Title battle goes down to the wire for 27th time

2012 United States Grand Prix stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2012The 63rd running of the Formula One world championship will see the drivers’ title decided in the final race for the 27th time in its history.

Brazil’s Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Interlagos, Sao Paulo will be the scene of the climactic battle between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Alonso won both his previous world championships in Brazil, starting in 2005, which was the first time the title had ever been won in this country. He repeated the feat in 2006.

This began a sequence of five consecutive title-deciders in Brazil. Alonso’s success was followed by world championship victories for Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Out of the 26 previous last-race title-deciders, ten were won by a driver who began the race behind on points. The first nine examples of those were Giuseppe Farina (1950), John Surtees (1964), James Hunt (1976), Nelson Piquet (1981 and 1983), Alain Prost (1986), Jacques Villeneuve (1997), Mika Hakkinen (1999) and Kimi Raikkonen (2007).

The tenth is Sebastian Vettel, who went into the final race of 2010 in Abu Dhabi 15 points behind Alonso and won the championship. Alonso is 13 points behind going into Sunday’s race. Time for some payback?

Hamilton wins again in America

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Kyalami, 1985Lewis Hamilton’s United States Grand Prix victory is a fitting triumph for a man who has an American girlfriend and who told the press during his visit that he would like to live there one day.

He has now won both the F1 races he has started in America. His previous victory at Indianapolis in 2007 was his second career win. This latest triumph was his 21st, giving him one more than Mika Hakkinen and therefore making him the most successful driver to have won all his races with McLaren – at least for the time being.

It was Hamilton’s fourth win this year and the third in a row which followed a no-score in the previous race.

Five years and 154 days passed between the last two editions of the United States Grand Prix, both of which were won by the same driver. The only longer gap between consecutive Grands Prix won by the same driver occurred when Nigel Mansell won the 1992 South African Grand Prix six years and 134 days after his previous triumph.

Coincidentally, Mansell’s 1985 South African Grand Prix win (pictured) was also his second career victory, and also immediately followed his first Grand Prix win.

Hamilton gave McLaren their 181st win. Only Ferrari have won more with 219. However McLaren have now won more races than Ferrari since they entered the sport, Ferrari having won 39 times before Bruce McLaren lined up on the starting grid at Monaco in 1966 at the wheel of his own M2B.

Since Red Bull entered the sport in 2005 they have won 34 races (all of which have come since 2009), Ferrari 37 and McLaren 43. Red Bull clinched the constructors’ championship for the third time in the USA – more on that here:

Sebastian Vettel’s 100th race

Vettel marked his 100th Grand Prix start in the country where he made his F1 debut with BMW in 2007. Since then he’s won 26 races, the first for Toro Rosso in 2008 and the rest for Red Bull.

In his 100th race Vettel started from pole position for the 36th time and finished on the podium for the 46th time. Had he stayed in front of Hamilton he would have matched Michael Schumacher’s feat of scoring his 27th Grand Prix win in his 100th start. What he would have given for the kind of help Schumacher had from team mate Eddie Irvine in his 100th race at Suzuka in 1997.

Vettel also recorded his 15th fastest lap, giving him as many as Jackie Stewart and Clay Regazzoni.

This was the fourth race in a row both Vettel and Alonso finished on the podium. If it happens again in Brazil, Vettel will win the championship.

Remarkably, this was the first time Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton had been on the podium together – something Stats and Facts readers have been keeping an eye on for several years!

More United States Grand Prix stats and facts

The Circuit of the Americas became the 70th venue to host a round of the world championship and the tenth in America, more than any other country has had (France is next with seven).

The return of the USA to the calendar means F1 has races in the three most heavily populated countries – China (1.3bn), India (1.2bn) and America (313m). Brazil, the fifth most populous nation with 196 million inhabitants, is next on the schedule. But Indonesia, home to 242 million and the fourth-largest nation by population, does not have a race.

Kimi Raikkonen sustained his run of consecutive points finishes – he now has 16 in a row.

This was the 400th podium appearance by a Renault-engined car. Renault-powered cars have finished on the podium in 281 races, beginning with Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s win in the 1979 French Grand Prix.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2012 United States Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 United States Grand Prix articles

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Honda

Advert | Go Ad-free

98 comments on Title battle goes down to the wire for 27th time

  1. In every inaugural race from 2010 Vettel has been on pole.

  2. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 19th November 2012, 11:13

    The fact that USA an Brazil are back to back makes this the perfect end to the year!

