Mercedes start season with back-to-back one-twos for the first time

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix stats and facts

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For a while it looked as though Charles Leclerc was going to become the first Formula 1 driver to score his first pole position and victory in the same weekend since Pastor Maldonado seven years ago.

But unfortunately for Leclerc a Ferrari power unit failure meant it wasn’t to be. Nonetheless, this breakthrough weekend for the 21-year-old saw him achieve several statistical milestones.

On Saturday he became the second-youngest F1 driver to claim pole position for a race. That record, which nearly fell to Max Verstappen on several occasions in recent seasons, still belong to Leclerc’s team mate Sebastian Vettel and dates back to the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc became the first and so far only driver from Monaco to start a race from pole position. Coincidentally, Bahrain is also the only track where a Polish driver has started from pole: Robert Kubica, also back in 2008.

Monaco becomes the 21st country to produce a driver who’s started a race from pole and the 28th to yield one who finished on the podium. In addition to his first podium Leclerc also set the fastest lap for the first time in his career.

However, note that the graphic Formula 1 displayed on the world feed during the formation lap proclaiming him to be “the 99th driver to take pole position in the 999th F1 world championship race” is not strictly accurate. This is because not all the 999 races which counted towards the world championship were run to F1 rules, as explained here:

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It would be correct to say either that Leclerc “became the 99th driver to take pole position in the 999th world championship race” or that he “became the 88th driver to take pole position in the 973rd F1 world championship race”.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2012
Still the last driver to do the first-pole-and-win double
Leclerc’s misfortune was Lewis Hamilton’s gain, and the Mercedes driver had the good grace to admit he was lucky to score his 74th F1 race win. He needs 17 more to reach the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher, whose son Mick made his Formula 2 debut this weekend at the track where turn one was renamed in honour of Michael five years ago.

Mercedes therefore started the season with two consecutive one-two finishes. Surprisingly they have never done this before, whether throughout their dominance of the current V6 hybrid turbo era or in their similarly successful 1955 campaign. Only Leclerc’s fastest lap yesterday prevented them scoring a maximum 88 points from the first two weekends.

The almost synchronised demise of the two Renault drivers within seconds of each other at turn one on lap 54 was one of the race’s stranger moments. It was reminiscent of McLaren’s double retirement while running one-two in the 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix.

Renault’s woe promoted Lando Norris to the ‘best of the rest’ spot in sixth. This was McLaren’s best result for more than 12 months, having not finished in the top six since Fernando Alonso came fifth at Melbourne last year.

Alexander Albon joined Norris in collecting his first F1 points score with ninth place. These were the first points scored by a Thai driver since ‘B Bira’ drove his privately-entered Maserati 250F to fourth place in the French Grand Prix at Reims 65 years ago. That race also produced a Mercedes one-two, Juan Manuel Fangio winning ahead of Karl Kling in a pair of W196s.

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

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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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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37 comments on “Mercedes start season with back-to-back one-twos for the first time”

  1. Not the first driver to score 16 points in a GP.

    Jenson Button did this in Abu Dhabi 2014 thanks to double points

    1. Ah the wretched double points race. I knew that’d catch me out eventually. Thanks for the note, I’ve removed that.

    2. It was Hulkenberg; Button scored twenty points.

  2. Lewis Hamilton has reclaimed his record of being the only driver to win at least one race in every season he’s raced in.

    1. Reclaimed?
      He didn’t lose this record…

      And probably there were not a single human on Earth and International Space Station doubting that he would win a race this season.

      1. @dallein
        A technicality, admittedly, but for the 2 weeks between the Australian GP and this weekend he had raced in 2019 but not won – that changed this weekend. The same applies to the start of every season.

        1. Exactly. Every season he enters this record resets until he wins a race.

          Hamilton has now won at least 1 F1 race in 13 consecutive seasons. No idea what the record is for this though or if Hamilton already has it.

          1. Schumacher holds the record for most wins in consecutive seasons at 15 (1992 – 2006), so Hamilton has a few more years left before he can beat this.

        2. Wrong.
          Technically you can assess the result of a Season ONLY after its conclusion or when other outcome is mathematically/technically impossible.
          Like WDC…
          So no, 1 race or 2 races or 20 in 21-race season, he is and was and will be the holder of this “record” until the last race.
          Now he won, so we can wait no longer, as other outcome is impossible.

          1. Wrong.

            Nope you are.

            So no, 1 race or 2 races or 20 in 21-race season, he is and was and will be the holder of this “record” until the last race.

            Just no, that’s not how anything works.

          2. @dallein
            Well, if you want to get pedantic, your argument only holds any weight if it were looking at winning at least one race in every complete season he raced in, a subtle detail which you will notice I omitted from my original post.

  3. Renault’s woe promoted Lando Norris to the ‘best of the rest’ spot in sixth.

    I disagree. McLaren clearly had more pace than RedBull. Just look at where both drivers in both teams qualification combined and how fast were Norris & Sainz during the race. Gasly who had the experience on Honda PU can not be that bad. Max is the true ‘best of the rest’.

