Verstappen is 47th F1 driver to have a shot at clinching the championship

2021 Qatar Grand Prix stats and facts

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Having levelled up his tallies of wins and pole positions at 101 in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton added one to each with a consummate performance in Qatar.

For the first time in five years, the championship fight is still undecided with two races to go. This is the narrowest gap between the top two in the points since F1 started offering 25 points for a win in 2010.

In that extraordinary season, with two races to go, Fernando Alonso led Mark Webber by 10 points, while eventual champion Sebastian Vettel lay 25 points off the lead in fourth place behind Hamilton.

The Losail International Circuit is the 30th different circuit Hamilton has won a race at. New circuits have been a specialism for him of late, as he also won the first races at Mugello and Algarve last year. And there’s another new track coming up next: the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2021
Analysis: How Verstappen can clinch the F1 championship at the next race
Max Verstappen limited the damage by taking second place and scoring the bonus point for fastest lap. He now has 15 fastest laps over his career, matching Jackie Stewart, Clay Regazzoni and Felipe Massa.

He therefore goes into the penultimate round of the season as the world championship leader, meaning he is mathematically capable of winning the title at the next race weekend. Verstappen needs an excellent result in Saudi Arabia to do it, but it is achievable.

It is the first time since Nico Rosberg won the title in 2016 that any driver other than Hamilton will go into a race with a chance of clinching the championship. Verstappen is the 47th driver in the history of the world championship to be in that position.

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Of Verstappen’s 46 predecessors, 33 won titles, and 13 were left wondering what might have been. The most recent driver to have a chance to win a championship but fail to ever win a title was one of Verstappen’s Red Bull predecessors, Webber, in that 2010 finale. Two other drivers would have had the chance to contend for titles: Didier Pironi, who missed the final races of 1982 due to injury, and Wolfgang von Trips, who was killed in the penultimate race of 1961.

Alonso last stood on the podium as a Ferrari driver
After a seven-year wait, Alonso finally scored the 98th podium finish of his career. He had waited 2,674 days to return to the rostrum for the first time since his second place for Ferrari in the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton scored his 63rd podium that day, last weekend he extended his record to 180.

Alonso fell short of breaking the record for the longest wait between podiums by just under six months. Alexander Wurz waited 2,842 between the 1997 British Grand Prix and 2005 San Marino Grand Prix; while Alonso missed two seasons during his podium absence, Wurz was out for four, and only drove that 2005 race at Imola as a one-off substitute for Juan Pablo Montoya.

Pierre Gasly started from the front row for the first time in his career, after penalties for Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas moved him up two places from fourth. It was the first front row start for a French driver since Romain Grosjean lined up second at the Hungaroring in 2012.

Gasly is therefore no longer a member of the ‘won a race but never started from the front row’ club. Eight members remain: Giancarlo Baghetti, Peter Gethin, Jochen Mass, Alessandro Nannini, Gunnar Nilsson, Olivier Panis, newest member Esteban Ocon and the only multiple winner in the gang, Johnny Herbert.

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

2021 Qatar 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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40 comments on “Verstappen is 47th F1 driver to have a shot at clinching the championship”

  1. Hamilton and Alonso’s 1st podium & last podium are 14 years apart (2007 AUS, 2021 QAT), surely must be a record for any pair of drivers.
    Alonso’s 1st and last podium are now 2003 MAL and 2021 QAT, with a gap of little more than 18 years. That is 2nd on the list after Schumacher whose 1st and last podiums are 1992 MEX and 2012 EUR, more than 20 years apart.

    Previously, the gap for Alonso was 2003 MAL and 2014 HUN, a gap of just 11 years. That put him outside of the top 10 behind several retired and active drivers (Kimi = 16 years, Barrichello, Patrese = 15 years, Hamilton = 14 years, Coulthard, Mansell = 13 years, Vettel, Prost, Andretti, Fisichella = 12 years). Anyone beating Alonso is now quite some time away. Hamilton would need a podium in 2025 and Vettel would need a podium in 2027 to beat Alonso. In fact, it is more likely that Alonso beats Schumacher with a podium in 2023. A testament to the superb longevity displayed by both Alonso and Schumacher.

  2. The last time Fernando Alonso stood on a Formula 1 podium, Lewis Hamilton was a one-time champion.

    Also, I loved David Croft’s stat that every time F1 has races on a totally new venue since 2010, the pole-sitter has won the championship. So Hamilton needs pole in Jeddah and then the championship to continue this.

  3. This season’s biggest dry pole margin thus far.

    Alonso became the 13th different podium finisher this season.

    Both AM’s first double points finish since French GP.

    Third consecutive race in which the eventual fastest lap got set on the final lap (lap 69 for Bottas in Mexico).

    Two drivers have retired in three successive races (TSU-SCH MEX, RIC-STR BRA, BOT-LAT QAT.)

