Putting Button’s 1,000 points tally in perspective

F1 Statistics

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2013Jenson Button became the fourth driver in F1 history to pass 1,000 career points in the Australian Grand Prix.

It’s a nice round number but as most F1 Fanatic readers will know its usefulness as a statistic is rather limited.

This is because the F1 points system has changed many times since the world championship began in 1950.

Eight points were awarded for a race win in the inaugural year of the world championship – the value of a sixth-place finish today. Since Button’s career began in 2000 three different systems have been used and the value of a win increased from 10 to 25 points.

Button ranks fourth among the top ten points scorers of all time. But if today’s points system had been used since the dawn of the world championship 63 years ago, would he still stand as tall?

The table below shows how many points each world championship would have scored under the current points system, plus the top 25 points scorers who never won a world championship.

Under the current points system Button would be the ninth greatest points scorer of all time. And if we take an average of that score based on the number of races each driver started, he falls to 27th, dragged down by those wasted years at BAR and Honda.

The data raises some other interesting points. The widely-held view that Stirling Moss was the best driver never to win the world championship is supported by him having the highest average points haul per start among the non-champions, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Reutemann.

Three drivers on the grid today rank among the top ten average points scorers: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. While it’s true they have the benefit of superior reliability and less punishing tracks compared to their predecessors, it supports the view that today’s talent is among the best the sport has seen.

Here’s the data in full, share your views and findings in the comments.

NameStartsPointsPoints per startModern points*Modern points per start
Michael Schumacher30615665.12389012.71
Fernando Alonso19813826.98222511.24
Sebastian Vettel103109410.62128412.47
Jenson Button23010014.3516257.07
Lewis Hamilton1129388.38131611.75
Mark Webber198874.54.4211896.01
Kimi Raikkonen1778174.6217369.81
Alain Prost199798.54.01248312.48
Felipe Massa1747264.1712607.24
Rubens Barrichello3236582.0418975.87
Ayrton Senna1616143.81188111.68
David Coulthard2465352.1717267.02
Nelson Piquet204485.52.3816888.27
Nigel Mansell1874822.5815098.07
Niki Lauda171420.52.4613437.85
Mika Hakkinen1614202.6113828.58
Nico Rosberg130411.53.175564.28
Gerhard Berger2103851.8314176.75
Jackie Stewart993603.64110911.2
Damon Hill1153603.1310919.49
Ralf Schumacher1803291.8310966.09
Carlos Reutemann1463102.1211317.75
Juan Pablo Montoya943073.278258.78
Graham Hill1752891.6510536.02
Emerson Fittipaldi1442811.959946.9
Riccardo Patrese2562811.111114.34
Juan Manuel Fangio51277.645.4487317.12
Giancarlo Fisichella2292751.29404.1
Jim Clark722743.8183911.65
Robert Kubica762733.594886.42
Jack Brabham1232612.129397.63
Nick Heidfeld1832591.427273.97
Jody Scheckter1122552.288968
Denny Hulme1122482.219408.39
Jarno Trulli252246.50.988103.21
Jean Alesi2012411.210335.14
Jacques Villeneuve1632351.448535.23
Jacques Laffite1762281.39215.23
Clay Regazzoni1322121.618206.21
Alan Jones1162061.787076.09
Ronnie Peterson1232031.657315.94
Bruce McLaren98196.52.017457.6
Eddie Irvine1461911.317895.4
Stirling Moss66186.642.836169.33
Michele Alboreto194186.50.967673.95
Jacky Ickx1141811.596805.96
Rene Arnoux1491811.216994.69
John Surtees1111801.626565.91
Mario Andretti1281801.416715.24
James Hunt921791.956296.84
Heinz-Harald Frentzen1561741.127805
Keke Rosberg114159.51.45955.22
Alberto Ascari32140.144.3844613.94
Mike Hawthorn45127.642.8446810.4
Giuseppe Farina33127.333.8644713.55
Jochen Rindt601091.823585.97
Phil Hill47982.093657.77

*Split points scores due to shared drives or reduced race distances have been counted as full points scores.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 95 comments on “Putting Button’s 1,000 points tally in perspective”

    1. Brilliant article. I’ve been hoping someone would produce this sort of thing for AGES. Can you also make the data available as a download, please? CSV format would do. Thanks!

