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. DVC (@dvc) said on 23rd November 2011, 4:34

    Aren’t Ferrari saying though that it was Massa’s 150th *race* participation not race weekend participation? The formation lap is the bit of the race that is before the start, whereas qualifying is before the race, so there is a distinction.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd November 2011, 8:21

      @dvc If they were counting race weekend participations, his total at the time was 151. His start count was 149 (Indianapolis 2005 and Hungaroring 2009 accounting for the difference).

  2. DVC (@dvc) said on 23rd November 2011, 8:34

    @Keith_Collantine This is my point they weren’t counting either of those things. They were counting race participations which is neither race starts nor race weekend participations. If you ran the formation lap you participated in the race but did not start it.

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