Anthony Davidson – The most wasted talent of recent years?

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    Bradley Downton

    I’ve thought this for a while but remembered it again while replying to the Ideal F1 team thread. Out of the driver’s of recent seasons I mentioned I’d take Davidson, and people subsequently agreed.

    Anyway, I started this because we started to converse about Davidson but I thought it would be better to have a separate thread for him rather than fill that with something only partially related.

    In my opinion, Anthony Davidson is the most wasted talent of recent years. In his years at BAR he was more often than not the quickest driver and regularly quicker than Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari. Against the F2004 this was no mean feat!

    Davidson had a hand in developing the BAR-Honda 006 of 2004, arguably BAR’s best car and also the 007, as well as the Honda RA106. He then left to join Super Aguri who began to perform vast amounts better than they ever had, while Honda struggled hugely. He was also on for a potential podium in Canada in 2007, until he hit a beaver crossing the track.

    When Super Aguri folded/were withdrawn by Honda/whatever story you believe Davidson returned to Honda, along with Super Aguri’s design for a 2009 car that Davidson had helped to develop, which later became the Brawn BGP-001.

    Since then Davidson has been working with Mercedes although reportedly hadn’t had much input until the 2013 car, which proved to be the first of the Mercedes’ that was decently competitive. He remains with them now, helping to develop the dominant F1 W05.

    I think however, had Davidson been given a seat in the 04 BAR, or the 06 Honda, or the 09 Brawn, or indeed anything else half-competitive, he’d have really shown his talent, as he did on a number of occasions at Super Aguri, despite their relative lack of speed.

    Davidson was a man I feel never had a fair enough crack at Formula One. I know this can be said of many drivers, most whom never even make it to F1 level because of a lack of funds, but Davidson got so close. I have no doubt that he be given a solid car at some point, he’d have been a Champion.


    I never really looked at it that way. I had to look up Davidson’s history, since I never got to see him race (only started watching F1 in 2008, although I don’t recall anything really memorable about him from the 2007 races that I have seen). When you say his times at BAR were faster than Schumacher, were those just his testing times? I don’t see him as anything other than a test driver for BAR.

    It sounds like he’s excellent for car development and as a test driver (if we still had regular testing I’m sure he would still have a job), but I don’t hold it against drivers for not making it in F1. It suits some really well, but others not as much. It’s not like Davidson hasn’t found a great spot in LMP1. With everything that you’re saying, it’s surprising he couldn’t manage even a respectable mid-field drive.

    If he had a chance with the Brawn car, I think he would’ve made more of a name for himself, since it would’ve been an opportunity to really show off, but it looks like luck (and probably sponsorship, too) has played against him. Really is unfortunate, since it would’ve been amazing (or hilarious, not sure yet) to see a Super Aguri win a WDC/WCC. The most I ever really knew about them was that they folded when 2008 started.

    Bradley Downton

    @steevkay – Yeah, back in the days that lower teams were allowed to run a third car and driver on Friday, Davidson was regularly quicker than Schumacher and both BAR race drivers in practice sessions.


    Davidson is just another great talent that got spat out of the F1 circle unceremoniously due to some factors outside his control, e.g. the whole Super Aguri thing, and also some factors inside his control e.g. lack of support/money, while it is difficult to swallow, F1 is about money and I think ultimately that undone him.

    We we’re very close to this exact same conversation at the end of 2013 with Hulkenberg, regardless if you think he should have a top drive or not, he was facing the prospect of having no drive in 2014 off the back of some awesome performances last year. However, this year, I do note that Hulkenberg is sporting the Dekra hat a lot more, so I think one of Schumi’s old sponsors has jumped on board the Hulkenberg train.

    The first time I really saw this happen to any driver was when I saw Jean Alesi end up in the wrong car for every year of his career until he finally left F1, the guy was one of the most talented and instinctively raw paced drivers F1 has ever seen, but he just found himself in the right team at the wrong time, or the wrong team at the wrong time…. He thought he had his break with Ferrari in the early 90’s, however, every car they produced until 1997, was an absolute dog, but it took Michael Schumacher, Rory Byrne, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt to turn Ferrari around, not to mention ditching the V12 engines for a lighter/smoother power delivery car. Alesi then found himself in Schumachers old team Benetton in 1996 and was absolutely shocked to see just how bad the followup car to the 1995 World Constructors Championship winning team from the previous year was. Then Alesi just found himself struggling to stay in F1 as he slowly spiralled his way down the teams.

    In short, because you are good, doesn’t mean that you will get a drive in F1… I don’t like this aspect of F1, however, if you do find yourself following a driver, and they do get into a top team that reaps the rewards with WDC and a WCC, then revel in it, because its rare.

    Without making this post too much longer, I’ll also add this little bit. I’ve been involved in motorbike racing in Australia, and have seen how tough privateers have it, and I’m only talking about a national championship, forget about the world stage. However, if you have friends/family/acquaintances in any form of motor racing trying to get a leg up, then you might actually think its a great thing to have achieved an F1 drive, albeit a fleeting appearance. Its all about perspective, but, my advice is, don’t dwell on the past and look to the future, as I’m sure Davidson has done this as well :)


    He’s a multiple World Endurance Championship and Intercontinental Le Mans Series race winner, and Le Mans 24 Hours podium stander.

