The Fastest Qualifying Lap Ever


Valued Member
So what was the fastest average speed for a lap in Formula One qualifying?

To find out, we must have a look at a year when the cars were absurdly fast - 2004.
We must look at a circuit when the cars were absurdly fast - Monza.
We must look at an absurdly fast car - the F2004.

But it was Barrichello!

A time of 1:20.089 at 260.395kph = 161.8mph = 140.6 knots!

This is the fastest lap ever!

Fastest Lap outside Monza: K. Rosberg, Silverstone 1985, 1:05.591, 259.005kph, 160.9mph
I remember reading about Rosberg's qualifying lap with all the British journos going "wow, an average speed over 160" and all the foreign journos scratching their heads going "why is 259 kph special?". Vive la difference :D
History of the Fastest F1 Qualifying Laps

The races in the first season of 1950 were held at circuits that, with the exception of Monaco, got progressively faster, from Silverstone to Bremgarten to Spa to Reims and finally Monza, where the first record was set:

1950 Italy (Monza) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo 158) - 1:58.6 - 118.826mph
1951 Belgium (Spa) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo 159) - 4:25.0 - 119.191mph
1951 France (Reims) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo 159) - 2:25.7 - 119.984mph
1951 Italy (Monza) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Alfa Romeo 159) - 1:53.2 - 124.494mph
1955 Italy (Monza*) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Mercedes-Benz W196) - 2:46.5 - 134.351mph
1956 Italy (Monza*) - Juan Manuel Fangio (Lancia-Ferrari D50) - 2:42.6 - 137.573mph
1959 Germany (AVUS) - Tony Brooks (Ferrari Dino 246) - 2:05.9 - 147.471mph
1967 Belgium (Spa) - Jim Clark (Lotus-Ford 49) - 3:28.1 - 151.566mph
1970 Belgium (Spa) - Jackie Stewart (March-Ford 701) - 3:28.0 - 151.639mph
1970 Italy (Monza) - Jacky Ickx (Ferrari 312B) - 1:24.14 - 152.869mph
1971 Italy (Monza) - Chris Amon (Matra MS120B) - 1:22.40 - 156.097mph
1985 Great Britain (Silverstone) - Keke Rosberg (Williams-Honda FW10) - 1:05.591 - 160.904mph
2002 Italy (Monza) - Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW FW24) - 1:20.264 - 161.449mph
2004 Italy (Monza) - Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2004) - 1:20.089 - 161.802mph

*combined road/oval circuit
Thanks for the stats Galahad. The one that stands out for me is Jim Clark at Spa 67 - 151.566mph??? :o
They are all impressive but that really is going some for the period.
Good stuff G.

After having just watched an O-Ring race, I feel compelled to mention the ridiculous speeds they achieved in Austria.

In 1986, Teo Fabi took pole in his Benetton at 256.032 km/h. This works out to 159.02 MPH.

In 1987, Nigel Mansell completed 52 Laps and won the race in just 1 Hour and 18 minutes.
For curiosity value, the fastest ever qualifying lap at Le Mans was recorded at 156.471mph by Hans Stuck in a Porsche 962 in 1985.

With circuit changes, including the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight, today's faster machinery can't better Stuck's average lap speed, though the fastest qualifying time set by Stephane Sarrazin for Peugeot in 2008 wasn't far away at 153.578mph.
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