By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
The Australian Grand Prix gave us plenty of interesting moments this year, it also gave us more than a handful of meaningful statistics to crunch on.
Here are some of the best of them from the first Grand Prix of 2018:
First and foremost are the milestones for Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as they continue rewriting the F1 record book. Hamilton sets a new all-time pole position record every time he goes fastest of all on a Saturday and he racked up his 73rd this weekend. That is five more than Michael Schumacher’s old record, four more if you count Monaco 2012, which Schumacher lost due to a grid penalty from the race before. Though Hamilton failed to win the race through no fault of his own, as a consolation prize he is just one points scoring race shy of tying rival Kimi Raikkonen’s points scoring record of 27 consecutive races.
Vettel for his part, scored the 48th win his career; only Alain Prost 51, Hamilton 62, and Schumacher with 91 have more. He also achieved his 100th podium in his 199th start, which means he has been on the podium for half of his races and nearly half of those have been victories. Continuing the theme from earlier, only Prost 106, Hamilton 118, and Schumacher with 155 have more
It was Vettel’s ninth win for Ferrari, which puts him equal on wins for the Scuderia with teammate Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello. He is two wins behind the tally amassed by Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso during their respective spells with the team. It was Ferrari’s 230th win in their 950th race, dating back to the inaugural F1 season in 1950.
It has now been five years since Raikkonen’s last win, which came at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix with Lotus. Since then, he has reached the podium 22 times without victory which is one of F1’s rather unwanted records to have. Encouragingly Kimi did out qualify Vettel, which is a feat he only achieved four times in 2017, so he may well ascend to the top step of the podium later this season.
Force India failed to score a point for the first time in 14 races (2017 Monaco), as they have currently slipped back from the lofty ‘best of the rest’ position they have enjoyed the last two years. Force India’s loss proved to be Renault’s gain as the team most likely to take fourth place this year achieved their goal of having both cars in the points with Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and Carlos Sainz Jr. in 10th.
Renault will find themselves pushed hard by McLaren this year, who have already equaled their best result of the Honda era in their very first Grand Prix with Renault power. Fernando Alonso came in an opportunistic fifth, and Stoffel Vandoorne backed him up with ninth place.
Haas had the best starting positions of the teams’ brief existence with sixth and seventh on the grid and looked set for a stellar finish before wheel nut problems in consecutive pit stops forced both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to retire. Until that point, Magnussen had been the star of the race with a great opening lap pass, he had held off Max Verstappen in the Red Bull for fourth. Haas will surely have a say in the fight at the front of the midfield this year, if they can keep development pace with Renault and McLaren it will make for a fascinating season.
Lastly, hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo came in a frustrating fourth after a grid penalty saw him start in eighth place. He can take some consolation for the immense pressure he was able to put on third place finisher Raikkonen and for taking the fastest lap of the race with a 1:25.945 on the 54th lap. It is the Aussie’s 10th fastest lap which ties him with legends Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, and John Surtees.
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