Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2002

Top ten: Unbeatable Formula One records

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Few records in Formula 1 are truly unbeatable.

Ayrton Senna’s haul of 65 pole positions was once thought likely to stand the test of time, but Michael Schumacher beat it.

And though Schumacher’s tally of 91 wins may seem insurmountable, the same was once said of Alain Prost’s 51 victories.

As the saying goes, records are there to be broken. But there are some records which won’t be under threat any time soon. From geriatrics on the podium to sharing a single point between seven, here are ten F1 records that are in it for the long haul.

Narrowest pole position winning margin

1997 European Grand Prix: 0.000s between first, second and third

The 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez is chiefly remembered for Michael Schumacher’s unsuccessful attempt to eliminate his title rival, Jacques Villeneuve, from the race.

But F1 anoraks also recall the astonishing events of the previous day’s qualifying session. It saw the same two drivers plus Villeneuve’s team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen stop the clocks at the same time to within a thousandth of a second.

First Villeneuve, then Schumacher and finally Frentzen lapped the 4.4km (2.7-mile) Jerez circuit in 1’21.072. Unless F1 follows IndyCar’s lead and starts measuring times to four decimal places, this record is stuck at 0.000s.

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Earliest start to a season

1965 and 1968: January 1st

While modern-day F1 campaigns usually kick off in mid March, until the 1980s it was customary for the season to begin as early as January.

In 1965 and 1968, at the East London and Kyalami circuits respectively, the season opening South African Grand Prix was held on the very first day of the year. Yet in both seasons, the following world championship event was not held until over four months later!

Keep that next time you think the current four-week summer break is too long…

Longest race

2011 Canadian Grand Prix: four hours, four minutes and 39.537 seconds

The track was wet as the Canadian Grand Prix got underway at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2011. But on lap 19 a fresh downpour forced the race to be red-flagged for two hours.

Under F1 rules the clock kept tipping so that when the race finally resumed and ran its scheduled 70-lap distance the entire thing had taken over four hours.

This prompted the introduction of a new rule for 2012 requiting all races to be completed within four hours regardless of any stoppages. It’s a good thing the rule wasn’t in place a year earlier, or we’d have been robbed of the thrilling sight of Jenson Button hunting race leader Sebastian Vettel down and passing him on the final lap.

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Most failures to pre-qualify

Gabriele Tarquini: 24

When F1 entry lists ballooned in the late eighties pre-qualifying sessions were held to weed out some of the slowest cars before the real action began.

Gabriele Tarquini suffered more than most at the hands of this cruel eliminator. Driving for such unfancied teams as Coloni, AGS and Fondmetal he failed to gain a place on the grid on 40 separate occasions. In 24 of those he suffered the indignity of failing even to qualify for qualifying!

Today it’s been 17 years since we last had a full grid of 26 cars at a Grand Prix. Given the current state of the world economy and the huge costs involved in running a Formula One team, the prospect of the grid being oversubscribed again seems a very distant one. This unwanted record is Tarquini’s to keep.

Most starters

1953 German Grand Prix: 34

In the early years of the world championship, pre-qualifying was not a consideration. Due to a lack of available F1 cars in 1952 and 1953 the world championship was run to Formula 2 specifications which boosted grid sizes.

A whopping 34 drivers began the 1953 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, 14 of whom were local wildcards. Today’s grid is capped at 26.

At the other end of the spectrum, the infamous six-car United States Grand Prix of 2005 unsurprisingly takes the record for the smallest field. It is possible a race could see fewer starters than that, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

Oldest podium

1950 Swiss Grand Prix: 140 years, 93 days (average: 46 years, 274 days)

The physical demands of modern F1 cars mean that it is highly unusual for drivers to still be racing in their forties. The oldest driver to start a race in recent years was 43: Schumacher in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

In the first years of the world championship drivers were generally much older than they are today. In the inaugural world championship race, the 1950 British Grand Prix, just one of the entrants was younger than 30.

The record for the oldest ever podium was set at that year’s Swiss Grand Prix. Giuseppe Farina, Luigi Fagioli and Louis Rosier – had a combined age of over 140!

‘But it could happen again’, I hear you all cry. Granted, this is not strictly an “unbeatable” record. But I sooner expect to see Narain Karthikeyan win a Grand Prix driving a lawnmower.

Most podium finishes in a season

Michael Schumacher, 2002: 100% (17 out of 17)

Thanks to the performance and reliability of his Ferrari F2002 (and, earlier in the season, the F2001), Schumacher not only finished every race of the 2002 season, he never took the chequered flag lower than third. And he only finished there once!

The record may be improved upon by a driver finishing a longer season entirely on the podium, but that 100% hit rate is never going to be beaten.

Best podium strike rate in a career

Dorino Serafini: 100% (1 out of 1)

The same applies to the obscure example of Dorino Serafini who finished his only world championship race, the 1950 Italian Grand Prix, on the podium.

