With the 2014 Formula 1 season now well underway, racing fans around the world will be tuning in to witness one of the most competitive events in automotive-based sports on the globe. New for this year, F1 teams will be eschewing the previous naturally aspirated 2.4 liter V8 engines in place of 1.6 liter, turbocharged V6 units (for better or for worse), with a ceiling of 600 horsepower — down from 750. Fuel allotments were also restricted to 100 kilograms.
That news was met with an understandably negative response, as it’s seen as hindering Formula 1?s natural competitive flow. So far, Mercedes-Benz and its split-turbo setup has been dominating the 2014 season, having won the first six events between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, there are still 13 races left.
We took a look at the circuits on 2014?s F1 roster and identified the current standing record lap times at each location. Two things undeniably stood out: First, 2004 was a tremendous year for Formula 1 – 12 of the 18 standing records were that year. Second, Michael Schumacher was a dominating force that season, setting half of those dozen lap-time records. (Note: Schumacher remains in a coma after a ski accident five months ago in which he struck his head on a rock in the French Alps.) It’s worth noting that the following are listed in order of the race schedule, and the times cannot be cross-compared since they were set on separate courses. Also, we did our best to match up the vehicles with the year, race, and driver, but some won’t necessarily fit all three.
It’s unlikely we’ll see these records broken this year — Schumacher’s Ferrari F2004 sported a 3.0 liter V10 engine, which produced a maximum of 865 horsepower. Nonetheless, this season promises to be as dramatic and exciting as every other — and if one of this season’s drivers can manage to set a new lap record, it will be that much more impressive. Here are the lap time records to beat for this year’s Formula 1 circuit.
1. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Australian Grand Prix, 2004
At the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, it was F1 legend Michael Schumacher piloting a Ferrari F2004 that served up a record time of 1 minute, 24.125 seconds, which still stands 10 years later. Schumacher — or Shuey — went on the win the race with a total time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, and 15.757 seconds; Nico Rosberg, who won the Australian Grand Prix earlier this year, posted a winning time of 1:32:58.710 on the same track.
2. Juan Pablo Montoya for BMW-Williams, Malaysian Grand Prix, 2004
“Following our disappointing race in Melbourne last weekend, we immediately started working on improving the FW26 in order to be competitive for the next race and close the gap to Ferrari,” driver Juan Pablo Montoya said at the time. “The hot temperatures, typical of Malaysia and Bahrain, should be favorable for our car, so we are hoping that the next two races will be more positive for us.” Montoya set a lap time of 1:34.223, but despite owning the fastest lap at the track since, it was Schumacher who walked away with the win.
3. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Bahrain Grand Prix, 2004
Despite Montoya’s hopes for taking advantage of Bahrain’s hot temperatures, it was Schumacher again who set the fastest lap time at the Bahrain International Circuit in 2004, with a time of 1:30.252. Schuey also went on to win Bahrain (his third consecutive season win, since he also won in Malaysia), but he wasn’t done yet. Not even close. His total time was 1:28:34.875; Lewis Hamilton took the lead this year in Bahrain with a time of 1:39:42.743 — nearly 10 minutes off Schumacher’s place.
4. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Chinese Grand Prix, 2004
Yes, Shuey again, but get used to seeing his name — 2004 was a good year for him and for Ferrari (he reportedly made $80 million that year, $40 million alone being his salary from Ferrari). In China at the Shanghai International Circuit, Schumacher laid down a lap time of 1:32.238, but it was his Ferrari teammate — Brazilian Rubens Barichello — who won, with a total time of 1:29:12.420. Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team posted a total time of 1:33:28.338 earlier this year, one of the closest comparisons so far.
5. Kimi Räikkönen for Ferrari, Spanish Grand Prix, 2008
“If you want to win, hire a Finn,” they say, and Kimi Räikkönen has proven that old adage to be true. In 2008, he set the record lap time at the Circuit de Catalunya at the Spanish Grand Prix with a 1:21.670 loop that still stands today. He went on to win the race with a time of 1:38:19.051 — Spain was won by Lewis Hamilton this year with a total time of 1:41:5.155.
6. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Monaco Grand Prix, 2004
Schuey, the seven-time Formula One World champion, is back — or was back in Monaco at the Circuit de Monaco in 2004 (as you could have guessed), where he set the standing lap time record at 1:14.439 on the winding, urban-set course. However, it was Jarno Trulli, driving for Renault, who walked away the victor that year, with a time of 1:45:46.601 — four minutes faster than Nico Rosberg’s winning run at Monaco on May 25.
7. Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari, Canadian Grand Prix, 2004
Rubens Barrichello (seen above racing for Honda) is the standing record holder at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, with a lap time of 1:13.622 set in 2004. Despite his valiant efforts, though, it was then-teammate and consistent 2004 season dominator Michael Schumacher who took the top spot on the podium for the race.
8. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Austrian Grand Prix, 2003
Schumacher set a lap record time of 1:8.337 and continued on to finish first at the Red Bull Ring in 2003 at the Austrian Grand Prix, 3.3 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kimi Räikkönen. Schhumacher’s 2003 season wasn’t nearly as strong as his 2004 season: he won six of the races compared with 13 first-place finishes for the year following.
9. Fernando Alonso for Ferrari, British Grand Prix, 2010
In 2010, the Ferrari F10 driven by Spaniard Fernando Alonso was packing a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated V8, sizably smaller than the 3.0 liter V10s that so dominated 2004 and making it more impressive that Alonso was able to lay down a record lap time at the legendary Silverstone Circuit in England in 2010. The car featured 800 horsepower, 65 shy of Schumacher’s F2004. Alonso’s lap time at Silverstone was clocked at 1:30.874, but it was Mark Webber for Red Bull Racing-Renault who went on to win the race that year.
10. Kimi Räikkönen for McLaren-Mercedes, German Grand Prix, 2004
Kimi Räikkönen set a record lap time at the Hockenheimring track at the German Grand Prix in, of course, 2004 with a time of 1:13.780 around the 2.8-mile circuit while sitting in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-19. Despite holding the lap time record, it was (unsurprisingly) Michael Schumacher who walked away the victor at the Hockenheimring, his 11th win of season in 12 races that year.
11. Michael Schumacher for Ferrari, Hungarian Grand Prix, 2004
Schuey was back with a vengeance for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring, where he not only won the race with a total time of 1:35:26.131 but also laid down the fastest lap at 1:19.071, which still stands today. If you’re keeping track, this was Schuey’s 12th win in 13 races, but things were about to change in Belgium.
12. Kimi Räikkönen for McLaren-Mercedes, Belgian Grand Prix, 2004
Kimi Räikkönen not only owns the standing lap time record at the legendary Circuit Spa-Francorchamps (regarded as one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit due to no small amount of winding turns and hills) with 1:45.108, but he also walked away with a first-place finish, beating Schumacher by 3.3 seconds. Ferrari wasn’t exactly off its game, though, booking a 2-3 finish, while Räikkönen’s McLaren-Mercedes teammate, David Coulthard, came in sixth.
13. Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari, Italian Grand Prix, 2004
Rubens Barrichello (pictured here more recently) set his second record lap time at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza during the Italian Grand Prix, where he went on to finish first a scant 1.3 seconds ahead of teammate Schumacher for a 1-2 finish for Ferrari. His lap time of 1:21.046 is still the record to beat a decade later; this year’s drivers will have a shot of breaking that time in July.
14. Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing-Renault, Singapore Grand Prix, 2013
German driver Sebastian Vettel, driving Red Bull Racing-Renault’s RB9, set this record at the Singapore Grand Prix last year with a lap time of 1:48.574 and a aspirated 2.4 liter V8. Vettel went on to win at Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit, one of his 13 first-place finishes during the 2013 season, effectively filling in for Schumacher’s domination after his retirement.
15. Kimi Räikkönen for McLaren-Mercedes, Japanese Grand Prix 2005
The winding, twisty Suzuka Circuit in Japan proved to be no burden for Kimi Räikkönen and his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20, which still used the 3.0 liter V10 similar to the unit found in the 2004 season (F1 switched to the V8 in 2006). Räikkönen laid down a time of 1:31.540 and went on to finish first in the race, one of seven first-place finishes for the Finn during the 2005 season.
16. Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing-Renault, U.S. Grand Prix, 2012
2013 wasn’t Sebastian Vettel’s only dominant year — he’s had several, actually. At the 3.4 mile Circuit of the Americas in Texas, the German laid down a record lap time of 1:39.349 but took second place behind McLaren-Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by — get this — 0.6 seconds. So while Vettel didn’t place first, he has the satisfaction of owning the standing F1 lap record.
17. Juan Pablo Montoya for BMW-Williams, Brazilian Grand Prix, 2004
Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya was able to set a lap record of 1:11.473 at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace during the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2004 on his way to winning the race with a total time of 1:28:1.451 spread over 71 laps while piloting his BMW-Williams FW25. Kimi Räikkönen placed second (just 1 second behind), and the 2004 Tour de Force that was Michael Schumacher placed a distant sixth in Brazil.
18. Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing-Renault, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 2009
Sebastian Vettel made mincemeat of the Yas Marina Circuit at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009 with a scorching lap time of 1:40.279 and would go on to finish first that day with a total time of 1:34:3.414. It was one of four first-places finishes for Vettel that year, though Red Bull teammate Mark Webber took two races, as well.