Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Hamilton closes on another Schumacher record with first ‘hat-trick’ of 2021

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix stats and facts

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For the second race in a row Lewis Hamilton won from pole position, meaning his tallies of both rise in lock-step, to 103 each.

But he also claimed the fastest lap – despite a front wing which had taken two hits – and therefore grabbed his first ‘hat-trick’ of the 2021 season. His last came at Autodromo do Algarve in 2020.

Hamilton therefore edged closer to two of Michael Schumacher’s few remaining major records he hasn’t already toppled. Schumacher’s tally of 77 fastest laps is still well clear of Hamilton’s 59. But this was Hamilton’s 19th ‘hat-trick’, leaving him just three away from Schumacher’s mark. Only one other driver reached double-digits: Jim Clark, with 11.

This was Hamilton’s third win in a row and it has come at a critical time. Three races ago he trailled championship rival Max Verstappen by 19 points and was perilously close to the ‘tipping point’ beyond which he could no longer assure himself of the title simply by beating the Red Bull driver to wins.

Fittipaldi prevailed in close 1974 title fight
Hamilton’s trio of victories has sensationally levelled the score between the championship protagonists. This thrilling scenario is extremely rare: Only once before in the 71-year history of the world championship have the top two in the championship arrived at the final race tied on points.

That was in 1974, when eventual champion Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren) and Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari) finished first and second in the penultimate race at Mosport, meaning they arrived at the Watkins Glen finale level on 52 points. They were joined by a third contender, Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell), seven points adrift in the days when a win paid nine.

Fittipaldi won the title by finishing fourth, having never been headed by either of his rivals. Tragically, the 1974 season finale also saw the death of Surtees driver Helmuth Koinigg on the ninth lap of the race.

No season has ever ended with the top two drivers (or teams) level on points. In any scenario where that may happen this weekend, Verstappen will win the title. The closest points decision in a championship fight occured in 1984, when Niki Lauda beat McLaren team mate Alain Prost to the title by half a point.

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Sunday’s race was the third in a row where Hamilton won with Verstappen second, and the 12th time they have filled the top two places in the 21 races so far this year. Five of those have occured in the last five races.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Ocon missed the podium by 0.102 seconds
With a lap of 1’27.511 for pole position, Hamilton established an average speed of 253.984kph around the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit, making it the second-fastest track on the F1 calendar after Monza. This was over 10kph faster than the laps we saw at Spa, where only practice was held in the dry, and 8.1kph off this year’s Monza pole position time.

It could have been faster still: Verstappen was on course to lap around three-tenths of a second quicker when he crashed at the final corner. As it is, Hamilton evened up the score between the teams to nine-all on pole positions.

Verstappen led most of the race, as has been a feature of this season. Indeed, even if Hamilton leads every lap and wins the title this weekend, Verstappen will still have led more than twice as many laps as him this year.

Valtteri Bottas denied Esteban Ocon his third podium finish by a tenth of a second. Instead of finishing third for the first time in his F1 career, the Alpine driver finished fourth for the first time.

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With one race to go, the intra-team qualifying battles (based on regular sessions, not sprint races) are settled everywhere except Alpine. If Ocon out-qualified Fernando Alonso, as he did last weekend, the pair will end the season tied 11-all. Considering that Alonso concluded an unbeaten campaign against previous team mate Stoffel Vandoorne the last time he visited Yas Marina for a grand prix, that’s a respectable showing by Ocon.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
Gasly has dominated Tsunoda in qualifying
Pierre Gasly and Mick Schumacher could complete perfect season against their respective team mates, Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin. However it bears pointing out Schumacher was unable to participate in two qualifying sessions due to crashes in practice.

Mazepin became the last of this year’s drivers to complete 1,000 racing laps. However he chalked up another retirement when he was involved in the multi-car clash which triggered the second Safety Car period.

