10 Drivers Who Never Should Have Been In F1!


There are many Formula 1 fans saying that some of the current crop of drivers aren’t cut out to be in F1.  However if you compare the current crop to the drivers of the past who made it to the top level of motorsport, the likes of Max Chilton & Giedo van der Garde are superstars in comparism.  Let’s take a look of who’s been there but really weren’t cut out to be.

Jean-Denis Deletraz
– Switzerland
Total Races Entered: 3.
Total Starts: 3.
Drove for: Larrousse, Pacific.
Total Points: 0.

The pay-driver tag definately belongs to this Swiss driver.  He replaced Erik Comas for the 1994 season finale for the Larrousse team in Adelaide, Australia, and qualified 25th out of 28.  Unfortunately his race pace wasn’t up to much, and within 10 laps he had been lapped, and when he retired on lap 60, he was an amazing ten laps down on the race leaders.

When his money bought him the Pacific drive in 1995, his performances weren’t any better.  In Portugal he qualified last, 12 seconds off pole and 7 seconds off his own teammate! His lap would have only put him 22nd on the grid for the supporting F3000 series!  He was lapped after only 7 laps in the race and retired (thankfully for the other drivers) with cramp after only 14 laps.  His only finish came at the Nurburgring the following round, albeit 7 laps down to the leaders at the end of the race.  His money after that dried up and he never sat in an F1 car again.  Deletraz was well out of his depth in Formula 1, his cash completely outweighed his talent.

Ricardo Rosset
– Brazil
Total Races Entered: 33.
Total Starts: 27.
Drove for: Footwork, Lola, Tyrrell.
Total Points: 0.

He joined Formula 1 for Jackie Oliver’s Footwork team in 1996 as Jos Verstappen’s teammate.  However he was nowhere near his teammates pace in qualifying nor the race, and retired as often as he finished.  He even struggled to pass the inferior Forti Fords despite being in a car that was so much quicker.  He joined the new Mastercard Lola team for the 1997 season, but the car was 12 seconds off the pace in Australia and did not qualify, and the team had disappeared by race two.

For the 1997 season his money bought the Tyrrell drive and was forever flaunting with the 107% rule, outside of which he would not qualify.  In fact he failed to make the race on 5 occasions during the year, the only driver to fail to qualify all season.  His driving when he did qualify wasn’t great, and was at sometimes dangerous, especially when he kept his foot firmly on the throttle while the multi-car crash developed ahead of him in Spa.  It was fair to say Rosset was a liability behind the wheel, and deserved to have his F1 career ended at the end of the 98 season.

Philippe Adams
– Belgium
Total Races Entered: 2.
Total Starts: 2.
Drove for: Lotus.
Total Points: 0.

Money does not mean talent.  Alan Jones pointed out that despite Adam’s 10 years of car-racing experience, ultimately it was his wallet that earned him his F1 break with a cash-strapped Lotus team at his home Grand Prix at Spa in 1994.  He replaced Italian Alessandro Zanardi and qualified (just) in 26th.  Unfortunately he was slow in the race, and most of his talent was used to try and keep the car on the road.  His talent unfortunately for him couldn’t stop him crashing out on Lap 15.

He returned to the team for the Portuguese Grand Prix two races later, and qualified 25th, almost two seconds down on teammate Johnny Herbert.  Amazingly he brought the car home, last in 16th, four laps down on the leader but three laps down on Herbert.  It was his last venture into Formula 1, one dictated by money and definately not by talent.

Paul Belmondo
– France
Total Races Entered: 27.
Total Starts: 7.
Drove for: March, Pacific.
Total Points: 0.

When the first sentence most people say about Belmondo is ‘The son of film Idol Jean-Paul Belmondo’, it gives you the impression his venture into Formula 1 wasn’t great.  And you’d be correct in assuming that.  Another pay-driver, he joined the struggling March team in 1992 and failed to qualify 6 times from the 11 races he attempted that year, before his money ran out.

He had more money to splash out in 1994, but again struggled to qualify in the dreadful Pacific Ilmor.  In fact the two races he did qualify for, it was only because the grids were down two cars from various crashes. In Monaco for example, Williams & Simtek only had one car, while in Spain, Sauber only had one car while Simtek’s replacement driver crashed heavily and was ruled out before qualifying.  When his money ran out again, he never returned.  His record shows 7 starts out of a possible 27.

Yuji Ide
– Japan
Total Races Entered: 4.
Total Starts: 4.
Drove for: Super Aguri.
Total Points: 0.

Super Aguri appeared for the first time on the grid in the 2006 season and signed two Japanese drivers in Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.  Whereas Sato had enjoyed a number of good drives over the years, Ide was an unknown entity.  In his four races, he never managed to outqualify anyone who managed to set a time (he started ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who failed to set a time in Bahrain), and like many drivers before him in F1, was using most of his talent to keep the car on the road.

