Schumacher reached his records in an era where competition was much less – fewer really great drivers – and he had a long career which included an abnormally good run of years in a dominant car.
I just don’t think F1 is like that now, F1 is in a highly competitive and closely fought era and that seems likely to continue over the next decade.
So projecting ahead I don’t see VET having the hit rate over the next ten years that Schumacher had over his dominant period. And I don’t see VET’s track record showing that he has the hit rate to get to the top of these record tables.
My assumption is that VET will have 10 years career to go, that period will be closely fought, that he’ll be in a dominant car for only 5 out of those 10 years (history shows that’s a not unreasonable assumption), that his competitors will continue to fight with him as they are right now.
SO what does that do for the record tables…
Race wins: I’m assuming he’ll have 6 wins in each of the 5 dominant years – that would take him to 56 wins, taking him to 2nd place just ahead of Prost and a long way behind Schumacher. To catch MSC he’d have to have 4-5 years like 2011 rather than the win rate he’s had in 2010 or 2012. I just don’t see him having 4-5 years like 2011 over the next decade.
Podiums: Lets say he gets 10 podiums a year for the 5 dominant years and 3 a year for the others… that would give him 110 podiums which would put him 2nd. However that isn’t the whole picture because ALO and RAI are way ahead of him in the record table at the moment and if they continue to get podiums then they will be well ahead of 110 podiums by the end of their careers. So my prediction in 10 years time would be MSC top, following by ALO, then RAI, and then VET 4th.
Fastest Laps: VET’s hit rate on fastest laps just isn’t good enough for him to get up to the top of the table. MSC is top and achieved 25%, Prost 20%, RAI 21%… VET has achieved 14% in his dominant 4 years. This era is just too competitive for him to get a high hit rate. If he can only achieve 14% in these years then he is unlikely to average that over the whole of the next 10 years. So lets say he does almost as well – say 12%. 200 races (20 races per year for 10 years) @ 12% = 24 fastest laps giving him 38 career fastest laps, getting him 3rd in the table behind MSC and PRO, and only just ahead of RAI who is quite capable of adding to his total of 37. So my forecast is that VET might be 4th, just behind RAI and PRO but a long way behind MSC.
Poles: This is the one that he is well on track for. He has 35 from 99 starts, a hit rate of about a third. If he achieved the same in the 5 dominant years that I’m predicting then that would give him about another 30-35 poles taking him above MSC’s 68 poles. If you want to cheer VET to the top of the all-time record tables then Poles is the one to focus on. He’s already third in the table and has Senna and MSC in his sights… and he has Senna’s uncanny knack of being able to pull out the one single quickest lap from out of the hat that’s needed to get pole.