      1. Actually, doesn’t matter. Copy-and-paste did the job. *hangs head in embarrassment*

      2. I echo that sentiment, thanks @keithcollantine!

      3. @marloss Actually, I have done that. For all drivers in history. And for the three last point systems. You can check it over here.

        I wonder, did you use that old early 2012 table I uploaded on the forum or you did all yourself @keithcollantine?

        1. @guilherme All my own work, honest :-)

          1. @keithcollantine Fair enough, I just asked because no one else ever sees my spreadsheet, so I would be happy if it was seeing some sort of use :P

            1. @guilherme I’ll make a note of it, I’m sure I can find something to use it for!

        2. Excellent, I’ll enjoy digging into that :)

          1. Oh, and thanks! :)

      4. This post was great, I’ve always thought how it’s difficult to compare results from different eras due to differences in the point system as well as the number number of gp’s a season. This chart provides a great comparison for the drivers, thanks for creating it.

        1. Actually, it is not a god comparison, because you cant compare season with 12 races where best driver finishes only 2/3 of all races, and today when in 18-20 races champion retires max 4 times. You can only compare drivers from different eras by their achievements during the race (ie their driving skill, not number of wins).

          It is like comparing a performance of WW2 fighter with modern jet.

          1. herowassenna
            5th April 2013, 12:15

            What about drivers in the 50’s who competed in 7 rounds a year? or Jim Clark wining 7 out of 10 races in 1963?

    2. I was not at all expecting Vettel to have a higher modern points per start than Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna: I know he has superior reliability and a great car, but I was fully expecting the closeness of the grid to offset that!

      1. Clark drove in significantly shorter seasons though. Vettel does still beat them on average points, but there isn’t a great difference. And as you say, reliability has improved dramatically (despite Vettel having among the poorest reliability of the top drivers over the last few years).

        1. @matt90 Don’t make me laugh! He’s had a few alternators go. Boo-hoo. Maybe he can go cry about it to Lewis…

          1. Just like to point out that I do remember his trouble at the start of 2010 as well, but generally he has had relatively acceptable reliability. His 2011 car was bulletproof and the bulk of his poor results in 2010 were his own doing in my opinion. Certainly a 50/50 spread.

          2. Maybe he can go cry about it to Lewis…

            @nick-uk The guy who’s first mechanical retirement was in the final round of his third season?

            1. @david-a Original comment states: “over the last few years”

            2. @nick-uk – Even then, you’re talking just 4 mechanical DNFs since the start of 2011. Only one more than Vettel in fact.

          3. @nick-uk Yes, and Vettel and Hamilton have both lost a few victories due to reliability. Among the front runners reliability has generally been very good, but Hamilton and Vettel have suffered the more high profile blows. What on Earth did I say that was so wrong?

            1. @matt90 Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I was just overcome by my Hamilton ‘fanboyism’ haha. I was also, in the heat of my reply, confusing team errors with reliability. Hamilton has greater bad luck in my opinion, again in the last few years that is. If his car in 2012 didn’t break down, he got crashing into or his pit screw affected the race fundamentally.

            2. @nick-uk So everything boils down to bad luck. Interesting

            3. No problem. I agree that particularly last year Hamilton was the victim of awful luck, although, as you say, half of it wasn’t actually due to reliability.

            4. frustrating as it was for lewis in 2012 his 2010 title failure was due to his couple of crashes. You could argue he should be a 3x world champion by new. Tho you good also argue alonso could be 5x champ!

              in reality mclaren were to blame for one title loss and he himself was for the other. Worryingly(and surprisingly) he hasnt finished in the top 3 since 2008 and thats simply not good enough whatever way you look at it.

