Nigel Mansell, Williams, Monaco, 1992

Vettel and Mansell’s 14 pole positions in a season compared

F1 statisticsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Monaco, 1992
Nigel Mansell, Williams, Monaco, 1992

Sebastian Vettel equalled Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole positions in a single season in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But while Mansell exerted a crushing superiority over his rivals at the wheel of his Williams, Vettel’s advantage has been far smaller.

And, as this data shows, Vettel’s rivals have got closer throughout the season.

14 pole positions in one season

This graph shows how far ahead of second place each driver was (in second) for each of their 14 pole positions:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Sebastian Vettel 0.778 0.104 0.715 0.405 0.441 0.185 0.188 0.163 0.432 0.45 0.351 0.009 0.33 0.141
Nigel Mansell 0.741 0.016 1.191 1.005 1.053 0.873 0.468 1.919 0.55 2.198 0.601 0.631 0.859 0.47

Clearly Mansell’s advantage over his rival’s was usually larger than Vettel’s. On average he was 0.9s faster than second place. Vettel’s advantage was a much smaller 0.3s.

Mansell’s margin of superiority ballooned to daunting proportions at times. At Silverstone he was nearly two seconds quicker than his team mate and 2.7s faster than the next quickest car, the McLaren of Ayrton Senna.

At Spa Mansell took pole by the greatest margin of the season – 2.198s. Vettel’s largest advantage in real terms was much smaller – 0.778s, less than Mansell’s average margin as a pole sitter.

That high-water mark for Vettel came in the first race of the season at Melbourne. Since then his superiority in qualifying has been gradually eroded. Some of his most recent pole positions have been achieved by very slim margins – 0.141s in Abu Dhabi and 0.009s in Japan.

In Korea Red Bull were beaten to pole position for the first time the year and, as was the case for Mansell, it was a McLaren that spoiled the streak – this time one driven by Lewis Hamilton.

The cars: FW14B vs RB7

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011

Both drivers had Renault-powered, Adrian Newey-designed cars at their disposal. As you’d expect for creations of the wizard of downforce, both cars excelled in medium-to-high speed corners.

The Williams-Renault FW14B used advanced active suspension to maintain perfect aerodynamic balance.

The fearless Mansell was a supreme exponent of the FW14B’s capabilities, tackling F1’s fastest corners at speeds team mate Riccardo Patrese often couldn’t match. It wasn’t unusual to see the pair separated by a full second in qualifying – with Patrese still second on the grid with a comfortable gap to their pursuers.

Created with almost two decades’ more experience, Newey’s RB7 is a refined package which conjures maximum downforce out of F1’s increasingly stringent regulations, thanks in part to the effective design of its exhaust-blown diffuser.

But it has not enjoyed anything like the margin of superiority the FW14B had in 1992. The Williams was on average 1.1s faster than the next best car in qualifying in 1992 – the Red Bull’s average advantage has been 0.3s.

This gap shows the difference (in seconds) between the fastest RB7 and FW14B in qualifying and the quickest other car:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Red Bull-Renault RB7 0.778 0.104 0.715 0.525 0.98 0.441 0.185 0.405 0.117 0.055 0.163 0.432 0.45 0.423 0.009 -0.222 0.296 0.141
Williams-Renault FW14B 0.741 0.946 2.199 1.005 1.244 1.113 -0.097 1.335 2.741 1.146 0.791 2.198 0.601 1.217 1.015 0.47

Many of the tracks that were on the calendar in 1992 have been dropped and replaced by other venues. Of those held at the same tracks, the circuits themselves have been altered, making it hard to do a like-for-like performance comparison between these two F1 supercars.

Suzuka offers perhaps the best basis for comparison – the chicane and 130R were altered in 2003, producing a slightly shorter lap, but it is otherwise much the same as it was in 1992.

That year Mansell lapped Suzuka in 1’37.360. When Vettel took pole position 19 years later, he was 6.894s faster, lapping the track in 1’30.466.

