Schumacher is the oldest driver to lead since 1970

2011 Japanese GP stats and facts

Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Suzuka, 2011

Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Suzuka, 2011

Michael Schumacher officially led a race (by completing a lap in the lead) for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. At 42 years and 279 days old he is the oldest driver to lead a race since Jack Brabham in the 1970 British Grand Prix.

It was the 142nd Grand Prix he’s led and makes him the eighth different driver to lead a race this year.

Here’s all the stats and facts from the Japanese Grand Prix.

Vettel notched up his 27th career pole position to put himself on his own in seventh place on the all-time list. It was his 12th of the year, putting him two short of the all-time record of 14 in a season (which was set when there were 16 races rather than 19).

He finished in third place for the first time this year, having only previously finished in first, second or fourth. This was his 14th podium finish this year, leaving him three short of the all-time record (which was set when there were 17 races).

He held tenth place for one lap during the race which is the lowest position he has occupied in a race all season. To put that into perspective, Vitantonio Liuzzi and both Virgin drivers have started every race this season without completing a lap inside the top ten.

Vettel won the title with four races to spare, which is one of the earliest ever conclusions to the championship:

Driver Races left
2002 Michael Schumacher 6
1992 Nigel Mansell 5
2001 Michael Schumacher 4
2004 Michael Schumacher 4
2011 Sebastian Vettel 4

For more statistics on Vettel’s second world championship victory, see here:

Jenson Button scored the 12th victory of his career, which was his fifth for McLaren and his first for the team in a dry race.

Button now has as many wins as Mario Andretti, Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones.

He also set the sixth fastest lap of his career, giving him as many asJose Froilan Gonzalez, Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Kamui Kobayashi started from a career-best seventh on the grid – despite not setting a time in Q3.

Mark Webber made his best start to a Grand Prix in seven races. He didn’t make up any places but, more importantly, he didn’t lose any, as he did in the previous six rounds.

The new-era Lotus finished a race with both cars on the lead lap for the first time. The last time they did this in their previous incarnation was at Suzuka’s first Japanese Grand Prix in 1987.

Mercedes were the quickest team in the pits for the sixth time this year. Only Red Bull have done better, achieving the fastest turnaround seven times this year. McLaren and Ferrari have done so once each.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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48 comments on Schumacher is the oldest driver to lead since 1970

  1. Antony Butler (@butler_f1) said on 10th October 2011, 0:08

    I was thinking during the Safety Car restart, is Jenson the first driver to do the restart, other than Vettel?

    I cant remember the other situations, but i cant remember anyone other than vettel doing the restart.

  2. The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 10th October 2011, 0:12

    It would have been nice if we could have actually SEEN him while he was leading.

    • snowman (@snowman) said on 10th October 2011, 0:19

      Thought they did show him when he was leading, maybe not! it was an early morning! Considering the way FOM mess up everything they probably didn’t show him leading.

      Pity the BBC never showed the usual interview with him afterward. They would rather chase an interview with Paul Di Resta who I am fed up with hearing them go on and on and on about!

    • ButtonFan2012 said on 10th October 2011, 14:56

      I saw him leading, but then again I was at the track :D

  3. Bleu (@bleu) said on 10th October 2011, 0:27

    The record of longest time between two lead laps is held by Bruce McLaren, a bit over six years between 1962 Monaco and 1968 Belgium. Schumacher is fifth on this list, also behind Johnnie Parsons who led two Indy 500 with six years between, Riccardo Patrese between 1983 South Africa and 1989 Brazil and Derek Warwick between 1984 Brazil and 1989 Canada.

    However what it comes to amount of races between, Schumacher set a new record of 87, beating Warwick’s 85. Of course Schumacher missed 52 of those during his three-year-retirement from the sport.

    Warwick also missed couple of races between those two lead laps, because he didn’t have a drive at the beginning of 1986 season. He replaced de Angelis in Brabham after Italian’s fatal accident. Patrese drove in all of the races between his lead laps, a total of 81 which is a record if you count only races where driver has competed.

  4. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 10th October 2011, 4:22

    how many times now have lewis n massa made contact? that has to be some sort of record by now! :D

  5. TheBrav3 said on 10th October 2011, 4:47

    Gratz michael next time you’re in the lead lets have a win!

  6. Guelph (@guelph) said on 10th October 2011, 5:16

    All 10 lead changes in the race were the result of the leader entering the pits.

    Just like old times.

  7. adaptalis (@adaptalis) said on 10th October 2011, 7:28

    Not much of a stat but another wheel nut failure for Suzuka after Kubica and Rosberg last year for Buemi.

