Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Sebastian Vettel’s assault on the F1 records

F1 statisticsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Sebastian Vettel has been dubbed ‘baby Schumi’ by some. And he shows every sign of rivalling Schumacher’s record-smashing feats.

After a scorching start to the season, Vettel is rapidly making inroads into F1’s all-time records for wins, pole positions and more.

And he’s already already the youngest driver to win a championship, a race, score a point and set pole position.

Most wins

Just 73 races into his F1 career, Vettel is already equal 14th on the all-time list of winners. He’s tied with Lewis Hamilton, who has started nine more races.

Schumacher’s 91 wins towers over the rest but what’s even more impressive about that record is the strike rate.

Driver Wins %
1 Michael Schumacher 91 32.62
2 Alain Prost 51 25.63
3 Ayrton Senna 41 25.47
4 Nigel Mansell 31 16.58
5 Jackie Stewart 27 27.27
6 Fernando Alonso 27 15.98
7 Jim Clark 25 34.72
8 Niki Lauda 25 14.62
9 Juan Manuel Fangio 24 47.06
10 Nelson Piquet 23 11.27
11 Damon Hill 22 19.13
12 Mika Hakkinen 20 12.42
13 Kimi R??ikk??nen 18 11.54
14 Stirling Moss 16 24.24
15 Sebastian Vettel 16 21.92
16 Lewis Hamilton 16 19.51
17 Graham Hill 14 8.00
18 Jack Brabham 14 11.38
19 Emerson Fittipaldi 14 9.72
20 Alberto Ascari 13 40.63
21 David Coulthard 13 5.28

Schumacher won almost one-third of the races he started, a record which has taken a knock since his win-less comeback. Vettel’s strike rate is 21.92%, which underlines just how hard it would be to match Schumacher’s record.

He would need both a superior car and a weaker opposition to match Schumacher’s tally in the same kind of time frame. But when it comes to hitting that all-time figure, Vettel has the advantage of youth on his side.

Most podiums

Vettel isn’t the only current driver who’s showing well on the list of most podium finishes.

Fernando Alonso and Hamilton also feature highly on the list. It’s a testament not just to their skill as drivers, but also the benefit of spending several season in reasonably competitive cars, and the ever-improving reliability we see in F1 today.

Driver Podiums %
1 Michael Schumacher 154 55.2
2 Alain Prost 106 53.27
3 Ayrton Senna 80 49.69
4 Fernando Alonso 69 40.83
5 Rubens Barrichello 68 21.59
6 David Coulthard 62 25.2
7 Kimi R??ikk??nen 62 39.74
8 Nelson Piquet 60 29.41
9 Nigel Mansell 59 31.55
10 Niki Lauda 54 31.58
11 Mika Hakkinen 51 31.68
12 Gerhard Berger 48 22.86
13 Carlos Reutemann 45 30.82
14 Jackie Stewart 43 43.43
15 Damon Hill 42 36.52
16 Lewis Hamilton 40 48.78
17 Riccardo Patrese 37 14.45
18 Graham Hill 36 20.57
19 Jenson Button 36 18.00
20 Juan Manuel Fangio 35 68.63
21 Emerson Fittipaldi 35 24.31
22 Denny Hulme 33 29.46
23 Jody Scheckter 33 29.46
24 Felipe Massa 33 22.92
25 Jim Clark 32 44.44
26 Jacques Laffite 32 18.18
27 Jean Alesi 32 15.92
28 Jack Brabham 31 25.2
29 Juan Pablo Montoya 30 31.91
30 Sebastian Vettel 29 39.73

Schumacher leads the list, of course, but hasn’t added to his tally of 154 since returning to F1 at the beginning of last year.

Most pole positions

For Vettel, two changes in F1 coincided perfectly to make him the modern master of the pole position.

The first is, obviously, the superior one-lap pace of the recent Red Bulls. He and team mate Mark Webber have been first on the grid for each of the last 12 races.

But another key factor here is the ban on refuelling at the beginning of last year. This meant drivers in the top ten no longer had to qualify with their race fuel loads.

Thanks to that, we’ve seen a return to proper, low-fuel qualifying laps. It’s an area where Webber previously excelled, but his team mate has proven a formidable opponent.

Last year the margin between the two was often very tight – in the region of a tenth of a second at many tracks. This year Vettel has tended to have the upper hand, though Webber has gradually chipped away at his advantage since the beginning of the season.

