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

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

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  1. In 2000, the title battle was between Schumacher and Hakkinen to become a triple World Champion and line up the following season as the driver with the most championship wins on the grid. Schumacher was driving for Ferrari, having won back-to-back titles in the mid-90s with ‘the Enstone team’. Hakkinen had won back-to-back titles in the previous two years driving Adrian Newey cars and had the chance to make it three in a row. Schumacher had finished as runner-up in Hakkinen’s maiden championship-winning year and was now out to avenge the loss of two years ago and stop Hakkinen’s run.

    In 2012, the title battle is between Alonso and Vettel to become a triple World Champion and line up the following season as the driver with the most championship wins on the grid. Alonso is driving for Ferrari, having won back-to-back titles in the mid-2000s with ‘the Enstone team’. Vettel has won back-to-back titles in the previous two years driving Adrian Newey cars and has the chance to make it three in a row. Alonso finished as runner-up in Vettel’s maiden championship-winning year and is now out to avenge the loss of two years ago and stop Vettel’s run.

    Of course, that’s where the similarities end, but who will prevail this time?

    1. Wow! That is incredible. I hadn’t realised that, but it’s simply amazing just how similar it has become. Perhaps history will repeat itself…though Schumacher had an 8 point advantage rather than a 13 point (Or roughly 5 points in those days) disadvantage.

      Here’s hoping Alonso can do it though!

  2. Almost going completely unnoticed is Schumi’s last ever race this Sunday. I wonder what kind of send off he will get? I predict not much at all.

    1. Perhaps all of the other drivers could take turns to push him off the track.

    2. @john-h
      I spared a thought for him today, he’ll probably hold one of the title contenders up in quali for old times’ sake.

  3. Alonso now has more points than either 2010 or 2011.
    Petrov has finished 17-16-17-16-17 in the last 5 races.
    Senna has had 5 10th places this year, Perez has had 5 11th places.

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

    In a similar vein, his previous 4 victories were all followed by no-scores in the following race – will he end that jinx in Brazil?

  4. Ironically, if they had have been using (one of) the old points systems (10-6-4-3-2-1) Vettel would be champion already with 90 points compared to Alonso’s 80 points. Even if Alonso won next week in Brazil he still couldn’t overcome Vettel’s number of wins so would lose it on a count-back. Interesting thought on the new points scoring system……..

    1. I’m certain Alonso would be much closer using the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system though!! It’s all about perception.

      1. Vettel 112, Alonso 106 under 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system.

        Vettel would only need fifth to clinch the championship under this system.

    2. Changes since the 10-6-4-3-2-1 have generally been made to reward consistency over speed and draw out the championship until later when there is a single dominant driver. This shows that the changes have achieved their stated aim – Vettel has been the fastest and Alonso the most consistent. What is slightly ironic, however, is that Ferrari is the beneficiary when the original change was made specifically to stop Ferrari winning championships too early.

      1. But it also clearly states that the so called “rewarding the winner more” isn’t happening.

  5. @ Keithcollantine Keith Collantine
    Grosjean and Massa lost 5 positions on the grid.
    should not They start in 9th and 12th respectively?

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