Here is an overview of the formula one records that can still be equaled or beaten this year, as well as some trivia. Records already held and set this year (Vettel, points in a season; Barrichello, race starts; Hamilton, overall penalties) are not included. At the end of the year, I will write one big article with everything that has been rewritten in the (top 10) record books this year.
Japanese Grand Prix
At the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel added 1 pole position, 1 front row start, 17 laps in the lead, 1 podium finish and 15 world championship points to his racing record.
Having not won the race, leading all laps, and not setting the fastest lap, Sebastian Vettel did not become the second driver in history to win the championship with a Grand Slam. He did become the 6th driver in history to become world champion in Suzuka, after Nelso Piquet (1987), Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990, 1991), Alain Prost (1989), Damon Hill (1996), Hakkinen (1998, 1999) and Michael Schumacher (2000, 2003). Although Sebastian Vettel can no longer beat the 2004 record of most wins in a season, when Michael Schumacher drove his Ferrari to 13 race wins, he will still be able to equal the record this year. Vettel will however no longer be able to beat Alberto Ascari’s record of 7 consecutive wins this season.
For the record, I included a few more abstract records to make a possible and fairer comparisson between Vettel in 2011 and Schumacher in 2002. I don't actually consider them notable records, but just to shed an interesting light on it, with the different points system.
- Most wins in a season
Current record: Michael Schumacher, 13 wins in 2004
Vettel: 9 wins, 13 wins possible
- Most pole positions in a season
Current record: Nigel Mansell, 14 poles in 1992
Vettel: 12 poles, 16 poles possible
- Most wins from pole position in a season
Current record: Nigel Mansell, 9 doubles in 1992
Vettel: 8 doubles, 12 doubles possible
- Most starts from front row in a season
Current record: Ayrton Senna in 1989, Alain Prost in 1993 and Damon Hill in 1996, each 16
Vettel: 14 front row starts, 18 front row starts possible
- Highest percentage of points in a season
Current record: Michael Schumacher, 144/170=84.71% in 2002
Vettel: needs to score at least 79 more points, scoring at least 403 out of 475 points to score 84.84%
- Most podium finishes in a season
Current record: Michael Schumacher, 17 podium finishes in 2002
Vettel: 14 podiums, 18 podiums possible
- Most laps in the lead in a season
Current record: Nigel Mansell, 694 laps lead in 1992
Vettel: 599 laps lead thus far, 823 laps lead possible
- Highest percentage of laps lead in a season
Current record: Jim Clark, 71.47% of laps lead in 1963
Vettel: 67.15% (599 out of 892), needs to lead at least 211 more laps this season
- Most consecutive pole positions
Current record: Ayrton Senna, 9 consecutive pole positions from 1988 Spanish GP to 1989 US GP
Vettel: 4 poles, 9 consecutive poles possible this year
- Most points between first and second in the championship
Current record: Michael Schumacher (144), scoring 67 points more than second place Rubens Barrichello (77) in 2002
Vettel: currently 114 point lead, can finish third every race, behind Button winning to still take this record
- Highest percentage points difference between first and second in the World Championship
Current record: Rubens Barrichello scoring 46.53% less points than Michael Schumacher in 2002
Vettel: Currently, Button has scored 35.2% less points than Vettel. While impossible to calculate all the possibilities, Vettel will need to win all the remaining races, with Button scoring just 16 points to beat this record.
- Most points between first and second in the championship (in race wins)
Current record: Michael Schumacher's 67 point lead over Rubens Barrichello in 2002 equalled 6.7 race wins
Vettel: Currently has a 114 point lead, which equals 4.56 race wins. To beat this record, he needs to extend it to a 168 point lead in the next 4 races.
- Most finishes in a season
Current record: Tiago Monteiro (2005), Nick Heidfeld (2008) and Felipe Massa (2010) with 18 finishes. Of these, only Heidfeld finished 100%, but he is not the only one in history.
Vettel: 15 finishes, 19 finishes possible
- Most team pole positions in a season
Current record: McLaren (1988, 1989), Williams (1992, 1993) and Red Bull (2010) with 15 pole positions in one season.
Red Bull: 15 poles, 19 poles possible this year
- Highest percentage of team pole positions in a season
Current record: McLaren (1988, 1989) and Williams (1992, 1993) with 15 out of 16 pole positions in one season, or 93.75%.
Red Bull: 15 poles, 18 poles needed to take the record with 94.7% this year; 100% poles also possible
- Most drive-through or stop-and-go penalties in a season
Current record: not yet known, but no more than 4
Hamilton: 3 drive-through penalties, 4 races left
Records that will still stand after 2011:
- Highest percentage of wins in a season
Current record: Alberto Ascari, 6 out of 8 races in 1952, 75%
Vettel: even if he wins the next 4 races, 13 out of 19 wins is 68.4%
- Highest percentage of pole positions in a season
Current record: Nigel Mansell, 14 out of 16 poles in 1992, 88%
Vettel: even if he qualifies on pole in the next 4 races, 16 out of 19 poles is 82.2%
- Highest percentage of wins in a season
Current record: Michael Schumacher, 17 out of 17 podiums in 2002, or 100%
Vettel: even if he finishes on the podium in the next 4 races, 18 out of 19 podiums is 94.7%
- Highest percentage of starts from front row in a season
Current record: Ayrton Senna in 1989, Alain Prost in 1993 and Damon Hill in 1996, each with 16 out of 16, or 100%
Vettel: even if he qualifies on the front row in the next 4 races, 18 out of 19 front row starts is 94.7%
- Of all the Formula One champions currently on the grid, Jenson Button is the only one that has never been a runner-up in the championship. This might be his first. His second-best championship result at this moment is his 3rd place finish in 2004 with the BAR-Honda.
- If the only drivers to win the remaining 5 races in 2011 are Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, or Michael Schumacher, this will be the only year in history in which all the races have been won by champions. Although in 1950, 1953, 1963 and 1993, all races were won by drivers that would at some point become champion, but were not yet at the time.
- Sebastian Vettel is most likely the driver with most Grand Prix wins with most different helmet designs, something probably held by Michael Schumacher after adding some stripes in 1994 and switching from blue top to red top in 2000, thus winning races with two helmet designs.
Point system trivia:
- If the 2004 season -in which Schumacher got the most points in one season-record by the old points system- had been driven by the 2011 points system, the record would have been 367 points; to beat that, Vettel needs 43 more points in 4 races. (For those curious, 2002 Schumi would have had 362 points)
- If this season was driven by the 2002 points system, in which the then-record of 144 points was set, Vettel would now have 121 points. If he finishes 2nd in every race left this year, he will be able to beat that. He can also win one more race, come second twice and finish 6th once.
- If this season was driven by the 2004 points system, in which the then-record of 148 points was set, Vettel would now have 133 points. Finishing fifth in the remaining races of this year is enough to beat that.