The daunting figures of Vettel’s incredible season

2011 Korean GP stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2011

Vettel has won two-thirds of races since Korea last year

Sebastian Vettel has enjoyed an astonishing run of success since losing victory in last year’s Korean Grand Prix with an engine failure late in the race.

He’s finished each of the 18 races since then and his results have been remarkable: 12 wins, four seconds, one third and one fourth.

His 20th career win ties him with Mika Hakkinen in 12th place on the list of all-time winners.

Vettel led all bar two laps of the race, taking him up to 651 laps led this year. He is closing on the record for most laps led in a season and will pass it if he leads 42 laps of the next race in India:

Year Driver Laps led Total laps % led
1992 Nigel Mansell 692 1036 66.8
2004 Michael Schumacher 683 1122 60.87
2011 Sebastian Vettel 651 947/1133 68.74
1994 Michael Schumacher 646 1046 61.76

The highest percentage of laps led in a season is 71.47% by Jim Clark in 1963.

Vettel added the eighth fastest lap of his career, giving him as many as James Hunt, Gilles Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher.

Red Bull clinched the constructors’ championship – more on that here:

This was the tenth world championship victory and 140th race win for a Renault-powered car.

Hamilton ends Red Bull’s pole streak

Lewis Hamilton prevented Red Bull from becoming the first team since Ferrari in 1952 to set pole position in every race of a season.

It ends Red Bull’s streak of 16 consecutive pole positions, which is the third-longest in F1 history:

Team Number Races
Williams 24 1992 French – 1993 Japanese Grand Prix
McLaren 17 1988 German – 1989 German Grand Prix
Red Bull 16 2010 Abu Dhabi – 2011 Japanese Grand Prix

Red Bull can still beat the record for most pole positions by a team if they take pole in one of the final three rounds. McLaren achieved 15 in 1988 and 1989, as did Williams in 1992 and 1993, and Red Bull themselves last year.

The last driver to beat Red Bull to pole position was Nico Hulkenberg for Williams in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s pole was his first since last year’s Canadian Grand Prix. It was the 19th of his F1 career, putting him 13th in the all-time list, one behind Fernando Alonso and Damon Hill.

McLaren started their 700th Grand Prix. As you’d expect, only Ferrari have started more, with 828.

Of their 700 starts, McLaren have won 174 (24.9%), set pole position at 147 (21.0%) and had at least one car on the podium at 376 of them (53.7%).

Jaime Alguersuari equalled the best result of his career with seventh place. With team mate Sebastien Buemi ninth, this was Toro Rosso’s best result since the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, where Buemi finished seventh and team mate Sebastien Bourdais was eighth.

Felipe Massa’s 150th 149th start

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Korea, 2011

Felipe Massa celebrates his 149th F1 race start

Felipe Massa started his 149th Grand Prix. Big deal, you might say.

Well, not for Ferrari, who were convinced it was his 150th start, and decorated his overalls and helmet accordingly.

This takes us into the never-ending debate over what counts as a Grand Prix start.

Massa has seen the red lights go out 149 times in his F1 career. But he has been at two other race weekends where he hasn’t started.

These were at the Hungaroring in 2009, where he was hospitalised after a crash in qualifying, and at Indianapolis in 2005, where he along with all the other runners on Michelin tyres withdrew on the formation lap. Presumably it’s the latter that Ferrari are counting towards the total of 150 they’ve given him.

Massa clearly did not start that race. When Jenson Button marked his 200th start earlier this year, he did not count it.

F1 stats expert Sean Kelly put the discrepancy to Ferrari but they weren’t having any of it, telling him: “What was written? 150th participation so instead of criticising better reading carefully, don’t you think?”

If Ferrari are marking Massa’s race weekend ‘participations’, his total is 151. If it’s race ‘starts’, then the total is 149. So much for reading carefully – Ferrari need to work on their counting.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2011 Korean Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Korean Grand Prix articles

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari

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49 comments on The daunting figures of Vettel’s incredible season

  1. QuantumForce said on 17th October 2011, 9:32

    But it has to be noted that in 2004, there were less races..Am i right?

    About the Ferrari blunder..Either way, the fact that Massa still has the guts to go racing after almost losing his life speaks for itself..

    Also, as a Jaime fan, its good to see him back to his best for once..Woot be surprised if he somehow ends up with Red Bull someday..

