Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Mazepin has shortest grand prix debut of any driver since 2002

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix stats and facts

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Three drivers made their grand prix debuts in yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and while two of them saw the chequered flag, the other had the shortest introduction to F1 for nearly two decades.

Nikita Mazepin lost control of his car at turn two on the first lap of the race, smacking a barrier, damaging his Haas VF-21 and ending his involvement in proceedings.

We haven’t seen a driver retire on the first lap of their first race since the crash which wiped out eight cars at the start of the 2002 Australian Grand Prix. Felipe Massa and Allan McNish, making their debuts for Sauber and Toyota respectively, were both among those eliminated at turn one.

Since then a couple of unlucky rookies have gone out on the second lap – Karun Chandhok in 2010 and Andre Lotterer in 2014 – but no earlier. Two others reached the finish on their debuts but were disqualified: Robert Kubica in 2006 (his car was underweight) and Sergio Perez in 2011 (illegal rear wing dimensions).

Massa was wiped out in turn one carnage on his 2002 debut
Mazepin’s team mate Mick Schumacher was one of the two debutants who reached the chequered flag. His father had a famously short debut in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix – his clutch failed and he came to a stop at the top of Raidillon.

The third rookie, Yuki Tsunoda, not only reached the finish but scored points for ninth place. As was widely pointed out elsewhere, this made him the first Japanese driver to score points on his debut. But it’s a misleading statistic, owing to changes in the points system over time.

His predecessors Noritake Takahara (in 1976), Kunimitsu Takahashi (1977) and Kamui Kobayashi (2009) all finished ninth on their debuts, but did not score points. Two others did even better, opening their careers with seventh-placed finishes. These were Satoru Nakajima with Lotus in 1987 and Shinji Nakano for Prost in 1997, both of which would have scored six points today, but got nothing at the time.

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Verstappen celebrated pole with birthday boy David Coulthard
Max Verstappen took pole position for Red Bull with the slowest pole-winning lap time in Bahrain for five years – before F1’s current wider cars were introduced. It was a promising sign for Red Bull, however, as this was their first back-to-back pole positions since the V6 hybrid turbo era began in 2014. During that time Ferrari has been the only team besides Mercedes to take pole twice in a row.

It was Verstappen’s fourth career pole position, putting him level with Mike Hawthorn, Didier Pironi, Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Verstappen couldn’t keep Lewis Hamilton from victory in the race, however, and the Mercedes driver took his 96th career win. Intriguingly, while Hamilton has 98 pole positions, in the last seven races he’s taken two poles and six wins. At this rate, he might reach 100 victories before he gets to a century of pole positions.

His team mate Valtteri Bottas scooped the fastest lap, the 16th of his career, but was unable to take what could have been his third consecutive victory in the season-opening race.

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Nakano finished seventh on his F1 debut – but got no points
F1’s new season began at its third different circuit in as many years. That last happened in 1980-83, when F1 had four different venues for the curtain-raiser: Argentina, USA, South Africa and Brazil. Note that South Africa should have opened the 1981 season, and did hold a race, but was not given world championship status due to a political row.

Hamilton’s latest victory means he has equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of winning races in 15 consecutive seasons. He also surpassed Schumacher’s record of laps spent in the lead, raising the tally from 5,111 to 5,126. For comparison, Hamilton has raced 15,222 laps in his career to Schumacher’s 16,825.

Two new team names appeared on the grid. Aston Martin scored their first point courtesy of Lance Stroll’s 10th place, though their previous incarnation would have done under the current system. Roy Salvadori took sixth at Aintree and Monsanto Park in 1959, the last season when only the top five scored points.

Alpine failed to score at all. As the only Renault-powered team left in the championship, that ended the French engine manufacturer’s 39-race run of scoring points.

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

2021 Bahrain 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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37 comments on “Mazepin has shortest grand prix debut of any driver since 2002”

  1. Does anybody know how many passes Perez completed?
    I’m not sure if he got past anybody before his first pitstop.

    1. His first pitstop was during the safety car period. Not sure what happened there. His medium tires only lasted for a few laps.