Serafini only drove half of the race – he handed his car to Alberto Ascari midway through as the rules permitted at the time.

There have also been several examples of drivers who finished on the podium in the Indianapolis 500 when it counted towards the world championship from 1950 to 1960, but these races were not run to F1 rules.

Smallest points haul

Stirling Moss, Alberto Ascari and Jean Behra: 0.14

During the first ten world championship seasons in the 1950s, drivers were awarded a single point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Unfortunately, timing systems in this era were somewhat rudimentary, and lap times were sometimes measured to the nearest second.

The 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw seven drivers shared a fastest lap of one minute and 50 seconds. The single point was split between them, each scoring one-seventh of a point. Four of them also scored points for their finishing positions, but for three drivers 0.14 points was all they came away with.

Longest wait for the second-placed car

1963 Belgian Grand Prix: four minutes and 54 seconds

Most modern Grand Prix are close contests. With tight restrictions on car design ensuring the field remains relatively evenly matched, and races regularly punctuated by Safety Car periods, winning margins are seldom much more than a few seconds.

But in years gone by, more regulatory freedom meant cars often varied hugely in performance. Coupled with the high rate of attrition, it meant that many races concluded with huge gaps between each driver.

Jim Clark’s sensational victory by four minutes and 54 seconds in the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix will surely never be surpassed. He burst through from eighth on the grid to take the lead and was never headed around the fearsome 14.1km Spa circuit.

Conditions during the race were so dreadful Clark’s team boss Colin Chapman urged officials to abandon the proceedings at one point. Meanwhile Clark annihilated his rivals. He lapped the field at one point, though second-placed Bruce McLaren unlapped himself.

That meant when Clark took the line to finish it took almost five minutes for McLaren to appear in second place. Today’s tracks simply aren’t long enough for such a feat to be possible. Spa remains the longest track on the calendar, but is half the length it used to be and is lapped in well under 110 seconds in race conditions.

Over to you

Have you spotted any more unbeatable F1 records or statistical quirks? Share them in the comments.

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130 comments on “Top ten: Unbeatable Formula One records”

  1. The 2 that come to my mind would be Jack Brabham & John Surtees. Brabham for winning in his own constructed car & Surtees for being champion in cars & bikes

    1. Drop Valencia!
      19th June 2013, 10:51

      yes both are unbeliveable, but I think they could be matched over 100 years, MS could have done it had he purchased Honda with some pocket change, and most Moto GP guys that stand out, like Rossi/Doohan get a fez test, it’s just a matter of time till another does OK.

      1. Mallesh Magdum
        19th June 2013, 17:25

        “pocket change”…..LOL! Well, Brawn did buy it for just £1.

      2. safeeuropeanhome
        19th June 2013, 18:36

        If someone does do it again it is much more likely that like Surtees they will win first in bikes, and then crossover to cars. And even that is very unlikely in this day and age.

        1. Indeed riding is so much more difficult then driving, it takes more guts and requires more physical exertion. Most people can drive, fewer can ride.

          If you can race a bike on the ragged edge chances are you could be great in F1. Whereas we all saw what happened when Schumi tried sportsbikes.

          Another John Surtees? Only time will tell

          1. Most people can drive, fewer can ride.

            Even fewer can ride an F1 car. I see guys on superbikes every day on my way to and from work. I don’t see many people in fast single seaters. So by your logic driving a single seater is even more difficult.

            I like watching MotoGP and I love events like Isle Of Man TT, but I think that riding a bike is easier than driving an F1 car. I think that motorcycle road racing is purer and it definitely takes more guts, but that’s simply because it has less regulations and is more dangerous, but not because it is more difficult.

            Other than Surtees, can you recall any successful transition from motorbikes to F1? Or any single seater category for that matter? If cars are less difficult, then it should be fairly common.

          2. safeeuropeanhome
            20th June 2013, 12:09

            My point was more about riding and driving at an elite level, not your average man on the street who likes bikes and then goes and buys a 1098 or something similar. Someone who would be capable of winning world championships on both forms of machinery, and I’m sorry but cars are less difficult than bikes at an elite level.

            I can never foresee a situation where someone who has driven cars all their life can switch over to bikes and then beat the top calibre guys in Moto GP and win a world championship. The guys who switch over from world superbikes have immense trouble trying to get near the top GP guys who have ridden through 125cc/250cc, let alone someone who has spent most of his early racing career on a different form of machinery.

            That does not mean by any means F1 cars are easy to drive and does not mean that any elite level motorcycle rider could switch over to cars and be successful. No one is saying it should be a common occurrence, someone like Surtees was clearly an exceptional talent, to crossover as he did was pretty unbelievable. But there are and will continue to be exactly zero examples where people cross over from cars to bikes and then be competitive at elite level.