  4. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    1st April 2019, 13:26

    I am going to dispute that the “999th F1 World Championship” race is inaccurate.

    There have not been 999 F1 races counting towards the World Championship.

    However, the races ran to non-F1 rules still counted towards the World Championship.

    What is the World Championship’s full title? It is the FIA Formula One World Championship.

    So there have been 999 races in the “F1 World Championship”, even if they have not all been F1 races.

    Of course, please could someone correct me if I’m wrong?

    1. Makes sense to me, @hammerheadgb.
      So the correct wording is China will be the 1000th ‘Formula One World Championship race’.
      With the added benefit that this will all be over in 2 weeks time ;)

    2. @hammerheadgb, it has only been called the “FIA Formula One World Championship” since 1981, when the title was formally changed over from the previous title of “World Drivers Championship”.

      Technically, there have only been 656 “FIA Formula One World Championship” races since the formal introduction of that title in 1981. The total of 999 comes from adding together the official championship races from the historical “World Drivers Championship” to the modern “FIA Formula One World Championship”.

      For the historical title, you need to separate the idea of “Formula 1” and “World Drivers Championship”, as originally the two were not formally interlinked. The FIA designated the races that it thought had suitable stature to form part of the “World Drivers Championship” as having championship status. Now, because Formula 1 was the highest performance class, that usually meant Formula 1 races, but that wasn’t always the case.

      As Keith has noted before, from 1950 to 1960, that formally included the Indianapolis 500 because that race was given the same official standing as a Grand Prix, even though it was completely different in form. In 1952 and 1953, all of the events which the FIA decided would count towards the “World Drivers Championship” were in fact Formula 2 races (non-championship races did still sometimes use Formula 1 regulations though).

      Separately to the 1952 and 1953 seasons, there are also some official Grand Prix where you can debate whether it did technically run to Formula 1 regulations. The 1966 German Grand Prix is one, where the grid comprised a mixture of Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars and the Formula 1 and Formula 2 races ran simultaneously – in some ways, it was closer to a Formula Libre race than a Formula 1 race.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        1st April 2019, 16:43

        This explanation seems fair enough. Thanks for your input on the naming as I wasn’t sure of the naming history.

        But as you say this leaves us with only 656 F1 World Championship races.

        I suppose there is then a discussion over the ability or otherwise to retroactively declare the “World Drivers Championship” era as part of the history of what is currently known as the F1 World Championship.

  5. Leclerc should be happy not to appear in the same list as the worst F1 driver in history!
    Even if happened with the lost win.

    1. @dallein, trust me – Pastor Maldonado is a long, long way from being the worst driver in Formula 1 history.

      There have been a wide range of really rubbish drivers, especially in the 1990s when the grid was awash with pay drivers – Jean-Denis Délétraz, Ricardo Rosset, Paolo Barilla are just a few drivers from that era, and none of them exactly covered themselves in glory when they were competing in F1.

      Some would say that Al Pease is also in the running for being the worst driver in F1 though, particularly after his performance in the 1969 Canadian GP – not only was he disastrously slow (admittedly in a hopelessly out of date car), he was determined to fight anybody who tried to lap him and came so close to taking Jackie Stewart out of the lead of the race that he was black flagged for being a slow moving lethal hazard on track.

      1. I thought @dallein was referring to Vettel (Monza 2008) ;)
        please-register-anon (if registered it will be easier to find your – oftentimes insightfull – contributions).

      2. Sorry, in my view Maldonado is the worst. In 25 last seasons I watched – definitely.
        Brainless crash-kid with barely a skill of a moped driver.

        Unless you find a way to make those you mentioned (I know it is impossible) compete with Maldonado, you will not be able to convince me to reconsider.
        And anyway – those from previous eras – they were at least proper drivers, which already makes them better.

        1. well, he won a race and started on the top 3 more than once in a midfield car, not many drivers can claim that.
          the guy was completely brainless, but some talent for the thing definitely was there.

        2. @dallein, on the other hand, Maldonado wasn’t foolish enough to decide to use a shadow falling across the track as a braking marker during a race, which Jean-Denis Délétraz did – rather predictably, as the day wore on and the shadow moved further along the track, Délétraz ended up braking too late and spinning into a gravel trap.

          It’s not as bizarre as the famous incident where Délétraz suddenly slowed down and then swerved around erratically, to the point where he almost managed to drive himself off the track on a completely straight stretch of road – and, more worryingly, wasn’t able to explain what on earth he was trying to do when asked about it afterwards.

          Equally, Maldonado never managed to be two seconds a lap slower than his team mate – Délétraz was – nor managed to get lapped ten times in 57 laps, which was also a rather lowly achievement that Délétraz managed.

          Ricardo Rosset was equally a disaster – we’re talking about a driver who was hired solely because British American Tobacco, having bought Tyrrell to turn it into BAR, wanted to run the 1998 season on the cheap and Rosset’s sponsorship helped pay the bills. He was so bad that he ended up making Ken Tyrrell quit his own team in disgust at what a pathetic driver he was – he was miles behind his team mates, often being over a second slower and managing to fail to qualify five times in the 1998 season.

