

However Webber is yet to lead a lap this year – despite his team mate being in front for 127 of the 170 laps so far.

Webber has also made the most pit stops of any driver so far this year, racking up ten in just three races.

Most finishes ever

The 2011 Chinese Grand Prix set a new record for most finishers in an F1 race. Just one retirement meant 23 drivers saw the chequered flag, beating a record which has stood for almost 60 years. The only driver not to finish was Jaime Alguersuari after a wheel came off his Toro Rosso following a pit stop.

The previous record was set at Silverstone in 1952 when there were 22 finishers. This in was the days before drivers had to finish 90% of the race distance to be classified. The record was equalled five races ago at Interlagos:

Race Finishers
2011 Chinese Grand Prix 23
1952 British Grand Prix 22
2010 Brazilian Grand Prix 22
2010 European Grand Prix 21
1976 Canadian Grand Prix 20
2005 Italian Grand Prix 20
2007 Turkish Grand Prix 20
2007 Italian Grand Prix 20
2010 British Grand Prix 20
2010 Belgian Grand Prix 20
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 20

The two drivers on row four started from their highest-ever grid positions: Alguersuari (seventh) and Paul di Resta (eighth).

Di Resta is one of six drivers who’ve out-qualified their team mates in all three races so far and the only rookie to have done so.

Spotted any more stats and facts from the Chinese Grand Prix? Post them in the comments.

Review the year in statistics so far here:

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Chinese Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Williams/LAT

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131 comments on Williams make worst season start for over 30 years

  1. Bazooka (@bazooka) said on 18th April 2011, 8:56

    Things are really looking good for Di Resta. Looks like this kid gonna have a bright future in formula1.

    • Andy C said on 18th April 2011, 9:41

      I’ve been impressed just how quickly he’s got back into single seater racing.

      He was definitely a top racer when last in single seaters, and to come back after so long in DTM etc is brilliant.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th April 2011, 13:57

      I think so too. He just seems to fit in. His wealth of experience across a lot of different categories is paying off.

      • Daniel said on 18th April 2011, 14:35

        Those who are from outside the UK, like me, didn’t know much about Di Resta before.

        Honestly I didn’t expect that much from him either, and I’m happily surprised by his pace.

  2. rob from inverness said on 18th April 2011, 9:00

    I think William’s decline started when they were at the top with a Newey designed car and the Renault engine. Hubris set in: they dispensed with the services first of Mansell and next Damon Hill. I recall that Adrian N. left for McLaren because he felt that Hill was a very good team builder and had been treated unfairly. Then, Sir Frank and Pat started to try to find “the driver who could beat Schumaker ” A poor selection, year after year – and fewer and fewer successes ( Villeneuve’s WDC with the tail end of the Newey design excepted.) Then, they managed to loose BMW…….etc etc

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 9:03

      Yes, with BMW they were starting to regain some of that mojo they lost when Renault left them as engine suppliers. They came oh so close to winning in 03 with Montoya and may have were it not for the ridiculous tire rule change near the seasons end, but they couldn’t manage it, as soon as they lost BMW they went overnight from a team that was regularly in the points and could challenge for victories, to an also-ran.

    • Andy C said on 18th April 2011, 9:43

      The worst thing is, last year they were talking again to Renault seriously and they did not come to an agreement.

      Just to be clear on the BMW thing though, my understanding is BMW wanted to take more control (and Williams resisted).

      You have to say after the debacle that was BMW Sauber you have to wonder what was wrong with their decision to resist.

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 18th April 2011, 9:47

        BMW only wanted to assist Williams with designing their chassis. There was no short-term prospect of a takeover.

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 20:28

        The worst thing is, last year they were talking again to Renault seriously and they did not come to an agreement.

        Yes, I was really hoping that would come to fruition. Williams-Renault has a great sound to it. I applaud them for sticking with Cosworth but it seems to be doing them few favors.

