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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2013   |  6:33 pm GMT  |  220 comments

We’ve had a great response to our post about the mythical “Perfect Lap” in F1 and some fascinating thoughts and observations made.

Several readers have sent in examples of laps that they consider to be perfect, including Ayrton Senna at Monaco in 1988, Juan Montoya at Spa in 2001, Michael Schumacher at Suzuka in 2006, Fernando Alonso at Monza 2006.

Meanwhile from this season, it’s been suggested that Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap in Malaysia on intermediate tyres was close to perfect.

What do you think? What was the best lap you’ve seen? Please send in your suggestions of laps that really stuck in the mind. We will pick one of the posts at random and send the poster a copy of the new Codemasters F1 Game, Classic Edition, featuring cars from the 1970s and 1980s, many of which performed some legendary laps.


In the meantime, from the current F1 driver crop, here are some more reflections on the notion of a “Perfect Lap” – the Grosjean one is fascinating.

With just 22 poles from 212 Grands Prix Fernando Alonso has not always had the car to compete over a single lap, “You always want to have another set of tyres and try to do something better but I think I’m always close to perfect,” he says.

“It sometimes doesn’t look like that because, take Korea, the car in front of us was four tenths ahead. I could put 100 sets of tyres on and would not improve by four tenths. That’s the way it is and we know we have this weak point in the team. For us, the one lap pace is that weakness, but we know on Sunday that we can do things to maximise points. With this kind of performance for four years, I have fought for the world championship three times, so that’s something good, but it’s also true that we are too slow at the moment. You can sometimes feel you have taken everything from what you have but you are not satisfied if that is not good enough.”


In form Romain Grosjean said, “A perfect lap… there are certain times when you go out and think, ‘That’s the best I could have done today.’ If you look at data there is always a thousandth here or there. It’s probably happened two or three times in my career when I’ve climbed out of the car and known that was the best I could have done.

“You need to trust the car, be confident and be in a good mood. To me it’s not about being on another plane, like sometimes Senna talked about, but sometimes you just feel that you can do whatever you want and it’s going to be fine. When the car is not so easy to drive it’s obviously harder but you just have to cope with it and you can’t go for the perfect lap, but sometimes 98% is good enough. It’s harder in the simulator because you have less feeling.


2009 world champion Jenson Button is the most experienced driver on the F1 grid today. He has eight pole positions from 244 starts and has had some very special laps, “The one that stands out is Monaco in 2009,” he says. “Also Spa last year. You have some laps where you feel you got everything out of yourself and out of the car, but is that perfection? No. I don’t think any of us have ever done the perfect lap and we never will. Because we are human. We’re not robots. You make mistakes and you are never quite perfect. And there are so many variables in a racing car with the suspension and aerodynamics, the temperatures, with the wind. So the perfect lap doesn’t exist as such. The feeling that we have got the maximum out of the car and ourselves is what we aim for.

“I’ve even had laps this year where I got the maximum out of it!

“A simulator is strange because it’s close enough to reality that it feels real. So when you get on a circuit the first few laps are a bit scary because you have to pinch yourself that it’s real.”


Lewis Hamilton has 31 poles from 126 Grands Prix and has done some memorable laps, “When I say a perfect lap’s not possible it’s because I feel that even if you do an awesome lap, you always go back and look at data to compare it to your previous time” he said. “You might see that you’ve gained a little on the way into a corner but lost on exit. There’s always bits you can take and add. So if you could get several different laps and take all the best bits together, then that’s your perfect lap. It’s very difficult to do it but it’s about having a good balance that allows you to put the car where you want it, then you’ve got to have your mind in the best place possible. If the car is not working as you want it, you have to drive around issues and then you won’t get the perfect lap.

“The simulators are pretty accurate, they have such things as wind affecting the car, but it’s a lot easier in the simulator. I’m sure most people find it easier on a Playstation and a simulator is like a big Playstation.”

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220 Comments
  1. JamesD says:

    I seem to remember in the mid 2000s, I think it was in Indy. Anthony Davidson did a so called “perfect lap” and got a half decent qualifying position (5th I think) out of a Super Aguri? True, or did I just dream this?

    1. sjd1992 says:

      Anthony Davidson’s lap at Istanbul in 2007, qualified him 11th in the Super Aguri.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      Don’t know about Indy, but he raves about his qualy lap at Turkey in 2007, even though the car was dire.

    3. Phil R says:

      Turkey 2007 I imagine.

  2. K says:

    Vettel India 2013 pole looked technically perfect to me.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      It sure was close to perfection like many of Seb’s other laps.
      One lap that stood out for me was Massa’s pole lap at Singapore 2008, I know his driving can be inconsistent and none of his laps are ever the same lines but that lap he hooked it up big time and was 6tenths clear of Hamilton and not far off a secobd faster than his then team mate Raikkonen. As for other drivers I’m sure some of Schuey’s and Senna’s laps were mindblowing too.

  3. Michael Ray says:

    James, I would consider Spain 2012 close to a perfect lap, even fuel adjusted times would have hamilton over half a second ahead of anyone else

    1. Tommy says:

      Yes, but wasn’t he rather low on fuel on that occasion? Not exactly cricket, if you know what I mean!

      1. KRB says:

        He wasn’t, actually. He had 1.3L left in the tank, probably could’ve coasted back to the pits and been ok. Team was stupid not to chance it, knowing he’d get an automatic penalty.

        Abu Dhabi 2012 was another good one for Lewis, 0.66s ahead of Jenson, and 4-tenths ahead of the truly light-fueled Vettel (I think they only got 700mL out, IIRC).

        Austin 2012 was great too, even though he didn’t get pole. It was a miracle that he even split the Red Bulls there. He was only off by a tenth.

        Abu Dhabi 2012 pole lap:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDAIojKgPEY
        (exit out of T14 the only niggle)

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Austin, really?
        If you’re in the UK you can see his lap here:
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/20382457
        Compared to Vettel’s lap (which is still on F1.com, and probably Youtube too)… I would rather have done a lap like Vettel did.

        Haven’t seen any footage of it, but Schumacher must have put a heck of a lap in that weekend to line up 5th.

    2. Edison says:

      And I add 2012 Abu Dhabi qualifying lap also.

  4. Ollie says:

    Vettel, Pole lap Australia 2011. I was just mesmerized, thinking, thats porobably as good as it gets! Allmost a second ahead of P2 IIRC.

    1. Ollie says:

      Probably*

    2. Paul says:

      I remember that one. It was like the car was on rails!

    3. alv says:

      and he didn’t even have KERS!

  5. Lee says:

    Nigel Mansell’s poles in 1990 and 1992 at Silverstone, especially 1992

    1. Truth or Lies says:

      Agree, the 1992 qualifying lap was just mental, watched him coming out of Woodcote, simply awesome.

      Sennas first lap at Donnington was pretty special too, but spoiled by the cold and rain in the grandstand at Copice, a great race but a truly miserable Easter Sunday :)

  6. fox says:

    Many years ago Prost did perfect lap at French GP. He got out of the car far before the quali ended and said to amazed reporters: “I did my perfect lap. I will not be able to go better. If Senna does better then he deserves it”. Senna did not move Prost from the pole at that race. Hence it was the perfect lap, understood when it happened, but not at the end of the session.

    1. Phil R says:

      I think it out-psyched him and he went slower and slower in that session.

    2. Timmay says:

      Yep true story – 1989 I think

    3. Nadeem says:

      +1 Thats the one I thought of just couldn’t think the race

    4. Elie says:

      Yep that is def one of the best .. I always remembered Prost doing it but could not remember where !– cheers

      1. Haga says:

        How about Estoril 1988 when Prost changed in to jeans and watched the last half of qualifying from the pitwall as Senna could not get close to him.

