Where’s the best position to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from? Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Yas Marina Circuit!
THE STATS IN BRIEF:
- Polesitter won last 4 races
- 3rd and 6th always finished
- 4th retired from last 2 races
- 12th retired from last 3 races
- 19th and 20th never scored
- Pit-lane starters scored 3 times
The polesitter at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has gone on to win all of the last four races – but the overall pole to win conversion rate is only 50% at the circuit. That’s because before 2015, Sebastian Vettel’s win in 2010 was the only victory which came from pole position at the Yas Marina track. Mark Webber’s second place in 2013 is the only time the polesitter here has finished on the podium without winning the race.
Pole is one of only two grid slots at the circuit which have recorded three non-finishes, with Lewis Hamilton recording two DNFs having started from pole in 2009 and 2012, and Vettel being eliminated on the first lap in 2011. Aside from that, Nico Rosberg is the only other driver to have failed to score from pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The German finished fourteenth with car issues in 2014.
LUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
Valtteri Bottas’ fifth place last season was a rare occasion where the driver starting second failed to finish in the top two. The only other time that has happened was in 2012, when Mark Webber was eliminated in a mid-race collision. The grid slot is the only one other than pole to have provided multiple wins, with four victories in total.
Third is one of two grid slots to have had a 100% finish rate at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Though a driver starting here has never won the race, third on the grid has given seven podium finishes, the second most of any grid slot, with two runner-up finishes and five third place finishes. The driver starting here has always scored points, with Fernando Alonso’s seventh place in 2010 the lowest finishing position so far.
Sixth is the other grid slot to have never recorded a non-finish at the Yas Marina Circuit. The position has provided two podium finishes, including a third place last season for Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas’ thirteenth place finish in 2015 is the only time that sixth on the grid has failed to score so far in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Michael Schumacher memorably retired from the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His race ended with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India plonked on top of his Mercedes. That’s the only time a driver starting from eighth has retired from a race at this circuit. In every other year, the driver starting eighth has scored points, and ninth place finishes for Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso in 2013 and 2014 respectively are the only times that the grid position has lost places during the race.
No driver starting further back than eighteenth on the grid at this track has ever scored points, but pit-lane starters have scored on three occasions. The pit-lane has also provided the furthest back podium finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel finishing third after being excluded from qualifying in 2012. Meanwhile, both Red Bull drivers started from the pit-lane in 2014 following an exclusion for illegal front wings. Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in the race, while Vettel finished eighth.
UNLUCKY GRID POSITIONS:
The driver starting from fourth has retired from each of the last two Abu Dhabi Grands Prix with mechanical failures. Daniel Ricciardo was out in 2017 with a hydraulics failure, while Kimi Raikkonen lost power in 2018, bringing his Ferrari career to a premature end. But Raikkonen has also enjoyed good times from this grid slot. Fourth on the grid provided the Finn with the first victory of his comeback stint in 2012, which is also the furthest back win at the circuit so far.
Aside from pole, twelfth on the grid is the other grid slot at Yas Marina circuit to have reached three DNFs. All three of those retirements have come in the last three years. Jenson Button retired with suspension issues from what was supposed to be his final Grand Prix in 2016, while Carlos Sainz and Marcus Ericsson both had early ends to their seasons in 2017 and 2018.
The driver starting from nineteenth at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has never scored a point. While it has only recorded one non-finish, the best finish so far from this position actually came last year, when Sergey Sirotkin finished fifteenth. Even then, the Russian was still last of the classified finishers.
Just like nineteenth on the grid, twentieth has a low DNF rate, with Daniel Ricciardo’s retirement in his final race with HRT in 2011 the only non-finish from the slot so far. Also just like nineteenth, the twentieth grid position has never given a points finish at the Yas Marina circuit. It has enjoyed a better best finish than nineteenth though, with Esteban Gutierrez and Lance Stroll each finishing thirteenth in their final races for their respective teams in 2016 and 2018.
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.