In Brazil next week Vettel will have the chance to set a new record. Though he’s the first one to admit he’s had the luxury of more races in which to beat it:

“Everyone ?ǣ not us ?ǣ talks about it, you are aware of it. [Mansell] obviously took two races less to achieve the same but still, it?s something very special. It?s a great feeling, for sure.”

Mansell and Vettel’s results side-by-side

Here are the drivers’ qualifying results from the two seasons, plus the gap between them and the next-fastest qualifier or, where they weren’t on pole position, the pole sitter.

Nigel Mansell, 1992

Track Pos Time Gap
Kyalami 1 1’15.486 -0.741
Mexico City 1 1’16.346 -0.016
Interlagos 1 1’15.703 -1.573
Circuit de Catalunya 1 1’20.190 -1.253
Imola 1 1’21.842 -1.287
Monte-Carlo 1 1’19.495 -0.873
Montreal 3 1’19.948 +0.217
Magny-Cours 1 1’13.864 -0.468
Silverstone 1 1’18.965 -1.919
Hockenheimring 1 1’37.960 -0.550
Hungaroring 2 1’15.643 +0.167
Spa-Francorchamps 1 1’50.545 -2.198
Monza 1 1’22.221 -0.601
Estoril 1 1’13.041 -0.631
Suzuka 1 1’37.360 -0.859
Adelaide 1 1’13.732 0.470
Sebastian Vettel, 2011

Track Pos Time Gap
Melbourne 1 1’23.529 -0.778
Sepang 1 1’34.870 -0.104
Shanghai 1 1’33.706 -0.715
Istanbul 1 1’25.049 -0.405
Circuit de Catalunya 2 1’21.181 +0.200
Monte-Carlo 1 1’13.556 -0.441
Montreal 1 1’13.014 -0.185
Valencia 1 1’36.975 -0.188
Silverstone 2 1’30.431 +0.032
Nurburgring 3 1’30.216 +0.137
Hungaroring 1 1’19.815 -0.163
Spa-Francorchamps 1 1’48.298 -0.432
Monza 1 1’22.275 -0.450
Singapore 1 1’44.381 -0.351
Suzuka 1 1’30.466 -0.009
Korea 2 1’36.042 +0.222
Buddh 1 1’24.178 -0.33
Yas Marina 1 1’38.481 -0.141

2011 F1 season

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Images ?? Williams/LAT, Red Bull/Getty images

145 comments on “Vettel and Mansell’s 14 pole positions in a season compared”

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  1. Not really fair to say that the record has been equalled, there are more races this season than when Mansell set the record.

    1. @jsmith944 I didn’t say he’d equalled Mansell’s strike rate, I said he’d equalled Mansell’s total.

      Vettel himself has said as much, as quoted in the article, which leads me to wonder whether you’ve read beyond the first sentence.

      1. Jsmith is right. Even if Vettel makes it 15, Mansel’s 14/16 is still a bigger number than 15/19.

        1. @JCost Again, you’re referring to strike rate, I’m referring to total.

          Let’s give it a rest with the nit-picking and hair-splitting, eh? There’s a more interesting discussion to be had here, as several commenters below have already discovered.

          1. But the total is almost completely useless and is brandied about by fanboys quite a lot with these ‘articles’ being the main cause.

            Fact: Senna scored 614 points throughout his career. Vettel has scored 630 from this year (with one racing to go) and last year combined.

            Surely we should count that as much of an achievment. Senna won 3 WDC’s with that and nearly 4.

          2. I don’t give a toss what “fanboys” think and neither should you.

            If they do misuse stats in some way by all means put them right on it. But don’t try to blame me for it, because I’ve never said achieving 14 pole positions in 18 races is the same as 14 pole positions in 16 races.

            As for the thing about comparing points, surely you’re joking? A win today is worth two-and-a-half times as many points as it was when Senna won his third title.