  3. yeang (@yeang) said on 19th November 2012, 11:16

    schumacher having driven the most number of kilometers in an f1 car!

  4. bananarama (@bananarama) said on 19th November 2012, 11:18

    Interesting to see how hard it will be for Vettel to match Schumachers records. Even though he has had tremendous success so far, he will likely even have to improve his race to win ratio to get ahead on wins (I just guess that he won’t do much more than 300 races) and it is hard to imagine he will always be in a team as competitive as RedBull in the last few years (though not impossible if he always makes perfect career decisions). His strength in qualifying might get him ahead in those statistics though if his cars allow it. Then again, even if he doesn’t match any of those statistics, he already is one of the more (most) successful drivers ever. Good for him (bad for those I support :-P).

    • Indeed Schumacher’s most dominant years came later than his first 100 Grand Prix and yet still he is ahead on victories. Vettel I reckon will do poles quite comfortably, and if he carries on in a good team be might be able to get close to the seven titles, but I think the win record will probably ultimately stay with Schumacher.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 19th November 2012, 16:31

        At least SV’s wins so far have not been in highly contentious illegal cars such as the Benettons of MS, nor with a contracted subservient for a teammate.

        • People like you really irritate me, I am by no means a Schumacher fan but the reason he won all those races is because he was the best, or one of the best drivers on the grid for approaching nearly 15 years. All of those drivers who were no.2 to him had nowhere near his talent or determination to win, he was quite simply better than them which is why he got preferential treatment. The only contentious car Schumacher had regarding legality was the Benetton (notice not plural as you make out) in 1994, and it was never proved they were cheating. Even so if you take those 8 wins out he still has 83 wins, many more than anyone else.

          I also find it laughable that you have a go at Schumacher for illegal cars, when Red Bull themselves have been forced to change their cars on several occasions this year because they have been pushing the rules beyond how they were intended to be interpreted. And don’t kid yourself either that Webber isn’t a number 2 driver to Vettel either. He may be reasonably competitive but he is still a number 2.

          • MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 19th November 2012, 19:12

            Mark is number 2 on talent alone, and not by team decision, number 2 drivers don’t fight for pole positions and victories, nor do they race wheel to wheel with their team-mates, i think Vettel proved he’s the better driver for the last three years, and thus he will get preference, but only in the latter stages of the season when Mark isn’t in contention for the title.
            No disrespect to Mark

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 19th November 2012, 20:02

            Talk about irritating… not only did Ferrari not hire top men to compete with MS and give the paying audience the show we deserve, they went even further and contracted EI and RB to be subservient, thus giving MS one of the more massive advantages a driver has ever had in F1…a guarantee that the one fellow if nobody else who could do anything at all to take the fight to him was not allowed to by contract. How do you know MS was the best? They didn’t provide him or us a proper teammate, instead they took the challenge and the racing out of it for him, and built him a designer car as a result. We have now found out as of the last 3 years exactly how good MS is without the bottomless resources of Ferrari and the contracted subservient.

            MS’s Benettons had many huge illegalities for which they were penalized and even banned from racing. One of them was removing a fuel valve from their refueler (ie. not even on the car) which once discovered due to a fire made everyone understand why their pitstops were 1.5 seconds faster than everyone elses. One of them was suspected illegal traction control which the FIA admitted they did not have the ability to police for. This suspicion extended to 95 and onto Ferrari when MS brought his Benetton crew with him in the mega deal of the century. Red Bull have been stopped from trying little things that pale in comparison to MS/Benetton and MS/Ferrari.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 19th November 2012, 20:18

            And I haven’t even gotten started on this ‘best ever’s’ penchant for the most unethical sustained career-long behaviour on the track that started before he was in F1 and up to and including his shenanigans against JB this past weekend.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 20th November 2012, 1:40

            @robbie How long have you watched F1? I hate to break it too you, but all throughout F1’s history teams break/bend rules. Red Bull’s Flexi wing, Mclarens 2nd brake pedal, Putting a giant fan in your car. The list really does go on and on.

            It’s part of the game.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 20th November 2012, 4:25

        @debaser91 – Schumacher was on the same 26 wins after 100 races, like Vettel. His 27th win came at Japan 1997, his 101st start (or 102nd entry, if counting France 1996).

  5. sumedhvidwans (@sumedhvidwans) said on 19th November 2012, 11:27

    This is the first time this year a Ferrari had to take a grid penalty. And even this one was without reason.

