Britain equals Germany at Suzuka, Fernando Alonso does something he hasn’t done since driving for Minardi and the top three qualifiers finished in the order they qualified in for the third time at the track. Here are all the best facts and statistics from the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix weekend!
MERCEDES RULE AT SUZUKA ONCE AGAIN
On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix. It was the 80th pole position of his career and his eighth pole of the 2018 season. Lewis Hamilton joins Gerhard Berger and Jacques Villeneuve on two poles at the Suzuka circuit. He’s started from pole in 35.56% of the F1 races he’s competed in. It was the third pole for a British driver at Suzuka. It was Mercedes’ 98th pole in Formula One, and they joined McLaren and Red Bull with five pole positions at Suzuka.
Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. It was his 71st career victory and his sixth win in the last seven races. It was also his 130th podium appearance. Hamilton equals Mika Hakkinen’s tally of six podium at Suzuka. With Hamilton finishing 12.919 seconds ahead of his team-mate, it was the largest win margin at Suzuka since he won by almost nineteen seconds in 2015.
Hamilton’s win at Suzuka is his fourth victory in a row. That’s the first time anyone has taken four race victories in a row since Hamilton himself did so at the end of the 2016 season. It’s only the 27th time in F1 history that a driver has taken four or more wins in a row, and the fifth time that Hamilton has done it. A win at the next round would see Hamilton equal his record of five consecutive victories, something which he did between the Italian Grand Prix and the U.S. Grand Prix in 2014.
Mercedes have won every race at Suzuka since 2014. This weekend marked their third 1-2 finish at the track in the past five seasons. Mercedes move clear of Red Bull in Suzuka’s wins list with their fifth victory. The team now have nine podiums at Suzuka, overtaking Benetton for fifth in the all-time list. Mercedes-powered cars have equalled Renault-powered cars for the most wins at the Japanese track, with nine victories each at Suzuka.
Valtteri Bottas became the 36th different driver to finish on the podium at Suzuka with his seventh second place finish of 2018. It was the Finnish driver’s 30th career podium, equalling Juan Pablo Montoya’s tally of top three finishes.
IS THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE OVER?
Lewis Hamilton’s 67 point advantage is the largest lead a driver has had in the championship after the Japanese Grand Prix since Sebastian Vettel in 2013. Vettel had a 90 point lead at this point in 2013.
Lewis Hamilton will win the title in Texas if he out-scores Sebastian Vettel by eight points. You can see the full title permutations for the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix here.
Marcus Ericsson has never made it out of Q1 in Japan. This weekend marked the first time the Swedish driver has been out-qualified by his team-mate at Suzuka. It was also the first time Ericsson started a Japanese Grand Prix from the position he qualified in.
Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q1 at Suzuka. It’s the first time he’s ever been out in Q1 at the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s also only the sixth time he’s ever been out in Q1 in his entire career. With Q1 exits at Italy 2012, Belgium 2014, China 2015, Spain 2015, Spain 2018 and Japan 2018, he’s been eliminated in Q1 on just 4% of all his qualifying appearances.
Both McLaren drivers have been eliminated in Q1 at both of the last two races.
Before the 2018 German Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo hadn’t had a Q2 exit since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix. He’s now had five Q2 exits in the last seven races.
Both Toro Rosso drivers reached Q3 for only the second time in 2018, with Brendon Hartley giving his best ever qualifying performance with sixth on the grid.
For only the second time this season, the track record wasn’t beaten in Qualifying
Fernando Alonso recorded his worst qualifying so far in 2018 at the Japanese Grand Prix. The last time he qualified further back than eighteenth was at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix. The last time he qualified in eighteenth in Japan was in 2001, when he was driving for Minardi.
Sebastian Vettel recorded his worst qualifying performance of 2018, setting the ninth fastest time. He’s only qualified at far back as ninth at Suzuka once previously, in 2014
Max Verstappen in third, Lance Stroll in fourteenth, Pierre Gasly in seventh and Kevin Magnussen in twelfth all recorded their best Suzuka qualifying performances. Nico Hulkenberg in sixteenth, Stoffel Vandoorne in nineteenth and Marcus Ericsson in twentieth all recorded their worst Suzuka qualifying performances.
Three drivers retired at the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix. Kevin Magnussen recorded only his second DNF of the season this weekend. It ended an impressive streak of finishes – it was his first retirement since the Australian Grand Prix. It was also the Haas team’s first ever retirement from the Japanese Grand Prix. Nico Hulkenberg retired at Suzuka or the second time in as many years. Charles Leclerc was the other driver who failed to finish the race.
Max Verstappen recorded his eighteenth top three finish in Formula One, equalling Mike Hawthorn and Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s F1 podium tallies. Suzuka is the first track at which Verstappen has taken three podium finishes, a track at which Red Bull have been on the podium in every season since 2016. Verstappen joins Eddie Irvine, Gerhard Berger, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Riccardo Patrese on three Suzuka podiums. It was the twelfth podium finish for Red Bull at Suzuka
While Kimi Raikkonen’s 2005 Suzuka Lap Record remains safe for a fourteenth year, it was Sebastian Vettel who set the fastest lap. It’s the 35th fastest lap of his career – but only his second in 2018. He joins Alain Prost and Mark Webber as the third driver to have set the fastest lap of the race three times at Suzuka during his career.
Sauber, McLaren and Toro Rosso left Suzuka without any points. Toro Rosso haven’t scored here since 2015, McLaren haven’t scored in Japan since 2014 and Sauber haven’t picked up any points at Suzuka since 2013.
This weekend marked the first time Williams haven’t scored at Suzuka in the hybrid era. The last time they failed to pick up points in Japan was in 2013.
Sergio Perez has finished in seventh place at all of the last three Japanese Grands Prix.
Carlos Sainz equalled his best Japanese Grand Prix result with a tenth place finish. It’s the first time he’s scored a point at Suzuka since his début season in 2015. The race also marked the first time he’s finished a race in a position higher than where he started it at Suzuka.
Pierre Gasly in eleventh and Marcus Ericsson in twelfth both recorded their best ever Japanese Grand Prix results.
Lewis Hamilton’s win was the seventh victory for a British driver at the Suzuka circuit. Hamilton’s podium finish means that British drivers equal German drivers for the most top three finishes at Suzuka, both now tied on twenty. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas’ second place finish means Finland equals Brazil for number of Suzuka podiums, with ten. Max Verstappen’s three Japanese Grand Prix podium finishes means that the Netherlands equal Australia and Austria for top three finishes at the track.
The 2018 running of the Japanese Grand Prix marked the sixteenth time a Formula One race at Suzuka has been won from pole. This weekend was the fifth time all three top qualifiers have finished on the podium at Suzuka. It’s only the third time, after 2000 and 2009, where the top three qualifiers have finished in the order in which they started at the circuit.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.