Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2017

From Farina to Hamilton: The stats of F1’s pole position record-holders

F1 statisticsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Last weekend Lewis Hamilton became only the eighth driver in the 67-year history of the world championship to hold the record for most pole positions.

Even by F1 standards this is a rare achievement. This is only the fourth time the record has changed hands since 1958. History tells us it could be a decade or more before anyone surpasses Hamilton’s eventual mark, wherever he raises it to.

Those who preceded Hamilton include Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Walt Faulkner, who took pole for the first three world championship races respectively. The latter was the Indianapolis 500.

Fangio briefly held the record but when injury kept him out of the 1952 season Alberto Ascari seized the initiative. After Ascari’s untimely death Fangio pushed the record to 29, taking his final pole position in front of his home crown at Buenos Aires.

Alberto Ascari, Lancia D50, Monza, 1954
Ascari beat Fangio’s pole record, then lost it to him again
Two years after Fangio retired the man who took his title made his grand prix debut. Jim Clark was a front row fixture until his death in 1968. A year before that, in Canada, Clark ended Fangio’s reign as the number one pole sitter of all time after 13 years and 29 days.

It took over two decades for anyone to surpass Clark. He was campaigning the latest in a series of potent Lotus chassis in F1 at the time of his death and would surely have amassed more than his 33 pole positions. But the same could be said of the driver who eclipsed Clark’s record and almost doubled it.

Ayrton Senna’s pole position at the 1989 United States Grand Prix was his eighth in a row. He was the most prolific pole-setter in every season bar one from 1985 to 1991.

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Jim Clark, Lotus 25, Silverstone, 1965
Clark was the number one pole sitter for over two decades
At that point in his career, before the rise of Williams-Renault in 1992, Senna had already increased the record to 60. His pole position strike rate stood at an incredible 47.6%. He only started from pole on five more occasions before he was killed at Imola in 1994.

At the following race Michael Schumacher started from pole position for the first time. He eventually claimed Senna’s record, surpassing it at Imola in 2006 and edging it from 65 to 68 before bowing out of F1 at the end of the year.

In a neat but thankfully less tragic symmetry, the driver who eclipsed Schumacher’s record made his grand prix debut in the race after Schumacher first retired. Hamilton and Schumacher eventually shared the track when the latter returned to F1 with Mercedes in 2010.

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Adelaide, 1989
Senna surpassed Clark in 1989
Schumacher was unable to add to his poles tally, though he should have done at Monaco in 2012. The Mercedes driver topped the qualifying session but had to take a five-place grid drop for ramming Bruno Senna’s Williams in the previous race. In a further coincidence, Hamilton had been stripped of pole position at the previous race after his McLaren failed a technical check.

In 2013 Hamilton replaced Schumacher at Mercedes and the year after that the team produced the first in a series of crushingly dominance V6 hybrid turbo cars. Only now are they beginning to face real competition but it hasn’t been enough to stop Hamilton taking twice as many pole positions as his rivals put together this year.

How much higher it may go depends on how long he intends to keep competing and how competitive Mercedes will continue to be. Could Hamilton be the first driver past 100? It’s not out of the question.

All-time pole position record in stats

Evolution of the record

Click, scroll and drag to zoom and move the graph above.

Top ten pole-sitters by strike rate

Pos. Driver Poles (%) Poles
1 Juan Manuel Fangio 56.86 29
2 Jim Clark 45.83 33
3 Alberto Ascari 43.75 14
4 Ayrton Senna 40.37 65
5 Lewis Hamilton 34.33 69
6 Sebastian Vettel 25.13 48
7 Stirling Moss 24.24 16
8 Michael Schumacher 22.15 68
9 Damon Hill 17.39 20
10 Jackie Stewart 17.17 17

NB. Only includes drivers who set more than one pole position.

Start, Monte-Carlo
Schumacher’s first pole came one race after Senna’s last

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80 comments on “From Farina to Hamilton: The stats of F1’s pole position record-holders”

  1. “…before he was killed at Imola in 1994.”

    Is this the best way to word it?

    1. Is the wording too harsh?

    2. “…before he was tragically killed at Imola in 1994.”

    3. Why are you afraid of words? Do you need things watered down or censored to please your delicate self? Good grief, I’ve seen it all now.

