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The greatest Grand Prix drivers' greatest mistakes?


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#1 lustigson

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 12:41

Reading 'The key moments of Vettel's year' by Edd Straw (sub. req.), today, made me think of what other great Grand Prix drivers' greatest mistakes were. I mean errors that they made — either willfully or unwilfully — that have proven to be a blemish on their career.

  • Vettel, surely, Malaysia 2013.
  • Schumacher, Australia 1994, Europe 1997 and Monaco 2006.
  • Senna, likely Japan 1991 1990 and perhaps his part in Japan 1990 1989.
  • Prost, Japan 1990 1989 comes to mind.

But this is about as far as my memory goes. Anything to add for pre-1985 world champions and other great drivers?

 

Edit: added link to Autosport.com article.


Edited by lustigson, 27 October 2013 - 16:28.


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#2 Automobiliart

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 12:44

Brabham - Monaco 1970
It wasn't a blemish on his career, but it was a mistake that cost him an important race.


Edited by Automobiliart, 27 October 2013 - 12:46.


#3 john winfield

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 13:26

 

Reading 'The key moments of Vettel's year' by Edd Straw (sub. req.), today, made me think of what other great Grand Prix drivers' greatest mistakes were. I mean errors that they made — either willfully or unwilfully — that have proven to be a blemish on their career.

  • Vettel, surely, Malaysia 2013.
  • Schumacher, Australia 1994, Europe 1997 and Monaco 2006.
  • Senna, likely Japan 1991 and perhaps his part in Japan 1990.
  • Prost, Japan 1990 comes to mind.

But this is about as far as my memory goes. Anything to add for pre-1985 world champions and other great drivers?

 

Edit: added link to Autosport.com article.

Again, a few key racing mistakes, not of the pre-meditated type:

 

1973.  At the British GP, Jackie Stewart ruined his race by attempting a bold pass on Ronnie Peterson at Stowe when, possibly, he could have bided his time and gone on to win.  But he still won the championship!

 

1974.  Niki Lauda, quick all season, threw away six or nine points at the Nurburgring as he attempted to take the lead from Jody Scheckter, on the first lap.  And at Brands, an older Niki might have sacrificed a win for six points by coming in for a wheel change once he knew he had a puncture.  These points might just have kept him in championship contention for the final two races.


Edited by john winfield, 27 October 2013 - 13:26.


#4 scheivlak

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 16:11

  • Senna, likely Japan 1991 and perhaps his part in Japan 1990.
  • Prost, Japan 1990 comes to mind.

 

Are you sure about these years?    ;)



#5 lustigson

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 16:29

Are you sure about these years?    ;)

 

Oops. :eek:  Fixed.  :blush:



#6 D-Type

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 17:37

Moss, Spa 1958.  On the first lap trying to get away from Brooks and the rest of the field he missed a gearchange and over-revved and damaged the engine.  I believe it was this mistake that cost him that year's championship rather than the misread signal in Portugal.
 
Fangio, Monza 1952.  Driving in a non-championship race after having driven from Paris after bad weather prevented him flying from Ulster as planned.  He crashed on the second lap and missed the entire 1952 World Championship season.
 
Jim Clark, ? ? ? ?  I can't think of anything
 
 
 
Edit:  Added second sentence to Fangio entry


Edited by D-Type, 27 October 2013 - 19:43.


#7 Allen Brown

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 18:10

No mention of Mansell?  Wasn't he waving to the crowd.  Somebody take me through that again.  It always brings a smile to my face.



#8 alansart

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 18:34

No mention of Mansell?  Wasn't he waving to the crowd.  Somebody take me through that again.  It always brings a smile to my face.

 

 

Canada IIRC. Switched the ignition off by mistake  :blush:

 

Then there was David Coulthard who locked up and hit the barriers ...on the inside... coming into the pits in Australia  :blush:



#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 19:42

.
 
Jim Clark, ? ? ? ?  I can't think of anything

Forgetting to turn on his petrol pumps?

#10 swintex

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 21:08

I have to say that I've always felt that Piquet at Hockenheim in '82 and Senna at Monza in '88  were both positions that the "greats" shouldn't have got themselves into.

 

And Senna's at Monaco, also in 1988, was a pretty big mistake



#11 Alan Cox

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 21:18

Forgetting to turn on his petrol pumps?

Indeed, German GP 1962



#12 Emery0323

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 21:41

One could argue Mansell threw away the 1986 championship on two occasions early in the season:

 

Brazil 1986 - He tried too hard to pass Senna on the opening lap, damaging the car and causing his retirement. If he had stroked along, or at least waited, he would have been assured of at least a 3rd place instead of the zero points he got.

