Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions: China

Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Shanghai International Circuit!


  • 9 of the 15 races here have been won from pole
  • 3rd has never failed to score
  • 8th has never failed to finish, but has never finished on the podium
  • 4th has never won
  • 20th has never finished in the top ten

Nine of the fifteen Chinese Grands Prix held since 2004 have been won from pole. Four of the last five races here have been won from pole, with last year’s polesitter Sebastian Vettel the first to not convert pole into a win since 2013. The polesitter has finished on the podium on all but three occasions – in 2007, 2010 and 2018. The polesitter at the Shanghai International Circuit has failed to finish the race only once – that was as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s infamous pit-entry disaster in 2007.

A win from the front row is highly likely, with ten of fifteen wins coming from there; though only one win (Kimi Raikkonen in 2007) has come from second on the grid.

The 2010 Chinese Grand Prix is the only race at the track where none of the top three qualifiers have gone on to finish on the podium. All of the top three have finished on the podium in a race here on four occasions, while 2015 is the only time all three finished in the order in which they started.

Just two podium finishes have come from outside the top nine on the grid – sixteenth for Max Verstappen who finished third in 2017, and eighteenth for Mark Webber who also finished third in 2011.


Third is the only grid slot to have scored in every Chinese Grand Prix so far, and is one of only two to have never recorded a DNF. Drivers starting here have finished on the podium on nine occasions – more than the tally of podium finishes from second on the grid. Kamui Kobayashi is the only driver to have started from third and finished outside the top six in the race, having finished tenth from here in 2012.

While fifth on the grid has recorded the third-most DNFs of any grid slot at the Chinese Grand Prix, with four retirements from the first five Grands Prix at the Shanghai track, no driver has retired from this grid position since Heikki Kovalainen in 2008. In every year since 2009, the driver starting fifth has gone on to score points and the position has supplied four podium finishes, most recently Fernando Alonso in 2014.

Sixth on the grid holds the record for the furthest back win at the Shanghai International Circuit, and the position has won the race twice. Michael Schumacher was the first driver to win from this slot in 2006, securing his 91st and final F1 victory, while Daniel Ricciardo won last year’s Chinese Grand Prix from this grid position. There have been just two occasions in the past nine seasons where the driver starting from sixth has failed to score.

Aside from third, eighth on the grid is the only position to have never failed to finish the Chinese Grand Prix. The best finish for a driver starting from eighth is fifth, which happened for Robert Kubica in 2010 and Jenson Button in 2013, while the worst finish for the grid position is 12th, which happened for Olivier Panis in the inaugural Shanghai race. The grid slot has scored five times in the past six races. While eighth has never failed to finish, it’s also the only grid slot from the top nine where a podium finish has not come from. In each of the past three seasons, the driver starting from eighth has finished in a lower position than where they started.


Both eleventh and twelfth on the grid have recorded only one DNF at the Chinese Grand Prix, and both occurrences happened in the same race. In 2015, Pastor Maldonado and Daniil Kvyat retired from eleventh and twelfth on the grid respectively. The driver starting from eleventh has scored points on eight occasions, while the driver starting twelfth has scored three times.


Fourth is the only grid slot in the top six to have never won a Chinese Grand Prix. The driver starting from fourth has finished on the podium four times, including finishing as runner-up three times in 2007, 2014 and 2016.

The driver starting from fifteenth on the grid at the Chinese Grand Prix has never gone on to score a point. The best finish for a driver starting from here is tenth, which David Coulthard achieved for Red Bull in 2008, before the position offered a point. Furthermore, fifteenth is the grid position which has supplied the most DNFs at the Chinese Grand Prix, with six in total. The driver starting fifteenth has retired in both of the last two Shanghai races.

Thirteenth on the grid has also supplied six non-finishes, though Antonio Pizzonia was classified in the final result of the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix, as he completed all but one lap of the race, in what would turn out to be his final F1 race.

The driver starting from twentieth on the grid has never scored a point at the Chinese Grand Prix. It’s also the only grid slot in the top twenty to have never finished in the top ten. While the driver starting from here has finished all of the last eight races, the best finish from here during that time is a rather lowly thirteenth, by Jolyon Palmer in 2017. That finishing position has been bettered by a driver starting from twentieth once, when Michael Schumacher finished twelfth in the inaugural Chinese race.

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