Next stop 100 race wins: Hamilton’s hundredth pole position in stats

2021 Spanish Grand Prix stats and facts

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No Formula 1 driver has ever achieved a century of wins or fastest laps. Lewis Hamilton therefore achieved an especially notable landmark by becoming the first to take 100 pole positions on Saturday.

Every one of those pole positions was won in a qualifying contest determined by whoever set the fastest lap time. It makes the statistic a clear benchmark of his ability to conjure the best out of a Formula 1 car for a single flying lap.

That won’t be the case for much longer, however. In five race’s time F1 will hold its first grand prix where the starting grid for the race will be decided not by a qualifying session, but another race. While ‘won pole position’ and ‘was fastest in qualifying’ haven’t always been one and the same – for example, drivers have lost pole positions due to race penalties – they will be separated further by the first Sprint Qualifying race.

Since Hamilton broke the record for most pole positions back in 2017, surpassing Michael Schumacher’s former benchmark, the question has been how much further can he push it. Incredibly, if he takes two more pole positions, he will have raised the record 50% higher than the level Schumacher left it at.

Podium, Circuit de Catalunya, 2021
The same top three shared the Catalunya podium again
On his grand prix debut with McLaren in 2007, Hamilton qualified fourth, 0.683 seconds off pole position and two-tenths off his team mate Fernando Alonso. This was in the days when drivers qualified carrying their race fuel loads, however. Once Hamilton persuaded McLaren to give him parity with Alonso, his first pole position soon followed at the sixth round of the championship in Canada.

Hamilton said his 100th pole position felt “very similar” to his first. “Back then it was where I was pushing for equality in terms of fuel load alongside my team mate,” he recalled, noting that breakthrough pole came “the first time they gave us the equal fuel load.”

He racked up poles more quickly than wins earlier in his career. As recently as 2019 his poles tally stood 11 higher than his number of victories. But amid stiffer opposition from Ferrari and Red Bull that year, Hamilton went on a 10-race spell without a pole position, his longest for eight years.

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His strike rate of taking pole position for 37% of races he’s started is the fifth-highest of any driver who has competed in the sport. Pushing that figure higher is going to be difficult because of the sheer length of his career: His 270th race start last weekend means he’s already done over 100 more than Ayrton Senna and over 200 more than Juan Manuel Fangio, both of which lie ahead of him.

Fangio started more than half of his races from pole position
To beat Fangio’s record strike rate of 56.86%, Hamilton would have to take pole position for the next 125 races in a row, which would likely take him well into 2026.

Hamilton did match one achievement of Senna’s over the weekend, however. This was his fifth consecutive win in the Spanish Grand Prix, matching his hero’s achievement of winning the same race for five years in a row. Senna won the Monaco Grand Prix every year from 1989 to 1993 (he also won it in 1987, and crashed while leading in 1988).

At the rate Hamilton going, we’ll surely be writing about his 100th grand prix victory before too long. Yesterday’s was the 98th of his career. He did not complete a ‘hat trick’ by taking fastest lap, however. Max Verstappen beat him to that, taking the 11th of his career.

The Red Bull driver has now led more laps than Hamilton this year – 144 to Hamilton’s 75 – yet won just one of the four races. Hamilton is the only driver to have led every race.

He and Verstappen have shared the top two places on the podium at every race this year. In Spain, Hamilton led Verstappen and Bottas home for the second race in a row this year, and also the second year in a row in Spain. Remarkably, it was the fourth year in a row the trio shared the podium at Circuit de Catalunya, though in 2018 and 2019 Bottas was ahead of Verstappen.

McLaren continued their streak of scoring points with both cars in every race this year, though they were out-scored by Ferrari, who closed to within five points of them in what already looks like a close constructors’ title fight for fifth. Daniel Ricciardo led Lando Norris home for the first time as team mates, scoring points for the 15th race in a row.

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Hamilton’s 100 pole positions in charts

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

2021 Spanish 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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17 comments on “Next stop 100 race wins: Hamilton’s hundredth pole position in stats”

  1. Pastor Maldonado Has not scored a point at the Spanish Grand Prix since his winning 2012 and that streak continues for a ninth consecutive year

    1. One of the all time legends.

      1. A meme legend.

  2. A single DNF in Montmelo for the second season running, as well as the second consecutive race.

    First RBR front-row starting position in Montmelo since 2011.

    The second time since 2012, without a Mercedes front-row lockout in Spain.

    HAM tied MSC’s circuit record with his 6th pole at Circuit de Catalunya.

    Mercedes’ 129th pole overhauls Williams for third on the all-time pole stat (behind Ferrari and McLaren).

    The 59th time HAM converted pole into a win (a 59% strike rate).
    He got 94 points from the first four races, his best-ever start to any season in F1.

    VER ended HAM’s run of successive laps led in Spain, stretching back to lap 33 of the 2018 race. He also led Red Bull’s 4,000th lap as a Formula 1 constructor.

    BOT achieved his 50th podium for Mercedes but only has a single win in the last 20 GPs.

    Mercedes passed McLaren for 2nd place in the all-time points scoring stat.

