No driver has won at Imola from outside the top five on the grid, while all but two grid slots have previously scored. Here’s everything you need to know about each grid slot’s history at Imola!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- No wins from outside the top five
- No retirements from 2nd since 1998
- Furthest back podium from 16th
- No points scored from 17th or 19th
|Grid Slot||Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last Non Finish||Best Result||Point Scoring %|
Only three of the last ten Imola races have been won from pole position. The polesitter has never won more than three consecutive races at the circuit; with the longest streak of wins from pole here being between 1991 and 1993. The driver starting at the front of the grid failed to win any of the first eight races at Imola and recorded just one podium finish during that time. Ayrton Senna was the first polesitter to win at Imola, doing so in 1988. The polesitter has retired from the race on ten occasions, most recently in 2005.
The driver starting second on the grid at Imola has finished in the top ten on more occasions than drivers starting from any other grid slot. Three of the last five Imola races have been won from second on the grid – including Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. In 2021, Sergio Perez started second but finished only eleventh, becoming the first driver to fail to score having started second at Imola since Mika Hakkinen retired at the 1998 San Marino Grand Prix. Only seven retirements have been recorded by drivers starting here in the 29 races held at the circuit.
In 2020, Max Verstappen became the first driver to retire having started third on the grid at Imola since 1996. In 2021, the Dutchman became the first driver to win from third here since Ralf Schumacher in 2001. 2020 marked the third consecutive race in which the driver starting third failed to score. After originally finishing on the final step of the podium, Jenson Button was disqualified having started third in 2005, while Rubens Barrichello finished only tenth having started third in 2006. Six wins have been recorded from third on the grid at Imola in total.
Three victories have been recorded from fourth on the grid at Imola: Didier Pironi in 1982, Alain Prost in 1986, and Damon Hill in 1995. There have been an additional two podium finishes recorded from fourth on the grid: a second place for Prost in 1983 and third for Eddie Irvine in 1998. Between 1989 and 1993, the driver starting in this position retired in all six races. Since then, there have been four retirements recorded from fourth on the grid. Pierre Gasly retired having started fourth in the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – the first retirement for the driver starting here since 2001.
Both of the first two F1 races at Imola were won from fifth on the grid. The grid slot has not won again since, and remains the furthest back position from which a race at Imola has been won. In the last twelve races at the track, the driver starting here has retired on six occasions. Fifth on the grid has scored in all of the last five races here though, and two of the last three races have resulted in podium finishes. Fernando Alonso finished as runner-up having started fifth in 2006, while Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Renault at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
In 2021, Daniel Ricciardo became the first driver to score from sixth on the grid at Imola since 2004. In the eleven Imola races before 2005, Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s DNF in 2000 was the only time that the driver starting here failed to finish in the top six, while David Coulthard’s sixth place in 2002 was the only time the grid slot did not record a top five finish in that time. In the three races here prior to 2021, Takuma Sato was disqualified having originally finished sixth in the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher finished only ninth one year later, and Alex Albon finished only fifteenth following a late race spin in 2020. While no wins have been recorded from sixth on the grid at Imola, the driver starting here has finished as runner-up on four occasions – most recently in 2003.
In three of the last four races at Imola, the driver starting in seventh place has finished on the final step of the podium. Alexander Wurz’s third place in 2005 ended a streak of eight point-less races for the driver starting from seventh, while Juan Pablo Montoya also finished on the podium in 2006. While Charles Leclerc couldn’t keep up the podium streak for the grid slot in 2021, Lando Norris finished third from this grid slot in 2021. Before 2020, all of this grid slot’s last three points finishes were third places, with Gerhard Berger having also finished on the final step of the podium in 1996.
The driver starting eighth has finished in the top six in four of the last six F1 races held at Imola. The best result from this position came in 1994, when Mika Hakkinen finished in third; the only podium recorded from this grid slot. Daniil Kvyat equalled the grid slot’s best result since then with fourth place in 2020 – a position in which Damon Hill also finished having started eighth in 1999. There have been nine top five finishes in total recorded from eighth on the grid at Imola, and there have been only two retirements from this position in the last twelve races at the circuit. Valtteri Bottas recorded eighth’s first non-finish since 2000 in 2021.
The driver starting ninth failed to finish the last two San Marino Grands Prix, but Lando Norris turned those fortunes around with an eighth place finish last year. The grid slot has a high points scoring rate, with all but two of the sixteen races before 2005 resulting in top ten finishes. The best finish for a driver starting ninth at Imola is second, recorded by Riccardo Patrese in 1981. In 2021, Esteban Ocon became the first driver to start and finish ninth at Imola.