  6. andae23 (@andae23) said on 19th November 2012, 11:32

    This is what I noticed:

    – As already mentioned before in the forum, this was the 15th time Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel shared the front row of the grid.

    – The first, third and fourth place finisher were the same as in the Italian GP.

    – Mark Webber retired for the second race in a row (so far his only retirements since Italy 2011). The last time he retired consecutively was in 2009: the Italian and Singapore GP.

    – McLaren scored 35 points: the most they scored since their double podium in Australia. And though they have scored in every single race for the last 57 races, their last double podium was 16 races ago (China), which is their longest drought of double podiums since their 2009 season.

    – Both Williams drivers finished in the points in the last two Grands Prix. Amazingly, the only other team that can say that is Ferrari. Williams and Caterham are the only two teams that didn’t have to retire in the last five races.

    – Caterham’s last non-finish was Vitaly Petrov’s DNS at the British Grand Prix. That’s ten consecutive races in which both cars finished. They now match Ferrari’s streak of ten consecutive finishes from earlier this year (Malaysia-Hungary).

    – Mercedes hasn’t scored in the last five races. That is their longest drought in history, including the handful of races in the 1950s.

    – Somewhere during the second lap, Michael Schumacher took over the record for most kilometres raced. With 80,902, he took over the record from Rubens Barrichello with 80,607 kilometres (that’s about twice Earth’s equator). He already had taken over the record for most laps raced two races ago. Also, Schumacher finished 16th for the first time in his career.

    – It’s the third time this year that one Toro Rosso finished 12th, while the other retired.

    – For the fifth time in eight years, the drivers’ championship will be decided in Brazil. If Sebastian Vettel wins the race, it will be the first time the championship is mathematically decided when the world champion wins the race since 2001.

    • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 19th November 2012, 11:51

      – For the fifth time in eight years, the drivers’ championship will be decided in Brazil. If Sebastian Vettel wins the race, it will be the first time the championship is mathematically decided when the world champion wins the race since 2001.

      It’s the 6th time isn’t it? Anyway great stats!

      • andae23 (@andae23) said on 19th November 2012, 11:54

        Yup: 6th time in eight years

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 19th November 2012, 11:58

        I don’t understand this stat @andae23 – Vettel decided the 2010 title also by winning the race?

        • andae23 (@andae23) said on 19th November 2012, 12:02

          @raymondu999 he won the race, but Webber and Alonso could still become world champion if they finished second. So it wasn’t mathematically decided until Rosberg crossed the finish line in 4th.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 19th November 2012, 12:09

            Ah. So you mean *definitively* decide the title then? @andae23

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 19th November 2012, 12:14

            If Sebastian Vettel wins the race, it will be the first time the championship is mathematically definitively decided, as in ‘after the world champion crosses the finish there is no mathematical chance for any other competitor to win the championship that year’, when the world champion wins the race since 2001.

            So… yes I meant that :P

          • @ andae23
            that’s what happened with Massa in 2008.
            He won but he depended on the position of Hamilton to be champion

        • Drop Valencia! said on 19th November 2012, 22:15

          @ andae23 , you are incorrect, Vettel must win the race, but Alonso must also be circulating…

          • If Vettel crosses the line to take the chequered flag he is champion, unlike on previous occasions (for example 2010) where Alonso an Webber could still win. If Alonso is circulating behind Vettel he can’t win the championship!

          • Drop Valencia! said on 20th November 2012, 8:19

            but Max, Alonso must be circulating, if not, he cannot win, and Vettel will be champ before he crosses the line.

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 20th November 2012, 9:22

            Mathematically, there is still a chance that Alonso will start up his car and go racing again. And when everyone suddenly has alternator failures, there is still a chance that Alonso wins the race.

            I agree with you that this scenario is not likely, and if Alonso crashes in turn one the championship is decided, but I’m talking about the mathematical chance, and therefore the championship is mathematically decided when Vettel crosses the line in first.

    • the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 19th November 2012, 11:52

      Andae, the stats man!

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 19th November 2012, 14:06

      @andae23

      Mercedes hasn’t scored in the last five races. That is their longest drought in history, including the handful of races in the 1950s

      I hope they’re channelling all their skills (and funds) to build a competitive car to attack 2013.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 19th November 2012, 16:37

        Let’s not forget that NR was taken out by being hit in two of the last 5 races, and climbed up the back of an abruptly slowing car in another, so it’s a good possiblility that without those incidents beyond his or the team’s control Merc would have scored some points in the last 5 races. I’m sure LH is right in there in agreement with me on that. And I think there’s every chance they are trying things with next year in mind, although I’m sure they would prefer to maintain their distant 5th place in the WCC standings at the same time.

