The gap widens: Just three cars finished on the lead lap

2017 Spanish Grand Prix stats and facts

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First the first time in almost a decade only three cars finished on the lead lap of a dry grand prix.

The widening gap between the top teams and their rivals was illustrated in Spain by the fact only the podium finishers completed all 66 laps. And the third of those, Daniel Ricciardo, was just a few seconds away from being lapped too.

The fourth-placed driver hadn’t been lapped since 2008
The last time this happened in any race was the rain-affected 2008 British Grand Prix. Hamilton won that race as well, with Nick Heidfeld’s BMW 68 seconds behind, Rubens Barrichello’s Honda another 13 seconds back and the rest a lap down.

To find the last occasion this happened in a dry race, giving a fairer reflection of the overall competitiveness of the field, you have to go back to the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton finished second in that one behind Fernando Alonso, with Felipe Massa’s Ferrari 69 seconds behind.

After qualifying this weekend it seemed Red Bull’s upgrade had moved them closer to the top two teams. Having averaged 1.4% off the pace over the opening four rounds they qualified just 0.7% down on their rivals in Spain. But Ricciardo finished 75 seconds in arrears, a pace deficit of 1.3% over the race distance.

Two significant running streaks came to an end in Spain. Lewis Hamilton ended the run of different winners over the past ten races, having also won in 2014. And for the first time since 2012 the front row was not a Mercedes lock-out, as Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari pushed Valtteri Bottas down to second place.

Hamilton’s 64th pole position leaves him one away from equalling Ayrton Senna in second place on the all-time list. Victory and fastest lap gave him the 12th hat-trick of his career, one more than Jim Clark. Only Michael Schumacher has more, though Hamilton needs another ten to match him.

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Vettel claimed second for Ferrari, meaning he and Hamilton have shared to top two places on the podium in four races so far this year. No team has scored a one-two in the first five races which hasn’t been the case since 2012, when we made it to round 16 before anyone took a one-two.

Hamilton and Vettel also finished in the points for the tenth consecutive race but Sergio Perez has them both beaten: this was his 15th points finish in a row. Force India also sustained their run of finishing in the points with both cars in every race this year – something no other team has managed.

For Esteban Ocon, fifth place was his best result to date. Pascal Wehrlein also achieved a career high with eighth, delivering Sauber’s first points of 2017.

Finally, Sergey Sirotkin made another unproductive practice appearance for Renault due to technical trouble. He’s managed only 22 laps in his last three practice appearances for them in Spain, Russia and last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2017 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Spanish 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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75 comments on “The gap widens: Just three cars finished on the lead lap”

  1. Michael Brown (@)
    15th May 2017, 12:42

    Force India are the only team to score points with both cars in every race this season.

    1. @mbr-9 It’s in there :-) Terrific performance by them. Williams have had a quicker car at every race yet Force India have almost three times as many points.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        15th May 2017, 13:11

        It has to be said that this is very much to do with the fact that Stroll has had 3 unlucky retirements and 2 rather poor races that has got them this many more points. Massa has had 3 perfectly decent races, 1 poor one and one extremely unlucky one. Yet he’s still pretty much got the same amount of points as Ocon. Massa has been responsible for all the points at Williams and considering how poor Stroll is doing and how unlucky the team has been, I can’t say it is that surprising how far they are behind Force India. It has to be said thought that Perez and Ocon are doing very well indeed though. Although the retirements in the last race certainly helped pull that gap to Williams.

        1. It’s almost the same for Renault with the only Hulk scoring some points

        2. Jelle van der Meer
          15th May 2017, 13:29

          I would disagree with that it is much to do with Stroll performance simply because Ocon and Perez both have more points than Massa. Also look at the last race’s results – Massa was behind Hulkenberg.

          I very much admire the Williams team but honestly they have not been doing a very good job – particularly on race day they too often made mistakes (team & drivers).

          1. Massa would finish ahead of Perez and Ocon if he didn’t crashed with Alonso. He had the race pace and overtook Perez at the start.

            Massa then would score 12 points and have 30 now, just 2 less than Perez. Massa is far from being Williams problem, he isn’t a top driver but he’s still one of the best midfield drivers.

