2009 Chinese Grand Prix facts and stats

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Nick Heidfeld continues to run away with F1's least exciting record

There have been 806 rounds of the F1 world championship – and yesterday Red Bull became only the 34th team to win a race.

All the stats from China below including a first for Lewis Hamilton, a career best for Mark Webber, and Nick Heidfeld on the verge of a new record.

Red Bull scored their first pole position, first F1 win and first one-two all in one weekend. They are the 34th different team to score a win, 22nd to score a one-two and 38th to score a pole position, and did so at their 74th attempt.

Sebastian Vettel joins the ranks of the multiple winners with his second career victory. Like the first, it was scored from pole position in a wet race that started behind the safety car. He also passed the 50 career points tally, reaching 51m and achieved his second pole position.

Mark Webber scored his best result to date with second.

On only three occasions this year has a car failed to reach the classified race distance because of a mechanical problem – and twice its driver was Felipe Massa.

Heikki Kovalainen completed his first racing lap of 2009 after failing to get beyond lap one in the first two races.

Jenson Button has finished on the podium for three consecutive races, matching his personal best which he achieved on three separate occasions in 2004.

Nick Heidfeld extended his record of consecutive classified finishes to 31. His run of consecutive finishes (i.e. still running at the end of the race as opposed to completed at least 90% distance) is now 23, putting him one short of Michael Schumacher’s record.

Lewis Hamilton finished sixth for the first time in his F1 career. The only points-scoring place he has never finished in is eighth.

Sebastien Buemi made it into Q3 for the first time and qualified a career-best tenth.

With no points from the first three races, this is Ferrari’s worst start to a season since 1981.

Nelson Piquet Jnr still hasn’t out-qualified Fernando Alonso in 21 races.

In six runnings of the Chinese Grand Prix, three have been significantly rain-affected: 2006 (Michael Schumacher won) and 2007 (Kimi Raikkonen won) and this year’s race. This likely makes it the venue with the highest probability of rain.

Next up is Bahrain which, like Shanghai, joined the F1 calendar in 2004, but as it holds its race in a desert has never seen a wet race and isn’t likely to. That said, look what happened to the Moto GP in Qatar last week….

Got any more cool facts and statistics from the Chinese Grand Prix? Post them below.

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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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50 comments on “2009 Chinese Grand Prix facts and stats”

  1. Sutil retired from 6th place with 6 laps remaining…….
    In Monte Carlo last year, he retired from 4th place with 4 laps to go…….

    1. Ooh, spooky misfortune symmetry, like it.

    2. more spooky misfortune symmetry, in the rain in Monaco Sutil crashed out with Kimi reigning world champion behind him, in China in the rain he crashed out with Lewis reigning world champion behind him

  2. Sebastien Buemi is the next star of formula 1 along with Vettel, they both were recruited by RedBull.

  3. Thank you for that report Keith. What a great race. It was always possible for anyone to fall off until the very last corner. The stars for me were Vettel of course, great driver and personality; his aching team mate Webber; Button who must have set a first by tyre-warming on the straight while well into a stint; Rubens who got there in the end somehow; Buemi for seeing off much more experienced drivers; Hamilton for giving it his all; Kovalainen for giving us some reason to hope he may yet be worth his seat (compared to others such as Davidson)and everyone else who stayed on the track to the finish but including Massa whose elastic snapped despite his best efforts.

    1. Massa really impressed until his motor gave up the ghost. I’m sure everyone was thinking he wasn’t going to keep the car on the lake!

  4. For me the most important “Chinese Grand Prix facts & stats” is that the PARTY IS OVER FOR BROWN GP, they must work very very hard to stay infront.

    1. How is that a stat Erico? And I think you’re wrong. I think the track suited the red bulls, as did the rain. If you’re a betting man, now is the ideal time to throw some money behind Brawn.

    2. The rain just didn’t give the Brawn an advantage in terms of the floor design. As most races, I presume, will be dry this season I think you’ll find the Brawn party is very much still ongoing.

  5. second time a Rookie Torro Rosso driver has slammed into the back of a Red Bull driver in the rain, behind a safety car in China.

    1. Wasn’t that Japan? Vettel into Webber in Fuji, 07?

  6. Despite hearing ‘God Save the Queen’ on the podium, I believe it was the first time an Austrian team won a Grand Prix. (Red Bull Racing have an Austrian licence, IIRC.)

    1. Yes, I believe it should have been the Austrian anthem, though maybe there’s a piece of paper somewhere that says that Red Bull is English. If not then it’s not the first time they got it wrong – they did the same to Jordan (playing the British anthem for Damon Hill and then not the Irish anthem for Jordan, presuming them to be the same) at Belgium in ’98.

    2. Pitpass has an article on this: the Chinese indeed played the wrong anthem.

      By the way, I also remember in Australia 1999, when the officials played the Irish anthem for Eddie Irvine, very much a British subject.

