Who would have won the ‘FIA pole award’ 1950-2013

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The FIA has proposed giving a special award to the driver who sets the most pole positions during a grand prix season.

An award is already presented to the driver who achieves the most fastest laps during races and this year it was won by Sebastian Vettel (pictured).

For obvious reasons, the driver who sets the most pole positions in a season has often been the driver who went on to win the world championship. But as the table below shows there are some interesting exceptions.

In 1968 Chris Amon’s three pole positions for Ferrari would have been enough to give him the award. But the famously luckless Amon never won a race in his career. He came close that year at Brands Hatch, finishing second to Jo Siffert, but he ended that year tenth in the points standings.

Other drivers who did not win a world championship but did set the most pole positions in a season include Stirling Moss, Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Peterson, Rene Arnoux and – most recently – Patrick Tambay in 1983.

On the other side of the coins world champions such as Kimi Raikkonen and Keke Rosberg have never set the most pole positions in a season.

Here’s a look at who would have won the FIA’s proposed pole position trophy had it been introduced when the world championship begain in 1950.

Most pole positions per season: 1950-2013

YearMost polesPolesRaces%Notes
1950Juan Manuel Fangio4757.14%
1951Juan Manuel Fangio4850.00%
1952Alberto Ascari5862.50%
1953Alberto Ascari6966.67%
1954Juan Manuel Fangio5955.56%
1955Juan Manuel Fangio3742.86%
1956Juan Manuel Fangio6875.00%
1957Juan Manuel Fangio4850.00%
1958Mike Hawthorn41136.36%
1959Stirling Moss4944.44%
1960Stirling Moss41040.00%
1961Phil Hill5862.50%
1962Jim Clark6966.67%
1963Jim Clark71070.00%
1964Jim Clark51050.00%
1965Jim Clark61060.00%
1966Jack Brabham3933.33%
1967Jim Clark61154.55%
1968Chris Amon31225.00%
1969Jochen Rindt51145.45%
1970Jackie Stewart41330.77%Same number of poles as Jacky Ickx but more second places.
1971Jackie Stewart61154.55%
1972Jacky Ickx41233.33%
1973Ronnie Peterson91560.00%
1974Niki Lauda91560.00%
1975Niki Lauda91464.29%
1976James Hunt81650.00%
1977Mario Andretti71741.18%
1978Mario Andretti81650.00%
1979Jean-Pierre Jabouille41526.67%Same number of poles as Jacques Laffite but more second places.
1980Rene Arnoux31421.43%Same number of poles as Nelson Piquet but more second places.
1981Rene Arnoux41526.67%Same number of poles as Alan Jones but more second places.
1982Alain Prost51631.25%Same number of poles, seconds and thirds as Rene Arnoux, but more fourths.
1983Patrick Tambay41526.67%Same number of poles and seconds as Rene Arnoux, but more thirds.
1984Nelson Piquet91656.25%
1985Ayrton Senna71643.75%
1986Ayrton Senna81650.00%
1987Nigel Mansell81650.00%
1988Ayrton Senna131681.25%
1989Ayrton Senna131681.25%
1990Ayrton Senna101662.50%
1991Ayrton Senna81650.00%
1992Nigel Mansell141687.50%
1993Alain Prost131681.25%
1994Michael Schumacher61637.50%
1995Damon Hill71741.18%
1996Damon Hill91656.25%
1997Jacques Villeneuve101758.82%
1998Mika Hakkinen91656.25%
1999Mika Hakkinen111668.75%
2000Michael Schumacher91752.94%
2001Michael Schumacher111764.71%
2002Michael Schumacher71741.18%Same number of poles as Juan Pablo Montoya but more second places.
2003Michael Schumacher51631.25%
2004Michael Schumacher81844.44%
2005Fernando Alonso61931.58%
2006Fernando Alonso61833.33%
2007Lewis Hamilton61735.29%Same number of poles as Felipe Massa but more second places.
2008Lewis Hamilton71838.89%
2009Sebastian Vettel41723.53%Same number of poles as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button but more second places.
2010Sebastian Vettel101952.63%
2011Sebastian Vettel151978.95%
2012Lewis Hamilton72035.00%
2013Sebastian Vettel91947.37%

NB. Where two drivers had the same number of pole positions the number of second places has been used as a tie breaker, and so on.

