Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions: Russia

Which grid positions have never recorded DNFs in Russia, and which have scored the most points? Here are which grid slots have had favourable, and not so favourable, fortunes at the Sochi Autodrom!


  • Pole has only won twice in five races
  • 2nd and 4th have always scored
  • 7 grid slots yet to record a DNF
  • 16th and 20th have never scored
  • 20th has had the most DNFs 

The polesitter has won only two of the five races held at the Sochi Autodrom, and hasn’t taken victory in either of the last two seasons. In both of the last two years polesitters Sebastian Vettel (2017) and Valtteri Bottas (2018) have finished as runner-up. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are the two drivers to have taken pole for the Russian Grand Prix and won. Hamilton did so in 2014, while Rosberg took one of the most convincing wins so far at the circuit in 2016. Rosberg had suffered misfortune in the previous year, becoming the only polesitter so far to have retired from the Russian Grand Prix, putting a serious dent in his title aspirations for that season.


Second on the grid is one of only two grid slots to have scored on every occasion in Sochi. The driver starting here has won the race twice; with Lewis Hamilton being that driver both times, in 2015 and 2018. Valtteri Bottas’ fourth place in 2016 is the worst result for a driver starting from this position, as well as the only time the grid slot has failed to give a podium finish.

In addition to pole position, third is the only position from which four podium finishes have been scored. Having started third, Valtteri Bottas was still classified in 2015, but failed to cross the finish line after a collision on the penultimate lap with fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen. That’s the only time the third grid slot has failed to provide a podium finish, with Bottas, Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel all finishing third having started here in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively. Bottas also recorded the furthest back win so far at the circuit, taking his maiden Grand Prix victory from third on the grid at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.

Along with second, fourth on the grid is the only other grid slot to have scored at every Russian Grand Prix so far. While Felipe Massa’s fifth place in 2016 is the only time a driver starting here has finished in a position lower than where they started, Sebastian Vettel’s second place in 2015 is the only time a driver starting here has scored a podium finish. In the other three seasons, the driver starting here has finished in fourth!


All four of these grid positions are yet to record a DNF at the Sochi Autodrom. Tenth holds the record for the furthest back podium finish at the track, with Lewis Hamilton finishing as runner-up having started tenth in 2016. Eleventh has scored two fifth place finishes so far, while twelfth and fourteenth have each scored three times, each with a best finish of sixth place.

As with all the lucky grid slots mentioned above, the driver starting eighteenth has never failed to finish the Russian Grand Prix, and has always gained at least three places from where they started at the track. Daniel Ricciardo became the first driver to score from this grid slot last season, as he finished sixth for Red Bull on a great recovery drive.


The driver starting from fifth at the Russian Grand Prix has only scored three times in the five races held at the Sochi track, and has never finished above eighth place. Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen scored each scored eighth place finishes having started from fifth on the grid here in 2015 and 2018 respectively, but they’ve been the high points for this grid slot, with the driver starting here never failing to lose positions in the race. The two other finishes from the grid slot were both outside of the points, while Daniel Ricciardo retired having started fifth in 2017.

Just like fifth on the grid, the driver starting from sixth at the track has never finished the race in a position higher than where they started it from. While Nico Hulkenberg is the only driver to have retired from this grid slot, having done so in 2017, Daniel Ricciardo’s seventh place in the first event at the track is the highest finish so far for a driver starting from sixth. The driver starting here has finished ninth in all of the past three seasons.

Sixteenth is one of only two grid slots to have never scored at the Russian Grand Prix. The best finish for a driver starting here came last year, when Fernando Alonso finished in fourteenth place. Both Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer were eliminated in first lap crashes having started from sixteenth in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Similarly to sixteenth, the best finish for a driver starting twentieth at this track is fourteenth, which Stoffel Vandoorne took in 2017. Pascal Wehrlein’s eighteenth place in 2016, in which he finished two laps down on the leader, is the only other time the driver starting here has finished the event. Twentieth has more DNFs in Sochi than any other grid slot, and is the first position to have had three retirements. Max Chilton, Carlos Sainz and Brendon Hartley are the three drivers to have had their races ended early after starting from this slot.

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