2008 Australian GP facts & stats

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Nelson Piquet Jnr’s first race 2008: qualified 21st, retired after 31 laps
Nelson Piquet Snr’s first race 1978: qualified 21st, retired on lap 31

Here are more facts and statistics from the Australian Grand Prix weekend – post below any interesting stats you’ve spotted…

Nico Rosberg finished on the podium for the first time in his Formula 1 career. It was his second career-best finish as a row as he finished fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

A few people on the blog picked up on the similarities with last year’s Canadian Grand Prix: Hamilton won with Nick Heidfeld second and a Williams driver in third, in a race that saw several crashes and safety car periods.

Starting at the back

Nelson Piquet Jnr’s debut was inauspicious – but his starting position of 21 matched his father’s in his debut in the 1978 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring. In the race Piquet Jnr retired on lap 30 – Piquet Snr parked his Ensign-Ford with engine failure on lap 31.

He’s not the only driver to have started his debut place from as low as 21st – here are all the current drivers who started their first race 16th or lower. All were in Minardis apart from Timo Glock (Jordan), Kazuki Nakajima (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Spyker) and Jenson Button (Williams):

  • Giancarlo Fisichella, 1996 Australian Grand Prix: 16th
  • Timo Glock, 2004 Canadian Grand Prix: 16th
  • Jarno Trulli, 1997 Australian Grand Prix: 17th
  • Mark Webber, 2002 Australian Grand Prix: 18th
  • Fernando Alonso, 2001 Australian Grand Prix: 19th
  • Kazuki Nakajima, 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix: 19th
  • Adrian Sutil, 2007 Australian Grand Prix: 20th
  • Jenson Button, 2000 Australian Grand Prix: 21st

The last race with only six cars running at the end was the 2005 United States Grand Prix, when of course all but six cars withdrew. The fewest finishers in any race lat year was the Canadian Grand Prix (12)

Williams are second in the constructors’ championship for the first time since the 2004 Malaysian Grand Prix – they ended that year fourth.

Sebastien Bourdais scored points on his debut and became the first Frenchman to score in Formula 1 since Olivier Panis finished eighth for Toyota in the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix.

Every lap was led by a McLaren – 50 by Hamilton and eight by Heikki Kovalainen.


Five drivers were eliminated on the first lap – the second most destructive opening lap at Melbourne. Eight drivers retired on the opening lap in 2002.

Felipe Massa went off at the first corner of the race, just as he did two years ago, except this time he was able to keep going.

Lewis Hamilton scored his fifth Grand Prix victory – all of which have come from pole position. He would have had the treble of pole, win and fastest lap but Heikki Kovalainen set a quicker lap by 0.034s. It was his first ever fastest lap in F1.

For the second year in a row a Ferrari was last in the second part of qualifying following a technical problem.

The new rules were tried out by Glock and Sutil who were the first to be penalised for gearbox changes and chassis changes respectively.

British winners down under

Lewis Hamilton took the seventh Australian Grand Prix win for a British driver in 15 years. Had David Coulthard not let Mika Hakkinen pass in 1998 it would have been eight. The winners were:

  • 1994 Nigel Mansell
  • 1995 Damon Hill
  • 1996 Damon Hill
  • 1997 David Coulthard
  • 1999 Eddie Irvine
  • 2003 David Coulthard
  • 2008 Lewis Hamilton

More Formula 1 statistics

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “2008 Australian GP facts & stats”

  1. I have a question, Keith: is there a resource where I can get lap by lap timings for each driver?

  2. Yeah but did Nelson Snr get dusted by his teammate to the same extent? He was about 2 seconds a lap off the pace!
    Nelsinho was rubbish compared to Alonso, although so was Heikki to Fisi last year and we all know how that ended up.

  3. There is, John, although you will have to wait a while until the site puts up the Australian GP (that can be within a few days or as long as a week).  Have a look at http://www.visionf1.com/ – it’s an incredibly useful resource, especially if you want to see exactly how one driver did on each lap.

    There may be others but I’m not aware of them.

  4. Hey guys, am I the only one who believes that it is wrong to award points to cars who do not finish a race?  If the race for the constructors and drivers championship goes to the wire, would it be fair for the title to be won by one point, one that was achieved by a person or car who did not cross the finish line?
    I do not have a problem with positions being changed, but I believe it to be ludicrous that points be awarded to those who have not fully completed the race


  5. Interesting point from Ted Kendell. If it was a more normal race would you not give a driver a point if they were there to cross the line at the end in 8th, but 1 or 2 laps down? Arguably they wouldn’t have fully completed the race either.