    • TimG (@timg) said on 17th October 2011, 9:43

      You are right – 18 races in 2004 vs 19 in 2011.

      But Mansell in 1992 and Schumacher in 2004 both had cars which were well clear of the rest of the field. The Williams FW14B would often be more than a second per lap faster than the competition. The Ferrari F2004 was less dominate but usually had about half a second on the field in qualifying and tended to maintain that advantage into the race.

      The Red Bull RB7 is clearly the best car of 2011, but its advantage isn’t huge – as Martin Brundle pointed out yesterday, 10 seconds lead was one of Vettel’s largest victory margins.

      • Scribe (@scribe) said on 17th October 2011, 10:55

        Lot of that has to do with the Pirelli’s being a bit of a leveler. Performance advantage isn’t measured purley in seconds now. Vettel’s last lap in Korea shows this, there’s a hell of a lot of time in the car, which is being kept wound up to preserve both the tyres and a gap large enough react to any movers in the pack.

        On the other hand, the team that could have challenged the Redbull this year, McLaren, have alternatly had bad luck, or made a right pigs ear of it on a number of occasions, Ferrari of course suprised us all by not really showing up.

        So Vettel’s statistics I think are midly flattered by the lack of challengers, however, that is to take nothing away from an absolutley flawless performance over the season. Absolutley incredible consitancy.

        • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 17th October 2011, 11:53

          Its less of “lack of challengers”, more lack of challengers who had cars to actually do that consistently over entire weekends. I can only think of two or three occasions where something other than a RedBull car was the best on the entire venue. Sure, sometimes others were strong in qualifying or strong in their first stint or strong as long as they used softer tyres or near the end of the race and a few times those strengths were enough to beat that car.
          And not to take anything away from his success, but I feel it is somewhat exaggerated by the car being developed perfectly for him and his needs. Of course I’d do the same thing, Seb is better than Webber so I’d focus on him too. But its like Schumacher at Ferrari or Buttons Brawn or Alonsos Renaults, its made with one of them in mind and therefore the other looks somewhat worse than he actually is. McLaren looks like they didn’t really know what they had developed until the first race when the car ‘suddenly’ worked and the Ferrari is sure built for Alonso but he never looks comfortable at all, always wrestling it along somewhat.

          And imagine Mansell in a RB7. He’d push the car to the limit he fimds all the time, running down tyres and fuel, driving half a second to a second faster than all others per lap but pitting more often. So there you have the performance advantage that the RedBull seems not to have, its simply Vettels intelligence to drive the car only as much as is needed.

          So there you have it, I think its the combination of a car thats built for him combined with his skills and intelligence that makes him look so good. Which is fantastic for Vettel and therefore deserves all the success even though I’d prefer someone else to do ot (Alonso did it under similar circumsrances as did Schumacher and others but it takes nothimg away from their success).

          • There is some valdity to the “lack of challengers” issue. But more like, too many half-hearted challenges.

            Look at it this way, if you had never seen a race this year, but were told that other teams had won 6 races, and one team 5, would you assume that the WDC had been basically put out of reach two races ago?

            Specifically,a huge plus for Vettel, complementing the fact that his teammate has taken virtually no points from him, is Hamilton and Button by contrast doing very much of that to each other. Their average finishing positions are within one position, and not because they typically finish nose to tail.
            Added to it, Alonso, in a car distinctly slower than the McLaren, has lifted heaps of points off McLaren with consistently dogged driving.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th October 2011, 11:37

        It does help that his team mate has been unable to challenge this year. Even Barrichello won in 04, didn’t he?

      • DavidJH (@davidjh) said on 17th October 2011, 12:05

        Another factor is the introduction of safety cars, which periodically bunch up the field and so tend to reduce winning margins relative to the 1990s. I think the RB7 is one of the most dominant cars in recent years, and at all types of different circuits too. Hope this dominance will be reduced next season, otherwise things will start to return to the Schumacher era, which is not good for the sport.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th October 2011, 12:43

          I’d say the RB6 was more dominant in terms of speed, but obviously was held back by reliability. The RB7 often doesn’t have the race pace of the McLaren, but it’s rarely been far off when it was the worse of the two, and sometimes was faster at the start or end of the race, which is what has allowed Vettel to break away at the start before maintaining a lead on some occasions.

        • TimG (@timg) said on 17th October 2011, 13:48

          Another factor is the introduction of safety cars, which periodically bunch up the field and so tend to reduce winning margins relative to the 1990s.

