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One-lap wonders

Steven Lynch September 13, 2013
Kimi Raikkonen set ten fastest laps in 2005 © Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel seems to like setting the fastest lap of a race. Does he hold the record for one season? asked Michael Woodford

A current driver does share the record for the most fastest laps in a season - but it's not Sebastian Vettel. The man concerned is Kimi Raikkonen, who set the fastest race lap on ten occasions in 2005, and equalled that in 2008. The first to set ten fastest laps in a season was Michael Schumacher, in 2004. There were 18 races in 2004 and 2008, but 19 in 2005. Raikkonen set the fastest lap in six successive races in 2008, a run beaten only by Alberto Ascari, with seven in 1952-53. It's worthy of note that in 1962 and 1963 there were only 19 races in all - and Jim Clark set the fastest lap in 11 of them. Since 2007, the courier company DHL has sponsored a trophy for the most fastest laps in a season: Vettel won it in 2012 with six.

Jenson Button started in F1 at 20, so has had a long career - and is still only 33. How many drivers have taken part in more races? asked David Thompson

Last week's race at Monza was the 240th Grand Prix Jenson Button had started since his debut for Williams, aged 20, back in 2000. He also failed to qualify for two further races. Button is currently sixth on the list of most starts, behind Rubens Barrichello (322), Michael Schumacher (307), Riccardo Patrese (256), Jarno Trulli (252) and David Coulthard (246). The next current driver is Fernando Alonso, with 209. Schumacher had the longest F1 career, at 22 years: it stretched from 1991 to 2012 (with a three-year gap between 2007 and 2009 after his initial "retirement").

Has Venezuela produced any F1 drivers apart from Pastor Maldonado? asked Robin Marks

Pastor Maldonado is the only Venezuelan to win a Grand Prix - he pulled off a surprise victory for Williams in Spain last year - but he was the third driver from his country to enter one. The first was Ettori Chimeri, who was actually born in Italy: he entered the season-opening Argentine GP in 1960, but retired after 23 of the race's 80 laps. He planned to compete in the rest of that year's races, but was killed in practice for a race in Cuba two weeks later. The other Venezuelan driver was Johnny Cecotto, who had two seasons in uncompetitive cars in 1983-84: he picked up one point for finishing sixth in the United States GP West at Long Beach in only his second race, driving a Theodore. Cecotto was much better known as a motor-cyclist: he won the world 350cc title in 1975, when he was only 19. His son, Johnny Cecotto junior, currently lies 16th in the GP2 standings.

Emerson Fittipaldi was declared the winner at Silverstone © Sutton Images

Am I dreaming or was the British GP once stopped by a hailstorm? asked Belinda Sargeant

I think the race you're thinking of was at Silverstone in 1975, which was stopped after a torrential downpour which started on the 53rd lap of what was supposed to be a 68-lap race. The TV coverage seems to show only heavy rain, but other reports do mention hail - and the weather looks so bad I wouldn't rule anything out! Several cars, including James Hunt's Hesketh, aquaplaned off the track - many of them slid into each other in the catch fencing at Club Corner - and when the eventual decision was made to stop the race, on the 57th lap, only six cars were actually running. Emerson Fittipaldi, who was leading the race at the end of the previous lap (at which point he came into the pits), was declared the winner.

What happened to the Lotus driver Peter Arundell? asked Colin McCreadie

Peter Arundell had a peculiar F1 career, finishing on the podium in his first two starts, at the Monaco and Dutch GPs in 1964. Lotus's No. 2 driver behind Jim Clark, Arundell added a fourth place in his fourth race, in France, but not long afterwards was badly injured in a crash in a Formula Two race. He was unable to return to F1 until 1966, but seven races that year produced a solitary point, and he left the scene: he retired from driving altogether in 1969. He had won the British Formula Junior Championship in 1962 and 1963. Latterly he set up a company in America producing early computer games, many of them pornographic, including one apparently (in)famous one called Custer's Revenge. Arundell died in Norfolk in 2009, aged 75.

The answer to a recent question mentioned Kimi Raikkonen's run of 38 successive finishes. Was this a record? asked Daniel Hill via Facebook

Kim Raikkonen's run of successive finishes - which came to an end when he had brake trouble and retired from the Belgian GP last month - wasn't quite a record. That was set by Nick Heidfeld, who coaxed his Sauber to the end of 41 successive races between the 2007 French GP and the Italian one in 2009: the run came to an end after that in Singapore, when he had to retire after a collision with Adrian Sutil.