      1. Trying to go to the end, didn’t work out

      2. I thought pitting during SC was a smart call. I can imagine that his original tyres were pretty cold by then. Since he was effectively last after his pitlane start, he got a ‘free’ pitstop to get fresh and warmer tyres and that must have made it easier for him to slice through the field after the restart.

      3. Was actually really smart. I was looking at onboard. He got fresher tyres and still managed to get back to the pack before safety car left.

  2. The 2019 German GP is the previous race that lost at least one lap from the scheduled distance due to an additional formation lap. The 2017 British GP is the previous one where this happened because of someone coming to a halt on the trackside.

    Stroll started the season like he ended last by getting overtaken for a position on the final lap. Coincidently, on both occasions, he dropped from 9th to 10th. Similarly, Ricciardo has now finished 7th in two consecutive races, while Russell and Vettel swapped positions from the Abu Dhabi GP.

    The 2015 Australian GP was the most recent season-opener Hamilton had won.

    Mercedes have consistently led both WDC and WCC since the 2018 German GP.

    Win number 300 for a British driver.

    HAM-VER-BOT shared a podium for the 14th time, tying the F1 record previously held by HAM-ROS-VET.

    Norris finished 4th, an identical result to the 2020 Bahrain GP.

    Tsunoda became the 65th driver to score on his debut and the first since Vandoorne on the same track in 2016. He also secured the first points for a Japanese driver since Kobayashi’s 9th place in the 2012 Brazilian GP.

    1. Huh, so Kobayashi’s last point scoring finish matched his (pointless under the old point system) debut

  3. Mazespin: The first driver to have more formation laps then race laps in his career

    1. Good one @erikje.
      And he’ll most likely add at least one more before having a chance at finishing his first racing lap.

    2. This is definitely the best stat! Brilliant!

  4. For the first time in the history of F1, a Knight has won a race.

    1. It’s rather a Bad F1 Stat.

    2. And it was a (k)night race :)

  5. Massa’s helmet looked pretty cool without the standard sponsorship marks that ruin a lot of helmet designs nowadays. Respect to the teams that allow their drivers to run their helmets without the halo-esque rings and the like.

    1. Massa???

      Reply moderated
    2. Ignore me, I’ve just got the context in which you meant. I assumed you were saying Massa raced this weekend for a moment. Ignore me, it’s been a very long day!

      Reply moderated
  6. Lewis Hamilton is STILL the only driver in F1 history to have won a race in every season in which he has competed.

    1. Now to keep this stat, he must not go to another team.

      1. Although he could keep that stat by going to red bull, and has a small chance by going to ferrari and the likes, only crazy races, so a high risk of losing it if he leaves for anyone but red bull.

        1. People said the same thing when he left McLaren…

          1. Yep. I remember very well that the general consensus was Lewis wouldn’t win a single race with Mercedes. He was accused of only going to Merc because of money: there was no other compelling reason for him to leave the proven race/championship winning team McLaren. Now those same naysayers congregate on every forum trying to convince the world that Lewis’ success is only down to his magic carpet of a Merc that he lucked into. I find it all quite amusing how so many people are able to consistently delude themselves.

  7. Mazepin’s F1 career thus far consists of two formation laps and zero racing laps. But I am sure he’ll get there soon enough.

  8. Kimi Raikkonen raced against Jean Alesi (b. 1964) in his first race, and Yuki Tsunoda (b. 2000) in his most recent one, which means he has raced against drivers born in 5 different decades who were born 36 years, 11 months and 0 days apart.

    He’s got a long way to go to beat the record though. Maurice Trintignant raced against drivers born in six decades: the 1890’s, 1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s. In his first race, he faced Luigi Fagioli, (b. 1898, the 19th Century’s only race winner) and Jean-Claude Rudaz, (b. 1942) who were born 44 years, 1 month and 14 days apart.

    Reply moderated
  9. You mean Prost in 1997 not 1977.

