The polesitter is yet to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix and no wins have been taken from outside the top five on the grid. Here’s everything you need to know about each grid slot’s history at Bahrain International Circuit!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- Polesitter has never retired
- 20th has never scored
- 19th has had most non-finishes
- No wins from further back than 5th
|Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last DNF||Points Scoring %|
|4||2009||2020 (Bahrain)||2021||2020 (Sakhir)||65%|
|5||2020 (Sakhir)||2020 (Sakhir)||2020 (Sakhir)||2020 (Bahrain)||88%|
|11||-||2020 (Sakhir)||2020 (Sakhir)||2019||41%|
Less than half of the eighteen races at the Sakhir track have been won from pole. Only three of the last ten races at Bahrain International Circuit have been won from pole position. While Lewis Hamilton won the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix polesitter – Valtteri Bottas – finished only eighth. Bottas’ eighth place was only the third time that the polesitter did not finish on the podium in Bahrain. The other occurrences were for Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth in 2010, and Nico Rosberg who finished ninth in 2013. The good news for the polesitter is that the man starting from the front has never failed to finish the Grand Prix. Max Verstappen finished second having started on pole at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Drivers starting from the front row have won twelve of the eighteen races held in Bahrain since 2004. Five of those wins have been from second on the grid – in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2021. The second grid slot has failed to finish in the top ten only twice at the circuit, with DNFs for Michael Schumacher in 2005 and Kimi Raikkonen in 2018. In 2021, Lewis Hamilton became the first driver starting from this grid slot to win since 2016, and the first driver starting here to finish on the podium since 2017.
In the last five seasons, the driver starting third on the grid in Bahrain has won twice. Sebastian Vettel won in 2017, while Lewis Hamilton was victorious from third on the grid in 2019. The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix – in which Max Verstappen crashed out from third on the grid on the opening lap – ended four consecutive races in which the driver starting here had finished in the top two. In 2018, Valtteri Bottas finished as runner-up having started third, while Verstappen finished as runner-up in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas finished where he started and completed the podium in 2021. Until the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel’s DNS in 2016 was the last time that third on the grid in Bahrain did not supply a podium finish. Meanwhile, Juan Pablo Montoya’s DNF in the inaugural race here and Lewis Hamilton’s thirteenth place in 2008 are the only other times that the grid slot has not scored points.
Until 2020, fourth was the furthest back grid slot to have won at Bahrain International Circuit. The driver starting here has won twice, with Fernando Alonso taking the win in 2006 and Jenson Button winning for Brawn GP in 2009. In the last eight years, the driver starting fourth has finished on the podium five times. Charles Leclerc’s retirement from fourth on the grid in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix marked only the fourth time that the driver starting here failed to finish the race.
Before 2020, the driver starting fifth in Bahrain had never failed to score, had never recorded a retirement, had never finished on the podium and had never won the race. All four of those facts changed thanks to Sergio Perez. He started fifth in both the 2020 Bahrain and Sakhir Grands Prix. Perez’s retirement in the first race – when he looked set to score a podium finish – brought to an end the grid slot’s 100% scoring rate, while his win one week later set a new record for the furthest back win recorded at the track. Pierre Gasly was less lucky having started here in 2021. After picking up front wing damage at the start of the race, the Frenchman eventually retired from the race, being classified in seventeenth place. Perez and Gasly in 2020 and 2021 respectively, Mark Webber in 2005 and Kimi Raikkonen in 2014 are the only drivers who have finished below where they started from when starting fifth in Bahrain. Between 2015 and 2019, the driver starting fifth finished in fourth place every season.
While sixth on the grid has scored points on the least occasions from any of the top seven grid slots, Max Verstappen’s retirement here in 2017 is the only time a driver starting from sixth in the Sakhir desert has failed to finish the race. The grid slot also supplied Jenson Button with a podium finish in 2004. 2019 marked only the second time in the last eight races at the track that the grid slot has not scored. In the last three races at the circuit, the driver who has started sixth has finished the race in seventh position.
There have been only two occasions that the driver starting from seventh has failed to score. The first was in 2005, when Christian Klien failed to start the race for Red Bull following electrical problems. In 2019, Carlos Sainz recorded the first actual DNF from this grid slot. The driver starting here has finished on the podium once – Romain Grosjean’s third place for Lotus in 2012. Lando Norris recorded the best result since then with fourth place in 2021.
The driver starting eighth at the Bahrain International Circuit has scored more often than not. All of the past six races here have seen eighth on the grid pick up points, while Kimi Raikkonen recorded the best finish, and only podium, for a driver starting from eighth with the runner-up spot in 2013. There have been only two DNFs from eighth on the grid.
The driver starting ninth has scored in all but three of the last ten races at Bahrain International Circuit. The only times that they failed to score were in 2015, when Carlos Sainz recorded only the third retirement from this grid slot; at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, when Pierre Gasly came home tenth and only less than a second away from a points-scoring finish; and in 2021, when Fernando Alonso retired from the race on his comeback to F1. Ninth on the grid has supplied two podium finishes in Bahrain, both third places, for Kimi Raikkonen in 2005 and Lewis Hamilton in 2018.
