A detailed look at the statistical record of 2006 throws up some interesting facts: Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher would have been tied at the end of the year were the points system from 1990 being used.
Kimi Raikkonen gained more places in the Bahrain Grand Prix than any drivers had since 1993.
And Schumacher added one final and quite unwelcome record to his roster – he became the highest-scoring second place finishers in the world championship.
27 drivers participated in the 2006 championship – exactly the same as last year. There were five different winners and the top two drivers in the championship each won seven races – also the same as last year.
Kimi Raikkonen may not have won but he did manage to rise 19 places to finish third in Bahrain. That was the greatest position gain any driver had made in a race since 1993, when Fabrizio Barbazza rose from 25th to sixth in the San Marino Grand Prix – in a Minardi!
Jenson Button scored his first win, Felipe Massa his first and second, and Giancarlo Fisichella his third. Michael Schumacher, overlord of Grand Prix statistics, retired with 91 wins – we’ll take a separate look at his incredible record next week.
Fernando Alonso won his second consecutive championship with 134 points – exactly one less than he scored last year.
Michael Schumacher’s 121 points is the most any driver has scored while finishing second in the championship – 28 more than Schumacher scored in 2003 when he was champion under the same scoring system.
Over the final six races Button scored 35 points to Alonso’s 34, Schumacher’s 32 and Massa’s 30.
Under the 1990 points system, Alonso and Schumacher would have tied on 87 points. Their best eleven scores would count – seven wins and four second places. But Alonso would still have won by dint of having more second places overall.
Honda move up from sixth in 2005 to fourth, and BMW improve on Sauber’s 2005 ranking of eighth to go fifth, one point ahead of megabucks rivals Toyota. Neither Midland nor newcomers Super Aguri scored all season.
Alonso started from pole six times – again, just as he did in 2005. Button’s best qualifying positions all came in the first four races – one pole, two seconds and a third, after which he never made it into the top three again.
Although Schumacher did not take as many pole positions as Alonso he did start from inside the top three on more occasions. And had he not been a naughty boy in Monaco they would have had five pole positions each.
Eighteen drivers competed in every round of the season – five more than last year and the most since 2002.
No driver finished more than 16 races which both the Renault and Ferrari drivers achieved. Of those, Alonso had two mechanical failures, Fisichella and Michael Schumacher one failure and one crash each, and Massa crashed out twice.
Mark Webber and Ralf Schumacher had the most mechanical failures – six each. But the second Super Aguri was the least reliable car – drivers Yuji Ide, Franck Montagny and Sakon Yamamoto had three failures each for a total of nine.
The total percentage of retirements increased for the first time in four years, most likely due to the switch to V8 engines for all teams except Scuderia Toro Rosso. Mechanical failure accounted for 18.18% of all participations in 2006, the highest since 2003 (24.38%).
In 2007 with greater experience of the V8 engines, fixed engine specifications and rev limiters, it seems reasonable to expect reliability to improve again.