Six of the last seven races at Circuit Paul Ricard have been won from pole, while all but four races at the track have been won from the front row. Here’s everything you need to know about each grid slot’s history at the French Grand Prix!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- 6 of last 7 races won from pole
- All but 4 races won from front row
- 10th has not scored since 1982
- 18th and 20th have never scored
|Grid||Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last DNF||Best Finish||Points Scoring %|
Nigel Mansell’s retirement from the 1990 French Grand Prix is the only time in the past seven races at the Paul Ricard track that the polesitter has failed to win the race. It’s also one of only two occasions on which the man on pole has failed to finish the race, the other being in 1986, when Ayrton Senna crashed out. The driver starting from pole has finished in the top four on every other occasion. A race at Le Castellet circuit has been won from pole on eleven occasions.
2019’s second place finish for Valtteri Bottas marked the first time since 1988 that the driver starting from second on the grid has finished on the podium at Circuit Paul Ricard. Lewis Hamilton also started where he finished, in second, in 2021. The driver starting second has won only twice: Mario Andretti in 1978 and Nigel Mansell in 1986. There have been eight podium finishes from this grid slot.
There is some good news for the driver starting third: this is the grid slot which has gone the longest without a DNF at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The driver starting here has finished no lower than fifth in all of the past eight races at the circuit. However, third on the grid is the only position in the top five to have never won a race at the track. Though there have been no wins, the driver starting here has finished in the top five on all twelve occasions that they’ve crossed the finish line.
The driver starting from fourth at the Paul Ricard circuit has had more top ten finishes than drivers starting from second or third. The driver starting here has finished on the podium in five of the last seven races at the track, including Alain Prost, who won from fourth on the grid in 1990. With nine top three finishes in total, only drivers on the front row of the grid have finished on the podium on more occasions than the driver starting from fourth.
The furthest back win at Circuit Paul Ricard is from fifth on the grid. It’s happened twice – for Ronnie Peterson in 1973 and Nelson Piquet in 1985. The grid position also supplied two further podium finishes for Peterson in 1978 and Alain Prost in 1986. 2021 marked the first time that the driver starting here failed to score since the French Grand Prix’s return to the track. Before 2018, it went for four consecutive races without scoring – three of those races resulting in non-finishes.
The driver starting sixth has scored points in all of the last four French Grands Prix held at Circuit Paul Ricard, including a podium finish for Kimi Raikkonen in 2018. With six non-finishes, this grid slot has recorded the most retirements of any grid slot in the top six. Raikkonen’s podium was the first for this grid position since Nelson Piquet finished as runner-up in 1983.
Seventh on the grid has scored as many times as second and fourth at this track. Charles Lelcerc’s sixteenth place finish in 2021 was the first time since Philippe Alliot’s retirement from seventh on the grid in 1989 that the driver starting here failed to score. The grid slot has supplied three podium finishes, most recently for Ivan Capelli in 1990.
Lando Norris finished fifth having started eighth at the 2021 French Grand Prix. That’s the best result from this grid slot since Riccardo Patrese’s podium in 1989. Patrese finished third in 1989 – the best ever result from here, also recorded in 1973 and 1976. Charles Leclerc finished tenth in 2018, which is the only other point scored from here since the French Grand Prix’s comeback. In the four races between 1983 and 1987, eighth on the grid recorded four consecutive DNFs.
The driver starting ninth at Circuit Paul Ricard has scored in all of the last four visits to the track. This is the furthest up grid slot to have never scored a podium finish, with a best result of fourth for Nelson Piquet in 1990. The driver starting here has finished in the top ten on nine occasions in total.
The driver starting from tenth has only scored three times. Emerson Fittipaldi finished fourth in 1975, Keke Rosberg was fifth in 1982 and Daniel Ricciardo was sixth in 2021. The driver starting from tenth has failed to finish the Grand Prix in four of the last eight races held at Circuit Paul Ricard.
The driver starting eleventh has secured only five top ten finishes at Circuit Paul Ricard – the least of any grid slot in the top thirteen. Of those five top tens, only two have been in points-scoring positions. Patrick Tambay finished fourth in 1983, while Jacques Laffite crossed the line sixth in 1986. The position has not scored since F1’s return to the track. Esteban Ocon failed to finish in 2018 , recording the eighth retirement from this position, Alex Albon finished only fifteenth in 2019 and Ocon came home fourteenth having started here again in 2021.