            In answer to your question Mike Hailwood had a pretty good go at F1, got a couple of podiums although given his status as one of the greatest motorcycle riders of all time any car career was going to be disappointing in comparison. There aren’t many I agree, and no way should it be common but if someone is to repeat Surtees then I stand by the fact they will win first in bikes, and then crossover to cars.

          3. @MaroonJack “Other than Surtees, can you recall any successful transition from motorbikes to F1?” – Rudolf Caracciola and Tazio Nuvolari are drivers that come to mind. Both brilliant on bikes and even better in cars. But, of course, that was almost 100 years ago.

        2. Top level cars/bikes are not harder/easier. They are different disciplines and comparisons are irrelevant.

          It’s like saying swimming is easier than running. To a swimmer? Yes. To a runner? No.

          Pointless comparison.

          1. Iestyn Davies
            20th June 2013, 17:37

            The point is that at the top levels, the skills used are the same – trail braking. The later you can brake, and still get the car to the apex with an optimal exit, will determine how fast you are, along with your line. Lewis Hamilton alludes to this when he said in the run up to the Canadian GP that he always tries to brake latest.

            Valentino Rossi was first a champion in karts, before moving to bikes for cost reasons, and hence was the best candidate we have seen to also match this accolade (Mike Hailwood was also competitive in F1 after switching directly). His Ferrari tests suggest he would have been competitive, given the chance to have pre-2009 testing rules. But, Ferrari chose Kimi Raikkonen instead…

  2. BradandCoffee
    19th June 2013, 10:10

    What about Brawn GP’s championship success rate?

    1. I think that could pretty much happen in the years to come.

      1. Gilles De Wilde
        19th June 2013, 10:38

        Which team could score a 100% success rate in the years to come? They would either have to win and quit like Brawn GP or they would have to keep winning year after year.. I think it is very unlikely..

        1. If Red Bull changed their name completely to Infiniti or even Arden for a whole year only and won the championship, then it’d happen, but it won’t :P

          1. BradandCoffee
            19th June 2013, 11:14

            Even then, they could only tie the record, never beat it.

        2. Well, in 2014 the rules will change radically, as in 2009, and a new team could come, win the title and then go. It happened recently, I don’t see why it couldn’t happen again…it’s not so difficult, after all. Brawn did it with Honda, taking advantage of new regulations and then he sold the team to Mercedes. Think about it, it could and might happen again.

      2. As @greg-morland mentioned, the economy precludes new start-ups happening (and being competitive) and I also don’t think there’s much chance of a works manufacturer pulling out, funding a new car AND selling a team on in one fell swoop.

        Brawn GP was a perfect storm.

      3. BradandCoffee
        19th June 2013, 11:12

        But it’s the same scenario as the full season of podiums for MSC – it could happen again, but there is no chance of beating100%.

        1. Lucas Wilson
          19th June 2013, 11:24

          Man that picture of 1997 F1 grid!. No colour except for the Red Ferrari!

          1. OmarR-Pepper
            19th June 2013, 15:23

            check your eyes, as I see Williams and Jordans as colorful cars

          2. Actually, the picture has 146987 unique colors

        2. There is no chance of beating100%.

          Full season of victories would be truly unbeatable, and it would definitely beat a full season of podiums.

    2. There are also other derived “records” from the Brawn season, such as a driver winning 100% of a team’s championships, two drivers taking part in 100% of a team’s races, a team running 100% of its races with the same team principal, sponsors, chassis, drivers, etc.

      1. There have been cases of one driver winning 100% of a team’s championships, but not in their only year like Button/Brawn. Fangio for Maserati and Mercedes (split them with those 2 in 1954, Mercedes alone in 1955, Maserati alone in 1957), Graham Hill for BRM in 1962, Jackie Stewart for Matra in 1969 and Tyrrell in 1971 and 1973, Michael Schumacher for Benetton in 1994 and 1995, Fernando Alonso for Renault in 2005 and 2006.

        And to be honest, I think there’s probably been a handful of backmarkers who’ve run 100% of their (few) races with the same drivers, staff or sponsors. And Brawn had some temporary sponsors at certain GPs, like Canon at Singapore and Itaipava at the Brazilian GP.

        1. And Vettel currently with Red Bull. I would hardly call them records, but they can nonetheless never be beaten, only equalled.

      2. two drivers taking part in 100% of a team’s races

        Midland achieved that record before Brawn did, and I doubt they were the first either.

