2012 in statistics part one: The year in context

2012 F1 season review

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In the first part of F1 Fanatic’s look at the year in statistics, here’s how 2012 compared with previous seasons.

It includes a look at how the team mates at the top four teams have compared since 2010, updated statistics on all the world champions and how ever-increasing reliability is changing the championship.

Three years of the same drivers in the top teams

The last three season have been unusual in that the four most successful teams – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes – have all had unchanged driver line-ups.

With two of those changing for next year, let’s take the opportunity to compare how they all did.

This was also the first three years where points were awarded down to tenth place, so their points hauls have been compared as well:

TeamDriverQualifying averageRace averageWinsPolesPoints
Red BullSebastian Vettel2.
Mark Webber2.
FerrariFernando Alonso5.
Felipe Massa7.
McLarenLewis Hamilton5.
Jenson Button6.
MercedesMichael Schumacher9.910.
Nico Rosberg7.

The most closely-matched team mates during this time have been the McLaren pair. Lewis Hamilton has held a clear upper hand in qualifying, though Button has reduced that margin of superiority in the race. He scored more points than Hamilton in their three years together, though Hamilton’s two car failures while leading this year helped tip the balance in Button’s favour.

Fernando Alonso’s domination of Felipe Massa at Ferrari is starkly illustrated in these numbers. However Massa’s string of zeroes through the ‘poles’ and ‘wins’ column would have a one in it had he not been ordered to hand victory to Alonso at the Hockenheimring in 2010. This year was his worst yet, scoring 43.8% of Alonso’s points haul, the worst of any driver during this period.

The gap between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber has varied considerably. The pair were closely matched in 2010 but Vettel was miles ahead in 2011. This year Webber was on a par with his team mate in the first half of the season but dropped off badly in the second half.

Michael Schumacher reduced the gap to Nico Rosberg in 2011 only for it to increase again this year. But here too technical faults played a significant role: Mercedes’ five non-finishes due to technical failures this year all occurred on Schumacher’s side of the garage.

World champions

Here’s F1 Fanatic’s data on how the world champions compare at the end of the 2012 season.

To rank them, all their finishing results were tallied using the current points system, and averaged against the number of races which they did not fail to be classified in due to a technical failure. This method was first used for the Champion of Champions series.

Michael Schumacher’s win rate fell from 36.7% to 29.7% during the course of his comeback, but it remains higher than that of any of the remaining world champions.

PosNameWins (%)Poles (%)Fastest laps (%)Car failures (%)Points/finish
1Juan Manuel Fangio24 (47.06%)29 (56.86%)23 (45.10%)17.6520.79
2Alberto Ascari13 (40.63%)14 (43.75%)12 (37.50%)18.7517.15
3Jackie Stewart27 (27.27%)17 (17.17%)15 (15.15%)32.3216.55
4Jim Clark25 (34.72%)33 (45.83%)28 (38.89%)29.1716.45
5Giuseppe Farina5 (15.15%)5 (15.15%)5 (15.15%)15.1515.96
6Alain Prost51 (25.63%)33 (16.58%)41 (20.60%)16.5814.96
7Ayrton Senna41 (25.47%)65 (40.37%)19 (11.80%)20.5014.70
8Michael Schumacher91 (29.74%)68 (22.22%)77 (25.16%)10.7814.25
9Sebastian Vettel26 (25.74%)36 (35.64%)15 (14.85%)9.9013.67
10Mike Hawthorn3 (6.67%)4 (8.89%)6 (13.33%)22.2213.37
11Jochen Rindt6 (10.00%)10 (16.67%)3 (5.00%)55.0013.26
12Lewis Hamilton21 (19.09%)26 (23.64%)12 (10.91%)5.4512.41
13Fernando Alonso30 (15.31%)22 (11.22%)19 (9.69%)8.6712.33
14Niki Lauda25 (14.62%)24 (14.04%)24 (14.04%)34.5011.99
15Nigel Mansell31 (16.58%)32 (17.11%)30 (16.04%)32.6211.98
16Jack Brabham14 (11.38%)13 (10.57%)12 (9.76%)34.9611.74
17Kimi Raikkonen19 (10.86%)16 (9.14%)37 (21.14%)16.0011.60
18Mika Hakkinen20 (12.42%)26 (16.15%)25 (15.53%)24.2211.33
19Denny Hulme8 (7.14%)1 (0.89%)9 (8.04%)25.8911.33
20Damon Hill22 (19.13%)20 (17.39%)19 (16.52%)14.7811.13
21Nelson Piquet23 (11.27%)24 (11.76%)23 (11.27%)24.5110.96
22Phil Hill3 (6.38%)6 (12.77%)6 (12.77%)27.6610.74
23John Surtees6 (5.41%)8 (7.21%)11 (9.91%)44.1410.58
24Jody Scheckter10 (8.93%)3 (2.68%)5 (4.46%)18.759.85
25James Hunt10 (10.87%)14 (15.22%)8 (8.70%)29.359.68
26Emerson Fittipaldi14 (9.72%)6 (4.17%)6 (4.17%)25.699.29
27Graham Hill14 (8.00%)13 (7.43%)10 (5.71%)33.149.00
28Mario Andretti12 (9.38%)18 (14.06%)10 (7.81%)39.848.71
29Alan Jones12 (10.34%)6 (5.17%)13 (11.21%)28.458.52
30Keke Rosberg5 (4.39%)5 (4.39%)3 (2.63%)38.608.50
31Jenson Button15 (6.58%)8 (3.51%)8 (3.51%)11.408.03
32Jacques Villeneuve11 (6.75%)13 (7.98%)9 (5.52%)22.706.77

