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F1 debates: Best driver to never win

  • 10-06-2020 5:49pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 973 ✭✭✭ supremenovice


    Looking back at all the historic 'classic' race highlights on Youtube reminded me of some of the midfield drivers who I forgot about - the Gaston Mazzacanes of the world. Got me thinking about all these drivers who came and went without a win, some better than others.
    According to Wikipedia, 108 drivers of the 774 who started a race, actually won a race. Which means 86% of drivers never reach the top step - amazing stat. Who was the best of them though? Current drivers not included.

    I'm going to go with Nick Heidfeld. 13 career podiums. Held his own against Mark Webber at Williams in 2005 (ahead on points until he got injured with five races to go), who himself won 9 races when he got a serious car at Red Bull. Finished 22 points ahead of his more illustrious team mate Robert Kubica at BMW in 2006. F3000 champion in 1999. Maybe lacked that killer instinct to turn one of those podiums into a win but very polished driver nonetheless.

    Honourable mentions:
    Kamui Kobayashi - Probably the best Japanese driver in F1, he showed flashes of brilliance in his F1 career, including qualifying 2nd at Spa in 2012 (in a Sauber) and a great podium in Suzuka that year. A daring overtaker, up and down would be an understatement to describe his career but on his day he was brilliant and would have been definitely good enough to win in a good car like a Red Bull or Ferrari. His sensational qualifying lap record at Le Mans is something to behold and displays the talent he has.

    Stefan Johansson: F1 in the '80s is before my time but I do love reading about its history and this guy drove for Ferrari and McLaren but never won. He was mugged at Imola '85 when he ran out of fuel in the lead with two laps to go so you could put him top of the list. But, his teammates (Alboreto and Prost) won five races between them while he couldn't win one which leaves question marks as to how he didn't win in front running cars.

    I'm sure some will mention Hulkenburg and you could make a good case considering his good head to head form against teammates Ricciardo and Sainz. But never even a podium in 11 seasons? A good driver would have found a way to win in his cars.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,159 ✭✭✭ kksaints


    Chris Amon usually comes up in this debate from the late 60s and early 70s. Very well regarded driver and really should have won at least two grand prix but for a puncture in the 1972 French Grand Prix and tearing off his visor lid by mistake in the 1971 Italian grand prix.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,553 ✭✭✭ Cork Trucker


    To never win? Martini & DeCesaris. Wendlinger? Hulkenberg had a chance and blew it


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭ donspeekinglesh


    Amon is a good choice.

    I'd say Mika Salo. Took a long time to get his shot in a front running car and had to give up his win to Irvine. His nonstop drive at Monaco 97 was brilliant.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,228 ✭✭✭✭ flazio


    Obvious one staring us in the face every race weekend is Martin Brundle


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,553 ✭✭✭ Cork Trucker


    Amon is a good choice.

    I'd say Mika Salo. Took a long time to get his shot in a front running car and had to give up his win to Irvine. His nonstop drive at Monaco 97 was brilliant.

    Yeah if I was Salo I’d have ignored the orders that day. He knew the drive was short term anyway.

    The Monaco 97 drive was the last time anyone did it and is unlikely to happen ever again.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,115 ✭✭✭ jelutong


    Chris Amon. According to Mauro Forghieri he was the only driver on the same level as Jim Clark. That’s good enough for me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,671 ✭✭✭✭ Inquitus


    Never saw Amon drive, but by all accounts available on the interwebz he is the best driver never to win, of those within my lifetime, Heidfeld, Salo and Brundle and probably the top 3, in what order I cannot say.


  • Registered Users, Subscribers Posts: 47,070 ✭✭✭✭ Zaph


    flazio wrote: »
    Obvious one staring us in the face every race weekend is Martin Brundle

    I was surprised to read recently that Martin Brundle never once even led a lap in F1. Sergio Perez has been in over 170 races and has yet to win one, but I reckon if he'd ever had a competitive car he would have picked up at least one win at some stage. Even the year he was with McLaren he ended up in probably their worst car ever to that point, but you don't have a career that long in F1 without being of above average talent.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,546 ✭✭✭✭ padd b1975


    Back in the day Murray Walker used to say that if Johnny Herbert could have got himself into a proper car he would be world champion.

    Never really saw it myself.

    Anyway, my vote goes to Jean Alesi.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭ donspeekinglesh


    padd b1975 wrote: »
    Back in the day Murray Walker used to say that if Johnny Herbert could have got himself into a proper car he would be world champion.

    Never really saw it myself.

    He was never the same after his accident.


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  • Registered Users, Subscribers Posts: 47,070 ✭✭✭✭ Zaph


    padd b1975 wrote: »
    Back in the day Murray Walker used to say that if Johnny Herbert could have got himself into a proper car he would be world champion.

    Never really saw it myself.

    Anyway, my vote goes to Jean Alesi.

    Jean Alesi won in Canada in something like 95 or 96.

    Agree on Herbert though, never really rated him as a great driver and it's always surprised me that he had 3 wins.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,546 ✭✭✭✭ padd b1975


    Zaph wrote: »
    Jean Alesi won in Canada in something like 95 or 96.

    Agree on Herbert though, never really rated him as a great driver and it's always surprised me that he had 3 wins.

    Apologies, I was thinking never to win the world championship.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,135 ✭✭✭ Better Than Christ


    flazio wrote: »
    Obvious one staring us in the face every race weekend is Martin Brundle

    It was unfortunate Jordan didn't hold onto him for 1997 when they had a much faster car than '96. He probably would've done a better job than Schumacher or Fisichella. Might even have won a race.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,228 ✭✭✭✭ flazio


    It was unfortunate Jordan didn't hold onto him for 1997 when they had a much faster car than '96. He probably would've done a better job than Schumacher or Fisichella. Might even have won a race.

    You'd wonder though, who'd ITV would have gotten instead and if Brundle would be on TV today.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,399 ✭✭✭ recyclebin


    Looking at the current grid, Sergio Perez 8 podiums is quite impressive when you look at the cars he has driven. He's never really had a car that could win races but has always been there to pick up a podium if there is a sniff of one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,123 ✭✭✭✭ skipper_G


    recyclebin wrote: »
    Looking at the current grid, Sergio Perez 8 podiums is quite impressive when you look at the cars he has driven. He's never really had a car that could win races but has always been there to pick up a podium if there is a sniff of one.

    Perez never gets much credit because he has sponsorship and the stink of pay driver. Malaysia 2012 is a standout drive, he was chasing Alonso down and but for one wrong wheel he could have caught him by the end. He has managed to get podiums in midfield cars while others failed, Hulk being the best example.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,068 ✭✭✭ quokula


    My knowledge only goes back to the early to mid nineties but in that time Hulkenberg and Heidfeld are by far the two standouts. I still find it extraordinary that Hulkenberg never even scored a podium, in the right car he would definitely have been world champion material.

    And there is Jules Bianchi of course :(


  • Registered Users Posts: 193 ✭✭ Capra


    It was unfortunate Jordan didn't hold onto him for 1997 when they had a much faster car than '96. He probably would've done a better job than Schumacher or Fisichella. Might even have won a race.

    What makes you think that? He got thrashed by Barrichello and I'd would rate Ralf at his peak as every bit as good as Rubens. People seem to forget how good Ralf was with Williams. Brindle was mostly useless in 96 from what I remember.


  • Subscribers Posts: 3,670 ✭✭✭ TCP/IP


    Tommy Byrne


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