Heading into his final race, Kimi Raikkonen is on course to end his last Formula 1 season as the best starter this year by far, unless Lance Stroll pulls off the feat of starting last and passing everyone on the first lap.

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Review the year so far in statistics here:

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

2021 Saudi Arabian 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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34 comments on “Hamilton closes on another Schumacher record with first ‘hat-trick’ of 2021”

  1. It came on Mercedes twitter feed. Bottas is the 3rd driver to reach a feat of 100 consecutive top-10 qualifying position, or 100 consecutive Q3s. He has done that in 100 consecutive races at Mercedes. The 2 other drivers are Senna and Prost.

    1. To be fair, that’s actually some pretty impressive consistency from Bottas – i’m genuinely surprised given how erratic his form can be sometimes (although that is mostly on Sunday’s…).

      1. The car compensates a lot

    2. He may not be spectacular, but Bottas is very consistent, like Kimi in a way.

    3. It’s indeed impressive, obviously it’s what you should do when you have a merc, but as you can see hamilton didn’t do that, why? Off the top of my head, he crashed in quali in brazil 2017 and had a terrible quali in monaco 2017, so it’s good consistency from bottas, if you had asked me how many races he had reached q3 in a row I’d have never expected more than a full season.

    4. Who’s Mr. Saturday now?
      Fits Bottas like a glove.

  2. A record 100th consecutive Q3 appearance for Bottas.
    For comparison, here are some other Q3 streaks:
    Lewis Hamilton 68 2018-2021
    Lewis Hamilton 66 2010-2013
    Nico Rosberg 60 2013-2016
    Kimi Räikkönen 53 2016-2019
    Sebastian Vettel 40 2010-2012
    Max Verstappen 38 2019-2021

    2017 Azerbaijan GP:
    Brake test involving Hamilton
    Bottas overtakes into the timing line
    2021 Saudi Arabian GP:
    Brake test involving Hamilton
    Bottas overtakes into the timing line
    Red-flag stoppage(s) also in both races

    This season’s first double-DNF for Haas.

    Silverstone is faster than Spa, so including that track in the average lap speed paragraph would’ve been fair.

    1. Was there a brake test in Azerbaijan? Tell me who, I’m intrigued. Do you have the evidence of this?

  3. Hamilton has 5 poles this year. Bottas has 4. Verstappen has 9.

    1. Teams level, yeah.

    2. Very enlightening about how superior RB was this season

      1. Yes, clear if only one driver has success vs the other team both drivers. That tells the story that Mercedes car will let anyone win.

        1. Or it means that Mercedes has a better pair of drivers. I detect sour grapes!

          1. Yeah, Valtteri is such a talent as well.. come on

        2. The flip side of the coin is Red Bull specifically bringing on the highest “quality” of team mates against Verstappen. I recall Ricciardo doing pretty well against Verstappen no?

          1. Yes, but he wasn’t fired, I don’t understand your comment since red bull indeed tried to get a good team mate for verstappen unsuccessfully since ricciardo decided to leave for a worse team.

          2. lexusreliability?
            8th December 2021, 19:58


            I agree he wasn’t fired- but the offer Red Bull made for Ricciardo considering his performance relative to Verstappen was insulting. I’m sure people who’ve been in the corporate world know when they are being sacked diplomatically- the firm offers you something they know you can’t possibly accept so you part ways “by mutual consent“.

        3. lexusreliability?
          8th December 2021, 19:55

          You seem to enjoy typing for the sake of typing? It does indeed show that the Merc is a top car that’s obvious. But it also shows that Mercedes have a better combination of drivers. The last time Red Bull had a good combination of drivers Ricciardo was a bit too good for Max so Horner and Marko made their decision to align themselves with the chosen one- pity as I think Danny Ric would be champion already if he was in that Red Bull and they would probably have walked the constructors as well.

          1. Sorry, but all indicators point to the contrary.
            He had the edge on Verstappen in their first season together, but you could see that Verstappen was gradually closing in and eventually surpassing Ric. By the end of their stint together, Verstappen was consistently the faster one, albeit with typically small margins.

