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The opposite of hard-luck stories


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#1 mathaisbroucek

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 08:24

Hi there – I’m a long-term lurker but haven’t posted before.

 

There’s some great material on here (and places like 8W) on people who shoulda/woulda/coulda been very successful in Formula One if only they hadn’t: run out of money / been injured or worse / picked the wrong team / driven the #2 Lotus / etc.

 

I was wondering about the opposite.  Specifically, who were the drivers that, despite not particularly standing out in F2 / F3 etc., went on to have decent or even outstanding careers?

 

There are some obvious examples (Lauda? Mansell?) but I wonder if there are other – perhaps less spectacular – examples of journeymen from lower formulae who did well at the top?



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#2 BRG

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 19:13

I could suggest a couple of WCs - Hunt and Rosberg.  Neither of them really looked like potential F1 drivers, let alone winners, let alone champions.



#3 Michael Ferner

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 19:49

Damon Hill, too.

#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 20:16

Clay Regazzoni spent quite a few years in the lower formulae not achieving a great deal, until it all came good in 1970.

Peter Revson seemed destined to remain a journeyman driver until he got his McLaren opportunity.

#5 LittleChris

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 20:40

Alan Jones - Did nothing of note prior to F1 in 1975 and yet 5 years later Jones was World Champion.........


Edited by LittleChris, 05 September 2014 - 20:46.


#6 funformula

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 20:50

Jacques Villeneuve wasn´t that impressive in F3 either.



#7 BRG

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 21:28

Jacques Villeneuve wasn´t that impressive in F3 either.

As he went on to win the Indycar championship, I don;t think he really belongs here.



#8 PCC

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 21:39

I could suggest a couple of WCs - Hunt and Rosberg.  Neither of them really looked like potential F1 drivers, let alone winners, let alone champions.

I disagree about Rosberg - he was extremely impressive in Formula Atlantic, clearly a serious talent.



#9 elansprint72

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 21:43

Perhaps there is something wrong with the forum software if you have been a "long-term lurker" yet only "joined" yesterday?

 

I'm not sure that I understand your question perfectly but, maybe, Graham Hill?



#10 funformula

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 21:53

As he went on to win the Indycar championship, I don;t think he really belongs here.

 

Did I really miss the point here?

I thought the drivers in question show average ability in lower/feeder formulae and unfold their potential at a later stage in the top categories...

Indy Car was a top category in the mid 90´s so in my eyes Jacques Villeneuve perfectly fit in this list.



#11 PCC

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 22:01

Perhaps there is something wrong with the forum software if you have been a "long-term lurker" yet only "joined" yesterday?

It's possible to read the forum without joining, but only members can post.



#12 Dick Dastardly

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 09:43

For British drivers, NOT winning the F3 championship seems to be the better option for getting to F1......who would have thought that Hunt, Mansell & Damon Hill would have become WDCs based on their F3 careers. Even Jenson Button only finished 3rd in '99 yet he was straight in at Williams the next year. People like Tony Trimmer [he won the major F3 series in 1970 when Hunt was in the category] never got a fair shot at F1...neither did Marc Hynes who beat JB & Burti in '99.  Some of those who did well in F3 [champions or not] suffered badly afterwards.....Johnny Herbert, Tony Brise, Martin Donnelly [not an F3 champion but he certainly had the beating of D.Hill] & Stephen South spring to mind.  Derek Warwick won an F3 championship but in the main series was outclassed by Piquet.....yet he never achieved in F1 what he could have. OK, he won the World Sportscar Championship to add to his World Superstox title from 73 


Edited by Dick Dastardly, 06 September 2014 - 09:56.


#13 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 10:01

Villeneuve didn't do much in F3, but he was more than just okay in Atlantics, so I agree, neither he nor Rosberg (who was an F2 winner, too) really belong here.

#14 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 10:07

Perhaps there is something wrong with the forum software if you have been a "long-term lurker" yet only "joined" yesterday?


Even better, the profile says "joined September 14", so he still isn't around here for another week or so! :drunk:

#15 ensign14

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:30

Pedro Diniz never won a race in his entire career, but in F1 he was a lot better than the Ide-level his lower formula record would have suggested.



#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:34

Maybe my memory's letting me down...

Didn't Villeneuve win the Indy 500 before he moved to F1?

#17 Charlieman

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 11:58

Rosberg spent an awful long time getting beyond Atlantic/Pacific/F2. Other drivers achieved the reputation of class specialist (like Rosberg) but never had a serious shot at F1 when young enough to pull it off. Thus I would classify Rosberg as a good luck and hard work story.

 

Jack Brabham's early career was bogged down by two mistaken purchases -- the Cooper Alta, and the Maserati 250F which was beyond his bank account to run properly. Similar slips might have killed the career of a less talented driver/engineer; it might be argued that his arrival in Europe was delayed sufficiently to make it the right time to drive a Cooper. I'd say it is another good luck and hard work story.