  7. jh1806 (@jh1806) said on 19th November 2012, 11:40

    I believe Kimi set a new record for the most classified finishes in a season – 19. No doubt that will be 20 by next weekend too!

  8. Tim RBR (@tim-rbr) said on 19th November 2012, 11:53

    Vettel points for a remarcable record if he wins 2012 WDC: to be the first driver in the F1 History to get 3 consecutive championships since he won his first one. Till now the best sequence reached at F1 is a lineup of two consecutive WDC since the first WDC.

    Fangio reached a sequence of 4 consecutive WDC and Schumacher put it even garder with 5 consecutive WDC, but none of them can include at their best sequence their initial WDC. Vettel can.

    • Jacob Larsson said on 19th November 2012, 13:01

      It would be very fitting if it happened considering Red Bull did just that, but with the Constructor’s Championship. I think it was mentioned in the article that was posted.

  9. the first 4 placed in the league are world champions.
    if so will finish the first time in history.

  10. In this race Schumacher was one of six champions who did not get in the top 6.

  11. Is this the first race where drivers wore cowboy hats on the podium ?

    and

    This is the first race where Alonso looked disinterested in driving an F1 car. Inside, he knows that this title is gone.

  12. JCost (@jcost) said on 19th November 2012, 13:54

    @keithcollantine

    Is there anybody who ever finished 19 races in the lead lap in single year? I think it’s a record for Kimi and he stands the chance of extending it to impressive 20.

  13. If I am not mistaken, this is the very first race this season where the lead changed as a result of real racing on track. To clarify, I mean situations where two guys have a go at it, with their machinery in good working order, and I exclude the usual position jostling after the start.
    IIRC, all other changes in lead this season later than in the first lap were due to mechanical trouble, pitting, or in case of the Canadian GP, Alonso’s tires giving up o the job, which means that he could not really race, the pass therefore does not qualify as “racing pass”.
    This stat feels quite sad, I actually hope I am wrong.

    Purists may ask about “honest racing on track”, then we would also have to rule out DRS and end up with zero lead changes this season due to “racing”.

  14. I had said since beginning of 2012 season, the championship already decided for Alonso (including set the rules and safety car in favor of Ferrari). But they did not expect Vettel and Newey grow stronger and make it so far, also they did not expect Lotus become dark horse (after they cripple out Lotus reactive suspension). I wonder what kind of scenario for Brazil? Crushing Massa’s car to Vettel’s wont hurt Alonso, even if Ferrari will be disqualified afterwards.

    • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 19th November 2012, 15:54

      Well, probably @keithcollantine can clariffy this one. I mean, Wouldn’t it be a major scandal and really bad for this sport if Massa is pushed to do it? Red Bull is a title contender (Actually they’ve already won it) and Vettel too. I think Dieter, Horner or whoever gets the reponsibility would ask Ferrari be stripped off ALL the points (ALONSO’S INCLUDED) if this happen. There is a previous case of comparison (Singapore’s Piquet) to compare, and Massa could be suspended / banned. I know Ferrari doesn’t give a &/·) about Massa’s fate, but this situation would be extreme and I suppose is not likely to happen.

      But if you want a conspiracy theory, Ferrari can offer a backmarker a couple of millions to do it. And I don’t know if that one is a little more possible to happen. After that gearbox penalty given to Massa, I believe Ferrari is capable to do “whatever it takes” to give Alonso this title.

      • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 20th November 2012, 9:36

        I think it’s a big step from deliberately breaking Massa’s gearbox seal to instructing Massa or paying someone else to crash into Vettel – even for a Ferrari/Alonso combination which is particularly ruthless. Alonso has been there before back in Singapore and I don’t think either he or Ferrari could risk getting involved in Crashgate 2.

        Winning a single race due to a deliberate crash is one thing and the FIA were prepared to let that pass, but winning a world championship using that tactic is another matter altogether and even if Alonso pretends to not be involved in such a ploy I don’t think the FIA could turn a blind eye in that circumstance.

    • Brace (@brace) said on 19th November 2012, 16:39

      Yup, Lotus became the dark horse in this championship by crashing into Alonso two times and costing him some 30 points more or less.

      • @brace – in fairness, I think the Japan incident was as much Alonso’s fault as Räikkönen’s, if not more so. You could also say that alternator failures have cost Vettel more, so I don’t see it to be entirely fair that you are saying that about Lotus.

