Bad career(ruining?) actions(or decisions, which usually leads to action anyway)

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    Some drivers did things that ruined careers (of course most of them only when looked in hindsight otherwise there wouldn’t be enough to talk about. And RIC’s just said he didn’t want to do an Alonso. Anyway, Some that come to mind:

    -Jean Alesi – stayed at Ferrari waiting for a car of the kind that never came.

    -Emerson Fittipadi – What do you do after winning titles with a great team and finishing 2nd in the WDC with another? Join Copersucar, of course! (he later did OK in CART though looking at results charts).

    -JV : Having won infinitely more titles than his legendary dad he went to team Brackley and the rest was history.

    -Possibly Alonso?:Combine Alesi’s actions with Ferrari with JV’s move to team Brackley (or Fittipaldi’s move to Copersucar) and we have 2015. Let’s hope Honda’s engines get better but, errrrr.

    -Louis Chiron : What do you do to one of the few (well percentage wise at least) decent female racers ever? Call her a Gestapo agent of course! It can’t possibly ruin her financials – probably not her career either! (And VAG are doing a Bugatti Chiron? Seriously? And people are mad about that Cheerios ad that at least doesn’t put undeserved blame for anything on anyone and VAG could nicely go and do that?)

    Notable mentions (OK just other things that come to mind):
    -Jenson Button could’ve ended his F1 Career a backmarker. But Whitmarsh and Ross Brawn had other ideas.
    -If Ayrton Senna didn’t go to Williams in 1994 (sorry can’t help myself, and as written at the top of this post I do know what hindsight is)
    -Frijns. He’s not in F1. Max Verstappen is. It’s not that long a story.


    Glock – was competitive at Toyota and certainly deserved a chance in the midfield team, instead went to Marussia and not only he achieved nothing there (apart from his usual Singapore heroics), he also was pushed out of the team due to lack of money.

    Kovalainen – same story. While the never was a man truly deserving a seat alongside Hamilton, he was better than his next destination, Caterham. Often a class of the ‘new teams’ battle, even that was not enough to secure his place in F1.

    R.Schumacher – he was performing strongly alongside highly-rated Montoya when at Williams before moving to a well-funded Toyota. While it initially looked like a good decision, as the time went by Toyota’s performance waned and with it the Ralf’s speed and form.

    And looking how he is doing in WTCC now, I feel really sorry for Jose Maria Lopez. USF1 probably wouldn’t have fought for victories, but they initially looked like a promising new prospect and Lopez really believed in their abilities. But they never even entered F1.

    Iestyn Davies

    Glock – turned down Renault, which was turning into Lotus, for Manor. They then hired Petrov.

    Alguersuari – turned down Lotus, to try and stay at Red Bull, no doubt with one eye on Webber’s seat, given his dismal 2011. Lotus turned to Raikkonen for 2012, by which time it was too late.

    Frijns – we can only surmise what would have happened, had he driven for Toro Rosso in 2014. Red Bull 2015?

    Barrichello – 2009. Jock Clear said that he ‘upped his game’ too late – Button seized the early season, knowing it was their only chance at the title. Rubens didn’t have that WDC focus.

    Herbert – 1988. That he still won 3 GPs after that is a testament to his skills.

    Kubica – 2010 rally. He would likely have replaced Massa at Ferrari from 2012.


    Gilles Villeneuve giving away the 1979 title to Scheckter comes to mind. He was convinced 1980 would be his year but he was very wrong. While it didn’t necessarily ruin his career, he really should’ve been champion.

    Also maybe JP Montoya going to McLaren and never really getting along with anyone. He was really liked in Williams and I never understood why he jumped ship. The Macca was really fast but unreliable. Once they fixed the walrus Williams, it got insanely quick. Had he stayed there, he might have carried on racing beyond 2006.


    @carlitox with Williams, in the midfield.?


    Jean Alesi : had he chosen Williams instead of Ferrari he would have been a multiple world champion IMHO, the guy was utterly quick, F1 driver winning in DTM is not an easy task when you look at guys like Ralf Schumacher or even Coulthard.