#18 Gary Davies

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 12:47

I reckon Ringo Starr is close to being the luckiest fellow on the planet.  :smoking:



#19 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 12:49

Rosberg spent an awful long time getting beyond Atlantic/Pacific/F2.


Not really. He was in F1 by March '78, less than two years out of FSV. But his F1 rides were so miserable that he had to go back to the F2/Atlantic level several times to assure team owners (and himself?) that it wasn't his driving ability that made him look average.

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#20 MCS

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 12:54

I could suggest a couple of WCs - Hunt and Rosberg.  Neither of them really looked like potential F1 drivers, let alone winners, let alone champions.

Not sure about this at all.

 

Hunt certainly had his moments, not least at the F2 Oulton Park meeting in late 1972 when he nearly won against the works Marches of Peterson and Lauda - having already seen off the likes of Scheckter and Schenken in their respective works cars -  in a year-old, rather scruffy 712M...

 

Likewise, Rosberg, who was clearly quick in anything, won races in "poor" Chevrons with "lesser" engines against stronger opposition in both Formula Two and Formula Atlantic/Pacific.



#21 MCS

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 12:59

Alan Jones - Did nothing of note prior to F1 in 1975 and yet 5 years later Jones was World Champion.........

Sorry, Chris.  I disagree.

 

That he came so close to winning the major F3 title in 1973 in a GRD suggests serious talent, especially when all of his main challengers switched from GRDs and Ensigns to the March 733.

 

He only lost the seriies to Brise - who switched cars in F3 four times in two seasons to stay competitive - because some cretin decided that double points should be awarded at the final round (Brands Hatch, where local boy Brise won).

 

He was also extremely fast and a winner in Atlantic, F5000 and CanAm.


Edited by MCS, 06 September 2014 - 13:01.


#22 Charlieman

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 13:50

Not really. He was in F1 by March '78, less than two years out of FSV. But his F1 rides were so miserable that he had to go back to the F2/Atlantic level several times to assure team owners (and himself?) that it wasn't his driving ability that made him look average.

You are correct, Michael, that Keke Rosberg ran parallel F1/F2/Atlantic careers. Recall my words "a good luck and hard work story". Other hard workers in similar circumstances (eg Brian Henton) didn't have the luck to pull off a serious F1 career.

 

Or might we reconstruct the argument? Keke made his F1 luck by intelligence and hard work, by driving the wheels off a car on his weekends away from GP racing. Early in Keke's career, Fred Opert would have found him a car and race anywhere, around about the time Keke raced for Theodore.

 

Keke raced for Project Four Racing in 1979. That must have been interesting.



#23 D28

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 14:40

As he went on to win the Indycar championship, I don;t think he really belongs here.

I agree. In Japanese F3 he actually won 3 races, but it is his F Atlantic results that are more impressive. 5 wins and 7 poles and 3rd in the championship in 1993 seems pretty decent results on the face of it. From then on in the bigger Formula his results continued to improve.



#24 BRG

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 19:05

From then on in the bigger Formula his results continued to improve.

There are certainly some drivers who seem to thrive in the junior formulae and then fade as they get into the bog league.  Antonio Pizzonia is a case in point - dominated the lower series, lokked more average in F3000 and then bombed in F1.

 

Whereas some seem to improve when given the more powerful cars - Mansell, Hunt, D. Hill and so on.  



#25 LittleChris

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 21:55

Sorry, Chris.  I disagree.

 

That he came so close to winning the major F3 title in 1973 in a GRD suggests serious talent, especially when all of his main challengers switched from GRDs and Ensigns to the March 733.

 

He only lost the seriies to Brise - who switched cars in F3 four times in two seasons to stay competitive - because some cretin decided that double points should be awarded at the final round (Brands Hatch, where local boy Brise won).

 

He was also extremely fast and a winner in Atlantic, F5000 and CanAm.

That's fair comment ( although didn't Brise dominate him when they were at Hill together during 1975 ?)



#26 MCS

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 11:56

That's fair comment ( although didn't Brise dominate him when they were at Hill together during 1975 ?)

 

Well, I've often wondered about that. Various individuals made some outlandish claims at the time, failing to take into account the salient facts.



#27 LittleChris

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 20:39

Well, I've often wondered about that. Various individuals made some outlandish claims at the time, failing to take into account the salient facts.

Go on , I'll bite  :) 



#28 mathaisbroucek

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 05:45

I seem to remember Rosberg having a one-off in a works or semi-works March at the Nurburgring (1979?).  The Autosport report at the time was very taken with how differently he drove it - still quick but much smoother as he wasn't trying to make up for a poor engine and chassis.



#29 AJB

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 11:15

I reckon Ringo Starr is close to being the luckiest fellow on the planet.  :smoking:

When asked if he thought Ringo was the best drummer in the world, john Lennon replied, "He isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles!"