      2. Martin says:

        One consideration there was that Honda may well have been playing games with Senna’s engine. He had really poor fuel economy in that race and the Spanish GP. If he had done better, the championship would have been decided before the Japanese GP, at a track Honda owns.

        Prost certainly made it clear that he felt Honda gave him a dud engine for the Italian GP and a few other races, such as Mexico. In the case of Monza, at least Prost’s lasted until the end of the race.

    1. K says:

      Ahhh the old tv graphics so clear and consise, the yellow stood out perfectly, you knew everything that was happening because it was all so easy to take in. Funny thing is my TV is now four times the size but the font size on the graphics is now half as big as it used to be…

      That car was such a dog it had to be a perfect lap.

  7. Sebee says:

    2001 French GP. Ralf Schumacher.

    First pole for Ralf, snatched from his Ferrari driving big brother by 0.010s.

    Seriuosly, why are you laughing? ;-)

  8. Kili Liam says:

    It must be a qualification lap?

    If not, the first lap of the European GP of 1993 is the LAP* we are talking about, in full tank! ;-)

    * – Let Ayrton Pass …. ahahahahahah

    1. Lewis says:

      I have to disagree.
      If I remember that race correctly (And though I have not watched it for a while, I watched that lap many times, after May 94), he was 4th or so on the grid and slips to 6th or so at the first apex. So it is the perfect lap after the 1st corner!

      1. Kili Liam says:

        Fair enough! @ least I tried! ;-)

        Here I go again: it has to be 1988 Monaco pole lap! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_Monaco_Grand_Prix)

        ;-)

  9. Joshua says:

    I really can’t remember all those previous years to say what was the best lap.

    The best I remember seeing on a replay was Hamiltons 2012 at Barcelona. The one where he didn’t have enough fuel. The time was rapid even factoring on the amount of less fuel.

    He hit the apexes sweetly and I remember thinking I’d love to be a passenger.

    1. Tommy says:

      I don’t think so. Not Lewis.

      1. Colombia Concalvez says:

        Tommy you need to calm down now amigo. You don’t like Hamilton it’s not a problem, but don’t messed things up, CALM DOWN Tommy!

      2. KRB says:

        …then ROCK ON Tommy!! Sorry couldn’t resist.

  10. Gabrielle says:

    When talking about pole, I always first remember of Kimi Raikkonen’s in Monaco back in 2005, puting almost half a second on Fernando Alonso. That lap was pretty neat.

    1. Rishi says:

      I’d forgotten about that one – well remembered! It was an awesome lap!

    2. Jimbo says:

      It was so impressive, I remember James saying it was one of the finest things he’d seen around Monaco for a long time! :D

    3. Sujith says:

      OHH… I wanna gonna post this.. you beat me to it…I remember that one like it happened yesterday!! And James, you were shouting.. Half a Second!! Half A SECOND!! :P It was a fun session

    4. Hussein S Lokhandwala says:

      Beat me to it, brilliant lap, compromised by an oil patch or some debris as well if memory serves me, still put in a blinder.

    5. Elie says:

      With Prosts one on Senna in France – this was truly special- there’s no denying it !

    6. Vivek S says:

      Oh man I remember this so well. “HALF A SECOND! HALF A SECOND!”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMc8qy6U1o0

  11. Andy says:

    Race laps stick in my mind more than pole laps so here goes, a few Mansell laps from the archive to start with:

    Nigel Mansell – 1987 Silverstone, the lap he overtook Piquet, planned to perfection, executed without hesitation. Amazing.

    Nigel Mansell – 1990 Mexico, the lap he overtook Berger on the outside of Peraltada – balls of steel, lightning fast on that lap, pressured Berger all the way round.

    Nigel Mansell – 1992 Silverstone pole lap – best car yes, but like Vettel, used it perfectly with a gargantuan gap between him and his team mate.

    Kimi Raikonnen – 2005, Suzuka – final lap – pressure was on for the win, he soaked it up.

    Ayrton Senna – 1985, Adelaide – pole lap – monstrous!

    1. Tim says:

      Nigel Mansell – 1987 Silverstone, the lap he overtook Piquet, planned to perfection, executed without hesitation. Amazing….

      Epic, awesome, amazing…. Mansell pitted for tyres and was a long way back – I recall being a bit down as I thought he had no chance. Then as he started to reel in Piquet(he broke the lap record something like 11 times)my glumness turned to barely contained excitement. When he finally caught and passed Piquet the crowd (and me at home)went wild!

  12. Frans says:

    I don’t know what is my perfect lap, but what I want to see from a perfect lap is the one that done the fastest time while still keeping all 4 wheels on the track! The reasoning that driver didn’t gain any advantage by leaving the track at quali but didn’t allow it on race day still boggles my mind. You don’t allow it at race day then you don’t allow it at quali. You allow it at quali, may as well move the white line further outside.
    Probably one of the perfect lap is when Vettel edges out Button at Suzuka quali. 2 drivers on a similar lap times with Vettel just a bit more thus Vettel got the perfect lap.

    1. Yak says:

      It’s more than that. It’s basically allowed on race day as long as you don’t do it while you’re overtaking.

      Charlie’s thinking is apparently that if you run off the track, you’re actually losing time (which is of course why the drivers do it all the time!). And yet… if you do the exact same thing while there happens to be another car just to the inside of you, suddenly it’s an advantage to run off the circuit.

  13. Jeff Pappone says:

    Easy:

    Gilles Villeneuve at the 1979 USGP in Watkins Glen during wet practice. He was nine seconds quicker than anyone (only six cars ran), including his world champion teammate Jody Scheckter who “couldn’t understand how it was possible” when he saw Villenueve’s time. To make it even more amazing, Villeneuve had a misfiring Ferrari engine when he did his lap.

    Said Jacques Laffite: “Why do we bother? He’s different from the rest of us. On a separate level.”

    And perfect I’d say…

    1. Elie says:

      Mm ever watched F1 then but read it somewhere later..would love footage anything that much faster in such conditions is mind boggling ! – ballsy stuff !

  14. Brian Sims says:

    1984. Keke Rosberg. Williams F1……SA GP. Kyalami

    Pole position with a turbo engine….Raw Power! Scary Stuff

  15. Peter Summerfield says:

    Keke Rosberg’s pole winning lap in the Williams at Silverstone in 1985.

    Watching him go through Abbey was the most amazing experience.

    1. John Stevens says:

      This is so true.

      Keke’s 160+ Q lap at Silverstone, riding the turbo rocket on a moist track, must go down as the perfect lap!

  16. Ant says:

    In a follow up to my post yesterday…

    Formula one is about winning. For me as an engineer (industrial not automotive) the most important thing is to meet your objective with the minimum inputs.

    Consider qualifying, as it’s a single lap, with fewer variables than a race, and assume that pole is the optimal position to start…

    Can any non-pole lap be considered perfect? Even if a driver were to extract the absolute maximum, surely by not being on pole the team has not met their objective, and so nobody, driver included (as they are part of the team), could call that a perfect lap.

    Moving on from this analysis, assuming pole is achieved, what defines the perfect lap? Returning to my original suggestion that the aim is to meet your objective with the minimum inputs, beating the next best competitor by a large distance shows only that the driver and team have over exerted themselves in some form or other, be it by spending more than they needed to on development, by risking an incident, or by over-stressing the car etc etc.

    So, for me, the perfect lap is that which beats your competitors by the minimum margin. From this I would argue that the perfect lap was completed by one of three drivers in the 1997 European GP, where Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all posted identical times, in reality, one of those guys went quickest on that Saturday morning, but by an amount so small it couldn’t be measured.

    Whoever was quickest on that day, they beat their competitors by a miniscule margin, showing that they had deployed measured efforts perfectly.