    Ferrari drivers have finished consecutively in three successive races, & in the last two, the latter was the final lead lap finisher.

  4. Failing to score a podium in Qatar it has become unlikely Bottas will break the unwanted record of most podiums without a championship currently held by Barrichello with 68 podiums, Bottas has 66 with only 2 races left in a front running car.

    Max scored his 16th podium of the season and still on track to equal or break most podiums in a season record currently at 17 (hold by Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton).

    Never have 2 drivers of different teams scored as many podiums as Max (16) and Lewis (15). Previous record was 29 in 19 race season of 2011 with Vettel (17) and Button (12).
    The record if you include teammates is 33 podiums in the 2016 season with Lewis (17) and Rosberg (16)

    With his 16th 1st/2nd finish of the season Max equaled the record also held by Schumacher (16/17 in 2002), Vettel (16/19 in 2011) and Hamilton (16/21 in 2015).

    Max is on a 18th 1st/2nd finish streak excluding misfortune during the race, starting Bahrain 2020 till now with 5 misfortunes (Sahkir 2020 – collateral in 1st lap crash, Baku 2021 tire exploding while leading, Silverstone 2021 crashed into by Hamilton, Hungary 2021 collateral of bowling ball Bottas and Monza 2021 very slow pitstop followed by crash with Hamilton).

    1. Its hard to put into words how embarrassing bottas has been as a driver for mercedes.

      Oh wait, no it wasn’t.

      1. Well funny enough if Bottas would have been a bit better he would have broken the unwanted record as he would have gotten more podiums.

        Barrichello got 51 podiums in 85 races during Ferrari championships
        Bottas got 57 podiums in 99 races during Mercedes championships

      2. Valtteri Bottas may have been convenient for the Brackley team but as a racing driver is a total failure. Not awfully bad at quali and sometimes good enough when he is alone at the front (e.g. Istanbul Park this year) but for racing he is about Nikita Mazepin level. Any minimally competent driver in a Merc should have been in the podium (1st or 2nd) pretty much in all the races. Nico Rosberg, a pretty good driver but certainly not GOAT material, showed how to best the competition, not to mention Jenson Button (lucky WDC but emphatically not GOAT material either) trouncing it.

  5. Jochen Mass never started on the front row, ever? I do love these stat articles, answers to questions I’d never ask myself. .

    1. @bernasaurus Yep, best starting position was fourth.

      And of course the only race he won was cut short and, half-points were awarded.

  6. This was third front row start for “the faenza team” One front row start/name change
    Minardi – 1990 USA Pierluigi Martini 2nd
    Toro Rosso – 2008 Italia Sebastian Vettel 1st
    Alpha Tauri – 2021 Qatar Pierre Gasly

    Alonso is now the oldest current driver who has stood on the podium 40y 03m 23d. 23 overall. Raikkonen is 34th. 39y 00m 25d Brazil 2018 and Hamilton is now 54th oldest driver who has “had the champange” 36y 10m 14d.

    This was Verstappen’s 16th podium this season. If he manages to get podium in Saudi Arabia and UAE he will have most podiums in a season by any driver. Current leaders all have 17 Schumacher (2002), Vettel (2011) and Hamilton (2015,16,18,19)

    Hamilton now has 15 podium places so he again can get that 17/year

    If I’m not mistaken every time a Red Bull driver or a Mercedes driver have had a chance to clinch the title they have taken it. So this will be the first season that this trend is ending.

    This was Alonso’s 4th podium with a “different” team. Renault, Mclaren, Ferrari, Alpine

    This was Verstappen’s 13th GP where he has lead the championship table. He moves 1GP ahead of Kimi

    This was Antonio Giovinazzi’s 60th GP without a podium. 13th overall.

    Thanks for STATSF1

    1. Alonso is now the oldest current driver who has stood on the podium 40y 03m 23d. 23 overall. Raikkonen is 34th. 39y 00m 25d Brazil 2018

      So there are 33 other drivers older than Kimi but younger than Alonso to have been on the podium?

      1. No – Alonso is the oldest to stand on the podium out of the current drivers in F1. He is 23rd in the all time list. So there were 11 drivers older than Kimi at his last podium but younger than Alonso at his.

    2. If I’m not mistaken every time a Red Bull driver or a Mercedes driver have had a chance to clinch the title they have taken it. So this will be the first season that this trend is ending.

      @qeki Apart from when they have lost out to their own teammate you mean. Webber lost to Vettel in 2010, Rosberg to Hamilton in 2014, Hamilton to Rosberg in 2016.

    3. If I’m not mistaken every time a Red Bull driver or a Mercedes driver have had a chance to clinch the title they have taken it. So this will be the first season that this trend is ending.

      @qeki Not necessarily, if Max seals the title in Saudi Arabia then this trend (excluding teammates) will continue.

