Most Positions Gained at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen holds the record for the most positions gained at the Bahrain Grand Prix, while Sergio Perez has pulled off a number of comeback drives at Bahrain International Circuit. Here are the drivers who’ve gained the most positions in Bahrain Grand Prix history!

Header image: © Andrew Balfour

+19 places: Kimi Raikkonen, 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix

The season-opening 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix was the first to feature the knockout qualifying system which is still used today. Kimi Raikkonen became an immediate victim of the new format when a suspension failure in Q1 meant he was unable to set a lap time and started the race from 22nd on the grid.

Image: Phillip Asbury, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

Raikkonen gained one position before the race began, thanks to a pit lane start for Tiago Monteiro and when the starting lights went out, the Finn was soon making his way through the grid. He made up eight places on the first lap alone and made the best of his one-stop strategy to gain a mighty 19 positions over the course of the race and record a podium finish.

+18 places: Sergio Perez, 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

Although Sergio Perez originally started fifth at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, were placing his remarkable comeback from 18th to victory second on this list. Perez’s incredible win for Racing Point at the Sakhir Grand Prix came despite a first lap incident, which required him to make an early pit stop and dropped him to 18th at the end of Lap 1. Over the following 86 laps, Perez gained 17 places to win his first ever Grand Prix.

It was the first win for a Mexican driver in almost 50 years, the first win for the Silverstone-based team since 2003 and the first time that the driver running last at the end of Lap 1 had ever gone on to take victory.

+15 places: Sergio Perez, 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

Just two races on from his maiden win, Sergio Perez was competing in his first race with a new team at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. He missed out on a spot in Q3 on his Red Bull debut and was due to start the race from 11th on the grid. However, an electrical issue during the formation lap necessitated a pit lane start.

Perez has pulled off a number of comeback drives at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Image: © Andrew Balfour.
Image: © Andrew Balfour

An early exit for Nikita Mazepin saw Perez gain a position almost as soon as he left the pit lane and when the resulting Safety Car period was over the Mexican began his charge through the order. He ran as high as third place before his first pit stop and ultimately recovered to a fifth place finish, bringing home a healthy number of points on his Red Bull debut.

+12 places: Michael Schumacher, 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

A DRS issue saw Michael Schumacher exit in Q1 at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, setting only the 18th fastest time in the first stage of qualifying. He then lost a further four positions as a result of a gearbox penalty.

Dropping to 22nd on the final grid, Schumacher had a comeback drive on his hands come Sunday. By the end of Lap 1, he had made up four places and by Lap 9, he was running 13th. Progress was steady from there on, with the German running as high as ninth before settling for a single point with a tenth place finish.

+11 places: Sergio Perez, 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

There’s a third appearance on the list of most positions gained at the Bahrain Grand Prix for Sergio Perez, who gained 11 positions in a drive from 18th to seventh over the course of the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Perez qualified only 18th for the race, exiting in Q1 as a result of encountering double-waved yellow flags on his final push lap. After gaining five positions on the opening lap, a fortunately timed Safety Car period helped Perez on his way to finishing seventh and picking up six points.

+11 places: Kevin Magnussen, 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

Kevin Magnussen was forced to start from the pit lane for the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix after failing to stop at the weighbridge during practice. 22nd in the order at the start as a result of beginning the race in the pit lane, by the end of lap two Magnussen had made his way up to 16th.

Although the Dane was frustrated by the lack of straight line speed in his Renault machinery, he pulled off a number of impressive overtakes to gain 11 places in total over the course of the race and finish just outside of the points in 11th place.

+11 places: Rubens Barrichello, 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix

Gearbox issues for Rubens Barrichello on the first two days of the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend saw him qualify only 15th for F1’s second visit to Bahrain. The team subsequently opted to put a new engine in the back of the Brazilian’s Ferrari: a move which required him to start from the back of the grid.

With new Ferrari power underneath him, Barrichello made up no fewer than seven positions on the opening lap and continued his strong start on the second lap. He ran in the top six for much of the mid-section of the race, but lost a handful of positions in the last ten laps and finished ninth.

+11 places: Pierre Gasly, 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Just like Rubens Barrichello in 2005, Pierre Gasly drove from 20th to ninth at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. Gasly’s Alpine debut did not get off to the best of starts. He recorded a disappointing Q1 exit having set only the 17th fastest time in qualifying. He was then demoted to the very back of the field after his fastest lap was deleted.

Image: © Andrew Balfour

Gasly’s progress in the race was slow but steady and he had risen to 12th place by the end of Lap 16. A pit stop on Lap 26 dropped him back to 17th, but he again came back through the field to be 11th before Charles Leclerc’s late race retirement promoted him into the points. An overtake at Turn 1 on Alex Albon after the VSC period secured Gasly a ninth place finish.

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