    1. SteveS says:

      “Even if a driver were to extract the absolute maximum, surely by not being on pole the team has not met their objective, and so nobody, driver included (as they are part of the team), could call that a perfect lap.”

      It’s based on getting 100% out of the car. 100% of a Caterham is not going to be good enough for pole, but it’s still the best possible result in that car.

    2. Bjornar Simonsen says:

      You’re talking about the most effective lap, not the most perfect one.

    3. KRB says:

      Haha, yes, I posted a video of that on here recently. First man to set the time gets the honour. So it was Villeneuve-Schumacher-Frentzen on the grid.

    4. Andy says:

      Wow! I just looked that up. Extraordinary!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVpi5IhzBDY

    5. AndyG says:

      Give Damon Hill some credit – he was just 0.058s behind in 4th but had to slow in the last sector for a yellow…. and remember he was driving an Arrows! Thats gotta be better than the top 3 in Williams’ and a Ferrari!

  17. Bart says:

    Nico Rosberg in China last year did quite well.

    Probably a lot of people who have to drive their kids to school in the morning and then head for work – you can’t be late, you need a perfect lap!

  18. Tomby says:

    Fernando Alonso: Silverstone 2006, Singapore 2011, Spain 2011 and Silverstone 2012.
    Lewis Hamilton: Spain 2012, Canada 2010, Silverstone 2013
    most of the examples are pole laps, but often dirver doesn’t have car to put on pole and still make a “perfect lap”, also taking every apex doesn’t means perfection because in some corners you can carry more speed by going wider, or there is more grip.

  19. Guillermo says:

    I’m not sure if it’s the perfect lap, but thinking about the onboard footage of Senna qualifying on pole at Suzuka in 1989 always gives me a warm feeling. The vibrations, the SOUND, the agression: perfect.

  20. Sebee says:

    Which reminds me of a complaint that needs to be filed with all this perfect lap talk.

    Why, in 2013 are we not seeing the entire Pole lap start to finish, without commentary, with the on-board camera angle only to see our boys do their magic?

    What other sport do you watch where the prize won for the day is not shown fully to the viewer?

    Pole lap should be shown, no talk, just drive. We can handle 2 minutes no talking, can’t we?

  21. James says:

    The perfect lap to me is where the driver is in complete control of the car, the direction the driver steers, is the way the car goes, not fighting over or under steer; being an Alonso fan I have to nominate the 2010 monza lap, where lines were crisp and tight, the power was applied with authority and confidence, and never had to correct for a bad exit, but I would also lean towards Jenson Button’s Spa lap last year, not many would have predicted it, but the maximum was extracted from that McLaren, and JB was in top top form, and carried that to the chequered flag.

  22. jay harte says:

    any of senna’s poles from 1990 or 91 when he was greased lightning with reflexes and changing gear quicker than you could blink your eye.
    some recommendations

    MONTE CARLO 90
    HUNGARORING 91
    ADELAIDE 91
    JEREZ 90

    whats yours james ??

    1. Thiago says:

      Senna SPA 91, just amazing. Balls of steel.

  23. Seán Craddock says:

    Senna Jerez 1990 pole lap

  24. Zombie says:

    1996 Monaco GP. Michael Schumacher dragged the John Bernard designed truck to pole position by half a second over the all-conquering Williams, and by a full 1.1 s over his teammate.

    Just to put things into perspective, Williams bagged 12 out of the 16 pole positions that season.

    1. Lewis says:

      That Ferrari was the last in blood red if I remember right and Autosport described it as though it was smoothed by the sea, the sidepods looked lovely.

    2. Timmay says:

      Eddie Irvine wasn’t bad at Monaco either, whichs adds to that lap in my onion.

  25. Anil says:

    For me it will always be the sub 90 second lap Schumacher did at Suzuka 2006. I still struggle to believe that time and it was clear Alonso wouldn’t be anywhere near it. Schumacher also did great laps at Monaco 96 and Hockenheim 2006 I believe.

    Trulli at Monaco 2004 was pretty special too.

  26. Harshad says:

    Kimi Raikonnen – Spain 2008 ( Fastest lap of the race was 2 tenths quicker than his qualifying lap for pole!)

    Kimi Raikonnen – Silverstone 2004 (qualifying lap)(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZlpWqRhfns) (down in sector 1 due to car set up)

    Kimi Raikonnen – Spa 2005 (this was in the race on inters, he was 2 second a lap faster than anybody else!!)
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXj1TZIPnYU)

    Kimi Raikonnen – Monza 2005 (rumored to have more fuel and still gets Pole position!)

    Kimi Raikonnen – Hungary 2005 (first qualifying lap on Saturday and pole position!)

    1. KRB says:

      As regards the 2008 fastest lap vs. pole, in Q3 then, you had to qualify with your first-race-stint fuel onboard, so Q3 times would usually be higher than Q2 times, etc.

      Kimi’s Q1 time was actually 1.1s faster than his Q3 time, and Massa set the fastest overall time in qualifying in Q2, 1.2s faster that Kimi’s pole time.

      Kimi had some good ones though, back in the day.

    2. rottka says:

      I was gonna to nominate the Monza 05 too. No need of rumours, at the race it was confirmed that he had a lot more fuel than others.

  27. Spinodontosaurus says:

    I find it easier to judge laps from 2008 onwards, as there is no longer any driver aids, whilst footage is adequately available unlike in the past.
    As I said in the previous post; Vettel’s 2011 efforts in Australia, China, Monaco, Singapore and Suzuka (+India which I forgot to mention) stand out in my mind in recent times, as does his laps in Malaysia/India this year.

    There are some other mega laps that may qualify, but there isn’t any footage of them to say for sure. Yes, Schumi’s 1:28.954 at Suzuka was rapid – but we saw so little of the lap no one knows if it was actually a great lap or just down to the huge advantage Ferrari had at the time (that he was 9 tenths ahead of Massa suggests it was more of the former, however).

    If I had to pick one… Toss up between Vettel at Suzuka ’11 or Australia ’11. The former scored him a pole ahead of the (then) much faster Mclarens – and his commitment through the Esses and in particular Dunlop and Spoon was immense.
    The latter smashed the circuit record around Albert Park by 4 tenths, set by himself the previous year, despite being in a car 20kg heavier and with supposedly 20% less downforce vs. the previous season. Plus the commitment as previously.

    Neither were perfect; he suffered from some understeer through S1 in Japan, whilst in Aus’ he had a small lockup into the 2nd-to-last corner. But great nonetheless.

    Honourable mention to Rosberg for his efforts in Singapore this year, and China last year (also is it bad that I genuinely can’t think of any outstanding Hamilton laps? He’s had good ones, but outstanding? I’m lost, but I feel I shouldn’t be).

    1. Colombia Concalvez says:

      Canada 2010 – Korea 2011 and Barcelona 2012 Add Texas 2012 as well, he did not got pole but he was the only one to split the might RBR’s.

  28. Harshad says:

    Nico Rosberg – Singapore 2009, Qualifying lap put him on P3, over 1 Second faster than his team mate Hiedfeld, and 2 tenths faster than Webber in RBR. I don’t think Williams was any match to RBR/McLaren in 2009.

    1. Yago says:

      One of my favourites of modern era too!

  29. Chromatic says:

    Kimi Raikkonen, monaco 2005.

    James said he had never witnessed anything like it on that race track.

    1. James Allen says:

      You have a good memory!

