Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

Vettel equals record for best start to a season

2011 Monaco GP stats and factsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

No driver in F1 history has made a better start to a season than Sebastian Vettel has over the first six races of 2011.

Five wins and a second place from the first six races is as good as any driver has done at the start of a season.

Here’s how he stacks up so far against the drivers who made the best starts to a season:

Year Driver 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2011 Sebastian Vettel 1 1 2 1 1 1
1994 Michael Schumacher 1 1 1 1 2 1 1
1992 Nigel Mansell 1 1 1 1 1 2 DNF
2009 Jenson Button 1 1 3 1 1 1 1
2002 Michael Schumacher 1 3 1 1 1 1 2
1965 Jim Clark 1 NE 1 1 1 1 1
1969 Jackie Stewart 1 1 DNF 1 1 1 2
2004 Michael Schumacher 1 1 1 1 1 DNF 1
1954 Juan Manuel Fangio 1 NE 1 1 4 1 1
1952 Alberto Ascari NE DNF 1 1 1 1 1

DNF: Did not finish; DNS: Did not start; NE: Not entered

Read more about those drivers’ achievements here.

Vettel started from his 20th career pole position, which gives him as many as Fernando Alonso and Damon Hill.

It was his 11th consecutive front row start and Red Bull’s seventh pole position in a row.

His 15th race win puts him on a par with Lewis Hamilton.

For Red Bull it was their 20th victory. They are ninth in the list of all time winners, behind Tyrrell with 23.

Jenson Button gave McLaren their 10,000th lap in the lead of a race. They are only the second team to achieve this, the other being Ferrari.

McLaren also scored points for the 25th race in a row – the entirety of the Button-Hamilton partnership.

Remarkably for two of the most famous and prestigious names in motor racing, Ferrari have not won the Monaco Grand Prix in the last ten attempts. Here’s how they’ve fared since Michael Schumacher last won for them in 2001:

Year Highest car Driver
2002 2nd Michael Schumacher
2003 3rd Michael Schumacher
2004 3rd Rubens Barrichello
2005 7th Michael Schumacher
2006 5th Michael Schumacher
2007 3rd Felipe Massa
2008 3rd Felipe Massa
2009 3rd Kimi R??ikk??nen
2010 4th Felipe Massa
2011 2nd Fernando Alonso

Mark Webber set the tenth fastest lap of his career, four of which have come this season. He now has as many as Graham Hill, John Surtees and Mario Andretti.

Kamui Kobayashi achieved his best ever finish with fifth place.

Williams finally scored their first points of the year courtesy of Rubens Barrichello.

The safety car made its first appearance of 2011.

Despite a troubled race, Lewis Hamilton finished in the points for the tenth time in a row, Fernando Alonso has been in the points for 12 consecutive races.

Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitantonio Liuzzi are the only drivers who have out-qualified their team mate in every race this year.

Vitaly Petrov failed to reach Q3 for the first time in 2011.

Mercedes failed to score for the second time this year.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

Spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Monaco Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

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95 comments on “Vettel equals record for best start to a season”

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  1. Jenson Button has a very interesting record at Monaco – he either finishes on the podium (2nd in 2004, 1st in 2009, 3rd in 2011) or he doesn’t finish at all (every other year except 2003 and 2005 where he couldn’t race).

    1. what about 2006-2008 when he finished 11th and 2001 with 7th?

      1. If am I not mistaken, all drivers who won the first 5 or 6 races have also won the championship that year.

        1. of course! the seasons were shorter so there was less chance of being caught by anyone

          1. Schumacher was almost caught in 1994.

            Or rather, he WAS caught, but had an extra trick up his sleeve…

  2. As good as Vettel has been so far, I just hope someone can start to take some race wins off him now. Mclaren look to be the only realistic challengers at the moment.

    I’d also forgotten how dominant Button was at the start of 2009.

    1. At least Button had some actual opposition. Although Red Bull made a huge amount of mistakes in the first 7 races, they were just as fast if not faster in half the races.

    2. As much as I hate to admit it, Ferrari seems to have a chance at winning a few. Had the race not been red flagged, Button would have had to get by Fernando even if both of them got by Vettel.