    Michael Schumacher : I can’t resist, had he not stick a cam on his helmet he could have stayed fit and swapped to other categories (Ferrari come back missed due to neck injuries).

    Frijn : Waisted champion material, ok red bull are not angels but had he a choice ? no, he should have shut his mouth and signed that contract.

    Martin brundle : matching Senna on some event means a lot bad too bad he chose great teams at bad moments.


    Jos Verstappen
    Jos, much like Max, had a very short career in the lower formulae, but was backed by the Dutch branch of Philip Morris. After testing for Footwork and McLaren in late 1993, it seemed that Philip Morris wanted Jos to sign a test contract with McLaren and try to move to a race seat for 1995. Instead, Jos signed to the Mild Seven backed Benetton team to test in 1994 and maybe drive in 1995. As known, Letho broke his neck during testing and Jos made his debut at Interlagos in 1994. In the process, he pretty much lost all of his personal sponsors (or his manager felt he didn’t need them anymore) and managed to come off looking rather weak compared to Schumacher. Then he was replaced by Letho, reinstated, then replaced by Herbert for the final race and 1995. Afterwards his career became a case of finding relatively cheap seats at the back of the midfield and being ousted by paying drivers. (Legend has it that Ken Tyrrell quit his own team after BAT/BAR took over and got Rosset over retaining either Salo or Verstappen for 1998.)

    Perhaps the biggest blow to his career was Honda deciding to return as engine supplier in 2000. The people working on the works team in 1999 were people Jos knew from Tyrrell and liked him. The car was quick and Jos was probably at his peak in 2000 and 2001. I don’t think Jos was as good as Max is as a complete driver, but Jos certainly was gifted.

    Olivier Panis
    It’s hard to judge if Panis would even have made it to F1 were it not for the long gone unspoken rule that drivers backed by Elf would at some point drive for Ligier. However, Panis was regarded as a good driver in the 90s. Staying at Ligier as it became Prost nearly got him a lot (a very good 1997 season) but ended up costing him (his crash at the 1997 Canadian GP). After a poor 1998, it should have been clear that Prost GP wasn’t moving up any time soon, but he chose to stay for 1999. I think 1998 and 1999 allowed people to forget his amazing run in early 1997 and the promise he showed in his debut season. He ended up testing for McLaren in 2000 (much to the joy of Mika Hakkinen) then moved to BAR for 2001 and 2002. The BAR wasn’t very good and Villeneuve got all the noteworthy results. Olivier then moved to Toyota for 2003 and 2004, but again found himself at a team with a decent-at-best car and not so stellar organization.

    Though he faced a similar situation as the likes of Hulkenberg, Perez and Grosjean today, he made a mistake in staying with Prost too long, joining BAR-Villeneuve when they were still together and Toyota. Had he ended up driving the McLaren somewhere in the Schumacher/Hakkinen era, he could have been more of a problem than DC ever was.

    Mark Webber‘s early career
    Mark is one of those drivers that I can’t help but feel should have won more races. Ultimately overclassed by Seb at Red Bull, he somewhat ironically did at the only time in his career he was at the right team at the right time.

    Nothing wrong with starting at Minardi, especially the year after fellow Briatore-protege Alonso did so, but Jaguar was never a good team. Probably not a whole lot of choice there, though. However, his next move, to Williams, is of a different category than ‘doing an alonso’. He traded a midfield team for a top team declining to the midfield.. 2005 was not that bad, but didn’t beat Heidfeld with the might expected of the guy that put the Jaguar on grid positions it had no right of being on. 2006 was terrible for the team and harmed Mark’s profile as well. Moving back to Milton Keynes, now Red Bull Racing, wasn’t the best move from a driver heavily linked to Renault at the time, but ended up being a good enough call.

    That being said.. If Mark had a car of the calibre of the RB6 somewhere between 2005 and 2008, he would have grabbed a lot more wins and potentially the title as well. Perhaps he didn’t quite ruin his career, but that first win in 2009 was years overdue.