    2. Elie says:

      ***Spot on oh go on give it to Kimi for old times sake !we all know how impossible Monaco is

  30. Nick says:

    My choice would be Ayrton Senna, Jerez 1990 qualifying, stunning lap after witnessing the aftermath of Martin Donnellys crash.
    I think its the footage shown on the Top Gear tribute from a couple of years back and is in the Senna film, awesome commitment, truly something else.
    For a racing lap I would have to mention Ayrton Senna again for the opening lap from Canada 1993 the move on Jean Alesi has to be seen to be believed for jaw dropping bravery and the whole lap is almost more impressive than the opening lap at Donnington the same year in my opinion.

  31. Mike from Colombia says:

    This might seem like a strange one.

    Hamilton, Korea 2011.

    Had to squeeze everything out of the car to be the only non-Red Bull on pole that year.

    Others:
    Mansell, Silverstone 1992
    Schumacher, Monaco 1996
    Hamilton, Silverstone 2013

  32. Gary says:

    The perfect lap(s)? Easy, Gilles Villeneuve and Renee Arnoux at Dijon in 1979. If you haven’t seen it, look it up.

  33. BogRacer says:

    Robert Kubica, Monaco 2010, Q3.
    Nanometer-perfect and on the limit! Awesome lap. As close to perfection as I can recall. Kubica was an artist that day. Didn’t set the pole but extracted the maximum from the car in scintillating style!

    1. Elie says:

      Yeah loved that one too !

  34. Andrew Carter says:

    Takuma Sato at Suzuka in 2002 to put the Jordan 5th on the grid, including a bit of opposite lock through 130R (before they had to open the corner out and make it a bit easier for run off) with his foot buried against the bulkhead. Still remember that lap quite clearly.

  35. tropek says:

    Vettel Monza 2011 – half a second on McLaren boys and Mark miles away.

    1. Yago says:

      For me Vettel’s best lap by far!!

  36. jmv says:

    Montoya had a good string of qualifying performances in his early Williams days.. didnt he do 4-5 poles consecutively?

    Here is one of his qualifying performances from this Cart days (1999 Detroit) pretty spectacular! Watch his hands! shifting gears, correcting all the time. Watch the walls too! Amazing car control (back then):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VZkXI7M5gk

    1. Aussie Rod says:

      +1

      Silverstone 2002 is my pick below. His pole laps in 2002 up against the superior Ferrari’s were mega and one of the few interesting aspects to an otherwise dominant and somewhat dull season.

  37. ryan says:

    Lewis Hamilton, Silverstone 2013. He surprised the whole grid with that one.

  38. Delgado says:

    Trulli – Monaco 2004 pole lap. Aggressive, Accurate, Fast.

    1. Yago says:

      Tremendous lap!

  39. Peter Jones says:

    Senna’s opening lap at Donnington. just amazing

  40. Phil says:

    Senna, first lap of the 1993 European GP at Donnington Park in the wet.

  41. Stephen Taylor says:

    Perfect Laps =Schumacher Hungary 98.

  42. Stephen Taylor says:

    Mark Webber Sepang 2004 . Qualified 2nd behind Schumacher’s dominant F2004 Ferrari.

  43. Danylo Furlani says:

    There is a psicological state that is called “flow” or “the flow”. It happens when you master some skill to the point where you do not think about what you’re doing anymore, you just feel and respond to the external imputs instinctively. Some people call it “the tunnel” wilst some say its “magical”.
    When it happens to someone, somehow that transpires and anyone who is passionate enough can see, or feel, when they’re watching someone in that sate of mind.
    The best lap I’ve seen, is the next time I see someone doing that.

    1. Bunchies says:

      This is what we generally call, being “in the zone.”

  44. Peter says:

    Raikkonen Monaco 2005 Quali.

  45. FunkMo says:

    I’ll just unlurk quickly and offer you Nico Hulkenberg, driving a Williams in Brazil, 2010. His timing was impeccable and the lap was pretty special .

  46. Paul says:

    I know it has been mentioned before but Hamilton Barcelona 2012 was special. I know he didn’t have enough fuel but the margin he had in hand would have given him pole anyway.
    I’ve never been his biggest fan but if you want to see a lap characterised as “ringing the neck of a car” that was it. Oversteer/understeer corrections all over the place. As a Button fan I remember thinking with his neat and tidy style, no wonder Jenson is having trouble driving the car if you have to drive it like that.
    This lap was all about petering on the edge, on the limit – great, great lap.

  47. Adam says:

    Villeneuve, Melbourne 1997.

    1. Aussie Rod says:

      +1 an incredible performance!

      His form throughout the entire Satday was unbelievable to watch. He was on another planet.

  48. PK says:

    Michael at Monte Carlo, 1996.
    Equivalent today would be maybe a Ferrari or a Sauber having a half second margin on the Red Bull.
    Those days of course, didn’t have the swings in forms race to race that we see today. A bad car was a bad car.

  49. Simmo says:

    For me Malaysia 2011 comes to mind. Vettel’s pole lap was pretty good

  50. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    OK, sorry off topic, what’s going on with HULK?

    MALDONADO got the 2nd seat at Lotus?

    Uncertainty about Force India until December!?

    I’m getting nervous…

  51. Jimbo says:

    So many standout laps over the years. In terms of sheer quality, Schumacher’s pole at Suzuka 2000 in an hour long duel with Hakkinen, the pair neck and neck all session, improving by tiny fractions each time before Michael just sealing pole by a matter of thousandths of a second.

    The laps were so fully committed and error free, a real master class in how to pull something out of the bag when you need to the most, when so much was at stake regarding the title.

  52. TitanRacer says:

    in no particular order:
    Dan Gurney at the ’67? Indy 500 where he ran 2 wheels in the grass at all 4 corners in an attempt to catch PJ in the STP turbine.

    Jimmy Clark at the ’67 Canadian GP
    pole looked like a walk in the park after about only 17 laps of practice until I looked at the 16 frames/sec movies I took – exiting Moss Corner, the front wheels were pointed in opposite directions on every other frame and the rear tires were 1/3 into the grass for each quali lap. DNF due to rain in the electrics.

    Jochen Rindt on every lap of the ’69 Canadian GP at turn 8. have never seen a car do so many large gyrations at that speed every lap. standing outside the turn with but a small berm and a cow pasture fence made it totally terrifying, yet so gratifying I dared not leave… finished 3′rd.

    Jody Schecter ’73 F5000 at Mid Ohio. led the field into “Madness” when the sky opened up while already in the braking zone. prolly up to 60 degrees sideways several times but made it thru while many did not. easily won.

    Jackie Oliver in the ’74 Can Am in his Shadow thru turn 2 at Mosport equalled Jocken’s quali and race gyrations with my safety of being high up on the viewing bank :) easily won.

    Senna quali at ’88 Monaco is a no-brainer!

    Seb V early in his career with Red Bull. wish I could remember the year and track. maybe 2010? maybe Hungary? in-car cam showed him both manhandling and finessing the car in a way that sent chills up my spine…

    1. RodgerT says:

      Love this post though it might be a bit too much ‘deep background’ and ‘wrong continent’ for some readers.

  53. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    The perfect lap for me is watching Ayrton, flat out, out front, at the mighty Imola circuit, onboard with engine and gear changes noise only – no commentary, leading from pole his final full lap, down the straight, past Tamburello, Villeneuve, to go up Tosa, round Piratella dropping through Aqua Minerale, cresting Varianta Alta, kink and dipping double left Rivazza, nailing the chicaine then flat out along the main straight…

    Perfect to watch and incredibly sad also.

  54. Edward Valentine says:

    A few to choose from. Perhaps Damon Hill at Hugary in 1997 to qualify 3rd.

    For me the perfect lap was Kimi’s pole lap at Monza in 2006 – .002 quicker than Schumacher or the length of a CD case in distance terms.

  55. Thread the Needle says:

    Lewis Hamilton Korea 2011, finally someone beat the red bulls to pole, great lap

  56. Nikola says:

    Hulkenberg Brasil 2010

  57. Jun says:

    Perfect lap for me is when you set the fastest in all 3 sectors.