 

Spain 1986 - Waited too long to get fresh tires, by which time he'd lost the lead to Senna.  If he'd gone in earlier, he would not have lost has much ground to Senna and might have been able to stay ahead and win instead of finishing 2nd by 0.012 sec (or whatever it was).


Edited by Emery0323, 27 October 2013 - 21:42.


#13 Roger Clark

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 22:01

.
 
Jim Clark, ? ? ? ?  I can't think of anything
 
 
 

Or perhaps failing to have put the car in gear when the flag fell?

#14 GrumpyOldMan

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:45

Senna Monza 87, Monaco 88, Monza 88, France 88 (when trying to lap Piquet), Silverstone 89, Estoril 89, Brazil 90, Silverstone 90, Brazil 94

Prost Imola 91, Zandvoort 83, Monaco 82

Mansell Suzuka 87, Monaco 84, Canada 91 :rotfl: , Estoril 89

Villeneuve Brazil 82

Piquet Detroit 86, Monaco 80

 

Just goes to show that even the best (& Senna) have off days.

 

Can anyone think of a Fangio mistake? Must admit I can't think of anything offhand.



#15 Rob G

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 03:53

 

Can anyone think of a Fangio mistake? Must admit I can't think of anything offhand.

 

His 1956 Monaco Grand Prix was subpar. He made two blunders, hitting a hay bale early in the race and then a wall later, before handing off his car to someone else and then grabbing another.



#16 lustigson

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 09:13

Thanks for all the replies. Very informative.

 

Although I would also like to ask whether there are true blemishes on the greats' careers, like Vettel at Sepang, Schumacher at Adelaide, and Senna at Suzuka?



#17 D-Type

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 09:55

Thanks for all the replies. Very informative.

 

Although I would also like to ask whether there are true blemishes on the greats' careers, like Vettel at Sepang, Schumacher at Adelaide, and Senna at Suzuka?

Am I correct that you are looking for examples of, shall we say, 'Deliberately provoking on-track incidents' as opposed to straightforward driving errors?

 

That being the case, there will be very few from, say, pre-1980 because with the cars and circuits of the time the consequences of a car leving the track were potentially far more serious so drivers simply would not 'do a Senna/ Schumacher/ whoever style move'.  There were fatalities due to collisions, eg Von Trips, but these never resulted from a deliberate action.  US oval racing, British stock car racing etc had a different ethos.



#18 BMH Comic

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 09:57

Sir Jack overtaking Arnold Glass in the 1962 AGP.

 

Sir Jack discussed this during his visit to Caversham 50 years on and with time accepts he made a misjudgement of what Arnold would do, does that qualify as being a mistake?

 

It certainly had a dramatic effect on his results.



#19 Jackmancer

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 10:52

I think Malysia this year is the best thing we've ever seen from Vettel, I don't think it blemishes anything on his career.

 

Alonso it could be Japan 2012 or Japan 2007. Those two championship campaigns would have surely been helped if he had not retired in those races. Things might have gone very differently had he won the championship in 2007.



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#20 GD66

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:34

Canada IIRC. Switched the ignition off by mistake  :blush:

 

Then there was David Coulthard who locked up and hit the barriers ...on the inside... coming into the pits in Australia  :blush:

He also crashed at Vialone on the warmup lap at Monza after putting the Williams on the front row.

 

Not sure you could list him as a greatest Grand prix driver, though...


Edited by GD66, 28 October 2013 - 12:35.


#21 Tim Murray

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 13:15

Chris Amon's decision to leave Ferrari at the end of 1969.



#22 E.B.

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 14:02

I have to say that I've always felt that Piquet at Hockenheim in '82

 

That chicane was witness to an equally embarrassing moment for him 6 years later, after his ludicrous decision to start with slicks on a soaking track.



#23 ensign14

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 14:12

Had Emerson Fittipaldi not tilted at windmills from 1976, who knows how many titles he'd've ended up with?   He was still keeping Mansell extremely honest in 1993-4.  And his reputation would surely be held in the highest esteem.



#24 Michael Ferner

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 17:07

I really don't feel comfortable defending Senna, but I always thought that Monza 1988 was hardly his fault: he didn't really try to overtake before the chicane, but Schlesser went out of his way to make room for him, got on the marbles and slid right into the McLaren. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, yeah, but not really a mistake on his part!

But, if Villeneuve is to be included amongst the greats, the list of his "errors" could possibly go on for pages...

#25 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 17:50

Lewis Hamilton in China 2007, staying on worn out tires too long and when pitting ending up in the graveltrap, is that one that counts?

