Verstappen’s fourth ‘grand slam’, Albon’s superiority and Piastri’s unusual feat

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The Qatar Grand Prix proved a severe challenge to complete for many drivers, but it was the strategy restrictions imposed on teams that impacted the finishing order more than the extreme climate conditions.

An exception to that rule was at Williams, where Logan Sargeant retired in the final third of the race due to struggling with the heat and dehydration. His team mate Alex Albon meanwhile came 13th, but in the sprint race on Saturday had picked up two points for seventh place while Sargeant had spun out.

Albon ran in second place for four laps during the grand prix, marking the first time a Williams car has spent time in the top three since lap 12 of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix and the first time in a podium position for Albon since the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

It means after 17 rounds of this season Albon has scored 23 points (matching his car number) to Sargeant’s zero. That continues Williams’ recent dependency on a single driver to bring home the points. The team was in the exact same situation in 2022 and 2020 (with George Russell) and 2019 (with Robert Kubica).

Grosjean thrashed team mate Gutierrez in 2016
Sauber went through the same in 2017. The most extreme example under the current points system (sprint races and bonus point for fastest lap notwithstanding) was Haas’ dependency on Romain Grosjean in 2016. He scored 29 points (28 points after the first 17 rounds) while his team mate Esteban Gutierrez contributed none.

A more drastic example of this occured in 2009, the year before the value of a win was boosted from 10 points to 25 and the points-scoring positions extended to score the top 10 instead of just eight. This also occured at Williams, where Nico Rosberg outscored Kazuki Nakajima 34.5 points to zero.

Another Williams driver went half a point better than that under the preceding points system when only the top six drivers scored. Ralf Schumacher had 35 points to his name in 1999 while Alex Zanardi had none.

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Max Verstappen’s victory on Sunday brought him up to 433 points for the season, 92 more than he had at this point last year, albeit with more sprint races on the scheduled this year. He is just 21 points short of what he ended the 22-round 2022 campaign with. That equated to 76.17% of the maximum possible in 2022, while he’s scored 91.35% of the available points so far in 2023.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2023
Verstappen celebrated his third title with a fourth ‘grand slam’
Verstappen achieved his fourth career ‘grand slam’ in F1 on Sunday, taking victory from pole while leading every single lap and setting the race’s fastest lap, putting him level with Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Sebastian Vettel. Only four drivers have recorded more than four grand slams.

Eighth and ninth place for Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu meant Alfa Romeo took home their biggest points haul since the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix. They moved up a place in the championship as a result.

McLaren’s double podium with Oscar Piastri in second and Lando Norris in third means the team has scored more points than any other in each of the last two weekends. Their 80-point tally from Japan and Qatar has come from successive two-three finishes in grands prix and a one-three finish headed by Piastri in the Qatar sprint race.

Following up on a second place in Singapore, it marks the first time McLaren has made the podium in three successive grands prix since the start of 2012.

Norris now has 11 grand prix podiums without a win. Only Nick Heidfeld and Stefan Johansson have brought home more trophies without becoming F1 victors.

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Piastri meanwhile achieved the unusual feat of becoming an F1 race-winner without doing so in a points-scoring grand prix within the world championship. Russell was briefly in a similar position last year as he became a sprint race winner the day before winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. Before that, the most recent lasting example of a driver who won an F1 race but never did so in a world championship grands prix was Tom Pryce, who won the 1975 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. Before him, there were many other drivers who won non-championship F1 races but not world championship grands prix.

Piastri’s first two grand prix podiums in the world championship have come in back-to-back races. He is the 28th driver to achieve that and the eighth to do so as a rookie.

Alex Albon, Williams, Losail International Circuit, 2023
Car number 23 has 23 points
The last driver to manage it was his fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, after his first podium finish in the Australian Grand Prix was taken away by a disqualification. But only Lewis Hamilton (who took a record nine podiums in a row), Jackie Stewart and Clay Regazzoni have managed it as a rookie.