  58. Johannes says:

    Kimi Raikkonen – Monaco 2005

  59. Mike Allfrey says:

    For me, the so-called perfect lap was the one that put Stirling Moss (now Sir Stirling) on pole position for the British Grand Prix at Aintree in 1957, in the fabulous Vanwall. However, even more entertaining were the subsequent efforts by Jean Behra (Maserati), including his lurid spin at the end of the pits straight. All of that is still fresh with me!

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  60. Thompson says:

    Damon Hills 3rd place in an Arrows! ….. an Arrows!!, thats like a Caterham or Minardi, Marussia starting in 3rd today.( not considering he lead that race, coming 2nd in the end)

    No driver before or since has ever done anything on par with that achievement in a back of the grid car.

    The team did not have the budget or technical personal it was purely driver – that had to be the perfect lap getting everything ….every last thing out of that car and the track.

    that has to be the perfect lap.

  61. Grant H says:

    Alonso spain 2011 or vet australia 2011 or ham spain 2013 (even though it was disallowed due to a fuel issue)

    1. Grant H says:

      *correction I mean ham 2012

  62. Grant H says:

    what about the hulk in 2010 where as a rookie he read the changing track conditions superbly and put the inferior williams on the pole…

    1. Grant H says:

      Obviously forgot to add that was brazil

  63. ADF says:

    Quite a few choices.

    Senna, Suzuka 89/90
    Senna/Prost, Jerez 1990
    M. Schumacher, Melbourne 2003
    S. Vettel, Melbourne 2010
    F. Massa, Interlagos/Singapore 2008
    K. Raikkonen, Monaco 2005
    J. P Montoya, Spa 2005
    M. Webber, Monaco/Turkey 2010
    R. Kubica, Monaco 2010
    L. Hamilton, Abu Dhabi 2012

    Not all of these laps were pole, but they have this visual and aural thrill that still appeals to me everytime I Youtube them.

  64. ADF says:

    Oh, but if the perfect lap can be applied to other forms of motorsport, I suggest that avid fans look up the 2007 Bathurst 1000 Top 10 Shootout Laps by Winterbottom and Skaife. Those are perfect…to me anyway

    1. Andrew says:

      Greg Murphy 2003 Bathurst. Amazing!

  65. Nuno says:

    For sure Senna’s 1988 Monaco GP qualifing lap. He was so much faster the anyone else, including Prost with same equipment.
    Ayrton mastered that circuit. And that lap was simply PERFECT.

  66. Rayz says:

    Raikkonen 2005 monaco.
    Alonso posted a stunning lap tp go half a second clear of everyone. Then Kimi smashed Alonso’s time by half a second again. And those were the days of you do one lap quali and thats it. immense pressure

  67. Bayan says:

    Massa in Singapore 2008. Blitzed the rest of the field.

  68. Simon Reichelt says:

    Mark webber in the jag, Brazil 2003. Saturday qualifying. Didn’t even stick it on pole, but I clearly remember him being a quarter of a second up on Rubens time at sector 2. He had that jag on the limit, and that would have to be one of the best laps I have ever watched

  69. Darren says:

    One that sticks out for me is Raikkonens pole lap at Monaco in 2005. I can’t remember the ins and outs now did he not have problems prior to the lap? If I recall this was in the single lap qualifying era too. It was a sight to behold, the last and most powerful of the V10s being thrown round Monaco, and Kimi did it perfectly beating Alonso (who’s own lap wasn’t too shabby) by half a second. I think James was rather impressed too judging by the commentary!

  70. Larry Parker says:

    There’s no such thing as a perfect lap, but the quali laps that make you take stare in awe (and Senna had so many of them, particularly Monaco ’88) are when a driver goes 1.5 seconds or more faster than a talented teammate in the same car, with no intervening mechanical issues. Senna aside, Villeneuve ’79 Watkins Glen (practice) and Mansell ’92 Silverstone are other classic examples.

    BTW, I agree with others that the perfect RACE lap was Senna ’93 Donington.

  71. Sunny says:

    The question is on the “Perfect lap” and Alonso goes on and on about not having the car to compete. Indeed mind games of the worst kind. Always the cry baby.

  72. Timmay says:

    1993 – Senna got the only non-Williams Renault pole of the entire season by a large margin.

  73. SayWhat? says:

    I agree about Senna’s 1989 lap at Suzuka. Quickest driver ever, on a monster track, with onboard footage, stick shift and a screaming Honday V10 – it doesn’t get any better than that.

    It may or may not have been a perfect lap but it’s the most inspiring and committed qualifying performance I’ve ever seen. Don’t know if it’s still available but try and find the onboard version with no talking, just the sound of the engine – so awesome.

    A couple of lesser known laps that probably weren’t perfect but are still great to watch…

    YouTube: Albers Fantastic Qualification lap Montréal 2005. You and Martin were commenting on it James, perhaps you remember it. Also…

    YouTube: CART Montoya Pole Position Detroit On Board 1999.

  74. SayWhat? says:

    Another type of perfect lap is placing your car perfectly – without blocking – so that the following car(s) are unable to pass despite being (significantly) quicker on a track that is relatively easy to pass on.

    Perhaps the best example of this was the string of perfect laps that Gilles Villeneuve put in to hold off a train of 4 quicker cars (Lafitte, Watson, Reutemann, de Angelis) enabling him win the 1981 Spanish GP with just 1.24 seconds covering the top 5 cars. This was Villeneuve’s last and arguably greatest victory.

    Gilles never blocked them, he kept them behind with insanely late braking, perfect car placement, putting the power down ASAP and letting the Ferrari turbo do the rest.

    Perfect – and honorable – defensive driving, lap after lap after lap. Just one of the many reasons why, to this day, he’s still a legend to many fans.

  75. jensonsundersteer says:

    Michael Schumacher 2012 Monaco- Although a 5 place grid penalty would occur from the previous race I think Schumi pulled something just short of a miracle out of that lap. It really made me smile that Saturday afternoon I for one was so pleased for him the way he threaded that shitbox of a Merc around the track.

    Michael you are sadly missed

    1. Janis1207 says:

      Oh, yes!
      And the stunned comment of Ant Davidson that Schumi had managed to adjust the brake balance while driving one hand exactly where Perez couldn’t do it with both and had crashed earlier :)
      But a perfect lap(s) would be Schumi, Spain GP 1996. With a dog of a car 4 – 5 sec a lap faster than anyone else, including the migty Williams.
      Those were the days…

  76. K says:

    Jerez 1997 qualifying, Frentzen, Villeneuve, Schumacher same time to three decimal places.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVpi5IhzBDY

    I dunno Hakkinen put in a lot of blinders back in the day in quali, likewise Schumacher in race middle stint sprints to execute strategies.

    Michael Schumacher overtook 11 cars on the first lap of the ’98 Japanese GP, if you’re starting from the back of the grid that’s about aas perfect as it gets.

  77. Raymond Yu says:

    I actually think Vettel’s Monaco 2011 lap was picture perfect. The way he was able to kick the rear out in the nouvelle chicane to rotate the car so perfectly in the right direction for a straight exit towards Tabac? Absolutely exquisite.

    Also to grab Suzuka 2011 pole in a struggling Red Bull over Button’s (on that day) pointy McLaren – the way Vettel was able to really push the car, grabbing exit tarmac whenever he could to help carry more speed through the corner – absolutely amazing.

  78. Mohd Fazly says:

    Micheal Schumacher, France 2004. Spectacular 4 stop strategy.

  79. veeru says:

    Fernando Alonso’s pole lap in the wet at sileverstone 2012.

    mistake at beckettes (I think) was corrected with lightning reflexes

  80. Bones says:

    Carlos Reutemann,Monza 1981.