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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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67 comments on “Who would have won the ‘FIA pole award’ 1950-2013”

  1. To me this again reminds me of how 2012 should have been another championship for Lewis.

    1. Agreed, 2012 was definitely Lewis’s year. Shame it wasn’t McLaren’s.

    2. maybe he could have got closer, but not won it. he had a better chance late in 2010 and blew it.

    3. You gotta be kidding me, right ??!?! HAM finished 4th in 2012…. and he gathered like 2/3 the points VET and/or ALO gathered !!! Yes, in the last part of the champ he had a better car than Ferrari for sure, somethimes the best car on the grid… but his 90points deficit is waaaaay to much to consider him as a serious prospect for the 2012 WDC !!!

      1. Remember all the misfortune Lewis Hamilton had.
        Or if you can’t remember, read this: https://www.racefans.net/2012/12/14/2012-f1-driver-rankings-2/

        1. Thanks, but I don’t need it. It’s funny how you guys consider IT bad luck when (one of) the fastest car on the grid loses many points because of mechanical problems, but when a car is slower than other(s) and loses the champ by the same amount of points… you consider IT a poor job by the driver/team. Thing is… both situations are the team/driver fault ! You just can’t lose 156points just because of bad luck, let’s be realistic ! One can have bad luck 1-2 times and lose 50points max, but beyond this… smells more like a poor job !

      2. He clearly means that Hamilton had an awful lot of bad luck, losing a race lead on 3 occasions due to reliability or being crashed into, plus repeated mistakes by McLaren. He wasn’t a serious prospect come the end of the season, but he should have been.

        1. (@corrado-dub
          I am disappointed with that. Read the alternative championship of 2012. Lewis lost a total 156 points just because of reliability failures, and pit stop issues. In real, Hamlton would have won the championship by 24 points *I think that was what it said in the article* over Vettel. Remember Alonso didn’t have bad luck at all during the season. Vettel had bad luck in Valencia costing him 25 points more in the championship. Alonso’s luck is probably the most of any driver on the grid. Vettel and Hamilton are one of the highest, next to Webber *until now*. Remember that in 2010, Vettel had Bahrain, Australia, Korea 63 points lost. Even more I think than that. And in fact, Alonso in that year would NEVER HAVE lead the championship. Look at alternative championships 2010 and 2012 for what I said. And tell me if I am wrong.

          1. (@corrado-dub

            Remember that reliability issues of other drivers gave Alonso “extra points” in the championship…

          2. @krichelle

            Remember Alonso didn’t have bad luck at all during the season.

            You clearly missed the 2012 Belgian GP

            Alonso’s luck is probably the most of any driver on the grid.

            Since he was driving for Ferrari he enjoyed the fastest car on the grid!!!!!
            The fact is that in 2012 Alonso gave all the drivers and not only Vettel & Lewis lessons in how to extract the maximum of an F1 car and how to capitalize on every opportunity, i don’t know how many pts Fernando would have made if he was driving a Red Bull or a Mclaren or even a Lotus last year

          3. OK, I got you ! Thing is I CONSIDER mechanical failures part of the GAME !!! If ALO had (almost) no mechanical problems over the season… means that Ferrari did a better job when designed/built the car, and not that they were luckier ! This is my opinion, and I really think it’s more correct. And that because when you have a car with like at least 97%/season realiability, it means it can be done. But when you have a car reliable like 70%/season, you say the guy with 97% was luckier !!! Come on, in reality it means the team with reliability 70%/season did a worse job indeed. So, the results… show at the end of the champ. So, in my opinion reliability is something related strictly to the team/driver, and can be fixed. But when a 3rd party comes into play and destroy your car and there’s no chance to gain even 1 point… that’s pure bad luck !! Of course, I’m pointing again at ALO at Spa. If it wasn’t for Crashjean, he seemed good for 3rd/4th at least. And the outcome of the champ would have been different.

