Debate: The Bottom 10 F1 drivers

Alan Henry’s done it, F1 Racing did it, and now The Times are naming their top 100 F1 drivers.

I toyed with the idea of doing something similar here but these debates always end up the same: arguments about whether you can compare drivers from the ’50s with those from five decades later, why all the current drivers are over-rated and so on.

Instead let’s go to the other end of the scale and ask who were F1’s very worst drivers ever? I’ve picked five, nominate yours below…

Jean-Denis Deletraz

Presences: 3
Starts: 3
Best grid position: 24
Best finishing position: 15

Deletraz was nine laps into his Grand Prix debut at Adelaide in 1994 when the leaders came by him for the first time. He was ten laps down by the time his car died of shame on lap 57. On his third and final Grand Prix appearance at the Nurburgring in 1995 he actually finished having been lapped seven times.

Giovanni Lavaggi

Presences: 10
Starts: 9
Best grid position: 20
Best finishing position: 10 (classified finish despite having spun off)

After four races with Pacific in 1995 he returned the following year to replace the a young, under-funded Giancarlo Fisichella at Minardi – and promptly failed to qualify for his first race back. He only looked good when D?â?®l?â?®traz replaced him.

Ricardo Rosset

Presences: 33
Starts: 26
Best grid position: 17
Best finishing position: 8

You don’t need to know much more about Rosset other than the fact his Tyrrell mechanics used to swap the letters ‘R’ and ‘T’ of his surname around on his car’s stickers.

He provided a sublime comedy moment for ITV’s Murray Walker and Martin Brundle by crashing just was Walker was finished saying, “There’s some debate about whether Rosset is Formula 1 material” to which Brundle dead-panned, “That’s a pretty short debate, Murray.”

Enrico Bertaggia

Presences: 6
Starts: 0
Best grid position: DNPQ
Best finishing position: N/A

The stats say it all, really. In six attempts he never pre-qualified once. But he is trumped by…

Claudio Langes

Presences: 14
Starts: 0
Best grid position: DNPQ
Best finishing position: N/A

Yes. Well, the less said the better really.

Those are my first five. But who do you think belongs on the list of F1’s worst drivers – and why? Do any current or recent drivers deserve to be on the list? Nominate as many as you like as later on we’ll whittle the list down to ten.

In the meantime, here’s a few more names to consider: Taki Inoue, Philippe Adams and Piercarlo Ghinzani.

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41 comments on Debate: The Bottom 10 F1 drivers

  1. the limit said on 16th May 2008, 18:01

    I’ve got one, Pedro Diniz! Never really like him much,
    never really did anything of note. Was involved in some big crashes (Nurburgring 99 and Hockenheim 00), of which the latter was completely his fault.
    His relationship with Alain Prost, as business partners was as disastrous as his F1 career.

  2. Dan M said on 16th May 2008, 18:37

    Jean-Denis Deletraz

    Presences: 3
    Starts: 3
    Best grid position: 24
    Best finishing position: 15

    I could be wrong, but isn’t that better than Sutil?…

  3. Dan M said on 16th May 2008, 18:43

    Nevermind, Sutil finished 8th in Japan by way of attrition. I hope he sent Vettel flowers.

  4. Yeah, but Sutil’s rubbish as well.

  5. Brar Soler said on 16th May 2008, 19:04

    PP Diniz at least one time was better in Qualify then teammate Alesi! This is something that the very rich pay drivers, didn´t dream to made (as Rikki von Opel, Hector Rebaque, Johnny Dumfries…).

    I Think Keith was a little unfair with Yuji Ide.

    once upon time Ricardo Rosset remained backwards in Monaco and didnt´t managed to spin the car. The Shamefull SPA 98 incident after all, was a Guiness record…

    For Nelson Piquet the slower one was François Migualt cause he managed to spin at Monaco and not to hit the guard rail.

  6. What about doing the worst drivers in top cars?

  7. Ratboy said on 16th May 2008, 20:00

    This is a topic I like because I like to support the underdog,
    Anyway how about: Massimiliano Papis, Esteban Tuero, Giovanna Amati and the proof why Piquet Jnr will fail, who remembers Michael Andretti in 1993?

  8. steve thompson said on 16th May 2008, 20:06

    What about poor old Rupert Keegan – the new wonder star, the next Graham Hill……er RAM March or something…. I have a photo of him…… and another name from the 70s Arturo – thats him at the back missing gears – Merzario

  9. Ratboy said on 16th May 2008, 20:10

    Just found this:
    Bernie Ecclestone attended the 1958 Monaco and British rounds but didn’t qualify can he be considered :)

  10. Daniel said on 16th May 2008, 21:11

    Well, Let me add one brazilian to the list:

    Tarso Marques:
    I don’t remember exactly if he was a pay driver, but he was always off pace, he was always in trouble and had the privilege of being one of the last drivers to fail to qualify because of the 107% pole time limit rule…

    In 2001, he partened (supreme cruelty) none less than Fernando Alonso, in Minardi.

    While the future double world champion managed to qualify in the 9th row seven times (17h once and 18th six times), Marques only qualified ahead of the 11th (and last) row once, with a 20th place in Malaysia…

    In qualifying results, Alonso beat him 12-2 (as he was replaced before the season end), and, even if it’s very cruel to compare one of the worst with one of the best, that’s a good showing of how differently two drivers can perform with the same machinery, and let’s not forget that Alonso was a rookie, while Marques had 11 Grand Prix starts on his bag before the season began… and Alonso, back than, was only 20 years old…

  11. Terry Fabulous said on 16th May 2008, 23:14

    Johnathon Palmer
    “And Lavaggi getting in the way, getting even MORE in the way, he needs to move out of the way, he’s desperately slow, he’s there because of his money”

    Murray Walker
    “What IS Delatraz doing?”

    Great article Keith!
    For more on F1’s greatest failures you have to have a look at They are enormously funny and very good hearted as the celebrate the drivers who were the best failures in our sport.

  12. Nathan said on 17th May 2008, 2:54

    Alex Yoong anyone?

  13. Nathan said on 17th May 2008, 2:55

    also, jean-marc gounon!

  14. the limit said on 17th May 2008, 4:02

    Saw Justin Wilson race recently in an IRL car, didn’t seem too bad in that, but his F1 career was very shortlived and unispiring.
    Anyone think he was poor in F1, or just in the wrong team at the wrong time?I know lady luck plays a large part in such things, but what about you guys?
    I am interested in hearing what Sush has to say about it!

  15. Robert McKay said on 17th May 2008, 12:29

    Wilson: wrong team, wrong time. Decent driver. Shame Champcar went belly-up, just as he’d negotiated his way to NHLR, the best team on the grid. I remember he made some great starts in the Minardi, would get up to like 12th on the opening lap from th start and then fall back as the other better cars made their advantage tell. And then if memory serves me well he was parachuted into a mediocre Jaguar at very short notice for a few races after Pizzonia (remember him??) got the push. I don’t think he was stellar at Jag, but he didn’t get much time…

    Also wrong height, because he was so tall most teams didn’t even consider him for the problems it meant trying to fit him in the car if I remember.

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