Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

More than half the F1 field has led a race in most competitive hybrid season yet

2021 Russian Grand Prix stats and facts

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An eventful weekend in Russia produced several unusual and noteworthy statistics.

But the race will long be remembered as the occasion of Lewis Hamilton’s 100th career victory. As the sport’s leading winner of races, he is the first person ever to reach a century of wins. He reached his 100th pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Hamilton’s winning rate has been slower by Verstappen’s ascendance this season. Nonetheless he still has the fifth-highest winning rate of any driver, at 35.6%.

To put that into perspective, if Kimi Raikkonen had Hamilton’s winning rate, he’d have won exactly 100 more races – 121 instead of 21 – from his record 342 career starts. But it would be unfair to Raikkonen to suggest the pair have had comparable machinery for all of their careers.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Hamilton had won from outside the top three six times before
Hamilton took his victory from fourth on the grid. This is only the seventh time in his career he has won from lower than third. The last such occasion came at Istanbul Park, scene of the next round, where he won from sixth place last year.

The 26th pole position of Hamilton’s career came at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Until last weekend, that was also the most recent pole for McLaren.

Lando Norris ended their eight year, 306-day wait for a pole position. He is the 102nd different driver to start a race from pole position.

He led Carlos Sainz Jnr and George Russell on the grid. This was the first time three drivers who have never previously won a race occupied the top places on the grid since the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp.

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Vittorio Brambilla, Patrick Depailler and Jean-Pierre Jarier were the top three on that occasion. Brambilla went on to take his sole victory in Austria later that year, Depailler took two wins with Tyrrell and Ligier, while Jarier never placed higher than third.

Sainz, Norris and Russell held the top three places for the first 12 laps of Sunday’s race, but only one of them featured on the podium: Sainz, who picked up his fifth top-three finish. Having led the first lap of his career in the last race at Monza, Norris led 30 more on Sunday – more than half the race.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2019
Vettel was the last driver to gain 18 places in a race
This was the first time Sainz had led a race this year. He is the 11th different driver to do so, meaning more than half the field have led a race this year. This is the most in an F1 season since the current V6 hybrid turbo engine formula was introduced in 2014. There were 13 different leaders in the last two years of the V8 engines, 2012 and 2013, and just six each year from 2016-19.

Behind the victorious Hamilton, Max Verstappen gave his championship hopes a boost by finishing second from last on the grid. This 18-place climb – the second-highest possible with today’s 20-car field – was the highest since Sebastian Vettel did the same at the Hockenheimring two years ago. In a neat symmetry, the winner that day was Verstappen.

Only three drivers on the grid have ever done better. We’ve seen 19-place gains from Hamilton (Hungary 2014) and Raikkonen (Bahrain 2006), and Vettel made up 21 places when he came from the pits to finish third in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when F1 had a 24-car grid.

The most places ever gained in a world championship round was 30, by Jim Rathmann, who finished second in the 1957 Indianapolis 500 after starting 32nd. The most places gained in a race run to Formula 1 rules was Roberto Mieres’ 26-place climb to sixth in the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone (the second-highest occured in the same race – Onofre Marimon started 28th and came in third). Of course all these records are unbreakable with today’s much smaller field.

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

2021 Russian 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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99 comments on “More than half the F1 field has led a race in most competitive hybrid season yet”

  1. That stat about this being only Hamilton’s seventh win from outside the top three is remarkable, and underlines the dominance of the machinery he’s had throughout his most successful years in the sport.

    1. It also highlights what a reliable and superb qualifier he is.

    2. In the 21st century, he’s the third driver with the most wins from outside top 3 : Alonso and Raikkonen have 8 (for 32 and 21 wins respectively). Ricciardo follows with 6 wins (but only won 8 races !), Schumacher, since 2000, had 5. Interestingly, Vettel never won from outside top 3 and “only” had 24 podiums in these conditions.
      In the list of all drivers who won 20 races or more, he’s the only one in this case with Nico Rosberg, who also “only” had 5 podiums from outside top 3.

      And if you also take the 20st century into account, Prost had 16 wins and Piquet 15 (and he won 23 races, the ratio is pretty good).

      What I find really remarkable in all these stats is the fact that Hamilton has the second to best ratio of podium from outside top 10 of all successful drivers in the history of the sport : 30%. But he only started from outside top 10… 17 times, in 281 races. THAT tells your a lot about how good his cars were.

