While 2011 was by no means a classic year for F1 with such a dominant champion, it was an exceptional year in the sense that there were so many outright records set during the year.
The headline numbers of course revolve around Sebastian Vettel, but there are plenty of other eye catching figures from the year:
Most Grands Prix started: 322
Rubens Barrichello continued to extend the record held for many years by Riccardo Patrese. With safer cars and F1 seasons now extending to 19 or 20 races, this was always likely to be broken, but Barrichello’s marathon career is still remarkable.
Youngest double world champion, most poles in a season, most laps led, most podiums in a season, margin in championship table: Sebastian Vettel
Vettel shattered records this season, taking his second world title at the age of 24 years and 98 days. His 15th pole position of the season in Brazil established a new record, as did his tally of 739 laps led in the season. Both of these records had been held by Nigel Mansell from his dominant 1992 season, although that season featured three less races than 2011. Vettel’s 122 point winning margin over second place Jenson Button is also a new record.
Most overtaking moves in a Grand Prix: 126, Turkey
The arrival of both the DRS wing and the short life Pirelli tyres meant that at some races we had a glut of overtakes. With overgenerous DRS zones, Turkey headed the list ahead of the crazy wet race in Canada, which also set a new record as the longest ever Formula 1 GP – lasting over four hours from start to finish. It also featured the most safety cars in a race with six.
Button, who won that race, made 74 passes in 19 races, of which 26 happened in Canada.
Fewest drivers scoring a podium during the season: 7
Only 7 drivers finished on the podium in 2011, which tied the record low in one year, set in 1992, 2000 and 2002. That compares with 13 in 2009, and 14 in 2008 (the all-time record is 18 drivers, in 1982). But Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld both scored only one podium finish each (in the first two races) and after that, the 48 podium positions since then were all taken by the same 5 drivers (Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Button and Alonso).
Most races in which a driver has led a lap: Michael Schumacher
The veteran German led three laps in Japan at the age of 42 and took his total of races in which he led to 142, which is a record.
Most cars making it to the finish of a Grand Prix
In Valencia all 24 starters made it to the chequered flag, which is a new record. It was the fourth time every car has finished a Grand Prix, but the largest field ever to do so.
What was your favourite piece of history, made in 2011?
(Sources: Sean Kelly, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Clip the Apex)