Happy New Year! Formula 1’s 72nd season begins in March. Ahead of the 2021 season, here are 21 F1 facts about the number 21!
There is yet to be a Formula 1 season which has featured more than 21 races. Three seasons – 2016, 2018 and 2019 – had 21 races. All being well, 2021 will set a new record with 23 races, including the new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and the returning Dutch Grand Prix. You can see all the dates for 2021 here.
2015 is the only season in which exactly 21 drivers completed at least one lap of a Grand Prix. 2018 and 2019 are the only years where fewer than 21 drivers have competed.
119 different drivers have entered a round of the World Championship with the number 21 on their car. The number was last used at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, by Esteban Gutierrez at Haas.
Alain Prost was the 21st driver to be crowned Formula 1 World Champion. He won his first title in 1985.
Jack Brabham was the 21st driver to record a Grand Prix victory and the 21st driver to take pole position in F1. He took his first pole at the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix and went on to win his first race at the 1959 British Grand Prix.
F1’s first three World Champions – Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari – are the only drivers who won their first title before completing 21 races. 1950 champion Farina won the title on his sixth appearance, Fangio won in 1951 after fifteen race starts and Ascari won the 1952 title on his eighteenth appearance.
Five drivers have finished on the podium in car number 21. No driver has recorded more than one podium finish with the number on their car. Bruce McLaren was the first driver of car number 21 to finish on the podium. He did so at the 1962 United States Grand Prix. The last driver to do so was Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
Three drivers have taken pole position in car number 21: Jim Clark at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart at the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix and Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
Giancarlo Baghetti, Roberto Guerrero, Gaston Mazzacane, Sakon Yamamoto and Sergey Sirotkin are the five drivers who made exactly 21 Grand Prix starts during their respective careers.
Stirling Moss, Lorenzo Bandini, Gunnar Nilsson and David Coulthard all took their first Grand Prix victory on their 21st start. 47 drivers have taken their maiden win before their 21st start. The most recent time it has happened was when Lewis Hamilton won the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, which was his sixth appearance.
Gunnar Nilsson, who took his first win on his 21st appearance, is also one of three drivers who led exactly 21 laps during their F1 career. Eugenio Castellotti and Alessandro Nannini are the other drivers to have done so.
Fernando Alonso won the Drivers’ Championship in 2005 by 21 points. He won the title finishing 21 points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen is the only driver to record exactly 21 wins during his Formula 1 career.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are the only drivers who took their first Grand Prix win at the age of 21. Vettel and Leclerc are also two of four drivers who recorded their first pole position at the age of 21. Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen were also 21 when they started from pole for the first time.
Sebastian Vettel has won 21 different Grands Prix at 21 different circuits. Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost are the only drivers to have won at more circuits than Vettel.
Carlos Reutemann, Riccardo Patrese, Rubens Barrichello and Max Verstappen have each taken podiums at 21 different circuits. Valtteri Bottas is the only non-champion to take podiums at more circuits than that quartet. The Finn has finished on the podium at 24 different tracks.
There are two drivers who have recorded exactly 21 wins with a single team. Damon Hill won 21 times for Williams, while Lewis Hamilton won 21 times for McLaren. While Hill went on to take just a single other victory – with Jordan at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Hamilton has gone on to take 74 wins (and counting) with Mercedes.
There has been only a single victory taken by car number 21. Jackie Stewart won the 1972 Argentine Grand Prix in car number 21.
21 wins have been recorded by the driver starting seventh on the grid. The 21st win from the grid slot came at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, when Kimi Raikkonen won for Lotus. The driver starting 21st on the grid has never won a Grand Prix. The last driver to line up 21st on the grid was Carlos Sainz at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Elio de Angelis recorded three pole positions in his career. There was a gap of 21 races between his first pole – at the 1983 European Grand Prix – and his last – at the 1985 Canadian Grand Prix.
Drivers racing in car number 21 have scored 71 points in total in Formula 1’s history.
Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Masten Gregory each scored exactly 21 points during their F1 careers. While Gregory’s best result was second place at the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix, Jabouille won two races. He had only three points-scoring appearances, his other being fourth place at the 1978 United States Grand Prix.
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.