            I do think other drivers (Norris, Sainz, Leclerc, Russell) would have had a title shot in this Red Bull as well, but Verstappen has driven a splendid season. It is hard to see anyone doing significantly better. If at all.

          2. lexusreliability?
            9th December 2021, 11:23

            Gap was closing in qualifying- but F1 is about more than just outright speed. 2016 and 2017 Ricciardo was better in the races and did indeed score more points than Max in both those seasons. It’s just a fact.

    3. F1 counts SQ wins as poles. Verstappen won two of those while starting 2nd.

      A stat came by on Dutch footage this weekend that till Monza, Mercedes won less than 1/3 of the Q1-2-3 segments. After Monza, it is about 80% or so.

    4. F1oSaurus (@)
      8th December 2021, 14:45

      @juliangoddard It’s amazing Hamilton and Bottas have that many poles. It shows how many times Verstappen dropped the ball in Q3.

      1. Ridiculous, The Merc drivers could get their poles by lazily cruising around while the RBR driver had to overdrive and take huge risks in every corner. Well, you can say he dropped the ball at the last turn in Jeddah, coming short of the most perfect lap in F1 since Fangio in Nurbyrgring 1957. In a Merc he could have made the pole while writing Instagram posts in the curves and napping in the straights.

  4. I wonder what odds Betfair are offering for stroll to pass everyone on lap 1, got to be worth a pound lol

  5. Fittipaldi and Regazzoni level on points was in 1974 not 1976.

  6. If anyone is thinking it here are the FL bonus points for this season so far
    Hamilton 6
    Verstappen 5
    Bottas 4
    Perez 2
    Ricciardo 1
    Norris 1
    Gasly 1

  7. FLAPs have made hattricks more difficult than before. Anyone with a pit window lead in the top 10 is able to nick this with ease now. Fastest laps are ironically more meaningless now after they acquired meaning (one point)

    1. It’s a double edged sword, on one hand what you said, on other hand drivers still have like 5-6x more races than in the 1950s.

  8. I had forgot about the Koinig crash. Watkins Glen seemed a dangerous place for F1. See also Francois Cervert’s horrific accident.

    It’s fascinating how this season is poised on so many strange tensions and contradictions. If Hamilton wins, as said here, it will be with an enormous deficit in laps led (unprecedented?) and a significant one in poles. It will also mean he has most likely won 4 in a row, a feat that seemed a long shot even after Brazil and fanciful after Mexico, such has been the resilience and consistency of Verstappen and RBR. If he finishes with 4 in a row and takes the title it will be one of the biggest, Tom Brady-like, comebacks in major sports history.

    Yet somehow this seems the most likely outcome on the current form of the teams and drivers. It looks for all the world like Hamilton has one hand on the pot, despite facing a robotically calm and blazing fast Verstappen who has just dominated the season by any objective measure.

    1. Obviously if you get taken out 3 times and the other driver doesn’t, either by other drivers or by exploding tyres, you lose plenty of points, guess that explains why he isn’t further ahead.

      1. well Hamilton did get taken out by Verstappen at Monza. he was lucky not to get taken out in Brazil and in Jeddah…

        1. Unfortunately the Halo prevented it

      2. Max took outhimself in silverstone. We knowcan confirm that he did a “let me by or we crash” move there as he always does. If he was calm he would have had 18 more points by now. Redbull was on 5 race winning streak before silverstone and Max had a huge lead.

  9. Norris has exactly 300 career points.

    Verstappen’s 17th podium of the season (all top 2 finishes) – equals the record.

    Each of the last 12 races has seen Ricciardo either finish in the top 5 or fail to score.

    4th race in a row that the Ferraris have finished in adjacent positions.

    Norris’ last 4 results: 10th, 10th, 9th, 10th.

    Thanks to the official F1 site for some of these.

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