Despite Formula 1’s ever-present pursuit of improvement and the constant threat of record-breaking performances, there are some records that are likely to remain untouched, possibly forever.
The dominant displays from Red Bull and Max Verstappen have set them on course for several records this season. The Drivers’ Championship leader is threatening win records, and Red Bull have a staggering win record in 2023.
However, there are numerous records – some wanted and some unwanted – that are unlikely to be beaten. PlanetF1.com takes you through ten obscure or unassailable accolades…
Biggest race-winning margin
Despite the various eras of domination with Schumacher, Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen, none of these drivers have come close to troubling the record for biggest race-winning margin.
On lap count, both Jackie Stewart (1969 Spanish GP) and Damon Hill (1995 Australian GP) both took victory by over two laps in attritional races. On race time, Stirling Moss won a race (1958 Portuguese GP) by over five minutes.
In an increasingly reliable era of Formula 1 that is pursuing performance parity, surely such winning margins are unlikely to be seen again.
Most of the ‘oldest driver’ records
The rate of evolution in most sports eventually means that the average age of the competitors often comes down, so it’s no surprise that the records for the oldest drivers to claim F1 accolades were set in the early years of the sport.
Some drivers break the mould, such as Fernando Alonso, who is competitively racing at 42 years old. But even then, he will need to race for several more years to break the records from the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Giuseppe Farina and Luigi Fagioli, who won a Grand Prix at the age of 53.
F1 win from furthest back on the grid
The current record for the lowest starting position to take a Grand Prix victory belongs to John Watson, who won the 1983 United States Grand Prix West from a remarkable 22nd on the grid. The then-McLaren driver came back from an unusually poor qualifying performance and took advantage of a combative race up front to win ahead of teammate Niki Lauda.
The biggest issue with trying to beat this record is there aren’t 22 cars on the grid. Even if a new team – such as the Andretti attempt – is accepted onto the grid, the record can only be equalled by what would be an unusual race.
If it is to be beaten, Formula 1 requires two new teams (not a complete impossibility) and for one team and driver to have head-and-shoulders pace above the rest of the field, much like Verstappen and Red Bull have today.
The famous Canadian GP of 2011, won on the last lap by Jenson Button, holds the record for longest total race time in F1 history with a duration of over four hours and four minutes. Over two hours of this was due to the heavy rain delay.
However, the rules were tweaked to avoid such a scenario again, and now F1 imposes a three-hour time limit from the start to the end of the race.
That still hasn’t stopped F1 race starts being delayed, however, as per the 2021 Belgian GP…shudder.
Youngest driver to enter an F1 race (and score points)
Not long after Max Verstappen made his Formula 1 debut at the age of 17 years and 166 days – and scored points in only his second race – the rules regarding FIA Superlicences were amended.
Along with the qualifying points which are earned through performances in other racing categories, drivers must now be a minimum of 18 years old to obtain a licence.
The FIA likely have the ability to overrule this in unique circumstances but, considering they haven’t budged on their Superlicence stance for many drivers, Verstappen’s record is very unlikely to be beaten.
Closest pole position battle
Whilst the season finale of the 1997 season is mostly remembered for the controversial collision between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher in the race, the qualifying session from the previous day also created an unbelievable moment.
Schumacher, Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen all set the exact same qualifying time, a 1:21.072. Under the regulations, which still exist today, the first driver to have set the time takes pole position.
As Villeneuve set his time slightly earlier in the session, he took pole, followed by Schumacher and Frentzen. Surely the odds of such an occurrence happening again in Formula 1 are next to zero.
Consecutive retirements in a row
Many years ago, even if a Formula 1 race appeared to be reaching a conclusion with no on-track fights to speak of, there was always the chance that an engine could explode, a brake disc could expire, or a gearbox could pack in.
In an era where a lack of reliability could plague a team’s season, Andrea de Cesaris went over one season without seeing the chequered flag. Predominantly retiring due to mechanical troubles, the Italian went 22 races without completing a Grand Prix distance.
Weirdly, he did achieve a podium finish during that streak, but his car ran out of fuel in the closing metres of the race, meaning he had technically retired. However, he kept his third place as the cars behind did not finish on the same lap as him.
Fewest races finishers
The Monaco Grand Prix of 1996 is remarkable for many reasons, and it holds the obscure record of the event with the fewest number of finishers. Although seven cars were classified as finishers, only three saw the chequered flag: Race winner Olivier Panis, followed by David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert.
These days in Formula 1, it is not uncommon to see the full grid finishing a race (this has happened twice already in 2023), it’s difficult to envisage a race coming close to this number of finishers. Races are also less likely to be run in the very wet conditions witnessed in Monaco that year.
Highest number of cars to start a race
This is a record that Formula 1 simply won’t get close to again: The 1953 German GP, held at the Nordschleife, had 34 cars lining up for the start of the race.
The current F1 regulations only allow for a maximum of 26 cars in the championship and, even if the regulations had a massive overhaul, many of the Formula 1 circuits simply would not have the facilities to cope with the volume of entrants.
Biggest F1 starting grid penalty
Although many consider the current power unit penalty rules to be a bit silly, it’s perhaps best for everybody’s sanity if this record isn’t beaten.
Back in 2015 when the current turbo-hybrid power units were relatively new to the sport, Honda were struggling to perform. They were frequently fitting new components to the McLaren cars, and amassed a 70-place grid drop when they changed numerous parts of Jenson Button’s car at the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix.
Nowadays, things are simpler, and if a driver needs to swap too many new power unit components, they’re simply told to go to the back of the grid. Although it still gets a bit messy when several teams decide to do the same thing at the same race!