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Cars, Culture

on August 9th, 2017

‘Records are only meant to be broken’, in an age where this is less of a saying and more of an underlying rule, it is extremely rare to find records which will stand the test of time. With the use of better technology, sportsman of today couldn’t be better equipped to be the best at what they do. So today’s generation doesn’t believing in breaking  records as much as disgracing them. This is something which is especially true with Motorsports, with better and faster cars shattering lap records to top speed top speeds with each new year.

For instance let’s take the example of the Formula 1 race with the lowest average speed, the Monaco, the pole lap by Daniel Ricciardo in 2016 was 1.13.622, the pole lap by Kimi Raikkonen was 1.12.178, which is a staggering 1.5 seconds faster! For a 1.5 second difference around the slowest circuit in the Formula 1 calendar shows the level of progress. The level at which performance in motorsports is progressing over every year and has made the previous year’s record merely a basic reference point, and it’s considered clinically disastrous if it isn’t broken the subsequent year. In this highly evolving world of motorsports where records are mere reference points to build on, there a selected few records that have not only held their own for years but will not be under any threat in the near future.

Narrowest pole position margin

The 1997 European Grand Prix held at Jerez had some serious edge of the seat action on the raceday between the title rivals Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. The theatrics of the race day can only be challenged by the previous day’s qualifying session where the top three qualifiers posted the exact same time to the thousandth of a second! Jacques Villeneuve posted 1.21.072 followed by Michael Schumacher and Jacques’ teammate clock the exact same time. This essentially meant the time difference between the top 3 qualifiers was 0.000 seconds.

Longest F1 race

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix began in wet conditions, only for the heavens to open up again on lap 19. The downpour led almost all cars to hydroplane and the event was eventually red flagged for safety reasons. As the clocks kept ticking away, the race resumed to finish its scheduled 70 lap distance. The whole event took over 4 hours and 40 minutes, which prompted for the regulations to be changed for the 2012 season for the total race time to be capped at 4 hours. But the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix will be one of the most incredible display of wet racing from Jenson Button as he chased down the race leader Sebastain Vettel to the final corner and clinch a spectacular victory.

Fastest ever lap

Fastest ever lap in F1 was achieved by Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2004 Monza Grand Prix qualification. Montoya was piloting the Williams FW36, in a season that saw F1 cars performance reach a new level and lap records were re-written every race. The calculation of the fastest ever lap involves the combination of the distance travelled for completing the lap and the time taken to complete it, which essentially means it is the highest average speed. Juan and the Williams FW36 achieved an average speed of 162.950mph (262.242kmph). To bring perspective to this equation it is quite an achievement for a road going Supercar to achieve a top speed of 262.242kmph on the Monza track let alone average at 162.950mph !

Quickest career fine in F1

Sebastian Vettel has been on a record breaking spree since he arrived at the F1 scene in 2006. Having rewritten records for the youngest F1 Champion to most consecutive wins. Ironically enough one of the first records he broke is one he hopes would slip out of peoples mind. He is the driver to hold the record for achieving the quickest fine in his career, at a staggering 6 seconds. During his debut race of the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel drove out of the garage in all excitement for his first F1 race and wasn’t paying attention to the pit lane speed limit ! Ouch !

Smallest winning margin in an F1 race

Monza has played host to a lot of photo-finish races. The 1971 Italian Grand Prix is by the closest F1 race finish, the incredible race saw 5 cars slipstream out of the final corner in a dash to the chequered flag. Peter Genith took the win from Ronnie Peterson by a margin of 0.01 seconds and was separated from the third place Francois Cevert by a mere 0.09 seconds. This what you call a “scrap to the finish” !

Highest speed achieved in 24Hrs of Le Mans

This feat was achieved by Welter Racing Peugeot piloted by Roger Dorchy in the 1988 season of Le Mans. This was achieved on the Mulsanne straight of the Circuit De la Sarthe before the chicane was included from the 1990 season. The feat was achieved by WM Racing team by taping over the engine of the Peugeot and also taping over majority of the air ducts to reduce aerodynamic inefficiencies. This achievement of 406kmph or 251mph was quickly followed by the car having to retire due to engine overheating. The WM Racing Peugeot was also a pretty difficult car to drive with a shorter wheelbase, which made it lack stability over long fast corners making it very difficult to drive. From the 1990 season two chicanes were added to the Mulsanne straight to aid better safety and the hence the 1988 record by WM Racing will hold its own for a long time to come.

WM-P88-Peugeot-41403 - Motorsports Records

Image credit: Artcurial Motor Cars

Most Consecutive wins in NASCAR

The most consecutive wins of 10 races was achieved by Richard Petty in 1967. Since then, what is considered as the “Modern Era of NASCAR”, the highest number of consecutive wins have been stuck at a 4. Over the 40 years since Richard Petty’s 10 consecutive wins, a continuous 4 races have been won by Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. It wouldn’t be too far off from saying that even 5 consecutive wins seem impossible, let alone reach 11 consecutive ones given the level of competitiveness among the teams and the current talent pool of drivers separated by a single strand of hair.

Richard Petty - Motorsports Records

Fastest qualifying speed in NASCAR

This is a record that is bound to hold its own until something is drastically changed. The record was achieved by Bill Elliott in the year 1987 by clocking a speed of 212.809 mph and this was a time before restrictor plates were introduced into the sport. The fastest anyone has coming close the record set by Bill Elliott is when Jeff Gordon hit 206.558 in 2014 which is still over 6mph off. As long as NASCAR has restrictor plates this record will be nearly impossible to break.

Most championship wins in WRC

Sebastien Loeb, is one of the greatest talents to have ever raced in the World Rally Championship. Having been known for his impeccable skills behind the wheel of the WRC car, only to be exceeded by his incredible ability to remember every single corner of every single stage. He was one driver who’s co driver was merely a redundancy. The incredible Frenchman won a total of 9 championships and most impressively they were won consecutively. He won every championship from 2004 to 2012, when he finally decided to retire from Rallying. This incredible feat which will stand the test of time.

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