    • thatscienceguy said on 18th April 2011, 11:05

      it wasn’t only the fact they discarded Hill.

      In his own words, he wanted to have more say in how the team was run, “I felt I’d now earned the right to be involved with key decisions”. Williams and Head then signed Villeneuve without his involvement, which he said made him pretty pissed off. Then after discarding Hill for Frentzen he was “dumbfounded”. It was that and other decisions being made with made him feel they had breached his contract by not involving him in the decisions, and he felt he was being treated badly by them not involving him.

      The partnership between BMW and Williams was apparently not quite as rosy as some would haveyou believe. The deal between Williams and BMW had been done by a board member who was forced out, and then Berger and Thiessen came in and apparently never liked the deal right from the start. The first meeting Mario Thiessen had with Frank he accused him of breaking a contract (which Williams hadn’t). It was pretty clear to those inside that Mario had his eyes on being team principal. Frank has said “it was not a partnership of respect and friends.”

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 20:30

        Frank has said “it was not a partnership of respect and friends.”

        Thankyou for that info scienceguy. It’s a shame that partnership was so flawed. In Montoya and Ralf they had an exciting number 1 and a strong number 2 driver and surely they could have been more successful were it not for tension created by such an uneasy political situation.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th April 2011, 11:19

      To be fair Mansell walked away from sharing with Prost.

      • Leon said on 18th April 2011, 19:02

        But viewed from the heights of the Mansell days, this is all such a tragedy. Williams & Head really seem to have lost the plot. Last year they seemed to be on the way to finding some of their old form, but bad decision making seems to blight every move they make.

        I really fear for the future of this very great racing marque.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 18th April 2011, 17:29

      With better drivers in their 2003 car, they could have won the championship, which could have led to BMW staying for the long term. But Montoya and Ralf Schumacher were too wasteful, and ended up losing to a 2 year old Mclaren chassis, and Ferrari’s worst car in 5 years at the time.

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 20:33

        With better drivers in their 2003 car, they could have won the championship

        Better drivers were not available and I don’t think they needed any. Montoya lost the 2003 Championship for the same reason Kimi did, the late season tire ruling that disenfranchised Michelin and handed a big advantage to Ferrari and Bridgestone in the final races.

        Were it not for that idiotic change, Kimi or Montoya would have been WDC, and most deservedly so.

    • strongwork said on 18th April 2011, 17:52

      Perhaps the best thing they did was to seperate from BMW, this firm were clearly in it for quick glory, and I recall when they left Williams and went to Sauber, they boasted how they saved money buying into Sauber, how they were in it for the long term etc, then they pulled the Sauber plug nearly causing the team to fold. BMW was no loss. Getting into bed with Toyota, saved Sir Frank a few pennies but I dont think that was the weak point. Newey leaving was bad, but as McClaren said, a car designed by him is not a cert for winning. I think Sam Michael was to young for the role when he took it on, and I havent read much that Williams have come up with blown diffusers, or wing stalling devices. The Williams name is still an F1 great, hope they can get the right people into the team to turn it around. On a positive, to finish 1st, then first you have to finish. Both Franks cars did that in China, so thats a step forward, now we need the speed.

    • james_mc said on 18th April 2011, 19:38

      I remember a fairly recent interview with Patrick Head and he said that the problems currently at Williams stem from an inability to build for the future rule changes while they were competitive. It should be noted that he was referring to 1997 going into 1998…

  3. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 9:00

    It also marked the most drivers to lead a race (6) since sometime in the 2007 season, or something along those lines I heard from the SPEED commentators during the race.

    Love the stats and facts Keith, it’s almost always my favorite post race article.

    It is really sad to see Williams have such a terrible start to the season. Though I feel Ferrari has the pace to be at the front, they have had a poor start by their lofty standards as well. When was the last time we were 3 races into a season and Ferrari were yet to get a podium?