        1. you think Sospiri and Rosset would also qualify for that? :P

  3. “…Narain Karthikeyan win a Grand Prix driving a lawnmower.” My first thought was: Is HRT back? :))

    1. I sooner expect to see Narain Karthikeyan win a GP driving a lawnmower than see an HRT win a GP. :P

    2. Lucas Wilson
      19th June 2013, 10:48

      lol +1 :-)

  4. Keke Rosberg’s pole lap at Silverstone in 1985 of 1’05.591. In those days Silverstone was a mere 4.7km, now its up at 5.9. The average speed recorded was 258.9km/h. Whilst it is of course theoretically possible to design a moving vehicle that could eclipse this record on the current circuit, I believe it would take an alien version of Adrian Newey to design such a car. And even then it would have to satisfy the FIA regulations & tests. For me, the record of the fastest man in an F1 car around Silverstones is Mr K Rosbergs to keep.

    1. @Chris No it isn’t Rosberg’s to keep, Barrichello beat it in Monza 2004 with 260.395 km/h for a lap of 1′.21″.046 for the 5.8 km track.

      1. Oh, unless you mean specifically about Silverstone in which case I will disagree again because claiming to be “the fastest man around Silverstone” is quite abstract and irrelevant since the ’80s is a completely different track, that just so happens to exist in the same exact spot. Tracks now and then receive small alterations allowing us to consider it as the same track Silverstone though and Fuji aren’t the case.

        1. Yes I did mean just Silverstone and whilst I accept your points about the fact that the layout is very different now to what it was in the 80’s, however, if I was asked the question who recorded the fastest ever lap around Silverstone in an F1 car? Then my answer would be Rosberg. Regardless of the fact that the layout changes have made it impossible so far for the record to be beaten. For this unbeatable F1 record, I have used the same criteria which I have interpreted from the main article above. I stand by the quote picked out by luc.

          1. @chris So if you still think that this is an unbeatable record then how about Mario Andretti being the fastest man ever around FUJI speedway? His pole position time of 1′.12″.23 set in 1977 in his Lotus is over 6 seconds faster than Hamilton’s 2008 pole lap of 1′.18″.404 both in the dry so it appears this is the same case as Rosberg’s Silverstone time or for that matter Nurburgring GP when the track was lengthened and “slowered” by the addition of Mercedes arena in 2002, even though in this case I didn’t look for times pre and post the revamp.

          2. Granted, based on the same criteria it is absolutely a candidate. However 6 seconds is a much smaller margin than the 24 seconds between Rosbergs 85 pole time & Webbers 11 pole time at Silverstone. So not so improbable that in 20 years time should F1 ever return to Fuji, that Andrettis time could be challenged.

      2. ”the record of the fastest man in an F1 car around Silverstones is Mr K Rosbergs to keep.”

  5. 17 podiums out of 17…incredible

    1. OmarR-Pepper
      19th June 2013, 15:28

      @scuderia29 and when this kind of ability / car performance is shown, it’s seen as a “boring season” that year, but when it’s looked back it’s simply to stand in awe.

      1. Colossal Squid
        19th June 2013, 16:08

        History’s often a lot more interesting to read about than to live through. Even I was bored by that season, and I’m a Schumacher fan! Unbelievable consistency though. I think it can be equaled relatively soon though. Look at Vettel in 2011, he came damn close to 100%.

  6. I highly doubt anyone will break the record for oldest driver to start a race at 55 years and 292 days (Louis Chiron)… I also very highly doubt anyone will score more than 100% of possible points in a season also (Ascari and Clark), and somebody winning from further back than 22nd on the grid? Can’t happen at the moment!

    I also reckon Phil Hill’s unusual record of being the world champion with the fewest career points (98) is pretty safe too, unless Bernie messes around with the points system again…

    1. Lucas Wilson
      19th June 2013, 11:23

      ol’ Bernie likes to mess with everything :-)

      In fact I even heard that he is changing F1’s name!, to “My Personal Cash Machine World Championship”.

  7. These are really interesting records. I had no idea about 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10.

  8. Excluding the trivial case of Silverstone 1950: Jacques Villeneuve’s record of getting his 1st pole in his 1st race, and Giancarlo Baghetti’s record of getting his 1st win in his 1st race aren’t going to beaten…

    1. @racer yeah, but matching them, is not that big of a problem. Was close to happen many times since

    2. Villeneuve didn’t have the record to start with, though. Carlos Reutemann took pole in his first race and impressive 15 places ahead of team-mate Graham Hill.

  9. Did “AGD” fail to pre-qualify at the Dan Marino Grand Prix? Small typo in the Tarquini bit.

    1. OmarR-Pepper
      19th June 2013, 15:30

      @tomsk Dan Marino? looks like you’ve been watching “Ace Ventura 1” recently
      (oh wait, it’s a typo too! :P)

  10. Absolutely brilliant article, Greg!!

    1. +1 lots of fun to read

  11. Hamilton’s Debut season

    1. Farina’s debut season?

    2. With a car like MP4-22 any top driver could do the same. Only problem in the way is that usually drivers, even the skilled ones, have to start their careers from lower on the grid

      1. What, like Alonso?

    3. Jacques Villeneuve. Unless you were talking about missing on the championship by a single point on his rookie year.

  12. The biggest winning margin of the modern era (eg. shorter tracks) is also another that is unlikely to be repeated for a long time:

    Damon Hill winning in Adelaide in 1995. Olivier Panis finished second, 2 laps down.