        2. (@tifoso1989

          Of course I didn’t forget 2012 Belgian GP. But up to that point, Alonso’s luck was bulletproof/explosiveproof/fireproof. What about 2005? Raikkonen had so many misfortunes during that season, mainly with reliability. Alternative championship calculations gave that Raikkonen was the “true 2005 champion”. If you want I can post the conclusions here of 2005. 2006 as well, but I am in doubt that Alonso without misfortune wouldn’t have lost the championship to MSC. Even though MSC’s engine failed in Japan. In 2010, Alonso wouldn’t have lead the championship throughout the whole season if MISFORTUNE wasn’t encountered by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and particularly Sebastian Vettel. Here it says all:
          http://www.f1zone.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=7044-2010 f1
          http://f1stats.blog.com/2012/02/26/alternative-history-the-2005-championship-without-misfortune/-2005 f1

          1. @krichelle

            Alternative championship calculations gave that Raikkonen was the “true 2005 champion”

            Adrian Newey’s cars with the exception of the RB7/RB9 has been extremely fast but unreliable (maybe it’s due to the extreme packaging) if Raikkonen was as you claim the “real champion of 2005” then it was because of the speed of that Mclaren, very simple equation : take the risk “fast car+poor reliability” or “slow car + good reliability”, in 2005 Mclaren has had the fastest car on the grid but at the price of poor reliability
            I don’t know if it is selective memory or anything else but Alonso’ engine failed in Monza as well, in 2006 Shumacher lost the WDC because of his own mistakes (remember parking the car in Monaco …)

            In 2010, Alonso wouldn’t have lead the championship throughout the whole season if MISFORTUNE wasn’t encountered by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and particularly Sebastian Vettel.

            For the simple fact that the Ferrari F10 was not as fast as the RB or the MP4-25 during the whole season, Lewis threw the WDC in Monza & Singapoor, Sebastian has had reliability issues but remember he was not faultless during the season ( he crashed twice with Webber in Turkey and Button in Spa)

      3. @corrado-dub When looking at JUST the stats, it seems that way. But if you actually watched the races you would know how wrong you are.

        1. I find it hard to believe no ever believes mechanical failures could be caused by the drivers. Just as drivers say a car is not suited to their style, what is to say their style is not harmful to the equipment. Just as some drivers are better on tires, some are definitely better on clutches, gear boxes, and engines. Today’s computers help alleviate some of this, but in the heat of battle pushing at the limit, a mistimed gear shift will do damage. Take your car to the local track and push 10/10ths and see how many times you make a minor mistake here or there and see how often the thoughts of if you damaged something crosses your mind. Prost was known as the “Professor” due to his silky smooth style and how easy he was on his equipment. I think Lewis and Mark sometimes over drive and damage there equipment, but it is always a conspiracy…. I knew Vettel would be a world champion the day he won in the rain at Monza before he ever moved to Red Bull. That was smooth driving, smooth is fast and easy on equipment

          1. You used Vettel as an example of a driver who’s good to his car, yet he’s had plenty of retirements from the lead himself. And although mechanical failures may well sometimes be caused by the driver, what basis do you have to suggest this was the case for Hamilton last year during any of his (I believe entirely unrelated) retirements?

        2. Stats are the… reality. Based on them the champ is awarded every season !!!! Bulletproof (or almost) reliability is achieveable, so when a fast car has many mechanical issues over a season, like some of you mention 2005 Kimi and 2012 HAM, it just means that team did a poor job in this department. And… IT’S JUST THEIR PROBLEM ! It’s been proven for decades now that if a car is designed without reliability in mind, it’s faster. Lotus is a well known example for their fragile cars. Unfortunately, drivers lost their lives because Lotus built the cars too light/fragile. Ferrari did not share this “lightweight/fragile” view and also blamed Chapman for his lightweight mania. So, mechanical failures are just part of the “game” and it means the team/driver are not doing the best job. And when you come up with a driver that lost 154points (out of 340) because of mechanical problems….. that’s no bad luck anymore !!!

          1. Nobody is saying that the team didn’t do a bad job (obviously not, otherwise the pitstop blunders and Spanish qualifying wouldn’t be mentioned), the argument people are making is that Hamilton himself drove as well as any championship contender but was let down by the team. Nobody is denying that that’s part of the game, they’re just making the observation that Hamilton was unfortunate that his team were such a mess at a time when he was racing so well. (But, your point is a little flawed because Hamilton didn’t lose 154 points purely to mechanical and operational problems. A fair chunk of that went to crashes which he had no blame in.)

    4. 7 for Senna and 5 for Clark. Wow.

      1. Sorry, it appears I can’t count/type. Of course, it’s *6 for Senna: impressively exactly double his number of world championships!

