As I found myself commenting on the Sutil article, where I took a look at how his 100 races rank compared to the record holders of ‘Most starts without a win’, I also started thinking about a record that’s probably even less popular: most starts without scoring a single point.
Getting to 100 races is easier now than it was 20 years ago. Guys like Brundle, Warwick or Salo usually saw 15 to 17 races and drove for teams who didn’t employ them for full seasons (Brundle at Ligier, Warwick at Brabham, Salo at BAR and Ferrari in 1999), while driver line ups are pretty stable these days and we have 19 or 20 races. Put Sutil’s seasons so far at 16 races, and he’d be 10 down on his current number. This means that, next to the point changes influencing totals and percentages, season rounds influence records like ‘most races without x’.
The current record holder for most starts without a point is Luca Badoer, who has 50 starts out of 58 entries. While you could argue that would have been different with the 2010 points scoring system in place for 2009 or before, and without one of the saddest DNFs of all time at the Ring in 1999, the fact is he scored 0 points.
If you look at the current grid, there’s a whopping 6 guys without a single point, but 5 of them are rookies. Charles Pic, however, has done a year at Marussia and will start his 30th GP this weekend. Provided he finishes the season starting every race, he will be at 39 races. He has signed a deal with Caterham for next year as well.
In 2014, Charles Pic could well become the man with most starts without a single point. All Caterham needs to do, is build another car not being able to score points, Pic just needs to start 12 races. I wonder if somewhere in Italy, Luca Badoer is rooting for Marussia.
Of course I forgot my conclusion and can’t edit my post!
My conclusion: The current increase in races per season also increases the odds we’re going to see the records for most starts without a win or point and most poles without a win (and vice-versa) broken. With Pic set to break the record for most starts without a point, we might also end up with drivers like Hulkenberg, di Resta or Sutil himself not ever winning a race in a long career. Much like all the other records then, they simply seem to prove how much F1 changes over the years.
Reliability is a factor too. There’s no more races where 26 cars start and over half of them suffer engine or gearbox failures as it was during Badoer’s racing career. Meaning much less chances for a driver at a team like Caterham or Marussia to score points.
Adrian Sutil has a long way to go, until he can match the 183 starts without a win from his fellow German Nick Heidfeld. The latter hasn’t been away from the sport that long and drove all available races in his Formula 1 career, except for some he missed in 2005 due to injury and his final season (2011), where he was replaced by Senna.
The record-holder for most races before scoring the first point(s) go to Nicola Larini, by the way. He drove four full seasons between 1988 and 1991 for slower teams and gained his first points in 1994. The curious thing about it was, that he hadn’t had a seat in a F1 cockpit for a full season. He replaced Alesi in his Ferrari and came second only to Michael Schumacher.
@RJOConnell Very true, but with races like today’s, where van der Garde finished in 14th, you have to wonder how much longer it could take. Having the top 10 score points also benefits the backmarkers when there are a lot of retirements. Looking at a season like 1998, drivers like Tuero and Rosset would have scored points just for finishing some races with the current point systems. Plus, a lot of the cars that often retired in those races were the backmarkers in which Badoer found himself. A bit of a double-edged sword, the current point system; it’s there because of modern reliability, but also helps since there’s more point scoring positions.
@Kneyfield Thanks, I didn’t know that about Larini! I knew he scored 2nd at Imola 1994, but not that it was his first point finish! It was his 45th start, so even he scored before Badoer did, that has to hurt a little. Perhaps less so if you count Larini’s DNQs, which is higher than I imagined, btw.
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© 2014 Keith Collantine