All but three of the F1 races held in Barcelona have been won from the front row and no wins have been taken from further back than fifth on the grid. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of each grid slot at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- 28 wins from the front row
- Only four wins not from pole since 2001
- 7th and 19th have not retired since 2009
- Three DNFs in last four years for 16th
There have been 28 wins from the front row of the grid at this circuit, and no driver has ever won from further back than fifth on the grid. There have been six races here where all of the top three on the grid have gone on to finish on the podium, with four of those occasions seeing all three finish in the order in which they started. 2013 and 2016 are the only years so far in which none of the top three qualifiers have gone on to finish on the podium. The past eight races here have had no podium finishers from further back than sixth on the grid and, since 2003, only one podium finish (Felipe Massa, who finished third from the ninth grid slot in 2013) has come from lower than sixth on the grid.
|Grid Slot||Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last Non Finish||Best Result||Point Scoring %|
In 31 races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, there have only been eight occasions on which the polesitter has failed to go on to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Since 2001, there have been just four occasions on which the polesitter hasn’t won the race. The polesitter has retired from the Grand Prix three times. Lewis Hamilton’s DNF after his first lap crash with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016 was the first time the polesitter had retired from the race since Damon Hill did so twenty years previously. Pole has had less non-finishes than any other grid slot at the Catalunya circuit. In 2019, Valtteri Bottas became the first polesitter to finish on the podium without winning at Catalunya since Michael Schumacher back in 1994. The only other positions the polesitter has finished in are fourth, fifth and sixth, and each of these have only occurred once.
In 2019, Lewis Hamilton took only the fifth victory for the driver starting second at Catalunya, and only the second win for the grid slot in the last twenty years. In the last eight years, second on the grid has supplied one win, one retirement, five second place finishes and a third place finish. With seven retirements in total, it has had more failures to finish than both pole and third on the grid.
Only three DNFs have come from third on the grid at the Catalunya circuit since F1 first visited in 1991. Only Finnish drivers – Mika Hakkinen in 1994, Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 and Valtteri Bottas in 2017 – have recorded a DNF from third on the grid, while Ayrton Senna, Ralf Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton in 1992, 2002 and 2010 respectively also failed to score. Those hiccups aside, in every other race here, the driver starting third has never failed to finish outside of the top six, and has finished on the podium sixteen times. Bottas’ third place in 2020 was the first time the driver starting third finished on the podium here since 2015.
The driver starting fourth has had mixed fortunes at the Spanish Grand Prix in recent years. Max Verstappen took his maiden F1 victory from fourth on the grid in 2016, then two years of retirements for Kimi Raikkonen followed, before Verstappen finished on the podium again in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc recorded top five finishes having started from this grid slot. The Mexican finished fourth on track in 2020 but was handed a time penalty for ignoring blue flags in 2020, dropping him to fifth in the final order. Verstappen’s 2016 victory is the only win from this position. Meanwhile, Raikkonen’s retirement in 2017 marked the end of a thirteen year scoring streak from fourth on the grid.
Fifth on the grid holds the record for the furthest back win at the track. Fernando Alonso started from fifth and won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013, recording his most recent F1 victory. Michael Schumacher’s win from third in 1996 and Max Verstappen’s victory from fourth in 2016 are the only other times the win has come from behind the front row. Aside from the seven DNFs from fifth on the grid, the position has always gone on to finish in the top ten, and has supplied two podium finishes in the past six seasons.
From the 31 Spanish Grands Prix held at Catalunya, the driver starting from sixth has scored points only fifteen times; a pretty low hit rate considering the top six finishers have always been awarded points. It’s the least number of points-scoring races from any grid slot in the top ten. While no one has retired from here since Romain Grosjean in 2013, the grid slot has the most DNFs of any in the top ten, with eleven in total. Just three podium finishes have come from sixth on the grid – Alain Prost in 1991, Sebastian Vettel in 2016 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2017.
In the last twelve years, Fernando Alonso’s twelfth place finish in 2017 is the only time that the driver starting from seventh has failed to score at the Spanish Grand Prix. Seventh on the grid has not recorded a retirement at Catalunya since 2009 – the longest time since a non-finish for a grid slot at the circuit; a record shared with nineteenth. Seventh has had three podium finishes – a best ever result of second for Johnny Herbert in 1995, and two third places, for Jacques Villeneueve and David Coulthard in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
While the driver starting from eighth has scored points in eight out of the last nine Spanish Grands Prix, in the past fourteen years the driver starting here has moved up the order only five times. Points can be regularly scored from eighth, but don’t expect any stand out results. The only podium finish from here was for Jean Alesi back in 1992.
