Vettel passes Prost with 52nd F1 victory

2018 Belgian Grand Prix stats and facts

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Sebastian Vettel became the third-most successful driver of all time in terms of wins with his victory in Belgium last weekend.

It was the 52nd victory of his career, one more than Alain Prost, who scored his final win in the 1993 German Grand Prix (pictured). Only Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (67 and counting) lie ahead.

This was Vettel’s third win at Spa. It was also the second time this year he’s led every lap, something Hamilton hasn’t done, but which Daniel Ricciardo also managed in Monaco.

For the third race weekend in a row Ferrari set the outright fastest lap time during the weekend (as they did from Bahrain to Azerbaijan earlier this year), though as in Hungary they were beaten to pole position by Mercedes in wet conditions. Ferrari led all three practice sessions and the first two stages of qualifying before the rain came down.

Lewis Hamilton’s fifth Belgian Grand Prix pole position is a record, beating the previous tally of four he shared with Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Juan Manuel Fangio. It was also the sixth consecutive pole position for Mercedes at Spa.

There are only two instances of the same constructor taking more consecutive pole positions at the same venue: Ferrari had seven at Suzuka from 1998 to 2004, and Williams did the same at Silverstone from 1991-97. Mercedes could also take its fifth consecutive pole position at Monza this weekend.

While the leading pair were able to ease off in the closing stages Valtteri Bottas, who climbed up from 17th to finish fourth, set the fastest lap of the race. It was the seventh of his career, the same number as Jacques Laffite.

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Vettel and Hamilton have won five races apiece so far this year but neither of their team mates have taken a win yet. With 200 points available, Kimi Raikkonen is 85 points off the lead and Bottas is 87 behind. No wonder we’re starting to hear talk of team orders under consideration.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018
Force India are two places ahead of Force India
Force India found themselves in the strange position of having to start again from zero at the middle of the season following their return from administration during the summer break. The FIA’s official points table now contains two Force Indias: ‘Racing Point’ has 18 points and is ninth, while predecessors Sahara have been reduced from 59 to zero and are 11th.

Max Verstappen matched his father’s achievement from 24 years earlier by finishing third at Spa. That has moved him ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship for the first time this year, in the first race since Ricciardo confirmed his impending departure from Red Bull.

As of the last race the bottom eight drivers in the championship standings are mathematically out of contention. They include Sergey Sirotkin who, though still without a point, scored the best result of his career so far at Spa with 12th.

While Sirotkin’s team mate Lance Stroll is widely expected to become a Force India driver sooner or later, it bears pointing out Sirotkin is 7-5 up against his team mate in qualifying and only 5-4 down on race finishes – a fair start for the rookie.

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Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

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2018 Belgian 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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25 comments on “Vettel passes Prost with 52nd F1 victory”

  1. Didn’t Hamilton score his 35th second place, putting him even with Prost on the all-time 2nd place list.

  2. It was the 52nd victory of his career, one more than Alain Prost, who scored his final win in the 1993 German Grand Prix (pictured).

    It always amazes me that Prost didn’t manage win one of the 6 remaining races after Germany in 1993 (which was a lucky win as Hill was comfortably leading before his tyre failure). The of the remaining 6, 3 were won by Hill (on the trot), 2 by Senna and 1 by Schumacher.

    1. Well, the car stalled in Hungary, so he could’ve very well won that. In Monza he was leading before his engine blew up. He then sealed the title in Portugal and from that point on Alain had no reason to try hard for wins.

      1. Also, it made for a very satisfying “Most Wins by a Driver” ranking, at least until Michael Schumacher started doing what he did:
        Prost 51
        Senna 41
        Mansell 31

        (that was the state of things when I started following F1, but I realise it only lasted from Australia 95 till Hungary 98, i.e. less than 3 years)

        1. And curiously, eventually he was only missing a win to get as many as senna + prost, could’ve well been brazil 2006 if not for that fuel pump (no fuel pump = no puncture).

        2. australia 1994 was mansell’s last win.

          1. Yeah, I’ve come to realise that in a shower thought moment as well. I mixed up the year when he should’ve retired with the year of his eventual retirement, and that was the result.

  3. Charles Leclerc was the first driver to have two consecutive first-lap-retirements since Felipe Massa in Britain and Germany 2014. In total he was 17th driver to do that. The list includes three drivers who were world champions or eventually became one (D Hill, Schumacher, Vettel).

    1. Although not actually two first-lap retirements, Raikkonen crashed out on lap 1 in Singapore last year then failed to start the following race in Malaysia (in neither race did he even make it as far as turn 1!).

  4. I’m increasingly frustrated with statistics like this. Nothing against Vettel and Hamilton for achieving them. They honestly only make sense when compared to a driver’s peers since things like number of races per year, average career lengths, and reliability are all worlds apart from even 15 years ago.