    At around 80 seconds for a lap, that is almost 3 minutes ahead at the flag.

    1. The difference being: Panis did not need to drive those 3 minutes in order to finish the race. But it does seem unlikely to see anything like that soon, unless we have a race in which one of the top team drivers remains, the rest retires and we’re left with 4 midfield cars on a wrong setup and the Marussia/Caterham drivers.

      Regarding Panis, I also think it’s unlikely we’ll see something like the 1996 Monaco GP again, with modern retirement numbers and the FIA’s tendency to red flag races more than in the 90s.

  13. Keke Rosberg winning the WDC in 1982 with just the single race win is unlikely to be beaten.

    1. Gilles De Wilde
      19th June 2013, 13:20

      Indeed, but it isn’t an unbeatable record. No wins and winning the driver’s world championship is “the unbeatable record” in this case. But very unlikely that will ever happen ;-)

    2. morleyfanatic
      19th June 2013, 19:54

      Mike Hawthorne won with one GP win as did Phil Hill I think…

  14. Sean Richardson
    19th June 2013, 12:58

    What about Schumacher’s win while serving a Stop & Go Penalty at Silverstone in ’98?

    1. This is about breaking records though, not breaking the rules ;)

      1. Sankalp Sharma
        19th June 2013, 16:15


        +1 haha! But technically Schumi / Ferrari never broke any rule. That was jus a very clever exploitation of a loophole in the sporting regulations at that time.

  15. I believe the 1958 Portuguese GP had a bigger margin between 1st and 2nd – Hawthorn was the only unlapped driver (behind Moss), but I think he spun/went off track during his last lap, was stalled for some time, before crossing the line over 5 minutes after Moss (which he had to do in order to be classified and thus score points in those days). Hawthorn beat Moss to the title by a single point that year.

    Some others:

    Highest numbered car to enter a race: 208 (by Lella Lombardi)

    Lowest non-zero career points total: 0.5 (also by Lella Lombardi) – this can be equalled

    Highest percentage of GPs led: 100% (by Markus Winkelhock) – this can be equalled

    Lowest season points total for a driver who won at least 1 race that season: 4 (Fagioli in 1951)

    Fewest total pitstops in one race: 0 (Netherlands 1961)

    Worst F1 team ever: Andrea Moda

    1. Also Winkelhock has the highest percentage of laps in the lead in his career, 50% (he led 6 of his 12 laps in his only race)

    2. Surely, 0 pit stops was not infrequent in the 60’s.@paulgilb

    3. Drop Valencia!
      20th June 2013, 2:53

      Great point, and still possible to be beaten if a sole second place driver on the lead lap ditches and requires a recovery, or limps home, or gets pushed over the line, this could take a long time!

      1. Drop Valencia!
        20th June 2013, 2:55

        Also the sad thing was for Moss, that he was the one that stopped and suggested to Hawthorn that he turn downhill and roll start, if he hadn’t, he would have won a WDC!

    4. I’m pretty sure Life would classify as the worst F1 team ever, as Andrea Moda surprisely qualified for a race. 14 entries 14 DNPQ and sometimes several 10s of seconds off the nearest prequalify time. That or the 1997 Lola entry as it could not qualify for its only race.

    5. A no-pitstop race was common during the period of ‘mostly’ no refuelling up to 1993 (it was legal until 1983, but rarely utilized) – but ever since it has been rare. Mika Salo’s 5th place at Monaco in 1997 is the last time that comes to mind (rain shortened, but still 61 laps!)

    6. @paulgilb Life would have to rival Moda for Worst Team, as they failed to even qualify for a race:

      Life L190 – the worst F1 car ever – to run at Goodwood Festival of Speed

  16. Longest wait for the second-placed car

    This might get broken in the following scenaio:

    1) If there are torrential rains and someone has a car that is super awesome and almost laps the second placed car
    2) There are a lot of retirements due to torrential rains
    3) The second placed driver just needs to finish the 7km last lap of Spa to ensure that he gets the biggest points haul for his team
    4) This second placed driver is from Marussia and is about to run out of fuel and hence, is driving slowly.
    5) He goes off track multiple times, but never crashes and makes it back to the track every time.

  17. Lewis McMurray
    19th June 2013, 13:44

    In the days of ever-increasing reliability it seems unlikely that anyone will beat Andrea de Cesaris’ record of 14 retirements in a single season, in both 1986 and 1987. If you want to make the record even harsher he actually had a total of 15 DNFs in each season, failing to qualify in Monaco in 1986 and retiring from the 1987 Australian Grand Prix after completing more than 90% of the race distance, so was classified 9th but technically didn’t finish.