    5. winning a championship is teamwork unfortunately for hamilton, he and his team were not good enough to win the championship. simple :)

      1. I don’t think anybody is denying that.

        1. I am. He was good enough. Only his team wasn’t. He did his part. He was basically flawless in 2012. His team didn’t do it’s job.

  2. These prizes (most poles, most fastest laps…) are so pointless ! it’s just a way to attract sponsorship. Like the DHL Award we have already. I’d not be surprised if the Pole Trophy is called, dunno, “AT&T Pole Prize” or something.

    I’d rather give prizes to the pitcrews for fastest pitstop of the weekend or something (if they don’t do it already). The drivers already have the invaluable prize of starting the race on pole position (which these days is almost a certain win on sunday), they don’t need a trophy to celebrate that !

    1. The 1984 season did have an award for pole position which was sponsered by a scooter company (I forgot the name). The driver would recieve a scooter for each pole position scored (Piquet, who that season managed nine poles, ended the year with nine scooters haha).

      1. I think this might have been the case for several years – I think that Nigel Mansell mentioned that he had won loads of the scooters in his career and that as they couldn’t get them home or keep them all they were mostly just sold on for them and they went home with the cash.

      2. 15 Vespas for Vettel in 2011 ! xD 2 seasons and he can get a Vespa to all the mechanics in his pitcrew !

      3. Vettel would have opened a Vespa dealership in his home town !!!!!!!!!!!

    2. @fer-no65 “just a way to attract sponsorship…” isn’t that pretty much what makes car racing et al possible? And hasn’t lack of sponsorship in a soft global economy been part of the reason F1 teams more and more need pay drivers? Along with of course F1’s inability to control costs.

      Also, I think pole has only represented an almost certain win for SV these days, but certainly in 2013, with the race being a whole different ball game in terms of tire management than Saturday is, pole certainly never guaranteed NR or LH a win.

      For me 2013 particularly would be a year where getting pole was the least relevant as a reflection of how a driver’s weekend would end up…as I say unless you were SV. MW generally fell backwards right at the start, and the Mercs did eventually too. In an almost predictable way. And of course DRS erased some drivers’ pole as soon as it was available to the second place driver after a couple of laps of the race, which to me waters down the value of pole.

  3. If it means no point for pole position, then I’m all for this idea! Also, interesting to note (even though I knew already :P ) that Montoya matched Schumi for poles in the all conquering year of 2002

    1. @juan-pablo-heidfeld-1

      If it means no point for pole position, then I’m all for this idea!

      Hear, hear.

    2. When I was trying to think of drivers who might have been top for pole positions without winning the title Montoya was the first one I thought of – I didn’t remember that Shumi had matched (and just edged it).

    3. @juan-pablo-heidfeld-1 That also enabled Montoya to have the dubious honor of most poles in a season without a win…

      1. Yes, yes… and all that thanks to the BMW engine, tuned furthermore for Quali !

  4. They are practically the same as who won the drivers championship, pointless.

    1. @full-throttle-f1 You forgot Lewis in 2012 .

    2. I count 27 which are different- quite a large number. That includes 8 drivers who never won a single championship.

    3. Clark and Senna were the drivers who won more without winning the drivers’ championship, 3 each.

      1. As Clark basically won 62-65, and lost a shot in 67 from reliability again, and Senna has so many poles… this tells me that in an era like today with bulletproof reliability, Senna would be very hard to beat, a little bit like Vettel is now becoming (he has spots near the top of pole lists as well), with only Hamilton able to live with him on pure pace. Alonso and Raikkonen (Kimi being absent from the list is interesting) usually rely on race pace now, as Prost seemingly chose to do. Montoya would’ve also done well in an era with bulletproof cars!

        6 – Fangio, Senna, Schumacher (1 on tiebreaker, maybe 5.5)
        5 – Clark
        4 – Vettel (1 on tiebreaker, maybe 3.5)
        3 – Hamilton (1 on tiebreaker, another lost on tiebreaker to Vettel)

        Interesting that these 6 are already clear of everybody else! Senna could also have won some more instead of Hill and Villeneuve!

  5. Mansell still #1 in overall %. A fighter to the end!

    1. It just goes to show how the car dominance we’ve seen in recent years is nothing compared to what we’ve had in the past. Even Prost managed 81.25% in his Williams, more than Vettel’s best at 78.95% in 2011 and Prost wasn’t exactly a qualifying specialist.

