Clay Regazzoni, Williams, Buenos Aires, 1979

Williams make worst season start for over 30 years

2011 Chinese GP stats and factsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. Might we be seeing an F1F record for highest-rated race?

    Excluding retirements, this is the first time Vettel hasn’t won from pole since Hungary 2010, since when he’s been on pole 6 times. Vettel has been on pole in 45% of the races he’s been in a competitive car – Hamilton “only” 24%. His conversion record (pole to win) is 50%. By comparison, Alonso’s is 52% and Hamilton’s is also 50%

    This is the 6th race Hamilton has won when he hasn’t started on pole – a 40% record. In comparison, Alonso has a 50% record and Vettel has a 25% record.

    1. How do you define a “competetive car”?

      1. With Vettel it was fairly easy: 2009-2011, plus that one race in 2008. you’ll see I didn’t do Alonso for that one because I couldn’t be sure which ones to count.

        1. Although I haven’t factored in the first half of 2009 for Hamilton, nor Monza 2009 & 2010 for Vettel, but that’s only 2 races and unlikely to do much to the states. In Hamilton’s case it only goes up to 27% anyway.

  2. An interesting fact: Williams have once again spent the off-season lying about how good and ‘radical’ their new car is going to be, instead of actually building a good and ‘radical’ car.

    Bad times.

  3. Really sad for Williams. Last year they had an ok season, in testing they looked good so I hoped for them to challenge Renault and Mercedes. Instead, they’re struggling to keep ahead of lotus:S.

  4. Williams really need to pull their finger out. They have had all the chances (rule changes and stability) to show their worth.

    It’s not good enough just to be in F1 for the sake of it.

  5. I don’t know which came first for Williams : Bad management choice (Newey 1997, BMW 2003?), bad driver choice (was Montoya really the best man for the job at the time? No talks of the actual line up, enough said really) or bad design?

    Just a chronicle of how all went bad really. Difficult to pin point the origin.

    1. I think the problem was more Schumacher than Montoya. Well, both Schumachers – one for being too good and the other for being a bit pants.

    2. Has anyone considered that their main problem is cash? They have no huge sponsorship, no big technical alliances and yet they do things like they did in their “golden” years. All their competitors buy cheap and proven running gear from the big boys, yet Williams stretch their resources to build exotic gearboxes, custom KERS units etc. When you bite off more than you can chew, you ‘re bound to mess up…

      1. And that’s entirely Williams’s fault. In the last 20 years they had two opportunities to build strong technical partnerships. They had a somewhat stable driver line-up (Hill 4 seasons, Ralf 6 seasons, Montoya 4 seasons) during both the Renault/Newey period and the BMW period. It would’ve been the perfect time for Williams to diversify and get a strong foundation the way McLaren did after the Mercedes tie-up.

        Goodness knows why the team kept running like a privateer during the big-bucks manufacturer era.

        1. Excellent point Burnout. Whereas joining in on the manufacturer craze hurt some teams, it hurt Williams more for not committing to it fully.

  6. The Williams’ pace was so promising in Australia (with Barrichello fighting back after a bad Q2 and start incident to get right behind Rosberg’ Mercedes). What went wrong since then?

  7. How many races is that without a safety car? 4 or 5? And is that some kind of record?

  8. A small correction for the picture caption Keith, it’s Clay Regazzoni, not Carlos Reutemann in the picture.

    1. Thanks have fixed the caption.

  9. having failed to score in any of the first three races.

    Like Ferrari in 2009, but they still ended 4th. Would be extremely positive for Williams to finish there.

  10. Dreadful doesn’t even cover it for Williams in my opinion. The only thing that interested me about them was The Hulk and he’s gone now, though I fully respect why.

    Even Barrichello has been quiet this year so far and we’ve heard next to nothing from Maldonado.

    That said, had Lotus beaten one of my drivers i’d be tempted to keep my head down as well.

  11. Andrew Brooke
    18th April 2011, 15:24

    Perhaps Frank Williams has become distracted supporting the No campaign in the forthcoming AV referendum. Things therefore might improve after May 4th.

  12. The fact that 22 cars finished the 1952 British GP caught my eye for some reason, and got me wondering how many cars actually started the race. So I looked it up. There were 31 cars on the grid. Quite a crowd!

  13. well i think for one williams have really been in the gutter since BMW left them in 2005. they really haven’t had a good season since 2005. after that it really went downhill

  14. marc connell
    18th April 2011, 19:15

    im curious about the 1952 british gp being 22 finishing…how many started?

  15. Just read on Autosport that Sam Michael may leave the team after “making changes” within the team. I hope Williams can turn things around – Hopefully next, year if their stock flotation idea brings in cash, will be a better year.

  16. Good to see Damon Hill getting a mention.
    Much respect to the under rated man, he was truly a great champion, great driver and real gentleman. The last in F1.
    Going to Silverstone this year and i will sure look for him there! Frank Williams regretted his choice to replace him, he said that in a interview not long ago. He was a fantastic test driver and team builder.I belive that is one of the reasons they fell from grace, along with their arrogance. I hope Williams return to the sharp end of the grid sooner rather than later.

  17. A shame to see what they have become these days, I hope they sort it out. I currently have no confidence in Maldonado to do anything useful anytime soon, this years Liuzzi i reckon, but not to say he won’t improve in the future.

  18. Paul Gilbert
    18th April 2011, 23:25

    This is the second successive Chinese GP in which somebody has jumped the start, passing two drivers from the same team in doing so.

    According to, this race only featured 1 overtake more than last year’s race (although last year’s race was dry-wet). The last race with more was Mexico 1990 with 70 (this race had 63).

    Also thanks to Autosport, Mark Webber made 14 passes, the most since Eddie Irvine made 16 in France 1999. The all time record is Alain Prost’s 22 in South Africa 1984 (he started 5th, dropped back to 21st on lap 2, and recovered to 2nd).

    This is Hamilton’s 2nd victory in a race where a Spanish driver has lost a wheel after his first pitstop. On both occasions he passed a Red Bull on track in the process.

    This is also the second time that somebody has stopped in Red Bull’s pit by mistake when the team were expecting Vettel (the other being Alguersuari in Abu Dhabi 2009).

  19. Paul Gilbert
    19th April 2011, 23:27

    Last driver to gain 15 places in 1 race without a safety car was Felipe Massa in Australia 2007 – he started 22nd (from the pits) and finished 6th.

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