Lewis Hamilton did it in France: he entered the top-10 chart of the longest podium finishes streaks in F.1 history.
With one more podium Lewis enters the “Champions sequence”, in fact the drivers that recorded at least 9 podiums straight, always won one -or more- World Championships in the year(s) they recorded the streak.
Here is the table:
1) M.Schumacher, 19 podiums straight (U.S.A.2001-Japan 2002, won the Championship in 2001 and 2002)
2) F.Alonso, 15 (Turkey 2005-Canada 2006, won the Championship in 2005 and 2006)
3) J.Clark, 9 (Belgium 1963-South Africa 1963, won Championship)
4) N.Lauda, 9 (Italy 1975-Sweden 1976, won Championship in 1975, could have won also in 1976 but suffered a scary accident at the Nurburgring that nearly cost his life, came 2nd missing 2 races out of 16 and abandoning the last one)
5) N.Piquet, 9 (Monaco 1987-Portugal 1987, won Championship)
6) M.Schumacher, 9 (Hungary 2000-Brazil 2001, won Championship in 2000 and 2001)
7) M.Schumacher, 9 (Europe 2004-Italy 2004, won Championship)
8 ) C.Reutemann 8 (Italy 1980-Belgium 1981)
9) A.Senna 8 (Mexico 1988-Belgium 1988)
10) J.P. Montoya 8 (Monaco 2003-Italy 2003)
11) L.Hamilton 8 (Australia 2007-Ongoing)
…WITH MASSA BEING THE ONLY EXCEPTION
The following statements are true if you add at the end of the sentence “…with Massa being the only exception.”
-The last 9 races have been won by the driver that was in the lead at the end of the first lap (Massa lost in France despite being first at the first lap/corner);
-all the race winners of 2007 started from pole position (Massa lost the race starting from pole in Malaysia and France);
-all the drivers that led more than 50% of a race in 2007, eventually won it (Massa led for 40 laps out of 70 in France and lost to Raikkonen);
A new era started in Brazil 2006 and didn’t show signs of stopping until the French GP. The “1 or 2 era” started at the last race of the previous Championship: since then the driver that won the race classified always first or second also in qualifying and in the fastest laps ranking, for a total of 8 races straight.
Raikkonen stopped (momentarily?) the trend in France winning from the third spot of the grid.
Let’s have a look at the other aspects of Kimi’s achievement:
-To find the first driver that won from a position different from the two front spots of the grid we must go back to Japan 2006, when Alonso won starting from 5th place. (It has to be said that the spaniard won mainly thanks to M.Schumacher’s retirement while in the lead. The German started second in that occasion, confirming the two-figures trend);
-Rainy races help: Button was 13th on the grid in Hungary 2006 and won, M.Schumacher was 6th on the grid in China 2006 and won as well;
-Apart from the above mentioned “anomalies”, to find a win from a grid spot that is not in the front row, we had to go back to the opening race of the 2006 season, in Bahrain, when Alonso won from the fourth spot of the grid.
All in all, that makes only 5 wins that didn’t come out of the front row of the grid in the last 26 races.
A COMPARISON WITH MOTOGP
MotoGp is living a streak completely different than Formula 1’s: a rider doesn’t win from pole since Japan 2006 (L.Capirossi, Ducati) for a total of 11 straight races. A few notes to compare the situation with Formula 1:
-7 wins in the last 11 races were won from the second row or beyond (MotoGP has 3 bikes per row);
-the rider in first place at the end of the first lap won the race only 4 times out of 11 (in F.1 the rider in first position at the end of the first lap won 8 of the last 9 races);
-Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won the last race held in Assen from the 11th spot of the grid in a completely dry race;
-according to lap charts, on the last 11 races there have been at least 7 on-track overtaking manouvers for the lead (but there were many more…), while in Formula 1 the last overtake for the lead has been recorded in Japan 2006, when F.Massa let through team-mate M.Schumacher. The race before, in China, Fisichella left first place to team-mate Alonso. Leaving aside these “in house” overtakes, the last pass for the lead was recorded on lap four in Melbourne 2006, when Alonso (Renault) overtook Button (Honda) after a safety car restart. If we consider the safety car restart an anomaly, to find the last, genuine, pass for the lead, we must go back to Japan 2005, when on the last lap K.Raikkonen (McLaren) passed G.Fisichella (Renault) to win the race.
INTERESTING PIT STOP FIGURES
The following analysis is limited to Ferrari and McLaren, the only teams that won races in 2007:
–6 races out of 8 have been won by the driver that was the first to stop in the pits for the first round of pit-stops. The exception are Bahrain, where Hamilton stopped 2 laps before winner Massa (lap 19 vs.21) and France, where Raikkonen stopped 3 laps after Massa and won. (Massa’s erratic race in Malaysia is not counted);
-in the last 3 races Lewis Hamilton was always the first of the Ferrari-McLaren drivers to stop in the pits;
-Kimi Raikkonen was the first to stop only in Australia, for 4 times he was the last one to visit the pits for the first time (Bahrain, Canada, U.S.A. and France). This means that, at least for half of the races run, he had the heaviest fuel load at the start;
–only in France the driver with the biggest load of fuel at the start was able to win the race.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
…In France, for the first time in 2007 a McLaren car was not able to complete at least one lap in the lead? Even in the dominating performance of Raikkonen in Australia the McLarens were able to put the nose in front for 6 laps during pit stops;
…Fernando Alonso made three overtakes during the French Gp (on Rosberg, Fisichella and Heidfeld), but, due to bad pit stop strategy, at the end of the race he was behind two (Fisichella and Heidfeld) of the three drivers he passed on track?
…Honda last year scored points in all but 3 races of the Championship and this year gained its first point of 2007 only after 8 races?
…after 8 races into the 2006 season, the McLaren retirement percentage (both for mechanical reasons and drivers mistakes) was more than 30% (5 retirements in 16 starts) and in 2007 this is down to zero?
…Kimi Raikkonen is the first finn to win the French Gp?
…Renault, 8 rounds into the 2006 season had already 106 Constructor points and this year has only 28 for an impressive -75% ? McLaren, looks at it from the other side, with 114 points in 2007 versus 59 in 2006 (+96%). The team that is recording the best improvement is BMW Sauber, 48 points versus 17 in 2006 (+182%)