            5. 2010 was a a little less simple than that. One crash was purely his fault, and the other was debatable. At most I would say he a bit optimistic in Singapore, but Webber could equally be accused of defending too aggressively- an unfortunate racing incident. And from what I recall he did have some mechanical misfortune too (only Spain springs to mind immediately though). Overall it was a very solid season, one of his best along with 2007 and 2012. I think his two collisions coming at once and in the latter part of the championship marred some people’s opinions of how well he drove that year in a car that I believe was 3rd fastest on average over the season.

          4. Hamilton has had six mechanical DNF’s in his career, to eleven for Vettel.

            Three of Hamiltons (and two of vettels) occurred in 2012.

            1. @jonsan Not denying it, but out of curiosity could you list those 11 please?

            2. 2007 – Belgium, Bahrain
              2008 – Malaysia, Hungary
              2009 – Hungary, Valencia
              2010 – Australia, Korea
              2011 – Abu Dhabi
              2012 – Valencia, Monza

              Abu Dhabi 2011 was that mysterious tyre blow-out – I’m not counting most tyre problems but that one belongs here under “mechanical failures”.

            3. And Hamilton’s six –
              2009 – Abu Dhabi
              2010 – Hungary
              2011- Brazil
              2012 – Germany, Singapore, Abu Dhabi

            4. Hamilton also had wheel rim failure at Spain ’10 which is missing off your list. He was running second at the time with 1 lap to go. It was agonising watching that. :(

            5. @jonsan – You listed “2007 – Bahrain”, but Vettel’s debut came later in that season.

            6. That should have been 2007 – Belgium, Brazil.

              I did not forget Spain 2010, where Hamilton suffered a rim failure. I did my best to find out whether that was due to a defective part (a mechanical failure) or due to Hamilton running over a curb or clipping a barrier, but the incident remains a question mark.

        2. Clark drove in significantly shorter seasons though

          That shouldn’t matter much when comparing points per start, unless the idea is that a longer season is correlated with better reliability as the team break in their cars.

          1. @hircus – you could also say that with a shorter season the performance doesn’t have to be sustained for as long, and that teams have less time to develop with less races.

      2. I was wondering how it would look if it were Points per Finish.

        1. If it were, then Clark, Schumi, Vettel and Fangio would probably have the highest points per finish.

        2. Yeah, points per finish would be interesting to see. And not that hard to do either (wink wink, nudge nudge).

        3. Taking a quick look at stats this is what I found (might not be perfectly accurate and only looked at drivers I found interesting, also I didn’t care for the reason of retirement):
          1. Fangio 21,3points/race (19,6% retired)
          2. Ascari 20,3 (31,3%)
          3. Stewart 17,6 (36,4%)
          4. Farina 17,2 (21,2%)
          5. Clark 17,1 (31,9%)
          6. Prost 17 (26,6%)
          7. Senna 16,7 (30,4%)
          8. Schumacher 15,9 (20,2%)
          9. Moss 15,8 (40,9%)
          10. Vettel 14,9 (16,5%)
          11. Hamilton 13,6 (13,4%)
          12. Alonso 13,5 (16,7%)
          13. Raikkonen 12,9 (23,7%)

          Maybe Keith will add a column to the table to have more precise data :)

          1. The top 2 are still the same, Farina not far behind. Interesting to see Stewart and Clark jump up and Schumi drop down. thanks for the quick effort @bananarama

          2. also I didn’t care for the reason of retirement

            what do you mean you didn’t care? kind of a statistic is that?…

            1. If you want to do the research…

      3. @kcrossle @xjr15jaaag @kelsier @bananarama

        There’s a table of points per finish for the world champions correct up to the end of last season here:

        2012 in statistics part one: The year in context

    3. Modern points per stats: What a Top 10!

      1. @jeff1s – agreed, imagine having all of them in a single race! That would be so full of epicness I think I’d have a cardiac arrest from excitement! :D

    4. Great stuff, and beautiful way to highlight your new site updates. What was the criteria used to determine wether a driver would be in or out of the ranking ?