Another quirk of the sprint race format saw Carlos Sainz Jnr extend his run of consecutive points scores to 14 events despite not starting Sunday’s grand prix. He took three points for sixth place in the sprint race the day before. Only champion Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton (who also did not score in the grand prix) can boast longer runs.

Further down the order in Qatar, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon claimed his joint-best result since his Monaco Grand Prix podium by finishing seventh, and Russell’s fourth place brought him up to 132 points for the season while still lying down in eighth in the standings. No driver has ever scored that many points after 17 rounds and been in such a low position in the championship.

In the Aston Martin garage there was once again split qualifying fortunes, as Fernando Alonso kept his season-long run of Q3 appearances going while team mate Lance Stroll suffered a fourth straight Q1 elimination.

It was also the third time that Red Bull’s drivers have been at opposite ends of the starting order for a grand prix in 2023, as Verstappen lined up on pole while Sergio Perez had to start from the pit lane. That was a repeat of what happened at the Australian Grand Prix, while Perez started last on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix.

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

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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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49 comments on “Verstappen’s fourth ‘grand slam’, Albon’s superiority and Piastri’s unusual feat”

  1. Records Max:
    • Most laps lead in a season, 769 (17 races – 75.5% of laps) breaking Vettel’s 739 (19 races – 65.2%)
    • Most wins from pole in a season, 10 (17 races) breaking Mansell’s & Vettel’s 9 (16 races – 19 races)
    • Extending his record of most consecutive wins from pole, 14 in a row (last lost race from pole was Austria 2022)
    • Extending his record of most wins in 24 month period, 32 wins (Lewis is at 24 and MSC at 23)
    • Extending his record of most wins in last 50 races, 34 wins (Lewis and MSC are at 31)
    • Extending his record of highest multiple pole to win conversion rate, 83.3% (excl less than 5 poles Ascari is 2nd with 64.3%)
    • Equaling most hattricks in a season, 5 (17 races), MSC in 2004 (17 races) and Ascari in 1952 (8 races) also have 5
    • Equaling most races left when becoming champion, 6 matching MSC in 2002

    Possible % Records Max (currently achieved but not end of season yet):
    • Highest % of wins in a season, 82% (14 of 17), record holder Ascari 75% (6 of 8)
    • Highest % of max points (all races), 91.4% (433 of 474) or excl sprint/FLAP 93.2% (396 of 425), record holder MSC 84.71% (148 of 170)
    • Highest % of laps lead, 75.5% (769 of 1,019), record holder Jim Clark 71.5% in 1963 (506 of 708)
    • Most consecutive races as championship leader, 34 + 5 = 39, record holder MSC 37 races (USA 2000 to Japan 2002).

    Records Red Bull:
    • Equaling record of most wins in 24 month period, 36 wins tied with Mercedes
    • Equaling 2nd place of most wins in last 50 races, 38 wins tied with Ferrari in 2nd, Mercedes 1st with 43
    • Equalling their own best score of most wins in last 100 races, 49 wins (last achieved 7th Sept 2014) – Ferrari 2nd 63 wins and Mercedes 1st 75 wins.

    1. Jiminy Cliff, you certainly dropped Many interesting stats here.

      I wish we could see more people doing this and less being toxic .

    2. I like to thank you for you wonderfull information!

  2. Coventry Climax
    11th October 2023, 14:45

    The thirteeth season in a row where Pirelli manages to mess up somewhere?
    No other tyre manufacturer has done that before, and still manage to be given a go and expand on this disgraceful feat for another 3 years.

    1. LOL

      Tiresome day at work and you’ve made my day. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

    2. 2012 and 2013 were great years. 2014 too. But it’s been sharply downhill from there.

  3. McLaren’s 500th podium, and a few seconds later their 501st.

    This was only Hamilton’s 6th first lap DNF, and in a rare feat – although not necessarily a positive one – this is one stat among current drivers that’s headed by Hülkenberg, who did so 11 times.

    Verstappen’s win means he’s now won F1 GP on 24 different circuits. The list is headed by Hamilton (31), and Verstappen has demoted Michael Schumacher to third with 23, ahead of Prost (22) and Vettel (21).

