Where’s the best place to start the German Grand Prix from? Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at Hockenheim!
THE STATS IN BRIEF:
- Polesitter won 50% of races
- 4th last retired in 2001
- 11th and 15th have most DNFs
- 19th scored once – in 1985
- 2 podiums for 20th in last 8 races
Eighteen Grands Prix at this track have been won from pole, giving a pole to win conversion rate of exactly 50%. There’s an interesting statistic about the fate of the polesitter at this circuit. On every visit, the polesitter has either won, finished on the podium or retired from the race. There are just two exceptions to this rule, and both of them have the Rosberg surname. Keke Rosberg finished fifth having started from pole in 1986, while his son Nico finished fourth having started from pole twenty years later.
The polesitter at the track has had the most points-scoring races and least failures to finish of any grid slot at Hockenheim. The polesitter hasn’t won on the last two visits to the track. The aforementioned Rosberg finished fourth in 2016, while fellow German Sebastian Vettel infamously crashed out of the race here in 2018, recording the ninth non-finish for a polesitter at the track, and the first since Kimi Raikkonen in 2005.
There has been only one occasion where the polesitter has failed to start the race at Hockenheim. That was in 1982, when Didier Pironi crashed after setting pole position. The crash gave the Frenchman severe leg fractures and ended his F1 career.
LUCKY GRID POSITIONS
In the last nine races at Hockenheim, the driver starting second has taken more podium finishes than the polesitter and indeed any other grid slot. In fact, aside from in 2012, the second grid slot has provided a podium finish in all of the last eight races. Even in 2012, Sebastian Vettel, who had started second, finished second on the road, but was given a 20-second post-race penalty for an illegal overtaking manoeuvre. Second on the grid has given three wins in the last seven races at the track. Ralf Schumacher is the last driver to have retired from here, all the way back in 2002.
The fourth grid slot holds the longest active streak without a DNF at Hockenheim. Michael Schumacher was the last driver to start from fourth and fail to finish, and that was in 2001. Since then, the driver starting here has finished in the top ten in all eleven races at the track. In fact, Schumacher’s DNF is the only time that the driver starting here hasn’t finished in the top ten since 1996. While the position is likely to bring some good points, don’t expect a podium finish to be easy. In the last nine races here, Max Verstappen in 2016 is the only driver to have started fourth and finished on the podium.
Fourteenth on the grid hadn’t been a very lucky grid slot, until Lewis Hamilton won from here last year. Before that, Jean Alesi was the last driver to score points from this position back in 2001. The position has supplied a podium finish before, for Éric Bernard in 1994, who finished third for Ligier. But that is one of only four occasions, including Hamilton’s win, where the position has picked up points. Still, last year proves that anything is possible with the right circumstances – can fourteenth be lucky again this year?
20th on the grid has given a podium finish not once but twice in the last eight Grands Prix at Hockenheim. Only the top three grid slots have given more podium finishes than twentieth on the grid in the last eight races here. It’s the furthest back a podium finish has come from at the circuit, with both Juan Pablo Montoya and Lewis Hamilton finishing in the top three after qualifying sessions which went awry. Montoya failed to set a time in 2005 and started from the back but finished as runner-up, while Hamilton finished third from 20th in 2014 after suffering a brake failure in qualifying. Jarno Trulli, who finished seventh for Toyota in 2006, is the only other driver to have scored from this grid position. Pedro de la Rosa was the last driver to retire from here, in 2002.
UNLUCKY GRID POSITIONS
In the last three visits to Hockenheim, the driver starting from eighth has scored only once. In the last nine races here, Nico Hulkenberg’s seventh place finish in 2016 is the only time a driver starting here has finished higher than their grid slot. The position had a terrible run of luck between 1993 and 2002. In the ten races between those ten years, 1998 was the only time the driver starting eighth reached the end of the Grand Prix.
2018 saw the end of an eleven race streak of point-less races for both fifteenth and sixteenth places on the grid. Between 2001 and 2016, the two positions had finished no higher than tenth. While the driver starting sixteenth had retired four times in that period, the driver starting fifteenth retired five times. Fifteenth on the grid has recorded the joint-most DNFs of any grid slot at the track, tied with eleventh on 21.
In the last eleven races at Hockenheim, the driver starting eighteenth has finished the race only five times and from the five finishes, no points have been scored, with a best finish of twelfth by Pastor Maldonado in 2014. The grid position has scored only six times in F1’s 36 visits to the track; though it did give Rubens Barrichello his first victory back in 2000 – the furthest back grid slot from which a win has come at this circuit.
Bruno Giacomelli’s fifth place for Alfa Romeo in 1980 is the only time the driver starting from nineteenth on the grid at Hockenheim has scored a point. That’s the least points-scoring occasions for any grid slot in the top twenty at this track. While Daniel Ricciardo became the first driver to record a DNF having started from nineteenth here last season, the position hasn’t had a top ten finish since 2002.
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.