Who would have won the ‘FIA pole award’ 1950-2013

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013The FIA has proposed giving a special award to the driver who sets the most pole positions during a grand prix season.

An award is already presented to the driver who achieves the most fastest laps during races and this year it was won by Sebastian Vettel (pictured).

For obvious reasons, the driver who sets the most pole positions in a season has often been the driver who went on to win the world championship. But as the table below shows there are some interesting exceptions.

In 1968 Chris Amon’s three pole positions for Ferrari would have been enough to give him the award. But the famously luckless Amon never won a race in his career. He came close that year at Brands Hatch, finishing second to Jo Siffert, but he ended that year tenth in the points standings.

Other drivers who did not win a world championship but did set the most pole positions in a season include Stirling Moss, Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Peterson, Rene Arnoux and – most recently – Patrick Tambay in 1983.

On the other side of the coins world champions such as Kimi Raikkonen and Keke Rosberg have never set the most pole positions in a season.

Here’s a look at who would have won the FIA’s proposed pole position trophy had it been introduced when the world championship begain in 1950.

Most pole positions per season: 1950-2013

Year Most poles Poles Races % Notes
1950 Juan Manuel Fangio 4 7 57.14%
1951 Juan Manuel Fangio 4 8 50.00%
1952 Alberto Ascari 5 8 62.50%
1953 Alberto Ascari 6 9 66.67%
1954 Juan Manuel Fangio 5 9 55.56%
1955 Juan Manuel Fangio 3 7 42.86%
1956 Juan Manuel Fangio 6 8 75.00%
1957 Juan Manuel Fangio 4 8 50.00%
1958 Mike Hawthorn 4 11 36.36%
1959 Stirling Moss 4 9 44.44%
1960 Stirling Moss 4 10 40.00%
1961 Phil Hill 5 8 62.50%
1962 Jim Clark 6 9 66.67%
1963 Jim Clark 7 10 70.00%
1964 Jim Clark 5 10 50.00%
1965 Jim Clark 6 10 60.00%
1966 Jack Brabham 3 9 33.33%
1967 Jim Clark 6 11 54.55%
1968 Chris Amon 3 12 25.00%
1969 Jochen Rindt 5 11 45.45%
1970 Jackie Stewart 4 13 30.77% Same number of poles as Jacky Ickx but more second places.
1971 Jackie Stewart 6 11 54.55%
1972 Jacky Ickx 4 12 33.33%
1973 Ronnie Peterson 9 15 60.00%
1974 Niki Lauda 9 15 60.00%
1975 Niki Lauda 9 14 64.29%
1976 James Hunt 8 16 50.00%
1977 Mario Andretti 7 17 41.18%
1978 Mario Andretti 8 16 50.00%
1979 Jean-Pierre Jabouille 4 15 26.67% Same number of poles as Jacques Laffite but more second places.
1980 Rene Arnoux 3 14 21.43% Same number of poles as Nelson Piquet but more second places.
1981 Rene Arnoux 4 15 26.67% Same number of poles as Alan Jones but more second places.
1982 Alain Prost 5 16 31.25% Same number of poles, seconds and thirds as Rene Arnoux, but more fourths.
1983 Patrick Tambay 4 15 26.67% Same number of poles and seconds as Rene Arnoux, but more thirds.
1984 Nelson Piquet 9 16 56.25%
1985 Ayrton Senna 7 16 43.75%
1986 Ayrton Senna 8 16 50.00%
1987 Nigel Mansell 8 16 50.00%
1988 Ayrton Senna 13 16 81.25%
1989 Ayrton Senna 13 16 81.25%
1990 Ayrton Senna 10 16 62.50%
1991 Ayrton Senna 8 16 50.00%
1992 Nigel Mansell 14 16 87.50%
1993 Alain Prost 13 16 81.25%
1994 Michael Schumacher 6 16 37.50%
1995 Damon Hill 7 17 41.18%
1996 Damon Hill 9 16 56.25%
1997 Jacques Villeneuve 10 17 58.82%
1998 Mika Hakkinen 9 16 56.25%
1999 Mika Hakkinen 11 16 68.75%
2000 Michael Schumacher 9 17 52.94%
2001 Michael Schumacher 11 17 64.71%
2002 Michael Schumacher 7 17 41.18% Same number of poles as Juan Pablo Montoya but more second places.
2003 Michael Schumacher 5 16 31.25%
2004 Michael Schumacher 8 18 44.44%
2005 Fernando Alonso 6 19 31.58%
2006 Fernando Alonso 6 18 33.33%
2007 Lewis Hamilton 6 17 35.29% Same number of poles as Felipe Massa but more second places.
2008 Lewis Hamilton 7 18 38.89%
2009 Sebastian Vettel 4 17 23.53% Same number of poles as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button but more second places.
2010 Sebastian Vettel 10 19 52.63%
2011 Sebastian Vettel 15 19 78.95%
2012 Lewis Hamilton 7 20 35.00%
2013 Sebastian Vettel 9 19 47.37%

