The polesitter has not retired since 2005, all of the top fourteen positions have provided top three finishes and wins from the second row are rare. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of each grid slot at Spa Francorchamps!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- Polesitter has finished on the podium every year since 2007
- Only one win away from front row in the last 12 years
- 16th has furthest back win
- 20th has never scored
- Furthest back podium finish from 21st
|Grid Slot||Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last Non Finish||Best Result||Point Scoring %|
The polesitter has gone on to win the Belgian Grand Prix at 21 of the 54 events which have been held at Spa. Six of the last seven Spa races have been won from pole. Pole position is the grid slot which has gone the longest without a DNF, with Juan Pablo Montoya being the last polesitter to have retired at this track back in 2005. Since then, the polesitter has finished on the podium in every race at the circuit.
In recent years, we’ve seen the driver in second being more likely to lead by the fourth corner thanks to the layout of the track. After the cars have gone through Eau Rouge and up the Raidillon section of track, they come to the Kemmel Straight, where slipstreaming can be highly effective. In the last eight seasons, only one win has been taken by the driver starting second. That was Sebastian Vettel in 2018. Max Verstappen’s eleventh place in 2016 is the only time in the last seven years that the driver starting here has failed to score.
Between 2013 and 2018, the driver starting third failed to finish on the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix. Since then, Lewis Hamilton finished as runner-up in 2019, while Max Verstappen and Hamilton finished in third place in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The last driver to start from third and win the Belgian Grand Prix was Damon Hill, when he famously took the Jordan team’s first victory in 1998. No retirements have been recorded from this position since 2008.
In the 54 races at Spa, the driver starting from fourth has never recorded a victory. There have been ten podium finishes from this position, including six runner-up finishes, but never a win. In 2019, Valtteri Bottas became the first driver to record a podium finish from this grid slot since Fernando Alonso, who finished second in 2005. The driver starting here has scored points in all of the last nine Belgian races and has not retired since 2012.
The fifth grid position at Spa has suffered more DNFs than any other. There have been a total of 26 DNFs from fifth on the grid, plus a disqualification for Mika Hakkinen following a fuel irregularity in 1997, costing him a podium finish. The recent history of this grid slot is very inconsistent. While Romain Grosjean, Alex Albon and Sebastian Vettel have secured top seven results in the last four seasons, before that the grid slot saw four DNFs in six seasons, interspersed by two top three finishes for Daniel Ricciardo, including a win in 2014. Max Verstappen was out on the first lap having started here in 2019. In the eleven races at the track between 1968 and 1992, Nigel Mansell in 1986 was the only driver not to record a DNF having started here – and he won the race!
Sixth on the grid has supplied five wins at Spa Francorchamps, more than either of the grid slots immediately ahead of it, and more than any behind it. The most recent victory for a driver starting sixth was for Kimi Raikkonen in 2009. Since then, the position has had only two podium finishes, both third places, for Valtteri Bottas in 2014 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2017.
The seventh grid slot was left clear in both 2020 and 2021. Carlos Sainz failed to start the race in 2020, while Sergio Perez was relegated to the back of the pack after crashing on his way to the grid in 2021. Before 2020, the driver starting here had finished no lower than sixth in all of the previous four seasons, and Max Verstappen recorded a podium finish from here in 2018. His was the first podium result from this grid slot since the turn of the millennium, and only the fourth from here overall. It has had the least podium finishes of any grid slot in the top nine.
In 2020, Sergio Perez became the first driver to score from eighth on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix since 2016. In 2021, Esteban Ocon finished eighth, recording the grid slot’s best result since 2014. The driver starting here has retired from two of the last five races at the track, and has suffered five DNFs in the last eleven races. However, in better news, only pole position and third on the grid have had more points-scoring races at the track, while only pole and fourth have finished in the top ten more times than this grid slot. There have been ten occasions when the driver starting here has finished on the podium; the most recent to do so was Sebastian Vettel in 2009.
In the last nine years, two podium finishes have come from ninth on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso recorded the grid position’s best ever result with a second place finish in 2013, while Romain Grosjean finished third in 2015. The position has provided points scoring finishes more often than not in recent seasons.
Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix from tenth on the grid in 2004, marking the only time that this grid slot has provided a win at Spa. Since then, Sebastian Vettel has also finished on the podium from here in 2012. Tenth on the grid has had 27 top ten finishes as well as 25 non-classified results. The driver starting here has scored four times in the last six seasons.
In the last seven seasons, only two points-scoring finishes have come from eleventh on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix. Those were for Romain Grosjean, who finished seventh in 2017, and Carlos Sainz, who finished tenth in 2021. The driver starting here has finished on the podium three times, all three times being third place finishes, the most recent of which was for Stefan Johansson in 1986.
In the last eleven years, the driver starting twelfth at the Belgian Grand Prix has scored six times, including a second-best result of fourth for Daniil Kvyat in 2015. The only result better than that was Jim Clark’s win in 1962, making this the second furthest back grid slot from which a victory has been secured at Spa. The driver starting twelfth finished eighth in both 2019 and 2020.
The driver starting from thirteenth at Spa has scored seven times in the last eleven races, and Jenson Button took a podium finish having started from here in 2011. Charles Leclerc’s fourteenth place in 2020 marked the first time the driver starting thirteenth failed to score at Spa since 2016. The position has given three podium finishes in total, additionally providing third place finishes for Andrea de Cesaris in 1987 and for Martin Brundle in 1995. Furthermore, since 1995, the driver starting here has recorded a DNF only twice. They were for Giancarlo Fisichella in 2005 and Fernando Alonso in 2009.
Felipe Massa’s fifth place in 2012 is the last time that the driver lining up fourteenth on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix scored. The best result from this grid slot is second, recorded by Bruce McLaren back in 1960.
A driver starting fifteenth at Spa has never finished above fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix. Two drivers have finished in the top five from this grid slot: Jackie Oliver in 1968 and Satoru Nakajima in 1987. The driver starting here has failed to score in all of the last nine seasons. Five of those races resulted in retirements – including in both 2019 and 2020. Jean-Eric Vergne’s eighth place in 2012 is the last time that this grid slot picked up a point.
The sixteenth grid slot is the one which holds the record for the furthest back win at Spa. Michael Schumacher took victory for Benetton from this slot back in 1995. The grid slot may have only scored in the Belgian Grand Prix five times since then, but three of those occasions have been in the last seven races.
The driver starting seventeenth at Spa scored top five finishes in both 2018 and 2019. Valtteri Bottas finished fourth in 2018 – the grid slot’s best ever finishing position – while Alex Albon finished fifth in 2019. In the last twelve years, the grid slot has had only one retirement. In total, there have been thirteen top ten finishes from seventeenth on the grid at Spa.
The driver starting from eighteenth at the Belgian Grand Prix has retired three times in the last five years. In the last 36 races at the track, Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen are the only drivers to have scored from this position, having done so in consecutive years (2014 and 2015). Before them, Carel Godin de Beaufort was the only other driver to have scored from eighteenth on the grid, taking a sixth place finish for Porsche in 1963.
The driver starting nineteenth at the Belgian Grand Prix has scored only three times, all three of those occasions being in the last sixteen races at Spa. The best result from this grid slot is seventh, recorded by Ralf Schumacher in 2001, before the position offered points, and by Daniil Kvyat in 2019. Romain Grosjean’s retirement in 2009 is the only time since 2005 that the driver starting here has failed to finish.
Of the top twenty grid slots at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, twentieth is the only one to have never scored a point at the track; nor has it ever recorded a top ten finish. Top ten finishes have come from 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th on the grid, but never from 20th. The best finish from this grid slot was eleventh place for Narain Karthikeyan in the 2005 race. With Robert Kubica starting from the pit lane in 2019, it was the first time that the twentieth grid slot was left vacant at the Belgian Grand Prix since the third start in 2001.
In 2019, Robert Kubica started from the pit lane at Spa. He finished the race in seventeenth place. Both Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen are credited with making pit lane starts for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which never got going under green flag conditions.
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.