  7. Oh, and it was the 2nd time a junior Toro Rosso driver hit a Red Bull driver from behind while running behind the Safety Car, albeit this time both men were able to continue.

  8. This year Vettel in first race crashed while being 2nd, in second race he was far behind and then retired, and won third race to score first points this season.

    Last year Massa in first race was far behind and then retired, in second race he retired while being 2nd, and won third race to score first points in that season.

    1. Vettel was 3rd when he crashed in Oz.

  9. Isn’t it the first race also that Kimi finished this season.

    Is Vettel the first driver to change teams, simply by changing overalls. Or to change teams while still driving the same car.

  10. The most interesting thing thrown up has to be how do the Red Bulls manage 2+ secs per lap in the wet. Has to be a technical advantage there as well as a couple of brilliant drivers. I have to admit I expected them to trip over each other in the event of them running at the front. But they ended up quite far apart…

  11. Imagine what will Red Bull can do after incorporating DD diffusers!

  12. Stat 1
    Lewis overtook Kimi twice without being penalised for “not giving him time to recover”
    Stat 2
    Someone muzzled the stewards. Beneficiaries were Kubica for failing to stop a speed boat in a lake. Vettel for persistantly behaving like a nice kid and Button for showing good manners in praising him.

    1. Haha brillliant; both stats.

    2. That raises an interesting question. When was the last time a full distance race (not the full weekend) occured without a penalty being given or exclusions after the fact?

  13. Stat 2
    Someone muzzled the stewards. Beneficiaries were Kubica for failing to stop a speed boat in a lake. Vettel for persistantly behaving like a nice kid and Button for showing good manners in praising him.


    Also, Mark Webber didn’t allow the alloted two full races before overtaking the Brawn after coming off at turn 13.

  14. Vettel is one of only 5 drivers who scored the maiden victory for different teams! Beside Vettel there is Fangio aswell with 2 wins (Mercedes, Maserati)!

    But the leaders of the list are Stirling Moss (Vanwall, Cooper und Lotus), Dan Gurney (Porsche, Eagle, Brabham) and Jackie Stewart (March, Matra, Tyrrell) who were able to achieve that with 3 teans…

  15. Hi all. A little off-topic but I just wanted to say how I enjoyed Mike Gascoigne’s presence at the BBC last weekend.

    I really like Eddy Jordan but mike was so insightful that perhaps the beeb should have a rethink.

    Great commentary on a great, technical race.

  16. Trulli failed to get any points in China again, since F1 has been racing he has not scored one point on the track

  17. The pole sitter has won every race this season. And for the last 5 races.
    Vettel China
    Button Malaysia and Australia
    Massa Brazil
    Hamilton China

  18. Any stats available on number of overtakes this season versus last season? Or even a league table of drivers with the highest number this year?

    After it being such an issue for so many years and now seemingly sorted, i cant find any stats on the web anywhere!

    1. I saw a lap chart for the Australian GP where Lewis overtook on 19 occasions. Keith’s work here should enable the same sort of study though the two wet races look more like a fairisle sweater and are harder to unravel. You probably need to keep a note of pit stops to weed out passing a car in the pits, but some reorts record them. I need to print Keith’s diagrams much larger but they are the key to true understanding of physical moves, meaning that other factors affect the why of it.

    2. CJD problem with lap charts it only notes changes on position at end of lap you dont know if someone overtook but was overtaken by the same car or was overtaken by someone else, you would expect the FIA/f1 overtaking people to be analysing these figures to prove their changes worked

  19. Who saw Flavio Briatore’s face during Martin’s walkabout? Musical friends ask me if this is the first time that anyone has auditioned for “I Pagliaci” on an F1 grid.

  20. Well put Richard but I cannot see another way of doing it unless FIA release stats since race coverage does not show us everything. Is it true to say that we have all seen a lot more overtaking this year under wet and dry conditions in all areas, straights, different types of corners, not much evidence of turbulence etc? 3 races are not enough to come to a conclusion but does it look promising?

  21. Are we aware of which engines teams are using? Has one team used the same engine for three races and another used a different one each time?

    1. FIA quietly dropped the 3 race rule in January. Teams have 8 engines which can be used in any sequence.

    2. Yeah I know I was just wondering if anybody actually knows the sequence that teams are using them in. Are some teams doing 2 or 3 races then a new one or using a different one for each of the first 8 races? Would just be interesting to see who raced in China or Malaysia with an engine that had already been used. And how obvious will it be come the end of the season how many(if any) fresh engines each team still has?

  22. HounslowBusGarage
    20th April 2009, 20:18

    Keith (or somebody) could you put this in context-

    There have been 806 rounds of the F1 world championship – and yesterday Red Bull became only the 34th team to win a race.

    How many team entrants have their ever been in Formula 1 racing?
    My question is effectively, what are the statistical odds of any entrant winning a GP?

