Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Baku City Circuit!
THE STATS IN BRIEF:
- Polesitter has only won once
- More podium finishes from outside top 5 than the top 3
- Two top 3 finishes from 8th on the grid
- 11th on the grid never scored, 12th always scored
- Honda power has scored points twice from 19th
Nico Rosberg’s dominant win in Baku in 2016 is the only time the polesitter at this track has gone on to win a race in the three Grands Prix held so far at this track. It’s also the only time the polesitter has finished on the podium here, though the man starting from pole position is yet to finish below fifth in an Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth from pole in 2017, while Sebastian Vettel finished fourth last season.
With unpredictable races in the last two years, less podium finishes have come from the top three on the grid in Baku than have come from outside the top five on the grid. Four podium finishes have come from the top three on the grid, five have come from sixth or lower.
LUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
Second on the grid has supplied the most podium finishes from any of the top seven grid slots. Valtteri Bottas finished as runner-up from this grid slot in 2017, while Lewis Hamilton won the event from this position last year. Second is one of only four grid slots to have never failed to score in Baku.
Impressively, eighth on the grid has had the same number of podium finishes as the second spot! Lance Stroll started here in 2017 and Sergio Perez in 2018, with both of their races culminating in taking the final podium spot. The driver starting from eighth in Baku has always finished the race further up the order than where they started it.
Daniel Ricciardo scored victory from tenth on the grid in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. It’s the furthest back grid position which the race has been won from. Just like the eighth grid slot, the driver starting from here has always gained positions during the race, whether that be Lewis Hamilton taking fifth from here in 2016, Ricciardo winning the race in 2017 or Lance Stroll. who finished eighth last season
12th on the grid is the only position outside of the top ten which has never failed to supply a finish in the points. Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth from this grid slot in 2016, while Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso each finished seventh having started twelfth in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
The driver starting from the lowly 19th grid slot has never failed to finish, and has scored points in each of the last two seasons. Jenson Button gained eight places in the 2016 event to finish eleventh, while Fernando Alonso and Brendon Hartley both finished in the last two points-paying positions from this grid slot in 2017 and 2018 respectively. In all of the three races held here so far, a Honda-powered car has started from 19th on the grid.
UNLUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
Though Sebastian Vettel finished as runner-up having started from third in 2016, the driver who has started from third on the grid in Baku has failed to reach the end of the race in each of the last two seasons. Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas were each classified in 14th in the final result having started from third in 2017 and 2018 respectively, but neither crossed the finish line. Raikkonen was sidelined with an oil leak while Bottas suffered the cruellest luck of all – picking up a puncture just three laps from the finish, while leading the Grand Prix.
Fourth and fifth on the grid are the only grid positions in the top six from which a podium finish has never been taken. While fourth on the grid has finished in the position they’ve started from twice in the past three years, the driver starting from fifth has retired in each of the last two seasons. In both years, that driver was Max Verstappen. An oil pressure issue ended his afternoon early in 2017, while a collision with his team-mate in 2018 ended any hopes of finishing the race. Even Felipe Massa in 2016, the only driver to have started from fifth and finish the Grand Prix, had a lacklustre race. He lost places during the afternoon and finished only tenth.
The driver starting from eleventh has never scored points in Baku. It’s the only grid position to have never scored a point from the top 16 starting positions. Furthermore, Romain Grosjean’s 13th place finish here in 2016 is the only time a driver starting from eleventh at the track has gone on to finish the race. Don’t qualify here if you’re Russian – Daniil Kvyat and Sergey Sirotkin are the last two drivers to have started here; and both were out of the race before the tenth lap.
17th and 18th on the grid in Baku have had very similar histories at the Baku City Circuit. The drivers who started here in 2016 both retired, while 17th finished eleventh and 18th finished 12th in 2017, with the positions reversed last season. Neither position has ever supplied any driver with a point in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
While Azerbaijan has provided chaotic races in the last two seasons, the driver starting from the back hasn’t benefited. Both Jolyon Palmer in 2017 and Romain Grosjean in 2018 failed to finish the race having started 20th, the latter being memorably forced off the circuit by Marcus Ericsson (at least according to Grosjean’s race engineer, before replays showed the Frenchman had mysteriously driven into the wall of his own accord under Safety Car conditions). Talking of Ericsson, the Swede is the only driver to have actually finished the Baku race having started from 20th, though he could only manage a drive to 17th for Sauber in 2016.
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.