When Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton filled the podium at the season opener in Australia, they represented (at a combined age of just 74) the youngest podium trio in the history of Formula One. Repeating the feat at Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix didn't just confirm the talent of the young stars in the immediate post-Schumacher era, it also set a notable benchmark of its own.
Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, and Lewis Hamilton have been the only drivers on the podium thus far this season © LAT
In its 57-year history, modern F1 has followed a tradition of either early-season dominance or unreliability among the championship front-runners. On 14 occasions, the first two Grands Prix of the year have been won by one dominant car and driver package. Ten drivers managed the feat once - Fangio, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Lauda, Laffite, Prost, Senna, Mansell, Damon Hill and Hakkinen. Michael Schumacher did it a staggering four times, three times with Ferrari and once for Benetton.
Of the remaining 43 F1 seasons in which the opening two GPs were won by different drivers, there have been only five years in which both winners managed to score points in both opening races - and only one year in which the two winners finished on the podium in both races. That was 1981, when the Williams pairing of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann exchanged victories and second positions at the first two races in the USA and Brazil.
The other 38 seasons - fully two-thirds of modern F1 history - have featured championship protagonists who have won one of the opening two races of the year, but failed to score points in the other. In 2007, not only have the same three drivers filled the podium in both races so far, we have also seen another set of three drivers (BMW's Nick Heidfeld, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella) filling positions four to six in both races. It is a measure of consistency and reliability that is unmatched in history. No other F1 season even comes close.