Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018

Vettel is first driver to crash out of the lead solo in 13 years

2018 German Grand Prix stats and facts

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When Sebastian Vettel slid into a barrier on lap 52 of the German Grand Prix it was the first time in 13 years a Formula 1 driver has crashed out of the lead by themselves.

Not since Fernando Alonso hit a wall while leading the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix has a single-car incident claimed the race leader.

On the other occasions a driver has retired from the lead since then a mechanical failure has usually been to blame. Two exceptions involved Lewis Hamilton, who collided with leader Nico Rosberg at Spain in 2016 and was leading when he was hit by Nico Hulkenberg at Interlagos in 2012.

Vettel’s retirement ended his 14-race streak of points finishes, which included every race this year. Unusually, this was the third race in a row where the winner of the previous grand prix failed to score.


The weekend began promisingly for Vettel, who took Ferrari’s 20th German Grand Prix pole position on Saturday. This was his first retirement from the lead since the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix, when he suffered a tyre failure.

Vettel’s demise means he still hasn’t won an F1 race at the Hockenheimring. It opened the door for Hamilton to take his 66th career win. This leaves Hamilton 25 shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time victories tally.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2005
Alonso crashed out while leading in 2005
Hamilton’s victory from 14th on the grid also has a connection to Alonso: The last time anyone won from as low a starting position was when Alonso scored his notorious 2008 Singapore Grand Prix win.

The last driver to win from 14th was Jenson Button at the Hungaroring in 2006. Just 14 races in F1 history have been won from 14th or lower than the grid, which is 1.4% of the 987 world championship races to date.

Team orders at Mercedes meant Valtteri Bottas had to follow Hamilton home. He therefore collected his fifth second-place finish of the year, though he remains yet to score a victory in 2018.

The same goes for Kimi Raikkonen, who has now finished on the podium more times than team mate Vettel this year without winning a race. Sunday was his fourth consecutive podium finish without winning.

Fourth place for Max Verstappen means he is now one point behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship. Things were looking a lot tougher for him five races ago, when he was 72-35 down against his team mate.

As usual the ‘big three’ teams dominated proceedings. It’s now more than three years since a lap was led by a driver not in a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.

However Toro Rosso scored their first point in the German Grand Prix for 10 years thanks to Brendon Hartley. “I doubled my points today,” he joked after taking his second 10th-place finish of the season.

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Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2018 German Grand Prix

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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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64 comments on “Vettel is first driver to crash out of the lead solo in 13 years”

  1. headline must be painful for some.

    1. Like you can’t imagine. This will be the point at the end of the season, when we look back at why Seb lost the championship to Ham by like 2 points. Just like Singapore 2008. I knew it was over then and there. Its the waiting that sucks………..

      1. @careypatrick It can swing either way, though. Yes, Seb’s unforced error in the last race could prove decisive in the title fight, but so could either one of Hamilton’s points-losses to Vettel (namely Austria, Britain, or Canada, or even Australia, or Bahrain).

        1. I’m just glad such a thing is so rare, SV can take heart in that and the unpredictability that the wet caused, and by all accounts the Ferrari will be very very strong in order for him to answer to ‘Black Sunday’ which was coined obviously because of Marchiones’ state of health as well. If this was last year this would have been a much bigger squandering of points as it would have been much harder for Ferrari to bounce back. This year doesn’t feel that way. This after all was Ferrari’s race to lose, and that’s a pretty good predicament in which to be.

      2. @careypatrick I don’t think this result does anything for the championship except give Mercedes a bit more time to work out a solution to their performance deficit. If they can’t solve that, Vettel still looks the most likely champion. His pattern is consistent, qualifying well, driving well from the start and the race front, sometimes messing things up later if he comes under pressure. Hamilton is often underperforming in qualifying when Mercedes are down in performance and his race starts have often been underwhelming, made up for by recovery and some luck.

