There were supposed to be 20 races on the calendar in 2011, but the cancellation of the Bahrain round cut that to 19. Nonetheless, this equalled the longest calendar ever in F1 – and there are 20 races on the schedule once more in 2012.
Last season saw the arrival of Pirelli and so the first win for an F1 car on tyres other than Bridgestone since Fernando Alonso’s triumph for Michelin at Suzuka in 2006.
But the year belonged to Sebastian Vettel. Had it not been for some uncharacteristic car trouble in the final races his statistical domination of the season would have been even greater.
Here’s a look back on some of the statistical highlights and curious facts from the 2011 season.
Australian Grand Prix
The season began with Lewis Hamilton matching – and then exceeding – Jim Clark’s record for the longest F1 career spent entirely with the same team. Clark started all of his 72 F1 races for Lotus, Hamilton has now been at McLaren for all of his 90 starts.
Rubens Barrichello claimed the final record for career longevity he did not previously hold. By starting the Australian Grand Prix he had now participated in 19 F1 seasons, beating Graham Hill’s previous record of 18.
Paul di Resta became the 70th F1 driver to score a point in his first race. Had Sauber not been disqualified from the results, Sergio Perez would have claimed that distinction.
And Vitaly Petrov scored his first podium finish – and the first for a Russian in Formula 1.
Malaysian Grand Prix
The other Renault driver was on the podium in Malaysia – Nick Heidfeld, who set a new record for most podium finishes without a win. His 13th appearance on the rostrum without making it to the top step exceeded the record held by Stefan Johansson.
Just two races into 2011, Vettel’s lead of 24 points was a greater margin than any championship leader enjoyed throughout 2010.
Chinese Grand Prix
Hamilton became the first driver to win the Chinese Grand Prix twice.
Having failed to score in the first three races of the year, Williams were off to their worst start to a season since 1979.
The race also saw a new record for the most finishers with 23 – but that would be bettered before the season was over.
Turkish Grand Prix
Vettel became the first driver to set pole position in five consecutive races (beginning at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) since Alonso in 2006. He repeated the feat later in the year between Hungary and Japan, and at the time of writing has set pole position in the last three races in a row.
Jenson Button became the eighth F1 driver to complete 10,000 racing laps.
Spanish Grand Prix
Mark Webber became the first driver to start the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position and not win it since Michael Schumacher in 2000.
Following his disappointment in Australia, Perez finally scored his first career points. The last Mexican to do so had been Hector Rebaque 30 years earlier in the Dutch Grand Prix.
Only four drivers finished the race on the lead lap, the fewest since the 2008 British Grand Prix.
European Grand Prix
The European Grand Prix saw a new record for the most finishers in an F1 race as all 24 starters saw the chequered flag.
Canadian Grand Prix
The Canadian Grand Prix was the longest F1 race ever held. A substantial rain delay meant total race time was 4hr 4’39.537. With the FIA introducing a four-hour time limit on races this year, don’t expect it to be broken any time soon.
Button became the 32nd driver to score ten Grand Prix wins.
Monaco Grand Prix
McLaren became the second team to lead 10,000 laps in Formula 1. The other is, of course, Ferrari.
However Ferrari failed to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the tenth year in a row.
British Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo made his F1 debut. Together with Mark Webber it meant an F1 race had two Ausatralians in it for the first time since Alan Jones and Vern Schuppan raced at the Osterreichring in 1977.
Button made his 200th F1 race appearance (but not his 200th start).
German Grand Prix
Vettel had a slightly off weekend at home – failing to start from the front row or finish on the podium.
This meant his streak of consecutive front row starts was halted at 14 – the fifth-highest of all time, but some way off Ayrton Senna’s record of 24.
His streak of podium finishes (11) and races led (13) also ended – he holds the third-longest runs for each of these.
Hungarian Grand Prix
Button became the 11th driver to start 200 F1 races. Appropriately enough, the race was the scene of his 11th Grand Prix victory.
Renault failed to score for the first time since the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix – but not for the last time in 2011.
Belgian Grand Prix
Virgin matched the record for starting the most races without scoring a point. It had previously been held by RAM, who started 31 races from 1983 to 1985 without scoring.
By the end of the year Virgin had started 38 races without scoring. But as they become Marussia next year HRT could soon take this undesirable milestone from them.
Pastor Maldonado finished in tenth place and scored his first career point. He became only the second Venezuelan to do so, joining Johnny Cecotto, who took a point for Theodore at Long Beach in 1983 by finishing sixth.
Nico Rosberg led the 60th lap of his F1 career. Only four drivers have led more laps in world championship races without winning one.
Italian Grand Prix
The top five finishers in the Italian Grand Prix were all previous world champions, something which had never happened before in Formula 1.
Vettel equalled Kimi Raikkonen’s tally of wins and Red Bull matched Tyrrell’s – but both had more wins to add before the end of the year.
Singapore Grand Prix
Vettel led every lap of the race for only the third time in his career – but Button kept him from scoring his first perfect result.
Japanese Grand Prix
Aged 42 years and 279 days, Michael Schumacher became the oldest driver to lead a race since Jack Brabham in the 1970 British Grand Prix.
Vettel won the championship with four races to spare. Only on two occasions has the title been decided sooner: Schumacher won in 2002 with six races to spare and Nigel Mansell won in 1992 with five races left.
Lotus finished a race with both cars on the lead lap for the first time since then 1987 Japanese Grand Prix.
Korean Grand Prix
Hamilton became the only driver in the whole of 2011 to beat Red Bull to pole position. He out-qualified Vettel by 0.222s.
The last driver to do so had been Nico Hulkenberg in the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix.
McLaren started their 700th race.
Indian Grand Prix
Having threatened to do so on several previous occasions, Vettel finally scored his first perfect result. He set pole position, led every lap, won the race and set fastest lap. He is the 22nd driver to do so in F1 history.
Felipe Massa started his 150th race (though Ferrari incorrectly claimed he had actually done so one race earlier).
India became the 30th different country to hold a round of the world championship.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Hamilton became the 17th F1 driver to lead 1,000 laps.
There was no Red Bull on the podium for the first time since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.
Brazilian Grand Prix
Massa became the tenth driver to start 100 races with the same team. Two other drivers have started more races for Ferrari than him – Rubens Barrichello (102) and Schumacher (180).
However he also became the first Ferrari driver since Didier Pironi in 1981 to complete a season for the team without finishing on the podium.
Vettel broke Mansell’s record for most pole positions in a season with his 15th of the year. However this year featured 19 races, whereas Mansell set pole in 14 out of 16 rounds in 1992.
It was Renault’s 300th and – for now, at least – last F1 start.
2011 F1 season review
- The 2011 F1 season: The complete F1 Fanatic review
- Your 2011 F1 predictions revisited
- 2011 F1 statistics part 3: Stats and facts highlights
- 2011 F1 statistics part two: Vettel’s domination
- 2011 F1 statistics part one: car performance
- New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years
- What F1 Fanatics really thought of the 2011 season
- Sebastian Vettel voted F1 Fanatic Driver of the Year
- F1 Fanatic’s article highlights of 2011
- Dominant Red Bull join F1’s top teams
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