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Tell us what is your Perfect lap
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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Takuma Sato at Nurburgring 2004, fastest ever lap there by quite a distance and not even in the fastest car.


Robert Kubica pole lap Monaco 2010


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tommy Byrne every single F1 lap he did.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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!


I think Lewis doing the perfect pole lap at China this year


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


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…


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.


Senna spa 91. Worth watching on youtube


Schumacher. Monaco. 96.

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


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.


Great idea.

Al Pacino could play Alonso.

For Kimi, Steve McQueen would have been good. Alas!


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.


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

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