Season data, 1992-2012

After a year in which most of the winning was done by one team and one driver, 2012 saw a much closer field and a lot more variation in terms of who was doing the winning.

Eight different drivers won races during the year, the most since 2003. The most races won by a single driver was Sebastian Vettel’s five.


Number of races161616171617161617171716181918171817191920
Different drivers373546352428232423262324252727262225272825
Different winners544546464548555476558
Most wins by individual978987859911613776665115
Different pole sitters337436444536796468537
Most pole positions by individual1413679109116117586667410157
Different lap leaders5578811611576131111111215138813

Reliability, 1992-2012


Classified finishers44.8952.9146.1750.2450.2956.8857.9552.5658.5660.757.9766.8872.574.269.1975.1377.7282.0676.9781.3683.54
Mechanical failures27.1424.0325.931.124.2724.626.4229.5525.1327.0129.1224.3816.9411.4418.1813.648.79.1213.1510.757.71
Other DNFs27.9723.0627.9318.6625.4418.5215.6317.916.3112.312.918.7510.5614.3612.6311.2313.598.829.887.898.75

F1 teams continued to improve their reliability in 2012 and several drivers finished every race without suffering a race-ending mechanical failure.

With one of the teams that had the most failures this year – HRT – off the grid in 2013, expect it to improve further. But the major change in the regulations coming in 2014 will likely increase the number of retirements, at least temporarily.

Although there were several high-profile crashes during the year the number of retirements for reasons other than technical failure was not unusually high. There were 38 non-classifications due to accidents compared to 37 technical failures during races plus Petrov’s failure to start in Silverstone due to an engine problem.

The second part of the the 2012 F1 season in statistics will pick out the most interesting stats and facts of the year.

2012 F1 season review

Browse all 2012 F1 season review articles

Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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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25 comments on “2012 in statistics part one: The year in context”

  1. Great stuff as usual.
    Best”est” site on F1, no wonder @keith you are being followed on twitter by 5 F1 teams :)

    1. @vickyy Thanks very much – hadn’t noticed that about the teams on Twitter, will go have a look…

    2. Agreed, great work Keith, I am on this more than any other and even during the off season it is worth a visit.
      Folks if you are buying f1 related presents at this time of the year, make sure you check out the shop section on here and help keep this site running.

      Another amazing stat is that Hamilton is the only driver to reach Q3 in every race of year, yet he finished 4th!

  2. Vettel’s race average in 2012 is 1.2 places lower then Alonso’s, both of them had two DNFs and still Vettel scores the more points???
    Vettel’s race average was 3.44444 not counting the DNFs. Alonsos was 3.277777. If I counted right.

    1. @f1mre I suspect you’re discounting Italy where he was classified 22nd. That was obviously because he’d stopped with an alternator failure, but nonetheless he was still classified.