  4. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 18th April 2011, 9:03

    My favourite one is about Massa.

    FP1: 6th
    FP2: 6th
    FP3: 6th
    Qualifying: 6th
    Race: 6th
    Championship Position: 6th
    Car number: 6.

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 9:05

      Woah, I had noticed that he was 6th in qualifying, the race and the standings, but that is rather extraordinary!

      Maybe it’s a sign that he will fly like a devil around Istanbul Park in 3 weeks time ;)

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 18th April 2011, 20:32

        Maybe it’s a sign that he will fly like a devil around Istanbul Park in 3 weeks time ;-)

        That was my thought as well, but I think it’s more likely that it means he’ll fly like the devil in 6 weeks time… which would mean Monaco.

    • tobinen (@tobinen) said on 18th April 2011, 9:39

      wow! That’s one of the best I’ve heard of!

    • box this lap (@sebashuis) said on 18th April 2011, 9:46

      Nice you found that out!

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 18th April 2011, 10:01

        I didn’t – I read it from last weeks prediction championship winner lookingspiffy on Twitter.

        I wonder if it’s ever happened before – I imagine it may have done with 1st place once or twice in the past!

        • LewisC said on 18th April 2011, 13:03

          Great stat! You have to say it’s almost easier for it to happen with the 1st-placed driver. Just look through the ‘perfect weekends’ – if they had pole, fastest lap and win they were probably quick in practice too.

          I bet one of the HRTs will be 24th in practice, 24th fastest, 24th on the grid and 24th finisher at one race this year… :)

    • LookingSpiffy (@lookingspiffy) said on 18th April 2011, 10:18

      In his sixth year driving for Ferrari. And Alonso is his sixth teammate in F1. And he was also sixth fastest in Q2. And…and…

    • sumedh said on 18th April 2011, 10:59

      Vettel had 1st position in FP1, FP2, FP3, Qual, CHampionship position, Car number.
      Except for the race win though :)

    • Seyr (@seyr) said on 18th April 2011, 11:02

      That’s… incredible.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th April 2011, 11:20

      Sixes in seven? ;) Great stat!

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 18th April 2011, 11:48

      Wow, that’s a cool observation

  5. JCF1 (@jcf1) said on 18th April 2011, 9:04


    Maldonado is rubbish.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys said on 18th April 2011, 9:05

    Six different drivers led the Chinese Grand Prix; there were nine leaders altogether (Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg all led the race twice). When was the last time that happened?

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 9:06

      Sometime in 2007 I beleive. I heard the SPEED crew talk about it during the post race coverage.

    • slr said on 18th April 2011, 9:08

      I imagine you’d have to go back to Japan 2008, there was something like 10 or 11 different leaders in that race.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 18th April 2011, 9:50

      There were seven leaders in the 2008 Canadian GP (Hamilton, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Coulthard, Trulli, Glock and Kubica). However none of them led the race more than once.

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 18th April 2011, 11:50

      It reminded me of Silverstone 2007, with the lead swapping in each stint.

      (In that race, Hamilton led from the start to the first pitstop, Alonso from the first to the second stop, and Raikkonen from the second stop ’til the end)

  7. Damon said on 18th April 2011, 9:09

    Williams will come good in 2013 I suspect

    • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 9:18

      I hope you are right Damon. I’ve been looking forward to 2013 and its rule changes for awhile now, not because of the turbos, but because of the revised bodywork utilizing ground effect and smaller wings to induce closer racing.

      That said, with how exciting this weekend’s race was, I don’t know if I even want the rules to change anymore!!

      • Phil said on 18th April 2011, 16:05

        For gods sake even smaller wings and poxy four pot engines, I don`t like Formula Renault and Formula Ford, I like FORMULA 1, and I fear they are going to ruin it even more.

    • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 18th April 2011, 9:30

      I was thinking the same thing, seeing that patrich head is probabky the only still “active”technical director who has had direct experience with building ground effect cars, this might give them a chance to come back , I really hope so.