      1. Maybe dusty is not a native speaker? For example, With german as your first language, the naive translation might suggest that there was someone involved who was doing the killing, which would feel inappropiate and might lead to Confusion in People not overly fluent in English. Just as an alternative thought to hating on special little snowflakes ;-)

        1. @mrboerns Correct, English is not my native language.

          It’s not like you need to word it as “sadly killed in a tragic accident” to make me feel better, it’s just that “killed” without specifying “in an accident” makes it translate as “murdered” in my head. I understand the text is not wrong, it just sounded a little weird when I read earlier today.

      2. Calm down Tiomkin. As @mrboerns explained, the verb “killed” may imply a personal doer of the killing.

        As far as I’m concerned, “killed in an accident at Imola” would be better, because the accident suggests that the victim suffered a death that was directly caused by an accident itself, which was probably also somewhat violent or at least unnatural [compare to: died in an accident], rather than just pointing to a location, which does not in itself convey any information as to the way of dying, and leaves the matter unresolved at best, if not even suggesting a murder.

        1. Yes “killed” sounds very much like “manslaugther” every time i read it like that and especially in Sennas case with all the trials and theories its like “are we suggesting something between the lines?”. I dont think for a second thats the intent here but thats kinda what it reads like for me.

  2. Newbie question: what exactly is “strike rate”?

    Is that % = number of times winning pole / total number of times competing for it?

    1. Spot on :-)

      If you qualify for 40 races and have pole at 10 races, your strike rate would be 25%.

      1. Thanks!

        Interesting stuff. Would love to see some conversion statistics about startinggrid position vs. finishing position or something similar!

    2. Yes, it comes from Cricket.

  3. A really interesting article. I started thinking about this and researching a little after I saw the brief graphic by FOM on Saturday. Amazing to think how few times the record has changed. A little while to wait until we get a similar article on wins…

    The strike rate of Fangio, Ascari, Clark and Senna in particular is stunning. Considering that Senna’s only truly dominant car was also driven by Alain Prost (no slouch), it really shows just how good at qualifying he was.

    Hamilton is often criticised for never having a bad car, but he’s never had a bad team-mate either and deserves the record.

    Vettel isn’t hugely far behind… a dominant year or two for Ferrari and we could see the record changing hands regularly by 2020!

    1. @ben-n I think Kovalainen was a pretty poor teammate. In 2 years of a fairly competitive car at McLaren, he had 3 podiums, 1 win, and 0 poles (compared to HAM’s 15 podiums, 7 wins, and 10 poles). Not impressive.

      And Button–for as much as some love him–was not an exceptional qualifier. Button had 1 pole in his 3 years with Hamilton at McLaren, while Hamilton had 9. Button only had 8 poles his entire career in F1, and 4 of those were in the Brawn year, which was a dominant car.

      I’m not saying Hamilton doesn’t deserve the record–as there were plenty of reasons Schumacher had so many, not all on the up and up–but “never had a bad teammate” is a bit far. And if taken solely in the context of qualifying, he’s had some abysmal teammates.

      1. Heikki did have a pole at Silverstone in 08!

        1. @gitanes – Good catch, missed that one.

          So to be clear on podiums/wins/poles it is HAM: 15/7/10 to KOV: 3/1/1

          1. I always felt that Kovalainen was the worst driver in a top drive during a full season since I started watching F-1 in 1991, and that perplexing podium stat says it all: 3 podiums againts Hamilton’s 15, during 2008 and 2009 in McLaren!

            Apart from that period, I agree that Lewis had the toughest team-mates during his career, compared to the other all-time greats: certainly tougher than Schumacher’s, Senna’s or Fangio’s team-mates, perhaps comparable only to Prost’s team-mates (an ageing Lauda and a still young Senna)

  4. It is probably fair to note that Schumacher’s strike rate goes up to a shade over 27% (moving him up to 5th, behind Hamilton and ahead of Vettel) if you discount his comeback seasons. Save for Monaco 2012 he never had a realistic chance of bagging a pole in those seasons.

    1. Worth noting perhaps, but I disagree that it’s really relevant or fair. He competed between 2010-2012 knowing that his records were on the line. Nobody is suggesting that we discount Fernando Alonso’s last three years from the record books…

      1. Well, Alonso might like to suggest just that ….

        (and I really couldn’t blame him)

        1. :-) I wouldn’t blame him either!