NB. Where two drivers had the same number of pole positions the number of second places has been used as a tie breaker, and so on.

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67 comments on Who would have won the ‘FIA pole award’ 1950-2013

  1. Sam (@) said on 29th November 2013, 12:40

    To me this again reminds me of how 2012 should have been another championship for Lewis.

    • Adam Kibbey (@kibblesworth) said on 29th November 2013, 12:48

      Agreed, 2012 was definitely Lewis’s year. Shame it wasn’t McLaren’s.

    • kpcart said on 29th November 2013, 13:29

      maybe he could have got closer, but not won it. he had a better chance late in 2010 and blew it.

    • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 29th November 2013, 15:10

      You gotta be kidding me, right ??!?! HAM finished 4th in 2012…. and he gathered like 2/3 the points VET and/or ALO gathered !!! Yes, in the last part of the champ he had a better car than Ferrari for sure, somethimes the best car on the grid… but his 90points deficit is waaaaay to much to consider him as a serious prospect for the 2012 WDC !!!

      • Ivan (@wpinrui) said on 29th November 2013, 15:36

        Remember all the misfortune Lewis Hamilton had.
        Or if you can’t remember, read this: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/12/14/2012-f1-driver-rankings-2/

        • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 30th November 2013, 0:01

          Thanks, but I don’t need it. It’s funny how you guys consider IT bad luck when (one of) the fastest car on the grid loses many points because of mechanical problems, but when a car is slower than other(s) and loses the champ by the same amount of points… you consider IT a poor job by the driver/team. Thing is… both situations are the team/driver fault ! You just can’t lose 156points just because of bad luck, let’s be realistic ! One can have bad luck 1-2 times and lose 50points max, but beyond this… smells more like a poor job !

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 29th November 2013, 15:42

        He clearly means that Hamilton had an awful lot of bad luck, losing a race lead on 3 occasions due to reliability or being crashed into, plus repeated mistakes by McLaren. He wasn’t a serious prospect come the end of the season, but he should have been.

        • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 29th November 2013, 17:18

          (@corrado-dub
          (@matt90
          I am disappointed with that. Read the alternative championship of 2012. Lewis lost a total 156 points just because of reliability failures, and pit stop issues. In real, Hamlton would have won the championship by 24 points *I think that was what it said in the article* over Vettel. Remember Alonso didn’t have bad luck at all during the season. Vettel had bad luck in Valencia costing him 25 points more in the championship. Alonso’s luck is probably the most of any driver on the grid. Vettel and Hamilton are one of the highest, next to Webber *until now*. Remember that in 2010, Vettel had Bahrain, Australia, Korea 63 points lost. Even more I think than that. And in fact, Alonso in that year would NEVER HAVE lead the championship. Look at alternative championships 2010 and 2012 for what I said. And tell me if I am wrong.

          • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 29th November 2013, 17:23

            (@corrado-dub
            (@matt90

            Remember that reliability issues of other drivers gave Alonso “extra points” in the championship…

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 29th November 2013, 21:43

            @krichelle

            Remember Alonso didn’t have bad luck at all during the season.

            You clearly missed the 2012 Belgian GP

            Alonso’s luck is probably the most of any driver on the grid.