    3. interestingly Vettel, Bottas and Rosberg have 0, Hamilton and Schumacher both have 7, and the only two [modern] drivers with more are Raikkonen and Alonso* with 8 (crashgate shouldn’t count in my book)

      1. @darth-ecclestone Yes, I knew that about Vettel. Schumacher is surprising though – I thought he’d have had more thanks to the “race fuel qualifying” era and the tendency of one or two drivers each weekend to try for a low-fuel glory run.

        1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
          28th September 2021, 10:06

          Most wins of Hamilton and Schumacher come for championship dominating seasons hence it is logical that most wins come from top 3 starting positions as unless mistakes are made in qualifying or penalties are in play it is logical to start up front.

          From 2007 to 2020 Hamilton won 77 races in a championship winning car and 12 in runner up and 6 in 3rd best car.
          Schumacher won 59 races in a championship winning car, 29 in runner up and 3 in 3rd best car.
          Vettel won 34 races in a championship winning car, 15 in runner up, 3 in 3rd best car and once in 6th best car.

          1. Whilst this is interesting, I always feel like the discussion over X had the best car because said car won the constructors championship to be a bit odd. For example this year, I don’t think most people would categorically say that the mercedes has the best car although they are leading the constructors championship. As measured by laps led then it would be red bull, measured by pole positions they are dead heat (I think 6 each). A driver winning the drivers championship also contributes to the constructor winning the constructors championship. If verstappen wins the championship this year but mercedes hold the constructors does that mean that verstappen won in the second best car?

          2. @jelle-van-der-meer

            From 2007 to 2020 Hamilton won 77 races in a championship winning car and 12 in runner up and 6 in 3rd best car.

            Which seasons exactly did Hamilton and Schumacher had 3rd fastest cars? This is highly debatable.

          3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
            29th September 2021, 9:09

            @rodewulf – purely looking at constructor championship standings – debatably yes but a factual measurement.

            For Schumacher it was 1 win in each of the 1992 (Benetton 3rd behind Williams & Mclaren), 1993 (Benetton 3rd behind Williams & Benetton) and 2005 (Ferrari 3rd behind Renault & Mclaren) seasons.
            For Hamilton it was 2 wins in the 2009 (Mclaren 3rd behind Brawn & Red Bull) and 4 wins in the 2012 (Mclaren 3rd behind Red Bull & Ferrari) seasons.

          4. @jelle-van-der-meer

            For Hamilton it was 2 wins in the 2009 (Mclaren 3rd behind Brawn & Red Bull) and 4 wins in the 2012 (Mclaren 3rd behind Red Bull & Ferrari) seasons.

            Here comes the details: it’s debatable whether McLaren or Ferrari were the 2nd best car overall in 2012. However, one thing was clear: The MP4-27 was considerably faster than the awkward but improving SF2012, albeit more unreliable. The result of it on top-form drivers campaings is that Hamilton was able to challenge for way more wins than Alonso (he won 4 races but could have won three more from pole position if not for mechanical failures, whilst from Alonso’s 3 wins he never had clearly the fastest car – he toiled for driving performance and benefitted on others’ misfortunes to achieve those wins) but the Spaniard scored considerably more points than the Briton, partially due to engine failures.
            As such, Hamilton’s 4 wins in the 2012 season were not as hard conquered as it normally would be for a 3rd fastest car, which clearly McLaren’s had been something better than this. Lotus also were on the mix for podiums in 2012, a season which Red Bull didn’t manage to completely dominate, as such they still could have the 2nd best car overall. However, it’s very likely that their maximum force was to fight for 3rd best with Ferrari.
            So it’s hard to argue against the fact that McLaren had the 2nd best car overall on that season even considering reliabillty issues, when confronted with the evidence that Button won 3 races as well and Massa won none (he barely came even close, only one podium finish). I’m inclined to conclude that Button had been a better driver than Massa, but was it by that much? It doesn’t make sense. Even with many missed opportunities due to poor reliability plaguing their drivers along the year, McLaren still won 7 GPs (many of those rather easily), whilst Ferrari remained limited only to those 3 wins crafted by Alonso. The Ferrari car didn’t seem more balanced than that of McLaren either, even to score podiums or other points finishes. Therefore I don’t see how Ferrari could be better than McLaren in 2012 if applying a more in-depth analysis. The fact that Alonso was the last rival against Vettel remaining in the WDC, with the battle even going down to the wire, is not enough to conclude that Ferrari was a true powerhouse that year. He “outperformed” his machinery which was barely a race-winning car otherwise, only managing to remain in the title fight until the end because Red Bull failed to fully dominate like in the previous year and the frontrunners / upper midfield was incredibly tight so that teams and drivers took many points from each other, as it remained a lot more balanced through the whole 2012 season.