All of the first ten Imola races resulted in non-classified finishes for the driver starting from tenth. In the tenth race at the circuit, in 1989, Olivier Grouillard was disqualified. Since then, the grid slot has scored on only five occasions – three of those being in the last three races at the track. Karl Wendlinger finished fourth in 1994, Mark Webber finished sixth in 2006, Carlos Sainz finished seventh in 2020 and Lance Stroll finished eighth in 2021. But the best result from this grid slot is third place, recorded by Martin Brundle in 1993. Though those are the only points finishes from this grid slot, the driver starting tenth has finished inside the top ten every time they have reached the chequered flag.
The driver starting eleventh at Imola scored in four of the first six races at Imola. Two of those occasions were third place finishes for Elio de Angelis and Patrick Tambay in 1984 and 1985 respectively. Then, between 1986 and 2004 the driver starting here failed to score in any race – though there were five top ten finishes during that period. The grid slot has had an upturn in fortune in the last four races at the circuit – Jacques Villenueve finished fourth in 2005, Giancarlo Fisichella finished eighth in 2006, Sergio Perez finished sixth in 2020 and Carlos Sainz finished fifth in 2021.
Seven drivers have scored having started twelfth at Imola. No driver starting here has finished in a better position than fifth. Both Derek Warwick and David Coulthard finished fifth having started twelfth in 1989 and 2003 respectively. Both of the last two Imola races have resulted in retirements for the driver starting twelfth. Esteban Ocon retired in 2020, while George Russell crashed out in 2021.
Only four drivers have scored having started thirteenth at Imola. Most recently, Michael Schumacher recorded the best ever finish from this grid slot by finishing second in 2005. Other points scoring occasions came in 1980, 1981 and 1999. In 2020, George Russell recorded the first retirement for the driver starting thirteenth at Imola since 2002. As a result of Sebastian Vettel’s pit lane start, the grid slot was left clear in 2021.
The driver starting fourteenth scored six times in the first eighteen races at Imola but has not scored since 1997. The best finish from this grid slot is fifth, recorded by Eliseo Salazar in 1982, Martin Brundle in 1987, Philippe Alliot in 1993 and Jean Alesi in 1997.
Between 1993 and 2000, the driver starting fifteenth failed to finish all eight San Marino Grands Prix. That’s the record for the most consecutive retirements for a grid slot at Imola. Since that streak of non-finishes, the driver starting here has finished in the top ten only once, that being with an eighth place finish for Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2005. The best finish from this position is sixth, recorded twice. The first time was in 1985 by Stefan Johansson, on a day on which he failed to finish the race, and by Pierluigi Martini in 1992.
In 1991, JJ Lehto finished the San Marino Grand Prix in third place having started sixteenth. It’s the furthest back grid position from which a podium result has been recorded at Imola. The driver starting here has scored on only three further occasions: Riccardo Patrese finished sixth in 1986, JJ Lehto finished fourth in 1993 and Giancarlo Fisichella finished fifth in 1999.
Statistically, seventeenth is the grid slot which is least likely to score points at Imola. This grid slot has never scored before at the circuit, though it has provided three top ten finishes. The best finish from here is seventh, recorded by both Christian Danner in 1987 and Pedro Diniz in 1996. Johnny Herbert also finished tenth having started seventeenth in 2000. In the last eight races at the circuit, the driver starting here has finished the race only twice: Tiago Monteiro finished thirteenth in 2005 and Antonio Giovinazzi finished fourteenth in 2021.
The driver starting from eighteenth recorded six consecutive retirements in the San Marino Grand Prix between 1997 and 2002, but the grid slot has enjoyed better fortunes since then. Two top ten finishes were recorded from eighteenth on the grid in the last three San Marino Grands Prix, while Kimi Raikkonen scored points with a ninth place finish in the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Raikkonen’s points were the first for a driver starting here since Elio de Angelis finished fourth in the first World Championship race at Imola in 1980.
Nineteenth on the grid has never scored at Imola, though four top ten finishes have been recorded from the position. Ironically, the best finish from here is seventh, recorded by Mika Salo in 1999 – despite him failing to reach the chequered flag. Further top ten finishes from this grid slot have been recorded by Erik Comas, who finished tenth in 1991, Mika Salo (again) who finished ninth in 1997 and Esteban Tuero who finished eighth in 1998.
Three drivers have scored having started twentieth on the grid at Imola, with Antonio Giovinazzi becoming the latest driver to do so at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Thierry Boutsen was first to score having started here, recording the best finish for this grid slot with fifth in 1984, while Kimi Raikkonen finished eighth in 2004. The driver starting twentieth also finished eighth in 1983, 1987 and 1992 – though that was before the position paid any points. The grid slot was left clear in both 1982 and 2003, while Jarno Trulli failed to start the race from here in 1997.
There have been only two Imola races in which drivers have started from the pit lane. In the 2003 San Marino Grand Prix, Ralph Firman, Jos Verstappen and Justin Wilson all started from the pits – and all three drivers retired from the race. Sebastian Vettel suffered the same fate having started from the pit lane for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
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.