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.
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.
|9||Juan Manuel Fangio||24||47.06|
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.
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.
|20||Juan Manuel Fangio||35||68.63|
|29||Juan Pablo Montoya||30||31.91|
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:
|6||Juan Manuel Fangio||29||56.86|
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.