Five of Formula One’s most unexpected podium finishes

Lance Stroll recently took an incredible maiden podium in Formula 1, and it was certainly a surprise. But it was just one of many crazy podiums that the series has seen. Here are five more unexpected F1 podiums…

Spa 2015 – Romain Grosjean – Lotus

The 2015 Lotus was not usually a podium contending car but Spa saw an exemplary performance from both Grosjean and the team. Bailiffs were on the scene at Spa as money problems thanks to prolonged talks with Renault about a takeover took much longer than anticipated. Amidst all the uncertainty regarding the team, Grosjean qualified a spectacular P4 on the grid, but started 9th thanks to a gearbox penalty. It didn’t stop him, as he fought his way through the field to pass Sebastian Vettel for P3 with just a handful of laps to go thanks to the German’s right rear tyre blowing out on the kemmel straight. A truly unexpected result and one that was highly emotional as well. It would turn out to be the last podium for the Lotus name in F1.

Canada 2008 – David Coulthard – Red Bull 

The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix will forever be remembered as Robert Kubica’s first and (so far) only Grand Prix win. However, there was another man on the podium who by rights should not have been there. Red Bull were not having a great season, and David Coulthard had yet to score points for the team. But a bizarre pitlane incident which eliminated Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton and a clever strategy helped the Scot to climb the order. Kubica’s win was a surprise but many thought he would win in 2008. A podium for Coulthard was never considered in Canada, let alone in 2008 as a whole. It would be the team’s only podium of the season and one of only two points scoring races for Coulthard, who retired from the sport at the end of the year.

Phoenix 1990 – Jean Alesi – Tyrell

The 1990 United States Grand Prix feature perhaps one of the most remarkable results in F1’s history. Young French hotshot Jean Alesi had qualified his Tyrell-Ford a mightily impressive P4 on the grid, ahead of both Ayrton Senna and world champion Alain Prost. A stonking start saw him leapfrog everyone infront of him and lead into turn one and he began to pull away from the opposition. Senna had also began charging to second place, but he would remain behind the Tyrel for 34 laps before making his move. Alesi fought back instantly but the following lap saw the Brazilian take the lead, and keep it. He pulled away, but Alesi stayed in second and took a wonderful podium. Tyrel were a shadow of their former self, so to come away with a result like this and with essentially a rookie behind the wheel (Alesi had driven for part of the 1989 season) was utterly incredible.

Abu Dhabi 2012 – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull

Starting from the pitlane thanks to a post-qualifying penalty, it looked impossible that Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel would come anywhere near a podium in one of the 2012 season’s closing races. Championship rival Fernando Alonso looked set to close the gap massively in the championship and potentially take the lead back again from his opponent. But Vettel was not to be beaten so easily. Despite damaging his front wing and having to drop to the back of the field after that, he stormed through the field. Taking advantage of two safety car periods and another great strategy from Red Bull, he battled hard with Jenson Button in the final laps and took the final spot on the podium. Alonso had only taken three points out of the championship lead in his Ferrari with P2. It was the ultimate damage limitation and probably one of Vettel’s greatest ever drives.

Adelaide 1995 – Gianni Morbidelli – Footwork

A bizarre race of attrition saw a very bizarre podium at the 1995 season finale. The sight of David Coulthard crashing out in his Williams on his way into the pits was a sign of things to come. Damon Hill won the race convincingly. Very convincingly. By two over the Ligier of Olivier Panis. Only eight cars finished the race and Panis himself was lucky to finish as his car lost oil at an alarming rate. His podium was unexpected, but it was nothing compared to Gianni Morbidelli in P3. He survived the attrition, held of the McLaren of Mark Blundell, and took his only Grand Prix podium and also the only one for the Arrows team under the guise of Footwork. It was a fortuitous ride and under normal circumstances, Morbidelli would not have been near the podium in that car. But right place, right time and a well judged drive saw him claim a hugely unlikely result.