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??l??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. Keirdre said on 17th May 2008, 12:43

    I’m glad somebody else remembers Rosset for being the one who ploughed into the Spa 98 mass pile up with unabated speed – in fact, he almost looks like he floored it, and sped up! Genius.

  2. TeamOrders said on 17th May 2008, 13:08

    Michael Andretti (1993) was pretty awful

  3. Rohan said on 17th May 2008, 13:42

    Can’t believe that someone’s mentioned Ukyo here. He’s the best driver to come out of Japan so far (yes, he’s better than Sato, but, tbf, that isn’t hard – although Davidson’s failed at even that), and was on the verge of getting the second Benetton seat before he was diagnosed with cancer.

  4. Nathan said on 18th May 2008, 3:24

    who has cancer?
    if ur referring to Ukyo, he left F1 to persue mountain climbing!

  5. Rohan said on 18th May 2008, 9:31

    Ukyo was diagnosed with cancer of the back towards the end of 1994:

  6. Nathan said on 18th May 2008, 9:34

    this i didnt know!

  7. I second the motion to check out F1 Rejects – the podcasts are hilarious !

    I could be wrong, but I think that inspiration behind the site is Perry McCarthy – so surely he would have to make the list?

  8. Was it Brundle who said about Marques, “he couldn’t drive a nail into a piece of wood”? Classic!

    Wilson’s good. Not stellar, but plenty good enough to keep well off this list. There’s an interview on the IndyCar site somewhere at the moment with Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon in which they’re asked which ex-Champ Car drivers have impressed them most, and Wilson’s one of the names they come up with.

    Don’t know if it counts because he was only test driver, and that in name only, but in the final years of Minardi we signed 41-year-old Chanoch Nissany. The BBC wrote: “Nissany is a relative newcomer but very wealthy, a fact which no doubt boosted his attractiveness to Minardi.” I’m not sure he was actually allowed anywhere near the car…

  9. Perry McCarthy was probably a good driver, but Andrea Moda is a candidate for the worst team that ever raced in F1, so he never got the chance. He inspired F1 Rejects because he was a good driver with few results, not because he was an awful driver.

    Chanoch Nissany got a Friday session in the Minardi in Hungary 2005. Nicknamed “Stirling Mossad”, he was 13 seconds off the pace in the morning before a technical problem sidelined him in the afternoon – to the relief of all his rivals.

  10. Steven Roy said on 21st May 2008, 17:46

    Andrea Moda was probably the worst team ever. At one race McCarthy was in the lobby of the hotel looking for the team when he met Andrea’s brother who told him the team had left for the track..without the driver. The brother decided he would drive Perry to the circuit and flew through several red lights. It is worth digging through the net to find McCarthy’s description of this journey. Eventually they come to a green light and the brother locks up all the wheels. McCarthy asked him why he didn’t just carry on at the same speed and was told ‘don’t be stupid my brother could be coming the other way.’

    Johnny Dumfries was not a pay driver. He was British F3 champion but Senna had refused to have Derek Warwick as his team mate but Lotus wanted a British driver as the number two to keep sponsors happy. Being number two at Lotus was never a good place to be that’s why Jackie Stewart refused to be number two to his friend Jim Clark. Lotus focussed on Senna and Dumfries’s GP career withered away. He had the potential to be a good GP driver but Lotus was the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Zanardi struggled at Williams but Lotus raved about his ability before he went to America.

  11. Alexandria said on 29th October 2012, 7:27

    Dinix may of bought his way into formula one but he finished 7th in a forti he actually was one of the better pay drivers

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