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Vettel verging on Schumacher's records

Steven Lynch July 15, 2011
Sebastian Vettel's 2011 season has the potential to break some records © Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel has finished first or second in all nine races so far this year. Has anyone ever started a season better than this? asked Colin Craig

Rather to my surprise, it isn't (yet) a record: Vettel's achievement this season matches that of Fernando Alonso, who also started 2006 with six wins and three second places. Alonso did win the world title that year, although it was a closer-run thing than that start might have suggested: with two races to go Alonso and Michael Schumacher were level on points. Schumacher holds the record for the most successive top-two finishes, with 15 in 2002 (he would have had 17 out of 17 that season if he hadn't come third in the second race in Malaysia): Vettel currently has 11, as he also won the last two races of 2010.

After the British GP Sebastian Vettel has 204 points out of a possible 225, or 90.67%. If he maintains this, would he set the record for the best percentage of points available over a season? asked Mike Peters

The top two places on this list are both occupied by Michael Schumacher, who collected 84.71% of the points available to him in 2002 (144 out of 170), and approached that with 148 out of 180 (82.22%) in 2004 - he would have bettered his 2002 percentage if he'd won the last race, in Japan, but trailed in seventh. In third place is Jim Clark, with 73 out of 90 (81.11%) in 1963 - although that year the drivers could only count their best six results. Since Clark won six races, he collected 100% of the points available to him, a feat he repeated in 1965 (Alberto Ascari also did this in 1952, if you leave out the Indianapolis 500, which counted towards the championship at the time although few European-based drivers entered it). In order to beat Schumacher's record, Vettel needs to finish this season with a whopping 403 points - the maximum, from 19 races under the new points system, is 475.

Has there been any Grand Prix - which has been run a reasonable amount of times - which has never been won by a home driver? asked Nicky Baker

Technically the leader here is Monaco - there have been 58 world championship Grands Prix rounds the streets of Monte Carlo, but never yet a Monegasque winner. But although no "home" driver has ever won the race, so many of them are or have been residents of Monaco that that seems a little unfair. More pertinent, perhaps, is that there has never been a home winner of the Belgian GP in 55 attempts. No American driver has ever won the United States GP (of which there have been 33), although Mario Andretti did win the race styled the United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach in 1977. Given a minimum of eight world championship races, there has also never been a home winner of the following GPs: Australian (25), Chinese (8), Dutch (30), Hungarian (25), Japanese (26), Malaysian (13), Mexican (15), and Portuguese (18). There's a case also for counting the San Marino GP - which has been run 26 times - but it was always actually run in Italy, and was won by the Italian drivers Elio de Angelis and Riccardo Patrese.

Luca Badoer failed to score any points from 50 starts, including two with Ferrari in 2009 © Getty Images
I feel sorry for the Lotus, HRT and Virgin drivers who seem to be forever occupying the back of the grid and being overtaken in the races. Which driver has entered the most GPs without ever scoring a point at all? asked Colin McKenzie

The driver with this unenviable record is the Italian Luca Badoer, who actually took part in 50 GPs without ever "troubling the scorers", as cricketers say. Most of Badoer's races were for uncompetitive teams - Lola, Minardi and Forti - between 1993 and 1999, although he did make a brief comeback in 2009, replacing the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari (Badoer had long been the team's test driver). But it was not a happy return - Badoer finished 17th and 14th in his two races, and was quietly replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella (who, it has to be said, did not fare much better in a difficult car). Badoer's best result overall was seventh - which did not then bring any points - in only his third race, the 1993 San Marino GP.

Which racing driver had the worrying nickname "Dead by June"? asked Lionel Carling

Actually I don't think this rather ominous nickname belonged to a racing driver - it was a rhyming soubriquet applied to the future motor-cycling world champion, Mick Doohan, during the first half of his first season in the big league of 500cc racing in 1989, when he kept trying ambitious moves which often didn't quite come off (although he sometimes did). Fortunately Doohan calmed down, and collected five successive world 500cc titles between 1994 and 1998. He retired, relatively unscathed, after badly breaking his leg in a crash in 1989.

I know that Donington Park has staged just one world championship Grand Prix. How many other tracks have just one race to boast about? asked Mick Bryant via Facebook

Donington has indeed staged just the one world championship F1 race, the European GP of 1993, which was won by Ayrton Senna. There are ten other circuits which have staged a solitary Grand Prix, although that includes Yeongam in Korea, which is due to hold its second on October 16 this year. The others are Pescara in Italy, which staged a one-off Grand Prix in 1957 (Stirling Moss won it); the following year the only Moroccan GP which has counted towards the world championship took place in Casablanca (Moss won that too); the AVUS circuit in Berlin staged the German GP in 1959 (the winner was Tony Brooks); also in 1959, Monsanto held the Portuguese GP for the only time (won by Moss), and the first official United States GP took place at Sebring (a first win for Bruce McLaren); in 1960 the United States GP was run for the only time at Riverside (another win for Moss, who was clearly quicker than most to adapt to unfamiliar circuits); the Austrian GP took place at Zeltweg in 1964 (Lorenzo Bandini claimed his only GP victory); three years later the French GP was staged on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans (Jack Brabham won); and in 1984 there was a one-off Grand Prix at Fair Park in Dallas, which was won by Keke Rosberg. The one-hit wonders will be joined - for a year at least - by the Buddh circuit in Delhi when it stages its first world championship Grand Prix at the end of October.