Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at Circuit Paul Ricard!
THE STATS IN BRIEF:
- Polesitter has won 4 of last 5 races here
- 3rd only grid slot in top 5 to never win
- 12th has had most DNFs
- 16th has had least DNFs
- 18th and 20th never scored
Nigel Mansell’s retirement from the 1990 French Grand Prix is the only time in the past five races at the Paul Ricard track that the polesitter has failed to win the race. It’s also one of only two occasions where the man on pole has failed to finish the race, the other being in 1986, when Ayrton Senna crashed out.
A race at Le Castellet circuit has been won from pole on nine occasions and has been won from the front row of the grid eleven times. 1980 and 1985 are the only occasions where the polesitter has gone on to finish on the podium without winning the event, while 1973 and 1978 are the only occasions where the polesitter has finished the race and finished off the podium, both times finishing fourth.
LUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
The driver starting from fourth at the Paul Ricard circuit has had more top ten finishes than drivers starting from second or third. The driver starting here has finished on the podium in four of the last five races at the track, including Alain Prost, who won from fourth on the grid in 1990. With eight top three finishes in total, only the polesitter has finished on the podium on more occasions than the driver starting from fourth.
The furthest back win at Circuit Paul Ricard track is from fifth on the grid. It’s happened twice – for Ronnie Peterson in 1973 and Nelson Piquet in 1985. The grid position also supplied two further podium finishes for Peterson in 1978 and Alain Prost in 1986.
Seventh on the grid has scored more often than fourth, fifth or sixth at this track. Philippe Alliot’s retirement from seventh on the grid in 1989 is the only time the driver starting here has failed to score in F1’s last seven visits to the track. It’s also supplied three podium finishes, most recently for Ivan Capelli in 1990.
The sixteenth grid slot has recorded the least DNFs of any position at the track, with the driver starting here failing to be classified only once. That driver was Satoru Nakajima in 1987, but even he was still running at the end of the race, albeit nine laps down and a non-classified finisher. Similarly, Jean-Pierre Jarrier finished four laps down in 1980, but was still classified as he’d completed over 90% of the laps. Similarly, Fernando Alonso retired with suspension problems in 2018, but was only three laps from the end. While a driver starting from sixteenth at the track has scored points only twice (Keke Rosberg finished fifth in 1983 and Jean Alesi finished fourth in 1989), the position has provided eight top ten finishes.
Seventeenth holds the record for the furthest back podium finish at the Paul Ricard track, but that was all the way back at the circuit’s first F1 event in 1971, when Emerson Fittipaldi finished third. Since then, Olivier Grouillard’s sixth place finish on home soil in 1989 – the only time he scored a point in his F1 career – is the only time the grid slot has provided a points finish.
UNLUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
There is some good news for the driver starting third: this is the grid slot which has gone the longest without a DNF at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The driver starting here has finished no lower than fifth in all of the past six races at the circuit. However, third on the grid is the only position in the top five to have never won a race at the track. Could that change this season?
The driver starting from tenth has only scored twice (Emerson Fittipaldi with a fourth place finish in 1975 and Keke Rosberg with a fifth place finish in 1982). Furthermore, the driver starting from tenth has failed to finish the Grand Prix in four of the last six races held at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The driver starting from twelfth at the Paul Ricard track has suffered more DNFs than drivers starting from any other grid slot in the top twenty. The driver starting here has failed to finish nine of the fifteen races at the track. In better news, all six finishes for the driver starting from twelfth here have been in the top ten. Last year, Nico Hulkenberg became only the second driver to actually score points here with a ninth place finish.
Position thirteen on the grid has the longest streak of non-finishes at the Paul Ricard track, with Jean Alesi and Sergio Perez both retiring from the last two races here.
The driver starting from eighteenth at this track has never scored, and has only taken two top ten finishes; less than any other position in the top twenty. Riccardo Patrese’s ninth place finish here in 1980 is the best finish for the grid slot at this track, while Michele Alboreto’s tenth place in 1990 is the only other time the driver starting eighteenth has finished in the top ten.
Other than eighteenth, twentieth is the only other grid slot available this weekend to have never scored at the Paul Ricard circuit. Three top ten finishes have come from this position however, for Arturo Merzario in 1976 and Jean-Pierre Jarier in 1983, both finishing ninth, while Nelson Piquet’s eighth place finish in 1989 is the best finish so far for the twentieth grid slot.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. 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 Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.