  6. Amazing work with facts, keep them comming!


  7. Effectively, the system rewards distance covered within a set time.  From the moment the chequered flag is waved at the winner, each following car is deemed to have finished its race as it crosses the line.  So, if you’re a lap down, and just behind the leader on the road, your race ends as you cross the line, even though you will have done one lap less than the full distance.  If a car ahead of you broke down on the last lap, it will be classified ahead of you because it has gone a greater distance before the race ended – you cannot do another lap to pass it and so improve your position.  All cars that completed a certain percentage (I forget what the exact figure is) of the full number of laps will be classified, and that can mean that stopped cars can be in points positions.

    It is fairly rare, especially in these days of incredible reliability, for a retired car to be high enough up the order to gain points but the system does at least give recognition to those who nearly made it in races of high attrition.

    Years ago, before the obligatory use of full safety harnesses, it was possible for a driver to push an expired car over the finish line and so get some reward for his hard work.  That is now illegal but the effort put into achieving a points position is just as much now as it was then.  How fair would it be that points for the final place or two were thrown away just because there were no cars still moving and able to claim them?

    We have seen what happens when time-honoured systems in F1 are altered just because someone (usually Max) knows a "better" way – invariably we get years of constant tinkering afterwards to try to make an ill-devised rule work, rather than some official lose face.  When will we learn that you don’t fix something if it’s not broken?

  8. Clive , the magic figure you’re talking about is 75% of the total distance that must be reached in order for a driver to be classified (in this case 58-15 laps i.e 43 laps must be done).At least that’s how I remember it.

    I thought if there were less classified finishers than points positions then the points would not be awarded below the last classified position.There were only six finishers in Indianapolis 05 , and only they got the points IIRC seeing as everyone else pulled out.I agree with that system of not awarding points to those that don’t complete 75% of the distance as a minimum – you should have to at least cover a minimum distance really to gain any reward.

  9. I think you have an error, Fred finished 12th the 2001 Aus Grand Prix, as you can see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Australian_Grand_Prix#Classification

    That was an impressive debbut, one lap before the Fisichella’s Renault…. that sure hearted Flav, because the guy was already hired by him.

  10. Yeah but I quoted where he qualified mate, not where he finished!

  11. Quite right, Francois – the points are only handed out to classified finishers.  Usually these reach down well into the teens – to 14th and 15th places, for instance – but occasionally, as happened in Australia, fewer cars actually cross the finish line than there are points available and then classification becomes important.  If, for instance, all the cars that retired in Australia had gone out before 75% race distance, they would not have finished and the points for seventh and eighth places would not have been awarded.  Which I think is fair enough.  But to get to within two or three laps of the finish and be awarded nothing as a result, even though technically you were in a points paying position – well, that just strikes me as a little unfair.

  12. The limit on the amount of the race you had to have completed in order to be a classified finisher has changes as well.

    Flicking through some old results at random I see Richie Ginther was sixth in the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix despite only finishing 70 of 100 laps and pushing his car across the line…

  13. As a side point, When you give your kid a name like Richie Ginther, he is either going to be a motor racing ace or a porn star! What a moniker!
    Not as good as Stirling Moss, but pretty good.
    Anyone else want to nominate great motor racing names?

  14. Wow that’s a topic all of it’s own isn’t it? How about Scott Speed?

    And of course American racer Dick Trickle. Could only ever be a NASCAR driver or a venereal disease.

  15. Quite amusing take on the American names- for those of you who keep an eye on NASCAR, did Trickle ever win a Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup race? Speed is probably one of the best names in that catagory- he was gone before I really started to follow the series, hopefully some other American will come and stay a little longer and go a little further in the F1 ranks in the next few seasons.

  16. I think that Australian driver in Champ Cars (I think – I don’t follow these things closely) has the best name of all for a driver – Will Power.  Says it all, doesn’t it?

  17. The key to victory is having Will Power.

    Yes of course, it seems I forgot about Scott Speed, (just like Red Bull.)
    Dick Trickle. That’s even better then the names is Talledaga Nights.

  18. The current requirement to be classified as a finisher in an F1 race is to complete 90% of a race distance, though as the Ginther example proves, it used to be a lot smaller percentage.

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