 

 

 

 

Henri



#26 bradbury west

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 18:57

I am always reluctant to imply any mistake on the part of JC, but Monaco in 1963, when the ZF engaged 2gears at the same time, was a result , I have heard or read somewhere, of JC relaxing and cruising back a bit and failing to exert the necessary effort on the gearlever, thus failing to make the detent/locking/engagement mechanism do its job.
Roger Lund
Was it Mansell who cruised round in the last laps and let the hydraulic pressure drop due to low revs, which shut the engine down?

#27 Spa65

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 02:06

I am always reluctant to imply any mistake on the part of JC, but Monaco in 1963, when the ZF engaged 2gears at the same time, was a result , I have heard or read somewhere, of JC relaxing and cruising back a bit and failing to exert the necessary effort on the gearlever, thus failing to make the detent/locking/engagement mechanism do its job.
Roger Lund
 

Hardly his fault if he tried to be gentler on the gearbox to make it last when in a dominant position. After that experience then it might be deduced that a certain forcefulness with the gear lever would be beneficial, but who would have thought that initially?

 

It's a bit like Moss saying during an interview that he used to try to save the engine by changing up early at reduced revs. It was only years later that he heard that that would put more stress on the gearbox. Again not something that is too obvious. Mind you Andretti did the same early change up in his victorious 78 season, but largely got away with it. A bit of swings and roundabouts I guess between engine and gearbox.



#28 Jackmancer

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:25

I really don't feel comfortable defending Senna, but I always thought that Monza 1988 was hardly his fault: he didn't really try to overtake before the chicane, but Schlesser went out of his way to make room for him, got on the marbles and slid right into the McLaren. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, yeah, but not really a mistake on his part!
 

 

Senna tried to overtake inside the chicane



#29 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 08:07

Alan Jones in Zandvoort 1980, ruining the skirts of his car (Almost wrote ruined his skirts... :) ) and as a result the race.
And didn't Jones spun off becasue of his own fault at Jarama 1981 while leading, thus retired and handed the lead to Gilles? The rest therafter is history, if not legend.

Henri

#30 Spillage

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 12:37

Clark spun twice in the 1966 Indy 500, which cost him the race, but that of course wasn't in F1 and he wasn't a particularly experienced oval racer.



#31 kayemod

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 13:06

Clark spun twice in the 1966 Indy 500, which cost him the race...


A plaintive voice echoing faintly from East Carleton churchyard, insists that Jim did win the race, but inept Indy scorers missed one of his laps.



#32 Glengavel

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 13:08

Whatever it was that caused Clark to spin twice (and, it should be pointed out, to recover from both spins), it wasn't his lack of 'oval' racing experience.



#33 D-Type

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 13:14

We've discussed the 1966 Indy before.  What came out of the discussion was that the organisers did have an electronic 'ticker tape' timing system but it took time to review the results.  They would be looking right through the record onthe tapes for a lap recorded as far slower than usual, which would either be a pit stop or a lap missed, or a lap which was far faster suggesting the car had been credited with another car's lap.  The check was completed on the Monday following the race and confirmed the official timing.


Edited by D-Type, 29 October 2013 - 22:59.


#34 E.B.

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 14:23

I am always reluctant to imply any mistake on the part of JC,

 

No driver is perfect - didn't he crash out of a Race of Champions heat at Brands one year when fighting with Gurney?

 

(Admittedly I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head........)



#35 f1steveuk

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 14:35

"1973.  At the British GP, Jackie Stewart ruined his race by attempting a bold pass on Ronnie Peterson at Stowe when, possibly, he could have bided his time and gone on to win.  But he still won the championship!"

 

I thought Stewart "going into the agricultural business", was caused by a gear selection problem?



#36 Roger Clark

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 15:11

No driver is perfect - didn't he crash out of a Race of Champions heat at Brands one year when fighting with Gurney?

 

(Admittedly I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head........)

You could read posts 9 and 13 and perhaps add throwing away a 6-second lead in the last two laps and the race on the last corner.



#37 Michael Ferner

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 18:03

Senna tried to overtake inside the chicane


Sorry, but that is nonsense. You can clearly see how he prepared to take the chicane behind Schlesser, who missed his braking (bad memory on my part - he apparently didn't even want to let Senna through) and completely lost the plot there. What was Senna about to do, brake to a standstill??? You can't be seriously suggesting that... Another interesting sidelight to this incident is that it had absolutely no influence whatsoever in the outcome of the World Championship!

And please, kayemod, stop suggesting conspiracy at Indy in 1966. Clark didn't win, and that's all there is to it.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 29 October 2013 - 18:07.


