The Frentzen Syndrome
19th October 2010, 11:00 at 11:00 am #128234
There have been many categories of guys at F1 grids. Some talented champions, ala Schumi, Alonso, Senna or Prost; some nice midfield runners, like Heidfeld or Salo. Some paydrivers, varying from carrying some talent (Diniz, Petrov), to only being in F1 for wallet reasons (Yoong, Rosset, Yamamoto). And some guys that, though setting excellent results in midfield cars, suddenly lose their ground when making the big move… which drivers would you set there? My go is mainly for Heinz-Harald Frentzen. I can’t believe how he was closer to the championship at that 1999 Jordan (3rd-5th car on the grid), than to the dominant 1997 Williams with a Button-level teammate who won it.
[idea taken from an F1Rejects post]19th October 2010, 11:31 at 11:31 am #147640
Stefan Johansson, Jean Alesi (Ferrari), Derek Warwick (at Renault), Jochen Mass (Mc Laren) would come to mind and to a lesser extend Jarno Trulli with Toyota19th October 2010, 11:42 at 11:42 am #147641
Yeah this does happen to some drivers. Here are a few more:
o Fisichella – I always considered him as one of the best drivers on the grid while he was performing heroics in mediocre years in the late 90’s/ early 00’s. Then he moved to Renault and his reputation simply never recovered
o Barrichello – This might be disputable, as he went on to have a decent career when he moved to Ferrari. But given his form at Jordan and Stewart, he might have been expected to win championships rather than a handful of wins. And if it wasn’t for the fact he was racing in the Schumacher era, he probably would have
o Montoya – He was very impressive at Williams but he rarely had a dominant car. He chose the perfect time to move to McLaren in 2005 when they had the best car in the field, but he was largely blown away by Raikkonen19th October 2010, 11:48 at 11:48 am #147642
I guess that some Autosport guy called this “The Fisichella syndrome” because the Italian was always seen as a very talented driver until he got in Renault 2005 next to Alonso… Anyway, Fisico has always been one of my favourite drivers.
I actually don’t believe that there is a Frentzen syndrome. Guys like Frentzen, Fisichella and Kovalainen simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fisichella came to Renault as Alonso already had spent there a couple of years and everybody expected him to be the next big champion. It is simply too hard for a good midfield performer to establish himself in a top team, which already has its own star driver. Williams had Villeneuve. Renault had Alonso. McLaren had (and still has) Hamilton. If McLaren had Schumacher in 2002, we would now probably be talking about “The Raikkonen syndrome”…19th October 2010, 12:03 at 12:03 pm #147643
I think more than anything else it shows the differance that cars make, not just on overall speed but how much differance the drivers cars take drivers depending on driver style. And the differance between a true champion and a guy who’s got heroics in him once in a while.
Like Fisi, Spa 09 case in point. Wish he’d won that race.19th October 2010, 13:19 at 1:19 pm #147644
I wouldn’t stick Alesi in the list. He may have gone to a big team but the cars he got were usually rubbish. He often performed heroics but was never given a chance at a title winning car unlike Fisi etc.
Fisi’s the ultimate for me. He seemed to perform miracles at times and yet at Renault he didn’t really achieve anything. Maybe he really revelled in the undrdog tag where people didn’t expect much such as when he won at Malaysia after his friend died and when he was in rubbish teams. My favourite performance by him has to be Spa. He had a team mate who is touted as possibly one of the next big things while his career was on its home stretch and yet he stuck it on pole and challeneged for the win. I’m baffled as to why he just faded at Renault.
I’d agree with Rubens to some extent too.
