Sebastian Vettel has been utterly dominant during the 2011 season. But, despite its remarkable success, his campaign does not quite make it into the record books as one of the top 10 earliest endings to a drivers' championship fight.
The German's third place at Suzuka, the 15th out of 19 races, meant he needed only 79 per cent of the season to put the title beyond reach of his rivals - but this doesn't even make it into the top 10 of early finishes.
Here we look at those campaigns that have eclipsed Vettel's percentage. And, in cases where drivers have clinched the title after identical proportions of the season, the nod is given to those doing so earlier in the race in question, for example through retirements.
Brabham proved age was no factor on his way to the '66 title © LAT
10 Jack Brabham - 77.8 per cent (1966)
Some reckoned that the 40-year-old Brabham's world championship days were behind him as he toiled to turn his eponymous team into a race-winning force. The marque already had a few F1 victories to its name heading into the 1966 season, but with regulations changing from 1.5 to 3-litre engines, everyone expected Ferrari to dominate.
Brabham had other ideas, going to Australian engineering company Repco. Based on Oldsmobile engine blocks, the powerplant, when mated to Ron Tauranac's BT19, proved to be very competitive. A run of four straight mid-season victories gave Brabham such a lead that he clinched the title at Monza, despite retiring from the Italian Grand Prix when his nearest challenger John Surtees dropped out with a fuel leak.
Schumacher's '01 campain began with victory in Australia © LAT
9 Michael Schumacher - 76.5 per cent (2001)
After defeating Mika Hakkinen the year before with one round to spare to take Ferrari's first drivers' title since 1979, Michael Schumacher found life far easier in 2001.
After the Austrian GP, the sixth round of the season, McLaren driver David Coulthard was just four points behind. But from then on Schumacher won four times in seven races to seal the title with victory at the Hungarian GP, with four races remaining.
Coulthard, meanwhile, endured a difficult run, finishing on the podium just twice in the same sequence of races. He ended the season 58 points behind after McLaren struggled to keep up its challenge to the Scuderia.
Fangio was the dominant figure during the '50s, but saved his best till last © LAT
8 Juan Manuel Fangio - 75 per cent (1957)
Ferrari headed into the season as favourite, despite world champion Juan Manuel Fangio's return to Maserati. The iconic 250F was ageing, but a raft of updates gave it a new lease of life. Ferrari, meanwhile, struggled as Fangio won the opening three points-paying F1 races of the year in Argentina, Monaco and France to give himself a huge lead at the head of the standings.
Appropriately enough, he clinched the crown with his greatest GP victory at the Nurburgring. After dropping over a minute behind the Ferraris of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn, he turned in a brilliantly aggressive drive to catch and pass both. Ultimately, it was Vanwall driver Stirling Moss who ended the season second overall, with Ferrari going winless in world championship events.
It was Fangio's final world championship and the German GP had been his last victory at that level. He retired shortly after the start of the '58 season.
Stewart turned it on in the hills above Barcelona © LAT
7 Jackie Stewart - 72.7 per cent (1969)
The combination of Jackie Stewart, the Tyrrell team and Matra chassis swept all before it in 1969, with back-to-back wins in the first two races of the season at Kyalami and Montjuich Park getting him off to the perfect start.
Wins in the Netherlands, France and Britain followed before Stewart's famous victory at the Italian GP, where he prevailed over Lotus driver Jochen Rindt in a dash to the line.
With three races to spare, the Scot had his first world title.
Stewart made the most of the Tyrrell 001 in '71 © LAT
6 Jackie Stewart - 72.7 per cent (1971)
Having switched from a March chassis to its own design in late 1970, Tyrrell proved unstoppable with Stewart in '71. The Scot won five times in the first seven races to give himself a huge championship advantage.
With nobody able to mount a serious challenge, Stewart started the Austrian GP, the eighth round of the championship, with every chance of sealing his third world title. After starting on the front row and running second early on, he was slowed by handling problems, but he was still on course for a solid finish before he lost a rear wheel.