            Since he was driving for Ferrari he enjoyed the fastest car on the grid!!!!!
            The fact is that in 2012 Alonso gave all the drivers and not only Vettel & Lewis lessons in how to extract the maximum of an F1 car and how to capitalize on every opportunity, i don’t know how many pts Fernando would have made if he was driving a Red Bull or a Mclaren or even a Lotus last year

          • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 29th November 2013, 23:36

            OK, I got you ! Thing is I CONSIDER mechanical failures part of the GAME !!! If ALO had (almost) no mechanical problems over the season… means that Ferrari did a better job when designed/built the car, and not that they were luckier ! This is my opinion, and I really think it’s more correct. And that because when you have a car with like at least 97%/season realiability, it means it can be done. But when you have a car reliable like 70%/season, you say the guy with 97% was luckier !!! Come on, in reality it means the team with reliability 70%/season did a worse job indeed. So, the results… show at the end of the champ. So, in my opinion reliability is something related strictly to the team/driver, and can be fixed. But when a 3rd party comes into play and destroy your car and there’s no chance to gain even 1 point… that’s pure bad luck !! Of course, I’m pointing again at ALO at Spa. If it wasn’t for Crashjean, he seemed good for 3rd/4th at least. And the outcome of the champ would have been different.

        • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 29th November 2013, 22:39

          (@tifoso1989

          Of course I didn’t forget 2012 Belgian GP. But up to that point, Alonso’s luck was bulletproof/explosiveproof/fireproof. What about 2005? Raikkonen had so many misfortunes during that season, mainly with reliability. Alternative championship calculations gave that Raikkonen was the “true 2005 champion”. If you want I can post the conclusions here of 2005. 2006 as well, but I am in doubt that Alonso without misfortune wouldn’t have lost the championship to MSC. Even though MSC’s engine failed in Japan. In 2010, Alonso wouldn’t have lead the championship throughout the whole season if MISFORTUNE wasn’t encountered by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and particularly Sebastian Vettel. Here it says all:
          http://www.f1zone.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=7044-2010 f1
          http://f1stats.blog.com/2012/02/26/alternative-history-the-2005-championship-without-misfortune/-2005 f1

          • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 1st December 2013, 0:16

            @krichelle

            Alternative championship calculations gave that Raikkonen was the “true 2005 champion”

            Adrian Newey’s cars with the exception of the RB7/RB9 has been extremely fast but unreliable (maybe it’s due to the extreme packaging) if Raikkonen was as you claim the “real champion of 2005″ then it was because of the speed of that Mclaren, very simple equation : take the risk “fast car+poor reliability” or “slow car + good reliability”, in 2005 Mclaren has had the fastest car on the grid but at the price of poor reliability
            I don’t know if it is selective memory or anything else but Alonso’ engine failed in Monza as well, in 2006 Shumacher lost the WDC because of his own mistakes (remember parking the car in Monaco …)

            In 2010, Alonso wouldn’t have lead the championship throughout the whole season if MISFORTUNE wasn’t encountered by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and particularly Sebastian Vettel.

            For the simple fact that the Ferrari F10 was not as fast as the RB or the MP4-25 during the whole season, Lewis threw the WDC in Monza & Singapoor, Sebastian has had reliability issues but remember he was not faultless during the season ( he crashed twice with Webber in Turkey and Button in Spa)

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 29th November 2013, 17:19

        @corrado-dub When looking at JUST the stats, it seems that way. But if you actually watched the races you would know how wrong you are.

        • I find it hard to believe no ever believes mechanical failures could be caused by the drivers. Just as drivers say a car is not suited to their style, what is to say their style is not harmful to the equipment. Just as some drivers are better on tires, some are definitely better on clutches, gear boxes, and engines. Today’s computers help alleviate some of this, but in the heat of battle pushing at the limit, a mistimed gear shift will do damage. Take your car to the local track and push 10/10ths and see how many times you make a minor mistake here or there and see how often the thoughts of if you damaged something crosses your mind. Prost was known as the “Professor” due to his silky smooth style and how easy he was on his equipment. I think Lewis and Mark sometimes over drive and damage there equipment, but it is always a conspiracy…. I knew Vettel would be a world champion the day he won in the rain at Monza before he ever moved to Red Bull. That was smooth driving, smooth is fast and easy on equipment

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 29th November 2013, 19:40

            You used Vettel as an example of a driver who’s good to his car, yet he’s had plenty of retirements from the lead himself. And although mechanical failures may well sometimes be caused by the driver, what basis do you have to suggest this was the case for Hamilton last year during any of his (I believe entirely unrelated) retirements?

        • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 29th November 2013, 23:52

          Stats are the… reality. Based on them the champ is awarded every season !!!! Bulletproof (or almost) reliability is achieveable, so when a fast car has many mechanical issues over a season, like some of you mention 2005 Kimi and 2012 HAM, it just means that team did a poor job in this department. And… IT’S JUST THEIR PROBLEM ! It’s been proven for decades now that if a car is designed without reliability in mind, it’s faster. Lotus is a well known example for their fragile cars. Unfortunately, drivers lost their lives because Lotus built the cars too light/fragile. Ferrari did not share this “lightweight/fragile” view and also blamed Chapman for his lightweight mania. So, mechanical failures are just part of the “game” and it means the team/driver are not doing the best job. And when you come up with a driver that lost 154points (out of 340) because of mechanical problems….. that’s no bad luck anymore !!!

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 30th November 2013, 14:12

            Nobody is saying that the team didn’t do a bad job (obviously not, otherwise the pitstop blunders and Spanish qualifying wouldn’t be mentioned), the argument people are making is that Hamilton himself drove as well as any championship contender but was let down by the team. Nobody is denying that that’s part of the game, they’re just making the observation that Hamilton was unfortunate that his team were such a mess at a time when he was racing so well. (But, your point is a little flawed because Hamilton didn’t lose 154 points purely to mechanical and operational problems. A fair chunk of that went to crashes which he had no blame in.)

    • 7 for Senna and 5 for Clark. Wow.

    • Nixon (@nixon) said on 30th November 2013, 4:52

      winning a championship is teamwork unfortunately for hamilton, he and his team were not good enough to win the championship. simple :)

  2. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th November 2013, 12:46

    These prizes (most poles, most fastest laps…) are so pointless ! it’s just a way to attract sponsorship. Like the DHL Award we have already. I’d not be surprised if the Pole Trophy is called, dunno, “AT&T Pole Prize” or something.

    I’d rather give prizes to the pitcrews for fastest pitstop of the weekend or something (if they don’t do it already). The drivers already have the invaluable prize of starting the race on pole position (which these days is almost a certain win on sunday), they don’t need a trophy to celebrate that !

    • The 1984 season did have an award for pole position which was sponsered by a scooter company (I forgot the name). The driver would recieve a scooter for each pole position scored (Piquet, who that season managed nine poles, ended the year with nine scooters haha).

    • Robbie said on 1st December 2013, 14:32

      @fer-no65 “just a way to attract sponsorship…” isn’t that pretty much what makes car racing et al possible? And hasn’t lack of sponsorship in a soft global economy been part of the reason F1 teams more and more need pay drivers? Along with of course F1’s inability to control costs.

      Also, I think pole has only represented an almost certain win for SV these days, but certainly in 2013, with the race being a whole different ball game in terms of tire management than Saturday is, pole certainly never guaranteed NR or LH a win.

      For me 2013 particularly would be a year where getting pole was the least relevant as a reflection of how a driver’s weekend would end up…as I say unless you were SV. MW generally fell backwards right at the start, and the Mercs did eventually too. In an almost predictable way. And of course DRS erased some drivers’ pole as soon as it was available to the second place driver after a couple of laps of the race, which to me waters down the value of pole.

  3. Juan Pablo Heidfeld (@juan-pablo-heidfeld-1) said on 29th November 2013, 12:49

    If it means no point for pole position, then I’m all for this idea! Also, interesting to note (even though I knew already :P ) that Montoya matched Schumi for poles in the all conquering year of 2002

  4. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 29th November 2013, 12:50

    They are practically the same as who won the drivers championship, pointless.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 29th November 2013, 13:21

      @full-throttle-f1 You forgot Lewis in 2012 .

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 29th November 2013, 15:49

      I count 27 which are different- quite a large number. That includes 8 drivers who never won a single championship.

    • Clark and Senna were the drivers who won more without winning the drivers’ championship, 3 each.

      • As Clark basically won 62-65, and lost a shot in 67 from reliability again, and Senna has so many poles… this tells me that in an era like today with bulletproof reliability, Senna would be very hard to beat, a little bit like Vettel is now becoming (he has spots near the top of pole lists as well), with only Hamilton able to live with him on pure pace. Alonso and Raikkonen (Kimi being absent from the list is interesting) usually rely on race pace now, as Prost seemingly chose to do. Montoya would’ve also done well in an era with bulletproof cars!

        6 – Fangio, Senna, Schumacher (1 on tiebreaker, maybe 5.5)
        5 – Clark
        4 – Vettel (1 on tiebreaker, maybe 3.5)
        3 – Hamilton (1 on tiebreaker, another lost on tiebreaker to Vettel)

        Interesting that these 6 are already clear of everybody else! Senna could also have won some more instead of Hill and Villeneuve!

