V for victory, but not in F1

© Keshav Pariat, 7 August 2012
Two Js and a G: Jim Clark and Graham Hill are presented with special gold medals by Juan Manuel Fangio at Silverstone, July 8, 1965, to mark Clark's win in the Indianapolis 500 and Hill's triumphs in the Monaco Grand Prix for three consecutive years © AP Photo/Laurence Harris

August. A long month devoid of Formula 1 races. What do we fill this month with? Silly statistics, perhaps.

We're taking a look at a lighter side of F1 statistics here, focusing on something an F1 driver cannot really control.

Delving through the records, it seems that if you want to be a successful driver in F1, it would probably be best if your first name begins with the letter J. For, as it happens, Js have won 189 Grands Prix in F1 history. Out of 869 races, so far, that equates to more than 21 percent; one in every five is won by a J.

Who are these people? Ever heard of Juan Manuel Fangio (24 race wins)? Jack Brabham (14), Jim Clark (25) or Jackie Stewart (27)? More recent names like Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button are also on the list. In fact, there have been 26 individual drivers who have won a Grand Prix with names beginning with the letter J.

But suppose you weren't bestowed with a name bearing this lucky letter. Perhaps your mum and dad weren't thinking about a career in F1 for you. Is there another member of the alphabet that has also seen success on the various racetracks around the world?

There is. Hope remains. Besides J, both M and A have crossed the 100-win mark. M, however, has 91 out of its 142 victories down to just one man. Yes, he is that Schumacher. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, famously great rivals, dominate wins with the letter A, accounting for 92 out of 118.

J also leads M by fastest laps, and by almost exactly the same margin (189-141). But it is in number of pole positions that the two diverge significantly. While J has racked up 206 poles, M has only ever started the race in first position 129 times.

As of now, F1 has never seen a race won by a driver bearing a given name starting with the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z

There has been a decline in J's fortunes over the years, however. Villeneuve managed a smattering of wins and a driver's championship, Juan Pablo Montoya had limited success and Button hasn't really been an all-conquering hero for the 10th letter - not least in the 2012 season. If ever there was a heyday, it was during the 1950s and 60s. Even as Fangio's reign ended, he was quickly followed by Brabham, Clark and Stewart. The dominance of the Js was quite remarkable; between Mexico 1968 and USA 1970 - that's 24 Grands Prix - every race started with a J on pole. They didn't win them all, but they won enough: 19 driver's championships in total, the bulk of which came during the happy period.

And now for an opportunity. To all aspiring parents - who also have a desire to see their children succeed on the racetrack - perhaps you'd want something more than just an F1 victory for your child. How about a unique victory? Yes, that sounds more appealing. As of now, F1 has never seen a race won by a driver bearing a given name starting with the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z. Therefore let us suggest that Quentin would be a great name for a future F1 driver. Or Uriel for the more adventurous. And wouldn't it be fantastic if the first woman driver to win an F1 race also had a name like, say, Yasmin? Think about it. Think about your children...


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