Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions: Hungary

Where’s the best grid position to start the Hungarian Grand Prix from? Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Hungaroring!


  • None of top 3 have retired since 2009
  • 5th had most retirements from top 10
  • 10th has finished every year since 2005
  • 17th has retired the most
  • 18th, 19th and 20th have never scored

The polesitter at the Hungaroring has gone on to win the race in each of the last two races at the track, though before that there were three races in a row where the polesitter failed to win. The pole to win conversion rate here is a little under 50%, with the polesitter winning fifteen of the 33 races held at the track since F1 first visited in 1986.

The polesitter has recorded only six DNFs at the Hungaroring, with Fernando Alonso’s 2009 retirement, in which he lost a wheel after a botched pit-stop, being the last time the polesitter failed to finish a race here. In every year where the polesitter has finished the Hungarian Grand Prix, they have scored points, aside from Alain Prost in 1993 who finished seven laps down on the leader – this is a little inaccurate though, as Prost stalled on the formation lap and started from the back of the pack. The de facto polesitter Damon Hill went on to win the event, taking his first Grand Prix victory.

Twelfth and fourteenth are the only grid slots outside of the top four from which the Hungarian Grand Prix has been won. Nigel Mansell won from twelfth in 1989, while Jenson Button took his maiden Grand Prix win from fourteenth in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.


Second on the grid has scored points on more occasions than any other grid slot at the Hungarian Grand Prix. From the 33 races here, the driver starting second here has scored 29 times. There have been just four point-less occasions for the driver starting from second on the grid, all four being DNFs. The drivers to have retired from this grid slot are Gerhard Berger in 1987, Nigel Mansell in 1989 (who retired because he was ill with chickenpox. Yes, really.), Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005 and Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

The driver starting from third has finished on the podium in all of the last four Hungarian Grands Prix, including a win for Sebastian Vettel in 2015. There have been only three occasions in the last ten races where the driver starting here has failed to secure a top three finish, and the last DNF from the grid slot came back in 2008. Felipe Massa’ retirement that year was the only DNF from third on the grid at the Hungaroring in the last 23 years. From the top three grid slots, it’s the one which has gone the longest time without a DNF, though starting in the top three gives you a good chance of finishing the race – none of the top three grid slots have recorded a DNF at this track since 2009!

The tenth grid slot at the Hungaroring is on a fourteen-race streak of finishes. It’s the grid slot which has gone the longest without a DNF at the track, with Kimi Raikkonen being the last driver to have started from here and retired back in 2004. The grid slot has given two podium finishes, for Johnny Herbert in 1997 and for Nick Heidfeld in 2006, who both finished third.

If the driver starting from thirteenth on the grid has finished the race, they’ve always finished in a position higher than where they started from. In the last ten races, the driver starting thirteenth on the grid at the Hungaroring has scored on four occasions, with a best of sixth place for Timo Glock in 2009. That result has been bettered only once for a driver starting from here – Martin Brundle finished fifth for Ligier in 1993. The grid slot does have quite a high retirement rate though. If the driver starting here finishes the race this weekend, it’ll be the first time the driver starting thirteenth has reached the end of four consecutive races at the Hungaroring.


Fifth on the grid has suffered more DNFs than any other grid slot in the top ten. Having failed to finish on thirteen occasions, the position has also scored at the least number of Hungarian Grands Prix from any of the top six slots. While it has had more retirements than any other position in the top ten, only five of those instances have been in the last twenty races at the track. Though that’s still more than any other slot in the top ten during that period, the last DNF from fifth on the grid came back in 2015, when Kimi Raikkonen retired with engine troubles.

The driver starting from eighth on the grid at the Hungaroring has scored points only once in the last four races at the track. In fact, from the 33 races here, eighth on the grid has resulted in points finishes on only eight occasions. Four of those occasions have been fifth place finishes – for Johnny Dumfries in 1986, Maurício Gugelmin in 1988, Rubens Barrichello in 1999 and Jenson Button in 2005. A driver starting from this grid slot hasn’t finished the race higher than where they started it since 2009.

The seventeenth grid slot has had more non-finishes at the Hungarian Grand Prix than any other, with 18 non-finishes in total. While no one has retired from here in all of the last four seasons, in the fifteen races before that, the driver starting seventeenth crossed the finish line only three times. The position has scored only once in the last 25 years. Marcus Ericsson became the first driver since 1993 to score points having started seventeenth, when he finished tenth for Sauber in 2015.


All three of the last places available on this year’s grid have never scored a point at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and all three have never finished above seventh. Martin Donnelly finished seventh from eighteenth on the grid in 1990, Satoru Nakajima did the same from nineteenth in 1988 and Michele Alboreto finished seventh from twentieth on the grid in 1994. There have been positions lower than this on the grid which have supplied points, however. The driver starting 23rd scored in both 2010 and 2011, while Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium at the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix after a pit-lane start.

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