Title battle goes down to the wire for 27th time

2012 United States Grand Prix stats and factsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Honda