      Small tip : maybe a small triangle or icon on the columns would help understand that those columns actually are sortable.

      1. thanks for pointing out that the columns were sortable! that was going to be my one complaint.

        @keithcollantine, thanks so much for this!

      2. I guess that with all of them sortable that would be a bit much, but maybe showing according to which it is currently ordered would make it even better @tango

        1. They are all sortable and I quite like it like that @BasCB (thus my comment). But your comment really emphases the need to make it visually clear that they are.

      3. @tango @bascb There are arrows at the top of each column – if you can’t see them you may need to hard refresh the page.

        1. Ah, thanks for the tip, could be it! This is just so new :-)

    5. How did Mike Hawthorn end up with 127.64 points? Same goes for Fangio, Moss, Ascari and Farina.

      1. @geemac – shared drives during one race (1 car multiple drivers) and reduced points due to aborted races.

      2. @geemac As @tmf42 notes, shared drives accounts for some of it.

        Some of those drivers are also among the seven who shared the point for fastest lap at the 1954 British Grand Prix. Each are credited here with 0.14 points for that. More on that here.

        1. I thought that was the reason, but I wasn’t sure of the race that happened at. Thanks all.

      3. At the 1954 British GP seven drivers had the fastest lap (because timing wasn’t that accurate back then) which was worth one point. So each received 0,14 points for it.

    6. what about if you could convert between different point systems? I would be interested to see the difference in that

      1. What would be interesting is how the championship results of past years would have changed with modern pointssystem.

        1. @kelsier If you mean which championships would have a different champion: I actually looked it up a few months ago:

          1951: Ascari instead of Fangio
          1964: G. Hill instead of Surtees
          1983: Prost instead of Piquet (actually this one was a tie, but Prost had more 1st places)
          1984: Prost instead of Lauda
          1988: Prost instead of Senna
          1994: D. Hill instead of Schumacher (ha!)
          1999: Irvine instead of Häkkinen

          If Schumacher would not have been disqualified from the championship in 1997, then he would have won the title instead of Villeneuve.

          So this would mean that Prost has actually won more championships than Schumacher!

          1. Thanks, interesting stuff. Prost 7 times champion with shumi on 6. Damon 2 times (which I always think anyways) but still one less than his father… But Irvine insteed of Häkkinen ouch that hurts.

            1. Prost is most interesting one. The fact he lost a title despite scoring alot more points than everyone always troubles me.

              in fact he only ever gave away 1.5 points to team mates in his whole career. That is amazing, esp when you see the quality of his team mates compared to some of the other champs.

            2. The film about Senna didn’t leave me with the best impression of Prost and another French F1 guy. Not that I believe Senna was a saint;-) And who says that the modern point system is the “right” one. The difference between the points is to big in my opinion. And to compare drivers over history only on points could very well be supplemented by looking at the time spread of the field, at least on an average over the seasons. I don’t know if these data are available.

            3. Yes. If there was any doubt that Prost was the best, his reputation only being tainted by Senna’s one-lap speed and political clout but also ruthlessness/carelessness.

              Taking cover…

            4. @palle

              The difference between the points is to big in my opinion

              Well actually, you say that but the longest standing points score for first (9, from 1961-1990) coincided with second being worth 6 points, so a 50% increase in points scored from second to first. If we compare that to now, the 7 point step from the 18 for 2nd to the 25 for 1st is only a meagre 39% increase, 11% less than before.

              If anything, I actually think wins should be more valuable: outright speed I think should prevail over consistency, as speed is something which can only be achieved by the most talented of drivers. This is only my opinion though, and I respect yours may differ.