Until 2020, fifth and tenth were the only two grid slots in the top ten to have never scored at Bahrain International Circuit. That all changed at the Sakhir Grand Prix, as Sergio Perez won from fifth on the grid, and Lance Stroll came home third having started tenth. In 2019, Daniel Ricciardo recorded the first non-finish for a driver starting from tenth on the grid since David Coulthard in the first Bahrain Grand Prix. While the position offers a low DNF rate, it also offers a relatively low points rate, with ten top ten finishes from Bahrain’s eighteen races – the most recent of which was tenth place for Lance Stroll in 2021.
Eleventh on the grid has supplied three podium finishes at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and is the only position outside the top ten, other than 22nd, to have supplied a podium result. Kimi Raikkonen finished second in the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix having started from eleventh, and team-mate Romain Grosjean finished third from here in the following season. Esteban Ocon’s second place in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix was the first time since 2015 that the driver starting here has scored points. The grid slot was left clear in 2021 due to Sergio Perez being forced to start from the pit lane after mechanical issues on the Formation Lap.
Alex Albon’s ninth place finish in 2019 was the first time that the driver lining up twelfth on the grid in Bahrain had scored points since 2016. The grid slot has supplied nine top ten finishes in total, with both Charles Leclerc and Albon scoring from this grid slot in 2010. Albon’s sixth place in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix matched the best ever result for a driver starting from this grid slot. Sergio Perez also finished sixth for Force India in 2013. There have been two non-finishes from twelfth on the grid: Kazuki Nakajima in 2009 and Lance Stroll in 2017. Antonio Giovinazzi finished twelfth having started twelfth in 2021.
There have been only four races where the driver starting thirteenth has scored points, and three of those have been in the last four seasons. Daniel Ricciardo recorded the best finish for this grid slot in 2014 with fourth place. Though it has supplied points only four times, thirteenth has finished in the top ten on five occasions. There have been four DNFs from thirteenth on the grid, the most recent being for Lance Stroll in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. Yuki Tsunoda scored points on debut having started thirteenth in the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. The Japanese rookie finished the race in ninth place.
In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the driver lining up fourteenth on the grid had finished in the top ten. No driver has scored from here since then, but they have at least made up positions from their grid slot during the race. The best result from fourteenth on the grid in Bahrain is eighth, recorded by Mark Webber, David Coulthard and Stoffel Vandoorne in 2004, 2005 and 2018 respectively. The driver starting here has retired four times. Of the fourteen races that the driver starting fourteenth has finished, they have finished in a better position than where they started twelve times.
Carlos Sainz recorded the best ever finish for a driver starting fifteenth at this circuit in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. He finished the race in fifth place – marking only the second time that the grid slot has supplied points. The other points finish for a driver starting here was seventh place for Daniil Kvyat in 2016. Between 2014 and 2018, Kvyat’s seventh place was the only time that the driver starting here did not retire from the race. Nelson Piquet Jnr’s tenth place in 2009 is the only other top ten finish for the driver starting fifteenth.
Sixteenth has scored only once at Bahrain International Circuit, with a sixth place finish for Fernando Alonso in the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004. That’s the only top ten finish from here, with Antonio Giovinazzi recording the best result since 2004 with eleventh place in 2019. Six retirements have been recorded from this grid slot.
There have been mixed fortunes for the driver starting seventeenth in Bahrain since 2017: a DNS, a ninth place finish, two DNFs and two finishes outside the points in 2020. Marcus Ericsson’s ninth place in 2018 was the second time that the driver starting here scored a top ten finish. Daniil Kvyat’s ninth place finish in 2015 is the only other points-scoring race from seventeenth on the grid.
The eighteenth grid slot has gone the longest without a DNF at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the second and most recent DNF here being for Vitantonio Liuzzi back in 2007. But that’s where the good news ends for the driver starting here, as Sergio Perez’s seventh place finish in 2017 is the only time in eighteen races that the position has supplied points or a top ten finish.
Statistically, nineteenth is one of the unluckiest grid slots in Bahrain. Drivers having started there have failed to finish the race nine times: Kimi Raikkonen in 2004, Scott Speed in 2007, Sebastian Vettel in 2008, Timo Glock in 2010, Charles Pic in 2012, Marcus Ericsson in 2017, Romain Grosjean in his fiery crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix and Nikita Mazepin after three corners in 2021. Jolyon Palmer failed to even make the start of the race from nineteenth in 2016. Furthermore, the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix – in which Lando Norris finished tenth – marked the first time that the driver starting nineteenth scored a point. The previous best finish for this grid slot was twelfth, which Patrick Friesacher and Charles Leclerc achieved in 2005 and 2018 respectively.
Twentieth is the only grid slot in the top twenty to have never scored in Bahrain. Rubens Barrichello finished ninth having started from twentieth on the grid in 2005, but that was before points were handed out to the driver finishing in ninth. There have been four DNFs from twentieth on the grid.
There have been only two pit lane starters in Bahrain Grand Prix history. Kevin Magnussen finished just outside of the points in eleventh place having started from the pit lane in 2016, while Sergio Perez made up fifteen positions to finish fifth on his Red Bull debut in 2021. The Mexican’s moves saw him voted Driver of the Day.
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.