    1. @david-beau Indeed – corrected, thanks.

  10. Hamilton won the opening race of the season for only the third time in his career, the previous two being 2008 and 2015.

    Despite having only two previous wins in the opening race, he had nine previous poles, but failed to convert a first round pole to victory on seven previous occasions (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). But this time he won the opening round without starting from pole for the first time.

    1. Sorry, that should say eight previous poles and six previous failures to convert pole to a win, since he did win the first race in 2015.

  11. Jonathan Parkin
    29th March 2021, 22:25

    Mick Schumacher also finished ahead of his Uncle who retired on Lap 2 of the Australian GP in 1997, Ralf didn’t finish a GP until his 3rd race where he also finished 3rd. Michael achieved his first podium on his 8th race, given Mick is in a Haas he is unlikely to achieve a podium that quickly

    Michael achieved his first win and fastest lap on his 18th start (Belgium 92) but had to wait until his 42nd start to get his first Pole (Monaco 94). Again given that Mick is in a Haas it seems unlikely he’ll achieve his first win before his father, he might achieve his first FL before his 17th start which seems more possible. He might have to move teams to get his first Pole before his Dad

    Ralf achieved his first FL on his 46th start, (Italy 99) his first win on his 70th start (San Marino 01) and his first Pole on his 76th start (France 01)

    In conclusion Mick is more likely to achieve major milestones before his Uncle did rather than his Dad

  12. First time Hamilton has qualified 2nd behind Verstappen.

    In topping Q2, Ferrari have topped the timing-sheets as many times in 2021 as they managed in 2020 (Hungary FP2).

    Both Michael Schumacher and Mick Schumacher’s first F1 team-mates have had 6-letter first names ending in ‘a’ (Andrea, Nikita).

    First Schumacher to complete 2+ racing laps of his debut race.

    Vettel has the most career penalty points of any driver (29).

    Tsunoda is the first maiden points-scorer since George Russell at this same circuit (albeit a different layout). The last time 2 consecutive maiden points-scorers did so at different races in the same country was Pedro Lamy and

    Jacques Villeneuve in Australia 1995/96 – it has never previously happened in different races at the same circuit.
    15th consecutive year in which Hamilton has managed at least 1 win – equals Michael Schumacher’s record (1992-2006). Same is also true of podiums and laps led.

    25th consecutive year in which at least 1 Mercedes-powered car has managed fastest lap – equals Ferrari’s record (1995-2019 inclusive).

    25th consecutive year in which at least 1 Mercedes-powered car has led a lap – equals Ferrari’s record (1993-2019 inclusive).

    Thanks to statsf1 for some of these.

    1. “25th consecutive year”?

      1. Ah – ignore me. 25 years for Mercedes as an engine manufacturer, rather than 25 years for Mercedes GP as a team/constructor.

    2. 25th consecutive year in which at least 1 Mercedes-powered car has led a lap – equals Ferrari’s record (1993-2019 inclusive).

      Oh man that must have hurt for Ferrari in 2020.

  13. With Alonso returning and Perez landing a seat at Red Bull, the 2021 seasons starts with 10 race winners and 4 world champions.

    For last 30 seasons at least 1 race is won by either Hamilton or Schumacher but in no season did they both won a race.

    With his 2nd place Verstappen has overtaken Ricciardo for 9th in the list of drivers with most career points scored, both only raced under the 25 point mechanism.

    1. For last 30 seasons at least 1 race is won by either Hamilton or Schumacher but in no season did they both won a race.

      Thought this was a mistake for sure as the 2005 Ferrari was a dog of a car before memories of Indygate flashed through my mind.

      Pretty nice stat though and with Hamilton being the one to break Schumacher’s previously-thought-to-be-unbroken records, kinda makes it a lovely passing of the torch moment.

  14. I predict Mazepin will continue to have many such interesting statistics in his short career.

    1. He’s taking it up where Grosjean left off. I wish Haas had improved from promising beginnings, in particular for three sake of Mick S. I also wish they didn’t specialise in drivers who DNF on their own.

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