        1. What are u talking about hamilton has at worst been a little slower then bottas some weekends he hasn’t thrown away any points and qualy in germany was down to gearbox not his own fault. Hamilton still hasn’t made any race ending mistakes unlike vettel that has done two so far including crashing out bottas

      3. Agreed… that dang fuel hose…

      4. @careypatrick

        When I watched Vettel crash on Sunday, and his emotional reaction, I was immediately reminded of Hakkinen at Monza in ’99. I’d forgotten about the more recent incident of Fernando Alonso in ’05 until I read this article. If it gives you any solace, both of those lads went on to win despite their unforced errors.

        As a neutral in this particular fight (if it is indeed a LH/SV championship), I have to say that the excitement of Seb’s mistake was enormous for me. I quite like the guy, but bloody hell that is the stuff that F1’s long-term, soap opera, drama is made of. I hope he can bring it back from there. He’s made of tough stuff.

    2. Depends on how you want to read it. “Last driver before Vettel to crash out of the lead solo won the WDC that year and the next one”.

      Clickbait headlines (and by that I mean mine) apart, I found it quite surprising.

      1. Hakkinen also crashed solo while leading at Imola and Monza in 99 (both tracks in Italy), yet went on to take the title. Starts to sound better and better for Seb…

    3. Vettel is first driver to crash out of the lead solo in 13 years and Lewis is FIA ADOPTED ORPHAN….

      1. You are some weird dude lol.

  2. The first DNF of the season for Vettel means that no driver now has a chance to reach the chequered flag in every race of the season anymore. BTW, a weird pattern on the way to this race: In every race so far this season at least one of the retirees has been a driver who had managed to reach the chequered flag in every race that had taken place until that particular race.

    Verstappen and Hulkenberg have now started from 4th and 7th on the grid respectively for two consecutive German GPs.

  3. How did Vettel actually broke his own front wing ? Everybody is ignoring that bit i noticed.

    1. That one really confused me. As it was nowhere near the kerbs or anything. All I can think of was maybe he loosened it earlier on the lap (maybe exit of turn 11 or 15) and then it just came off at that point.

      1. Could have been a manufacturing defect combined with going slightly too hard over a kerb. Either way, it came off and will have had some effect on the car handling.

      2. All I ever saw was when it detached. Given what we saw over the weekend my assumption would be that he had damaged it earlier in the lap or on a previous one and then it came loose at that point. Given we never saw a replay of him sustaining damage earlier it seems most likely that the failure was either a manufacturing flaw, due to damaged before the race or, most likely, due to damage caused by something non obvious that the race director wouldn’t be able to find a replay of (so something like kerb vibration which we have seen before)

  4. I’m putting together a band and need a drummer. After watching Vettel crash he’s a shoe in. (beats steering wheel). I rate his performance just below Hamilton’s ‘Oh no, no’ cry.

  5. Gotta give it to him… he’s good! VET is very good! He put an end to the 13 year curse! Double-blessed for sure.

  6. Benjamin RIchardson
    24th July 2018, 17:04

    As crazy strong as carbon fibre might be, when you watching the slo-mo footage of the front wing over the kerbs, my first thought is; How can you have consistent airflow and model a car around something that vibrates so much? And why don’t more components detach? I wouldn’t be surprised if more cars finish minus some elements but the race director doesn’t show it as they’re not at the front

  7. Whens the last time someone made up 29 places in two consecutive races?

    1. There is a good chance that was Hamilton in 2014 (Germany and Hungary). Don’t know the exact number but at least 30 places made up over those 2 consecutive weekends.

      1. How about hamilton in mexico and brazil 2017? Vettel punctured him and he ended up 20th, reached 9th place, so 11, and then brazil mistake in qualifying, started from the pit lane, so 20th, ended up 4th, that’s 27 total places.

        Well, not that far off at least!