      1. Oh, okay. With Italy it is indeed 4.42 avg.

    2. Vettel was qualified as 22nd for the Italian Grand Prix, as he retired when he had completed 90% of the race. So that’s a big impact on the average finishing position.

  3. Is it just me that can’t see the points column for 2012 in the first table?

    1. had the same thing initially: two ways to counter that, reduce font or widen browser window both worked for me. They might not be ideal for you :)

  4. Great stats Keith, amazing as always. Ahh 1994… the most drivers in any one season in recent memory. I have a little almanac book at home of the 1994 season. The driver profile section is endless.

    Which season holds the record for most participants? Is it possible to exclude the Indy 500 years, as that takes the tally artificially high, I feel.

    also an error in this paragraph:

    The last three season have been unusual in that the three most successful teams

    Should be ‘four’ teams.

    1. I haven’t a clue either! I suspect it would be during the 90’s, with participating car numbers often reaching the 30’s and many pay driver changes in those many awful teams – who failed to qualify frequently and then dissolved into nothingness (Pacific Racing for example).

  5. @keithcollantine

    the last three seasons have been unusual in that the three most successful teams – Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes

    I assume you mean the four most successful teams?

    1. Yes, thanks.

  6. This was my major gripe against Schumacher’s comeback: all he has really achieved is to lower his percentages. On a personal level the experience may have been valuable but the statistics will remember his comeback as a failure sadly.

    1. @vettel1 Statistics are over-rated. Those of us passionate about F1 will remember how he did. He did lower his percentage, but if that doesn’t matter to him I don’t see why it would matter to anyone else.

      1. @andrewtanner – I’m not disagreeing with you but given what he was aiming to achieve I don’t think he was successful. He probably gained respect though because he wasn’t winning all the time!

        1. @vettel1 I’d say that’s more a reflection on Mercedes’ dismal effort than Schumacher’s.

  7. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    15th December 2012, 17:32

    People say Vettel has better luck than Alonso and Hamilton, but see his stats in the “car failure column”, and you can see how Lewis and Alonso have both more reliability with their cars. How far are they from Senna though! It’s incredible to see how Senna could achieve so much with so big car failure %. I wonder what woudl have happened if Senna would have raced in the modern, reliable era.

    1. It helped that Senna raced in an era when the reliability was generally lower though, still quite a feat I agree @omar-pepper – Vettel probably got most of those failure from 2010, while Hamilton had a really generally reliable car at McLaren, it’s just that it failed him this year at some high-profile times when it was really costly (as opposed to when his team couldn’t do pit stops, or at Silverstone ;). Alonso has had great reliability in his years at Ferrari – that’s something they learned during the Schumacher era and retained, it seems.

  8. The most closely-matched team mates during this time have been the McLaren pair. Lewis Hamilton has held a clear upper hand in qualifying, though Button has reduced that margin of superiority in the race.

    A fascinating matchup, that. Two contrasting styles of racing driver, Button as “Steady Eddie” and Hamilton as “Roy Racer” – and they ended up in the exact same place results wise. I prefer Hamilton’s style of doing it though.

  9. Fernando Alonso’s domination of Felipe Massa at Ferrari …

    .. leaves a slightly bad taste. There is ample precedent in F1 for one driver insisting on a doormat for a teammate, so Alonso is hardly unique in that respect. But it does make this sort of teammate comparison a little meaningless.

  10. Those car failure stats are fascinating. Who would have guessed that “lucky” Vettel has had a worse failure rate than “unlucky” Hamilton? I wouldn’t. Sometimes the numbers contradict the conventional wisdom.

    1. Very True. Hamilton himself thinks that he fares badly with respect to car failures. I mean he once commented on that. But Statistics shows that Vettel has double the failure rate than both him and Alonso. I would have never seen that. Even I believed Vettel had a good average there. Welll Numbers Speaks….. Thanks @keithcollantin

      1. Vettel and Alonso have a very close rate of car failures, about 1% worse for Vettel, not twice as bad. But yes, much worse than Hamilton’s.

  11. Not related to the most recent championship results, but a clear standout for me was Jochen Rindt: more than 13 points per finish with a 55% car failure rate (yes, that really is 10x that of LH!). How do you remain motivated to deliver such a high level of performance when your car lets you down in more than half the races you start?

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