    Jarno Trulli
    Started off strong at Minardi and Prost in 1997, was held back (as Panis was) by the poor 1998 and 1999 Prost cars, moved to Jordan in 2000 and 2001 where he had a reasonable time. Then moved to Renault, which had an amazingly poor 2001 as Benetton and their 2002 wasn’t much better. Outscored by Alonso plainly in 2003, but had a strong 2004. Until he managed to get himself fired. Remembering his good former team mate Panis, he decided that a move to Toyota would be the best way to obscurity. Arguably got the most out of driving a Toyota among anyone who drove for them, but ended up joining Lotus1MalaysiaF1Team to really sort that silent exit from of the sport out.

    The move to Renault in 2002 can be excused by winning the 2004 Monaco GP, but at the same time getting fired months later negated that progress. His time driving around a Toyota wasn’t much of a waste, but he must have known he wouldn’t carry the team to wins. Moving to Malaysia1Lotus(not)TeamF1 is still a strange move in my mind and where 2009 aided his profile, he managed to become invisible during the 2010 and 2011 seasons..

    Giancarlo Fisichella
    There is a strange symmetry between Trulli and Fisichella. As Fisi drove for Benetton in 2000/2001, Trulli drove for Jordan. Trulli moved to Benetton/Renault, Fisichella moved to Jordan. Why anyone would want to move to Jordan after 2001 is a mystery, being a team in decline and getting second grade Honda engines. 2003 did give Fisi a win at the wheel of the Jordan-Ford, but much of the season saw him not even finishing. He only scored two more points the entire season. He made a good call moving to Sauber for 2004, effectively racing Ferrari’s 2003 challenger. But, the call from Renault came and Fisi dutifully played second fiddle to Alonso, harming his profile in the process. After being ditched by Renault because the poor 2007 season was totally Fisi’s fault, he ended up at Force India. He stuck the bloody thing on pole at the 2009 Belgian GP, only to sign on for Ferrari to do marginally better than Luca Badoer in the monumentally bad Ferrari F60 for the rest of 2009.

    Giancarlo stated a dream came true: he became a Ferrari driver. For a few races. Then he became a Ferrari-GT driver. Looking at Force India in 2010 and 2011, they could have used Fisichella a lot better than Ferrari’s GT program did. Perhaps not a ‘ruined’ career, but returning to Enstone to be Alonso’s second man was below the best he could have done at that point, and his career didn’t have to end on 5 non-points finishes at a team that already had next season’s drivers lined up.

    Perhaps not so much ‘ruined careers’ then, but mostly ‘careers that could have gone a lot better’?

    James Brickles

    Thierry Boutsen had a solid run at Williams, then moved to a backmarking Ligier team in 1991 which pretty much spelled the end of his run in F1.

    R.J. O’Connell

    I’ll throw this one out there.

    Benetton had a sizeable vacancy at second driver in 1994 that ultimately got filled by three different drivers. That’s in large part because their former test driver had left the team the year before to take an immediate race seat at a lower-ranked team who were just about to run a car with active suspension technology, and said tester was one of the few that had experience driving a car like that that were available in 1993. Even though the testing role probably could have still gotten him a race seat, there’s no way the driver could risk passing up such an opportunity, not in ’93.

    Which is how Alex Zanardi labored through an injury-shortened 1993 at Lotus, came back but got run out of F1 the next year, went to CART and became a two-time champion, went back to Formula 1 and scored no points at Williams, took a sabbatical, lost his legs in a crash during his return to CART, then became a race-winning driver in WTCC and a two-time Paralympic Gold Medalist.


    Montoya in 2006 leaving mclaren mid season, possibly after falling out with Ron dennis over the previous 18 months. Have often wondered could he have won the 2007 championpship as he was clearly talented enough to win races. Be in championship hunt but had enough experience in simmilar situations, to Hamilton in the 2007 China race about when to pit for new tyres not end up in a gravel trap at the pit lane entry

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