Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions: Canada

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


  • Pole has won all last 4 races
  • No DNFs for 6th since 2006
  • 12th retired from last 3 races
  • 17th scored only 3 times
  • No points for 19th since 2008

In the 39 Canadian Grands Prix held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since 1978, the polesitter has gone on to win the race nineteen times, giving a pole to win conversion rate of just under 50%. This may not seem like a very high percentage, but the trend has changed in recent years. The polesitter here has gone on to win all of the last four races in Montreal, while Nico Rosberg’s second place finish in 2014 is the only time the polesitter hasn’t won in the last six Canadian races. The polesitter has finished every race here since 2010, and has finished only one of those not in a podium position (Sebastian Vettel finished fourth from pole in 2012). The polesitter has finished on the podium without winning the race here only five times since 1978, with four of those occurrences coming between 2001 and 2014.

In total, the polesitter has retired from the Canadian Grand Prix nine times. The most recent polesitter to retire here was Lewis Hamilton, who crashed with Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the pit-lane in 2008. Polesitter Ralf Schumacher finished second in the 2004 event, but was later disqualified due to the Williams cars failing scrutineers’ tests.

The Canadian Grand Prix has been won from the front row of the grid 25 times during its tenure at the Ile Notre Dame Island, meaning second on the grid has taken victory only six times. Fourteen races here have been won from third or further back on the grid. The furthest back a victory at this circuit has come from is tenth, which Jacques Laffite achieved in 1981. 2018 marked the first time all the top three qualifiers finished in the order they had started in at this track.


The driver starting from fourth has scored points in all of the last nine Canadian Grands Prix. The last driver to start from fourth and fail to pick up a point was Fernando Alonso in 2008. His retirement is one of only four occasions since 1991 where the driver starting from this position hasn’t been classified in the final order. In the last nine years, three podium finishes have come from this grid slot, most recently Valtteri Bottas, who finished third for Williams in 2015. While points are frequent, don’t expect a win from fourth on the grid – the last driver to win from this position was Gerhard Berger in 1992.

The sixth grid slot has the current longest streak of finishes at the Canadian Grand Prix. The last driver to have retired here was Nico Rosberg back in 2006. In the past six seasons, sixth on the grid in Montreal has provided three podium finishes, including Daniel Ricciardo’s maiden F1 win in 2014. The other two drivers to have won having started sixth are Thierry Boutsen in 1989 and Michael Schumacher in 2004.

The driver starting from seventh has scored in nine of the last ten races held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and has finished in the top ten in sixteen of the last nineteen Canadian Grands Prix. Two of the last thirteen races here have been won by the driver starting in seventh place. Kimi Raikkonen took victory in the 2005 race, while Jenson Button won from this position in the epic 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. Felipe Massa’s first lap collision in 2017 marks the only time a driver has failed to finish from seventh on the grid in the last ten years.


The driver starting from fifth on the grid at the Canadian Grand Prix has only taken six podiums since the event moved to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1978. With less podium finishes than any other grid slot in the top eight, fifth isn’t a very lucky place to start the race from, with Michael Schumacher’s second place in 2006 the most recent time a driver starting from fifth has appeared in the top three. In the last eight years, the driver starting from fifth has failed to finish the Canadian Grand Prix on three occasions, and has finished in a position higher than fifth only twice (Mark Webber and Max Verstappen in 2013 and 2016 respectively, who each finished fourth).

Twelfth on the grid has failed to reach the end of all of the last three Canadian Grands Prix. Jenson Button was sidelined with engine issues in 2016, as was Fernando Alonso in 2017, while Brendon Hartley was out on the first lap last year after colliding with Lance Stroll. Furthermore, the driver starting from twelfth in Montreal has scored only five times in the last 39 years – the least number of times from any of the top sixteen grid positions. The best finish for a driver starting here is fourth which Ricardo Patrese achieved in 1978 and Karl Wendlinger repeated in 1992. Kevin Magnussen is the most recent driver to have scored points having started twelfth here. He did so with McLaren in 2014.

In the past four years, Stoffel Vandoorne’s fourteenth place finish in 2017 is the only time where the driver starting from sixteenth has reached the end of the Canadian Grand Prix. Robert Mehri, Jolyon Palmer and Lance Stroll have all started from sixteenth in recent years and failed to finish the race. Felipe Massa’s eighth place for Ferrari in 2013 is the most recent time the driver starting from sixteenth has scored points in Montreal. A driver starting here has never finished above fifth position.

Both 17th and 18th on the grid have scored only three times at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – the least amount of any of the top twenty grid positions. Between 1980 and 2012, the seventeenth grid slot went for 31 races at the track without scoring a point, and in all of the races between 1995 and 2005, the driver starting from seventeenth retired from the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, the grid slot has scored twice in the past six seasons, with Lance Stroll being the latest driver to have scored points from the grid slot in 2017, which also marked his first points scoring race.

No driver has scored points from nineteenth on the grid since Sebastian Vettel finished eighth for Toro Rosso in 2008. That’s the longest point-less streak for a grid slot at the event. Vettel’s eighth place in 2008 is one of only two occasions from the past sixteen races at the track where the driver starting nineteenth has finished in the top ten. The grid slot did, however, supply a podium finish for Alexander Wurz in 2007.

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