      • Harvs (@harvs) said on 18th April 2011, 9:34

        2013 maybe a bit late for Williams, the world is going to end in 2012 anyway…

      • Damon (@damon) said on 18th April 2011, 13:05

        Nah, I think that the modern computer simulation can give you more knowledge about ground effect than the knowledge Patrick Head was able to acquire 30 years ago. I don’t think he will have even a slight head start [pun intended!].

      • james_mc said on 18th April 2011, 19:42

        Yeah, but he said that he didn’t really know what he was doing at the time…(apparently!)

    • Scottie (@scottie) said on 19th April 2011, 3:58

      Maybe they’ll woo VW? :)

  8. pluisje said on 18th April 2011, 9:27

    Kovalainen passed Maldonado on track without him having a problem, and also finished in front of him & Perez. Is that a first for Lotus?

    • Mack41 (@mack41) said on 18th April 2011, 9:43

      It should be remembered that Perez had a drive through for his incident with Sutil at the end of the race that dropped him in the standings at the end. But yeah, Maldonado is rubbish and good on Lotus!

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 18th April 2011, 9:49

      Wow! I didn’t know that. Perez got a drive through and tangled up in some collisions, so its understandable if he finished behind Kovi. But Maldonado should really be ashamed of himself..

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 18th April 2011, 17:18

      is that the first time lotus have overtaken another car in a competitive circumstance?

  9. Mack41 (@mack41) said on 18th April 2011, 9:37

    Their drivers aren’t helping. One is a rookie with little talent compared to the others and the other is the most mediocre driver on the grid

  10. Todfod (@todfod) said on 18th April 2011, 9:42

    Gotta feel sorry for Williams. They were looking at being the strongest of the midfield contenders this season, and instead have ended up being the poorest of the midfield runners. I guess having a washed up veteran and a pay driver isn’t going to help their cause either.

  11. Keith

    I was hearing rumours late last night about Sam Michaels being in line for the chop.

    Have you heard anything on the grapevine on that? They were coming from pretty credible sources btw


  12. RobTsintas (@robtsintas) said on 18th April 2011, 9:50

    The cars were racing right to the end, which is what we all want to see. The top four crossed the line in only 10 seconds.

    I’m sure there have been closer races than this in recent history, but what about if we exclude races with safety car periods that artificially bunched up the pack?

    Do your thing, stats geeks!…

    • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 18th April 2011, 10:10

      Also excluding safety car races: Does anyone know how long it has been since someone has done a Webber? i.e. start so close to the back of the grid and finished on the podium?

      • plushpile (@plushpile) said on 18th April 2011, 11:13

        Malaysia last year Hamilton, Alonso and Button all started up the back and moved well forward during the race.
        Alonso ‘won’ from P15 Singapore 2008

        • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 18th April 2011, 11:58

          Hamilton did best at Malaysia last year starting 20th and finishing 6th. I cannot remember if there were any safety cars in that race but there was at least one in Singapore 2008!

      • Räikkönen Suzuka 2005? He won that one, but maybe his starting position was slightly better.

        • Barrichello winning from 18th in Germany 2000. (Older) John Watson and Niki Lauda 1-2 from 22nd and 23rd on the grid respectively in the USA in 1982 if I remember correctly?

          • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 18th April 2011, 12:31

            Germany 2000 had multiple safety cars – including one when an ex-Mercedes employee staged a protest in the middle of the track!

            But Watson won at Long Beach in 1983 from 22nd on grid and I couldn’t find any reference to a safety car or red flags – I think that might be the winner :)

        • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 18th April 2011, 12:11

          Kimi won from 17th, which was very good… but there was a safety car (when Villeneuve pushed Montoya off the track).

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 18th April 2011, 13:08

        Raikkonen started Bahrain 2006 from 22nd and finished third. I don’t believe there were any safety cars that race.