          To many, Rosset’s attempts to qualify for the 1998 Monaco GP sum up what a useless driver he was – 1.7 seconds slower than his team mate, 0.4s off even making the 107% cut off time and, after spinning during one lap, he tried to spin the car around and instead just drove the car straight into a barrier.

          The attitude that “they were from the past, and because I think that the drivers of the past were proper drivers, he must have been a better driver” is rather misguided – there were also a lot of drivers who were, frankly, not competent enough to race in F1, or really deal with any sort of high powered single seater car, but bought their way into the sport.

          1. Talking about the level of the drivers it’s always interesting to evaluate how good the worst driver in the field is. And yes, currently it is one of the highest F1 has ever had.

            Just before three new teams arrived to the scene in 2010, the bar was really high too. Considering those who drove majority of the races in 2009, among the worst in F1 were Piquet Jr, Nakajima and Bourdais. That includes FE champion, 24h Le Mans winner and 4-time Champ Car champion which tells a lot.

    2. What stat did he avoid sharing with Taki Inoue?

    3. Romain Grosjean likes this comment

    4. Pastor Maldonado was a very good driver, his problem was he was also careless. I believe he’d have got a paying seat somewhere in F1 if he’d been more careful.

  6. I still haven’t accepted the fact that Maldonado won that race. Incredible.

  7. * For the first time since 2003, two different teams conquered the front row in first two races of the season.

    Also, I looked very quickly through each qualifying since three-part system was introduced in 2006. I admit there might be mistakes but Kimi Räikkönen seems to be sixth driver to go through from Q1 and Q2 as the last driver in the same session. The previous five being:
    Timo Glock, Australia 2008
    Nico Rosberg, Bahrain 2009
    Sergio Perez, Hungary 2013
    Jean-Eric Vergne, Malaysia 2014
    Fernando Alonso, Malaysia 2017

    The cut-off numbers differ a bit since the number of cars participating has changed between 18 and 24 through the years. A same number of cars has always been eliminated in Q1 and Q2 with 10 cars participating in Q3. The exception is first two qualifyings in 2016, when only eight cars participated Q3 when the ill-fated elimination qualifying was used.

    1. I looked very quickly through each qualifying since three-part system was introduced in 2006. I admit there might be mistakes but Kimi Räikkönen seems to be sixth driver to go through from Q1 and Q2 as the last driver in the same session

      I really don’t understand what this stat is supposed to be? Could you explain more?

      1. He was the first driver above the cut-off on both sessions. One position lower, and he would’ve dropped down on both.

  8. First time the same driver was last on the grid in the opening 2 races since Kimi is in F1.

  9. What was the last time a Renault led a race?

    1. Mojonly, because of the large gaps in Renault’s involvement as a manufacturer team, the last time would be in 2009 – Alonso led four laps during the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix.

      The closest that they have come since then is Hulkenberg spending one lap in 2nd place in 2017, followed by Sainz having 8 laps in 3rd in 2018, Hulkenberg having 11 laps in 3rd in 2017 and Palmer having one lap in 3rd place in 2017.

      In many ways, it is more a reflection of the power of the big three teams though – the last time that a team outside of the big three led a race was Williams in 2015 (although it wasn’t as if earlier eras were necessarily all that more egalitarian).

  10. Jonathan Parkin
    1st April 2019, 15:45

    Currently the eighth race to finish under stabilised SC conditions after 1999 Canadian GP, 2009 Australian GP, 2009 Italian GP, 2010 Monaco GP, 2012 Brazilian GP, 2014 Canadian GP and 2015 Chinese GP.

    Currently no F1 race has ever had a situation where the race starts and finishes behind the SC

    1. The latter part needs clarification – no race has started and went to the chequered flag behind SC. There’s two races which have started and finished under SC conditions – Brazilian GP 2003 and Japanese GP 2014, but both were stopped early due to accidents.

  11. These were the first points scored by a Thai driver since ‘B Bira’ drove his privately-entered Maserati 250F to fourth place in the French Grand Prix at Reims 65 years ago. That race also produced a Mercedes one-two, Juan Manuel Fangio winning ahead of Karl Kling in a pair of W196s.

    … and also a Ferrari in 3rd place, with a french-speaking driver at the wheel (Robert Manzon)…

  12. Things are looking pretty good for Mercedes in terms of statistics: since 1980 (didn’t bother to look further back than that) the team that has managed to win both opening races of a season (has happened a total of 19 times in this timeframe) it has also gone on to win both championships, with the following exceptions:
    – 1981: Williams (Jones and Reutemann) won both opening races and won the WCC, while Piquet clinched the drivers’ title.
    – 1982 (the crazy year): Renault (Prost) won both opening races, but finished only third in WCC and nowhere in WDC.
    – 1994: Benetton (with Schumacher) won both opening races, but finished second in WCC (Schumacher winning the WDC).
    – 2003: McLaren (Coulthard and Räikkönen) won both opening races, but finished third in WCC and second in WDC.
    – and most recently: 2018: Ferrari (Vettel), won both opening races, but finished second in both championships.

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