    4. The other six times were:

      2008 British GP – 4th
      2009 Hungarian GP – 4th
      2014 British GP – 6th
      2017 Singapore GP – 5th
      2018 German GP – 14th
      2020 Turkish GP – 6th

    5. This shows why Schumacher was the better driver, having somewhat like 25 poles than wins show that he was so good at racecraft

      1. You can’t choose one statistic and then claim X is a better driver because of it. That’s not how it works.

        1. I chose two: schumi has a lot more wins than poles and ham has only seven wins after third place.
          Both and the racing record show that Schumi had the chance to prove himself also in inferior cars, so he is a better driver in race craft

          1. By this metric, you’d be claiming Jim Clark was no good.

      2. Qualifying on starting racefuel.

      3. No, it shows that he doesn’t qualify as well. See what I did there? You want pick and choose like that. Schumacher and Hamilton are both amazing.

    6. Part of the driver’s job is to join the team that will have the best car! :-)

  2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    28th September 2021, 8:18

    Max achieved his 11th podium (7x 1st and 4x 2nd) of the season equaling his most podium performance so far in 2018 & 2020.
    This season he has finished 1st or 2nd in each race where he didn’t have car damage.

    1. Also, since the start of 2020, whenever Max has finished a race – 24 times – he has been on the podium in 22 of them (he has also already equalled his podium total from 2020) and the outliers are only Turkey 2020 and Hungary 2021!

    2. Thats mind boggling performance, considering he was winning Baku, Silverstone, Hungary he would have finsihed 2nd. Italy he was on road to 2nd(possibly 1) until the pit stop which would have certainly meant no podium.

  3. The qualifying top 3 was Ferrari-Mclaren-Williams. First time since 2012 Spain (Hamilton, Maldonado, Alonso) did these 3 teams top the qualifying times.

    1. True “on the road” but official results show Hamilton was excluded from qualifying. (As distinct from qualifying first before a grid penalty moved him back.)

    2. Yes, although Hamilton was excluded from qualifying so I’m not sure that counts.

      You’d have to go back to Brazil 2004 (Barrichello, Montoya, Raikkonen) to find a qualifying session where a Ferrari, Williams and McLaren occupied the top three places in qualifying and all set their times legally.

    3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      28th September 2021, 8:32

      If you exclude the 2012 Spain GP based on Kyle’s comment it then becomes first time since Brazil 2004 with the top 3 being Barrichello (Ferrari), Montoya (Williams) and Raikkonen (Mclaren).

    4. @sumedh Already pointed out, but that doesn’t count as HAM got excluded for fuel infringement, so officially the 2004 Brazilian GP.

      1. You go back to European GP 2003 for the exact order as well. Kimi, Rubens and JPM in the top 3. Alonso qualified P6 in a Renault for that race too

      2. He doesn’t say “qualifying position”, he says “qualifying times”

        And thus he is correct

        1. But Hamilton’s qualifying time was set illegally, as he didn’t have enough fuel to return to the pits afterwards. So it’s not really a meaningful result.

          1. @red-andy The lap itself was legal as he wasn’t under the minimum weight limit, for example.

    5. I guarantee Maldonados 2012 Spain GP win was fixed as a gift from bernie for Franks 70th birthday allowing the team to run an illegal caR(underweight, aero mods etc), it made Singapore 2008 look like a picnic:

      Lewis in the McLaren qualified first by sent to the back of the grid for the car ‘allegedly’ being 15ml underfueled, McLaren refuted this but couldn’t protest due to “lack of time”…

      After Chrastors win his car was destroyed in the infamous garage fire which was a great way to hide any evidence from suspicious teams..

  4. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    28th September 2021, 8:28

    Couple of stats from
    * First time since Silverstone 2008 that front row is occupied by not yet race winners
    * Russell has scored 16 points in last 6 races, that is the same amount as Perez
    * Bottas is now on his longest winless streak since he joined Mercedes, last win was Russia last year, 22 races ago

    1. @jelle-van-der-meer I’m surprised by the Russell scoring the same as Perez over six races, six races is a long time. One car is fighting for the championship, the other is perceived as one of the worse on the grid.

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        28th September 2021, 9:37

        Absolutely agree that it is shocking although not all is driver performance related, a few odd things happened like Perez taken out in Hungary and Russell 2nd place by brilliant qualifying and then a race that never started.
        Silverstone: Perez 16th and Russell 12th
        Hungary: Perez DNF and Russell 8th
        Belgium: Perez 19th and Russell 2nd (half points)
        Netherlands: Perez 8th and Russell DNF
        Monza: Perez 5th and Russell 9th
        Russia: Perez 9th and Russell 10th

        1. Ignoring Russell completely…. that’s 16 points in a card that is expected to be competing for the podium EVERY weekend! 15pts for a single 3rd place vs 16pts from 6 races. disappointing form.

