Fascinating F1 Fact:63

Formula 1 records are a curious collection of the wonderful and bizarre, if one looks beyond the obvious most wins, most poles and so on.

A good example of this is German Markus Winkelhock, who took part in only one Grand Prix, driving a Spyker, after Christijan Albers’s sponsorship failed to materialise for the 2007 European Grand Prix.

Markus was the 27-year-old son of Manfred Winkelhock, who was an F1 driver in the 1980s, before his death in a sports car crash at Mosport Park in 1985 – when Markus was five. Winkelhock Jr qualified last on the grid at the Nurburgring, but by the third lap of the race he was in the lead by more than half a minute, having been the only driver in the field to be using the right choice of tyres. The decision was a risk, but when you have nothing to lose… His moment of glory was short because the rain was so bad that the race was neutralised with a Safety Car and then red-flagged. At the restart Winkelhock was on pole, and thus became the only F1 driver ever to start at both ends of the grid for the same race. And then he lost his job to a pay-driver…

There have, in fact, been three Winkelhocks who tried to be F1 drivers, the third being Joachim, Manfred’s brother and Markus’s uncle, who failed to qualify an AGS in seven attempts in 1989 – in the age of pre-qualifying. He was a very decent driver, but in the wrong car, although he did go on to win Le Mans. His cv is actually pretty impressive with a German F3 title, a DTM championship, victories the in Spa and Nürburgring 24 Hour races – and a BTCC title as well. Smokin’ Jo was also an Asia Pacific touring car champion.

In comparison, it is worth noting that there have been only three drivers in F1 history with the surname Hill – and all three won the World Championship, although Phil Hill was no relation to Graham and Damon.

But the weirdest of these three-of-a-kind records was at the European GP in 1997 at Jerez where the World Championship showdown qualifying resulted in the two title challengers and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, all lapping the track in 1m21.072s – having exactly the same pole lap time – to the thousandth of a second. The probability of the happening was less than tiny – and it is not likely to happen again for at least another 100 years, although perhaps some statistican out there will work out the mathematical  probability.

Mind you, what is the probability of a driver achieving three pole positions in his Formula 1 career and never leading a single lap in a race? Well, that happened to Teo Fabi. He was quick, but his starts were obviously not much good – or he was just plain unlucky. I tend to go for the latter explanation as there was one occasion when his Benetton team-mate, Gerhard Berger, took the lead at the start and then broke down, handing Fabi the lead, but his car failed before the end of the same lap – and thus he never led a lap…

When it comes to records, being Italian seems to be a really bad idea. Nicola Larini, for example, holds the record for the number of races he took part in before scoring a World Championshiop point (44), while Luca Badoer holds the record for the most race entries without ever scoring a point (58) and, of course, there is the monster record of the most races by a driver without winning a race, which stands at 208 to the delightful but accident-prone Andrea de Cesaris. The Italians failed to get the record for the most races started by a driver before a first F1 victory, which currently stands to Mark Webber with 130 starts.

It is interesting to note that Nico Rosberg hold the record for the most GPs contested before winning a World Championship (206), while his father Keke has the record for the fewest F1 victories achieved before winning the World Championship. This stands at an astonishing one GP victory. Mike Hawthorn won the title in 1958 with only one victory that season, but he had won several races in previous years. Keke was champ after just one win, but would go on to achieve others.

There has been one occasion when the Constructors’ World Championship runner-up did not win a single race, which was in 2004 when BAR-Honda achieved this remarkably unremarkable feat, while I am rather fond of Narain Karthikeyan’s achievement as the only man ever to finish a World Championship Grand Prix in 24th place. No-one has done that before or since, despite the fact that there were 34 starters at the 1953 German GP – also a record.

My other favourite bizarre statistic is that German Hans Heyer is the only man ever to had recorded a DNQ, DNF and DSQ in the same Grand Prix. Figure that one out…

56 thoughts on “Fascinating F1 Fact:63

  1. Alas poor Badoer … he had his hands on a marvellous Ferrari that he, if I am not mistaken, had a hand in developing , and still could not score a single point in.

