Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Top 10 unique records from Formula 1’s 999 World Championship races

Posted on 12 April 2019 by Benjamin Jones

Formula 1 celebrates an important landmark on Sunday. A journey which started in 1950 with Giuseppe Farina claiming victory in his Alfa Romeo, now heads to China in 2019 to celebrate it’s 1000th world championship race. Throughout that time, there has been some great races, champions and characters but below we highlight some of the lesser-known records from the sport’s history.

Lowest finishing position- 24th

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Narian Karthikeyan is not a name that will remembered for his sparking performances on the track. He was the first Indian to take part in the sport and that will be his legacy because because he spent the majority of his career with backmarkers Jordan and HRT. In fact, his only points came in the controversial 2005 Indianapolis GP when only six cars started the race and he brought his Jordan home in fourth. Unfortunately for him, he holds the record for lowest F1 finish. His 24th place in the 2011 European Grand Prix remains the only time anyone has finished so low. Races have had more entries but never so many finishers.

Most consecutive retirements- 18

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Daniel Ricciardo might be regarded as the unluckiest man on the grid right now, with his spate of retirements that has dogged him showing no signs of abating even now he has made the move to Renault. The Australian recorded 8 DNF’s last season and has yet to make the chequered flag so far this season. However, his run of bad luck has nothing on that of Andrea de Cesaris. Between 1985 and 1986, driving for both Ligier and Minardi, the Italian failed to finish in 18 consecutive races. He certainly had speed but was often unable to keep the car on the track. He also holds the record for most race starts without a win with 208.

Most race starts without a podium- 158

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Still this monkey sits on the back of Nico Hulkenburg. The German has now started 158 races and is yet to score a podium, he has had many chances during that time but has yet to convert. With the gap between the top three teams still substantial, the number continues to grow for a driver that is considered by many to be one of the most talented on the grid.

Most stops made by a race winner- 6

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The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix was one of the craziest of F1 999 events. The rain-hit race lasted well over four hours and was the driving force for the FIA to impose a two-hour limit on future events. Jenson Button broke the record for most pit stops by a race winner. A puncture following a collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton, a drive-through penalty for speeding under the safety-car and four more stops put Button to the back of the gird. However, he produced a remarkable drive to storm through the field and overtake Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel on the final lap. The race also represented the most uses of the safety car, with six as well.  

Biggest winning margin- 5 minutes 12.75 seconds

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One of the most remarkable records in Formula 1 history is the winning margin of Sterling Moss in the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix. Driving his Vanwall, the Briton pulled out over five minutes on Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn. His teammate Stuart Lewis-Evans completed an all Britain podium but was over six minutes behind.

Fewest finishers- 3

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The streets of Monaco provide the biggest challenge for a Formula 1 driver, now imagine adding the uncertainty of rain and you have the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were amongst the greats that were caught out. The carnage allowed the Ligier of Oliver Panis, who started 14th, to claim only ever race win and become of the sport’s one-win wonders. The other remarkable element was that only David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert from the entire field were left running to cross the line.  

Smallest wining margin- 0.01 seconds

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The close finish in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix will probably never be beaten. BRM’s Peter Gethin beat out Ronnie Peterson by just 0.01 of a second. Even behind, just nine hundredths separated the top three, with a further nine hundredths back to Mike Hailwood in fourth.

Lowest grid position for a race winner- 22

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Britain’s John Watson claimed five wins in his career and the most impressive of these came in California in 1983. Watson and McLaren teammate Niki Lauda had a nightmare in qualifying after struggling with set-ups and qualified 22nd and 23rd respectively but it’s fair to say they got it right in the race. Quite incredibly, they stormed through and completed a 1-2 finish, making Watson the holder for the record of lowest starting position for a race winner.  

Most different race winers in a season- 11

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Gone may be the days of truly close racing between the majority of the feld so let’s look back to the intriguing 1982 season. Keke Rosberg won the World Championship but only took a single victory, he shared the top step of the podium with 10 other drivers. Didier Pironi, John Watson, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Rene Arnoux, Patrick Tambay, Michele Alboreto, Elio de Angelis, Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet claimed the other wins in the 16-round season.

Highest percentage of podiums in a season- 100%

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Rarely has one driver seen such dominance in the sport as Michael Schumacher. The German still holds the record for most race wins (91) and world championships (7) but holds a unique record for his performance in the 2002 season. He was world champion by 67 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello and the key to his success was finishing on the podium in every single one of the 17 races. He claimed 11 wins, 6 second places and a third to set the record for most podiums in one season, a record since matched by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton but neither can boast Schumacher’s 100% record.

Featured image credit: Richard Jonkman