Schumacher is the oldest driver to lead since 1970

2011 Japanese GP stats and facts

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Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Suzuka, 2011

Michael Schumacher officially led a race (by completing a lap in the lead) for the first time since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. At 42 years and 279 days old he is the oldest driver to lead a race since Jack Brabham in the 1970 British Grand Prix.

It was the 142nd Grand Prix he’s led and makes him the eighth different driver to lead a race this year.

Here’s all the stats and facts from the Japanese Grand Prix.

Vettel notched up his 27th career pole position to put himself on his own in seventh place on the all-time list. It was his 12th of the year, putting him two short of the all-time record of 14 in a season (which was set when there were 16 races rather than 19).

He finished in third place for the first time this year, having only previously finished in first, second or fourth. This was his 14th podium finish this year, leaving him three short of the all-time record (which was set when there were 17 races).

He held tenth place for one lap during the race which is the lowest position he has occupied in a race all season. To put that into perspective, Vitantonio Liuzzi and both Virgin drivers have started every race this season without completing a lap inside the top ten.

Vettel won the title with four races to spare, which is one of the earliest ever conclusions to the championship:

Driver Races left
2002 Michael Schumacher 6
1992 Nigel Mansell 5
2001 Michael Schumacher 4
2004 Michael Schumacher 4
2011 Sebastian Vettel 4

For more statistics on Vettel’s second world championship victory, see here:

Jenson Button scored the 12th victory of his career, which was his fifth for McLaren and his first for the team in a dry race.

Button now has as many wins as Mario Andretti, Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones.

He also set the sixth fastest lap of his career, giving him as many asJose Froilan Gonzalez, Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Kamui Kobayashi started from a career-best seventh on the grid – despite not setting a time in Q3.

Mark Webber made his best start to a Grand Prix in seven races. He didn’t make up any places but, more importantly, he didn’t lose any, as he did in the previous six rounds.

The new-era Lotus finished a race with both cars on the lead lap for the first time. The last time they did this in their previous incarnation was at Suzuka’s first Japanese Grand Prix in 1987.

Mercedes were the quickest team in the pits for the sixth time this year. Only Red Bull have done better, achieving the fastest turnaround seven times this year. McLaren and Ferrari have done so once each.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

Spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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    48 comments on “Schumacher is the oldest driver to lead since 1970”

    1. I was thinking during the Safety Car restart, is Jenson the first driver to do the restart, other than Vettel?

      I cant remember the other situations, but i cant remember anyone other than vettel doing the restart.

      1. Alonso did the restart in Monza, and I think he did it in Spa (iirc, but I know Vettel pitted during the SC and wasn’t leading).

        1. You’re correct on both counts

        2. Yeah your correct, completely forgot that Monza and Spa had a safety car honestly

    2. It would have been nice if we could have actually SEEN him while he was leading.

      1. Thought they did show him when he was leading, maybe not! it was an early morning! Considering the way FOM mess up everything they probably didn’t show him leading.

        Pity the BBC never showed the usual interview with him afterward. They would rather chase an interview with Paul Di Resta who I am fed up with hearing them go on and on and on about!

        1. Yeah, they showed him all the way from the exit of 130R to him entering the pits.

        2. This race is not covered by FOM. They do it themselves, and although it still shows, they’ve improved!

          1. Never heard that before, you sure? Why? Is there any other races they don’t have?

            They are still aggressively taking down youtube videos from the race action so must have some part.

            1. FOM owns all rights, but here and in Monaco locals do all shooting and directing.
              As I mentioned in another thread it Has been much worse, when we saw round after round of Takagi driving at back of field.

            2. @snowman I believe FujiTV do the japanese GP, someone else does Monaco and all the rest are filmed by FOM.

              this is why the japanese gp looks slighlty different on tv.

          2. I think yesterday’s coverage was very poor. They showed some on-board cameras when drivers were alone, missed action and overtakes from mid field drivers, and broadcasted just a few pointless radio conversations.

            1. I think yesterday’s coverage was very poor.

              That is correct.

        3. it’s funny you should say that, i heard a rumour that Schumy is moving to test driver and Di Resta is taking his spot..

          1. You know what is even funnier. I heard a rumour Fernando Alonso was to become Ferrari’s test driver so Santa Claus could take his seat for next year.

            I think both rumours make the same amount of sense and both have an equal chance of happening!

      2. ButtonFan2012
        10th October 2011, 14:56

        I saw him leading, but then again I was at the track :D

    3. The record of longest time between two lead laps is held by Bruce McLaren, a bit over six years between 1962 Monaco and 1968 Belgium. Schumacher is fifth on this list, also behind Johnnie Parsons who led two Indy 500 with six years between, Riccardo Patrese between 1983 South Africa and 1989 Brazil and Derek Warwick between 1984 Brazil and 1989 Canada.

      However what it comes to amount of races between, Schumacher set a new record of 87, beating Warwick’s 85. Of course Schumacher missed 52 of those during his three-year-retirement from the sport.

      Warwick also missed couple of races between those two lead laps, because he didn’t have a drive at the beginning of 1986 season. He replaced de Angelis in Brabham after Italian’s fatal accident. Patrese drove in all of the races between his lead laps, a total of 81 which is a record if you count only races where driver has competed.