    1. Luca seemed to age visibly trying to tame the 2009 Ferrari. It had been developed to suit the driving skills of Felipe Massa. When Massa was disabled through injury, they remembered their other driver Kimi, and made a number of late adjustments to suit him. He repaid them by becoming immediately [along with Hamilton] the highest scorer for the second half of the year with a famous win and several podiums.
      There is a moral there somewhere.

  2. Talking of mathematical probabilities, I calculate that at this rate you will achieve a full century of FFFs on March 18th, six days before first practice in Melbourne. All nice and timely. Bon chance!

  3. Hans Heyer is one cheeky b*****d, gotta love him for it! Starting from the pits without qualifying, if I recall correctly, in a messy organised German GP in 1977, then retiring after a few laps and getting disqualified afterwards. Crazy times we will never get back to.

    1. Heyer was not the only driver to start a race after failing to qualify for it…this has happened several times during he 1970s. Incidentaly, I am not sure if he was actually disqualified. Illegal start certainly was grounds for disqualification, but since he was a fellow German (and had retired anyway) I think that the race organizers just let it go…

        1. I had to look this one up, but from what I can tell there were at least three more instances of this: Tim Schenken in US74, Wilson Fittipaldi in ZA75 (he voluntarily pulled back to his garage at the end of first lap) and Harald Ertl in FR76. Somewhat debatable are Rolf Stommelen in ES70 and Vern Schuppan in SE74.

    2. Accuse me if you wish of being a pedantic fool obsessed with trivia, but as Hans Heyer pulled up in the Hockenheim pitlane where the race officials were waiting to giver him a rocket the one thought on my mind was the prospect of actually seeing his shiny bald head as he removed his helmet. In fact he had his familiar soft felt Tyrolean trilby in the pocket of his overalls, which he donned in a trice. You won’t find many photos of Hans without his hat.

      That extraordinary three-way identical-time pole position thing at Jérez in 1997 certainly aroused a lot of suspicion in the press room. However, while the rest of us were tutting and pondering, our colleague Jeff Hutchinson, as usual with his eye on the main chance, was out in the paddock with a copy of the official time sheet getting it signed by Messrs Villeneuve, Schumacher and Frentzen. Actually I think he had two copies, although he may have forgotten to mention that to the two millionaires who subsequently bought them under the impression that what they had was unique.

      Jeff is worthy of an FFF of his own. He worked both as a photographer and a writer, which gave him a double bite of the publishers’ cherry (as it were). Even so, his career in journalism was unusually rewarding, and it would be interesting to see how Joe frames the explanation for that. Jeff took up aviation as a hobby, owned his own plane(s), acquired an instructors’ licence and taught Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg and Thierry Boutsen to fly.

      Having retired from journalism at least ten years ago, Jeff has not been seen since in the press room. A clean break! He bought a farm near Byron Bay in NSW, where I had a surprisingly warm welcome from him a few years back, and he also owned a firm which made top-grade karts.

      1. Pedantic maybe. However, it’s all about putting colour into,what would otherwise be,a black and white illustration. A very good illustration but,still black and white. Thanks.

  4. Was Hans Heyer the guy who started anyway despite not qualifiying? Germany or Austria in the late 70’s, 77 I think. Can’t imagine who else could have such a statistic… I may have read this previously in your blog, Joe!

    Cracking good stuff as always, some great nuggets there.Cheers!

  5. Stirling Moss leads what is possibly the worse category – most wins without being World Champion. Nico Rosberg was challenging to take the ‘title’ with 23 wins to Stirling’s 16, until the last race of last season.

  6. The Jerez timing thing was always a bit of a conundrum. Our engineer had HHF quicker that his given time but what can’t speak etc.I seem to remember some mutterings about BCE having a hand in it so that the two Championship contenders started alongside but that would be to far fetched ………Anyway HHF had a dull out during one of his pit stops and took himself out of contention.

  7. A great series of facts here, love the Keke one, still cant believe he won the title that year.

    My best guess for Hans Heyer (I’ve not cheated) was that he didn’t qualify, decided to start the race anyway (somehow). Then he broke down and then the stewards realised and so disqualified him? Close?