      2. Plus Perez was on for a podium at Sochi before the rain hit, and was taken out in Budapest. Some things were just bad luck.
        Russell on the other hand was super lucky no one get the podium in Spa without actually racing.

      3. The other IS one of the worst on the grid

  5. This one caught me by surprise. Lewis Hamilton now has as many championships (7) and as many race wins (100) as Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button combined.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      28th September 2021, 9:48

      Hamilton has had a championship winning car for 8 seasons, Vettel for 4 seasons, Alonso for 3 and Button for 1.
      Whereby Hamilton had twice (2007 & 2016) and Alonso (2007) once a championship winning car and not win the driver championship, Hamilton once (2008) won the driver championship in a constructor championship runner up car.

      So winning the driver championship is very much about having a championship winning car and be than be better than your teammate.

      1. @jelle-van-der-meer Is every single person with a Dutch name this salty about Lewis Hamilton? Certainly seems it from comments and social media.

        If your guy is such a phenomenon you should respect the person he’s fighting, if Lewis isn’t that good then you also demean your countryman’s achievements this season.

        How about the fact your guy has never ever won a world championship in any series and Lewis already had a few in the bag under championships with equal cars then?

        1. @RB13, yeah a lot my countrymen are that salty sorry to say and I would say that a lot of them are not true Formula 1 fans as they just started to watch F1 since Verstappen won his first race in 2016. A lot of the so called new fans are more like the audience you expect at soccer games. But there are a lot of Dutchmen, unlike Jelle-van-der-meer and co, who are true fans and supporters of the sport which just can enjoy it without the need of bringing down other drivers and there accomplishments.

          So great if Verstappen wins but you can never deny or diminish the accomplishments achieved by other drivers.

          1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
            28th September 2021, 14:51

            Please speak for yourself – I have been watching F1 since Verstappen senior made his debut in the nineties.

            I add factual context to Lewis achievement, that RB13, you and maybe others are easily offended by that it maybe more telling.
            Lewis has many poles, wins and championships because he is good in driving a F1 car but the full truth is that he wouldn’t have that amount of poles, wins nor championships if he had been in any other car than the Mercedes since 2014. Same is true for Max that he wouldn’t have had 17 wins if he had driven for Williams or Renault since he joined F1.

      2. What is salty in this comment?
        That’s what is so tiresome with Hamilton fans: if you are not putting Lewis on a pedestal as the GOAT (what a term), you are speaking bad about him.

        No, to win F1, first you need a good car.
        In the last 7 years you can count the drivers with a good car on almost 1 hand: Hamilton, Rosberg, Bottas and then maybe Verstappen, Vettel and Raikkonen.
        Each year since 2014 Mercedes were the favourites. Ferrari and RB could/can maybe challenge them.

        What Lewis has achieved is beating his teammate each year, except for 2016. Good job, but some years Lewis only had to beat 1 driver on the grid thanks to the car.

        1. 2017, 2018. Why are memories so short? They were not easy seasons. Also as my comment below, maybe another driver should have gone to Mercedes in 2013. Hamilton took the plunge, it wasn’t just all luck.

          1. 2017 was tight (363 vs 317 points) and Lewis drove excellent.
            But he still had one of the 4 best cars on the grid.
            Why people say 2018 was close I don’t know: 408 vs 320 points. Ferrari was already seriously on the downfall and Red Bull was not there yet.
            So in the last 7 years he had either the best car or very close to it. And not with 3 or 4 teams in the race, no each year max one other competitive team: 2017 Ferrari, this year Red Bull.
            So racing 1 other driver (his teammate) or 2 other drivers (Vettel or Verstappen).

            And I’m not saying this was luck. Hamilton was already one of the best drivers on the grid in 2013. However that Mercedes would make such a killer F1 car was not sure. And then the token system helped to keep the lead of course.

            Had he not been at Mercedes since 2014 he would now probably have only 1 world title (if Mercedes would not have hired him later, which would be very likely).
            So it starts with the car, and of course excellent drivers have more chance of getting a good car. If Alonso would have gone to Mercedes in 2014 he probably would have 8 world titles…

      3. Championship winning car. Championship winning car. Of course if the driver does well it will probably mean they win the constructors, they are not mutually exclusive. Of course he’s had some amazing machinery, but he also got that machinery by making career decisions, you know. Anyway, I give up.

