Sebastian Vettel’s assault on the F1 records

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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

  1. @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.

  2. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 7th August 2011, 22:09

    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 :)

  3. jake butker said on 7th August 2011, 22:44

    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

  4. UKfanatic (@) said on 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.

  5. stewy33 (@stewy33) said on 9th August 2011, 22:44

    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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