Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions: Catalunya

Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!


  • Polesitter has won all but 7 races
  • 3rd has had most classified results
  • 6th has had most DNFs from the top 10
  • No retirements since 1997 for 9th
  • No points for 16th since 1992
  • 20th not finished in top 10 since 1994

In 28 races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, there have only been seven occasions where the polesitter has failed to go on to win the Spanish Grand Prix. There have been 25 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. Since 2001, there have been just three occasions where the polesitter hasn’t won the race.

The polesitter has retired from the Grand Prix three times here. 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.

There’s only been one occasion where the polesitter here has failed to win but still finished on the podium. That happened all the way back in 1994, when Michael Schumacher finished as runner-up. The only other positions the polesitter has finished in are fourth, fifth and sixth, and each of these have only occurred once.

There have been four races here where all of the top three on the grid have gone on to finish on the podium, with three of those occasions seeing all three finish in the order in which they started. 2013 and 2016 are the only years so far where none of the top three qualifiers have gone on to finish on the podium here. The past five races here have had no podium finishers from further back than sixth on the grid, and since 2003, only one podium finish here (Felipe Massa, who finished third from the ninth grid slot in 2013) has come from lower than sixth 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 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 reach the end of the race. The latter three were classified in the final result however, having completed more than half of the race distance. 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 four times. A word of warning, though – the driver starting here hasn’t finished in the top three in all of the past three seasons.

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 is the last time a driver starting here has failed to be classified. 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.

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, his final 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 three seasons.

The driver starting from nineteeth on the grid has recorded a DNF at Catalunya on only four occasions, most recently Adrian Sutil in 2009. 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 points at the circuit, and 2002 and 2008 are the only other occasions where the grid slot has provided a top ten finish.


The last driver to finish a race at Catalunya having started from fourth on the grid was Max Verstappen, who won the event. The Dutchman’s victory is the only win from this position. Kimi Raikkonen is the unlucky driver who has started from fourth in the past two seasons and retired from the race both times. The Finn’s retirement in 2017 marked the end of a thirteen year scoring streak from the position.

From the 28 races here, the driver starting from sixth has scored points only twelve 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. Perhaps the fact that two podium finishes in the past three years have come from sixth marks an upward trend in fortune for the driver starting here.

While the driver starting from eighth has scored points in seven out of the last eleven Spanish Grands Prix, in the past eleven years the driver starting here has moved up the order only three times. While points can be regularly scored from eighth, don’t expect any stand out results.

Tenth on the grid is the only grid position from the top twelve to have never scored a podium finish at Catalunya. The best finish for a driver from this position is fifth, which happened three times in the nineties, but only once since the turn of the millennium. Esteban Ocon was the latest driver to achieve the feat, in 2017. While points are regular for the driver starting from tenth, two of the last three Spanish Grands Prix have ended in DNFs for the driver starting from tenth.

The 15th and 16th grid slots have recorded 13 DNFs each, equal most with 20th. While the driver starting from fifteenth has scored in the last two Spanish Grands Prix, 16th is perhaps the unluckiest of all, having only scored points once in the history of races at Catalunya. 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 is the most recent time a driver has finished in the top ten from this grid slot.

The 20th grid position is tied with 15th and 16th as the position to have given the most DNFs at Catalunya. Furthermore, it’s 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. 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.

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