Grid position nine got off to a rather unlucky start in Catalunya’s history. The driver starting from ninth retired in all five seasons between 1993 and 1997, yet Ralf Schumacher’s exit from the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix was the last time a driver starting here has failed to be classified until Charles Leclerc’s retirement in 2020. Since 1998, the position has scored points more often than not, and there have been just six races where the driver starting here has finished in a position lower than where they started. Felipe Massa is the only driver to have finished on the podium having started ninth. He did so in 2013 for Ferrari. Ninth on the grid has also given five further top five finishes.
The driver starting from tenth has not enjoyed much luck in recent seasons, with three DNFs in the last six years and a lowly seventeenth place fnish for Fernando Alonso in 2021. The other two races have resulted in points finishes, with fifth for Esteban Ocon in 2017 and ninth for Pierre Gasly in 2020. Fifth is the best result recorded from this grid slot. Aside from Ocon, three drivers finished fifth having started tenth in the 1990s. Tenth on the grid is the only grid position from the top twelve to have never scored a podium finish at Catalunya.
With seventh place in 2020, Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to score at the Spanish Grand Prix having started eleventh on the grid since Romain Grosjean in 2015. The best result for the driver lining up eleventh on the grid was back in 1994, when Mark Blundell finished third. Eleventh on the grid has had two retirements in the last six seasons – but they’re the only DNFs from here in the last thirteen years.
In four of the last six seasons, the driver starting from twelfth has scored at the Spanish Grand Prix. While points have been frequent in recent years, twelfth on the grid has also retired three times in the last nine seasons. The best result for a driver starting here is second, which Olivier Panis and Juan Pablo Montoya scored in 1997 and 2001 respectively.
The driver starting thirteenth has never finished above sixth at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – a position which it has secured five times in total. With fourteen top ten finishes in total, chances of finishing in the points from thirteenth are relatively high when compared to the grid slots around it. The last driver to score having started thirteenth was Nico Hulkenberg in 2017, who equalled the grid slot’s best finish with sixth place.
None of the first thirteen Spanish Grands Prix held at Catalunya resulted in points for the driver starting fourteenth. Since 2004, the grid slot has scored four times, with a best result of eighth for Jenson Button in both 2004 and 2013. In the last six years, fourteenth has retired twice and picked up one point, with a tenth place finish for Romain Grosjean in 2017. The driver starting here has not finished in a better position than where they started since then.
Not since 2011 has the driver starting fifteenth retired from the Spanish Grand Prix. The grid slot recorded thirteen DNFs in twenty seasons between 1992 and 2011, but since then has supplied points on three occasions, including a best result of fourth for Sebastian Vettel in 2014. The driver starting here last scored in 2018.
Grid position sixteen is the most unlucky at Catalunya, having recorded the most non-finishes, with fourteen retirements. You have to go all the way back to 1992 for the only points-scoring race for a driver starting from sixteenth. That was for Michele Alboreto, who finished fifth in a Footwork. Between 2001 and 2010, the driver starting 16th failed to finish all but one race here, while Rubens Barrichello’s ninth place finish in 2005 is the most recent time a driver has finished in the top ten from this grid slot. The grid position has recorded three retirements in the last four years.
In the last 25 years, the driver starting seventeenth at the Spanish Grand Prix has scored only once. That was Rubens Barrichello in 2010, who crossed the line in ninth place. Pedro Diniz in 1996 is the only other driver to have scored from this grid slot, with sixth place, while the position has supplied only three further top ten finishes. In the last twelve seasons, Bruno Senna is the only driver to retire from seventeenth on the grid at Catalunya, doing so in 2012.
Felipe Massa’s eighth place in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix marked the first time that a driver starting eighteenth at Catalunya had scored since Pierluigi Martini’s fifth place in 1994. In the last four years, the driver starting here has not finished above sixteenth. There have been two retirements from this grid slot in the last eleven years, in 2013 and 2018.
The driver starting from nineteenth on the grid has recorded a DNF at Catalunya on only four occasions, the most recent to do so being Adrian Sutil in 2009. It is one of two grid slots, along with seventh, which has gone the longest without recording a non finish at Catalunya. While a finish is highly likely from the grid slot, points are not. Daniil Kvyat’s ninth place here in 2017 is the only time a driver starting from 19th has scored at the circuit, and 2002 and 2008 are the only other occasions where the grid slot has provided a top ten finish.
The 20th grid position is the only grid position inside the top twenty to have never scored a point, and Éric Bernard’s eighth place finish for Ligier here in 1994 remains the last time the driver starting from this position has finished in the top ten. The driver starting here finished in the top ten twice prior to that. There have only been two occasions where a driver starting lower than nineteenth has scored points at Catalunya. This happened in 2011 and 2012, when both Nick Heidfeld and Lewis Hamilton started from 24th on the grid and finished in eighth place.
In 2019, Nico Hulkenberg became the first driver to start the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya from the pit lane. He finished the race in thirteenth position.
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.