        1. I’ve never understood the point of trying to drag a driver down by saying they only won cause they’re in the fastest car. You can compile a very long list of very good drivers who never became champion despite having the best car. The thing about Hamilton is he’s an excellent driver with an extraordinary level of motivation to continue succeeding. If it’s always only down to the car, the team-mate should average out with roughly the same number of poles, wins and laps led. That’s not always the case, especially with Lewis at the moment.

      4. @jelle-van-der-meer

        You cannot say anything negative about Hamilton on this site. Saying that he has had a championship winning car for 8 seasons on the bounce is offensive and tantamount to bigotry (or was that blasphemy?).

        Merc possibly had a dominant car in 14, 15 and 16, oh and 20. Ferrari were fastest in 17,18,19 and Red Bull in 21. So its an even split. The sooner you accept this sentiment, the better.

        It’s like the three stages of reintegration.

        1. Mercedes dominates the sport since 2014 and we have to take a deep bow to them for this huge accomplishment. It takes a lot of a team to be that great over such a long period of time. Stellar performance. The UK great is a great but just happened to be in that car. Thats why there is so much defence play on this site for him despite his titles (that alone says enough I would say.. the need to defend Lewis). Because we all know that we can all see what happened this decade. Lewis is one of the greats but his car just happened to distort any form of comparison. People that have been watching for a longer period (me since the mid 70s) are able to filter these things out. We know a 100% comparison can’t be made but we do see how victories are achieved. Lewis is one of the all time greats and many times his driving saved the day. But 7 (soon 8) titles and 100 wins do greatly distort his achievement vs greats of the past. Vettel imho should be at 1 (mavbe 2) WDC and Lewis at 3 to 4 under ‘normal circumstances’ (being that a car does not have a dominance streak that lasts more than 2-3 years). That brings him up there with Prost which seems about right.

  6. 1st non-Mercedes or Ferrari pole at Sochi Autodrom.

    Sainz became only the 2nd Spaniard on the front row.

    Hamilton’s lowest Russian GP starting position since 2017.

    Mclaren-Ferrari-Williams 1-2-3, the 1st time since 2004 Brazilian GP (2012 Spanish GP also had until Hamilton’s exclusion).

    Alonso’s highest grid position at Sochi Autodrom and the highest anywhere since 2017 Brazilian GP.

    Bottas’ 1st non-top four starting position in Russia.

    Ocon maintained his 100% record of qualifying in the top ten at Sochi Autodrom.

    Gasly failed at reaching Q3 for only the 3rd time this season.

    Kimi out-qualified a teammate for the 1st time at Sochi Autodrom.

    Mick clinched QLF teammate head-to-head by leading 12-3.

    Max 1st Q1 exit since 2019 Italian GP, a race for which he also had grid penalties.

    Mick’s 1st DNF means Sainz, Ricciardo, and Gio can still achieve a 100% finishing record this season.

    Sainz’s 5th top-three finish & 3rd 3rd-place.

    Possibly the 1st time double numbers (44, 33, 55) have featured in a race top three.

    1. Possibly the 1st time double numbers (44, 33, 55) have featured in a race top three

      Not true. In fact, 44,33,77 is the most frequent podium of all time.

      1. @sumedh I forgot, my bad.

    2. As already pointed out probably not. This happened first in Spain 2018, in the order Ham 44, Bot 77, Ver 33.
      The three together has happened 18 times since, the last time Netherlands 2021. In that occasion the order was Ver 33, Ham 44, Bot 77, which is more aesthetically pleasing to me! 33+44=77

  7. ‘Hamilton has the 5th highest winning rate with 35.6%’-Collantine.


    So in the quiz of the week who is at No 1 and No 3.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      28th September 2021, 10:58

      I guess you mean 1st and 4th in the list with highest % wins regardless of number of races.
      Counting only those drivers having started 10 or more races Hamilton is 3rd with 35.6%.
      Fangio was 47.1% (24 out of 51 starts)
      Ascari 40.6% (13 out of 32 starts)
      Lewis 35.6% (100 out of 281 starts)
      Clark 34.7% (25 out of 72 starts)

      If you count those with less than 10 starts you need to add below:
      Lee Wallard 50% (1 out of 2 starts)
      Bill Vukovich 40% (2 out of 5 starts)

  8. Coincidentally, in recording his 100th career win, Hamilton also surpassed 4,000 career points (both records of course).

    1. Euro Brun (@eurobrun)