          My point is that we can’t pick and choose what we count for each driver. If he entered a Grand Prix, his intention was invariably to get pole position and win the race… if he didn’t achieve this, then his “hit rate” is worsened. If a driver wants to reserve their stats, then they shouldn’t enter any more Grand Prix.

          1. True, true. I just felt that the point was there to make. You are right though, if your on the grid you have a chance which I suppose he proved in Monaco.

          2. Regarding MS there is the puzzling (although not surprising) fact that he was eliminated from the Championship in 97 for his whack on JV, yet got to keep his points, wins, and poles. In other words, no penalty whatsoever.

          3. A little similar to the SV issue in Baku. It shows they are still totally inconsistent.

            As we saw Sunday with Kimi, the ten second penalty for that level of stupidity was ridiculous in comparison to a yellow flag infringement.

            Yes Kimi might have been a bit asleep but he was right – the car was right off the circuit and parked.

            Sebs little brain fart was on a whole other level and I notice the initial graphics to F1 shows on sky are now showing a very clear short film extract of just how hard and obvious the move onto Lewis was.

            Amazing how the FIA can still get it completely backwards all these years later.

          4. Drg – The difference is Schumacher intentionally rammed Villeneuve to try to force him to retire so he could win the championship – as he’d done in ’94 to Hill. Whether Vettel actually meant to hit Hamilton or just scare him is a matter for debate, it certainly wasn’t in his best interest to do so.

          5. @ben-n: I think we should however be able to notice how schumacher in the first stint was max 37 years old and when he came back he was 41, 42, 43! That is beyond the time you can be competitive in f1, what if schumacher just wanted to have fun cause he liked racing, knowing he couldn’t be the same as he was in his prime?

            I think in such a case we could at least say: schumacher including past-peak return is 8th and young enough to compete in f1 schumacher is 6th, with this I’m not saying he was a pole master, but really including the 2nd stint in these % statistics you’re giving an image of schumacher being a much more mediocre driver than he is.

            I’d just put both options, schumacher first stint and schumacher overall, we don’t need to do this for a lot of drivers cause who else had this? Mansell maybe? And it was only a year that he came back over 40, rest of his career he was young enough.

            Alonso, true, he didn’t have a competitive car lately, but it was a mclaren, a car that won the championship in other years, and he never left f1 and he never got past 40, when you typically can’t compete any more.

            He only had a bad career choice, but his ability to perform has absolutely not diminished, any good observer can notice the good job relative to the car he has he’s been doing this year even, at 36 years old, so my main point is that: schumacher at 41 + and after 3 years off f1 was NO LONGER at the same level he’s been most of his career, alonso, for now, still is, and unless he continues racing past 39 wouldn’t have to discount anything cause he’d still be “young enough” to race.

          6. Replying to Esploratore below …. sorry but I have to disagree with you on Schumacher …. you can not split his F1 career into 2 separate periods just to massage the statistics and make his career look better than it already was ….. the fact is, regardless of his age, when he entered a race it became part of his career statistics.
            I guess the sad fact is that the records make his career record look slightly worse than it actually is, you can argue that this is because he came out of retirement when he was longer good enough to be competitive in F1, but that was his decision and the statistics now reflect that.

            If we start massaging statistics for some reason or other that we don’t agree with then I would suggest that we throw stats out of the window as they will become totally pointless.

  5. It’s probably surprising that pole position record is lowest of those three statistics in which one is given every race (few exceptions though, with fastest laps being shared sometimes and shared drivers in 1950s giving shared wins)

    Win record = 91
    Pole record = 69
    Fastest lap record = 77

    On the other note, there is 98 polesitters, 107 winners and 130 drivers with fastest lap.

    1. Certainly interesting, if not totally surprising. A driver is far less likely to suffer a failure during 4 qualifying laps than in a 60 lap race, so there is less variation than winners. Fastest Lap is increasingly luck of the draw… most drivers with top 10/12 potential could put on some fresh tyres at the end of a race for 3 laps and come out with a Fastest Lap.