    1. I agree. Moss, Senna and Clark would have probably set unbeatable records. Moss and Senna certainly had guaranteed championships ahead.

      An awkward stat for Hamilton fans (who lap this stuff up) in terms of ‘Driver of the Decade’ Vettel leads 4 to 3 this decade. Lewis has to be champion this and next season to be level with him.

      1. No idea what titles Senna had guaranteed to him?

        94 and 95 Benetton were simply better overall as an operation. 94 was already going a stray. 95 may of been doable but only if williams had sorted their strategy, pit stops and reliability out. Without that he wouldn’t of stood much of a chance.

        From then on who knows if he would of even been in the sport?

        1. @q85

          I’m thinking that Hill gave Schumacher a run for his money and Senna would have been better still. Schumacher cracking under pressure at Adelaide as Hill hunted him down stands out. Also Schumacher having to use mind games and tricks against Hill which eventually led to the race ban.
          Senna also owned pole position. I’d give him 94, 95, 96 and 97, having preferential treatment.

          1. @bigjoe
            This might be interesting to you:
            https://f1metrics.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/historical-hypotheticals-part-i/

            Senna could very well have been a 6-time world champion.

    2. @seanloh
      Agreed, as the old adage says there is lies, damned lies and statistics. Still congrats to Seb he is definitely in that same Prost/Senna/Schumacher tier.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th August 2018, 3:18

      @seanlo well, there are other things to take into account.

      First, the population has nearly doubled since the 60s. That means there mathematically speaking 2 Jim Clarks per Jim Clark. That complicates things because of the limited availability of race seats.

      All sports have evolved and F1 is no different than other sports. Alonso is a super driver but he’s only been able to win 32 races. Why is that? Because he can’t drive for the best teams which most drivers in the old days I suspect were able to. Right now we have 3 drivers who could have easily had 150 race wins if the other 2 drivers were not there.

      I’d suspect driver skill made more of a difference in the old days – nowadays advantages are down to the thousandth of a second so even if you are faster, you will not much faster than a good driver in F1. If you are 2/10ths slower, you’re a dinosaur. Back then you were probably Alain Prost or Stirling Moss.

      I mean absolutely no disrespect to the past legends of the sport who obviously competed at a time when things were much more dangerous and for that reason alone deserve as much respect, if not more, than the current generation. I have no doubt that if they drove today, they would most likely be champions.

      1. @freelittlebirds it’s a good point about the fine margins but I think margins were always quite fine at the sharp end of the grid. if you read mark hughes’ book “1970”, it’s remarkable how close qualifying was back then. the difference now is that the fine margins can translate to a consistent dominance over a team mate because reliability is so much better. for example, in 2010 the average gap between vettel and webber was 0.05 seconds in qualifying across the entire season, but vettel was consistently ahead on the grid. the superior reliability of that car relative to most cars in the 60s, 70s and 80s (and 90s to an extent) meant that vettel was invariably mopping up wins that webber could not. in a more random distribution of reliability webber would surely have won a few more races that year. with modern day reliability it is highly unlikely that G. Hill would have won the title in 1962.

        1. Webbers car was bullet proof that year, it had a bad clutch at Spa, but other than that, is was the only reliable car Webber ever had.

        2. @freelittlebirds
          I like that point, now we have two Jim Clarkes, and fewer F1 seats at the moment- makes sense.
          You cant disrespect some of the all time F1 greats of the past like Fangio and Clarke, they are legends, but maybe didn’t have the same competition right through the field back then. When the average driver in the 50’s and early 60’s was 45-50 years old seems the barrier entry to F1 back then more so when you could afford it & may have had a few more gentleman drivers back then.

          But great effort to Seb for that, I hope he takes it out this year (And I am sure Alonso will hold a party for him :)

  5. Officially the current Force India have scored 18 points on their debut – equals Brawn GP (2009 – different scoring system) and Mercedes (2010), although none were really new teams.

    First non-mechanical DNF for McLaren in 2018 – only Mercedes have not had such a retirement this year.

    Raikkonen’s first no-score since Spain. Longest unbroken streaks are now Hamilton and Bottas, with 4 (both last no-scored in Austria).

    First time since Canada that neither Mercedes led a lap.

    First time since Monaco that no Finnish driver finished on the podium.

    Hamilton’s 5th pole and 8th front-row start at Spa – both records.

    5th time Perez has started 4th (he has never started higher) – 3 of those 5 have come at Spa (2012, 2015, 2018).

    Thanks to statsf1.com, formula1.com, and magnetimarelli.com for some of these.

    1. Perez will start 4th again in 2021 then!

  6. Kevin Magnussen currently has the most races without a retirement:12. His last retirement was at the Australian GP.

  7. Whilst he didn’t score any come the chequered flag, I believe this was the first race in which Sergey Sirotkin completed a lap in the points.

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