Start, Detroit, 1987

Lotus take 80th Grand Prix win after 25 years

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stats and factsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Detroit, 1987Kimi Raikkonen became a Grand Prix winner again in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The inaugural race at the track was the scene of his first ‘retirement’ from the sport in 2009.

This was Raikkonen’s 19th career win, which puts him one short of Mika Hakkinen, the most successful F1 driver Finland has produced. It was also his 15th consecutive points finish.

Raikkonen has only started 23 races since his last victory, at Spa-Francorchamps in 2009, but three years and 66 days have passed since then.

This is the 13th-longest interval between consecutive wins for a Grand Prix driver, the longest being Riccardo Patrese’s six-and-a-half years between winning the 1983 South African Grand Prix and 1990 San Marino Grand Prix.

This was the 80th Grand Prix win for Lotus, and the first not scored by the original Lotus team. Their last win was over 25 years ago, when Ayrton Senna won the 1987 Detroit Grand Prix (pictured) in a Lotus-Honda 99T.

The current Lotus team has had several identities, beginning with Toleman and later Benetton. Its last win came in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, when it was branded Renault.

Six different teams have now won races in 2012: McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and Lotus. The last time this happened was in 1983, when Ferrari, McLaren and Williams were also winners, along with Brabham, Renault and Tyrrell.

Vettel’s recovery drive

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012Sebastian Vettel’s climb from starting in the pits to finishing on the podium was a remarkable feat.

Exactly how many places he gained is open to debate. The FIA’s official grid lists 23 cars with Vettel’s starting from the pit lane, hence 24th. But Pedro de la Rosa was pushed into the pits when the formation lap began after his team failed to get him away in time.

If we consider Vettel’s original starting place of 24th as his official grid position, his third-place finish equals the best anyone has achieved from there. Emerson Fittipaldi started 24th and finished third in the 1980 United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach, thanks in part to 14 of his rivals retiring.

Curiously three years later the same track saw a one-two for McLaren’s drivers, both of which made up 21 places. John Watson won from 22nd ahead of Niki Lauda, who started 23rd.

A gain of 21 positions is among the highest seen in a world championship race. The highest was Jim Rathmann’s second-placed finish in the 1957 Indianapolis 500 from 32nd on the grid, gaining 30 places. Ignoring the Indianapolis 500 (which was never run to F1 rules), the next-highest gain of places was 26.

This was achieved by Roberto Mieres in the 1954 British Grand Prix, climbing from 32nd on the grid to sixth in his Maserati. In the same race Onofre Marimon, also in a Maserati, climbed 25 places to finish third. Mieres’ feat would be impossible to repeat even if F1 grids returned to their current maximum of 26.

Vettel’s damage limitation means he can win his third world championship in his 100th start in the United States Grand Prix next week.

He also chalked up his 14th fastest lap, which gives him as many as Felipe Massa and Mark Webber. He is now certain to end the year with more fastest laps than any other driver.

McLaren milestones

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2012Lewis Hamilton claimed the 25th pole position of his F1 career. Only eight drivers in F1 history have managed more.

This was also the 75th pole position McLaren have scored with Mercedes power, accounting for almost half of their 154 poles to date.

McLaren have now led over 50,000km of all laps raced in F1. Unsurprisingly, the only team they are behind is Ferrari, who have logged 70,549km in the lead compared to McLaren’s 50,051km.

However McLaren finally passed Ferrari’s record for finishing in the points for 55 consecutive races. This was their 56th in a row.

McLaren’s current run began at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix: the first race with their current driver line-up of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and also the first race at which points were available down to tenth place. Ferrari’s 55-race streak lasted from the 1999 to 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix, and therefore mostly came in races where points were scored down to sixth place.

Prior to this race Button had finished third in every Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He came within four laps of doing so again.

Britain’s 156th F1 driver

Max Chilton, Marussia, Yas Marina, 2012Max Chilton made his debut in an F1 race weekend when he drove for Marussia in the first practice session. By doing so he became the 156th British driver to participate in an event which counted towards the world championship. Only the USA has more, with 157.

A large number of those only made starts in the Indianapolis 500 during the years when it counted towards the world championship. One exception was John Fitch, who raced in the 1953 and 1955 Italian Grands Prix, and passed away earlier this week at the age of 95.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Images ?? Williams/Sutton, Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Yas Marina/LAT