        3. It has to do with the fact that Stroll isn’t performing. He’s had one unlucky retirement (with Sainz in Bahrain) , the rest of the mistakes have been his own or avoidable (like the one with Perez). Overall, he’s been rubbish and that’s the primary reason they’re trailing FI

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        15th May 2017, 13:58

        I clumsily misread the article. My mistake.
        Force India are closer to 3rd than they are to 5th, which is held by Toro Rosso!

        1. @mbr-9 That’s alright, I clumsily miswrite them often enough :-)

    2. And Verstappen and Ricciardo have only finished one race together. In every other race, one or the other has had issues. Which is a shame because we’re missing out on a potentially epic VERS vs RIC battle.

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        15th May 2017, 14:23

        The only thing is, Ricciardo’s potential seems to be under some sort of wrapper this year. Even in China he didn’t seem like his usual racey self against Verstappen in the closing stages, and the latter always seems to get in front by the end of the first lap.

        1. Miss Aligned
          16th May 2017, 2:39

          With the occasional first corner retirement.

          1. Kamikaze Bottas was responsible for that one ;)

  2. GtisBetter (@)
    15th May 2017, 13:22

    I think this is the result of both drivers pushing as hard as they can.

    1. Which according to you happens once in 10 years…. yeah, right….

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        16th May 2017, 0:09

        Clearly mercedes had the power to lap almost everybody the last couple of years, but because of tyre management they could not push all race. Now they can and both hamilton and vettel do it to win.

      2. Well look back at the last decode(s) and you will see that is indeed the case.

        Also to lap fourth place is extra rare since it means at least one of the drivers of two top teams needs to be out of the race as well.

  3. Not saying the gap hasn’t widened, but in the 4 previous races the average number of lead lap finishers was 7.5. Losing one car each from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull makes this Spanish GP stat look a bit worse than perhaps it should have been.

    1. That’s a very good point @schooner, it does skew the figures a bit. Would Bottas, Kimi or Verstappen have been lapped? We’ll never know, but the fact is they weren’t there at the finish, hence the fact that it was just their teammates left on the lead lap at the end.

      1. MG421982 (@)
        15th May 2017, 18:15

        There’s no doubt BOT, RAI and VER would have finished on the same lap as the leader of the race.

        1. @corrado-dub I’m not saying I’m 100% of the opposite but how can you know? Both Hamilton and Vettel have been proven to be on a unknown level to Bottas and Kimi. Bottas at one point was 55 seconds off Vettel.

          1. @xtwl, at sometime (fairly early I suspect) RIC would have stopped looking at the cars ahead and would have concentrated purely on those behind, I expect the gap is not entirely representative of the RBRs potential.

          2. Indeed he has.
            Horner indicated that when it became clear that the leaders were out of sight they dialed down the power on Ricciardo’s Tag Heuer engine to extend its life.

    2. Good point, but what’s the percentage of finishers lapped TWICE???
      And be aware that only once have both Red Bull Racing cars finished the race. That still means that, until Barcelona, we’ve had 2 or 3 drivers from other teams finishing in the same lap as the leader. None this time around.

    3. I think what we have seen here is two very fast drivers wringing the necks of two very fast cars for a full distance. In the past few years, people here have often wondered exactly what kind of whooping Mercedes would put on the field if they were actually running flat out for a whole race, before the engineers started muttering on the radio about saving tires and strat modes. Now we know. With the development war fully joined now, and the drivers now forced to give it their all, I expect the two teams to start lapping cars like they are standing still.

      1. Excellent point. Let’s hope that it is a full on battle for all the remaining races.

  4. For me, the RedBull car this year is as much dissapointment as the McLaren (and i don’t mean only the Honda part). They lobbied so hard for these new rules thinking they are best when it comes to aero and chassis, but they came out with a dog of a car which they can’t even get closer with the much awaited B-spec.

    And the thing is, after being so far behind in Barcelona, which is not an engine track, they can’t blame this solely on Renault.

    1. They made up about 50% of the speed deficit. RIC finished the race with a turned down engine ( no need to run on full throttle)
      If the Renault compensates the other 50% they are on track for winning.

  5. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    15th May 2017, 14:39

    Is this the first time every team has scored points, except McLaren? This season has been the worst I can remember. At least the cars are making race distance now. That move from Vandoorne though..

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      15th May 2017, 14:39

      The worst for McLaren I mean.

    2. Yup, quite possibly the first time all the other teams have scored except McLaren. In 2015 McLaren didn’t get any points in the first five races, but Manor/Marussia was a non-scorer also.