    1. Will be tricky/difficult for Max to exceed Lewis tally certainly if he retires at the end of current contract.
      Too many tracks where F1 doesn’t race anymore and unlikely to race again in near future:
      * Indianapolis
      * Fuji
      * Istanbul
      * Nurburgring
      * Sochi
      * Mugello
      * Portimao

      Next year Max can try to add Shanghai to the list as well as Singapore, this year still Las Vegas but that only brings him to 27 still 4 short with maybe just a few new and no returning old circuits in sight in foreseeable future.

      Lewis also can still add 3 new circuits, all already on current calendar, being Miami, Zandvoort and Las Vegas to his list in coming years.

      1. I don’t think it will be that hard because right now F1 is in an era where new races and/or alternate/interim venues are constantly used. He has two easy opportunities with Singapore and Vegas to add to his totals, which would be 26. The chances of him not running on at least five new tracks in the next five years seems slim (not that we should assume he’ll win on all). If he actually retires before or by 30, it will be very hard/unlikely. If he races to say 32 – 35, the odds are incredibly high he’d get pass 31.

        While I’m in the camp that thinks there’s essentially zero gap between the abilities of Max, Lewis, Alonso, etc., Lewis has had the major advantage of being in cars that have ranged from able to win to dominant for 17+ seasons now. Max has, so far, been lucky to only have had one season his entire career with a car that had no chance of winning. There’s no guarantee that will last though. However, you have to assume even if Newey retires, he’ll always be able to find his way into the best or second best car on the grid.

  4. There are some outlets saying that the drivers struggled so much not because of the heat, but because the short stint lengths meant they were pushing all the way throughout. Which begs the question, how much are they holding back normally?

    1. Every outlet cites that as one of the major contributing factors. The other, which many outlets have pointed out less but which Sky/F1 TV pointed out non-stop, is that Qatar basically only has a single long straight for the drivers to rest on, which is extremely unusual. Many times tracks like Malaysia have been both far hotter and more humid than Qatar, but Malaysia had multiple enormous straights (such a great track – it’s a huge shame it’s not on the calendar anymore).

      As for how much they’re holding back: here’s what I can say as someone’s who raced touring cars for years in the desert. There’s a huge physical difference between driving at 100% and 97%, especially in terms of heart rate and mental exhaustion. Having to be at 100% lap-after-lap paired with only one long straight = 100% why they got so exhausted. It was a freak circumstance and why we don’t need new rules. Obviously, if a tire lap limit ever occurs again in oppressive conditions, the FIA should have the latitude to make changes to safeguard the drivers.

  5. Ocon’s 7th place could be another iconic moment from this barrel-scraping event. Can anyone find a better result for a driver who threw up in his helmet?

    1. TerminatesHere
      11th October 2023, 15:34

      Nelson Piquet, 5th place and champ winner at Caesars Palace GP 1981 despite vomiting due to heat and strain of circuit.

      1. Impressed with that (and thanks for the rapid response!) So, as well as becoming champion with a faceful of puke, Piquet never won a world championship on a Sunday…

    2. Webber vomited in his helmet in Japan 2007.

      1. But that can’t have been a good result, as webber and vettel crashed and retired in fuji 2007.

        1. The crash was solely Vettel’s fault too. I remember him weeping openly afterward and Webber made a very harsh comment on the radio or immediately after the race with something like “this is what happens when you let kids race,” which seemed especially ironic in the long run.

  6. TerminatesHere
    11th October 2023, 15:33

    Most recent winner of an F1 race but not a GP? Desire Wilson, Brands Hatch 1980. As one of the most notable achievements by a female racer, please get facts straight before someone decides to point this out rather less diplomatically.

    1. It’s not written anywhere she won a f1 race there:

    2. Ah, looks like she won the evening news trophy at that location back then, don’t know of that trophy.

      1. Looks like you’re referring to the British F1 championship, which ran from 1978-1982. Desire Wilson did win the brands hatch race in 1980, but if we count these as F1 races, then the winner of the final 1982 race, Joe Castellano, would take the record; as far as I can find he never raced in F1

  7. Speaking of most points while teammates fail to score, in 1972 Emerson Fittipaldi scored 61 points and took the title for Lotus while neither of his teammates David Walker and Reine Wisell scored any points.