  8. Marvellous as always, Joe. If Markus Winkelhock is Fact 63, I reckon Hans Heyer’s mischief must be about number 76.

    There will be a few motorsport anoraks who (probably through reading GP+) will have a vague passive knowledge of a lot of these facts. What is amazing is that they sit there in your active vocabulary, ready to be pulled out a dozen at a time and woven into a concise, coherent story.

    If there is anyone enjoying these who is not already a subscriber to GP+, today’s feast and yesterday’s masterly telling of the Tony Rolt story should give you an idea of the depth of perspective in each issue. Time to join up!

  9. How about the McLaren related movements Joe? I see from your Sidepodcast friends that Dave Redding is joining Williams, where will he fit in the organisation? It seems Williams are strengthening the team.

  10. As you may remember I sometimes put forward unusual agent provocateur type thoughts, here is one:
    Inside two years Liberty will sell F1. They will find that its characteristics, its audience demographics and team behaviour, are not what they thought and are far more difficult and expensive to change than they had anticipated.

  11. Joe, I am loving these facts.

    Could they not be compiled into an e-book for the start of the season?

    Modern media could deliver it to a much wider audience and if the proceeds were being donated to your favourite charity, I am sure that SKY and C4 would give it a plug.

  12. Have absolutely loved this series, worth the admittance price to gp+ alone. This was the best So far, full of obscure quirky facts I love to collect. Thanks

  13. This stat never quite made it to fruition, but I remember watching and wondering over the latter third of the 2001 season:

    Towards the end of the 2001 championship, Reuben Barrichello was in the hunt not only for second place in the championship but, unwittingly, second place without winning a race.

    The chance was gone only after the 16th of 17 races, the US GP at Indianapolis. Chasing down Hakkinen for the lead, with already-2001 champion teammate Schumacher in third playing tail-gunner ahead of Coulthard (the other contender for second in the championship), Barrichello’s car expired with less than two laps to go, and was classified 15th and last.

    As a result Barrichello was arithmetically still in with a chance for second in the championship at the final event at Suzuka, but would have had to have won to do so.

  14. In addition to your fascinating F1 fact : 63, there is the curious case of Nico Hulkenberg who is still getting a large amount of talent credit after 115 F1 starts without a podium, century finishers who did worse are Pierluigi Martini (118) and Adrian Sutil (128), I hope Renault will be mighty this season.

  15. Marcus Winkelhock also holds the record* for leading 100% of the races he competed in: 1 start, 1 race led.

    *Indy 500 driver George Amick also did the same thing, 100%, when he led in his only start in the 1958 Indy 500 back when the 500 counted as a round in the F1 Championship.

  16. I may well be wrong but I believe Raikkonen has the highest number of fastest laps in a single season, the highest number of consecutive fastest laps (in terms of races, not laps), the highest number of consecutive points-scoring races, the highest number of finishes in a season, and until Hamilton’s 2016 season Raikkonen also held the record for the highest number of wins in a season without winning the DWC (though Hamilton set his record during a season with 3 races more).

    Unfortunately all but one of the above were recorded during his first stint in F1 – in fact, I believe all but one were recorded during his McLaren years.

  17. Comparing point scoring is the most confusing (and unfair) statistic. In the beginning, only the first five finishers received points, today it is ten. Along the way there were few anomalies, of course, like Jo Gartner who has finished 5th but never received any points anyway.

  18. I like the fact that Denny Hulme had already been World Champion when he scored his one and only pole position. It probably won’t happen again.

  19. Does Marco Apicella ‘qualify’ for this list?

    1 GP (Monza 1993) qualified I think in something like 21st place in his one off for Jordan and then out at the first corner?

    A driver with soooo much more potential than this stat!!

  20. Back in the days of Moss et al, was it not practice to award a point for pole and a point for faster lap (the reason Moss lost out to Collins). I’ve often wondered how certain WDCs would have been different – there have been quite a few decided by one or two points e.g. Hil/Schumacher. Any spread sheet masters up to the challenge?

    1. It’s probably not really worth working it all out because the likelihood is that driver behaviour would have been different – and the stats therefore likewise – had points remained available for fastest laps.