      2. I wasn’t commenting on strike rate either just saying its not a fair comparison.

        1. Keith isn’t comparing the number of poles and the number of races, he’s comparing the gap between the pole-sitter and second. Which you’d see if you read the article…

          1. And even if he wasn’t doing that comparison it would still be valid- they have equalled the total number of poles, so it IS a fair comparison, assuming you note the difference in number of races, which Keith did. If he’d Vettel to a driver in a poor car who never qualified higher that 13th then it wouldn’t be fair.

          2. *If he’d compared Vettel

          3. I have read the article and its very interesting and well written, and what I said is no way a criticism of the article. I think this is the best F1 site on the net. If people got the impression I was criticizing the article that is not what I was getting at, perhaps I didn’t explain what I meant properly. Apologies.

          4. @jsmith944 Fair enough.

  2. It really shows that what is considered ‘dominance’ now is much less than back in those days. Vettel’s dominance has been in a car that sometimes isn’t the quickest out there and if so by a very small margin.

    It’d be also interesting to see where their team mates Qualified during their pole positions because for me the FW14B was a far more dominant car then this years RB7.

    1. I totally agree. Mansell’s record is phenomenal but having such a dominant car was a big help. How many times this year has Vettel shocked us with a blinding lap right at the death when it looked certain for another driver to take pole?

      Webber has, throughout his career, been known as a qualifying master. In their time as team mates, Vettel has trounced him, which in itself is a feat. If the RB7 was really that dominant, we’d have had more Red Bull front rows than we’ve had. Seb has made the difference this year.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. 42-12 is my tally of the qualifying battle at RBR, and Mark is the man who dragged both a Jaguar and a Williams-Cosworth to the front row.

      2. “Some say” the RB6 was much more dominant than the RB7. It took Vettel a WDC title and a proper off season of getting his mind straight to fight back this season.

        Abu Dhabi qualification is just one of those examples when you couldn’t help but gasp when he snatched the pole.

        Kinky Kylie suits him. But she’s not a complete knock-out.
        Easy relationship analogy here: you can have the kindest supermodel with brains out there (if she exists), but that does not guarantee you a happy life together. Sometimes, you just need to make it work with someone you really like but isn’t perfect.

        Ugh, that was too much cheese to handle this late at night, I admit.

    2. When this year we talk about Vettel’s dominance, most of us are saying it is spoiling the show. But when we think of 1992 we remember it as a great year when a true champion always won. Strange?

      1. I’d certainly agree that Mansell had a more dominant car, but both Vettel and Mansell had team-mates, both of whom were very good, but not champions.

        And, within that, Mansell frequently obliterated his team-mate by over a second, and by more than two seconds on one occasion. I’d hesitate to say that shows Mansell was better, but what it does show is that Mansell was quite a bit more special than the hard grafter he’s often made out to be. He had some serious drive and determination, and a lot of talent to go with it. If only he’d not wrecked his car so much…

        Oh, and the point about Vettel being “boring”, but ’92 being a “great year” – it’s almost always more interesting when a driver from your own country is winning. On top of that, Mansell’s rise to the top was a lot harder than Vettel’s, and he’d been so close so many times before, he’s was a character too.

        And let’s remember, for those of us in Britain at the time, there was a lot of Mansell Mania. The Sun lived off their Mansell wallchart for weeks, with people like me making sure we got the next cut-out of Mansell with his fist in the air, celebrating victory, to stick to our poster!

        Oh, sorry, you just had me remembering back to when I was six for a few minutes there…

        1. Here speaks a true Fan @noelhino!

        2. “(Mansell) was a character too.”

          I think Vettel is somewhat of a character, too. His interview with Lee McKenzie after the race in India was classic and pretty cheeky. Vettel certainly wasn’t boring on Top Gear earlier this year either.

          1. Yes, he, is, but in a more understated way – that’s more what I was meaning with that comment.

      2. I don’t. I was glad Mansell finally won the championship but I was bored to tears by that year.

  3. Great article Keith, I never realised the gaps were so large in 1992! It makes the RB7 dominance we saw at certain tracks look like nothing.