Even so, the numbers speak for themselves: Vettel has been on pole position in 18 out of 30 races since the beginning of last season. He is already among the top ten drivers to have set the most pole positions:

Drivers Poles %
1 Michael Schumacher 68 24.37
2 Ayrton Senna 65 40.37
3 Jim Clark 33 45.83
4 Alain Prost 33 16.58
5 Nigel Mansell 32 17.11
6 Juan Manuel Fangio 29 56.86
7 Mika Hakkinen 26 16.15
8 Niki Lauda 24 14.04
9 Nelson Piquet 24 11.76
10 Sebastian Vettel 23 31.51

His strike rate may not be up there with the likes of Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark or Juan Manuel Fangio, but it is comfortably better than that of the current ultimate record holder. It’s quite possible Vettel could move up to sixth on this list by the end of the year.

‘Youngest ever’ records

Last year Vettel claimed the record for being the youngest ever world champion off Hamilton.

That completed the set for him – he is the youngest driver to score a point (the only teenager to do so), and the youngest driver to claim pole position and win a race:

Record Age Race Next on list
Youngest point-scorer 19 years, 345 days 2007 United States Grand Prix Jaime Alguersuari
Youngest pole sitter 21 years, 73 days 2008 Italian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso
Youngest race winner 21 years, 74 days 2008 Italian Grand Prix Fernando Alonso
Youngest world champion 23 years, 134 days 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton

With a long-term Red Bull contract in his pocket and Adrian Newey set to remain at the team for the foreseeable future, Vettel’s ascent through the history books could prove very rapid indeed. He’s also passed the mark of 1,000 laps led.

Do you expect Vettel’s streak of success to continue? What other records could he break?

And which drivers are best-placed to stop him? Have your say in the comments.

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171 comments on “Sebastian Vettel’s assault on the F1 records”

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  1. Whether Vettel can be able to rival any of Schumachers records, maybe Hamilton and Alonso will have something to say about that.

    1. Sort of “WE WILL PREVENT IT!”? :P

  2. I believe if it hasn’t already been mentioned, Vettel will become the youngest double world champ if he wins it this year.

  3. @Eggry yeah with “almost best machine” he outqualified hs teammate and won promisingly.

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Vettel is poor. Without almost best machine, evem Senna would struggle to win. Also he did very well indeed. It was very impressive as rookie, but including it, he have barely faced resistence when he’s winning. You can say it’s because he’s too good, others say he would be struggle to win if he’s behind.

      I don’t rate Button so high but he did better than Barichello. Still I don’t think he has pure speed to win because his pace usually can’t match Hamilton, but sometimes he still managed to win. I respect his skill to manage victory without purr speed but I dob’t think he’s one of greats. Similar but in opposite way is applied to Vettel to me. He has brilliant speed, but I’m not sure he can fight for win against heavy resistence.

      Every winners are good, every champions are great. But it doesn’t mean they are all equally evaluated.

  4. vettel is going to get better records than alonso and hamilton, evethough i am certain he is not the best of the lot. But the most focused, and the one with less oposition.

    1. How is Vettel with the “less opposition”? How many WDCs are on the grid this year?

    2. How can he have less opposition if there is two drivers that are better then him as you say? That just don’t make sense.

      1. You’ve definitely caught him out there ;)

        1. i think with ‘no opposition’ he meant the Red Bull car compared to the others

          1. Well, if Alonso and Hamilton are so much better than Vettel, as people still seem to think, they’ll still be opposition, rather than 90 points down.

  5. Drivers who win in cars that are not the best on the grid are great drivers. Senna (lotus) Schumacher (benetton) Vettel (Torro Rosso). And he can overtake, melbourne 2011, budapest 2011 both around the outside Button, Alonso.