      1. Great stuff!

      2. Thats really interesting.

        Not as interesting but still: Even though its 41 years ago that someone as old lead a lap, Schumacher could have witnessed it himself :-P

    4. how many times now have lewis n massa made contact? that has to be some sort of record by now! :D

      1. I think it was the 4th time this year!

        1. Monaco, Singapore x2, Japan from 2011.

          But I’m sure there have been and will be many more since 2007.

          1. They also made contact at the end of the British grand prix!

          2. Fuji 2008 as well!

      2. Has there ever been more contact between two drivers within one year all caused by one of the two drivers?

    5. Gratz michael next time you’re in the lead lets have a win!

    6. All 10 lead changes in the race were the result of the leader entering the pits.

      Just like old times.

    7. Not much of a stat but another wheel nut failure for Suzuka after Kubica and Rosberg last year for Buemi.

    8. I would think it might have been the first GP ever where a total of 7 drivers started without having a time to their name in qualifying (although the ones in Q2 and Q3 naturally did a time in sessions before that.)

      1. I understand why they did it, but this trend of ‘not setting a time’ is getting out of hand and the rules need to be tweaked next year to stop it.

        Kobayashi and others getting their grid position determined on the ground of a couple of sector times set? We might as well just draw the grid in random order.

        1. Paul Hembery said Pirelli will push to make a change for next year, so it’ll probably happen.

      2. I don’t really understand why some drivers don’t just go out for one lap, not pushing too hard and by that securing a higher position. Will 3 laps (out,”fly”,in) really ruin the tyres when they are basically cruising!?

    9. I love these articles. We really are witnessing an era of greatness from several top name drivers.

    10. matthewf1 (@)
      10th October 2011, 10:29

      Mercedes were the quickest team in the pits for the sixth time this year. Only Red Bull have done better, achieving the fastest turnaround seven times this year. McLaren and Ferrari have done so twice each.

      6 + 7 + 2 + 2 = 17

      How many races have there been this year?

      1. @matthewf1 Sorry, once each.

    11. A bumper crop of weird and wonderful stats in the article and its comments today! This is always one of my favourite F1F features.

      What I’d like to know- but am too lazy to figure out for myself- is what the championship would have looked like with the pre 2003 points system. Presumably Vettel would have wrapped things up a couple of races earlier?

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        10th October 2011, 11:33

        Luckily other people have stat files and championship files that can do the work easily.

        Little difference in both pre-2003 as pre-2010 situation only less points – in all cases Driver Championship only decided in Japan and constructors still open.

        Pre-2010 with 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 system:
        Vettel 132
        Button 82
        Fernando 78
        Webber 74
        Hamilton 64

        Red Bull 206
        Mclaren 146
        Ferrari 100

        Pre-2003 with 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 system:
        Vettel 121
        Button 66
        Fernando 58
        Webber 52
        Hamilton 52

        Red Bull 173
        Mclaren 118
        Ferrari 70

        1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
          10th October 2011, 11:36

          Correction in both pre-2010 and pre-2003 situation Vettel would have won championship in Singapore not Japan

          1. Jenson would have a much better hold of second place too.

    12. Here’s a record: Smallest margin ever between a driver and a Perfect Weekend: 0.009s (in qualifying) – Jenson Button.

      1. I guess it depends on how you define a perfect weekend. For me, that would be a Grand Chelem. In addition to the triple (pole, win, FLap), they also need to lead every lap from start to finish. Given that Button didn’t lead at the start (and was even 3rd for a time), I don’t think he was that close to a perfect weekend.

        1. Vettel in Japan 2009 must be a shout:
          Pole, Lead every lap
          But Webber took FL by 0.002s on the last lap

          In that race webber had like 5 stops and used it as a test session and did a qualy run after the SC came out with 5 laps left. He beat Sebs best lap by 0.002s to ruin Sebs Grand Chelem.

          Vettel also missed out on a Grand Chelem in Singapore when JB went 0.2 fastest than Sebs FL.

    13. Liuzzi hasn’t started every race this year he didn’t start in Australia.

    14. This was the 23rd championship race held in Suzuka and 11th time Driver’s Championship was decided there:

      2011 Sebastian Vettel
      2003 Michael Schumacher
      2000 Michael Schumacher
      1999 Mika Häkkinen
      1998 Mika Häkkinen
      1996 Damon Hill
      1991 Ayrton Senna
      1990 Ayrton Senna
      1989 Alain Prost
      1988 Ayrton Senna
      1987 Nelson Piquet

      After Button’s victory, the last champion, who hasn’t won Japanese Grand Prix is Villeneuve. All seven champions after him (Häkkinen, Schumacher, Alonso, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Button and Vettel) have won the Japanese Grand Prix (however, Hamilton’s victory was in Fuji, not Suzuka).

      Of the last thirteen champions, eleven has had at least one of his championships decided in either Japanese or Brazilian Grand Prix’s. Only two (Mansell and Villeneuve) haven’t.

    15. Button’s last 6 wins have all come in races in which Vettel has been on pole.

      Suzuka is the first circuit at which Vettel has been on the podium 3 times.

      This is the second time this year that a wheel falling off a Toro Rosso has denied us a 100% finishing record.

    16. If Vettel wins the title next year he’ll be the first ever driver to win first three titles back-to-back. Only Fangio and Schumacher won more than two titles in a row, but both won titles before the streak.

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