          I was talking about qualifying margins as the ultimate indicator of a speed advantage, so safety cars (introduced in 1993) wouldn’t be a factor at all.

          As the record holder for number of laps led, the car advantage enjoyed by Nigel Mansell in the Williams FW14B was astonishing by 2011-standards. Some basic number crunching shows that the mean gap in qualifying between the FW14B and the next fastest competitor was 1.167 seconds (median of 1.064 seconds). The biggest margin of superiority was at Silverstone, where Mansell was 2.741 seconds faster than Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda, but there were +2 second gaps at Interlagos and Spa as well. The same numbers for RB7 show a mean gap of 0.348 seconds (or a median of 0.414 seconds) with the largest margin being 0.980 seconds in Spain. That’s quite a difference, especially when you consider that RB7 was at its most superior in qualifying. Both 1992 and 2011 had low-fuel qualifying and single tyre manufacturers. Mansell’s team mate, Riccardo Patrese, was no slouch and won a race in ’92, but he generally struggled to get the most out of active suspension. If you analysed the % gap I suspect FW14B would be further ahead – there are more longer circuits in 2011.

          With race-fuel qualifying and a tyre war, it’s harder to make direct comparisons with 2004. Even then, I don’t think it’s unfair to say F2004 had more of an edge in terms of raceday speed than RB7.

  2. QuantumForce said on 17th October 2011, 9:34

    *wont..Typo there

    Looking forward to Kubica’s return..Hope he gets to race again

  3. David-A (@david-a) said on 17th October 2011, 10:01

    One stat I missed at Singapore was Vettel’s clean sweep of street circuit wins and poles this year at Albert Park, Monte Carlo, Valencia and Marina Bay.

  4. David-A (@david-a) said on 17th October 2011, 10:14

    I remember there was a bit of a dispute over whether Belgium 2010 was Ruben’s 300th race as well (bet he wishes it wasn’t now). Was it really his 300th race or a pathetic two ninety-something?

  5. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th October 2011, 10:18

    There’s 186 laps left this season … how many more does Vettel need to lead in order to surpass Mansell’s record?

  6. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 17th October 2011, 13:07

    The insideferrari guys are really very bad tempered!

  7. Jelle van der Meer (@jelle-van-der-meer) said on 17th October 2011, 13:13

    People are already talking about Vettel being able to beat MSC record of 91 race wins – not saying he can not but just to point out the facts:

    Vettel won 20 races out of 78 race starts = 25.6%
    MSC won 91 races out of 285 race starts = 31.9%

    This just shows just how impressive the 91 wins of MSC are and that despite 2 very successfull years for Vettel winning many races – to match MSC race win % Vettel needed to win 5 more races by now.

    Also MSC win % has been decreasing ever since his comeback it was 91 wins out of 250 starts with a percentage of 36.4%

    Another interesting stat comparison with MSC and Hamilton is # of podiums – MSC still shows a 54% podium % (154) with closest active rival being Hamilton with 47.1% (41).

    Last Vettel so far has 349 points or in pre-2010 points system 143 – so another podium and Vettel breaks MSC record of 148 points in 2004. That season had 18 races – Vettel achieved 143 so far in 16 races.

    Bringing the story back to most succesfull season in terms of points scored in % of max available. So far Vettel scored 87.3% of max points available beating MSC record of 84.71% in 2002. Vettel needs another 54 points to break the record at the end of this season.

    Do need to point out that 2002 point system only awarded 60% of max points to 2nd place in 2011 that is more than 70%.

    Also above ignores the period where drivers drove more races and their best races only counted to the championship as in those days 100% scores were achieved by Jim Clark (1963&1965) and Ascari (1952). Counting all races of those years their scores are considerably lower – best is Jim Clark 81.1% in 1963

  8. Cole (@cole) said on 17th October 2011, 14:13

    Just imagine what he would achieved if he wasn’t driving a “soft drinks” produced car!!….

  9. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 17th October 2011, 14:20

    RE: Massa’s 150th: I know that some categories (i.e. V8 Supercars), actually determine in the Regulations that once you start the formation lap, you have started the race, so perhaps it’s the same for F1. It’s obviously a grey area.

    Also, I think Massa’s now 3rd on the all-time Ferrari starts list, only behind Schumacher and Barrichello. He passed Berger recently. Quite a good achievement, and he’ll pass Rubens early next year.