  81. Gavin Thomas says:

    Jackie Stewart – Lap 1 German GP 1968

  82. Glennb says:

    Senna – Monaco 1988 for me.

  83. Tifoso says:

    I didn’t see it live, but a racing lap that has gone into F1 lore was L1, Donington Park, 1993? Ayrton Senna from 5th or 6th to 1st? In the wet?
    I don’t know if Senna ever said it was “perfect”, but statistically, I can’t remember another lap where a driver went from the 3rd row of the grid to P1 on L1, where there wasn’t an insane accident.
    In recent memory, I recall Alonso’s Q3 lap at Silverstone in the wet in 2012.
    And I can recall multiple Vettel laps in the past few years that were very good. India just a few days ago, as someone else mentioned, was technically very good. And there was a lap at Suzuka maybe in 2011.
    Further down the order, I was at Spa in 2009 when Fisichella snatched pole from Kimi. That was a very good lap.
    But, as others have commented, how can the perfect lap be judged? I would guess that unless you were in the car, driving the lap, I’d say its hard to judge by only seeing the on-board footage.
    I’ve driven what I consider to be my perfect lap on the Nordschleife. But no one can truly understand my experience. No matter how much I explain it, or even if there had been telemetry or a video camera, it was only perfect to me. (I got smoked by a GT3 somewhere around the carousel, and he probably tripped the line 10 seconds before me. But to me, it was perfect) My point is its all relative. It’s getting the maximum out of the racing car. I’m sure, as Jenson said, he had done the absolute maximum several times this year, albeit with a poor car. And I’m also sure that Chilton, Pic and Bianchi have all had laps this year they consider to be perfect.
    This is why I brought up Giancarlos lap from Spa in 2009. Just because they aren’t in an RB7 or FW14B, or their name isn’t Senna or Schumacher, doesn’t mean they haven’t done the perfect lap. We just talk about the great ones.
    As I said before, it’s very hard to judge, unless you were in the car and felt that near out of body state of consciousness, to which Grosjean eluded that Senna had, we will never truly understand the perfect lap.

    1. Phil Glass says:

      Spa 2006 Kimi started p6 IIRC.
      Fisi took pole and led race but not for very long……

      1. Phil Glass says:

        2009 ! pardon me

  84. Tom G says:

    Damon Hill Melbourne 1997 in an Arrows, he had to give all that he could to even qualify then broke down on the warm up lap of the race. that lap had me on the edge of my seat more than any pole lap I ever saw.

  85. Gordon says:

    Kimi Raikkonen’s pole lap for the 2004 british gp. Clawed back half a second in the first sector to the dominant ferrari’s. Pulled 3.5 seconds from the field on the first lap of the race. Monaco, Monza 2005 from Kimi and Suzuka 2001 from Schumi are up there as well.

  86. Bob says:

    I am pretty sure, not absolutely sure, that Monaco 2005 from Kimi Raikkonen was the best lap of all time. Being half a second faster in Monaco, in dry and normal conditions, is the equivalent of just saying “I am clearly faster than you”. Just goes to show you, that without the right setup, drivers can’t deliver their maximum.

  87. Tom says:

    Being the extremely biased Aussie I am, I’ll have to say Mark Webber’s pole lap of Monaco in 2010 wasn’t too shabby :)

  88. Aussie Rod says:

    I think you could pick any number of laps from Montoya in 2002, but Silverstone stays with me.

    The Ferrari’s dominated each practice session, as they had dominated the entire season, but as each session passed Montoya nudged closer and closer to the top time.

    In the dying seconds of quali, he nailed a lap to beat Barrichello by 0.034 seconds and Michael Schumacher by 0.044.

    I’ll never forget the commentators saying at the time ‘every jaw in the pitlane has just hit the floor’. A mega lap to put a car on pole that never deserved to be there.

  89. JohnBt says:

    A perfect lap to me is when a driver makes all the perfect ride over curbs, apexes, chicanes and what not but slides out at around the last turn and bringing the car sharply back, then gets the pole by beating the current pole sitter by like 0.01 secs.

    I felt Lewis and Vettel are the best in the current crop of drivers, especially Lewis, Vettel can be too perfect and it’s clinical to me.

    Perfection must have that edge with a twitch of imperfection then getting it back fast. That’s sublime.

  90. Tim says:

    Perhaps a bit different, but in spirit of aiming to get the best out of one lap, doing everything humanly possible to set the fastest time, I would go for Senna at the French GP 1991, when he deliberately crashed at the end of the lap after crossing the line, as that was the fastest way to make that corner.

    1. Adam N says:

      I thought Senna span out on oil from Grouillard’s blown engine?

  91. Giorgio says:

    SV Japan 2011 pole.
    He edged out Button by just 0.009 sec,
    Monza 2006, amazing lap by Kimi, just 0.002 sec quicker than schumi.

  92. Bill says:

    The Lap after the final safety car came in at Spa 2004. Raikkonen smashed the lap record at spa and it stands today.

  93. mesut says:

    Alonso Barcelona 2011, as I remember Alonso himself described the lap as perfect lap..

    1. Harshad says:

      Every now and then, (about himself) he will keep saying it as perfect!
      Just see the tweet from Andrew Benson, Wherein ALonso describes his relationship with Ferrari as “It was perfect, it will always be perfect!!”…we all know the reality!

      Just saying, don’t read too much what drivers have to say, but you be the judge!

  94. Mark Connop says:

    I don’t think us mere mortals can judge from the footage whether a lap is perfect or not, we just don’t have the data.

    To be honest, I’m not sure the teams have it too. Who can tell if that lap was perfect at that time as the factors change so quickly. If you take just one corner, you could say that the fastest time through it is to brake 90.251m before the corner, but only if the track temperature is x and the tyres are in condition y etc etc. Should the track temperature change, you may be able to brake 90.245m before the corner.

    So I think the perfect lap is possible, but we’ll just never know it.

  95. Antonio says:

    It’s been mentioned here just the once. But the most perfect and beautiful lap I have seen in my 17 year tenure as an F1 fan is definitely this:

    Felipe Massa’s pole lap in Singapore 2008 was once of the most beautiful and flawless laps I have ever seen. From the on board to the viewer it looked and sounded dedicated without it being made to look difficult. For me, if a driver can look dedicated with making me think I could do it, then that defines the perfect lap.

  96. Tim Wright says:

    I have two to enter James. Amazing laps but I rate especially highly because the drivers were controlling turbo cars with qualifying tyres and full boost.

    1) Nelson Piquet, Brands Hatch 1986
    http://youtu.be/aJhwdy-J14A

    2) Ayrton Senna, Adelaide 1986 – love watching him dancing it out of the first chicane and the hairpin!
    http://youtu.be/gbKbg-Bg8mk

    1. H.Guderian says:

      Thanks for the link.
      AWESOME to see Senna and the Black Lotus.

  97. Robin Venables says:

    Not THE perfect lap but Villeneuve, Schumacher and Frentzen all getting the same time, down to 1/1000 of a second (1:21:072) at Jerez in 1997 will take some beating.

  98. vuelvekowalsky says:

    i remember mansell in the 1988 brazilian gp with the judd engine. he was second, and said he made the perfect lap.
    But senna in 1986 spanish gp at jerez. i was there and was in shock when i saw ayrton coming at full boost at the fast right hander behind the paddock. A few years after that, i read in a book that senna did two fast ones that day. When he got to the box after the first one, the team thought he was going to get out of the car, because the pole was his, but he said the lap time was beatable, because he made two small mistakes, and there were two tenths to be gained. He went back out, and came with a better lap, by… two tenths!! he got out of the car happy to know that there was nothing left in the car that day. To me that has to be the perfect lap. And i was there to witness it.