    1. Funny you mention him, I was just looking at his results on Wikipedia the other day. I think he’d be a good contender for highest number of DNFs total as well. Percentage-wise, there are drivers who have 100% retirement figures probably.

      1. Lewis McMurray
        21st June 2013, 9:44

        Yeah, something like 150 DNFs from 220ish starts? “Andrea de Crasheris” indeed

  18. It’s been a long while since I have read an F1 article this long and smiled throughout the entire duration. Even threw in some jabs at the notorious pickle. Great article, Keith.

  19. What about Andrea de Cesari’s record of 161 retirements and/or DNC’s (which, curiously, is the same number of Grand Prix’s Ayrton Senna raced in his entire F1 career)? In the earlier years it was a bit easier to get a seat in a car, so now I believe any driver would be fired before he managed to achieve this feat (even thou Cesaris wasn’t as a bad a driver as people think).

  20. World champion with the least wins; Rosberg and Hawthorn

  21. Correct me if I’m wrong but is Markus Winkelhock the only driver to have led every race he has entered?

    1. Certainly the only one to start last and first in the same race.

  22. How about Juan Pablo Montoya clocking 372.6 km/h (according to wikipedia) in free practice at Monza in 2005 or even Pizzonia’s verified 369.9 km/h in 2004 italian gp during the race? Or Barrichello’s fastest qualifying lap ever at 260.395 km/h

    Schumacher’s record of 247,515 km/h average for the 2003 italian gp?

    Monza again in 2002 and Montoya averages 262.242 km/h in a single lap in practice making it the fastest lap ever in a Formula 1 car…
    I focused on these speed records because with the direction in car/track design the sport has taken it is highly unlikely they will ever be broken. Now even if (fingers crossed) we have Monza unaltered for the years to come I am afraid that these records will remain most likely forever.

  23. A few other unbeatable records I’ve encountered:

    – Fewest Overtaking moves: 0 (2003 Monaco and 2005 US GP)
    – Highest top speed: 372.6 km/h (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2005 Italian GP)
    – Oldest driver to enter a race: Louis Chiron (58 years, 288 days)
    – Fewest races before first win: 1 (Nino Farina, Johnnie Parsons and Giancarlo Baghetti)
    – Most front row starts in a season (percentage): Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Damon Hill in every race of 1989, 1993 and 1996 respectively.
    – Highest points percentage in a season: 100% in 1963 and 1965 for Jim Clark and 1952 for Alberto Ascari (note that this was at a time where only a certain X out of Y results counted).
    – World champion with fewest career points: Phil Hill (98)
    – Fewest points between 1st and 2nd in the championship: 0.5 between Niki Lauda and Alain Prost in 1984.
    – Fewest pole positions in a championship winning season: 0 (Denny Hulme in 1967 and Niki Lauda in 1984)
    – Fewest points scored: 0.5 (Lella Lombardi)

    1. @anto – Regarding your first stat, the Formula One Overtaking Database also lists 2009 Valencia as having had no on track overtakes.

      However, Wikipedia says about the 2005 US GP “…and the only changes in positioning came when Albers and Karthikeyen exchanged passes.” I’m not sure if one is simply incorrect or if they are using different criteria [e.g. perhaps the F1OD site requires them to pass the start/finish to be classified as having made a pass, I don’t know].

    2. – Fewest points between 1st and 2nd in the championship: 0.5 between Niki Lauda and Alain Prost in 1984.

      It could be zero though. So that’s not “unbeatable” (don’t know if this has ever happened)

    3. Good list. Giuseppe Farina beat the fourth record mentioned here as he won the first Formula One World Championship race, Silverstone 1950. That record can not be broken. (There were Formula 1 races before the World Championship started as well).

  24. And from serious records the one I firmly believe will never be broken is Schumacher’s 91 victories. Yes Seb is on a roll but winning so much for so long seems impossible for the future, granted that FIA is taking steps against such domination.

  25. WCC and WDC strike rate of 100%. Brawn GP

    1. Yep that is also a record that can never be broken. Only equaled.

      @KeithCollantine This too needs a shout i Guess.

  26. David not Coulthard
    19th June 2013, 15:18

    The most wheels attached to a GP-entering car: 6 (The P34)
    Engine with the most victories: The DFV (…right?)
    The highest number of external spinning parts on an F1 car: 1 (The BT46B)
    The best-remembered straight/corner that resulted form a modification of the vanilla configuration of a track: Eau Rouge
    The season with the most cigar smokers: I don’t know, but it won’t be beaten anytime soon.
    The country from which the highest number of title contenders who died in contention for the championship were born: Germany (Rindt, von Trips)
    Longest, shortest, and most often, and seldom, seen on the calendar ovals raced by F1 cars: Monza
    Highest number of podium scoring incarnations: Tyrrell

    1. Some fairly dubious, and many of them beatable, records there.

    2. Surely the Tyrell beats the fan car for number of external spinning parts?

  27. Thanks a lot for this piece Greg. Had no clue about half of them

  28. 1997 European Grand Prix was the most thrilling qualifying I have ever watched. I mean it was right on the neck. I can never forget the race too.