      1. Marian Gri (@)
        6th September 2017, 13:44

        Do not agree about the part where MS’ FL rate is artificial. I think we’re missing something, ’cause I don’t quite remember about other cars than those fighting for the WDC taking the FL… doesn’t matter if it was luck of the draw or something like it happens today, when a certain F.Alonso stops the car on purpose to equip fresh tyres just to take the FL. Let’s not forget that back in the day, the tyres never were the “mess” they were in the last 7 years or so, the discrepancies regarding the performance because of the tyres never being as high as today. Usually, the drivers fighting for the P1 and P2 were the fastest driver all race long. I simply do not remember to see a Minardi, Arrows, Jaguar or even better cars to stop for fresh tyres just to take the FL from Schumacher or Hakkinen. The teams back in the day weren’t “thinking” at this kind of stuff they’re thinking today. They’re a lot closer to pure racing than today. Plus, the number of wins of MS incline to believe the FL rate it’s real, and not something artificial, they kinda go hand in hand. Looking back at MS carreer and at his records, I guess most of us can say without thinking much that he was the fastest over a certain number of laps rather than 1 lap, so no big wonder his number of wins and FL tops easily the number of PP. Same thing applies to HAM, just the opposite. He’s known as a faster driver over 1 lap rather than 65 laps, so no wonder his number of wins is a lot closer to the number of FL than the number of PP.

        1. Is he? In my mind he’s known for being extremely quick over 1 lap yes but also for being very quick in terms of race pace as well as having excellent racecraft. His only negative that stops him from being the most complete driver on the grid in my mind is that he is sometimes inconsistent in his performance over a season and used to be more prone to making errors (he fixed that).

          If you look at his teammates they all except for Alonso lacked one of those traits. Button had good race pace and craft but was a slowish qualifier. Kovalienen was fast over 1 lap but lacked race pace. Rosberg was fast over a lap and in race pace but had weaker race craft. Bottas appears to be fairly similar to kovalienen but closer in race pace.

        2. Consider that Schumi drove and won his titles during the refuelling era. During the races he was all the time flat out with low fuel, that explains the impressive amount of FL.

          1. Marian Gri (@)
            7th September 2017, 7:36

            Cool story, bro!

            Sorry, the refuelling excuse it’s not working this time. It’s not like only MS and/or Ferrari ”benefited” from the refuelling option, eveybody did. The rest of the teams used the refuelling option too back in the day… but no other engine than Mercedes burned oil as fuel tho. Now we found out why back in 2014 and 2015 the Mercedes engine was not only significantly more performant than all other engines while using less fuel. A tech “miracle” indeed… some could name this ”tech miracle” like this: plain cheating. Anyway, in most cases, the driver setting the FL is one of the drivers with a top3 car. Look at the last race, HAM was setting FL after FL until his engine was turned down and RIC equipped fresh US. Even so, HAM managed few times to get back the FL from RIC. So, yeah, it’s unusual (or luck of the draw) to see the FL taken by a car/driver outside top2,3. I think we agree that RBR was the 2nd best car in the race too (after Mercedes), so it proves my theory is correct: 1 of the top3 cars took the FL… and not a Williams, McLaren or Force India. And Ben Needham is wrong too, because he implied that 10-15 years ago, every car from top10 could have stopped for fresh tyres and take the FL… just like today. False. First, because points are far more important than FL, so no car from top10 will throw away a place awarded with points to make an extra pit-stop and equip fresh tyres just to take the FL. Then, the cars outside top10 are not fast enough to take FL. So, there’s nothing artificial about M.Schumacher’s number of FL, every driver with a significant number of FL (at least 20) scoring most of the FL when they had a winning car.

          2. @corrado-dub, no offence, but your post comes across as a bit of an incoherent rant motivated by current grudges.

            Incidentally, since you throw accusations of oil burning around, will you hold Ferrari to the same standard and say that they are cheats given the secondary oil tank that the FIA instructed them to remove from the car because it violated the regulations (i.e. it was actually Ferrari’s use of oil burning that resulted in the FIA introducing new restrictions)?

          3. @corrado-dub – As Ambrogio points out, MSC did benefit from refueling. Was he the only person to benefit? No. But being the fastest/most talented driver on his team (as well as one of if not the best of his time in the sport), in generally the fastest car for at least 5 years, in an era of F1 that allowed for leaders to push, was of benefit.

            Imagine if there was refueling now, tire wars, unlimited engines, unlimited testing. One could argue a lot of different outcomes (e.g. maybe more competition at the top?), but one thing is certain. Track records would be destroyed even moreso than they are now. If these cars had 10-15 laps of fuel and the equivalent of US or UUS tyres/tires, times would tumble. And while it is conjecture to say so, I cannot imagine anything other than HAM and VET would be pummeling the lap records.