        • Brace (@brace) said on 19th November 2012, 22:49

          I don’t see how can anyone call mechanical failure a bad luck. Is it just good luck when he wins? I swear I’m getting sick of people harping on about it. I wish there’s a daily reminder as a banner on this site, reminding people that mechanical failure isn’t bad luck, but bad engineering. Bad luck is ill timed safety, bad weather at bad time or simply being crashed at by runaway Grosjean or similar.

          Only time Vettel had that type of incident this year was in Malaysia where you can perhaps give it 50/50 like Alonso and Kimi in Suzuka. He had some good luck and bad luck with safety cars as did Alonso. But for the love of God, stop calling alternator failures a bad luck. There’s obviously some bad engineering when it keeps failing the whole season in both cars. That would be like saying Alonso had a bad luck that their car simply isn’t as fast as Red Bull. It’s same ****. Both are bad engineering, but that don’t count as luck. This is team sport.

          Let me give you an example of just how stupid it is to call mech failures a bad luck. Red Bull kept messing up their engine in 2010 because they were experimenting with EBD. So you’d call those EBD related failures a bad luck, but then call it a good engineering when it works. They all know what they’re doing. They know when they are pushing the limits and they know what’s the price. I’m sure Red Bull could make their car never suffer a single alternator failure ever again, but they know it’s gonna cost them in terms of laptime, and they consciously decide to go for performance.

          One more thing you could call luck is Pirelli’s choice of tires. You just know what’s the score as soon as you see the tire choices.
          Pirelli is influencing this championship in a rather bad way. When season started all the teams had to adapt to the tires. Some did it better, some worse, but you could argue that they didn’t know who will perform better and who worse.

          Now, through season some teams obviously put time and effort into making their cars more gentle to the tires and Pirelli just decides to go all conservative in the last 4-5 GPs. That’s not fair in my opinion. They are influencing championship and favoring teams who focused their resources on developing other aspects of their cars and I find it unfair since this change in philosophy is happening AFTER the “game rules” were already set and the game began.

          I remember it when I was watching 2008 season and Bridgestone said they’d go with harder compound for China GP. I new before the weekend started that McLaren will have an edge over Ferrari.

      • Kobayashi24 (@kobayashi24) said on 20th November 2012, 6:20

        It was Alonso’s fault in Japan. It’s okay, he makes mistakes sometimes. He’s human.

  15. Jake (@jleigh) said on 19th November 2012, 17:16

    I believe Lewis Hamilton has never finished a race in the continent of North America anywhere other than 1st. He finished 1st in Canada and USA 07, Canada 10, Canada and USA 12. His only other races in the continent were Canada 08/11, in which he retired from both.

    • McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 20th November 2012, 11:54

      Hamilton became only the second driver to win the United States Grand Prix in two separate locations. The Briton also won in Indianapolis in 2007. emulating Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, who won the race in Phoenix and Detroit.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th November 2012, 13:10

        @mcgregski That’s partly because of the different nomenclatures given to previous races in the USA when there was more than one race there each year. Ten different drivers have now won F1 races on at the least two different tracks in the USA.

        Alan Jones won at three different tracks: Watkins Glen (1980 United States Grand Prix), Long Beach (1981 Long Beach Grand Prix) and Las Vegas (1981 Las Vegas Grand Prix).

        Carlos Reutemann won at Watkins Glen in 1974, then again in 1978 and at Long Beach the same year. Gilles Villeneuve repeated Reutemann’s 1978 double the year after.

        Niki Lauda won at Watkins Glen in 1975 and then after his comeback at Long Beach in 1982. Likewise Nelson Piquet won at Watkins Glen in 1980 and Long Beach in 1984.

        Michele Alboreto won the 1982 Las Vegas Grand Prix and 1983 Detroit Grand Prix. John Watson won at Detroit in 1982 and Long Beach in 1983. Keke Rosberg won the one-off Dallas Grand Prix in 1984 and the Detroit Grand Prix in 1985.

        Complicating the matter further, some of these races were also referred to as the ‘United States Grand Prix East’ and ‘United States Grand Prix West’.

        • McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 20th November 2012, 13:29

          @keithcollantine good old trusty BBC Sports News was the source for that snippet :) I guess they just literally looked at the races called the “United States Grand Prix” which makes their fact pretty misleading if they haven’t considered all the “Grand Prix” hosted in the “United States”

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.