Much has been made of the wide open start to the season, which according to the record books is now officially the most competitive in the history of the sport in terms of winners thanks to Mark Webber's Monaco triumph in Monaco on Sunday. Never before has a season begun with six different winners in the opening six events, shared out between five constructors and four engine manufacturers.
But with all the ballyhoo over the ever-changing identity of the top step of the podium, it might therefore have escaped your notice that Monaco actually produced one of the closest finishes in the history of the sport.
In fact, the time covering the top five finishers was just 4.101s, which made Sunday's race the fifth closest finish involving five cars of all time.
|Year||Race||Top five within||Notes|
|1971||Italy||0.61s||Slipsteam battle at pre-chicanes Monza; Peter Gethin wins|
|1981||Spain||1.240s||Gilles Villeneuve has a powerful turbocharged Ferrari 126 CK, which struggles in the corners but is fast enough on the Jarama straight to keep his rivals at bay|
|1999||Canada||2.805s||Safety car finish; race won by Mika Hakkinen|
|1997||Europe||3.789s||Jerez '97; after the infamous Schumacher/Villeneuve collision, the Canadian drops his pace and eventually lets the McLarens by. Radio conversations uncover an agreement between the Williams and McLaren teams|
|2012||Monaco||4.101s||Webber holds off a train of cars to win while nursing soft tyres and being careful to manage changing track conditions|
• Mark Webber is the sixth different driver in six races to win a grand prix which is an absolute first for Formula 1. Before Monaco, the Australian hadn't qualified on pole, or even the front row this season. Neither had he climbed on the podium or led a race this year. The win marks Webber's 31st podium, which means he matches countryman Jack Brabham at 29th in the all-time standings. Mark also reversed his curse of failing to convert pole, which stretched back through five attempts (Turkey and Belgium 2010, Spain, Great Britain, Germany 2011) but not winning the race.
• Red Bull scored its 29th victory, but also its third consecutive Monaco win. A run like that hasn't happened since 1988-1993, when McLaren won six straight years, once with Alain Prost and five times with Ayrton Senna.
• Nico Rosberg took his first Monaco podium in Formula 1 and it was also the first for Mercedes as a constructor since the beginning of the world championship.
• With his eighteenth consecutive finish in the points, Fernando Alonso's sequence of scoring finishes is now among the three best of all-time, equalling a feat he already achieved from Turkey 2005 to Germany 2006. There are only two longer streaks in F1 history; the first was recorded by Michael Schumacher from Hungary 2001 to Malaysia 2003 (24) and the second by Sebastian Vettel from Brazil 2010 to India 2011 (19).
• Since his last podium finish in China, Lewis Hamilton has dropped from the top of the championship standings to fourth in three races.
Sergio Perez is the first Mexican to set a fastest lap since Pedro Rodriguez in the 1968 French GP © LAT
• The Monaco Grand Prix marked the second time in history that a Mexican recorded the fastest lap of the race. Sergio Perez's charge from the back of the grid provided the first fastest lap by a Mexican since Pedro Rodriguez's in the 1968 French Grand Prix. This year there have also been six different drivers recording the fastest lap;
• Heikki Kovalainen recorded his best result since Monza last year - 13th. It meant that Caterham claimed tenth spot in the constructors' standings.
• Fifteenth position was Narain Karthikeyan's best result since the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix.
• Jenson Button's failure to finish in the Monaco Grand Prix meant that he dropped out of the top six positions in the drivers' championship for the first time since the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
• Felipe Massa took the lead on the 30th lap of the Monaco Grand Prix, making him the twelfth different race leader this year, already four more than the entire 2011 season. Further evidence of this season's unpredictability: so far no one has been able to lead for more than two races in a row, while last year, for instance, Sebastian Vettel led all races but two (Germany and Abu Dhabi);
• Michael Schumacher's two tenth places, three mechanical failures and one accident mean he has completed the second-to-least amount of the distance so far this season (1003 kms). Last in these ignominious standings is currently Romain Grosjean who is the only man yet to complete a 1000 km (942).
• Monaco marked the tenth career pole position for Webber, the 40th for Red Bull. It was also the 50th front row start from the team.
• Webber was the fifth different poleman in five races. To find a longer streak of different drivers on pole you have to go back to 2003 when from the European GP to the Italian GP, there were six (Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alonso and Michael Schumacher).
Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher have completed the least amount of race distance so far this year © LAT
• Schumacher's grid penalty meant that Mercedes wasn't able to officially record its tenth pole in history and the German wasn't allowed to enter an elite group of drivers who have set pole position over the age of 43; Nino Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio and Jack Brabham. The penalty also promoted Nico Rosberg to his third career front row spot. Michael was demoted to sixth position which was the grid slot he occupied in his maiden Monaco Grand Prix in 1992.
• Sebastian Vettel recorded his worst qualifying result in Monaco since his Toro Rosso days. In 2008 he was 18th on the grid. In even years he has always been beaten by his team-mate in qualifying at the Principality.
• Jenson Button failed to make Q3 in qualifying for the third consecutive occasion. It's in back-to-back races for the first time since his last year with Honda (2008).
• For the second straight race the fastest driver in qualifying didn't start from pole due to penalties.
• For the first time since the 2010 Brazilian GP there were no world champions on the front row.
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