            MSC is still my favorite driver, but you have to admit that he benefited from his era. HAM has benefited from always being in a good car. Admitting that doesn’t mean they aren’t both great drivers.

      2. @ben-n
        Now you’re cherry picking yourself.

  6. Farina was the fist pole sitter and first record holder.
    If we then only count those who *broke* the record, we get a list of:
    Fangio
    Ascari
    Clark
    Senna
    Schumacher
    Hamilton

    That’s seven names, and it seems that only Fangio has died from natural causes. Schumacher is alive, of course, but might, at some point, possibly die of non-natural causes.
    Only Senna, though, died on a GP weekend, on race day even. Clark and Ascari had accidents on non-F1 races, and Farina had a car accident in the alps.

    1. Regarding Michael Schumacher, I do wonder if the injury he sustained while testing a racing motorcycle at Cartagena in February, 2009, contributed to the severity of his skiing injury.

      1. No, though it certainly contributed to his level of competitiveness in his Mercedes years. The severity of the injury was increased by the GoPro camera and being initially flown to a hospital that did not have a trauma center equipped to deal with his injuries. Minus those details, the outcome would likely have been vastly different.

  7. Interesting facts that make me appreciate the sport even more. You’ve got to love the heritage of Formula 1.
    Apart from this it seems so difficult to make comparisons between drivers competing in different “ages” of F1. I would just point out that the field was larger during Senna’s and Schumacher’s time. In Fangio’s first race in F1 (FRA 1948) there were 21 drivers fighting for pole position. The same number for Jim Clark (NED 1960) and 22 for Lewis (AUS 2007). In Senna’s first race, in Brazil in 1984, there were 27 drivers in the qualifying sessions and 30 in 1991 at Spa, when Scumacher made his debut.
    Thanks for this article, Keith!

    1. was larger during Senna’s and Schumacher’s time

      @daniboyf1 The chances of getting pole with a car that’s at the sharp end of the grid hasn’t changed though I’d say – though there are many more races nowadays than decades ago.

      1. @davidnotcoulthard, that is certainly true – whilst there might have been more entrants, a lot of them were not particularly competitive. The likes of Zakspeed, Osella, AGS or Coloni, for example, were often struggling just to qualify to race and never going to present much of a threat in qualifying – in reality, there were still only a few contenders each weekend for pole position in that era.

  8. Can anyone do the math and work out how many races it would take Hamilton to beat Senna’s pole percentage given a realistic pole rate?

    1. He needs 82 poles, 13 to go. His record says 11 pole in ’15, 12 in ’16, 8 in ’17 to date. At this same rate he’ll pass Senna by the end of next season.

      1. So he needs 13 poles in how many races to beat Senna’s pole percentage?

        1. I assume he means 13 poles in the next season, meaning 13 out of 21 races in 2018.

          1. Assuming he earns pole how many times this season?

          2. Makes me sad that Senna didn’t get the chance to see his whole F1 career through.

  9. To pass 100 pole positions Hamilton needs 31 more. In the last seasons he easily harvested over 10 poles per year (8 in 2017), so at the same rate he needs to race at this level of competitivity until season 2020 included, when he’ll be 35 years old, or a little over if his rhythm lowers.

    Hamilton has the ability to achieve this record, I think it’s only matter of having a highly competitive car and competition only from Ferrari. As far as I can remember, and as shown by data, Ferrari does not have a strong history of poles, always watching at the race to capitalize (this having a huge impact on my liver). Even in Schumacher’s years, last three championships he won his pole record was 7/17, 5/16, 8/18.

    1. @m-bagattini Even in 2013 Mercedes he snatched one win (Rosberg 2 wins) for 5 poles (Rosberg 3 poles). So to break the record of 100 poles he wouldn’t need a fast racecar, a qualifying one would do. Arguably that could’ve been 8 poles, to 3 wins, which would be a good set of poles for any drivers season actually.

      1. @flatsix agreed, he surely has the ability to pull out poles. With a highly competitive car, I meant not a backmarker one. I don’t see any Alonso move for him but surely that wouldn’t help.

        Let’s also take into account that seasons can potentially grow in length, helping him achieving this record.

        (I totally forgot about Kimi winning the opening 2013 race with Lotus!)

  10. It had to be broken once, it will be much more interesting to see which benchmark Hamilton will set however. As posted above, can he reach the century? I think 80 will be easily reached mid 2018.