  99. Uwe says:

    As someone who has done both simracing and racing in the real world (not much though) I think the only one who is able to judge whether it was a near perfect lap is the driver himself and maybe his engineer. But no outsider.

  100. Robert says:

    Hill 1997 Hungaroring, that car had no right to be where it was.

  101. Gary Billington says:

    Said it yesterday, I’ll say it again today:
    Qualifying @ Jerez 1997.

    When 3 guys get the exact same time, that says to me it’s the ultimate time that cannot be beaten.

    If that isn’t the perfect lap, I don’t know what is.

  102. Peldo says:

    How about Hakkinen Estoril 1993. First McLaren qualifying and outpacing the the Greatest ever qualifier Senna by 0,048 of a second. Senna could not stop watching the data and shaking his head. Probably near perfect lap for the car they had. Race was learning curve for Mika and crashed heavily.

  103. Ketthalllotus says:

    Silverstone, British GP 1985, pole position lap set by Keke Rosberg at over 160mph in a Williams, apparently with a slow puncture. I got married a few weeks earlier and struggle now to remember my anniversary, but I’ll never forget witnessing that lap!!

  104. Steve W says:

    Jacques Villeneuve’s pole lap at Melbourne, 1997…

    In his Williams FW19-Renault, he qualified 1.7 seconds quicker than team-mate Frentzen and 2.1 seconds quicker than Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F310B. Villeneuve’s pole time was in the ’29s, Frentzen and the rest started in the ’31s and the rest of the grid went from there. A whole 1-second bracket was skipped.

    1. SayWhat? says:

      Forgot about that one, and Frentzen was no slouch in qualifying, so it really was a great performance by JV. I’d definitely put it in my top 10 or even top 5 special “where the hell did that come from” qualifying performances.

  105. Jay says:

    he hates me to say it because i am a pure Ferrari fan but Hakkinen 1999 san marino GP pole lap.

    The last corner when he had oversteer did it for me

    1. Inner Circle says:

      “Hakkinen 1999 san marino GP pole lap” – I think you mean 2000. Michael Schumacher, who was on provisional pole, couldn’t believe his eyes and a Ferrari mechanic even grinned at him and gestured something on the lines of “See? Guess that means you owe me!…”
      However, that lap – while a classic – was nowhere near perfect.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_San_Marino_Grand_Prix

  106. Jay says:

    Also Trulli Monaco 2004 pole lap

  107. Carl Craven says:

    Button’s last lap to take the Canadian win. He never gave up. Generally he has a tendency to know when to hold back and that makes him a bit frustrating to watch at times, but that race and the last lap where he forced Vettel into an error was pretty perfect.

    Yes it’s an alternative definition which takes into account having to race against other drivers and not just how well they take the series of corners on offer as if they were the only car on track.

  108. A Taylor says:

    Kimi Raikkonen-Monza 2005. Qualified knowing he had a 10 place grid penalty due to an engine failure in Friday morning practice. The commitment through the second chicane was sensational as he bounced over the kerbs! He got the pole and started from 11th (first and only driver to do this I believe) and had a shot of victory, had the Michelin tyres not nearly delaminated!

    1. derschorsch says:

      Schumacher Monaco 2012 I recall as being the same.

      1. A Taylor says:

        You are right, but the qualifying format meant you had to run not only the preferred race tyre but fuel for the first stint of the race. So not quite like for like, but I take your point!

  109. krappy says:

    Jessica Michibata

    1. KRB says:

      Lol!

      Topic though was ‘perfect lap’, not ‘pervert lap’, haha.

  110. greg says:

    I was going to say Kimi Raikkonen Monaco 2005 but quite a few people have already said that. I liked Rosberg China 2012, Schumi Monaco 2012, the first ever qualifying lap ever done I guess and Domain Grosjean Lap 1 Spa 2012

  111. Liam Connolly says:

    Kovalainen Spain 2011- no lotus/caterham has ever deserved to make Q2 let alone outqualify both force indias in p15, a great lap considering the lack of downforce.

  112. John Snow says:

    The perfect lap is pole, nothing else really matters

  113. Chapor says:

    To me the perfect lap was at Spa 2000. Mika’s overtake on Michael. The way he had to set Michael up for the overtake over the whole lap beforehand is fascinating. How many details he needed to account for, I once read his account on how it all happened, and how close he came the lap before, being pushed onto the grass, and how he had to recover to make that pass… I think there is much more perfection in that lap than a timed lap were the only thing you have to concentrate on is hitting the apexes perfectly.

    But, the qualifying laps I absolutely enjoy watching are Vettels. Talk about precision… Those are for the most part perfect laps…

  114. MattH says:

    Mansell 92 at Silverstone

    Was already on Pole by over a second and then went out again ‘just for the crowd’ and was 2.198 seconds faster than his team mate, best car or not that wasnt destroying his team mate, he buried him and stamped on the grave.

    Utter domination and done for the sheer fun of it and the crowd.

  115. digby says:

    Rosberg. Silverstone 1985. 160mph.

  116. Richard says:

    Yes well only the driver knows how good a lap actually is. The engineers can see the timing, but only the driver knows what the car can do in the prevailing conditions. The hypothetically perfect lap is getting everything there is out of the car around a particular circuit, in the prevailing conditions which includes the weather, temperature, and condition of the track. It is something that can be done in the virtual world, but not in reality. In reality what the driver does always falls short of perfection to a lesser or greater extent. In fact there is no such thing as perfection in anything, but as human beings we strive to get close to it when it matters.

  117. CarlH says:

    Fernando Alonso
    Monza 2010
    Race lap

    Overtaken by Button at the start & followed on his gearbox until Button stopped. Had one lap in clear air before his own stop. Gave it absolutely everything, unleashed a monster lap & came out ahead of Button into turn 1.

    Brilliant. The noise of the Tifosi as Alonso came out ahead is one of my fondest F1 memories.

    Avanti Fer!

  118. derschorsch says:

    Jerez 1997 for sure.

    and Schumacher in Monaco 1996 (in a crap car – what an awesome, sick lap)

    Apart from that most of the Senna, Hamilton, Vettel and Schumacher poles are awesome – as well as all Poles in a weaker car – like Hulk in Brazil two years ago.

  119. Alexander Supertramp says:

    To me the perfect lap is all about efficiency. The perfect lap is the most efficient one,i.e. the one where you got everything out of the car. To me there is a possibility that the perfect lap looks a little sloppy at times, I don’t think getting on the power early and correcting oversteer is necessarily a bad thing. Measure up the gain of using the throttle earlier to the loss of the correction of the oversteer/oversteer itself and if the gains are bigger you did a great job.

    So often I see laps that look ‘technically perfect’, just to find out that the team mate actually went quicker. “I got everything out of the car” gets thrown around way too often these days.

  120. Elie says:

    It’s very clear Kimi Monaco 2005 has many, many votes – and some choosing others only because it was selected by so many !

  121. Dan M says:

    For me, it’s Hakkinen at Imola in 2000. I was a Schumacher fan, but I remember being on the edge of my seat for that session and the lap was perfect, he clawed a tenth back from MSC to steal it at the line and nearly lost control on the final curb too. Doesn’t hurt that the Mclaren that year had one of the best sounds of all time…
    http://youtu.be/MtMQN-DWCLg

  122. JamesB says:

    I’ll add in again the Rosberg lap at Silverstone in 1985…Mansells in 1990 wasn’t too shabby either ! (watched that one from Stowe, so I know what i’m talking about!)

