Spanish Grand Prix Stat Wrap - By Sean Kelly
Are you sitting comfortably? You might be here a little while longer than usual this week….
- You’ve heard the main stats by now. At 18 years 227 days old on Sunday, Max Verstappen smashed Sebastian Vettel’s records for youngest man to lead a race (Japan 2007, 20 years 89 days), then the youngest man to either finish on the podium or win a race (Italy 2008, 21 years 73 days).
- In doing so, he also matched Vettel’s distinction of taking his first podium on the same day as his first win. It’s highly significant that this was the first race win in Red Bull’s F1 history without Vettel as one half of their driver lineup. If matching a four-time world champion weren’t enough, Verstappen is the first driver to switch teams in mid-season and then win for the new team first time out since Juan-Manuel Fangio jumped out of a Maserati and (ironically) into a Mercedes to win the 1954 French Grand Prix.
- Before Sunday, no Dutchman had ever led a Grand Prix, let alone won one. They are the 22nd nation to produce a Grand Prix winner, coincidentally scoring their first win on the same track that produced the 21st winning nation (Venezuela, when Pastor Maldonado won in 2012). The playing of the Dutch and Austrian anthems on the podium meant the end of 30 consecutive podium ceremonies featuring the German anthem.
- Verstappen’s fourth on the grid tied Jan Lammers’ best-ever by a Dutch driver, which in itself had stood undisturbed for 36 years since the 1980 Long Beach Grand Prix. He is creeping progressively closer to claiming 19-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez’ record as the youngest-ever front row qualifier, one of the oldest-standing F1 records, set at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.
- His qualifying performance was also the best by a driver after a midseason change of teams since Heinz-Harald Frentzen was fourth on the grid at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix for Prost, a few races after being sacked by Jordan.
- Verstappen being the 10th different winner in the last 10 races there. It’s only the second circuit in history to see such a streak, but the first one to take place in 10 continuous years. Mexico City saw 11 different winners but with a 16-year gap along the way, as the race was absent from the calendar between 1970 and 1986.
- Red Bull’s engine is badged by TAG-Heuer, and it’s the first time that TAG have had their name on a race-winning engine since Alain Prost won the 1987 Portuguese Grand Prix for McLaren-TAG. That race was significant as the one in which Prost scored his 28th win, a record at the time and surpassing the mark held by Jackie Stewart since the 1973 German Grand Prix.
- Before Sunday, 92% of all F1 races in Catalunya had been won from the front row, and 13 of the last 15 Spanish GPs were won by pole position. Verstappen was the coincidentally first driver to win a Grand Prix from outside the top three on the grid since Daniel Ricciardo won the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix from fifth, which was Red Bull’s last win before Sunday.
- Verstappen won the race by beating a driver (Kimi Raikkonen) who was racing in F1 when the Dutchman was only three years old. In fact, he beat a driver who raced against his father in F1 from 2001-'03, and both Kimi Raikkonen and Jos Verstappen scored points in the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix.
And those are just the stats on the driver who finished first….
- Raikkonen, for his part, claimed a third podium finish in the past four races, but despite moving up to second in the championship he still doesn’t have a win since the 2013 Australian GP, and his last victory for Ferrari was way back at the 2009 Belgian GP.
- Sebastian Vettel made his 162nd start on Sunday (surpassing Ayrton Senna), but was unable to prevent the loss of his age records to Verstappen. Since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix it was only the second time that both Ferraris were on the podium in the same race, following on from the 2015 Singapore GP.
- Spare a thought for Daniel Ricciardo, who saw Daniil Kvyat finish on the podium in China, and has now seen Max Verstappen win in Spain, yet Ricciardo still doesn’t have a podium in 2016 despite finishing fourth on four occasions!
- With the demise of A Team Who We’ll Get To Later early in the Spanish GP, the two Williams drivers now have the distinction of being the only men to score in every race this season. Valtteri Bottas secured a third consecutive top five finish on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while Felipe Massa has matched his start to 2015, when he also scored in the opening five events.
- It’s been slim pickings for Spanish F1 fans in recent seasons, but Carlos Sainz found the perfect venue to claim his career-best finish in sixth place. He matched Toro Rosso’s best result of the season set at the Bahrain GP…..set by Max Verstappen - yes, we know we’ve mentioned him a lot this week.
- Sergio Perez had a quiet day but matched Force India’s best of the year in seventh place, while Jenson Button has now scored in consecutive races for only the second time since the McLaren-Honda partnership resumed in 2015. He did so in Russia and the USA last season.
- The forgotten man of the Verstappen affair last week was Daniil Kvyat, and he also scored a point on Sunday, as well as setting the fastest lap by a clear 1.026s. It was the first-ever fastest lap both for Kvyat and also for Toro Rosso under any ownership, 31 years after they first entered Formula 1 as the Minardi team.
Now, about THAT collision….
- Mercedes had topped every session held in Catalunya in the last two years. They have also locked out the front row for four straight years, and no non-Mercedes had been within 0.680s of pole in Spain since 2013. They claimed 1-2 finishes in the 2014 and 2015 races without any other driver getting within 45 seconds of them. In other words, this had 'easiest 1-2 of the season' written all over it.
- Instead, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg contrived to give Mercedes the ignominy of losing both cars on the first lap of a race for the first time in their entire history. Moreover, it was the first time that the front row starters had eliminated each other on the first lap of an F1 race since the most famous F1 crash of them all – Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at the first corner of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix.
- This ended Mercedes AMG’s winning streak at 10 races in a row, one short of the all-time record of 11, ironically set by Prost and Senna as Mclaren teammates in 1988. Rosberg’s quest for an eighth consecutive victory also drew a blank less than 30 seconds into the race.
- Historically, this race will stand as one of the most statistically significant in world championship history. You may raise a glass to Max Verstappen, and should Max himself chose to do so he can be thankful that his maiden win came in Spain, where the legal drinking age is 18. Had this been the US Grand Prix, Verstappen would have had to wait until September 2018 before drinking the champagne…