  11. Get it Lewis. Amazing achievement. The next 1.5 years will be telling for Hamilton’s legacy. If he continues at his current pace. WATCH OUT!!!!

  12. I was reading an article from The Times regarding Michael Schumacher’s motorcycle accident, and in it they mentioned that he was the only driver to have stood on the podium at every race of a season, and that happened in the 2002 season. He was first 11 times, second 5 times, and third once.
    I’m not sure what the most Pole, Win, and Fastest lap in a race are in a season, but Schumacher did it 4 times in the 2002 season, a feat that Lewis Hamilton has already emulated this season even though it isn’t complete.
    It was also interesting to see the huge number of retirements in a season. Michael Schumacher was the only driver to complete every race in the 2002 season. Every other driver who competed that season had retirements. The driver with the second least retirements was Ralf Schumacher (2). So far this season there are three drivers who haven’t been classified as retired from a race, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Esteban Ocon. Last year there were two drivers who classified as having completed the season without a retirement: Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.
    I also noticed that only 8 cars completed the Australian GP in 2002. There were 12 retirements and 2 disqualifications.

    1. As an aside, I was looking at the olde F1 races. Alberto Ascari won every race he entered from the Belgium GP in 1952 through to the Belgium GP in 1953, a total of 9 races. The only race he didn’t enter was the Indianapolis 500 (both years). In doing so he also got the fastest lap as well as the win 7 consecutive times.
      As far as I can tell, it simply wasn’t practical for a driver to compete at every point awarding race of a season until 1961 because the Indianapolis 500 was one of the GP that counted towards the WDC, but it seems to have been spurned by the European drivers, although some did attend the US GP in 1960. It wasn’t until 1961 (when the Indy 500 was dropped from the calendar) that we find 9 F1 drivers who competed at every points awarding race of the season. The first driver to complete every points awarding race of the season (i.e. got to the chequered flag) was Dan Gurney (8 races).

      1. @drycrust Actually just to clarify on that streak of Ascari’s, the 1952 Belgian GP was the race after Indianapolis and Ascari did race there. He didn’t do the preceding world championship race, the season-opener in Switzerland, as he was at Indianapolis practising.

        (This can be seen in the first graph if you zoom in. Farina was present at Switzerland for the 16th round in the history of the championship, and took his third career pole position, but there’s no corresponding point on the graph for Ascari. Conversely Ascari has a point for race 17, Indianapolis, and Farina doesn’t.)

        But yes, for the most point drivers didn’t miss world championship races to participate at Indianapolis. Ironically Indianapolis became more popular with F1 drivers once it was no longer part of the world championship and the likes of Brabham, Stewart, Graham Hill and Clark went over, sometimes missing F1 races in order to do so.

        1. @keithcollantine Thanks for the extra detail. I think I had noticed Ascari had no result for the Swiss GP and had thought the reason was lost in the mists of time. It just seemed to me that his results for about a year or two were quite extraordinary for that time.

  13. Just to pitch another angle: what about the change in qualifying formats? It would seem to me that the chances of taking pole in the fastest car are a far bit easier when you have a full hour (or two sessions in the more distant past) to record a fastest time, rather than 12 minutes in the final knock-out round, when you usually have two laps to get it right. Much more pressure for the driver to produce the perfect lap at the right moment.

    1. True there are probably many idiosyncrasies that could be discussed between the various formats for qualifying. At first blush one of them I can think of is that back in the day a driver may have had an hour to qualify, not broken up into elimination rounds, but that meant more difficulty getting a clean run in with more cars on the track as the session wound down…more cars in the series in general too. They also used to have special qualifying engines that would get swapped out for racing engines on Saturday nights.

    2. True. But remember that the last minutes were the right time to have a clear run and grab the pole as the asphalt was getting better at the end of the qualifying hour. So the pressure was all there. And there were qualifying tyres too that lastes one or two laps.

    3. I would also say that perhaps a few of the drivers in the mid-2000s would have missed out on a pole position because of the regulations at the time with regards to fuel loads in final qualifying being brought over to the race.

      1. Yes, qualifying with the race fuel definitely distorts the “fastest driver on pole” statistic. For example, Heikki Kovalainen grabbed his only pole position when McLaren finally gave him a bit less fuel than they did for Hamilton; and Jarno Trulli probably had just fumes in his Toyota when he took pole for the USGP in 2005. Then again, those were the rules and you had to play by them.