    7. The modern points per start statistic is telling – Fangio is way out in front of everyone.
      And this for a driver who didn’t start racing in F1 until he was past the retirement age of most of those on the list.

      1. Not to downplay Fangio here, but that’s a bit over-romanticising the statistics. The stats dont tell you how his teammate had to give Fangio his car in case Fangio retired due to technical issues.
        Fangio was from a completely different era in F1, even math can’t help us there…

        The table is a fantastic read and I’ve been waiting for something like this since I can’t be bothered to make it myself, Thanks Keith!

      2. Agreed – he averaged slightly worse than second place!

    8. What a beautiful example of how statistics can be used anything you like!

      Had the table been laid out ½in order of modern points per finish Button would have been nowhere while the real deal would rank in top with Fangio, Farina, Ascari, Clark, Stweart, Senna, Prost, Schumacher and yes; Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton!

      1. Sorry, I did mean points per START.

      2. If you want you can now order it according to points / start – just click at the title of the column @poul, Button ends up in 27th, one behind Massa. Its possible he would drop further down with the points per finish one, although he’s been having quite some retirements of himself as well.

    9. This makes for all sorts of terrific pub/coffeeshop banter. What an interesting perspective this makes of the drivers. Good job, Keith!

    10. I wonder, where would Gilles Villeneuve place on this chart?

      1. He should have about 408 modern points with 67 starts and just 37 finishes as I’d count .. so, 6/start, 11/finish. Approximately…

    11. Holy cow! I just realize that Jacques Villeneuve and Laffite are *tied at 5.23!* Wow.

    12. Great stats!

      However it is hard to compare drivers using these stats, because it depends to a great extent on how long have they spent their time in weak teams.

      For example Nico Rosberg does not appear anywhere properly, Alonso’s points are skewed due to his years at Minardi and Button’s as well are skewed due to years in BAR Honda.

      1. True, if say, you remove the RBR driver’s years before 2009 then in modern points Vettel has a 15.08 average per race, while Webber goes up t 12.15 points.
        But of course you can do the same for all drivers so it doesn’t really mean much.

        Thanks Keith, nothing more enjoyable that some good stats.

    13. Wow I feel really bad for Jean Alesi and Heinz Frentzen, they seem to have a really high old to modern point ratio. One is just below 5 and the other is below 7. Alesi would have been a 1000-er today.

    14. Statistics are fun and they can tell part of the story. I’m more of a observational, gut feeling, whole package kind of a F1 fan. Statistics can often leave out other vital factors and even leave out other statistics that could shed light on the complete story. However, I did say statistics can be fun. They are also a way to make interesting comparisons, even if just a way to look at one piece of the whole puzzle.

      The table above is a fascinating comparison of drivers across the F1 ages which is a difficult comparison to make because of all sorts of different factors. Taking the table above and breaking it down further to the top 20 points per race scoring drivers (according to the comparison of all modern points applied) produces just one more way to look at a piece of the big puzzle. This, of course leaves out many other factors.

      Juan Manuel Fangio 17.12

      Alberto Ascari 13.94

      Giuseppe Farina 13.55

      Michael Schumacher 12.71

      Alain Prost 12.48

      Sebastian Vettel 12.47

      Lewis Hamilton 11.75

      Ayrton Senna 11.68

      Jim Clark 11.65

      Fernando Alonso 11.24

      Jackie Stewart 11.2

      Mike Hawthorn 10.4

      Kimi Raikkonen 9.81

      Damon Hill 9.49

      Stirling Moss 9.33

      Juan Pablo Montoya 8.78

      Mika Hakkinen 8.58

      Denny Hulme 8.39

      Nelson Piquet 8.27

      Nigel Mansell 8.07

      1. @bullmello Yes I noticed this pattern and immediately thought Montoya should have continued in F1.

        1. @aish

          Absolutely right. I was surprised with how high he was on the list. Montoya was great, definitely had the pace to continue. There was a documentary about him on Nat Geo a few years ago where he said he had enough of the politics in F1. He’s enjoying himself in NASCAR…probably also enjoying a few cheeseburgers too many!