    Schumi Villnueve and Frentzen clocking the same exact timing.
    Schumi and Vill were heading into this last race as Championship contenders.
    Well those were the good ol days for Williams…..
    That Williams by Newey was such a fast machine Schumi did his best to match it in Qualifying but in the race he was not able to hold jacq back resulting in the the famous crash.
    That was the last F1 race at the Jerez Circuit.
    That was the First Win for McLaren Mercedes Team.
    And it was in this race McLaren famously gave the team orders asking Coulthard to move aside for Mika Hakkinen. ( yeah everybody remembers barichello Moving aside for Michael But not this one….) .
    IT was Mika hakkinens First GP win too.
    Needless to say it was Villenueve first and Last WDC win.
    And of course it was the last time Williams won the Drivers and the constructors championship !!!!!!

    @KeithCollantine – Like the 100% Podium record of 2002, this can be equaled or bettered if 4 or more cars clock the pole position timings.

    @KeithCollantine One other record which never be broken is the 1998 British GP where Schumi won from the pit lane. Now there are more rules to take care of such tactical moves I guess.

    1. DC actually won the first race of the season in Melbourne and the Italian grand prix for West McLaren Mercedes before.

    2. I don’t think there’s any specific rule to prevent winning from the pit lane

  29. The 1997 European Grand Prix qualifying session would have been quite something if it was just two drivers within one thousandth of a second of each other, but then Frentzen came along to make it three. What a fantastic record, as are all the others listed here.
    I wonder if Markus Winkelhock leading the 2007 European Grand Prix in his only race is a record, or has it been done by others? That would be a difficult record to break.

  30. Highest percentage of (full) laps led: Bernd Mayländer (100%)

    1. Not true, in Valencia he was overtaken by you know who

  31. Mike the bike Schumacher
    19th June 2013, 18:28

    Most modern Grand Prix are close contests. With tight restrictions on car design ensuring the field remains relatively evenly matched

    This made me think, people often talk about how the cars make a bigger difference than the drivers, but when you think about how rules nowadays making cars more evenly matched, are we now at a stage where drivers make a bigger difference than before?

  32. No one will ever again build world championship wining cars in woodshed as did Ken Tyrrell

  33. The longest track ever used in F1: Pescara, at 25km (2km longer than Nurburgring).

    Not only that, in the 1957 race, Jack Brabham only finished it because he stopped in a petrol station on the long straight to get more fuel!

  34. morleyfanatic
    19th June 2013, 19:57

    Jack Brabham one GP’s over 3 decades (50’s, 60’s & 70’s) has any other driver done this?

    1. @morleyfanatic
      Jack Brabham was indeed the only one. You need wins at least 11 years apart – otherwise you can’t span three decades. And that’s exactly the time period Brabham’s wins spanned.

      The only others that had wins spanning at least such a time frame were Schumacher (14 years), Prost (12 years), Lauda, Piquet, Berger (11 years).

      I guess Schumacher came very close – had he not had the penalty from the previous race at Monaco 2012, he would have been a good bet for the win. That would have meant a span of 20 years between wins.

      Of the current drivers, who have won in the 2000s and 2010s, Vettel has the best chance to do it as well as he will only be 32 years old in 2020. Hamilton will be 35, so has a good chance as well. Much less likely will be Alonso (38 years), Räikkönen (40 years), Button (40 years), and all but impossible will be Webber who will be 43 years old in 2020.

      1. Yes, he would’ve also needed a reliable car in that race, as he had a mechanical problem.

  35. Least wheels to finish a race on….chris fittipaldi at Monza ’93? A feat not accomplished by der schumi…it was to much for him and whent on to blame DC

    1. 2 1/2 wheels?

      I had seen that video before but had no idea that it was on the last lap!

  36. Highest win percentage: Lee Wallard
    Started 2 races, won 1. Not likely to be equalled nor beaten

    1. David not Coulthard
      20th June 2013, 11:26

      It almost was in ’07 at the GP version of the green hell.

  37. Japhew Ryder
    20th June 2013, 7:44

    About Jerez ’97 qualifyng. It’s actually well-known that result happened due to a temporary laptime keeping problem

  38. Another lovely top ten @greg-moreland! Keep them coming

    1. eh, sorry Greg, that should have been @greg-morland

  39. I honestly cannot see Ayrton’s 6 wins at Monaco being beaten

    1. Schumacher got 5 and had mechanical problems both in 2.000 and 1.993 when leading, if you correct for them it’d be 7; senna if I recall only had 1 failure, so the record of 7 would be equalled.