        1. Apparently in the consecutive comeback table Hamilton leads Hamilton from Hamilton then.

      2. Yup, 32 places I make it..

  8. That may even be a season record, after the end of race-fuel qualifying. Good question!

    Also, I can’t believe this article didn’t mention the most famous incident (although it is not the most recent)—Senna crashing out of the lead at Monaco.

    1. Hakkinen in Monza 99 was also a ‘classic’, and also Hakkinen in Imola – also in 99 I think. The Tifosi must have loved him that year!

      1. You’re right, Monza and Imola. But Schumacher topped them all that year at Silverstone, basically throwing away the champ. At least to me it’s quite obvious Schumacher would have won the WDC in 1999 if it wasn’t for the Silverstone crash.

        1. Schumi wasn’t leading at the time and it was a mechanical. But he did crash out of the lead in canada that year.

          The ones that spring to mind to me are the two Mika ones in italy and Damon in Monza also. Im sure there is more but the brain gets fuzzy with age.

        2. Silverstone 1999 was a mechanical failure. Don’t bring up stuff you clearly don’t know the facts to.

    2. That may even be a season record, after the end of race-fuel qualifying. Good question!

      What is this referring to?

      1. I meant total gained positions. But I looked it up and it seems far from a possible record.

    3. And Mansell at Monaco in 1984, the first time he lead a GP, pulling away from Prost by 2 sec per lap at the time…

    4. Imola 94….

  9. Missed the race whilst travelling couldn’t believe the result. It’s like F1 this year is scripted by like wrestling, allegedly. Eg. Australia: Lewis is smug after qualy with his “party mode” comments then gets beat by VSC. Vettel making similarly smug remarks after winning British GP. Then gets beaten at home after being pretty much perfect all weekend. It’s all to play for, we’ve had some great races this year.

  10. Monaco 1988. Senna crashes from the lead, a good 30 seconds ahead. Locked himself in his hotel room and cried his heart out. Vettel is the new Senna!

  11. Vettel’s DNF means there is no driver with 100% finishing record remaining. Also, this was the earliest race for that to happen since 2001.

    Here’s list of how many races have been needed to all drivers failing to finish at least once. If driver has 100% finishing record through the season, then “Season” is marked in the list.

    2001: 9th (Alesi)
    * Late DNF, he was classified in every race until 17th
    2002: Season (M Schumacher)
    2003: 12th (R Schumacher)
    2004: 17th (Barrichello)
    2005: 17th (Monteiro)
    2006: 13th (Alonso)
    2007: 16th (Hamilton)
    * Kovalainen was classified for first 16 races but he had late DNF in Monaco
    2008: Season (Heidfeld)
    2009: 16th (Rosberg)
    2010: 15th (Massa)
    2011: 18th (Vettel)
    2012: Season (Räikkönen)
    2013: Season (Chilton)
    2014: 13th (Alonso)
    2015: 13th (Massa & Hamilton)
    * Rosberg classified for first 14 and Vettel for first 16 races but both had one late DNF
    2016: Season (Ricciardo)
    2017: Season (Hamilton)
    2018: 11th (Vettel)

  12. OK, it wasn’t a crash because he didn’t hit anything, but you can hardly forget Vettel’s spin out on the last lap while leading in Montreal in 2011. Similarity to this last race? Wet track! I’m a fan of Vettel but these two choke jobs drop his legacy down a notch.

    1. Yeah, hard to judge. He was making a few seconds per lap in mixed conditions, then his speed finally took him over the limit.

      Montreal he was pressured, and cracked.

      Years ago he crashed in to Webber in Korea.

      Quite certainly unsafe in the wet. Also crashed in Brazill etc. Come think of it Vettel while super fas in the wet, tends to exceed his talents.

      Kimi snicked a nice one in the press conference, something along the lines of, “it is nice to have a car infront in these conditions”. Without team orders probably he would not have crashed.

      1. “Years ago he crashed in to Webber in Korea.”