    1. It does. Makes me wonder which feat is more impressive. Vettel sticking it on pole without wringing unnecessary power from the car or Mansell for all out domination?

      Hell, I guess they’re equally as impressive.

    2. In regard of speed it has in qualifying, the Red Bull was more of an extreme animal last year where they were sometimes over a second clear of the 3rd car, but not at all tracks. And its reliability was worse.

    3. I cant decide what impresses me more, the dominace of Mansell’s car, and all the excellent engineering behind it, or the sheer will and skill from Mansell himself to tar his teammate so badly.

      In my opinion this is a prime example of the watered down nature for F1 today, RuleBooks, and other non-racing pressures have taken their toll on the purity of engineering and driving perfection.

      The #1 car is a warm example that even today, these high ideals can shine through, (Newey’s work is supreme, and Vettle extracted the maximum from it), but the days are gone when some engineer’s genius can be allowed to operate so freely.

      Ah well, welcome to the kinder, gentler world where everyone is OK, at the cost of the exemplary.

      1. I like your post…

  4. With regard to comparing laptimes, have the Hungaroring and Monaco been altered (and Interlagos, though of course Vettel hasn’t driven the RB7 there yet)?

    Another interesting comparison might be the difference in laptime between the FW14B and the RB7 with DRS removed…

    1. have the Hungaroring and Monaco been altered

      Yes, quite significantly:

      Changing tracks: Hungaroring
      Changing tracks: Monte-Carlo

      Interlagos offers another good basis for comparison – Ferradura has been reprofiled and the track’s been resurfaced since then but that’s about it – but as you say we’ll have to wait until next week to see how quick the RB7 goes around it.

      1. Ah thanks. I should have remembered, though, I drove plenty of laps of the 1991 season, in Formula One Grand Prix…

      2. Only the hairpin has been changed at Canada, though, hasn’t it? That would make a pretty similar comparison.

        1. No, in Canada there used to be several sweeping curves on the same side of the track as the pitlane, which was located closer to the hairpin. This was changed due to safety after 1994.

          1. Ah, I knew of those, I just wasn’t aware it wasn’t altered until after 92.

      3. What about Monza? Those pole times look quite similar!

        1. The first chicane at Monza was reconfigured in 1998 and the Lesmos may also have been tightened since 1992.

      4. Here is a quote from the link you gave on Monaco:

        Several revisions were made to the circuit in 2003, mostly moving barriers to create limited run-off space. The entry to the swimming pool complex had this treatment in 1997, and six years later the exit also had its barriers moved, making the exit slightly quicker.

        These are the only changes you noted to Monaco since 1993. Most of them are to the pit lane, or give extra run-off, I wouldn’t call the remainder significant for lap time!

        Also in 2003 Rascasse was altered to give the cars a faster, straighter run into a less tight corner. Not that it made it any easy for Michael Schumacher to get around it in 2006…

        The pit lane exit was also changed. Although cars still have to negotiate the tricky switch onto the start/finish straight, the actual exit now extends past the first corner, giving them a safer passage onto the circuit.

        The current pit complex was used for the first time in 2004. Unusually, it faces away from the start/finish straight, towards the harbour and the final sequence of bends.

        1. This is missing the rest of my comment I typed in!

          The above are all the changes mentioned in the article that have occurred since 1993. Most are changes to the pit lane and run-off, it doesn’t sound like there have been “quite significant” changes to the track that would affect the lap time at all.

          1. That should say 1992.

        2. They did make quite a difference; qualifying times can’t be compared due to race fuel qualifying, but in 2002 the fastest lap of the race was 1:18.023, in 2003 it was 1:14.545. That’s 3.5 seconds faster!

          1. What other changes were there between 2002 and 2003? and how did times change at other tracks between those two years?

    2. Why remove DRS from the equation? Should we remove the FW14B’s active suspension, traction control, or ABS?

      1. +1

        though lap times in comparisons to other cars at the same time is useful. Clearly the RB7 isn’t as dominant as the FW14B. Regardless of ultimate lap times, I’m sure each was living on the edge to wring the maximum times possible.