  8. Given how McLaren have been celebrating it like a win, I’m surprised the article doesn’t mention their record (stationary) pit stop time of 1.8s.
    My favourite addendum to this, is that whilst the record was a pit stop for Norris; Piastri beat him to the fastest complete pit stop of the race (ie: line to line) by 0.1s

    1. Yes, it was an impressive pit stop.

  9. I may be wrong but I believe this was Hamilton’s first first-corner retirement since he got caught up in the Grosjean-induced multi-car collision at Spa 2012.

    He has had first-lap retirements since then (e.g. Spain 2016 and Spa last year), but I believe this is the first time in over ten years he failed to make it beyond the first corner.

    1. Probably right as I can’t recall a more recent first-corner retirement either.

    2. Indeed, until this race that was the only time he had a first corner retirement.

      Other than the four retirements already mentioned, he also retired on lap one at Monza in 2010 and at Spa in 2009 – but not in the first corner.

  10. Jonathan Parkin
    11th October 2023, 17:54

    Nico is now ten races away from beating Andrea DeCesaris’ record of most starts without a win

    Oscar won his first Sprint SESSION not Sprint RACE. The sporting regulations state quite clearly what it is called, but for some reason the media – and by extension the fans – call it a race hence the confusion

    1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      11th October 2023, 18:31

      Oscar won his first Sprint SESSION not Sprint RACE. The sporting regulations state quite clearly what it is called,

      Sprint events involve cars going around the same track at the same time, attempting to overtake each other. That means sprint events are, in fact, races, regardless of whatever euphemism the FIA decides to use. They could call the events “sprint cucumbers,” and they would still be races. This is one of those rare cases where the “incorrect” terminology used by the media is arguably more correct than the “correct” term.

      I understand, of course, why the FIA has chosen not to refer to sprint events by their common sense name. By referring to them as races, the FIA would risk devaluing the big races, i.e. the grands prix. The FIA doesn’t want that, for obvious reasons, but nor does it want to miss out on the extra exposure which (at least in theory) results from having more races in the form of the sprint events/cucumbers. In short, this is yet another in a long list of examples of the FIA making a hamfisted attempt to have its cake and eat it, too.

      1. This is one of those rare cases where the “incorrect” terminology used by the media is arguably more correct than the “correct” term.

        Nah, the official term is “sprint session”, the media term is “sprint race” but the correct term is widely known to be “sprint farce” or “mario kart”

        1. Coventry Climax
          11th October 2023, 21:12

          Or tiny prix.

    2. for some reason the media – and by extension the fans – call it a race

      At RaceFans we call the sprint races ‘races’ because they’re races.

      The FIA are the rule makers but they do not write dictionaries. If they started referring to apples as bananas would you also expect us to do the same?

      1. +1

        People are fooling themselves when they try to pretend it’s not a race. It’s not a Grand Prix, but it’s a race.

      2. Coventry Climax
        13th October 2023, 18:03

        It’s even worse than that:
        The FiA writes the rulebook, stating that cars should look like bananas.
        Then, during the season, they come up with a technical directive, where they ‘clarify’ that bananas are supposed to be round with a reddish blush, a stem no wider than 4mm and of none squishy material, and were always already intended as such. Teams failing to comply for the next race, will be punished.

  11. Max Verstappen became the first driver to clinch a championship before the actual race since Nelson Piquet on the 1987 Japanese GP weekend when Nigel Mansell had to withdraw from the event after a Friday practice crash.
    Juan Manuel Fangio, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, & Keke Rosberg are the other drivers who clinched a championship on a Saturday.
    He also broke Sebastian Vettel’s record for most laps led in a season.

    Oscar Piastri’s first pole position in F1, even if only for a sprint.

    The first GP weekend since the 2012 Brazilian GP with a Mclaren front-row lockout.

