Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Bottas becomes 60th different driver to lead the championship

2019 Australian Grand Prix stats and facts

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Valtteri Bottas became the first driver to score 26 points for a race win last weekend, but that’s not the most he’s ever scored in a grand prix.

Five years ago Bottas, then at Williams, scored 30 points for finishing third in F1’s one-off and widely criticised ‘double points’ season finale. He finished behind team mate Felipe Massa (who scored 36 points) and race winner Lewis Hamilton (50).

Bottas achieved this by becoming the first recipient of a bonus point for fastest lap in 60 years. The last driver to do so was Maurice Trintignant, who lapped Sebring in three minutes and five seconds in his Rob Walker-run Cooper T51 during the 1959 United States Grand Prix.

He began the season in style, bouncing back from a win-less 2018 to lead team mate Hamilton home by 20.8 seconds. That’s the biggest winning margin for any driver since Nico Rosberg’s 2016 Russian Grand Prix victory, where Hamilton also finished second.

Bottas now leads the championship for the first time in his career. He is the 60th different driver to do so. His fourth win put him level with two other drivers who led the championship but never won it – Eddie Irvine and Bruce McLaren – plus Dan Gurney.

For the fourth year in a row, Hamilton started the season-opening race from pole position but didn’t win it. This was his sixth Australian Grand Prix pole position in a row, one shy of Ayrton Senna’s record for most consecutive pole positions at the same venue, which he achieved at Imola between 1985 and 1991.

Hamilton now has eight pole positions at Melbourne, equalling Senna and Michael Schumacher’s records for Imola and Suzuka respectively. Schumacher converted five of those pole positions into wins, Senna three and Hamilton just two.

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This is also the 13th consecutive year Hamilton has set a pole position, which put him in a tie with Schumacher for the all-time record.

With his 84th pole position, Hamilton now has as many as every other driver on the grid put together. Vettel has 55, Kimi Raikkonen 18, Bottas six, Daniel Ricciardo three and Nico Hulkenberg and Robert Kubica one each.

F1 drivers, Melbourne, Albert Park, 2019
Hamilton has as many poles as the other 19 drivers combined
Ominously for Mercedes’ rivals, their 0.704s advantage over the next-quickest car in qualifying was larger than anything they had throughout the whole of last season. However, Mercedes were also stronger at Albert Park last year than they were at any other track.

Honda began their fifth year back in F1 as an engine supplier by claiming their first podium for more than a decade. Max Verstappen’s third place was the first for the Japanese engine builder since Rubens Barrichello came third in the 2008 British Grand Prix. Honda also led a race for the first time since Barrichello headed the field at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve the same year.

Verstappen’s points finish was his 10th in a row, a personal best. Also in the points at Albert Park were F1’s two ‘new’ teams for 2019: Racing Point and Alfa Romeo. The latter officially scored their first points since Riccardo Patrese finished sixth in the 1984 European Grand Prix (note he also finished ninth at the same race the following year, but points were only awarded to the top six).

One Schumacher record which remains untouched 15 years after he set it is the Albert Park lap record. Schumacher set a 1’24.125 in his Ferrari F2004, yet despite Hamilton establishing a new track record on Saturday (1’20.486) and a point being offered for fastest lap, the quickest time seen in the race was Bottas’s 1’25.580.

Kubica’s 3,045-day wait to start a grand prix since his last one is the fourth-longest in F1 history. Jan Lammers holds the record having gone 3,767 days between consecutive starts in 1982 and 1992.

Three drivers made their F1 debuts. Alexander Albon races under a Thai licence, making him the second driver from that country to start a race since Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (aka ‘B Bira’), who last raced 65 years ago. Albon, who has a Thai mother and British father, was born in London in 1996, where his predecessor died 11 years earlier.

Of the other newcomers, Lando Norris’s eighth place on the grid is the best starting position achieved by a debutant since his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr took seventh for Toro Rosso four years ago. George Russell had a tougher time in the Williams, but holds the distinction of being the only driver to start an F1 race with the number 63. It was used by some drivers in the Indianapolis 500 when it counted towards the world championship, but the race was never run to F1 rules.

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

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2019 Australian 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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    30 comments on “Bottas becomes 60th different driver to lead the championship”

    1. Very impressive and amazing stat: “With his 84th pole position, Hamilton now has as many as every other driver on the grid put together.”

      Not sure if that reflects Hamilton’s strength or the enormous lack of competition as for the majority of races since 2014 the only ever competition came from the other Mercedes driver.

      Taken that into account it is even more amazing that 4 drivers in history achieved a better pole to race ratio than Hamilton’s 36.5%. Senna 40.4% (65/161), Ascari 43.8% (14/32), Clark 45.8% (33/72) and Fangio 54.9% (28/51).

      Hamilton’s ratio since driving for the utterly dominant Mercedes is 48.3% (58/120).

      1. @jelle-van-der-meer Fangio, Clark and Senna would’ve a lot more poles if the calendars were longer back then. Their cars were just as dominant as the Mercedes is over the rest of the field. I agree, lack of competition in these past few years have improved Lewis stats a lot, but the same could be said for, say, Fangio…

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          18th March 2019, 20:23

          Fangio won championships in 4 different teams. No other driver achieved to win in more than 2.

        2. @fer-no65 – I would agree that more poles would have been had by the likes of Fangio, Clark, and Senna with longer calendars. And I cannot speak to the dominance of Fangio’s and Clark’s cars. But Senna’s cars were not as dominant as the Mercedes.