  5. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 29th November 2013, 12:58

    Mansell still #1 in overall %. A fighter to the end!

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 29th November 2013, 13:34

      It just goes to show how the car dominance we’ve seen in recent years is nothing compared to what we’ve had in the past. Even Prost managed 81.25% in his Williams, more than Vettel’s best at 78.95% in 2011 and Prost wasn’t exactly a qualifying specialist.

  6. Oddly enough, Piquet did not manage the most pole positions in any of his three championship-winning seasons (he finished fifth in 1984, only completing seven of the sixteen races).

  7. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 29th November 2013, 13:02

    I think it is a good idea. They should also make more of pole per weekend.
    In america it’s a bit more of an event.
    And I wouldn’t mind a point or more for pole.
    Some say yeah but it would suck if that point(s) would decide a championship.
    It could yes.. but it could also make the final race more exciting one day.
    Sometimes it will affect racing positive sometimes negative.
    But I wouldn’t mind extra qualy excitement.

  8. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 29th November 2013, 13:41

    I would miss Kubica when it comes to this .Had the pole raced today , he would have stood as tall as a pole getting as many poles and the pole & pole awards of the year in any poll instead of which , now, we will have a tadpole in Lotus trying to jump as high as a pole only to get a tad rolled and crash into a pothole ;-)
    joking apart,
    Vettel and Lewis are great Last ditch qualifiers,it has to be said . I don’t know about the past heroes as I haven’t seen that era . Was it always Senna in a Mclaren in 89 and Nigel in a Williams 92 ? 14 out of 16 races Wow , that sounds as boring as 2011 if not the worst in terms of entertainment for the fans

  9. Girts (@girts) said on 29th November 2013, 13:47

    I think it’s a pointless award and the leading drivers ain’t really going to care about it. For instance, if Hamilton had won it in 2013, I doubt it would mean anything to him.

    F1 Fanatics know, who set the most pole positions anyway. And I’m not looking forward to discussions between “he did it only because he has the fastest car [over one lap]” and “but he beat his team mate” either.

    It is obviosuly true that some drivers are better over one lap than they are over the race distance and vice versa. But such a prize isn’t going to reward the likes of Trulli; only drivers, who focus on championship would have a chance of winning it. So I think no one needs it.

  10. Jim PROFIT (@jim0profit) said on 29th November 2013, 14:32

    These prizes are so boring

  11. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 29th November 2013, 15:04

    Why not give a point for pole?

    The two reasons I hear against that are:

    – championship could be decided on a Saturday
    – Some backmarkers might build cars specialised on qualifying

    So could we maybe have a rule that the point for pole will be awarded only if a driver has a classified finish in the race? Or that it is a point for the highest qualifier that finishes the race classified?

    That would solve those issues.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 29th November 2013, 15:14

      @mike-dee That’s actually a good idea to spice up qualifying. But the not so great one lap specialists-but excellent race drivers will lose out . Besides , then it will become more rally-ish. But still a worthy thought. It’s after all one point .

    • Ivan (@wpinrui) said on 29th November 2013, 16:01

      @mike-dee About the point of backmarkers building a car specialised on qualifying, I doubt this will be a problem because it’s only one point and it’s only for pole, not like it’s points for the top 10 in qualifying. I definitely agree though, with your solution to solve those two issues, and it would make the fight for pole position more exciting.

    • ken (@whatevz) said on 29th November 2013, 16:16

      Surely I’m not the only one excited by the prospect of seeing some cars built just to smash the qualifying records? Bring it!

    • Breno (@austus) said on 30th November 2013, 0:13

      Whoever gets pole already has a massive advantage on Sunday, they dont need extra points.

  12. Senna remains King of the pole In my opinion.
    81.25%, 81.25% and 62.50% as his best 3 results + 2 years of ‘most poles’ in the lotus in 85/86
    Amazing in 9,5 (even less) years of racing with 4 different teams.

  13. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 29th November 2013, 17:09

    Will there be an award for the most pit stops during the season?

  14. tonywade (@tonywade) said on 29th November 2013, 17:46

    CART then INDYCAR give a championship point for every pole. I think this would make sense.

  15. Steven (@steevkay) said on 29th November 2013, 18:10

    Unless championship points are involved, it’s a meaningless trophy.

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