His first finish was in round 3 in Australia.  He qualified FOUR seconds off his teammate, and finished 3 laps down.  The next race in Imola, San Marino saw him pitch Spyker driver Christijan Albers into a series of rolls.  It was determined after that race that Ide wasn’t cut out to be an F1 driver, and the FIA took his superlicence away, the last driver to have that done to him.  He was massively out of his depth in an F1 car and other drivers breathed a sigh of relief when he removed from the grid.

Giovanni Lavaggi
– Italy
Total Races Entered: 10.
Total Starts: 7.
Drove for: Pacific, Minardi.
Total Points: 0.

Another pay-driver, ‘Johnny Carwash’ (his English translation of his name) was desperately slow.  His four races for Pacific in 1995 all saw him fail to finish, and saw him only outqualify another driver once, when Forti driver Pedro Diniz ran into trouble.  Two gearbox failures and two spins accounted for his retirements.

Minardi threw him a lifeline in 1996 when, desperate for his cash, they gave Lavaggi the final six races in one of their cars.  The 107% rule, brought in to stop the likes of Lavaggi and Deletraz qualifying so far behind, caused Lavaggi to miss out three times in the six races, but he did manage to finish 2 of the 3 races he did manage to qualify for. He always qualified last when he did start.  Desperate slow, desperately short on talent.  Thankfully desperately short F1 career.

 Gaston Mazzacane – Argentina
Total Races Entered: 21.
Total Starts: 21.
Drove for: Minardi, Prost.
Total Points: 0.

Mazzacane had the reputation of being able to bring the car home, but generally at or near the back.  His qualifying record wasn’t great either, and he rarely qualified off the back row in any of his Grand Prix.  His only moment of fame in his full season with Minardi was in Indianapolis, when he was running third on wet tyres with a raging Mika Hakkinen behind him waving his fists, mistakenly assuming the Argentine was a lap behind.

A move to the Prost team for 2001 raised expectations, but Mazzacane was disappointing again, and after Round 4 in San Marino he was sacked, replaced by Luciano Burti.  He would never return to F1, and to be fair, F1 never missed him.  He was reliable, but far too slow to warrant being in the top level of motorsport.

Jean-Marc Gounon
– France
Total Races Entered: 9.
Total Starts: 9.
Drove for: Minardi, Simtek.
Total Points: 0.

Last on the grid for his debut in Suzuka in 1993 driving for Minardi wasn’t a great way to introduce himself to the F1 community, and was withdrawn with a damaged car after only 26 laps.  He managed to outqualify both the Lotus of Pedro Lamy and the Larrousse of Toshio Suzuki the following round in Adelaide, but spun off on lap 34, another driving using most of his talent to keep the car on the road rather than to be fast.

Gounon would return to F1 for seven rounds of the 1994 season with the Simtek team.  He would qualify every time but never off the back row of the grid, having never found a set-up that suit his driving.  When his funding ended after the Portuguese Grand Prix, Gounon left the sport.  He was slow, but wasn’t the worst of all time, but every teammate he competed against beat him comprehensively.

Patrick Friesacher
– Austria
Total Races Entered: 11.
Total Starts: 11.
Drove for: Minardi.
Total Points: 3.

Friesacher is the only driver on this list that has scored points in Formula 1. However it came in a race where he finished last, where only six drivers started and six finished, the infamous 2005 United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis.  Away from Indianapolis, he never got anywhere near the points.

Martin Brundle commented that Friesacher did not look like a potential Formula 1 driver, and it was obvious he was out of his depth.  He was regularly outqualified and outraced by teammate Christijan Albers, and by the time the German Grand Prix came around, Friesacher was out of a job, having been replaced by Robert Doornbos.  He would never get close to returning.

Gregor Foitek
– Switzerland
Total Races Entered: 22.
Total Starts: 7.
Drove for: Eurobrun, Rial, Brabham, Onyx.
Total Points: 0.

His first season in F1 saw his attempt and fail to pre-qualify an inferior Eurobrun car on eleven consecutive occasions, but moving to Rial for the Spanish Grand Prix wasn’t much better.  He still failed to qualify and quit the team after his rear wing broke at high speed, causing him to crash heavily.

He finally managed to qualify for a race in 1990 for Brabham, but was ditched by the team after two uncompetitive outtings, to be replaced by David Brabham.  He found refuge in the Moneytron Onyx team, almost scoring points in Monaco.  However, he crashed out of the race and was classifield seventh of seven.  He failed to qualify for 3 of his final 4 races before leaving F1 for good.


There are others around the late 1980’s/early 1990’s that may have made the list had they been given a car that was able to qualify.  Volker Weidler never made it onto the grid for Rial, likewise Claudio Langes for Coloni.  Pierre-Henri Raphanel only made it once but never had a decent car.  I thought it was just I didn’t include these drivers.


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One thought on “10 Drivers Who Never Should Have Been In F1!

  1. hotcrossbungay April 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Mighty Mikey's Mega Blog.

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