    I think he’s putting his talent to incredibly good use.


    He’s a multiple World Endurance Championship and Intercontinental Le Mans Series race winner, and Le Mans 24 Hours podium stander.

    I think he’s putting his talent to incredibly good use.

    I actually think the Toyota LMP1 driver line up is full of similar calibre drivers – as in, drivers who could potentially have been real contenders in F1.

    I’d consider Alex Wurz to be more of a ‘unfulfilled potential’ driver than Davidson, myself. But like Ant, I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily down to him.


    Agreed. Alex had some stunning drives in his short and sporadic stints in Formula 1. I think given the chance on a top car at the right time he easily could have delivered.

    Plus he always threw up the horns when he was on the podium, which appealed to the teenaged me.


    “along with Super Aguri’s design for a 2009 car that Davidson had helped to develop, which later became the Brawn BGP-001”

    I’ve never heard that before. Is that really true?

    Bradley Downton


    The BGP001, which would have been the Honda RA109, benefitted greatly from 18 months of design work undertaken at Leafiled by the Super Aguri F1 Team which had begun in 2007, a year of design work at Honda in Brackley and Tochigi during 2008, and, it is understood, additional work at the Dome base in Maibara, Japan. The double decker diffuser concept, which would prove so pivotal to the success of the BGP001, is believed to have come from either Super Aguri or Dome.

    From here: https://willthef1journo.wordpress.com/tag/super-aguri/

    If you search Google for 2009 Brawn Super Aguri, there’s quite a lot…

    It was the Super Aguri design team that come up with the diffuser idea and initially designed the car. Therefore would have been the 2009 Super Aguri had the team continued. But Honda’s plan was always to set it up and use it primarily to focus on the 2009 regulations.

    Iestyn Davies

    Which makes it even more bizarre that Honda pulled out, provided funding for Brawn to run the 2009 operation then didn’t stick their name on it to reap the positive publicity..

    I agree with the premise of the thread and added my 2 cent in the ‘Ideal F1 team’ thread. Imagine 4 drivers for 2009.. Button, Barrichello, Sato, Davidson.. Senna was also getting a look in before Barrichello was retained for his experience given the testing ban.

    I entirely agree.. look at what we have now. Hulk (who did a Lewis by winning F3 and GP2 consecutively) had to take a year doing FP1s, then was ‘the only non-sponsored’ driver to continue in F1 this year. Frijns has won 3 championships in 4 years, including the whole of Formula Renault and yet was Sauber reserve and then Caterham reserve this year. If he didn’t get new management he would probably be out of F1 altogether.

    Yet, we have Chilton on his second season and probably a third next year despite never winning a championship! It would be much better to see a multiple champion like Vandoorne racing instead, or Frijns.. F1 would truly be a ‘grid of champions’ then, as every other driver on the grid has won junior titles. With a 26 car full grid, you could easily add these following junior champions: Frijns, Vandoorne, Nasr, Rossi, Sainz Jr.


    No, not by a long way, nevertheless he wasn’t that bad, sometimes British drivers get 2 more looks than they should but it’s right to say that Davidson had the handle of Sato and Sato wasn’t that much slower than Button, although it’s unfair to compare drivers this way, I think it’s the only way, besides it’s not like Button is a top man in F1, he has lost out to many team-mates but he has his qualities and he always suffer from his larger stature.


    Interesting to read people’s opinions on this matter.
    Regarding Jean Alesi; There was a time when he seemed to have the same potential as M Schumacher. When I started following F1 again last season after a loooong absence it shocked me greatly that he only won one race!
    I never saw Anthony Davidson in F1 but it would seem that things never fell in his favour. Wasn’t he set to sign for Williams in 2006(?) but Honda put the blockers on it? BAR Honda only had room for one British driver and I am sure than Button’s image/looks/charisma played a role in him getting the spot, besides how quick he was.
    I wonder if Anthony watched on in 2009 thinking that it could have been him winning the WDC if only fate had been a little different?


    However, this year, I do note that Hulkenberg is sporting the Dekra hat a lot more, so I think one of Schumi’s old sponsors has jumped on board the Hulkenberg train.

    Dekra have been on the Hulk train for quite a while @dragoll.




    Iestyn Davies

    Dekra.. sponsoring the best of German talent, from Schumacher to Hulkenberg.


    Definitely agree Ant never had the chance to really show his skills. But sadly he’s definitely not the only one. Sebastien Bourdais springs to mind. I never understood how he could so dominate Indycar and fail to translate over to F1. A well of talent never properly tapped.

    Rally legend Loeb, such a shame he wasn’t allowed that one off Toro Rosso drive a few years back. Now he’s proven himself highly capable of adapting to close racing in sports cars and touring cars too. The guy’s a god!

    Other Toro Rosso drivers. Buemi like Ant now hanging out at the Toyota LMP program and being blisteringly fast. Allen McNish another sportscar ace that never had the chance to show his abilities properly, then becomes in effect the benchmark in sports prototypes for raw pace and attacking racing style.

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