The driver starting from twelfth at the Paul Ricard track has suffered more DNFs than drivers starting from any other grid slot in the top twenty. The driver starting here has failed to finish nine of the sixteen races at the track, including for six consecutive visits in the 1980s. In better news, all eight finishes for the driver starting from twelfth here have been in the top ten. In 2018, Nico Hulkenberg became only the second driver to actually score points here with a ninth place finish, while Kimi Raikkonen recorded the second-best result from this grid slot in 2019 with seventh place. Sebastian Vettel finished ninth having started here in 2021, meaning the grid slot has scored in every race since the French Grand Prix’s comeback.
Two of the last four French Grands Prix held at Circuit Paul Ricard have seen the driver starting thirteenth retire from the race. Jean Alesi retired in 1990 and Sergio Perez failed to finish in 2018. The grid slot scored its first points since 1989 in 2019, with Nico Hulkenberg finishing eighth. Antonio Giovinazzi finished fifteenth from thirteenth on the grid in 2021.
Not since 1978 has the driver starting fourteenth at Circuit Paul Ricard scored points. On that occasion, Alan Jones recorded the best result for this position, with fifth place. In the last six races at the track, Aguri Suzuki finished seventh in 1990, Pierre Gasly failed to finish in 2018 and all of the other four races resulted in twelfth place finishes.
In the last seven races at Circuit Paul Ricard, the driver starting fifteenth has failed to finish three times. The last top ten finish for this grid slot was back in 1986, when Martin Brundle finished tenth. Its best result came in the previous year, with Stefan Johansson coming home in fourth place.
The sixteenth grid slot has a low DNF rate historically at Circuit Paul Ricard – but the driver starting here has failed to finish in two of the last three races at the track. Until 2019, the only driver to fail to be classified having started here was Satoru Nakajima in 1987, but even he was still running at the end of the race, albeit nine laps down and a non-classified finisher. Similarly, Jean-Pierre Jarier finished four laps down in 1980, but was classified as he’d completed over 90% of the laps. Fernando Alonso retired with suspension problems in 2018, but was only three laps from the end so he too was classified. In 2019, Romain Grosjean recorded the first actual DNF from this grid slot. While a driver starting from sixteenth at the track has scored points only twice (Keke Rosberg finished fifth in 1983 and Jean Alesi finished fourth in 1989), the position has provided eight top ten finishes.
Seventeenth holds the record for the furthest back podium finish at the Paul Ricard track, but that was all the way back at the circuit’s first F1 event in 1971, when Emerson Fittipaldi finished third. Since then, Olivier Grouillard’s sixth place finish on home soil in 1989 – the only time he scored a point in his F1 career – is the only time the grid slot has provided a points finish. In 2021, Kimi Raikkonen became the first driver starting seventeenth to finish a race at this track where he started it.
The driver starting from eighteenth at this track has never scored, and has only taken two top ten finishes; less than any other position in the top twenty. Riccardo Patrese’s ninth place finish here in 1980 is the best finish for the grid slot at this track, while Michele Alboreto’s tenth place in 1990 is the only other time the driver starting eighteenth has finished in the top ten.
Four top ten finishes have come from nineteenth on the grid at Circuit Paul Ricard – in 1971, 1976, 1983 and 2021 – but it was only the latter two which produced point-scoring races for this grid slot. In 1983, Jacques Laffite finished sixth, while Lance Stroll finished tenth in 2021. In the last eight races at the track, the driver starting nineteenth has failed to finish on four occasions. That includes in 2018, when Stroll was classified in seventeenth place but did not cross the line.
Other than eighteenth, twentieth is the only other grid slot available this weekend to have never scored at the Paul Ricard circuit. Three top ten finishes have come from this position however, for Arturo Merzario in 1976 and Jean-Pierre Jarier in 1983, both finishing ninth, while Nelson Piquet’s eighth place finish in 1989 is the best finish so far for the twentieth grid slot.
In 2021, Yuki Tsunoda became the first driver to start a race at Circuit Paul Ricard from the pit lane. He finished in thirteenth place. Positions further back than twentieth have scored only once. Philippe Streiff finished sixth from 25th on the grid in 1987.
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.