  3. Also, HRT get their best finish of the season so far wirh 16th and 17th.

  4. Williams would have scored more points if Hamilton didn’t take out Maldonado

  5. For Hamilton
    Is two penalties and a deleted qualifying time a record for a weekend ??
    May be number of incidents with stewards in a season?? Malaysia weaving, Spain reprimand, 3 in Monaco (off the top of my head)

    1. given the circumstances, 6th wasn’t a bad result for him!

      1. Commendatore
        30th May 2011, 11:59

        To compensate for his undeserving result & his dangerous and infantile driving in Monaco yesterday, the stewards should have banned him for the Canadian GP (or even better for the British GP).
        That way he might have learnt his lesson!!!

        1. Yeah, how dare he overtake in a non DRS zone.

        2. Err, I don’t necissarily agree that everything he did was dangerous, but in general I think there should be a limit on the number of penalties (in one weekend) before a grid drop or something, similar to the three strike reprimand rule.

          1. Snow Donkey
            30th May 2011, 16:58

            I agree, but I do not feel it should carry over to the next weekend. Maybe an exclusion from the results of the event in question. I also do not feel that a deleted time should be considered a penalty, it’s just not a valid lap, try again type of deal (pity he didn’t have time to).

          2. Now that you mention it, Snowdonkey, I think your idea is a better one, because the problem with a grid drop is that they are punished for the one weekend by getting the three (or whatever number) penalties, and then punished again two weeks later in the form of a grid drop because they got too many, even if they did nothing wrong on that weekend. It would probably be better if the punishment is restricted to the weeked the driver offended, rather than another race.

      2. Yes, if not for the red flag, the rear wing collapse could have caused a DNF for him.
        But why are they allowed to repair and change tyres in the break?
        Sadly the red flag kind of destroyed the tension, which had been built, during Buttons catch up. But a very exciting Monaco GP indeed.

  6. Well records are meant to be broken. We wouldn’t know which car/driver combo might win the first 6 races by next year. Is that even possible? We wouldn’t know at this point. Same with the championship. Also the new points system makes this gap look humongous. Two or three bad races for the leader and everyone else will be in the reckoning for the title hunt. Besides, we still don’t know what effect the Bulls will have when the exhaust thing gets banned by the FIA. Long way to the season, so there is no point in moaning how Vettel is bad for the championship. It is an unfair game, as only two people get to drive the RBR this season. But that is how it has been for a very long time.

    1. Nothing unfair about that – if You want to see drivers compete in exactly the same equipment there are other racing series, where that happen. F1 is a constructors, team and driver sport. Don’t focus on the drivers alone. We have always seen periods of varying length with a dominant combination of constructor/team/drivers and that is the spirit of F1. If You watch cycling, tennis, or whatever the equipment is almost standard, but not F1.

  7. I read somewhere that Kovalainen has now taken JJ Letho’s record of most races (consectutive I think) without a point for a Finnish driver (somewhere around 30).

    The rise of Red Bull is quite a remarkable story when you think that they only scored their first win in 2009…

  8. It can be noted that Shuey only won in 1994 by 1 point… its a long season, thankfully!

    1. very good point

      1. Very good point

    2. Ned Flanders
      30th May 2011, 12:09

      Yes, but that was the textbook example of a rigged championship. If Ecclestone hadn’t been looking to hold Schumacher back to keep the interest going until the end of the season, he would’ve been an easy winner

      1. well…exhaust blown diffusers are about to be banned…

        1. Then all we’d need is for Vettel to get disqualified from two races and banned for two more and the championship will be tight at the top again!

          1. Was just pointing out there is a precendent… If any team has had a rapid enough rise to court suspected mis-deeds…then its Red Bull. Not that I actaully think that they have or should…just saying. Its a long season!

          2. Please don’t get Bernie started on that!

      2. so how did Ecclestone hold Schumi back in ’94?

    3. He did only win by 1 point, but he also had 2 exlusions, 2 DNFs, and 2 retirements.

      1. Senna’s death, illegal fuel fillers, illegal traction control, worn skid plates, the whack on DH for the ‘win’…94 is not a year to which to be comparing strong/record-breaking season starts. That would be like saying a bank robber and an entrepreneur are both millionaires, therefore they are comparable and honourable.

        1. The point im making is that for Vettel to lose this championship, hes going to have to have _alot_ of zero points finishes.


        2. The bank robber example is rather extreme. His point is that Vettel will need DNFs or failures to score (whether by being DQed, banned, or simply crashing or having a mechanical failure), if anyone is to catch him. Not likely.