        He did not, Webber crashed out and took Rosberg with him. Vettel was in the lead until his engine gave up on him. He could have won that race.

        1. was thinking of japan i think…..

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        25th July 2018, 4:13

        Years ago he crashed in to Webber in Korea.

        @jureo That was Turkey 2010

        1. Maybe Ruth is referring to Fuji 2007 — when Vettel (in an STR) crashes into Webber’s RB in wet conditions (during a safety car?)

  13. I have absolutely no recollection of Alonso crashing out in Canada 2005, shame on me. I’m annoyed at myself. I watched the race in Turkey, in a foreign language and hungover but that is no excuse!

    What corner, anyone?

    1. I don’t know exactly how it’s called, but it’s one of those in the first part of the circuit, a bit earlier than the hairpin which leads to the longest straight, it’s a section where there are white and red coloured walls on the outside and pretty much no run off, he hit that one and damaged suspension, entered the pits and retired.

      1. Wall of Champions

        1. No, it wasn’t the wall of champions, that’s schumacher, villeneuve and hill in 1999, a year where a lot of drivers crashed out of the lead btw, schumacher was first ahead of hakkinen in canada before crashing and hakkinen crashed at imola and monza while in the lead; alonso crashed like I said in that white and red wall in the first sector, before even the hairpin, he didn’t have to do a whole lap before re-entering the pits like he would’ve done had it been the wall of champion (and most drivers who crash there stop immediately).

          1. So pretty sure it’s that one, @unicron2002, even if I don’t know its name.

  14. Wasn’t HAM in the lead when he beached in China in 2007?

    1. Ah no, finally found the race report, looks like RAI got past a couple of laps prior to HAM found the gravel

      1. @picasso-19d-ftw Precisely – and it was when Raikkonen got past that Mercedes should have immediately pitted him. He’d have won the championship in his rookie year had they done so.

        1. *McLaren even, duh

      2. Whoops! I didn’t see your comment and just posted the same mis-memory!

  15. “This is the second time (following Singapore 2008) that a driver who did not set a time in Q2 went on to win the race. In both cases the driver was helped by a safety car, the pole-sitting Ferrari messing up, and a radio instruction given to his team-mate”

    Not quite the same type of team order though :D

    1. Ahah, indeed, radio instruction as in “you gotta crash, we’re gambling on a safety car!”.

      1. Of course Renault wasn’t that obvious with the message. IIRC Piquet was repeatingly asking what lap they were on, as they had plan to crash on lap 14.

        Off-topic, since the Crashgate became public I have wondered what would have happened if Piquet had crashed before he was supposed to. After all, based on his 2008 season no one was really surprised that he crashed.

    2. nice stat!

  16. Guess my memory is really bad. I thought Hamilton was leading in Shanghai when he went into the gravel entering pit lane??

  17. This is like Ronaldo Vs Messy : 12 year old fans arguing who is better while bringing meaningless statistics .Nothing more. Vettel and Hamilton have their fair share of mistakes.I would say they are a few levels below someone like Fangio or Senna.

    1. Except Lewis hasnt made any proper mistakes since Baku 2016 qualifying.

      Yes he has been slightly off pace at times but thats it. He is remarkably consistent in his latter years, perhaps to the detriment of the absolute pace he had in his youth.

      1. I retract, he also stuffed it in Brazil 2017 qually after already having sealed the championship.

  18. It’s now more than three years since a lap was led by a driver not in a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.

    The most depressing statistic.

    1. And five and a half years since a race was won by a driver not in Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull (Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Australia 2013.) But interestingly, all of the three before that were also not won by Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull:

      Australia 2013, Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
      Brazil 2012, Jenson Button, McLaren
      USA 2012, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
      Abu Dhabi 2012, Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus

  19. “Just washing it aside all of the helplessness inside, pretending I don’t feel misplaced is so much simpler than change…”
    No one would explain how painful this is…

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