  6. Oddly enough, Piquet did not manage the most pole positions in any of his three championship-winning seasons (he finished fifth in 1984, only completing seven of the sixteen races).

  7. I think it is a good idea. They should also make more of pole per weekend.
    In america it’s a bit more of an event.
    And I wouldn’t mind a point or more for pole.
    Some say yeah but it would suck if that point(s) would decide a championship.
    It could yes.. but it could also make the final race more exciting one day.
    Sometimes it will affect racing positive sometimes negative.
    But I wouldn’t mind extra qualy excitement.

  8. I would miss Kubica when it comes to this .Had the pole raced today , he would have stood as tall as a pole getting as many poles and the pole & pole awards of the year in any poll instead of which , now, we will have a tadpole in Lotus trying to jump as high as a pole only to get a tad rolled and crash into a pothole ;-)
    joking apart,
    Vettel and Lewis are great Last ditch qualifiers,it has to be said . I don’t know about the past heroes as I haven’t seen that era . Was it always Senna in a Mclaren in 89 and Nigel in a Williams 92 ? 14 out of 16 races Wow , that sounds as boring as 2011 if not the worst in terms of entertainment for the fans

    1. Haha what?! That’s the most mind-blowing comment I’ve read for a long time!

    2. Nicely done!

  9. I think it’s a pointless award and the leading drivers ain’t really going to care about it. For instance, if Hamilton had won it in 2013, I doubt it would mean anything to him.

    F1 Fanatics know, who set the most pole positions anyway. And I’m not looking forward to discussions between “he did it only because he has the fastest car [over one lap]” and “but he beat his team mate” either.

    It is obviosuly true that some drivers are better over one lap than they are over the race distance and vice versa. But such a prize isn’t going to reward the likes of Trulli; only drivers, who focus on championship would have a chance of winning it. So I think no one needs it.

  10. These prizes are so boring

  11. Why not give a point for pole?

    The two reasons I hear against that are:

    – championship could be decided on a Saturday
    – Some backmarkers might build cars specialised on qualifying

    So could we maybe have a rule that the point for pole will be awarded only if a driver has a classified finish in the race? Or that it is a point for the highest qualifier that finishes the race classified?

    That would solve those issues.

    1. @mike-dee That’s actually a good idea to spice up qualifying. But the not so great one lap specialists-but excellent race drivers will lose out . Besides , then it will become more rally-ish. But still a worthy thought. It’s after all one point .

    2. @mike-dee About the point of backmarkers building a car specialised on qualifying, I doubt this will be a problem because it’s only one point and it’s only for pole, not like it’s points for the top 10 in qualifying. I definitely agree though, with your solution to solve those two issues, and it would make the fight for pole position more exciting.

    3. Surely I’m not the only one excited by the prospect of seeing some cars built just to smash the qualifying records? Bring it!

    4. Whoever gets pole already has a massive advantage on Sunday, they dont need extra points.

  12. Senna remains King of the pole In my opinion.
    81.25%, 81.25% and 62.50% as his best 3 results + 2 years of ‘most poles’ in the lotus in 85/86
    Amazing in 9,5 (even less) years of racing with 4 different teams.

    1. *10,5 years

    2. @gdewilde And In 1994 Senna was 100%.
      perhaps the best ever.
      although for reasons sad.

  13. Will there be an award for the most pit stops during the season?

  14. CART then INDYCAR give a championship point for every pole. I think this would make sense.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      29th November 2013, 20:40

      @tonywade Yes, but don’t forget that even the 25th driver scores, they don’t run under the 25-18-15-etc system.

      1. That’s a good reason why it should work well here methinks?

  15. Unless championship points are involved, it’s a meaningless trophy.

  16. All this will mean is another trophy to hand out, I can’t see fans being that bothered and the drivers main priority will still be the championship then race wins, other achievements are nice but not the main objective.

    I don’t think this will change anything, drivers will still try as hard to get pole because it gives them the best chance in the race. If there was such a scenario whereby a driver could choose between a pole and winning this trophy or the race win I don’t think anyone would turn down the win.

    To be honest I wasn’t even aware that there was already an award for the most fastest laps achieved and not for the most poles in a season, I can’t recall it being mentioned during coverage at all.

  17. It’s great to see Chris Amon there. He was on the front row for most of that season as well, so it’s not like he lucked in for 3 poles in an year with multiple pole sitters.

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