  10. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 17th October 2011, 17:30

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who read that as ‘The daunting fingers of Vettel’s incredible season.’?

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 17th October 2011, 22:54

      LOL.

      Well if it did read fingers that would have been false as it can only be 1 finger. ^^

      Maybe next year he’ll raise two, like he did after winning the title.

  11. TED BELL said on 17th October 2011, 18:23

    His statistics over the last 18 races as stated are proof that this guy is in another league when compared to anyone else in Grannd Prix at this time. I won’t go to what the future will hold as all of it is nothing but speculation but will conceed that what he has accomplished so far in a young career certainly justifies his place of being amongst the best to have ever raced in Formula One. His trademark of displaying a single finger into the air post race win is for many a lack of respect but to me it is refreshing and correct as it pertains to the moment. The “look at me” reaction from this activity isn’t widely accepted because I believe it more about the position of the hand, sort of like giving somebody the middle finger, instead of calling a waiter over to your table. Never the less I am impressed and whatever the future holds for Vettel, I think we as fans have been lucky to witness what he has accomplished. Imagine if we had the opportunity to see Jimmy Clark week in and week out during his heyday via todays HD LCD Big Screen Television as many of us do. Enjoy the moment, we are witness to history in the making.

  12. David-A (@david-a) said on 18th October 2011, 4:12

    Vettel has the reverse statistics of Fernando Alonso. Seb has 20 wins, 27 poles, Fernando has 27 wins, 20 poles.

  13. Jelle van der Meer (@jelle-van-der-meer) said on 18th October 2011, 13:13

    Not sure if Itchys is on holiday but I liked his stat comparison so in his absence see below the updated Hill 1994-1996 v Vettel 2009-2011 comparison.

    Hill:
    – 18 wins over 49 races, 36.7%
    – 30 podiums, 61.2%
    – 18 pole positions, 36.7%
    – 35 front-row starts, 71.4%
    – Pole-to-win ratio 7/18, 38.9%
    – Points percentage 257/490 52.4%
    – World championships 1/3 33.3%

    Vettel:
    – 19 wins over 52 races, 36.5%
    – 33 podiums, 63.5%
    – 26 pole positions, 50.0%
    – 36 front-row starts, 69.2%
    – Pole-to-win ratio 14/26, 53.8%
    – Points percentage 284/520 54.6% (based on pre 2003 system)
    – World championships 2/3 66.7%

    So Vettel is close on wins % and front row % and beats Damon on podiums, poles, pole to win and points %.

  14. Jelle van der Meer (@jelle-van-der-meer) said on 19th October 2011, 7:37

    A small but interesting comparison on constructor points between 2010 and 2011 based only on the first 16 races in both years

    Red Bull 558 vs. 426 = +132 points
    Mclaren 418 vs. 371 = + 37 points
    Ferrari 310 vs. 334 = – 24 points
    Mercedes 127 vs. 176 = – 49 points
    Renault 72 vs. 133 = – 61 points
    Force india 49 vs. 58 = – 9 points
    Sauber 40 vs. 60 = – 20 points
    Toro Rosso 37 vs. 37 = same
    Williams 5 vs. 11 = – 6 points
    New teams 0 vs. 0 = same

    Only Mclaren and Red Bull have more points 16 races into the season that last year – the main reason I would say is reliability as unless a major jump is made the outside top 3 teams are always fighting over what is left and will in most cases only score well if there are accidents or reliability issues witht the top 3 teams.

    Red Bull has 34.5% of the points (26.4% in 2010) and 81.1% of the max possible points (1-2 finish every race).
    Top 3 teams have 79.6% of the points (70.6% in 2010) and 91.3% of the max possible points (1-6 finish every race).

    If you look at top 6 finishes of non top 3 team you have:
    Mercedes: 1x 4th, 4x 5th and 4x 6th = 84 points
    Renault: 2x 3rd and 1x 5th = 40 points
    Force India: 2x 6th = 16 points
    Sauber: 1x 5th = 10 points

    So 15 times with total points 150 – last year that was 30 times with total points 323 points. In 2011 there were 9 DNS of top 3 vs. 17 DNS in 2010.

    So next to reliability issues the performance gap between top 3 and rest have increased as well.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st October 2011, 9:36

    Corrected an error: Mansell led 692 laps in 1992, not 694.

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