    1. Panis, Lieger……

      1. Panis was lucky winner of a demolition derby, not to disrespect his ability but you can’t build a case on a fluke.

        1. overtaking alonso in budapest….
          with difference in tyres it was like he passed Liuzzi, i just don’t understan how you people don’t see this things :S

  6. Well said!

    But I don’t believe Schumacher’s record will be broken, not even by himself in his pale return…

    It was a very unlikely combination of factors: having one of the best and frequently the best car during more than ten seasons against uncompetitive team-mates (Vestappen, Herbert, Irvine, Barrichello) and a sometimes strong (Hakkinene, Villeneuve) but always unconsistent opposition, weaker than both the previous and the following generations of drivers(previous: Senna, Prost, Mansell, Piquet; following: Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel)

    1. Schumacher was better than Massa a lot of the time. By that logic he might have been third in 2007, possibly champion in 2008, bad in 2009 and possibly 5th in 2010. Thats among the best if I’m not mistaken. Of course we can never prove any of those statements but he looks considerably worse since his comeback than he is, I’m sure of that. Its just sad how people describe him as a mediocre to bad driver while they didn’t see him in the nineties (or ignore it).

      1. by seeing him i mean actually at the track, standing at the corners .. seeing him fly through them like no other driver could. racing other drivers no matter the cost, even at his own expense (and sometimes going too far). maybe i’m just being nostalgic…

    2. Don’t forget the (better) Bridgestone tyre was made for Schumacher!

  7. I’m sure by next season Ferrari and Mclaren will have cottoned onto Red Bull’s secrets. It would suprise me if Mercedes and possibly Renault do to.

    And I hope I’m not suprised to. Having more than three teams fights for a win would be utterly fantastic. Vettel more than likely will win more than three championships in his career, however, I feel that 65% of his success is down to his car. He has rarely “out driven” his car compared to some of his competitors. I’d bet that he wouldnt be some dominant if Ferrari and Mclaren had their cars on a par with Red Bull’s at the moment…

  8. Given the age & the machine they are driving I do think both Hamilton & Vettel will give Senna & Prost a hard time in the number of wins.The pole position may go to Vettel as he is great on a single lap qualifying.But the question will always remain how many WC can they each win.

  9. Mr.Zing Zang
    7th August 2011, 4:23

    Kieth I know you love Vettel, but he is still not the most inexperienced champion though. i want to see you make a list of that!

  10. Guys I am amazed – a great Stat article and all I read in the comments is a discussion who is better or why Vettel is rubbish. That is not the point – it is about stats and records and the numbers tell that Vettel is young but already makes his way up the record lists.

    Just wanted to add more youngest records:
    * Youngest F1 driver to break a F1 record
    * Youngest F1 driver to get a FIA speeding ticket
    * Youngest F1 driver to get into top 10 all time point scorers (25 points or not)
    * Youngest F1 driver to get into top 10 all time poles positions

    In terms of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel you should not compare stats as set in different conditions but here are the nummbers:
    Wins: Alonso 27, Vettel & Hamilton 16
    % Wins: Vettel 21.9%, Hamilton 19.5% and Alonso 15.9%
    Podiums: Alonso 69, Hamilton 40 and Vettel 29
    % Podiums: Hamilton 48.8%, Alonso 40.6% and Vettel 39.7%
    Poles: Vettel 23, Alonso 20 and Hamilton 18
    % Poles: Vettel 31.5%, Hamilton 22.0% and Alonso 11.8%
    Points: Alonso 974, Hamilton 642 and Vettel 615
    Points per race: Vettel 8.42, Hamilton 7.83 and Alonso 5.73

    You can read/judge above yourself to make your own conclusions

  11. @Eggry it’s your opinion, but Vettel already prooved it, for ex his defence against Hamilton in Spain. Vettel still young and he will be improving and better so years to come i believe he ll become that serious heavy resistence itself.

  12. First thing that comes to mind…youngest back to back world champion?

    OK, it’s not concrete, but almost!

    Good article. Facts are always good :)

  13. to whoever said minardi never scored a top 3 grid slot, please look at your facts….pierluigi martini did it, got a 2nd on the grid….look it up

    1. On super-soft Pirellis too! :D

      That was at Phoenix 1990. Talk about opening-round shocker!

  14. UKfanatic (@)
    8th August 2011, 22:58

    Not only Vet is younger than schumi, but Schumi took off from 2001 till 2004 already with 10 years of experience. Vettel may have found his “Ferrari” with only just 24, he may beat that record, despite all factors analized in this arcticle plus I think you forgot one thing, Championships are longer and cars are even more reliable than before, I dont want to see this record broken but it might.

  15. We found out how good Vettel was when he won in the Torro Rosso at the 2008 Italian GP. With that win it made Vettel the youngest ever driver to win a grand prix.

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