          Just in terms of poles and wins, the 1988 McLaren (MP4/4) was on par with the Mercs. However, by the next season that dominance had dropped off. Mercedes held very nearly the same dominance for 3 years (2014-2016) and only 2017-2018 showed a diminishing similar to McLaren in 1989. Meaning, Hamilton has had 3 years in cars as good as the MP4/4, and 2 years in cars as good as the MP4/5. Hamilton is a stellar driver, but his cars have had a proper advantage as well.

        3. @fer-no65 @hobo Clark’s pole percentage does rise when including non-championship GPs. It might rise further if including Tasman series races too. I have the list of total GP victories but I haven’t seen one done for total GP poles.

      2. @jelle-van-der-meer It’s worth adding that if Senna had stayed at Williams until 1997 then it’s likely he could have exceeded 100 poles.

    2. What impressed me most is that the top 18 were just 1s apart in Q1 (and it would have been less if not for the RBR strategic mistake, Stroll traffic, and Sainz lifting).

      Not sure when we last had 18 cars so close together, but it certainly did not happen last year.

      1. I remember 2009 being a very close season in terms of qualifying spread.

        Italian GP 2009, the top 19 were seperated by less than a second.

      2. @coldfly – Not trying to be contrarian, but when the Q3 times were spread by 2.3 seconds (and 1 second only covers the top 5), the Q1 times seem a bit like a fairy tale.

        1. Yes, q1 times are meaningless cause the top teams aren’t pushing, looking at the race pace the midfield is almost as further back as they were last year, only slightly improved, and they won’t be competition for all year, if there’s any one who can challenge mercedes is red bull, at best ferrari too if they can find what went wrong, cause atm they’re in no man’s land.

    3. I have been thinking about this stat, but not sure… is this the first ever Grand Prix where none of the McLaren drivers have a podium to their name?

      1. I believe so, but not 100% sure.

        On a similar note:
        A former, reigning, or future world champion has raced for McLaren in every season from 1982-2018. No other team can claim anything close (Ferrari can only go back as far as 1996). To maintain the streak, and assuming that Norris and Sainz take part in every race this year, then at least one of them will have to become world champion some day…

        1. Techincally, it could have happened in 2019, too. George and Bob could still be champs.

      2. Michael Counsell
        18th March 2019, 21:19

        Its a point I’ve made whenever anyone claims that Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris is a strong lineup and a reason for optimism. Its actually the least accomplised McLaren have ever had going into a season. They no longer have the pick of the drivers they used to have. They are also the only current team where neither driver has a podium to his name.

    4. Each time a team had a 1-2 finish in Melbourne, the winning driver and team became world champions at the end of the year :
      1996 : Hill – Villeneuve / Williams Renault
      1998 : Hakkinen – Coulthard / McLaren Mercedes
      2000 – Schumacher – Barrichello / Ferrari
      2004 – Schumacher – Barrichello / Ferrari
      2009 – Button – Barrichello / Brawn Mercedes
      2015 – Hamilton – Rosberg / Mercedes
      2016 – Rosberg – Hamilton / Mercedes

      We could also count these stats :
      2005 – Fisichella – Alonso / Renault (Alonso became World champion, but we can suppose that he should have won Australian GP 2005 without rain during the 1 lap qualifying format)
      2010 : Alonso – Massa / Ferrari… but Ferrari didn’t become world champion, nor Alonso but it was in Bahrain this year !

      Is this the VB77 year ?…

    5. First time since 1966 Monaco GP that Ferrari uses the number 16.

      Car number 3 remains since 2017 as the only car to participate in all seasons.

        1. @jerejj car number 6 participated of every seasons from 1950 to 2016

    6. Since 2014, 45 different numbers have been used in F1 races.

      The Australian Grand Prix saw the numbers 23 and 63 added to that list.
      38 have been driver choices
      6 were team reserve numbers
      1 champions number.

    7. José Lopes da Silva
      18th March 2019, 20:25

      First race without Alonso, first podium for Honda – while McLaren suffers an engine failure.

      Where are all the Honda critics?

    8. 8 points is the biggest difference we’ve seen after a season opener.

    9. Following Lando Norris’s debut, there has been a F1 driver born in every year of 20th century.

      1. @bleu

        WOW. That’s a fascinating fact. Three cheers mate.

      2. Not 2000 yet. (2000 was the last year of the twentieth century.)

        1. @erikkennedy It depends on how you look at it. A quote from the Wikipedia article on the 20th century:
          ”It is distinct from the century known as the 1900s which began on January 1, 1900 and ended on December 31, 1999.”

          1. I’m only being semi-serious. It’s a good fact, though!

    10. I heard this second hand from another forum, this was kubicas worst starting position in an f1 race, and worst finishing position (not including dnfs). I also believe he is the second driver in f1 who has used left side paddle shift for both up and down shifts (after jaques villeneuve).

    11. Damn, gasly stat is bad, looks he’s not well suited for red bull!

    12. For the last stat, I have to say australia is a good circuit for f1.5 teams, as last year because of verstappen’s spin and bottas qualifying mistake, alonso was ahead of both!

      As for mercedes cars getting a pole every year since 17 seasons, I guess they started the streak following a ferrari domination season which broke it, and then they owe this to hamilton, who was always strong in qualifying and evidently managed to get poles even with not so good mclarens, before switching to mercedes.

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