The records Vettel leaves Formula 1 still holding – and the ones he lost

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Sebastian Vettel has ended his Formula 1 career – for now at least – after last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 35-year-old departs F1 as the outright holder of 11 notable records in the world championship. He shares one more with another driver, and has held nine other records during his 299-race career.

There’s also a particular record the four-times world champion still holds which is not exactly an enviable one…

Vettel’s standing records

Most wins in consecutive races

In 2013, Vettel won nine races in a row to break a record set in 1953 for consecutive wins. The Red Bull driver eclipsed the record by two after winning the Belgian, Italian, Singapore, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Abu Dhabi, United States and Brazilian grands prix.

While Alberto Ascari started and won nine races in a row through 1952 and 1953, these were not all consecutive rounds of the world championship – he didn’t race in the 1953 Indianapolis 500.

Most pole positions in a season

Vettel later bought one of Mansell’s 1992 Williams FW14Bs
During his second title-winning campaign in 2011, Vettel claimed pole for 15 out of 19 races. He also matched Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record by winning nine of the races he started from pole.

Youngest to take pole

Aged 21 years and 72 days, Vettel became the youngest driver in F1 history to claim pole position, putting his Toro Rosso on top in a memorable, soaked qualifying session at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. The next day he also became the youngest driver to win from pole.

The following year, now a Red Bull driver, Vettel became the youngest driver to achieve a ‘hat-trick’ of win, pole and fastest lap at the British Grand Prix, aged 21 years and 353 days.

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Youngest champion

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2010
A stunning final race in 2010 made Vettel champion
Vettel was just 23 years and 134 days old when he became world champion for the first time in the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With his next three titles coming in the years immediately after, it meant in successive years he broke the record for the youngest driver to be a double, triple and four-times F1 champion.

Most laps led in a season

No statistic demonstrates Vettel’s domination of 2011 better than the fact he led 739 laps out of 1,133. On 11 occasions he met the chequered flag as winner that year. To put that into perspective, Max Verstappen led 616 laps this year, in a season which had three more races.

Championship leader for most races in a season

Vettel led the 19-race 2011 season from start to finish, a first matched by rival Lewis Hamilton four years later.

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Vettel’s lost records

Most wins in a season

Verstappen surpassed Vettel with his 14th win, then took another
Vettel and Schumacher both achieved 13 wins in a single year, in 2013 and 2004 respectively. For a long time this seemed out of reach, despite Mercedes’ dominance, as Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took many wins from each other between 2014 and 2016.

But once Red Bull made a Mercedes-beating car again, Verstappen knew this was one he could take. He duly reached 14 wins at last month’s Mexican Grand Prix then added a 15th in Abu Dhabi.

With many other records out of reach due to how long it took for

Podiums in a season

Vettel stood on a grand prix podium 17 times in 2011, matching Schumacher’s tally from 2002. This record also fell to Verstappen, who scored 18 grand prix podiums in 2021.

Most points in a career

Hamilton has been F1’s leading points scorer since 2016
Vettel first put his name on this record at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix, albeit equal with Fernando Alonso. It wasn’t until two races later that he claimed it outright at the Italian Grand Prix.

The record wasn’t his for long, however. Hamilton matched Vettel at the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel claimed the record back a week later at the European Grand Prix, then the race after Hamilton reclaimed it and it has remained with him ever since. Vettel ends his F1 career still second in the all-time points-scoring table: Hamilton on a towering 4,405.5, Vettel on 3,098, Alonso 2,061 and Verstappen closing quickly on 2,011.5.

Most points in a season and consecutively scored

Two more records that were earned in 2011 and lost to Hamilton in 2018. Vettel scored 392 points in 2011, then scored five more than that during his fourth title-winning season two years later. Hamilton went nine better on the way to his fifth title.

From the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix to the next year’s Indian Grand Prix, Vettel scored 424 points without interruption. In a run from 2016-18, Hamilton scored 199 more.

Front rows in a season

Vettel started 18 of the races in 2011 from the front row. Hamilton matched that in 2015, then his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg was on the front row an incredible 20 times out of 21 in 2016.