  8. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th October 2011, 7:45

    I would think it might have been the first GP ever where a total of 7 drivers started without having a time to their name in qualifying (although the ones in Q2 and Q3 naturally did a time in sessions before that.)

    • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 10th October 2011, 10:57

      I understand why they did it, but this trend of ‘not setting a time’ is getting out of hand and the rules need to be tweaked next year to stop it.

      Kobayashi and others getting their grid position determined on the ground of a couple of sector times set? We might as well just draw the grid in random order.

    • geo132 (@geo132) said on 10th October 2011, 20:03

      I don’t really understand why some drivers don’t just go out for one lap, not pushing too hard and by that securing a higher position. Will 3 laps (out,”fly”,in) really ruin the tyres when they are basically cruising!?

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 10th October 2011, 8:16

    I love these articles. We really are witnessing an era of greatness from several top name drivers.

  10. matthewf1 (@) said on 10th October 2011, 10:29

    Mercedes were the quickest team in the pits for the sixth time this year. Only Red Bull have done better, achieving the fastest turnaround seven times this year. McLaren and Ferrari have done so twice each.

    6 + 7 + 2 + 2 = 17

    How many races have there been this year?

  11. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 10th October 2011, 10:59

    A bumper crop of weird and wonderful stats in the article and its comments today! This is always one of my favourite F1F features.

    What I’d like to know- but am too lazy to figure out for myself- is what the championship would have looked like with the pre 2003 points system. Presumably Vettel would have wrapped things up a couple of races earlier?

    • Jelle van der Meer (@jelle-van-der-meer) said on 10th October 2011, 11:33

      Luckily other people have stat files and championship files that can do the work easily.

      Little difference in both pre-2003 as pre-2010 situation only less points – in all cases Driver Championship only decided in Japan and constructors still open.

      Pre-2010 with 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 system:
      Vettel 132
      Button 82
      Fernando 78
      Webber 74
      Hamilton 64

      Red Bull 206
      Mclaren 146
      Ferrari 100

      Pre-2003 with 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 system:
      Vettel 121
      Button 66
      Fernando 58
      Webber 52
      Hamilton 52

      Red Bull 173
      Mclaren 118
      Ferrari 70

  12. hey (@hey) said on 10th October 2011, 12:38

    Here’s a record: Smallest margin ever between a driver and a Perfect Weekend: 0.009s (in qualifying) – Jenson Button.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 10th October 2011, 13:07

      I guess it depends on how you define a perfect weekend. For me, that would be a Grand Chelem. In addition to the triple (pole, win, FLap), they also need to lead every lap from start to finish. Given that Button didn’t lead at the start (and was even 3rd for a time), I don’t think he was that close to a perfect weekend.

      • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 10th October 2011, 13:42

        Vettel in Japan 2009 must be a shout:
        Pole, Lead every lap
        But Webber took FL by 0.002s on the last lap

        In that race webber had like 5 stops and used it as a test session and did a qualy run after the SC came out with 5 laps left. He beat Sebs best lap by 0.002s to ruin Sebs Grand Chelem.

        Vettel also missed out on a Grand Chelem in Singapore when JB went 0.2 fastest than Sebs FL.

  13. Doance (@doance) said on 10th October 2011, 13:21

    Liuzzi hasn’t started every race this year he didn’t start in Australia.

  14. Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 10th October 2011, 13:24

    This was the 23rd championship race held in Suzuka and 11th time Driver’s Championship was decided there:

    2011 Sebastian Vettel
    2003 Michael Schumacher
    2000 Michael Schumacher
    1999 Mika Häkkinen
    1998 Mika Häkkinen
    1996 Damon Hill
    1991 Ayrton Senna
    1990 Ayrton Senna
    1989 Alain Prost
    1988 Ayrton Senna
    1987 Nelson Piquet

    After Button’s victory, the last champion, who hasn’t won Japanese Grand Prix is Villeneuve. All seven champions after him (H√§kkinen, Schumacher, Alonso, R√§ikk√∂nen, Hamilton, Button and Vettel) have won the Japanese Grand Prix (however, Hamilton’s victory was in Fuji, not Suzuka).

    Of the last thirteen champions, eleven has had at least one of his championships decided in either Japanese or Brazilian Grand Prix’s. Only two (Mansell and Villeneuve) haven’t.

  15. paulgilb (@paulgilb) said on 10th October 2011, 13:38

    Button’s last 6 wins have all come in races in which Vettel has been on pole.

    Suzuka is the first circuit at which Vettel has been on the podium 3 times.

    This is the second time this year that a wheel falling off a Toro Rosso has denied us a 100% finishing record.

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