Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2016

Williams hit record speeds on and off the track

2016 European Grand Prix stats and facts

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Williams reached record levels of performance for speed on the track and in the pits during the European Grand Prix weekend.

Felipe Massa was stationary for just 1.92 seconds while Williams changed all four of his tyres during Suday’s race. This equals the record for the quickest pit stop of all time, set by Red Bull in the 2013 United States Grand Prix.

The combination of Mercedes power, Williams’ efficient chassis and the longest flat-out section on an F1 circuit produced unofficially the highest speed ever seen during an official F1 session. Valtteri Bottas clocked 378kph (234.9mph) during qualifying.

This was well in excess of the estimated top speed of 340kph before F1 arrived at the track. However Hermann Tilke’s lap time prediction was impressively accurate. A time of 1’42.37 was forecast and Nico Rosberg duly produced a 1’42.520 in Q2. Had his Q3 run been cleaner (his first lap was spoiled by a yellow flag) that lap time prediction could have been spot-on.

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Rosberg’s second ‘grand slam’

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2016
Rosberg dominated proceedings
Rosberg took pole position, the 25th of his career, which meant thrice-champions Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet lost their places in the top ten most prolific pole-sitters.

He should have been joined on the front row by Sergio Perez. The Force India driver qualified second but a gearbox change penalty left him seventh.

That meant Force India missed out on their first front row start since the 2009 season. The team’s only front row appearances to date came that year, courtesy of Giancarlo Fisichella’s pole position at Spa-Francorchamps and Adrian Sutil’s second place at Monza.

Rosberg took pole by 0.995 seconds, which was Mercedes’ largest advantage over their rivals in a qualifying session since the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, when they were 1.391s ahead.

He used that advantage to the maximum in the race, leading every lap and setting the fastest lap on his way to victory from pole. This was the second ‘grand slam’ of his career: his first came in Russia earlier this year. He is the only driver to have taken more than one ‘grand slam’ without winning the championship.

It was also the 18th fastest lap of Rosberg’s career, putting him level with David Coulthard. Mercedes’ 52nd win means they are now on their own as the fifth most successful constructor of all time in terms of wins, one ahead of Red Bull.

It was another frustrating grand prix for Daniel Ricciardo, however, as he finished lower than he started for the sixth race in a row.

Sergio Perez took his second podium finish of the year and the fifth for Force India. As with his previous two podium appearances, it was for third place having started seventh on the grid.

More significantly he also equalled the record for most podiums by a Mexican driver, tying with Pedro Rodriguez on seven. However Rodriguez took two victories: at Kyalami in 1967 and Spa-Francorchamps in 1970.

F1 breaks new ground

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Baku City Circuit, 2016
Baku held its first race
Azerbaijan arrived on the F1 calendar as the 32nd different country to hold a race. It joins Britain. Germany and Spain as hosts of the European Grand Prix.

The Baku City Circuit is the 72nd different track to host a world championship round and the sixth track to hold the European Grand Prix after Brands Hatch, the Nurburgring, Donington Park, Jerez and Valencia.

Azerbaijan has never had a driver in Formula One and nor will there be in the near future as there are no Azerbaijani racers who have any FIA Formula One superlicence points. The same is also true of two other current F1 hosts: Bahrain and Singapore.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the European Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

2016 European Grand Prix

Browse all 2016 European Grand Prix articles

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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46 comments on “Williams hit record speeds on and off the track”

  1. It’s the first time Perez has finished on the podium and not been joined by Lewis Hamilton. He’s now finished on the podium more times since the start of the hybrid era than all other non-Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull/Williams drivers combined.

    He’s also the first driver not employed by Mercedes or Ferrari to score more than one podium in 2016.

  2. ColdFly F1 (@)
    20th June 2016, 12:45

    He is the only driver to have taken more than one ‘grand slam’ without winning the championship.

    not fully correct:
    Mika Hakkinen: 2nd Grand Slam 1998, he wasn’t WDC until later that year.
    Nelson Piquet: 2nd Grand Slam 1981, he wasn’t WDC until later that year.
    Nigel Mansel: 2nd Grand Slam 1992, he wasn’t WDC until later that year (had 4 Grand Slams by then!).
    Michael Schumacher: 2nd Grand Slam 1994, he wasn’t WDC until later that year.
    Alberto Ascari: 2nd Grand Slam 1952, he wasn’t WDC until later that year (had 3 Grand Slams by then!).
    Jim Clarck: 2nd Grand Slam 1963, he wasn’t WDC until later that year (had 4 Grand Slams by then!).

    Thus so far no exception; Rosberg is in very good company. That might change by the end of this year though.