    3. @omarr-pepper Initially I thought you were referring specifically to this weekend, then I realised since both Williams and McLaren didn’t score any points yesterday that you were referring to the Constructors Championship!

      But it actually made me wonder… The previous time 8 different teams gained points from a single race was USA 2016, but does anyone know conversely when was the last time only 2 teams failed to score points from a single race?

      1. Actually I think I’ve just found out for myself. USA 2015! Only Marussia and Williams were the only teams not to score that day.

    4. @omarr-pepper If you’re talking only about this race, Williams didn’t score as well. If you’re talking in terms of the constructor’s championship, every single team scored points last season and in 2009.

      1. Also in 2002, which is the only season every team scored multiple points (Minardi, Toyota and Arrows had 2 points each, tied for 9th place on points count, and due to the configuration of finishes they had, were ranked in that order).

  6. he is the one
    15th May 2017, 14:49

    This race could be so more exciting with KR VB and MV in the race. What i have learned is that DR is no MV, with those guys still in the race he would have finished 7th. DR smile during the press conference tells it all. He knows it too.
    There would be another batle in this race between VB KR and MV

    1. 9 times out of ten DR is ahead of MV whether its qualifying or the race, maybe he’s just disallusioned?

      1. @Fran: Where do you get your facts from, the Trump administration?

        In 2016 DR finished ahead of MV in 8 out of the 15 races when they both finished
        In qualy it was 11 out of 17.

        1. You need to look at the detail, as for your sarcasm you can file that

          1. Look at details, like?
            Oh Max was faster almost half the time, but let’s ignore it because of … what?

      2. Pretty sure Verstappen is gonna win the race battle this year.

        1. @paeschli, how can you be so confident when we’ve only seen both drivers make it to the end in the same race once? At this rate, it is beginning to look like the driver which comes out on top will be the one who has the least accidents or mechanical retirements over the season.

      3. Yes, but this season, the odds have changed significantly. You can see that DR is no where when it comes to racing on race day. And the thing where DR is good at, qualifying, is something that he is starting to struggle with, last lap Q3 saved him once or twice, but you can tell who has the upper hand.

        1. Miss Belief
          16th May 2017, 7:18

          By who started higher on the grid?

          1. VER… started 5th and RIC 6 th.
            You missed that one?

    2. Dan would have been seventh out of six cars?

  7. When was the last time the top 3 finishers’ team mates didnt finished the race? Or was involeved in a lap 1 collision?

  8. i dont care as long as the race for the lead is that exciting!

  9. Lap times are quicker which should help getting more lapped cars, however the track is longer and slower than what it used to be. no safety car, also helps.

  10. When I started watching F1 back in the mid-80’s it wasn’t uncommon for the third placed car to be lapped as well, and once in a while the winner lapped everyone (at least, those who finished because reliability wasn’t great back then). Even when they switched to atmo cars in 1989 it was still like that for a number of years. It wouldn’t happen every race of course, but it was fairly common.

  11. @keithcollantine

    Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari pushed Valtteri Bottas down to second place.


    1. It’s either second row or third place.

  12. Last year we had a Dutch winner.

    This year we had red, white, and blue on the podium.

    Next year will we have Oranje on the top step, bringing back glory to the Spanish Netherlands….and maybe Honda?

  13. Scuderia-Racing-Or-Ping-Pong (@)
    15th May 2017, 18:09

    When less than 10 cars finishing on the lead lap it looks very distant to me. 3 lead lap finishers is extreme.

  14. i think in a good few races in the past 3 seasons Hamilton and rosberg could have lapped the rest of the field, but they turned the engines down once they built a lead. Plus, I wonder which of Mercedes and Ferrari took the most life out of their engine components.

  15. Interesting to see that even though Hamilton has 3 poles, and both him and Vettel have two wins, it’s Vettel that strikes me as the man in charge right now. He could’ve won all five races so far, and only Australia is the one where I feel luck has been on his side. Especially China and Spain should’ve been his.

    1. I think the Ferrari looks more comfortable to drive. The Mercedes’ long wheel base makes it a handful.

    2. This is because Vettel can read a race from the cockpit which Hamilton can’t!

    3. Ferrari Arguably have the better car so would be a no brainer that Vettels got the upper hand. AS we saw with Spain, Mercedes really need to get it 100% right and with a driver of Lewis’s calibre to get them the win

    4. Interesting to see that even though Hamilton has 3 poles, and both him and Vettel have two wins

      Interesting to see Hamilton is the only driver to convert pole into a win (twice). Neither Vettel and Bottas have manage to convert their poles to wins which is strange especially for Vettel who seems to have the better all round car.