There’s also opposites like Button who needs a good car or Massa who (except Canada 05 and the other odd performance) never really shone until he got to Ferrari.19th October 2010, 14:12 at 2:12 pm #147645
I was quite a huge fan of Frentzen, and thought his performances during that 1999 season with Jordan were spectacular. Fisichella and Kovalainen both showed similar traits of driving their socks off for mid field teams, and then being below average when they got top drives. I just hope Kubica doesn’t suffer from the Frentzen syndrome, cause he has shown some brilliance in Sauber 08 season, as well as the current season. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.19th October 2010, 15:41 at 3:41 pm #147646
If McLaren had Schumacher in 2002, we would now probably be talking about “The Raikkonen syndrome”…
Kimi came pretty darn close to signing for Ferrari as MSC’s teammate in 2002, 5 years before he actually did move. :D
My favourite performance by him has to be Spa. He had a team mate who is touted as possibly one of the next big things while his career was on its home stretch and yet he stuck it on pole and challenged for the win. I’m baffled as to why he just faded at Renault.
Fisi loves Spa – he got 3rd in a rubbish Benetton there in 2001. That said, let’s remember he won that debut Renault race (albeit with Alonso in 3rd in a great comeback). It seems that he does great when his teammate isn’t quite pushing him hard, but when said teammate pressures him, he wilts.19th October 2010, 15:48 at 3:48 pm #147647
Juan Pablo HeidfeldParticipant
And the differance between a true champion and a guy who’s got heroics in him once in a while.
Maybe people rated them as very good performers for dragging bad cars into the points sometimes, and they are the same at big teams, occaisionally putting in good performances.
Or maybe there was no pressure to perform at a small team, huge pressure at a big team.19th October 2010, 16:21 at 4:21 pm #147648
I think there is another way of looking at this thread – that some drivers (Schumacher, Alonso etc) were driver killers. i.e. they are and were so good that they effectively ended the careers of those who came to challenge them. It doesn’t really matter about the reasons why, they were often just out raced. Alonso has done it again to Massa this year.
Frentzen is a bit of an anomaly though, as Villeneuve would hardly be classified as a driver killer so to speak. I’ve heard reasons that it was something to do with a falling out with Patrick Head but i’m not entirely sure about that.19th October 2010, 21:21 at 9:21 pm #147649
I always liked Frentzen, but there’s a serious flaw in your logic. “I can’t believe how he was closer to the championship at that 1999 Jordan (3rd-5th car on the grid), than to the dominant 1997 Williams with a Button-level teammate who won it.” When Viulleneuve was at the top of his game he was a very, very fast racer. He went down the tubes later with some mega-bad choices, but that’s a whole other story. I’m always surprised how people underrate his championship.20th October 2010, 16:35 at 4:35 pm #147650
Mostly because he seemed to practically reverse into it? He shouldn’t have even had a challenger that year.
I’m wondering if Kubica might be the next Frentzen or Fisichella. Probably not though.20th October 2010, 20:34 at 8:34 pm #147651
“Mostly because he seemed to practically reverse into it?”
Whoa there… I’m looking at the numbers here and I see 9 pole positions, 7 victories against 5 retirements and a disqualification. In his second year in the sport. I don’t know, it doesn’t seem too shabby to me.
Anyhoo, my point was that maybe Frentzen couldn’t match Villeneuve because Villeneuve was plain good back then.20th October 2010, 21:47 at 9:47 pm #147652
I don’t believe Kubica will fall into the category… he beat heidfeld and he’s leading the renault team. He has a great image with many influential people in formula 1 too through his performances so I don’t believe there’s any chance of it.21st October 2010, 0:10 at 12:10 am #147653
I think the best example is Fisico.
He’s a clear case of “wrong place at wrong time”. He was a Jordan, did well, but left just before they became winners. He went to Benetton, which was already going down with those outdated Mecachrome engines. Stayed there and left just as Renault bought took over the team, going back to Jordan which had already passed their golden era.
Went to Sauber, did good, then Renault. His biggest chance, a championship winning car. But he was already 32 by then. And he had a much much better team mate.
Frentzen did better with Williams than Fisi with Renault. Im a Fisi fan myself and I reckon i was extremely dissapointed with his performances most of the time!
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