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Youngest winner, podium finisher and race leader

Verstappen also took Vettel’s ‘youngest race winner’ record
Verstappen’s maiden F1 win at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix broke three of Vettel’s records. The first was achieved on lap 11 of the race when he became the youngest driver to lead a lap, a record set by Vettel at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix when he was 20 years and 89 days old.

When Verstappen reached the chequered flag at Barcelona, the 18-year-old beat Vettel’s records as F1’s youngest podium finisher and winner, both achieved at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

Youngest points-scorer

Vettel finished his first F1 race, the 2007 United States Grand Prix, in eighth place for BMW Sauber and became the first ever teenager to score points in F1. Daniil Kvyat beat the record by 25 days on his debut in 2014.

Youngest to participate in and top a grand prix weekend session

BMW Sauber gave Vettel a run in two practice sessions at the 2006 Turkish GP when he was just 19 years and 53 days old. Remarkably he topped the second by 0.073 seconds.

Verstappen broke the first record on his practice debut at the 2014 Japanese GP, three days after his 17th birthday, then went fastest in a practice session for the first time at the 2015 Mexican GP a month after turning 18th.

And the unwanted record…

There is one record of Vettel’s which his rivals won’t want to take from him: He incurred his first F1 penalty quicker than any other driver.

During that race weekend debut at Istanbul Park, Vettel was caught speeding in the pit lane just six seconds after beginning his F1 career, and was penalised.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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24 comments on “The records Vettel leaves Formula 1 still holding – and the ones he lost”

  1. Impressive work, kudos.

  2. That we should all respect.

  3. I don’t wish to promote reckless driving. But I’m slightly inclined to suggest his ‘unwanted record’ of managing to get a penalty within 6 seconds of getting into the car is one of his better ones. In modern F1 anyone who hangs around for any amount of time is inevitably going to get a penalty eventually, so perhaps you’re better off just getting it over and done with. Quicker than Usain Bolt in a dash!

    It’s also probably one of his harder ones to beat – unless someone says something they shouldn’t in the Thursday press conference or upsets Domenicalli in the hotel lobby somehow, and though he’s unlikely to get a trophy for it I think there are far worse records to hold in F1. Danke Seb!

    1. @bernasaurus – totally agree with you there. Always thought of this particular record as something bad*ss. If you are to take a penalty, it better be for getting to grips while on the edge in lieu of clumsy driving.

      Also, that whole session was a really dashing introduction for a youngster in a paddock so full of stars. Gosh, we had The Schumacher, The Raikkonen, The Alonso, among others, all edged by an unknown skinny hairy lad.

  4. Safety First, but…

    Gets into F1 car first time on a race weekend.
    Fined for speeding.

    What a Legend.

    1. Ahah, indeed, that’s the funniest record!

  5. The most wins in a season stat…both Vettel and Schumacher (and indeed Hamilton for the 16 races he entered in 2020) have a better winning percentage than Verstappen’s 2022. Can’t just look at the number of wins in isolation-needs to be measured against the number of races entered in the relevant season.

    Otherwise, Seb can be very proud of what he has achieved.

    1. Nr of wins in a season is a good indicator of it being the car getting the wins or the driver. The higher the percentage, the moe it is due to car dominance (and team orders).

      1. Anthony Vertue
        24th November 2022, 6:36

        These days there is engine, gearbox penalties which earlier driver did not need to cope with.

    2. I think the percentage isn’t the main factor.
      I think it is the best factor to compare, but there are more variables

      I think it’s easier to win 3 out of 6 races (50%), then 10 out of 20.

      1. I think it’s easier to win 3 out of 6 races (50%), then 10 out of 20.

        That’s probably the best argument against the percentage>numbers argument. However, in modern F1 the competitive order is more or less fixed from day 1, which negates the difficulty of winning more races to an extent.

      2. It’s also true that it’s easier to rack up 10 out of 20 when you’ve got bulletproof reliable cars running over smooth and safe tracks, unlike when we had 6 races.

    3. ‘52 Alberto Ascari 6/8 (75%) is the % record to beat here, better than Seb’s or Schu’s. If it was easier then with only eight races, tough to say (one of the races was then the Indy 500 which was unwinnable with a regular F1 car)

    4. True, and even more so for the points scored, because of the changes in the points system the older drivers have no chance to compete unless points are normalised.