    Kekes lap in 85 reminds me of one of the funniest things I ever saw at a race track….If you remember it had been raining hard for some time. At Woodcote they had erected temporary grandstands with a canvas roof (if think you may guess where I’m going with this…..)The weight of the water that was collecting was making a sizeable bulge in the material, when eventually it happened….the canvas split and about a weeks worth of rain landed on a couple in the third row!. They couldn’t have been wetter if they had gone swimming with their clothes on ! cruel, but very very funny :-)

  123. formula says:

    I think one of my “perfect laps” was Lewis in qualy at silverstone 2013. The guy was just absolutely on it. 4 tenths quicker than his team mate nico rosberg who qualified in second. A gap unheard of in the state that F1 is currently in.

    There was something about being at home that I think brought something out in Lewis to put in that mega lap. He was saying and still is saying that he’s not 100% comfortable on the brakes, so putting that into the equation, he could have gone even quicker.
    www1.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/f1/teams/mercedes-gp/8798256/hamilton’s-pole-lap

  124. FragrantGimp says:

    Lauda, Nurburgring 1975. Under 7 minutes. Getting a near-perfect lap on a modern track is hard enough already, but on the Nordschleife? Unthinkable.

  125. DMyers says:

    Johnny Herbert putting the Sauber 5th on the grid in Melbourne in 1998 – two seconds quicker than Alesi in the sister car. I could also go for his 4th in the Lotus in Monza in 1994.

  126. Fred says:

    Kimi’s Monaco 2005 pole lap was the best thing I have seen in f1 qualifying. They could make a movie out of that lap.

    1. Phil Glass says:

      Great idea.
      Al Pacino could play Alonso.
      For Kimi, Steve McQueen would have been good. Alas!

  127. The Bard says:

    Schumacher. Monaco. 96.

    Stunning, stunning lap. One of his best, definitely.

  128. Atb says:

    Senna spa 91. Worth watching on youtube

  129. Dave Aston says:

    Not F1, but… Peter Brock, lap 163 of the 1979 Hardie Ferodo (Bathurst) 1000. He and Jim Richards led every lap from pole, including during their pit stops. Brock was six laps in front(about 75 km), and broke the lap record on the final lap of a 1000 km enduro, lapping a dozen or so walking wounded in the process.

  130. Charlie B says:

    Kimi Raikkonen at Monza in 2005.

    He knew he would be getting a 10 place grid penalty as the Mercedes engines had a habit of blowing up on Friday. Fat with fuel he set the fastest time of the session (remember in 2005 they only had one lap which makes it more incredible, he only had one warm-up lap beforehand). An unbelievable lap, just watch it…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExhPp_rzxeU

  131. shabee says:

    I think Kimi’s 2005 Monza Lap was pretty awesome………..Ron Dennis at that time said its the Lap of the decade !

  132. Giorgio says:

    I think Lewis doing the perfect pole lap at China this year
    http://vimeo.com/63965593

  133. Adam N says:

    For me it has to be Barrichello at Silverstone in 2003. After spinning out of Friday qualifying he had to go out first on a dirty track on the Saturday – nobody came close. Then on raceday an idiot ran on the track bringing the safety car out and putting him back to eighth and he still won, after passing Raikkonen on the outside of bridge!

  134. James M says:

    I have to say, even while I’m not his greatest fan, some of Vettel’s pole laps from the last few years have been sensational, some without so much of a hint of a correction or a shadow of oversteer. That said, the most recent one that sticks out in my mind is either Button’s lap at Spa in 2011 and Hamilton’s from Spain (Catalunya) last year. How early Button is with his throttle and how planted he is through some of the faster corners even with DRS activated is, in my opinion, just breathtaking.

  135. M GHAREEB says:

    Kimi’s Monza 2005 pole lap was the best Lap ever, with a very heavy car he did incredible lap

  136. Timmay says:

    As rare as it might be – a perfect lap is more likely to be one that is posted early and noone can beat it. In modern times we are so used to drivers going out as late as possible for track conditions.

    It goes without saying that old school laps on qualifying tyres are the most perfect too.

    I’m thinking Prost in France setting a time Senna couldn’t touch.

  137. Michael says:

    Schuamcher, Spain 1996 in the pouring rain. Several perfect laps in his Ferrari powerboat. Best driving ever in any race, class or time.

  138. Dutch Johnny says:

    Well Did a perfect one once on Forza 3 at a online league qualifying session in a DTM car but that doesnt count right? haha

    I will go for schumacher at suzuka 2006 that time was just unbelievable. Every time people try to bash him or say he wasn’t any good, i watch this and some other laps to remind me what a great driver he was.

  139. Sehic Nijaz says:

    For me, Anthony Davidson’s lap at Istanbul in 2007, that qualified him 11th in the Super Aguri.

  140. cometeF1 says:

    According to Hulkenberg, his qualifying lap to sixth today, was a perfect lap. Marc

  141. Rufus says:

    The best qualifying lap I was lucky enough to witness was Nigel Mansell’s 1990 pole at Silverstone.

    I remember that we could see visibly that he was pushing extremely hard and it was sensational to witness. As the 1992 effort was on Friday, I didn’t see it for real as I wasn’t there. Perhaps Mansell in 1992 and Senna in 88 for pure speed are ahead of the 1990 effort. However, what makes the 1990 pole special is that the 1990 Ferrari didn’t have the superiority of the 1992 Williams (no traction control, no active suspension) or the 88 Mclaren. What is more Nigel did it in a car that wasn’t his, as his car had been given to Prost.

    As for the best lap in a race the best I’ve seen has to be Senna on lap one at Donnington in 93. The car was way off the pace of the Williams in the dry but in the wet as we know Senna was way ahead.

  142. peter chappell says:

    Tommy Byrne every single F1 lap he did.

  143. **Paul** says:

    Ok I’m late to the party but laps that stick in my memory (I would have mentioned some of those above, but there’s no point repeating them):

    1.) Vettel @ Suzuka in 2011.
    The McLarens of Button and Hamilton were on fine form at this track, but Vettels pole lap was special. I rate this as his best ever lap and probably the best pole I’ve seen in the sport. Watch it carefully and you’ll see just how on the edge this lap was. Incredible commitment, he nicked pole by a ridiculously small margin from Buttons McLaren. Yet to see anyone deliver a pole lap like that since. Epic epic lap. He was within a centre metre or two of bining it on numerous corners. To the edge… fair play kid.

    2.) Kimi @ Spa in 2002.
    A BARs engine explodes the the top of Eau Rouge, Kimi keeps his foot in through the smoke and although he didn’t get pole it was an amazing lap. Much respect for that one, probably the bravest lap I’ve seen in F1. Kimi has balls.

    3.) Montoya at Monza in 2004 (in practice)
    The fastest ever lap recorded at the speed dome is a very special thing for me. When you average 162.949 that’s just mind bendingly quick.

  144. Andy says:

    I think one of the laps that really leaped from my memory was Robert Kubica’s Q3 lap at Monaco. That Renault wasn’t exactly near the fastest car on the grid but Kubica very nearly stuck it on pole. I miss him.

  145. John Fields says:

    Alesi won Canada in 1995. The morning warmup was held in streaming rain. Alesi tore off a lap that were so fast, just light years beyond what anyone else was doing. I knew then he would have the speed to challenge for the win that day.

  146. Ruari Gillies says:

    One of the best must surely have been in the 1.5 turbo era: I shall never forget the sheer spectacle, even from the telly, of Nelson Piquet in the Brabham at Brands completing his three laps of qualifying. Special engine just for qually? certainly with the boost wound right up and consuming fuel at such a vast rate to produce over 1000bhp that you could see from the exhaust when he went back on the throttle. Explosive.

  147. Betty says:

    Robert Kubica pole lap Monaco 2010

  148. PP10822 says:

    Takuma Sato at Nurburgring 2004, fastest ever lap there by quite a distance and not even in the fastest car. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ecv4v6mGGM

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