Where are the best positions to start the British Grand Prix from? Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at Silverstone!
THE STATS IN BRIEF:
- Pole to win conversion rate under 40%
- 2nd has had most points-scoring races
- 4th scored in every year since 2006
- 13, 16, and 18 all had 3 non-finishes in last 5 years
- 18th scored once since 1985
The polesitter at British Grand Prix has gone on to win three of the last four races, but that gives a skewed view of how often the polesitter takes victory at the track. Historically, the pole to win conversion rate is under 40% at Silverstone, with only 19 of the 52 races here having been won from the front of the grid. Pole has had its dominant streaks at the circuit – pole won four consecutive races at the track between 1960 and 1967, four times between 1991 and 1994 and, more recently, Lewis Hamilton converted all of his poles into wins between 2015 and 2017.
In the 24 races here since 1995, the polesitter has won only seven times, three of those wins being by Hamilton. That being said, a good finish is still likely for the polesitter, with 14 podiums from the last 18 Silverstone races. Since 2001, Nico Rosberg’s DNF in 2014 with gearbox issues is the only time the polesitter has failed to finish the British Grand Prix. The polesitter has recorded non-finishes at the Silverstone circuit on less occasions than any other grid slot in the top twenty.
LUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
The driver starting from second at Silverstone has scored on more occasions than drivers starting from any other grid position, with 38 points-scoring races, and has finished on the podium more times than the polesitter. Second on the grid has also had less non-classified finishes than any other grid slot, failing to finish the race only eleven times. The last non-finish from this grid slot came all the way back in 2000, when Heinz-Harald Frentzen retired with gearbox issues. Since 2001, Mark Webber’s tenth place finish in 2008 is the only time the driver starting from second has failed to score. Sebastian Vettel won last year’s British Grand Prix from second on the grid; one of four times in the last nine seasons where the driver starting second has taken the win.
Fourth on the grid has had the longest active streak of points-scoring races at Silverstone, having scored points in every season since 2006. The driver starting here has also finished in the top ten in every season since 2002, and has won twice in that time. Jarno Trulli, who was out after a first lap collision in 2001, is the most recent driver to have retired from fourth on the grid at the British Grand Prix. In all of the past three years, the driver starting here has finished in the same position.
In the last 37 years, no victory at Silverstone has come from further back than sixth on the grid. That happened in 2014, when Lewis Hamilton started from the position. In the last five years, the position has scored two podium finishes, with Sebastian Vettel finishing third here in 2015 in addition to Hamilton’s 2014 win. There have only been two DNFs from this grid slot in the past twenty years – Ralf Schumacher in 2007 and Robert Kubica in 2010.
UNLUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
Sixteenth on the grid has failed to finish the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 28 occasions, more than any other grid slot. Between 1987 and 2002, the driver starting here reached the end of the race on only three occasions, while in the past four years the driver starting sixteenth hasn’t reached the end of the race. Felipe Nasr failed to even start the race here in 2015 with gearbox issues, Kevin Magnussen retired three laps from the end in 2016 and Carlos Sainz was eliminated after a collision with Romain Grosjean in 2018.
Just like the sixteenth grid slot, thirteenth has recorded three DNFs in the last four seasons. Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz are the drivers who retired here in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. There was an upturn in fortune for the position last year though. Fernando Alonso finished eighth having started thirteenth, becoming the first driver to score points from the grid slot since 2012.
In the last 27 years, the seventeenth grid slot has delivered points only once, for Fernando Alonso in 2015. Between 1998 and 2002, the grid slot also scored top ten finishes four times, but in the lower regions of the top ten, before the positions offered points. Also during the last 26 British Grands Prix, the driver starting seventeenth has retired on thirteen occasions.
In the 33 British Grands Prix since 1985, Jaime Alguersuari’s tenth place in 2011 is the only time that the driver starting from eighteenth has picked up a point. The only finish which bettered that in the time-frame was Mika Salo’s eighth place finish in 2000, before the place gave any points. Just like thirteenth and sixteenth, the position has seen three retirements in the last five seasons.
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.