          1. Yeah it was really moreso Ned Flanders that I was responding to, who made it sound like BE held MS back in 94, when in fact Benetton was rife with actual illegalities, suspected illegalities, and the controversial whack on DH, ie. not an honourable year or start to a year to be comparing to anyone, including SV this year.

            I fully agree that SV is going to be damn hard to catch this season, and it won’t happen because we are about find out they have major illegalities going on with the car, or are withholding computer codes from the FIA, or have overly worn skid plates, or that SV is going to whack someone off the track for a ‘win’…

            So all I’m saying is 94 was a terrible and dishonourable year for MS/Benetton, and just because MS had one of the strongest starts to a season that year does not make it a season they should be proud of or that we should be comparing SV’s far more honourable season start to…

  9. On Vettel’s lead yes it is big but even if he finishes 3rd all the remaining races the championship is not a guarentee win.

    Vettel has bad start but has a long way to go once we get to race 13 to beat MSC 2004 start of 12 wins and 1 DNF

    All other active drivers combined have overtaken MSC with # of wins – MSC has 91 and all others have 95.

    Vettel now has a 22.1% win ratio, 36.8% podium ration and 29.4% pole ratio.

    Alonso with 65 podiums is ranked 5th in all time list, behind MSC with 154, Prost 106, Senna 80 and Barrichello 68.

    Nick Heidfeld continuous his run of starts without a win now 180 – unfortunately I think he will not be allowed to break Cesaris record of 208 unless he gets a race seat for 2012.

    Rosberg is leader in # of starts without a pole, 95 at the moment – Johnny Herbert holds the record with 160 closely followed by Martin Brundle at 158.

    Sutil is leader in # of starts without a podium, 77 at the moment – Pierluigi Martini holds the record with 119.

    The current active drives have now more than 25% of all points ever scored – 6833.5 points out of total 24512 points

    1. Correction: Vettel has a very good start but has a long way to go once we get to race 13 to beat MSC 2004 start of 12 wins and 1 DNF

    2. Amazing stats! Thanks!

  10. Oh, I should correct myself there. Button either finishes on the podium or he doesn’t score. :D Thanks for that, TheNikii!

    PS. Keith, the reply function isn’t working for me in IE9.

  11. Ned Flanders
    30th May 2011, 12:22

    Almost half the field scored their best finish of the season yesterday: Ferrari (2nd), Sauber (5th), Force India (7th), Williams (9th) and Hispania (16th). Lotus did too (13th), but they were technichally classified in that position in Australia after the Sauber’s were excluded.

    Surely that is quite an unusual occurance over a quarter of the way into a season? I suppose it reflects the fact that reliability is so great these days that the frontrunners are usually the same at each race. I miss the days of attrition…

  12. Keith to confirm but Kieth’s article on “”Furious Hamilton calls penalties “a joke”” is the most commented article in history of this website

    So far 762 comments and counting :-)

    1. I think you’ve got the record for most different spellings of my name in one comment :-)

      I’m not sure if that’s the record but I’d be very surprised if it’s not the most comments in under 24 hours. As you’d expect, there’s quite a few unpublished comments on that article too!

  13. It was the 4th time in a row that when Vettel gets the pole position and the win, Webber has the fastes lap of the race.

    Webber’s had 4 FLAPs in 6 races this season, and he only won in Spain, where he didn’t have the FLAP.
    Mark Webber has scored more points this season after round six than he had last year.

    However, Webber led the championship last year (tied with Vettel) on 78 points, and this year although having scored one point more (79), he’s only third, and trailing by a gigantic margin of 65 points behind Vettel.

    1. Webber didnt win in spain…

      1. Vettel didn’t take pole in Spain.

        1. Sorry, missed “win”, thought you ment Webber didn’t score fastest lap there.

    2. Haha, oh sorry, I messed up. I confused data in my stat tables.

      A revised 1st part of my comment:
      Webber’s had 4 FLAPs in 6 races this season, each of them in a race where it was Vettel who was on Pole Position.

  14. It was Vettel’s first Monaco win.

  15. What is sad about Vettel’s record is the amount of points he has. It would have taken any driver pre 2010 almost 2.5 seasons to accrue that many points. The record books are being ruined.