  5. Back in those days, as a very young F1 fan, Mansell was my hero. But that car (today I understand better) was too far ahead of competition. NM managed a 2,1 second faster than P2! It just makes me more impressed by Sebastian’s record. :)

    Adrien Newey deserves a Nobel Prize.

    1. Maybe not a Nobel, but certainly a Knighthood…!!

    2. Mansell had a teammate with the same car.

      1. Meaning? So does Vettel…

        1. The point is, Mansell smashed his team-mate into the ground even further than Vettel. That said, I’d say Webber > Patrese.

          1. I dunno, Patrese was a very competitive driver on his day.

          2. But was it still “his day” in 1993?

    3. Looking at the 1992 British GP results and all of the following drivers out-qualified their team-mate by 0.5s: Mansell, Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alesi, Comas, Gachot, Alboreto, Wendlinger and Modena. That wouldn’t even happen it wet sessions with today’s F1 cars.

      The point is that time gaps aren’t a good indicator, it’s the consistency that’s impressive and both have been consistently fantastic, it would be unfair on either of them to say one’s better than the other.

  6. I know Patrese got a pole in Hungary but how on earth did Senna get a pole in the Mclaren in Canada. Very interesting comparison, I think Vettel’s is more impressive considering that Mansell’s car was so dominant and Webber is a stronger teammate than Patrese.

    1. If my memory serves me correctly, McLaren got a new upgrade for that race (can’t remember was it just engine or engine and aero) while Mansell struggled.

    2. I think you should go back and take a closer look at Riccardo’s performance over the total time he was Mansell’s teamate . I am a great fan of Nigels but on his day Riccardo proved a very strong competitor remembering that he was up against Mansell, Prost, Senna, Piquet et all, winnig 6 Grand Prix in that era was quite something.

      1. Agreed, to call facing up against Mansell, Senna and Prost an “uphill battle” would not do justice to the task. In fact, I’d say now is the only time since then we’ve had the same depth of quality at the front we’ve had since then. The question is, if you take Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso, and Mansell, Prost and Senna, which triplet is the better? That’s a race you’d want a ringside seat for!

        1. In my opinion, I would say Mansell, Senna and Alonso would win over Vettel Hamilton and Prost.

          Mansell takes Vettel
          Alonso destroys Hamilton
          (and who from this list doesnt)
          Senna beats Prost.

          I know its not your original lineup, but i dont give much to Hamilton and even Vettel. Yes, I know the kid is impressive, but Im not yet convinced. Even the recent memory of Hamilton’s original “wunderkind” tells me that, though promising, Vettel still has to prove his stamina before he truely joins the ranks of the uber-elite

          1. Absolutely. We’ve seen Vettel be a qualifying lap specialist and then race off into the distance, but we’ve still not seen much actual racing from him.

            Saying that, he wasn’t that much of a match for Hamilton in the lower formulas … F3 I think … and they did spar at least once. HAM won that one.

          2. Hmm, well, 1) you’ve altered my original list and 2) “Alonso destroys Hamilton” – well, the one season they were in equal cars, one was a double world champion, the other a rookie… and Hamilton won.

            I’d take the older generation, no question, but it’d be interesting to see, huh?

          3. I seriously doubt the old generation would be capable of beating the new generation.

            Just look at any other sport for proof. Records are broken almost every year in sports that put a lot more emphasis on the athletes performance than F1 does.

            I can’t see how on the one hand you could have athletes breaking records of their predecessors every generation while suggesting in F1 the old generation would still beat the new generation. That doesn’t make sense.

            “Saying that, he wasn’t that much of a match for Hamilton in the lower formulas … F3 I think … and they did spar at least once. HAM won that one.”

            Hamilton was with the team that (comfortably) won the F3 championship before and after Hamilton drove for them. Contrary to popular believe F3 doesn’t mean everybody has the same car.