    The highest DNF amount in a sprint so far.

    Carlos Sainz’s second DNS in F1 (the first occurred in the 2020 Belgian GP).

    The first DNF over unwellness for a long time, if not the first ever, depending on Mansell’s case in the 1984 Dallas GP, for example.

    The first race which a Williams driver led to any extent since the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP.

    1. Verstappen actually won the championship mathematically 8 laps before the sprint ended, as soon as perez ended in the gravel, cause even if verstappen retired at that point he’d have had enough points.

      1. @esploratore1 True, the championship got clinched the moment Perez retired.

    2. #10 = Posting list of statistics without crediting original source

      1. Simon Simply because I always come up with them myself, unlike @paulgilb, with sometimes maybe one at max from elsewhere.

  12. Τάσος Μπεκρης
    11th October 2023, 18:35

    Spain’s 1993 record of 14 World Championships in one podium was equaled on Saturday. So we have the trio of Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel showing off these 14 World Titles in total.

    1. I don’t understand, vettel isn’t racing atm, how can you equal a podium record if not all drivers that you mention got on the podium?

      And saturday it was piastri, verstappen and norris, so that’s 3 titles.

    2. Ahh, I guess you’re referring to an earlier podium, I have no doubt those 3 got on the podium before, so with verstappen NOW having 3 titles it equals the record with a past podium.

      1. Τάσος Μπεκρης
        13th October 2023, 16:30

        At the time of 1993 Spain GP only six titles counting.
        Belgium 2004 Schumacher became a seventh time title winner, the record of 14 titles counting then.
        China 2017 was the first time Hamilton Verstappen Vettel getting together a podium and Hungary 2019 the last time.
        The record of 14 titles is under threat. Wait until 2024 and next Max’s title…

  13. Out of interest, what’s the greatest ever points gap between (full season) team mates?

    Five rounds to go, and already Max leads Perez by 209 points. People have become World Champion with fewer points than that……

    1. I think it’s probably the 198-point gap between Vettel and Webber in 2013, which is on course to be beaten this season.

      1. 2021 had an even bigger gap than 2013 with 205,5points to Perez.
        2013 did have the biggest gap to number two in the championship with 155 points.

    2. In 2013 Vettel had 397 points, 155 more than #2 Alonso (242 points), Webber was 3rd with 199 points so that would be 198 point gap with Vettel almost having double the points. 2013 had 19 races so maximum score was 475 points so Vettel scored 83.6% of maximum points, Webber just 41.9%.

      In 2021 Max had 395.5 points while Perez had 190 points making that gap 205.5 points. With 22 races the maximum points score was 581 (incl 22x FLAP and 3x 3 points from sprint). So Max had 68.1% of max while Perez had 32.7%.

      So far in 2023 (17 races) Max has 433 points and Perez has 224 points, maximum being 474 (incl 17x FLAP and 4x 8 points from sprint). So Max has 91.4% of max while Perez had 47.3%.

      These are the 3 biggest gaps I found since 2010 (new point system)

    3. He seems on course to beat that record, he will now face competition from hamilton and the likes even if he starts performing a bit better, which will make it easy for verstappen to keep gaining points.

  14. Alonso and Hamilton have each only managed 8 points from sprints this year.

    Albon’s first sprint points this year.

    Second time (after Azerbaijan) where Verstappen has been beaten by a non-Red Bull in a sprint this year.

    3rd time this year that Russell has started on the front row – of those races, he has failed to finish twice, and been knocked into a spin at Turn 1 in the other.

    Gasly’s best start since Monaco, and Ocon’s best finish since that same race.

    Bottas’s best finish since Bahrain (a country in the same part of the world with a similar flag to Qatar).

    First time Tsunoda has finished ahead of Lawson.

    First time since Canada and Europe 2010 that McLaren have got both cars on the podium in consecutive races.

    6th time Hamilton has failed to complete the first lap of a race – 3 of those were at Belgium (2009, 2012, 2022), and 2 of the others were collisions with his team-mate.

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

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