  14. Damon Hill 4th best British driver for qualifying, great achievement beating Stewart, Moss, Surtees, Hawthorn and Button

  15. Does anyone take any record set using the last 3 years seriously? The whole thing is a joke when you have one team that only has to turn up to win.

    The records are there. Can’t change that. But it doesn’t mean they are a good indicator of anything the driver has done. It does indicate that Mercedes developed a great engine out of the box and built on it, and that the regulations were ill-conceived, but nothing else.

    1. It does indicate that Mercedes developed a great engine out of the box and built on it”

      …Then the car drove itself to championships and poles….right? Point is, if Lewis was the only driver Mercedes had, then this argument would have some semblance of validity.

      1. If Lewis had comprehensively out performed his team mate then you could argue it was the driver and not the car, but he didn’t so you can’t. Hamilton and Rosberg finished one-two every year, and it wasn’t always Hamilton in the number one spot for either qualifying or drivers championship.

        1. He wasn’t demolished by Rosberg in qualifying though like the one and only Michael Schumacher.

    2. When Schumi drove the 5 titles winning Ferrari he was the clear number one in the dominant team. In 2000 and 2003 he fought against Hakkinen, Raikkonen & Montoya, but in 01, 02 and 04 there were no rivale able to match Ferrari’s pace. So maybe se have to scrap 3 titles andò how many wins?
      Fangio during the 50’s was able to jump from a car to another to get always the best material.
      And so on

      1. A few more thoughts. Since they have had gadget tires in these recent years, and DRS, I’ve considered F1 more like F1 lite, vs. previous formats. Also MS had more advantages hand over fist than any driver in the history of modern F1 before or since. Also Fangio was in a different era and not the modern era. He may have been handed his teammate’s car, but the feats these drivers achieved were Herculean vs the modern era. The bravery back then, the psychological strife, the odds of fatalities..astounding.

    3. If you dump every year in which there was a dominant team, there’s not going to be a lot left.

  16. Good piece.

    1. Thanks :-)

  17. I am a big Lewis fan. But I am also old enough to have seen Senna at his peak and I have to say, I have not seen anything like it since.
    Over the 20 odd years of my following F1, in terms of raw talent and speed, I cant think of anybody in the same bracket, I really can’t.
    I recall the 1993 season so clearly and his driving that year, well, I get goose bumps just remembering. In 1993 it really dawned on the rest of the paddock and the F1 media in general that they were witnessing something pretty extraordinary. What a privilege it was.
    Records exist to be broken, thats the way of the world and how it should be, but that feeling of watching something pretty special, well that my friends, there is no stats for that…

    1. Well stated. In fact, the 1993 season was the one that turned me into a fan of Ayrton Senna. I liked Prost better during their years at McLaren. Although the Williams was still the take-no-prisoner machine in 1993, Senna’s performance at Donington, Australia, and the other circuits was nothing short of magical. His daredevil attitude in the rain contrasted greatly with that of Prost, who always was skittish in the rain. Tragically he would start only three more races after his win in Australia in 1993.
      Like you, I cannot think of anyone in the same class.

  18. So well said.

  19. …..Hamilton had been stripped of pole position at the previous race after his McLaren failed a technical check…….

    Hamilton’s car didn’t fail a technical check. Mclaren failed a credibility check.
    There was sufficient fuel in the car to pass post qualifying fuel minimums. Mclaren didn’t know how much fuel they had in the car. Asked their driver to stop on the race track and lied that the driver was asked to stop for a technical reason.

  20. Lot of Senna talk and now 23 years after he killed himself his myth continues to portray him as something really special.
    His statistical place in F1 history is so over blown as fans label him God like for his ability behind the wheel.
    His peers at the time both loved him and loathed him.
    Like Hamilton at Mercedes or Vettle at Redbull, Senna was lucky to be a pretty good driver in a fantastic strong racecar.
    The car made Senna Senna. Senna didnt make Senna.
    He was lucky and Formula One is all about being in the right place at the right time and that is called LUCK.
    With everthing being even and the playing field level, who is better Senna or Hamilton ?
    Not even a comparison, Hamilton by a significant amount. Add it up.
    The Senna hype is the only thing Senna would be better at.
    Many of us think he was good but was consumed by needing to drive closer to the edge of surviving than anyone of his peers.
    This factor alone drove him to his rotten end

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