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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