    1. i think Keith meant is ‘as it stands,’ if time were to cease to exist at this very moment :)

  3. “he wasn’t WDC until later that year” says it all. Same for Nico ;-)

  4. It is the first time Force India has had more than one podium in a season, and the first time they have had two podiums in the space of three races. That sort of form for the Silverstone-based team hasn’t been seen since 1999.

    Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have had five podiums each this season. All of Rosberg’s have been wins, whilst Vettel is yet to do that. It is the first time Hamilton has finished fifth since Korea back in 2013. At this point last season, the Merc drivers had eight out of eight each in terms of finishing on the rostrum.

    First double DNF for Toro Rosso since Britain last season.

    1. What odds on a Force India podium at Spa or Monza this year… Worth checking out I reckon!

      1. I wouldn’t bet on that. I really rate SFI anyway for SPA and Monza the wealthier teams will use a specific aero package which should in theory give them an extra boost.

          1. @beejis60 What? Merc has already brought a new v of the “Spoon” rear wing, Ferrari has introduced a trimmed front and rear wings but should go more extreme on that concept and RB is likely to do the same for their aero package.

  5. Not sure which article to post this question in so I thought I would put it here.

    If Perez had not finished ahead of Raikkonen on track and was only classified third due to Raikkonen’s time penalty would he still have gone up on the podium or does protocol dictate that it is the first three drivers to cross the line to stand on the podium, like in qualifying when even though someone has a grid penalty they still go in the top three news conference such as Perez did on Saturday.

    1. As the penalty had already been awarded to Kimi during the race, having not taken it during it pit stop, it would be added to his race time instantly at the end of the race and as a result it would be Checo who goes to the podium.

    2. No, Perez would have stood on the podium.

    3. @pja @johnbeak I don’t think there’s a recent precedent here. Off the top of my head the most recent example which I can think of where a penalty was applied post-race which changed the podium order was Canada 1990, where Gerhard Berger was first home but a one-minute penalty dropped him to fourth, putting Nigel Mansell on the podium. A more notorious example was the dodginess of Suzuka 1989, of course.

      Obviously Perez took second in qualifying on Saturday when everyone already knew he wouldn’t start there, yet still took part in the press conference after qualifying. However that’s not a formal prizegiving like the podium ceremony is. My guess would be that the penalty would have been applied and Perez would have been on the podium.

      1. The post-quali press conference is a different case. It’s reserved for drivers who place in top 3 in qualifying. That has nothing to do with grid order.
        Grid penalties don’t affect qualifying results, but race penalties do affect race results.

      2. @keithcollantine @pja @johnbeak I seem to remember Esteban Ocon winning on the road in GP3 at Abu Dhabi last year, but he did not win due to a time penalty. I’m pretty sure he didn’t step onto the podium as he finished fourth.

      3. One minute time penalty, wowzer! That’s like three drive-throughs at some tracks!

    4. Thanks for the replies, I thought even if Perez had not overtaken Raikkonen but was within 5 seconds at the finish the common sense thing would be to have Perez on the podium, but this being F1 I wasn’t confident the common sense option would be the one they would choose.

  6. Tony Mansell
    20th June 2016, 13:40

    235mph! Whoosh. But it wasn’t really noticeable. Im sure if you were stood on the wall it would be impressive but those who think improving the laptimes next season will improve the show may be disappointed. 235 though, ker-blimey.

    1. Those improved laptimes will not be achieved through higher top speeds.

      1. Tony Mansell
        20th June 2016, 17:07

        I didn’t say it would. I just said the faster speed, whether it be top or through a corner wont necessarily make the show better

  7. Fisichella started from pole at Spa 2009, didn’t he?

  8. first podium for Vettel in round 8 after 2011. He DNF’d in 2012 (Valencia) 2013(Silverstone) 2014 (Austria) and he was P4 in 2015(Austria).

  9. Regarding the top speed Bottas hit. What is unofficial supposed to mean? Is there any proof to back up the claim? Because the official was clocked at 364.4 kph by Hamilton and was 2 kph down from the record in that V6 hybrid whicbelongs to Maldonado who reached 366.4 kph Mexico 2015.

    1. That was the speedtrap, not the top speed.

      1. for Maldonado of for bottas?? what about the previous v10 era record, was it in speed track or top speed? too much conjecture. bottas speed doesn’t make sense compared to other cars on the grid, I don’t think It will be verified.

        1. Montoya’s record was also based on car telemetry, which is quite accurate for speed.

    2. Actual TOP speed by Bottas’ at that moment in Q3 (370 kmh):
      https://streamable.com/5ms9

    3. @philby This is according to the team (it was in the round-up earlier this week) so it’s not an independent source, so I think it’s only fair to consider it unofficial.

