All but one of the last 12 races at Suzuka have been won from the front row of the grid. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of each grid slot at Suzuka!
THE STATS IN BRIEF
- All top ten grid slots have finished on the podium
- 7th not retired since 1999
- 16th not classified in last four races
- Furthest back win from 17th
- 16th and 18th only scored once each
|Grid||Last Win||Last Podium||Last Points||Last DNF||Best Finish|
The polesitter has won four of the last five Japanese Grands Prix. The pole to win conversion rate here is 50%, with the polesitter being victorious in 16 of the 32 races held here so far. The polesitter has finished on the podium in all but one of the last 20 races at the track, with Ralf Schumacher starting from pole but finishing only eighth in 2005. Pole has provided more podium finishes than any other grid slot here but, strangely, Sebastian Vettel’s third place is the only time the polesitter has finished in third place at Suzuka.
There have been only four DNFs for a polesitter at Suzuka. The last driver to start from pole and fail to finish at Suzuka was Michael Schumacher back in 1998. His race was dogged with bad luck, having started from the back of the pack after stalling on the formation lap. He climbed through the field in the race but was forced to retire after picking up a puncture. Title rival Mika Hakkinen won the race and claimed his first World Championship as a result.
Aside from DNFs, both Ayrton Senna in 1989 and Jacques Villenueve in 1997 started from pole and were disqualified. Senna was controversially disqualified for using an escape road to re-join the race after colliding with title rival Alain Prost, while Villeneuve had been relegated to the back of the field for ignoring yellow flags. Williams appealed the decision and the Canadian started from the front, but was later disqualified.
The driver starting second on the grid won all three Japanese Grands Prix between 2013 and 2015, but has not won the event since. In the last five Suzuka races, there have been three podium finishes, a sixth place for Charles Leclerc in 2019 and a retirement for Sebastian Vettel in 2017. The driver starting here has had 26 top ten finishes, which is the most along with the polesitter and fourth.
In 2019, Valtteri Bottas became the first driver to win the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka from the second row of the grid. Third on the grid has provided podium finishes in all but one of the last four races – the exception being in 2022, when Carlos Sainz crashed out on the opening lap.
Fourth is a pretty good place to start the Japanese Grand Prix from, having given podium finishes in five of the last eight Japanese Grands Prix. Since 1996, Olivier Panis’ tenth place finish in 2003 and Romain Grosjean’s retirement in 2012 are the only times a driver starting from fourth has failed to score.
Fernando Alonso’s victory in 2006 is the only one at Suzuka to have come from fifth on the grid. Seven podium finishes have come from here in total, the most recent of which was also for Alonso in 2011. In the last nine races at the track, fifth on the grid has scored only five times, with three of those non-scoring events being retirements.
In the last seven Suzuka races, the driver starting sixth has scored points six times. All but one of those times have been fourth place finishes.
Sixth on the grid has won the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka twice, in 1989 and 1990. Since then, there have been two podium finishes from this grid slot – most recently a third place finish for Giancarlo Fisichella in 2006. In the last 17 Suzuka races, the driver starting here has failed to finish only twice.
The positive news for the driver starting here is that there have been no retirements from this grid slot since Jarno Trulli in 1999. Since then, it has had two podium finishes – both third places, and both for David Coulthard in 2001 and 2003. However, in recent years, points-scoring races from this grid slot have been few. In the last seven Japanese Grands Prix, Sergio Perez’s seventh place in 2017, Carlos Sainz’s fifth place in 2019 and Fernando Alonso’s seventh place in 2022 are the only times the driver starting seventh has scored.
2019 is the only time since 2009 that the driver starting eighth at Suzuka has failed to score. Since 2005, the best finish for a driver starting here is fourth, for Jenson Button in 2012 and for Fernando Alonso in 2013. The grid slot has taken two podium finishes, both second places for Roberto Moreno in 1990 and Kimi Raikkonen in 2003.
The ninth grid slot has had ten consecutive Japanese Grands Prix without a DNF. During that time, the grid slot has had seven points-scoring races, including a podium finish for Sebastian Vettel, who finished third in 2014. Since 1997, Jacques Villeneueve and Nico Hulkenberg are the only drivers to retire from this grid slot, doing so in 2002 and 2010 respectively.
