Top Five Worst F1 Champions

17 08 2010

Jon was reminiscing about F1 in the 1990s and thinking about the man who appears as number one on my list, so he was thinking about who the world champions who had the most disappointing post-championship careers. I’m only going to look at single title winners, so we’ll start with Jon’s first thought.

1. Jacques Villeneuve

Son of Ferrari legend (and one of the greatest drivers never to win the title), Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques only took up karting at 15 after spending his youth on the ski-slopes. At the age of only 24 he won the last IndyCar World Series and Indy 500 before Tony George created the schism in American single-seaters. Frank Williams and Patrick Head then snapped him up and took him to F1 for 1996, with Jacques living up to his hype so much that he almost won his first race at the Australian GP, but a broken oil pipe meant he had to lift off to make the finish. Winning four races and finishing second in your first season isn’t too shabby, but Jacques went on to win the following year’s championship against the resurgent Schumacher and Ferrari. 1997 was the peak, but he reached the trough fairly quickly. He blamed his poor performances in 1998 on the engine, the car, and the tyres, so he moved on to the new BAR team for 1999. The team was to be built around him and they claimed they could win their first race… they failed to score a point all year long. He stayed at the team for four years, underwhelming the world as he went until he was dropped before the 2003 Japanese GP due to being consistently outscored by teammate Jenson Button (being dropped for Takuma Sato has to hurt). Without a seat for 2004 he sat out most of the season before taking Jarno Trulli’s vacant Renault seat for the final three races, but his failure to score – or even drive consistently – meant he missed out on the opportunity to drive a double title winning car the next year. He moved on to Sauber for 2005, staying on when BMW took over in 2006 before quitting when threatened with a shootout for his seat against Robert Kubica. Outside of F1 he sucked at NASCAR and released an album of crappy love songs. So long Jacques, stop trying to get back into F1, we don’t want you.

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Top Five Jordan Drivers

5 08 2010

Over the past few days I’ve been watching some old grands prix, which has made me nostalgic for one of the F1 teams of my youth; Jordan Grand Prix. Between 1991 and 2005 Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team weaved their own path through F1, debuting with the beautiful 191, introducing the nose art with Hissin’ Sid before following it up with the Buzzin’ Hornets and ending with the Bitten Heroes, finally shutting up shop due to skyrocketing costs. The team still lives on as Force India, but I’m going to look back at the halcyon days and pick my top five Jordan drivers.

1. Heinz-Harald Frentzen

After impressing in Group C sports cars at Sauber Mercedes (alongside a certain Michael Schumacher) he made his debut with Peter Sauber’s squad, he then ousted Damon Hill from Williams and performed… woefully. Only one win in the title winning FW19 just wasn’t good enough for Frank and Patrick, so he packed his bags and ended up at Jordan for 1999. Eddie brought out the best in him, a brace of wins and four other podiums made him an unlikely championship contender right up until his retirement from the lead of the European GP. He frankly embarrassed his teammate, 1996 World Champion (whose Williams seat he took in 1997) winning 54 points to Hill’s 7. 2000 was less stellar but he still picked up two podiums before he was acrimoniously fired on the eve of the 2001 German GP.

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Top Five: Motorsport Liveries

19 08 2009

Traditional national racing colours had been de rigueur in motorsport from the 1900s to the 1960s. Cars were easily identified by nationality simply by colour: green for the UK; red for Italy; silver for Germany, etc. By signing a deal with Gold Leaf, Lotus brought sponsorship liveries to motorsport, so here are my top five.

1. JPS Lotus

Well, it’s a classic, and here it is on the ground-breaking, ground-force Lotus 79, being driven by the 1978 World Champion , Mario Andretti, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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Top Five: Little Pleasures in Life

18 08 2009

It’s been a few days (I’ve been a little distracted), anyway at Caro’s request, we have my top five little pleasures in life.

1. Wikipedia

Yeah, I’m a geek, get over it. Anyway, I can easily spend hours trawling through this treasure trove of information (of varying accuracy). Okay, I wouldn’t reference it in an essay, but for background knowledge on something, it’s great, and I love it.

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Top Five: Worst F1 Circuits

12 08 2009

After last week’s classic F1 circuits, we have the dregs, those that were/are just plain crap.

1. Dallas

Look at how exciting a track it is… yeah. Holding just one race; the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, the track was uninspiring at best, but it had a bigger problem. Scheduled in the height of summer, the heat became a major issue, and the question was what would break first; the cars, drivers, or the track? The track did, with the surface breaking up after only a few laps of free practice. After qualifying and a 50-lap Can-Am support race on the Saturday. Sunday’s free practice was abandoned, and the race start was brought forward to 11am to avoid the worst of the heat, but the track was only repaired at 10.30. It didn’t help, the track temperature hit around 66º Celsius, and the track soon broke up again. There were only eight finishers in a field of 25, many spun off due to the track surface… I say finishers, but Nigel Mansell collapsed after having to push his Lotus over the line for sixth place. US build quality at its best.

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Top Five: Things I’d Love to Do…

10 08 2009

…but I’ll more than likely never get to.

1. Clear Landmines

Always had this random desire to have a go at landmine clearance, but funnily enough the likelihood of ever being able to do so is extremely low. It would be fulfilling work, doing some actual good for the world, which isn’t something I’ve ever experienced in a job.

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Top Five: F1 Pit Stop Failures

8 08 2009

This time it’s Mozza’s request, and he wants my top five pit stop cock ups, so here they are.

1. Eddie Irvine – 1999 European GP

Going into this race the title was on a knife-edge, with Mika Häkkinen and Eddie Irvine tied at the top of the table, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen and David Coulthard only 10 and 12 points behind respectively. With unpredictable weather common at the Nürburgring, nobody was surprised when it started raining. Häkkinen pitted for wet tyres, which turned out to be the wrong decision. Irvine, who qualified ninth was now in a position to take advantage and score some vital points, he chose correctly to pit for dry tyres, but his team-mate Mika Salo pitting unexpectedly with a broken front wing the lap before unsettled the Ferrari crew. Irvine lost 28 seconds as the team failed to have the right-rear tyre ready for him (2.10 and 6.20 in the video). Irvine finished just outside the points in seventh, and ultimately lost the title by just two points, making this failure number one (you finally won Eddie!).

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