            In 2008 Vettel was capable of fighting with the McLaren of Kovalainen (and Hamilton in Brazil), Renault and BMW. That’s more telling than him losing to Hamilton in F3.

          4. What criteria are you putting on your old gen vs new gen race? Are you going to give them the same training and access to technical info? If so I don’t see why new drivers would be any better than the old ones. It’s not live evolution is set up to breed better race car drivers.

          5. Think people are taking my comment to seriously/scientifically…

          6. Hey javlinsharp! Prost DESTROYED Mansell!

          7. @F1fanNL – So you’re saying that F3 IS NOT a spec formula then? I must disagree: the cars and engines and tyres are identical. The skill of the teams mechanics in set up is not.

          8. @ Franton,

            No, it’s not. Aero, suspension, brakes, etc, etc are (well, were anyways) all team dependent. The more money the team had the faster they could make the car. Why do you think ASM, the team with the biggest budget has won every F3 Euro season since it started in 2003? Because their engineers can work wonders in setup and the rest of the field are idiots?
            Comparing Vettel and Hamilton by their shared time in F3 is as good as comparing them now. Different teams, different times, different cars.

            @ DVC,

            I’m comparing them as they were/are. There’s no telling what the old generation would do if they were born 20 years later. You can’t measure talent.
            I just find the statement that the old generation would grind the new ones into the ground absolute horsepoopoo.

          9. @Franton eh? F3 isn’t a spec series. There ARE different chassises in the category….

          10. @Franton I believe the engines and tyres are spec, but not the chassises

    3. Mansell was ‘troubled’ that weekend, there had been strong rumours regarding Prost joining Williams

  7. Never been a fan of comparing drivers over several decades, but the analysis is quite interesting I think.
    But to those who doesn´t think the numbers add up, because as one say Mansells 14/16 is a bigger number than Vettels 15/19, if he makes it one more, he will still be the driver with the most poles in one season, regardless of how many races there are. 15 is more than 14.

    1. what a specious argument …so if I got 11 poles out of 20 races I would be more dominant to someone who got 10 out of 10 ?

      1. You would have a higher total, but a lower percentage. Dominance doesnt come into it. Never in the article does Keith say that Vettel is more dominant, or that he has a higher percentage. Fact is, Mansell got 14 poles in a season, regardless of how many races there were, and now so has vettel.

  8. Fantastic article Keith.

    There is certainly a gap in the relative “dominance” between the two cars/drivers aswell as 2 decades worth of developments but the Williams was a engineering marvel which is synonymous with Adrian Newey.

    Didn’t they ban the “active suspension” from 93 season, (Newey design) now this year with RBR’s superior EBD design the FIA are simply going to ban that too, its like a cat and mouse game between Newey and the FIA!! Its like a dictator trying to clip the wings of the supreme creatives in the industry! I wonder what he’e planning for 2012? Surely your pretty limited with the manadated perisope exhaust layout?

    Its been borderline boring this season with Vettel nailing everyone almost every single race weekend, but that said its made qualifying incredible to watch in particular in Abu Dhabi 3 cars crossing the line within 20 seconds of each other all getting pole as they cross the line only for Vettel (last man across the line) to beat them all….Very exciting

    1. @JK – active suspension was banned for the 1994 season, along with traction control, ABS, CVT and four wheel steering (the latter two were tested by Williams and Benetton respectively but never raced). If anything, the 1993 Williams FW15C was even more advanced than the FW14B but by then the opposition had started to catch up.

      Remarkably, Williams didn’t intend to run the FW14B for the whole season because it was simply a development of the previous year’s car. But FW14B was so fast they didn’t need to take the risk.

      The other big development for 1992 was the “fly by wire” throttle, which I think was introduced by McLaren. The MP4/7 dispensed with a conventional throttle cable and went for an electronic solution.

    2. All this banning of technology and innovation really turns my stomach. Why punish the innovators, simply because others didnt think of the same idea at the same time. There has to be room for the ebb and flow of change. In my opinion, it is exactly these tight restrictions of engines, aero, tires, suspension, gizmos(mass damper) that are flattening the field, and soon, the varience between cars will be so small as to make no difference. They have another name for this, its call INDY CAR.