  6. Good records to have, but I don’t get why people honestly think he might return.
    Yes, Nando & Schumi returned after their originally-intended F1 racing retirements (although the former left a door open for return already four years ago), but Seb is different.
    However, on the Japanese GP weekend, he slightly left a door open to making a one-off appearance in Suzuka for possible substitution purposes.
    Even this scenario is unlikely, so his F1 racing days are over for good, or most certainly as a full-time driver at least.
    I regard the four drivers who raced in F1 full-time this year but won’t next year as follows:
    VET: For good.
    LAT: For good, in all likelihood, given the other nine teams are unlikely to want him for the season after next or beyond, given his merits thus far.
    RIC: For now, at least.
    MSC: For now, at least.

    1. Yeah he’s different, he got titles, got money and what’s important got family and kids. But it’s obvious he prefers to leave because he doesn’t have a chance to fight for victories. I can see him not refusing a call from Red Bull, Mercedes or even Ferrari but obviously time is flying and if that doesn’t happen during next 2-3 years he’s probably going to fully enjoy calm family life raising beer belly.

  7. I remember 2011 like it was yesterday, what a year (and car) that was.

    Not unlike 2022, the defending champion had just come from narrowly wining and kept the form all the way through.
    But in 2012 the team dropped the ball initially which meant it was a much closer fight with Ferrari… I wonder if the same will happen in 2023?

    1. Hardly. They dropped the ball because the then new exhaust rules for that season hurt them more than other teams, just like the floor rules of 2021 with Mercedes.

      2023’s cars will be a natural evolution of these ones and unless Ferrari and Mercedes learned with their mistakes, Red Bulll might be on for another beating.

  8. It isn’t really fair to quibble about Alberto Ascari’s wins being non-consecutive. The Indy 500 was a world apart from F1, and hardly any drivers drove in both the European F1 races and the US GP. Out of the 100+ drivers to have won an F1 race, I think nine of them are USA drivers who only competed in the Indy 500.

    1. Rarely but sometimes they did. Alberto Ascari who won 6 of the 7 regular F1 races in 1952 with the unbeatable Ferrari tipo 500 (did not enter the Swiss GP but won all the rest) however he did enter Indy with the tipo 500 and was classified 31st

      1. I wasn’t aware that Ascari had taken part in the Indy 500. I should have looked up the actual race details before posting instead of assuming he didn’t take part. It seemed that the Indy 500 was dominated by Offenhauser powered cars which had a three litre engine (?) which was bigger than the engine being used in F1 at the time, and it was great for relentless high speed tracks, like the indy oval, but would have fared badly on the slower twity circuits used by F1. So it seems strange to me that they included it in the F1 calendar back then, and let in drivers who only ever intended to race in that one race.

        I remember reading a great article when I was a kid about how Colin Chapman designed an assymetric Lotus which Jim Clark drove several times at Indy, and in 1965 becoming the first rear-engined car to win it. I realised I’d never seen any TV footage of that car, but these days there is plenty on YouTube. I was just watching one titled

        “How the 1965 Lotus-Ford Racecar Revolutionized the Indy 500”

        and was struck by how the young Dan Gurney reminds me of the guy who played Gibbs in NCIS.

    2. Ascari did enter Indy ‘52, the same year he won all the regular F1 races he entered with his unbeatable Ferrari tipo 500 (did not enter the Swiss GP but won the other six). Well, he did not finish and was classified 31st. Anyway it is still the most dominant season by a F1 driver ever.

  9. Another record I believe he holds is “largest points margin of championship win” for this 2013 title, 155 points.
    The form he had in 2013 was insane. Let’s be honest, after Monza we were all basically expecting Verstappen to win every race remaining. And he had the car and speed to do so. But small mistakes ruined that: In Singapore it started in Quali, then a bad start and then locking up and destroying his tires after the SC restart. The other was the ill advised, rushed attempt to pass Hamilton in Brazil.
    Winning 9 races in a row was freaking impressive. And if that season had 10 more races, Vettel would’ve won those too. That level of focus and perfection, I don’t think it can be achieved again. Took 60 years for someone to do it since Ascari.

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