  16. This has a lot to do with VSC. If you turn that VSC period into a full safety car period then the field would have been bunched back up and far fewer cars would have been lapped. Because it was VSC then all of the gaps that were created early on in the race stayed intact during the VSC period.

  17. Verstappen’s prediction had a nasty twist, the four cars that he required to have a collision, for him to win the race did in fact collide with each other, Bottas and Raikkonen, at the start and later in the race Vettel and Hamilton, however instead of this allowing him to win the race, it led to him not finishing the first lap.

    1. @nharvs – nice spot!

    2. Max’s crystal ball is great but perhaps over-focused. Which still makes it better than most crystal balls in F1…

  18. 12th hat-trick (pole, fastest lap, win) for Hamilton – 1 more than Jim Clark, only trails M Schumacher (22).

    First time since Malaysia 2016 that the winner was not the driver who led most laps.

    2nd successive Spanish GP in which the drivers who had finished 1st and 2nd in the previous year’s race collided on lap 1 putting both cars out.

    Ocon keeps alive his record of either starting or finishing 10th (but not both) in each race. He has also finished every race this season at least 3 places higher than he started it.

    Magnussen’s best start since Abu Dhabi 2014.

    Ericsson has had top 11 finishes in all 4 of his seasons to date, but has only scored points in one of those seasons (2015).

    Out of the 10 points-scorers in Spain, all bar Vettel and Grosjean equalled or beat their best 2017 finish.

    8th is the only points-scoring position to have been occupied by 5 different drivers so far this season.

    Kvyat’s lowest start at Barcelona, but his best finish.

    First time since 2009 that Massa has outqualified his team-mate in Barcelona.

    In the last 3 Spanish GPs, Sainz has scored on all 3 occasions and Alonso has not scored at all.

    Thanks to, and for some of these.

  19. Robert McKay
    15th May 2017, 23:34

    At what point does Sirotkin start asking for a refund?

  20. Being a Sauber fan is becoming frustrating. But I am happy everybody is starting to realize F1 is in deep trouble. Monisha and Sauber have been crying out loud, but no one listened.
    Only Force India and Red Bull are “Midfield Teams”. What I mean for a Midfield team is one with the best 2 drivers they can afford, good engine and money for decent development. Challenge the title? No way. Expect a few podiums when circumstances fell into the right spot.
    I expect Renault to step into the Midfield next year (HUL ALO?)
    I also expect Mc Laren to be in the whereabouts of Midfield.
    But Renault and Mc Laren spend more than 300 millon a year.

    We cannot wait till 2021.

    1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      16th May 2017, 4:57

      Everyone’s been listening – no one has cared so far. Williams is midfield too, and they’re also clearly in need of money. Red Bull is hardly midfield, they have TONS of resources – they just haven’t utilized them to the fullest this year.

      1. So it’s basically like 10 years ago, apart from Sauber no longer being a factory team

    2. Being a Sauber fan you should be happy with the fact they demolished the rick mclaren/Honda group.
      For next year.. Honda in the back.. good of bad?

  21. This just shows that lead drivers were pushing entire race. Hamilton was often winded on the radio. They were racing properly, they has enough fuel and durable tires…

    Usually we see some saving going on, and gap is smaller. This then is the state of F1. Ferrari and Mercedes are 1 lap ahead when pushing 100% by two greatest drivers of this era.

    1. But were they really pushing? Alonso’s fastest race lap is only 0.3s slower than Hamilton’s. Now Alonso went for the FL with a fresh set of tyres at the end of the race, but Ricciardo (on a similar strategy as Hamilton) was only 0.1s off the fastest lap. The numbers seem to suggest that the leaders probably had close to 1 sec of extra pace left.

  22. Surprised to see Hamilton not getting a penalty when joining the track after the fight with Vettel. In Russia Vandoorne joined the track normally after avoiding the Palmer Grosjean crash, however he received a 5 second penalty

  23. Although it is rather subjective, I have to say that the camera work and production this weekend was the best it has been in ages. Those low shots really make the cars look more exciting. Kudos to Liberty if they were responsible for this.

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