      Sorry to sound pedantic but I don’t think there’s ever been a point for pole in F1 and Moss lost ’58 to Hawthorn.

      1. It’s not being pedantic if you’re correct! A slight brainfade – I was thinking Hawthorn and typing Collins.

    2. There never were points for pole position but there was a point for fastest race lap. Yes, there is a scenario when if Moss took the fastest lap from Hawthorn in Portugal, he would have been the Champion. But more influential was the rule mandating that not all the results counted for the Championship. In fact, Hawthorn had earned comfortably more points than Moss in 1958, but won the title by just one, because of the rule. Even more strange is the fact that Graham Hill did collect more points than Surtees in 1964 and in 1988 Prost had lot more points than Senna…

  21. I am loving the fascinating facts, I have done some stats on the back of a napkin and the probability that 3 drivers will set the same qualy time to get on pole is about 360,000 to 1 based on the last 2 years of racing. in close years where you have 2-3 teams competing for pole it drops to around 9000-10,000. If anyone knows a good site to get the qualy results in a useable format I could do a better job.

    1. In terms of probability, I can say with unquantifiable certainty there is a credible likelihood of a definite possibility that Forix (connected to Autosport) may have the data you’re looking for. It is, however, a subscription service.

      1. Thanks Graham, i will look into in, i just switched from Autosport to GP+ but i think my subscription is still active. Interestingly the closest average variance in qualifying times was at Hass last year being 0.005 with meant that if they had another race that year the odds of both drivers having identical times on the timing screen was just 25 to 1, means nothing but is a bit of fun.

  22. Keke also won the 1978 BRDC International Trophy F1 race at Silverstone – in a lowly Theodore, on his second ever start in a F1 car, in a torrential rain where everyone else was spinning off left and right…

      1. That is correct, Keke Rosberg became a World Champion with a single F1 World Championship race victory to his name. But, as you wrote “F1 victories”, and the 1978 International Trophy which Keke won clearly being an F1 race run to F1 rules with contemporary F1 cars, it is an F1 victory even though it didn’t count for the World Championship.

        I know I’m picking nits here, and nothing against you Joe, but I’m hugely annoyed by the relatively recent trend to equate F1 with the World Championship and sweep everything else under the rug. Neither was the World Championship throughout its existence always been run to F1 rules, nor did F1 start with the 1950 British Grand Prix. There is a whole lot of history that is too often being overlooked and forgotten.

        Best regards! 🙂

        1. I’ve been following F1 for nearly 40 years and it has always been like this because otherwise one equates races of very different qualities. A victory in the British F1 Series is not the same as winning at Davidstow, and neither equates to the World Championship. I’m amazed that anyone with any knowledge of the sport does not instantly “get” the fact that in modern times F1 means the World Championship. This blog is written to draw people into the sport and nit-picking doesn’t do that. I understand what you are saying but there are only a few cases where one can draw a true comparison, the one you cite being one of them.

  23. Harvey Postlethwaite explained to me that identical lap times were not so, they were the lap average of the instantaneous times at each minutely defined point on the track, through which the two or three drivers could take quite different lines at different moments.

  24. Have happened upon another perhaps odd triple:

    Johnny Herbert occupied a race seat for three different teams, using three different engines, for three consecutive races within the same season:
    * a Lotus-Mugen-Honda at Portugal;
    * a Ligier-Renault at the European at Jerez;
    * a Benetton-Ford at Japan;
    and that in the 16-race 1994 season when 46 different drivers managed to occupy a seat for at least one qualifying session when [relatively speaking] only 28 different seats were available.

  25. Joe,

    Any chance of a bit more about Manfred sometime?

    Maybe I was wrong, but my perception of him in ’84 was that he was getting an hugely powerful but viciously evil-handling ATS-BMW into ridiculously impressive grid positions, before DNF’ing from mechanical failure after about 10 or 20 laps. I still think of him as my personal nominee for the bravest F1 driver ever, and awesomely quick with it, and wish we could have seen him in a decent car just as much as I and so many others do about Bellof. But Bellof is at least remembered…

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