Between 1998 and 2017, the driver starting tenth never failed to finish the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. That run included a podium finish for Felipe Massa, who finished as runner-up in 2012. It was the second time that a driver has recorded a podium finish from this track, with Thierry Boutsen having finished third in 1988. In the last 12 Japanese Grands Prix, there have been only four occasions that tenth on the grid has failed to supply a points-scoring finish.
The driver starting 11th has scored four times in the past seven Japanese Grands Prix. This grid slot’s best ever finishing position is fourth, recorded by Nelson Piquet in 1989. Since then, it has had three fifth place finishes. Since 2003, Nico Hulkenberg is the only driver to have retired from this grid slot, doing so in 2017.
12th on the grid has given three points finishes in the last five races at Suzuka. No one has finished above fifth place having started twelfth at the circuit. The grid slot has had two fifth place finishes for Alessandro Nannini in 1988 and Rubens Barrichello in 1993. In the last 11 Suzuka races, Kevin Magnussen’s 2018 retirement has been the only time that the driver starting here has not finished the race.
13th on the grid has had four points-scoring finishes in the last seven Suzuka races, the best of those being Nico Hulkenberg’s sixth place finish for Force India in 2014. The position has had only one DNF in the last 11 Suzuka races. Martin Brundle took a podium finish having started 13th in 1992 – the only podium recorded so far from this position.
14th has had more DNFs than any other grid slot in the top 20 at Suzuka. There have been 13 retirements from this position and, while the driver starting here has at least finished all of the last six races here, 2019 is the only time the grid slot has picked up pints since its last DNF. The best result from 14th on the grid is sixth, scored by Satoru Nakajima in 1990 and Stefano Modena in 1991.
In the last 26 Japanese Grands Prix to be held at Suzuka, the driver starting 15th has scored twice. Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh in 2012, while Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in 2018. Fourth place is the best ever result from here, bettering the fifth place scored by Jean Alesi in 1992.
In all of the last four Suzuka races, the driver starting from 16th on the grid has not been classified in the Japanese Grand Prix. Marcus Ericsson, Nico Hulkenberg and Alex Albon suffered retirements from the grid slot in 2017, 2018 and 2022 respectively, while Felipe Nasr’s retirement in 2015 makes it three DNFs in the last six races at the track for the driver starting 16th.
In 2019, Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth, but was disqualified after the Renault was found to have illegal driver aids. In the 32 races at the track, the grid slot has only scored once. Fernando Alonso took third on the podium in 2005 having started from here.
The first time that the driver starting 17th scored at Suzuka was in 2005, when Kimi Raikkonen won the race. The Finn’s win remains the furthest back grid slot from which a victory or podium finish has been taken at the Japanese Grand Prix. In the last 11 races, the driver starting here has not retired and has scored points on three occasions.
In 2010, Sebastien Buemi finished in tenth place and scored one point having started from 18th on the grid at Suzuka. It’s the only time the driver starting here has picked up a point. The grid slot has suffered eight retirements and two non-starts.
The best result from the position is eighth on three occasions, though all before the finishing position offered any points. Philippe Streiff, Maurício Gugelmin and Christian Fittipaldi all finished eighth having started 18th in 1988, 1991 and 1994 respectively.
In 2022, Nicholas Latifi became the first driver to pick up points having started 19th on the grid at Suzuka since Martin Brundle in 1991. While Latifi finished ninth, Brundle’s fifth place remains the best result from this grid slot.
There have been eight top ten finishes from this grid slot in total, but none of the other six have been in points paying positions.
In the last 14 races at Suzuka, Jean-Eric Vergne’s ninth place in 2014 is the only time that the driver starting 20th has scored at the track. Jarno Trulli’s fifth place in 2003 is the best result from 20th on the grid, and the only other time that a driver starting here has scored points. Meanwhile, Maurício Gugelmin’s seventh place in 1989 is the only other occasion that this grid slot has provided a top ten result. In better news, no one has retired from this position since 2004.
Due to pit lane starts, this grid slot has been left clear in each of the last two Suzuka races.
Three pit lane starts have been made at Suzuka, with none of them resulting in points-scoring races. Daniil Kvyat finished 13th from the pit lane in 2015, Robert Kubica finished 17th having started from the pits in 2019 and Pierre Gasly finished 18th having started from the pits in 2022.