    1. its not ruining the ‘record; books at all, its well noted that the points system has been changed, and nor is it the first time its been changed…

    2. Comparing points totals has been a meaningless exercise since they first changed the points system in 1958:

      When it comes to changes which have messed up historical comparisons, the one which really annoys me is the seven years of ‘race fuel qualifying’ from 2003-2009.

      1. Keith what about refuelling ban – all fastest laps stats out the door.

        Now a new set of tyres get you the fastest time – in the past a new set of tyres also meant more fuel – so fastest lap meant something now it means little to nothing

        1. Fastest lap isn’t much use as a statistic anyway for reasons other to do with refuelling. For example, very often the winner won’t set fastest lap because they are preserving their car.

    3. That’s why Wikipedia has, in the list of drivers with most career points, a pre-2010 and 2010 section:

  16. Paul Gilbert
    30th May 2011, 12:42

    I believe Jim Clark’s DNS should be NE (he was busy winning the Indy 500). Curious fact about that race (Monaco 1965) – only 2 of the 17 drivers in that race (Lorenzo Bandini, Jo Bonnier) had a flag featuring a colour other than red, white or blue.

    This race is the first to have been red flagged for a reason other than rain since Brazil 2003 (when Webber crashed and Alonso then crashed into the wreckage). The last dry race to be red-flagged was Belgium 2001 (Luciano Burti had a crash early on).

    Interestingly, this is not the first time that a potential 3-way battle for the lead at Monaco has been ruined by a red flag – in 1984, Stefan Bellof and Ayrton Senna (both of whom are sadly no longer with us) were rapidly catching Alain Prost in the rain, but the race was red-flagged before they reached him. On this occasion only half points were awarded, and Prost ended up missing out on the title (to Niki Lauda, who failed to score in Monaco) by 0.5 points. Whether or not Senna or Bellof would have won the race had it gone the full distance is of course one of the great unknowns of F1.

    1. I believe Jim Clark’s DNS should be NE

      Yes it should be, have changed it.

    2. Curious fact about that race (Monaco 1965) – only 2 of the 17 drivers in that race (Lorenzo Bandini, Jo Bonnier) had a flag featuring a colour other than red, white or blue.

      Oh, man, that’s one of the sneakiest trivia ever!

  17. He is alot better than he was last year that is for sure. He has come a long way from when he started at lill redbull. I hate to see someone become number 2 driver but lets be honest at this stage in the game it looks as though Seb is their best shot over Webber hands down.

    1. Its been made quite clear in from Red Bull themselves that the RB7 was built around Seb, so it would be an even greater challenge for Web to be beating Seb. Not to mention that is seem Vet can’t put a foot wrong this year. Swings and roundabouts.

  18. I think the dominance Vettel is currently displaying is another reason for Hamilton’s outburst yesterday. His frustation was evident; Vettel’s equalled him in career wins and looks nailed on to win the title, and Hamilton knows full well if he was in that second Red Bull he’d be competing and pushing Vettel very hard every week.

    I think over a season I would even pick Hamilton for the title (marginally). What is certain is he’d be closer to Vettel than Webber is at the moment

    1. Hamilton’s other problem is that he’s also got pressure from his team mate with regard to overall points scored. Something that Alonso and Vettel can relax about to some degree.

    2. Button showed that they can challenge Red Bull, the mistakes Ham made in the McLaren, he would of made in the Red Bull as well.

      1. The Red Bull is a quicker car than the Mclaren. Yes Mclaren have closed the gap but the Red Bull still has the edge.

        Hamilton overdrove his car massively this weekend because he was trying to force a result that just wasn’t possible, he gets it wrong from time to time but I would be surprised if Button beat him over the course of the season, Lewis is just that bit quicker.

        VXR you raise a good point that Button is certainly competitive against Hamilton, he has stepped up since he won his title and Vettel (this season) and Alonso will usually finish ahead of their teammates so there is less pressure definitely.

        I would be fascinated to see how Vettel would behave if Hamilton was his teammate, it won’t happen but we saw Alonso throw his toys out of the pram when Lewis proved to be capable of matching him in the same car, I would love to see how Vettel would react in that situation.

  19. Vettel has lost only 7 points out of a possible 150 from 6 races. And some would say that he only lost those points due to a poor strategy.

    I think that more records will be broken this season.

  20. I think we will have to get used to this dominance from Vettel. It pains me to say this; as I really thought that it would be the year of the British in Formula One this year!

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