  23. ^^^good question

  24. well theres been 198 constructors (source statsf1.com) but i dont know if that includes teams who didnt build their own chassis etc but it’ll be close enough

    so 34/198 around 17%

  25. Interesting stat about Button.
    I was watching the 2004 season highlight DVD last week-Button usually finished 2nd to 4th-right behind the Ferrari’s and sometimes Montoya/Williams.
    I had forgotten that Honda had ever been that reliable or that close to the front…

  26. When teams win their first Grand Prix its usually a one-two e.g. Jordan at Spa ’98, BMW last year, Brawn in Melbourne and Red bull yesterday! Also can anyone tell me what percent of teams win their first race in the wet.

  27. Eduardo Gigante
    21st April 2009, 1:16

    Of the active teams in F1, Red Bull is the one who took the longest to win, claiming a victory in their 74th attempt. Here is the list:

    Red Bull – 74 GPs
    Williams – 50
    Toro Rosso – 49
    BMW – 42
    Renault – 25
    McLaren – 14
    Ferrari – 9
    Brawn GP – 1

    Force India has yet to win a race after 21 attempts.

  28. Obster: In 2004, Button’s team was still named BAR (British American Racing), but your right at least about the engine: it was Honda already…

  29. Yorricksfriend
    21st April 2009, 5:06

    We have yet to have a race winner or pole sitter this year whose name doesn’t include a double T
    …Button, Vettel

    Christiano Da Matta would be kicking himself that he’s no longer in Formula 1.

  30. Matt’s question on engine use was interesting. ITV always seemed to know who was on which engine of the two race cycle so there is a source somewhere. BBC seemed to know that most would change engines for Malaysia but McLaren would use the Oz engine. Hunt that source!

  31. I think one of the most interesting things to come out of the Chinese GP was this…

    We’ve now had 7 different teams winning in the 21 races since the beginning of the 2008 season. (McLaren, Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Toro Rosso, Renault, Brawn GP, Red Bull Racing).

    That is exactly the same amount of teams that won a race in the 171 races and 10 seasons from 1998 to 2007. (McLaren, Ferrari, Jordan, Stewart, Williams, Renault, Honda).

    We’ve also had 4 teams win for the first time in the 21 races since the beginning of the 2008 season. (BMW-Sauber at Canada 08, Toro Rosso at Italy 08, Brawn GP at Australia 08, Red Bull Racing at China 08).

    In the 171 races and 10 seasons from 1998 to 2007, we only had 3 teams win for the first time. (Jordan at Belgium 98, Stewart at Europe 99, Honda at Hungary 06).

    Surely this is a sign that F1 is at it’s most competitive level for a long time.

    1. Thats a brilliant fact about the number of different teams winning since 2008 and in the ten years before 2008. Definitely a fact to make me smile :D

      Nick Heidfeld extended his record of consecutive classified finishes to 31. His run of consecutive finishes (i.e. still running at the end of the race as opposed to completed at least 90% distance) is now 23, putting him one short of Michael Schumacher’s record.

      Which one are they officially counting for this record I am confused – the classified finishes or the actual finishes? I thought it was the classified total – cos they talked about him beating the record last year. On BBC they said his classified finishes, and then referred to his total of actual finishes – which was technically wrong as his consecutive classified finishes is different his actual. On ITV I think they were using his total of classified finishes when they talked about it once(which is the total I prefer to use because it is even more impressive :P)

  32. Fisicella has not scored a point in 23 races, the longest drought of this 13 year F1 career.

    Sebastian Bourdais has only finnished ahead of his team mate once in F1. Last time out in Malaysia.

    Kovalainen finnished in front of Hamilton for the first time since Monza last year.

    As well as being Ferrari’s worst start to a season since 1981 this is Felipe Massa’s worst ever start and Kimi Raikkonens worst since 2004

    Kubica has not failed to score in 3 races since the end of 2006

    Barrichello has not finished 4th in a race since Hungary 2006 when Button scored his madien F1 win.

    Timo Glock has been in the points for the last 5 races.

    This was the first time Fernando Alonso has finnished in 9th place F1

    And last of all on the 27th of April it will be a year since Kimi Raikkonen last won a grand prix, how the great have fallen….

  33. The most common driver name this year is Sebastian (or Sebastien depending on how you spell it :p) – and they all drive for a Red Bull Team – besides, I think Seb Webber sounds cool :D. Anybody know what Brendan Hartley’s middle name is? If it’s Sebby I’ll eat my hat.

  34. About Sebastians …

    I think the three last drivers that have scored points on their maiden G.P. are our Sebastians (given Sébastien is the french for Sebastian) :
    – Sebastian Vettel (USA, 2007), 1 pt
    – Sébastien Bourdais (Australia, 2008), 2 pts
    – Sébastien Buemi (Australia, 2009), 1 pts.

    And they all eventually drove for Toro Rosso (Vettel 1st point was for BMW).

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