      1. Certainly, so far no Merc driver has a chance to clinch the title this season

  7. If I’m not mistaken every time a Red Bull driver or a Mercedes driver have had a chance to clinch the title they have taken it. So this will be the first season that this trend is ending.

    @qeki Not quite, Webber could have won the title at the last race in 2010 and Hamilton could have won the title at the last race in 2016, both fell short.

    1. he is right..in both yrs 2010 and 2016 either mercedes or redbull won the tittle

      1. @spiderman He’s right that Mercedes and Red Bull drivers won the titles, but Mercedes and Red Bull drivers also lost the titles that day! So it’s not a 100% record for Mercedes and Red Bull drivers taking chances of winning titles.

    2. @geemac But Vettel also had a chance to win and he took it. Well technically not all drivers but a driver. And I’m not sure about the 50s mercedes.

      1. Probably the future most collected world titles podium.
        Already 10

        1. Have a look at the podium from Spain 1993. That had 14, 4 for Prost, 3 for Senna and 7 for Schumacher.

          1. But only 6 at the moment: 3 Prost, 3 Senna

          2. Yes, I know about Spain 1993.
            Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel is the narrowest podium to take this record.

  8. The top three have 336 podiums between them.

  9. The top three drivers with the most overtakes this season have 7 world championships between them!

    1. @jaymenon10 it’s pretty funny how close they all are in terms of overtakes.

  10. Of Verstappen’s 46 predecessors, 33 won titles, and 13 were left wondering what might have been

    Will be fascinating to read about the 13 drivers who came within 1 race of clinching the championship. @Keith, may be a series on these nearly-men in the off season?

    Off the top of my head, I can recollect Webber, Massa, Irvine and of course Pironi and von Trips, as mentioned in the article. But who are the other 8! What is their story? I bet 1 or 2 might be of the 1982 season?

    1. Yep I definitely approve of that! Would be fascinating.

      1. Great idea!
        Off the top of my head they might be Fagioli Moss Ickx Watson Peterson Regazzoni Reutmann Alboreto

        Reply moderated
    2. Hmm, Stirling Moss 1958, Carlos Reutemann 1981, John Watson 1982… this leaves 5……

      1. Gonzalez 51, Collins 56, Regazzoni 74, Lafitte 81, Arnoux 83?

        1. Yep, that must be it. Surprised to note that there are just 3 names after 1983. Of the 3, Irvine got his chance simply because of Michael’s accident.
          F1 has definitely become more predictable of late.

        2. I was looking for this info too, many thanks all
          That time of the late 70s early 80s really was a golden era

  11. In the last 10 races (since Hungaroring to Losail), both Verstappen and Hamilton, added 166.5 points each !

  12. With Alonso being the 13th driver to have a podium finish this season, we’ve matched the total of unique podium finishers from last season. Remaining are STR, TSU, RAI, GIO, LAT, SCH, and MAZ. Of those, only Stroll has at least one podium finish at their current team, so there’s some small hope to eclipse last season’s benchmark.

    I’d be interested to know what the greatest number of podium finishers in a single season is, but my number crunching isn’t that good.

    Reply moderated
  13. At least Alonso stood on the podium unlike Wurz. So he’s now the record holder of the longest gap between podiums appearances.

  14. And by number of GPs? Was Alonso’s the longest wait within this terms?

    Reply moderated
  15. Perez has yet to reach Q3 at night for Red Bull this year.

    146 GPs since Alonso’s previous podium finish (Hungary 2014) – a record, although Wurz has a longer gap in terms of time (Britain 1997 to San Marino 2005), as well as number of GPs between actual appearances on the podium (Britain 1997 to Canada 2007).

    Hamilton led more laps in this race than in the previous 12 races (3 of which he won) combined.

    Losail is one of 4 tracks at which Hamilton has a 100% win rate, the others being Indianapolis, Mugello and Portimao.

    First time Alonso has started in the top 3 since Brazil 2013.

    First time since Austria that Mazepin has started in 20th.

    First time since Emilia-Romagna that Latifi has not been classified.

    19th time Hamilton and Verstappen have finished 1st and 2nd respectively – one shy of Hamilton-Rosberg and M Schumacher-Barrichello.

    Thanks to statsf1 and the official F1 site for some of these.

  16. Alonso becomes the 7th driver to take a podium in World Championship races in 3 different calendar decades (2000s, 2010s, 2020s). The others are Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham, Riccardo Patrese, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Sebastian Vettel. Of the 7, only Brabham and Hamilton managed to collect wins across 3 calendar decades. The only remaining currently active driver who could potentially join this group during the 2020s is Kimi Raikkonen.

    1. Kubica could also have done it in his stand in appearances this season (or if he stood in again before the end of the season). I know he’s not an “active” driver as such but has been active this season!

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