#30 Glengavel

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 12:29

When asked if he thought Ringo was the best drummer in the world, john Lennon replied, "He isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles!"

 

Poor Ringo, he gets a lot of stick! (ba-dum tish!)



#31 MCS

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 12:33

I seem to remember Rosberg having a one-off in a works or semi-works March at the Nurburgring (1979?).  The Autosport report at the time was very taken with how differently he drove it - still quick but much smoother as he wasn't trying to make up for a poor engine and chassis.

Well he won at Hockenheim by a country mile and took pole at the Nurburgring before crashing out with a throttle problem - both times he was subbing for Daly in the P4 ICI team.

 

Did he do other races that season in F2?



#32 Les

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 14:45

Best one I can think of is Ricardo Zunino visits the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix as a spectator and ends up in a Brabham!



#33 HiRich

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 13:30

I agree. In Japanese F3 he actually won 3 races, but it is his F Atlantic results that are more impressive. 5 wins and 7 poles and 3rd in the championship in 1993 seems pretty decent results on the face of it. From then on in the bigger Formula his results continued to improve.

Jacques Villeneuve wouldn't have even seen F Atlantic if it hadn't been for an outrageous stoke of luck/incompetence.

 

Player's would traditionally sponsor a team at the end of season Trois Rivieres meeting. A certain marketing manager was told to go sign up Jacques Villeneuve again. Not being au fait with the sport, he did some digging and found Jacques racing in Japan. The deal was done and said manager reported his success. At which point it became clear to him that there were in fact two racing drivers called Jacques Villeneuve...

Fortunately (for both Junior and the manager) tobacco money was not in short supply, and life was a bit more relaxed, so all he had to do was arrange a second car for uncle. Junior, who's career was pretty much dead in the water, nailed it.

 

The marketing manager didn't do too badly either, and eventually bought Jacques his own Formula One team.



#34 D28

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 14:46

Jacques Villeneuve wouldn't have even seen F Atlantic if it hadn't been for an outrageous stoke of luck/incompetence.

 

Player's would traditionally sponsor a team at the end of season Trois Rivieres meeting. A certain marketing manager was told to go sign up Jacques Villeneuve again. Not being au fait with the sport, he did some digging and found Jacques racing in Japan. The deal was done and said manager reported his success. At which point it became clear to him that there were in fact two racing drivers called Jacques Villeneuve...

Fortunately (for both Junior and the manager) tobacco money was not in short supply, and life was a bit more relaxed, so all he had to do was arrange a second car for uncle. Junior, who's career was pretty much dead in the water, nailed it.

 

The marketing manager didn't do too badly either, and eventually bought Jacques his own Formula One team.

Wonder if you could document the sources for this story, as i have never read it before.

Jacques Villeneuve Sr and Jr did both race  in the 1992 Trois Rivieres meet, but according to MotorSports's  Mark Hughes, they were on different teams. His story states:

 

"All the big pre-event hype for the ’92 race was that Jacques Jr – Gilles’ son – would be racing on the hallowed ground, fresh from his race-winning season in Japanese F3 and with big Player’s money behind him in preparation for a full assault on the ’93 championship. Jacquo was entered too, albeit in a low-budget, self-prepared car that he couldn’t even afford to test in preparation for the event."

 

The marketing manager in question is who? Background doesn't seem to fit Craig Pollock.

I am intrigued.


Edited by D28, 11 September 2014 - 15:02.


#35 Tim Murray

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 16:00

According to the race reports (and other snippets) in Autosport and Motoring News, both JVs raced in Players-sponsored Swift DB4s, run by different teams.

#36 HiRich

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 14:02

Wonder if you could document the sources for this story, as i have never read it before.

It was a story told by Tom Moser. Tom was a key player in the BAR saga, but at the time was working for the Player's part of the group. And he once employed the wrong racing driver...



#37 D28

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 17:10

It was a story told by Tom Moser. Tom was a key player in the BAR saga, but at the time was working for the Player's part of the group. And he once employed the wrong racing driver...

OK, I accept the story that Moser got uncle and nephew confused. Still, it is a huge jump to assert that  

"Jacques Villeneuve wouldn't have even seen F Atlantic if it hadn't been for an outrageous stoke of luck/incompetence"

 

Gilles was and is the most prominent motorsport personality ever to come out of Canada. Players (Imperial Tobacco Can) had already been associated with Canadian racing for 31 years by 1992. Their support was so strong they are included in the Can Motorsport Hall of Fame. 

While contemplating their Formula Atlantic team for 1993, it is inevitable that someone in Players Canada would not have realized the PR value of including Gilles's son, who was already showing promising signs (3 wins Japanese F 3) with the team. On the other end Craig Pollock who was managing Jacques Jr. would have been promoting his inclusion.

 

That Players did recognize the PR potential is proven by the fact that they did support Jacques Jr every year in N America until his F1 debut. Somehow I can't  believe this was all down to one individual's confusion over family names.