      Unless there is a saftey issue… LEAVE IT ALONE; the other teams will adapt, overcome, and parity will remain on average.

      1. That was the issue! The cars were too quick, hence the banning of items. Various rumors stated the CVT gearbox on the Williams made the car a further 3 to 7 seconds a lap quicker!

        1. And besides, a lot of those banned things were driver aids which I don’t mind being banned at all.

  9. In my opinion above article only emphasizes how impressive Vettel’s total of 14 poles is – sometimes not having the fastest car he does manage to get pole position like last race at Yas Marina.

    Nigel Mansell season was impressive and well earned but for instance like MSC it was achieved in a much more dominant car and a less qualified teammate in comparison to Vettel’s dominence in 2011

  10. You can’t fail but be impressed by Mansell’s performance over his team mate – not so much because Patrese was as good as Webber is (my opinion is that he was ‘solid’), but what the difference in time showed about his driving and his mentality. At Silverstone in 1992 Mansell was brave enough to put his trust in the Active Suspension and take corners at greater speeds compared to anyone else, knowing that if the system had a glitch at the wrong moment he would be flying off the track into a massive accident, that he was over 2 seconds faster than anyone else!

    1. Mansell has also said that it required a lot of upper body strength to drive the FW14B around corners at high speed, and that he was much stronger than Patrese – and that was one of the reasons for his gap over Patrese that season. (not only reason :)

  11. similar position to schu and rosberg then

    schu clearly slower in qualifying which is why he is now said to be optimising for the race …but because there is a big gap back to 9th he can be just one place behind rosberg

  12. Interesting to see Keith what you think is the most impressive of the 2.
    I’d say despite the lower strike rate, Vettels is more impressive. He had a tougher teammate to beat, a car advantage nowhere near that of the FW14B, 4 other world champins on the grid (and 2 of them in the next best car). And what makes itmore impressive is that a strong qualifier in Webber is not lining up regularly 2nd, as Patrese was.
    Whether or not Vettels is better than Sennas 2 years when he had 13 each is a seperate debate but I think its more impressive than Mansells. No disrespect to Nigel, he could only beat what was in front of him but Vettels lower strike rate is far outweighed by how much harder it was for him

    1. I completely agree with this assessment of Vettel’s being more impressive, but I’m sure ‘our Nige’ disagrees!

  13. The effects of the post-qualifying parc fermé should be mentioned as well. Mansell could use a car specifically set-up for qualifying and change everything he wanted afterwards. This makes the comparison between Mansell and Vettel even more difficult, assuming such a comparison is possible at all.

    1. Add to that the fact that Mansell could have as many engines as he wanted throughout the year whereas Vettel has been limited to just eight.

    2. It’s the same for all the teams in the respective seasons

  14. Very interesting article!
    It’s a nice in-your-face to Vettel haters with the argument of a faaar superior car being the only thing that puts him up there.

  15. Montreal is pretty much the same isnt it? Apart from the straight before the chicane, but the curves were flat out anyway werent they?

  16. Great article, thanks @keithcollantine

    This does make for interesting reading and some of the times from Mansell are absolutely staggering.

    It is a little funny how even if Vettel hits 15, his % will actually still be lower than Mansell. It’s certainly not the kind of stat you can repeat with ease so he ought to be extremely proud.

  17. what I think will be more interesting is the debate that will ensue if Vettel grabs pole at Interlagos. In terms of strike rate; Vettel would be lower on 15/19, compared to Mansell’s 14/16.

    But then there’s another way of seeing it too – if 3 races were added to 1992, there’s no guarantee that Mansell would have gotten another pole position.

    1. So true. But, which 3 races would you subtract from Vettels pole’s to bring the ‘score’ back down to Mansells? There’s no guarantee that Vettel would be equal to Mansells total either, dependent of course on which 3 were arbitrarily thrown out….:). A wicked web…

      1. @STSCM Nah I think it’s a lot fairer to add to Mansell’s rather than subtract from Seb’s – because all races have equal standing (no pole is more than another) You subtract from Seb’s total means that some of his qualifyings were somehow “lesser.”