    No other trio has been on the podium, even three years in a row on a single track.

    PER finished in the same position as in last season’s edition for RP.

    The first time RIC scored in Spain since leaving RBR.

    SAI maintained his 100% point-scoring record in Spain.

    1. No other trio has been on the podium, even three years in a row on a single track

      Wow! That is an impressive stat for Mercedes and Verstappen!

  3. While we have the pole position rate of Fangio, Clark, Ascari, Senna, Hamilton, Schumacher, Vettel? I would be interested in knowing what was the pole position rate of their teammates got as getting pole position is also a function of being in the best car

    1. I did actually get bored enough to calculate this for Hamilton. Over his career his teammates have achieved 49 poles. I haven’t had chance yet to look it up for anyone else though

      1. That’s a great stat, @slhurst.
        Lewis outscored his team mates to pole by a rate of more than 2:1.

        But of course that shades in comparison to Maldonado and Stroll who totally crushed their respective team mates in the pole position stats.

        1. I have an opinion
          11th May 2021, 3:50

          Maldonado and Stroll are in elite company with Nico Hülkenberg and Robert Kubica as drivers that have scored one pole position and never lost pole to a teammate. Daniel Ricciardo is also a clean-sweeper at 3-0. Are there any other drivers with a pefect pole head-to-head record?

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th May 2021, 13:45

    Unbelievable – Lewis is heading towards 100 victories and a double century. I remember mentioning it when he’d broken 150. I’m surprised to see how Lewis has evened out his poles and wins.

    Today’s qualifying is vastly different to the days of qualifying when Ascari and Fangio drove. First, the sport has development so that the folks who end up in F1 are truly the cream of the crop. Second, the number of drivers has skyrocketed both in terms of vehicles, population, and popularity. Third, the competition is fierce today and a 1 second advantage takes a lot more talent and money than it did then.

    Nowadays most aspiring drivers don’t even make it to F1 in their careers. Second, today’s qualifying rules prevent maxing out the car for just 1 lap pace as the car has to complete the race in the same configuration.

    While 100 might seem like a high number for Lewis, we know that he doesn’t prioritize qualifying. If Lewis truly wanted to set qualifying records, he’d probably have had a lot more.

    Now, I think that the champions of yesteryear would have been very competitive today as their main skill is their ability to adapt and excel, not their ability to hold a steering wheel. Lauda, Senna, Clark, Fangio would have most likely been top drivers today driving for a top team. Would they have been able to compete at Lewis’ level? The romantic part of me hopes so but the human part of me hopes that each new generation advances the sport at every level including the driver.

    1. Always an interesting hypothetical. I think it works for drivers from the past driving modern cars but I think most of today’s drivers would be reluctant to race in 50s and 60s cars due to the shear danger, to the absolute limit anyway.

  5. It’s fascinating how closely his poles and wins track, yet only 56% of his wins are from pole (or is that, only 56% of his poles result in wins?)

  6. In the last 30 years, Max and Lewis are the first pair of drivers from different teams who have monopolized the top 2 steps of the rostrum for 4 consecutive races in a single season. The previous longest streak was 3, achieved by 4 different pairs:
    1) 1994 – Damon and Michael, Rounds 5 to 7
    2) 2000 – Mika and Michael, Rounds 12 to 14
    3) 2006 – Fernando and Michael, Rounds 4 to 6
    4) 2017 – Sebastian and Lewis, Rounds 1 to 3
    5) 2021 – Max and Lewis, Rounds 1 to 4 (continuing)

    While it is a small set, the way these streaks ended have also followed a pattern of highly controversial / damp squib.
    The 1st and 3rd streak were broken via Michael’s penalty-after-chequered-flag-drama in Silverstone, 1994 and the infamous Rascasse-gate at Monaco, 2006.
    The 2nd and 4th were broken via Mika retiring while trailing Michael at Indianapolis, 2000 and Bottas’ ‘almost jump-start’ at Russia, 2017.

    So, what will happen to this streak?

    1. Sorry, I jumped the gun on this. 2 other streaks of 3 and 4 races each:
      1) 2013, Sebastian and Fernando – Spa, Monza, Singapore
      2) 2020, Lewis and Max – Rounds 3 to 6, Hungaoring, 2 Silverstones, Barcelona

      Well I guess, the stat that can be that Lewis and Max are the only pair of drivers to exhibit such high consistency and they have managed 2 such streaks of 4 consecutive races while no other pair managed more than 3

  7. Nikita Mazepin still has a mathematical chance of being World Champion this year

    1. @mrfabulous , the dream is definitely alive, isn’t it!!!

  8. In addition to being Hamilton’s 100th pole, I believe it is also the 100th time Hamilton has been fastest in Q3 (the latter including Spain 2012 but not Hungary 2007).

    Verstappen is the first driver to lead over 80% of the laps but not win since he himself did so in Hungary 2019.

    Verstappen’s 5th Barcelona podium – first circuit at which he has achieved this.

    Red Bull keep alive their record of at least 1 fastest lap every year since 2009.

    Thanks to statsf1 for some of these.

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