      So I believe it will be possible to beat it as soon as we get another top driver who’s also good at monaco.

      1. Ops, in that case senna would still be at 6 cause he was behind schumacher in 1993, and he also got lucky with mansell’s puncture in 1992, so as you can see you just need the right circumstances and it can be beaten.

  40. Don’t know of any other stats to compare it with, but David Purley survived an accident of 179.8g at Silverstone in pre-qualifying. That sounds fairly unbeatable to me.

  41. Neville Smith
    20th June 2013, 20:20

    Career win percentage with at least one season’s experience:
    Fangio : 51 starts, 24 wins
    Clark : 72 starts, 21 wins
    Moss (all Formulae classes) : 529 starts, 212 wins

    The greatest…

    1. Neville Smith
      20th June 2013, 20:27

      Clark: 72 starts, 25 wins (oops)

      All 3 drivers did not have the length of career in F1 that they richly deserved, or might have been even more dominant.

  42. Really great article.

    If I had to pick perhpas the most “impressive” record in F1 today, it would be Ferrari’s 53 consecutive podiums in 1999-2003. Really this could stand for another 50 years – but it also could be broken in 5 – who knows? But considering that the cars weren’t bullet-proof back then and there was plenty of competition from McLaren and Williams, this one sticks in my mind.

  43. Bahtsız Bedevi
    21st June 2013, 6:37

    In Fuji 2007, Hamilton and Kovalainen finished 1-2 as the rookies of the year that is unlikely to happen again in the future.

  44. Loving the debate that this excellent post has created.

    For my money, here are four records that will never be beaten:

    Markus Winklehock starting from both last and first on the grid in the same race (also his only race).

    Less than a second separating the top five cars (Monza ’71).

    The Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ winning 100% of the races it competed in.

    The Tyrrell P34 becoming the car with the most wheels (six) to win a Grand Prix.

    Also, I don’t think anyone is ever going to equal Graham Hill’s achievement of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

  45. Kristjan Birnir
    24th October 2013, 11:46

    Juan Manuel Fangio has number of records that never will be matched
    Oldest Champion at 46
    Most World Championship with different constructor: 4 Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Mercedes
    Highest % of number wins of races entered. 47% goes up to 49% if season 1958, is removed as he didn’t complete that season.

  46. Forget the oldest podium, what about the youngest? It’s very difficult for one young driver to get a seat in a front running car, let alone three in the same season. When Sebastien Vettel (21 years, 2 months) won at Monza in 2008 with Heikki Kovalainen (26 years, 11 months) second and Robert Kubica (23 years, 9 months) third, their combined age was 71 years, 10 months. If there was a younger podium, I can’t recall. It would have to be before 1970, if at all.

    Also remember that 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton (23 years, 8 months) had a poor qualifying session at Monza and finished down the order. Replace Kovalainen or Kubica with him, and the combined age is even lower.

    ] Longest wait for the second-placed car
    ] 1963 Belgian Grand Prix: four minutes and 54 seconds

    If any track was going to hold this record, I would have predicted the 14 mile Nordschleife.

    ] Today’s tracks simply aren’t long enough for such a feat to be possible.
    ] Spa remains the longest track on the calendar,

    Not necessarily. All it would take is an act of last lap lunacy at Monaco, the shortest and narrowest track. One ill-advised pass at the hairpin would block the entire track and hold up the field. Didn’t someone almost do that a few years ago? ( Jarno Trulli, IIRC.) That hairpin has turned into a parking lot more than once.

  47. Shortest time between 1st and 5th: 0.61 seconds, 1971 Italian Grand Prix

  48. Nobody will probably beat the record of 1950 Farina/1955 Fangio record of winning the world championship with the least emount of points: 30 points.

  49. What about shortest time between 1st and 2nd victories? I believe Lewis Hamilton has that one at about 6 days 22hrs? Won’t be broken unless consecutive races are held in the Eastern and then Western hemispheres…

  50. The most drivers with the same surname entering the same race. The 1959 British Grand Prix featured four drivers with the surname Taylor – Trevor Taylor and Dennis Taylor failed to qualify, Mike Taylor retired, and Henry Taylor finished 11th. I can’t imagine five unrelated drivers with the same name competing in the same Grand Prix in the future.

  51. Not impossible impossible to beat, but still…
    Shortest time elapsed before gaining a penalty: 6 seconds into his career, speeding in the pit lane, Sebastian Vettel, 2006 Turkish GP.

  52. An unusual one: Michael Schumacher became the first driver to win 2 back-to-back races held in the same country (the 1995 Pacific and Japanese Grand Prix). And just as remarkable as that – Damon Hill equalled it in the next 2! (95 Adelaide and 96 Melbourne)

    Unless they schedule back-to-back races held in the same country again (which is unlikely) that one won’t be getting matched again, and to beat it would require three!

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