Obscure Facts from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix

There was very nearly a Formula 1 first at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix – a race in which Mercedes finished third in Spain for the first time in 66 years, and the Silverstone based team scored a rare double top five result. Here are some of the more obscure facts from the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix weekend!

Not Quite Groundhog Day at the Spanish GP…

For a third consecutive year, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen all finished on the Spanish Grand Prix podium. The difference between this season and the previous two races was that Verstappen finished second with Bottas third. Had Bottas caught and passed Verstappen in the closing stages, this would have been the first time that three consecutive races at a circuit had exactly the same top three.

The 2018 and 2019 repeat result is a rare occurrence in itself, having happened only four times in Formula 1’s history. The first time it happened was at this very track, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1998 & 1999, when Mika Hakkinen won, with David Coulthard second and Michael Schumacher third. It has since happened at the 2012 & 2013 Bahrain Grands Prix (Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean), the 2014 & 2015 Japanese Grands Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel) and the aforementioned 2018 & 2019 Spanish Grands Prix.

Teams finishing in the same order on the podium in two consecutive races at a circuit is a more frequent occurrence, with it happening for the 22nd and most recent time at the 2018 & 2019 Russian Grands Prix. The only time that teams have finished in the same podium positions for three successive races at a circuit was in Barcelona in 1998, 1999 and 2000 – Rubens Barrichello replaced Schumacher in third place on that occasion.

No Ferrari in the top eight on the grid, no Ferrari in the top six in the race

For the first time in the thirty Spanish Grands Prix to be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, neither Ferrari driver lined up inside the top eight on the grid. While Charles Leclerc qualified ninth, Sebastian Vettel failed to reach the top ten and qualified in eleventh. This was only the sixth time that a Ferrari driver failed to qualify in the top ten at the circuit. In addition to Vettel, the other Ferrari drivers who failed to qualify in the top ten here are Gerhard Berger in 1993, Eddie Irvine in 1997, Rubens Barrichello in 2005, Kimi Raikkonen in 2009 and Felipe Massa in 2012.

Furthermore, the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix is only the twelfth race since the start of 2010 to not feature a Ferrari in the top eight on the grid (thirteenth if you include the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix, where Kimi Raikkonen failed to start from second on the grid). Three of those twelve occurrences happened in the opening four races of the 2012 season, while two have come in the opening five races of the 2020 season.

Races since 2010 with no Ferrari drivers in the top eight on the grid:
  • ?? Malaysia 2010
  • ?? Australia 2012
  • ?? China 2012
  • ?? Bahrain 2012
  • ?? Europe 2012
  • ?? Britain 2013
  • ?? Belgium 2013
  • ?? Britain 2014
  • ?? USA 2015
  • (?? Malaysia 2017)
  • ?? Germany 2019
  • ?? Styria 2020
  • ?? Spain 2020

Compounding Ferrari’s woes, Sunday’s race marked only the second time that neither Ferrari driver finished in the top six at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The other time that it happened was in 2005, when Rubens Barrichello finished ninth and Michael Schumacher retired from the race. Leclerc – who recorded the first retirement from ninth on the grid in Spain since 1997 – was the only top ten starter to fail to score, while Vettel was the only non-top ten starter who did score.

A double top five result for Racing Point

Racing Point had a strong weekend which catapulted them past McLaren and Ferrari into third in the Constructors’ Championship. Both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll lined up in the top five on the grid, with Perez in fourth place recording the Silverstone-based team’s best ever qualifying result at the Spanish Grand Prix. It was their best showing in Spain since Rubens Barrichello qualified fifth for Jordan at the 1995 race.

In the race, the team finished where they started, recording their first double top five result since finishing in the same positions at the same circuit in 2017. It’s only the twelfth time in the team’s thirty year existence that both cars have finished in the top five. They first did so in Jordan’s fifth Grand Prix outing, with Andrea de Cesaris finishing fourth and Bertrand Gachot finishing fifth.

Races where both cars finished in the top five:
  • ?? Canada 1991
  • ?? Canada 1995
  • ?? Italy 1996
  • ?? Austria 1997
  • ?? Belgium 1998
  • ?? Britain 1999
  • ?? Brazil 2000
  • ?? USA 2005
  • ?? Bahrain 2014
  • ?? Belgium 2016
  • ?? Spain 2017
  • ?? Spain 2020

First third place for Mercedes at the Spanish Grand Prix since 1954

Valtteri Bottas’ third place finish marked the first time that Mercedes have finished in third place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It was also the first time that a Mercedes driver has finished in third place in the Spanish Grand Prix in 66 years. The last to do so was Juan Manuel Fangio, who finished third at the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix, held at the Pedralbes Circuit, which was located around 30km south of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, a Mercedes driver has finished in third in Spain since then. That driver was Michael Schumacher at the 2012 European Grand Prix, which was held at the Valencia Street Circuit. In the race, Schumacher secured his only podium finish for Mercedes and the 155th and final podium finish of his career. Of course, it’s the record which Lewis Hamilton broke this weekend with his 156th top three result.

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