        • Himmat S. said on 18th April 2011, 13:56

          montoya started p20 sometime in his stay with mclaren…in germany i think…and ended up second in the race!

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th April 2011, 16:55

        Brazil 2009 did have a Safety Car, but it was practically a restart as it was called out on Lap 1. Hamilton went from 18th to 3rd.

        But considering fuel strategy played a big part Webber’s is far more impressive. indeed for an equal comparison I think you’d have to go back to Prost in the 1990 Mexican GP

  13. BasCB (@bascb) said on 18th April 2011, 9:53

    I think you can add the stat of getting the best rate the race average since we started voting soon Keith!

  14. G Ride said on 18th April 2011, 9:56

    The problem with Williams is Sam Michael. Since he became TD the car performance as got steadily worse and worse. The rest of the team don’t respect him. Actually no one in the pit lane respects him and most don’t know how he even managed to get in that position. He cannot lead. He has no personality. He doen’t have the technical capacity to do the job. Good people are leaving Williams because they don’t like working for him. They can’t hire good talent because people don’t want to work for him. He cannot communicate effectively with his staff. He comes up with silly ideas that the team bust a gut to make and it doesn’t work. I just wish and hope Frank, Patrick, Adam Parr and the other shareholders see this and do the right thing.

    Sam Micheal needs to go!

  15. box this lap (@sebashuis) said on 18th April 2011, 9:58

    Thinks could have been worse for Williams compared to Sauber in 2010. With 5 Saubers not seeing the finish line in the first 3 races in the 2010 season.

    Sauber recovered, I don’t know what Williams will do.

  16. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 18th April 2011, 10:01

    Williams in 2011 = Ferrari in 2009 so far i.e. no points (two teams with lots of history in three years)

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th April 2011, 10:39

      Williams has the worst record of all the world-championship-winning teams on the grid (excluding Team Lotus for obvious reasons) for years without winning either championship (13). By contrast the teams with the next worst records are McLaren and Ferrari with only 2 years.

      • Seyr (@seyr) said on 18th April 2011, 11:15

        Not counting Renault (team Enstone)?

      • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 18th April 2011, 11:53

        Perhaps I’m being dumb here, but what are the obvious reasons for omitting Lotus? Didn’t they go 16 years without a championship from 1978 to 1994, when they died?

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 18th April 2011, 12:56

          I meant the ones currently on the grid. Otherwise I think the worst team would be Tyrrell (1973-1996).

          And I don’t really see Lotus as the same Lotus. It’s like the reverse of when American sports franchises move city.

          • Fixy (@fixy) said on 18th April 2011, 14:25

            And I don’t really see Lotus as the same Lotus.

            I have this problem in my pictures’ folders. I have Lotus Racing (2010-) and Team Lotus (-1994).
            Then I have the icon for Lotus Racing that reads “Team Lotus” and the icon for Team Lotus reads “Lotus”. This is confusing, and although I feel Lotus Racing should have the right to be a continuation of Team Lotus I couldn’t put these two together as I didn’t feel it was right.

          • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 18th April 2011, 17:10

            Right, I see

  17. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 18th April 2011, 10:02

    Great work, but I would have liked to see how much laps have each driver led a GP, like we were seeing it last year…

  18. So Karthikeyan became the first driver ever to finish 23rd? He & Hispania have achieved something impressive after all!

  19. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 18th April 2011, 10:12

    Cars seem very reliable now :-) if only Alguersuari’s wheel had been put on properly… Could have had a race without retirements for the first time since Italy 2005.

  20. butterdori (@butterdori) said on 18th April 2011, 10:27

    The Curse of the HULK


    I bet Nico is somewhere laughing at them

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th April 2011, 14:04

      Given their car at the moment I would think he’s wiping the sweat off his forehead. Williams it seems did him a favour in setting him free. So it seems so far anyway.

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