  10. f1 hits 378kmh (I wquestion if the Williams really did still ), and it is a talking point, but in what year did Sports cars and Indy cars hit that speed (let alone lap average at that speed in indycar)… lets look back 30-40 years.

    1. Group C cars were hitting ~250 mph on the Mulsanne in the early 90s, before the chicanes went in. I think Indy cars topped out at about ~240 (at IMS). These were high-water marks for motorsports in terms of speed generally and caused regulators to react, e.g., by chicaning the Mulsanne, restricting engines in CART. But let’s remember that the Mulsanne straight is longer than 2km and Indy is an oval. Bottas speed is pretty mindboggling for a public road!

      1. Record average speed in qualifying in Indy is 242 MPH (~387 km/h). That’s over a couple of laps. Top speed’s got to be a bit higher than that. Online sources suggest a highest trap speed of close to 257 MPH recorded. That would be ~413 km/h.

        1. I remember something about a Hitler Audi that went crazy on that racetrack that was 2 straights!!! maybe 500km/h.

          1. Pretty sure not…

      2. The Mulsanne is a public road and quite narrow – and 6km long. It was possible to stand next to it about halfway along – at least before the chicanes were added – and have cars pass within a few metres at nearly 250mph. What was really impressive was the sound. It was quite something to hear a car changing up through the gears in the far distance and then approach. Like nothing you have heard before – getting louder and louder as it came closer and closer – the half a minute seemed a very long time – and then wham! – the shock as it screamed past. And then another half a minute to get to the corner!

  11. Well high speeds.. but the most boring race this season.

    Some tips.. turn off- drs on the straights or give both drivers the use of drs. Would bring some exciting moments.

    The passing on the straight with drs enabled was rather boring. No way to defend yourself against a car driving 30 Mph faster om a very long straight.

    1. Not only no way to defend but stupid to attempt it. Very high speeds and a large speed differential because of the tow and DRS combined means very little time for the trailing driver to react to any change in direction from the leading car. Best to stick to one side of the track and let the other car go past. A collision at that speed could make Webber’s aerobatics look positively tame.

  12. @keithcollantine Red Bull’s pitstop was 1.93 seconds. So…Williams have officially now taken the record of the having the fastest pitstop.

  13. In the last three races, drivers finishing on the podium have started from 1st, 3rd and 7th.

  14. Round of applause for Williams on that pitstop! Come a long way in a few years.

    1. Yes, for me that’s more staggering than the top speeds. I guess the 80s bonkers qualifying turbos were in the 230s qualifying around Hockenheim and Mexico City, but a tyre stop in under 10 seconds was impressive then.
      Wonder if the fat tyres next year will slow the pit crews down much?

      1. @bullfrog, the highest top speeds I’ve seen that were recorded during the turbo era were at Monza, but even with unrestricted boost settings and qualifying special engines, the maximum speed that was recorded in that era was 351kph, or about 218mph, for Berger in the 1986 Italian GP.

        In reality, though, most cars topped out between 330-340kph at best (about 205-211mph), and more often than that they couldn’t break through the 200mph mark even with the engines turned up to the maximum boost pressure during qualifying.

        The cars from the 1980’s were powerful, but the cars were so inefficiently designed – designers could afford to simply throw larger wings onto the cars and rely on brute force to overcome the drag penalty – that they quite literally had the drag coefficient of a brick.

        As for the effect of the wider tyres, I guess that it will slow the crews down slightly – the wheel itself is going to become heavier, requiring more physical exertion on the part of the mechanics, whilst the process of getting the wheel off and onto the drum is presumably going to become slightly more cumbersome due to the increased width.

  15. 14th consecutive front-row start for Rosberg – equals Vettel’s longest run (2010-2011).

    Ricciardo is the first driver to finish 7th more than once this year, and Massa is the first driver to finish 10th more than once. 8 different drivers have finished 6th in this year’s 8 races.

    Second time in the last 9 months that Perez has finished on the podium despite not being in the top 3 on track at the start of the last lap, but being in a net top 3 position at the start of the penultimate lap.

    150th consecutive race in which at least 1 German driver has scored points.

  16. Lol guys, if a guy rocks the motosport hat trick… Wins quali, leads every lap, sets fastest lap, and wins the race with giant gap…

    If that is not a 100% score than what is? Arguably he drove to fast, could have saved his engine more… But other than that awesome performance.

    So not 5 because he didn’t overtake others? Geez.

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