Whatever happened to…

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    I was watching Jacques Villeneuve racing in the V8 Supercars on the weekend and thinking what a shame it is that people who showed such potential when they started, all end up retired and their services relegated to the history books. I want this thread to recognise some of the forgotten personnel of Formula 1, or those who seemingly disappeared during the transition between seasons. Basically, if you remember a team, a driver or a key team member who is no longer as or at all prominent in the F1 paddock, please share your curiosity below.

    Ill get the ball rolling by asking; whatever happened to Patrick Head? Since Sam Michael took over as technical director, I dont think I have seen or heard from him again! Patrick used to be great to listen to as he would always say it as it was – kind of like Eddie Jordan, although he isnt such a flamboyant figure as the latter! To see what I am talking about, watch the 2003 season review DVD, where the big 4 (Brawn, Briatore, Dennis and Head) team owners were present at a press conference discussing the legality of tyres.

    Another person I would like to draw attention to is Mika Salo. He spent several years languishing at the back of the pack with small teams, before being thrusted into Michael Schumachers seat in 1999 after the German broke his legs in Silverstone, and produced some reasonably impressive results during his short stint with Ferrari. In fact, he should have won the German Grand Prix, had it not been for team orders dictating he move aside for Eddie Irvine. But after those few glorious months of fame, he seemed to drop off the radar. Sauber signed him for a disastrous 2000, after which he left the team to help establish the new Toyota team for the 2002 season alongside Allan McNish (another forgotten soul), where he produced yet another lacklustre season, despite scoring points on the teams debut in the farcical Australian Grand Prix. His below par performances ensured his replacement for 2003. He was never seen again…

    There are many other drivers that spring to mind; I can see Giancarlo Fisichella appearing on a list like this someday as well when his rapid exit out of F1 is not so fresh in our memories. Anyway, please show your respect to the rejects and forgotten personnel of Formula 1!


    Its interesting, the loss of Patrick Head at Williams (well, he is still there but in a different role) coincided with the decline of the team. I have never rated Sam Michael and honestly struggle to understand why he hasn’t been replaced.

    the video you have mentioned is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asE7AA5_JdM&p=08BF56C93A5D5663&playnext=1&index=12

    Patrick was also recently featured in the 5 live commentary at Canada during free practice where he was quite insightful (albeit not used to presenting on the radio).

    However, for all his pro’s of being an excellent technical designer etc, I also seem to remember that a lot of drivers have fallen out spectacularly with him (Frentzen being a good example). I wonder if that had something to do with his declining role or if it is simply an age thing.

    Regarding Salo, I was recently reading about Toyota’s 2002 season. Still really struggle to understand why either driver was sacked. I can’t remember most of his career but he was good in 1999. I think his problem was that he simply languished in poor cars for too much of his career. He was a good driver, as all F1 drivers have to be, but never a great one. Nice bloke though from memory. I think unfortunately for him though he was simply never the best Finnish driver in F1


    I remember Patrick and Juan Pablo never got along too well… Remember when Montoya said… the thing he said… about Kimi in Spa ’02? If I heard correctly, Patrick replied with: “Stop transmitting you stupid bastard!” I don’t know if this was a one off, or they truly didn’t like each other.


    I’m not sure about drivers, but I haven’t seen the stop-go penalty for ages in a race. The only time I ever see one is on F1 2009 Wii game!


    Good one daykind! I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed that! :)


    @ sw6569

    I think that the decline of Williams had far more to do with the loss of Adrian Newey, once he left them for McLaren it all started going downhill for Williams and (in my opinion) they haven’t recovered from his loss. Which is no great surprise really as Newey is one of, if not the best designer in F1 and he has been for a very long time.

    Back to the subject though: although he’s not really forgotten I’m always amazed at how little recognition Alain Prost gets these days; we’re always hearing about the genius of former drivers and comparisons between current and former drivers but I can’t even remember the last time I heard Prost mentioned at a Grand Prix. I know his team were a bit of a disaster but the guy is one of the best champions the sport ever had and without him Ayrton Senna would probably have won many more championships than he did.

    While I was a big Senna fan back in the day I always thought Prost was a brilliant driver who combined amazing control with an unusually high degree of intelligence – something racing drivers rarely get accused of. As a four times champion with two different teams he’s also quite a rarity.


    @ Beneboy

    Thats an interesting point and certainly that contributed to Williams having a fairly terrible 98/99 season – but they were winning in 2003 before Head stepped down. Certainly around that time, Ferrari, Williams and McLaren were the big three unlike today.

    The decline of Williams is probably much more complex than just personnel though and could fill a topic on its own!

    For my whatever happened to… i’d say black and white flags or black flags. Haven’t seen these used in a long long time


    What ever happen to Michael Schumacher? There is a driver this year at Mercedes with the same name as him, but I haven’t heard about or seen the old seven-time champion in a while.


    I wouldnt say that Allan McNish disappeared. He has won Le Mans 3 times (from the top of my head), since 2002.

    sbl on tour

    think salo raced in a ferrari last year in le mans

    Dan Thorn

    Ivan Capelli. The guy had some amazing performances for March/Leyton House, but when he went to Ferrari he was hopeless and retired the year after completely demotivated. A terrible shame.

    Jos Verstappen is another one. Ok, he got destroyed by Schumacher in his first season, but after that he turned in some great drives but never really progressed beyond the back of the grid. I think Schumacher himself once said that Jos was one of the best wet weather drivers he’d ever seen.


    I think beneboy’s suggestion of Newey is fundamentally right. In 1998 Williams dropped straight out of contention because they got the rule changes wrong – the worst time possible to lose someone like Newey. Then they gathered pace again and started winning in the early 2000s. 2004 was a dud year, possibly because of Head leaving, but from then on engine power started to matter less and less and the age of aero really kicked in and for a team of limited resources it’s no wonder they’ve been midfielders ever since. With Newey, they might have been able to do better and then come back to the front last year, but unfortunately for Williams none of his replacements have been of sufficient calibre.


    I agree mostly with what has been said about Newey although we have to remember that no team has continual top status and what Williams achieved from Alan Jones and pretty much kept for near on 15 years cannot be underestimated. Newey is the top designer at the present but he has also built some very fragile cars wherever he has been. I always had a soft spot for Head and Williams and how they always seemed to be the main team that always worked outside the box. Their fall must also have a lot to do with inconsistent and poor engines for far too long.


    Whatever happened to… Zsolt Baumgartner?

    No, really. :)


    I’m sure in an old issue of F1R it suggested that he was a goat-farmer! :-)

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