    2. I think, with the advantage Mansell had, adding 3 more races in ’92 would have resulted in about 3 more poles for Mansell.

      I don’t think the other teams would have caught up to Williams if they had 3 races more.

      1. Yes; but there is no guarantee.

        1. True, no guarantees, so I’ll be generous and give ole Nige 2 more poles out of 3 extra races.

        2. That’s why I said ‘about’ . :)

          I would have bet serious money on it though.

          1. @STSCM @F1fanNL I would too – but what I’m saying is, lower strike rate doesn’t immediately make it lesser. If you had an equal number of poles and lower strike rate, or equal number of races and lower strike rate, then that would be lesser.

  18. monza, spa and montecarlo are the same track if i’m correct, those show more accurate informations to compare the 2 cars. Red bull is faster by a lot in montecarlo but almost same at monza. anyone know why??

    1. The first chicane at Monza is now totally different and there were some other minor changes following the death of Senna. Monaco has also been slightly reprofiled at La Rascasse and the barriers on the inside of the Swimming Pool and Ste Devote have since been removed. At Spa the Bus Stop has been changed.

  19. A very face twisting article for me Kieth. I did not expect this kind of gushing journalism, but alas we know you are a Vettel fan – nothing wrong with that.


    It’s obvious that 20 years ago information and technology was not as evenly distributed nor affordable as it is today; so it is a matter of fact that the relative gaps between cars were much larger than they are today. 0.5 seconds is a lifetime in today’s F1…even Jenson Button was able to make good work of getting poles from gaps as low as 0.3 seconds to the next car. The gap is not really important if you have a fast consistent driver in the best car because he will always put the fastest car on pole if he has done his job.

    What you should do is at least use the pole to second place gap as a percentage of the gap from pole to the 10th driver’s time. And then lets see how interesting it is. That was satisfy the curiosity of us engineers.

    1. I wonder what article you read @Mr.Zing-Zang

      I did not expect this kind of gushing journalism, but alas we know you are a Vettel fan

      , I rather got the impression from the article that Mansell was in quite another league with that Williams, while Vettel in the RBR7 was closely followed by his teammate but also by other cars all year.

      Just the fact it took almost 20 years to equal that, and a calendar with more races in it, shows how big an achievement it was from Mansell and now from Vettel to get the same amount of poles.

    2. Although it is generous of you to concede that there is nothing wrong with being a Vettel fan, I don’t see how this article indicates that Keith is one! “Gushing journalism,” seriously? To me this reads as a balanced consideration of both drivers’ achievements.

    3. …to the 10th driver’s time

      Where did you pluck that one out from?!!

      1. Because the tenth driver is the last in Q3 in 2011. In Mansel’s time Quali was a bit different, but the point is choosing the 2nd placed driver to decide the quali gap is not a proper way to compare, because the range of lap time from slowest to fastest car was much bigger in Mansel’s day.

        Vettel’s gap might actually be bigger than Mansel’s – you never know.

      2. So, I propose a “percentage gap” to Kieth, to make the article more interesting. That is the gap from first to second divided by the gap from 1st to tenth. (in qualifying).

        Give it a shot for the engineers in here Kieth. I wish I could do those calculations but I don’t have the data.

    4. It would only mean Vettel has a smaller relative gap. But 2 seconds is still a larger margin than 8 tenths; no matter how you put it.

      What would be a fairer comparison is the 2nd placed time as a percentage of the pole time. Any chances of that @keithcollantine ?

  20. Yet another very interesting technical analysis. While it is indeed an ‘apples to oranges’ comparison, different times, tracks and cars, it’s a fun comparison nevertheless. I, for one, hope that many more similar to this are forthcoming. I understand this is time consuming, but I truly appreciate it. Thank you Sir.

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