#38 BRG

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 20:13

Sorry, but that is nonsense. You can clearly see how he prepared to take the chicane behind Schlesser, who missed his braking (bad memory on my part - he apparently didn't even want to let Senna through) and completely lost the plot there. What was Senna about to do, brake to a standstill??? You can't be seriously suggesting that... 

I agree with you about the first part, but then you see that Senna took the normal racing line through the second part of the chicane, leaving Schlesser with absolutely nowhere to go. So really Senna brought it on himself with his usual expectation that the other driver would get out of his way.



#39 Les

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 20:25

If you would class them as great drivers then Hakkinen spinning off at the same chicane would have to count, Damon Hill hitting tyres in the second part of the chicane in 96 would have to count too. 



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#40 john winfield

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 21:38

"1973.  At the British GP, Jackie Stewart ruined his race by attempting a bold pass on Ronnie Peterson at Stowe when, possibly, he could have bided his time and gone on to win.  But he still won the championship!"

 

I thought Stewart "going into the agricultural business", was caused by a gear selection problem?

You could well be right 'Raymond'! I've certainly read that but, from the overhead shot of Jackie being squeezed on the apex of Stowe by Ronnie, it looks like a 'racing incident' to me. Would he normally be changing gear there, or was he trying to snatch a lower gear in a hurry to avoid contact with the Lotus?



#41 kayemod

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 22:52

And please, kayemod, stop suggesting conspiracy at Indy in 1966. Clark didn't win, and that's all there is to it.


I was tempted to make some comment here about some Germans lacking a sense of humour, but in the interests of maintaining a peaceful and light-hearted TNF, eventually thought better of it...

#42 ensign14

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 23:38

Sorry, but that is nonsense. You can clearly see how he prepared to take the chicane behind Schlesser, who missed his braking (bad memory on my part - he apparently didn't even want to let Senna through) and completely lost the plot there. What was Senna about to do, brake to a standstill???

 

I think he would have done had he not been marginal on fuel and with a charging Berger not far behind.  He gambled on Schlesser having lost it completely, rather than merely partially.



#43 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:25

I agree with you about the first part, but then you see that Senna took the normal racing line through the second part of the chicane, leaving Schlesser with absolutely nowhere to go. So really Senna brought it on himself with his usual expectation that the other driver would get out of his way.


Agreed. He could have been more circumspect. But still, I think he was more of a victim in the incident.

#44 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:33

I was tempted to make some comment here about some Germans lacking a sense of humour, but in the interests of maintaining a peaceful and light-hearted TNF, eventually thought better of it...


Ve Germans are proud to not only have no sense of Humor whatsoever, but to entirely lack the capacity to even understand your dig at our Nation's perceived shortcomings. You may stand at ease now. And don't mention the war!

#45 kayemod

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:52

Ve Germans are proud to not only have no sense of Humor whatsoever, but to entirely lack the capacity to even understand your dig at our Nation's perceived shortcomings. You may stand at ease now. And don't mention the war!


Jawohl! Alles klar!!

#46 Glengavel

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:01

Ve Germans are proud to not only have no sense of Humor whatsoever, but to entirely lack the capacity to even understand your dig at our Nation's perceived shortcomings. You may stand at ease now. And don't mention the war!

 

You only have to look at the Porsche Cayenne to see that the Germans have a sense of humour...



#47 Michael Ferner

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:16

Nah. People who drive a Cayenne merely want the world to know that they have enough money to allow them to be indifferent to taste. Sort of an inverse relation, that's all.

#48 W154

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 11:17

Indeed, German GP 1962

Ah, but to quote a gladly departed Australian prime minister, "(I)He was young and naive in those days" !!
Can't believe Hamilton running into the back of Kimi at Canada hasn't been mentioned yet. I fell out of my chair laughing when it happened.

Edited by W154, 30 October 2013 - 23:02.


#49 Spa65

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 13:38

No driver is perfect - didn't he crash out of a Race of Champions heat at Brands one year when fighting with Gurney?

 

(Admittedly I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head........)

Yes in 1965. He said in his book update that he was testing his Firestones against Gurney's Goodyears (or maybe the other way around, and maybe with Dunlops) as Gurney came alongside. He hardly needed to fight him as JC had about a 20 sec lead from the first of two heats. Mind you pride said he would want to win both heats. Later he admitted his mistake more directly.

 

I also remember he crashed at 100mph in the Aintree 200 in 1964 when he had just caught the leaders. Can't remember any talk of car problems then either.



#50 Tim Murray

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 13:53

Clark's Aintree crash was caused by backmarkers doing silly things and leaving him with nowhere to go whilst he was trying to lap them. It certainly wasn't his fault.