By then, Jacky Ickx, who went into the race as his nearest 'rival' - although he was, in reality, a long way off - had already retired with a Ferrari engine failure, guaranteeing Stewart his second crown.
Ascari won the title with a theoretical maximum score in '52 © LAT
5 Alberto Ascari - 71.4 per cent* (1952)
With a paucity of F1 machinery around, the decision was made to run the world championship to F2 regulations in 1952. With Maserati the only serious opposition, Ferrari cleaned up.
Alberto Ascari made a slow start to the season, the Italian missing the Swiss GP in favour of taking on the challenge of the Indianapolis 500, which was a world championship race at that time. The Italian retired at Indy, but won all six remaining races in Belgium, France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy - and claimed the title in the fourth of that run of races, having racked up a theoretical maximum score.
*While Ascari clinched the title in the sixth out of eight points-paying races, giving him a percentage of 75 per cent, the practice and qualifying regulations at the time meant that competing in both the Swiss GP and the Indy 500 was impractical. Therefore, we have adjusted his winning percentage to reflect winning the title after five of a maximum of seven races.
Clark's Lotus 25 on the way to victory at the British GP © LAT
4 Jim Clark - 70 per cent (1963)
Lotus had arrived as a real force in top-line F1 racing in 1962, when Jim Clark had bagged three world championship race wins on his way to the runner-up spot in the title race. It was clear that the combination of Clark and Colin Chapman would be contenders the following year, and the Scot proved unbeatable.
Monaco was never a happy hunting ground for Clark, despite his many pole positions, and a gearbox problem cost him in '63. But after his pointless start to the season he won four races on the bounce in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Britain.
With nobody seriously challenging him, Clark took his fifth win of the season at Monza, wrapping things up with three rounds to go.
Clark's '65 campaign was slightly more impressive than in '63 © LAT
3 Jim Clark - 70 per cent* (1965)
After being cruelly denied a second successive world championship by a last-lap engine failure at the 1964 Mexican GP, Clark and Lotus were on devastating form the following season.
After winning the season opener in South Africa, Clark was able to skip Monaco in favour of chasing Indy 500 glory. His pursuit of victory in the USA proved a huge success, and he carried on in the same vein when he returned to F1.
Five consecutive wins followed, his victory in Germany guaranteeing him the championship. By clinching the title on August 1, he set a calendar date record for taking the title early that would stand for 37 years.
*Clark's '65 season is placed above his '63 campaign because he opted to miss the Monaco GP to compete at Indy. This does not alter the percentage calculation as the latter event was not part of the world championship.
Mansell took a then record nine wins for Williams in '92 © LAT
2 Nigel Mansell - 68.7 per cent (1992)
The Williams FW14 had been the quickest car during the 1991 season, even though McLaren's strong form early in the campaign ensured that Ayrton Senna retained his world championship. For '92, Patrick Head and Adrian Newey produced a b-spec of the FW14 that, kitted out with active suspension, ABS and traction control, was easily the class of the field.
Having missed out on the title several times during his career, most famously with that Adelaide tyre blowout in '86, Mansell wasn't going to let this opportunity slip. He quickly asserted himself over his team-mate Riccardo Patrese, who had been far tougher opposition in '91, winning the opening five races to extend a lead that nobody was ever going to overcome.
The Hungarian GP was the 11th round of the season and Mansell was outqualified by Patrese, but followed the inspired Ayrton Senna home in second place to stretch his lead to 52 points, with 50 to play for.
Schumacher took title number five to equal Fangio's record © LAT
1 Michael Schumacher - 64.7 per cent (2002)
Now in his Ferrari pomp, Schumacher had the air of a man who could win without even trying during 2002.
Victory in the season-opening Australian GP got his season off to the perfect start. He followed that up with a third place in Malaysia, but in the remaining 15 races either won or finished second.
Victory at the French GP, the 11th of 17 races, gave him his fifth world championship, allowing him to draw level with the great Fangio's long-standing record.
To continue reading this feature, join Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.