Top five stats from the Australian Grand Prix

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Last week’s Australian Grand Prix produced some interesting and unusual statistics – here are five of the best:

Youngest field ever

The 22 drivers who qualified for Sunday’s race were, on average, the youngest Formula One has ever seen.

Their average age was 27 years and 61 days, beating the previous record set in the 1997 French Grand Prix.

Esteban Gutierrez is the most junior driver in the field – he was 21 years and 230 days old when he made his F1 debut on Sunday.

Seven race leaders

Seven different drivers took their turn at the head of the field in the opening race. That’s a lot for a 58-lap Grand Prix – in fact there have only been more than that on one other occasion in F1 history. Eight different drivers led the 1971 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

On Sunday Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Kimi Raikkonen all took turns in the lead.

Raikkonen equals Hakkinen

Raikkonen is poised to overtake Mika Hakkinen as the most successful Finnish driver in terms of race wins. Raikkonen’s victory on Sunday tied him with Hakkinen on 20 Grand Prix victories.

However Hakkinen’s two world title wins in 1998 and 1999 give him one more than 2007 champion Raikkonen.

Button hits 1,000

Jenson Button became the third driver in F1 history to reach a career points total in 1,000. Ninth place moved him up to 1,001 points.

However it’s worth keeping in mind that F1’s points system has changed several times. In 2010 the value of a win was increased from 10 to 25 points.

Hulkenberg’s miserable Melbourne luck

Nico Hulkenberg has entered three Australian Grands Prix but is yet to complete a racing lap. In 2010 and 2012 he was involved in crashes at the start.

He didn’t even get that far this year – a fuel system problem put him out before he could make it to the grid.

Read more stats and facts from the Australian Grand Prix

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Combined speeds