          1. @jaymenon10: Do you have the link of that documentary? I’m a big fan of JPM, I often look up his super flying laps and passes all over on youtube. Yeah Nascar is where he wants to be at and he is definitely getting more respect there than he got in F1. It’s better to be No 1 in a lesser sport than No 10 in the a greater one. Yeah he has added a few pounds and that will not hinder his performance in his chevvy cars, unlike in F1. :)

        2. Agreed, Montoya was one of my favorite drivers when he left F1 and I was sorry to see him go.

    15. Three drivers on the grid today rank among the top ten average points scorers: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. While it’s true they have the benefit of superior reliability and less punishing tracks compared to their predecessors, it supports the view that today’s talent is among the best the sport has seen.

      And Kimi Raikkonen is 13th on the list. With the possible exception of the early 1990’s when you had Senna, Prost, and Schumacher lining up, there’s never been as good as grid as we have today.

      1. @jonsan – I just wish we could’ve seen more of that Senna/Schumacher fight – 1994 would’ve been so much better had Senna not had his career tragically cut short :(

    16. Cars in the Olden Days were more unreliable than modern cars, but there was also a bigger performance gap between the best, the middle of the pack, and the worst cars. So while e.g. Jim Clark suffered a high rate of DNF’s by modern standards, of the races he did finish he finished in first place an exceptionally high proportion of the time.

      In 73 races he had 23 DNF’s … but in the 50 races he did finish he took 25 wins and 32 podiums. Modern cars are more reliable, but no modern driver can ever lap the entire field in the course of winning a race.

      1. Hamilton very nearly lapped everyone in the field in Silverstone 2008, he lapped everyone up to and including fourth place.

        1. Nearly only counts in horseshoes.

      2. @jonsan – that, coupled with the fact that the modern grid is exceptionally fit and dedicated makes it that much harder for an individual to stand out from the crowd, which is why I think the current top guys could well be some of the best in history.

    17. Really highlights just how good Schumacher was prior to returing from retirement. His stats are still amazing, despite three years of poor results.

    18. Good work Keith.
      Just the other day I made a little statistic work:
      Senna got on the podium in 49,4% of his races, and he had pole position in 40,1%. He won the WDC in 27.27% of the seasons he raced.
      Schumacher won the WDC in 38,9% of the seasons he raced and he got on the podium in 50,3% of the races and he took pole pos in 22% of the races. I don’t think it makes sense to compare F1 drivers of all ages, because the sport has changed so much over the years. I’m certain that if You could revive Fangio at his peak, even with training in the art of modern F1, he wouldn’t be able to qualify to be allowed to start a race. He is from an age, where nobody had +10.000 hours in a cart or race car before the age of 20 years, which is a must today. Bruno Senna is an example of a wasted talent, due to Ayrtons death he was prevented from racing for to many years. If he had done his racing in all his youth, I’m sure he would have become a top driver.

    19. Great table! Perhaps you, or someone else, would like to do every championship, under every different points system? And with all results counted (unlike the split-seasons). I’d love to see some of the recent championships under the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system and so on!

    20. It’s kind of impossible to actually compare between different eras with just numbers.
      Rules changes, number of races, better and safer tracks, reliability of cars, better training, modernization in terms of team co-ordination. These are just a few changes that am listing. There’s just so much more that has changed. These all changes gives today’s drivers a definite advantage over the previous era drivers, when you consider numbers for deciding who is better.

    21. Very interesting. But because reliability is so much better these days, I’d be more interested in how many points modern drivers would have if fewer places scored points. i.e. using the points system from that existed from 1962-1990. If Clark (for one example) wasn’t in the top five he normally didn’t finish at all, whereas modern drivers frequently salvage a few points lower down. Does that chart exist anywhere? I think it would give a quite different impression.

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