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Big name signings that don't work out


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#1 JHSingo

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:25

...and no, I'm not talking about anyone's aversion to the gym!

 

With it now looking increasingly certain that Daniel Ricciardo will depart McLaren at the end of this season in favour of Oscar Piastri, it's a clear example of a big name driver leaving a team where he was widely expected to succeed at the time he joined.

 

When he left Renault at the end of 2020, Ricciardo was arguably at the height of his powers, and considered one of the best drivers on the grid. McLaren had improved massively over previous seasons too. But after a year and a half of struggle later, Ricciardo's options to remain in F1 look fairly limited, and he may end up out of the sport entirely.

 

I was curious to hear what other examples of this type of situation the forum can remember. A driver (or rider, let's open it up to other series than just F1 too!) who had a strong reputation the time they joined a team, and failing through a combination of factors - under-performing, tensions within the team, struggling to adapt to a new car and being made to look second rate by a team mate, lost motivation, etc. 

 

I suppose a couple that stand out to me come from two-wheeled racing, rather than F1. 

  • Valentino Rossi's disastrous stint at Ducati in 2011-2012. Rossi on a Ducati? It should have been a match made in heaven, surely? Except apart from a couple of podiums, it really wasn't, and Rossi rejoined Yamaha after just two seasons in red. 
  • Similarly, Jorge Lorenzo at Ducati (noticing a trend yet?) - struggling massively initially, before then leaving just as he was starting to adapt, only to join Honda where he struggled even more! 

Interested to hear your thoughts on this. 



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#2 mmmcurry

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:29

I'd say Montoya, he did well with his stints at Williams and McLaren, I guess you could blame Williams for not a good enough car / not favouring one driver over the other, can't remember what the problems were at McLaren, but he never quite lived up to the initial hype.

 

Steve.



#3 Disgrace

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:29

Michael Schumacher to Mercedes was a pretty gigantic flop given the anticipation and his record against team-mate up until then. Raikkonen's second stint at Ferrari also comes to mind, especially his 2014 season. Dan Wheldon to Ganassi?



#4 EightGear

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:29

Damon Hill and Jordan.



#5 FortiFord

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:30

Alonso at Mclaren (first time) fits the bill, though for different reasons!

 

Maybe you could consider HHF at Williams too. 

 

Montoya at Mclaren. 

 

I'm sure there's a few Ferrari drivers too. 



#6 EightGear

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:31

Oh, Ott Tanak & Hyundai!



#7 mmmcurry

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:31

Alesi at Ferrari, then Benetton.



#8 HerbieMcQueen

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:32

As the following example hits close to home, I propose the term "Lukaku'd" for this type of phenomenon.

 

- Both Alesi and Berger to Benetton. Maybe not the most hard-hitting of examples but coming off two championships, did people expect more than what they got?

- Alonso at Mclaren should've produced so much more

- I remember the excitement over Villeneuve doing that three race stint at Renault, which proved disastrous



#9 Disgrace

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:32

I'd add Mansell to McLaren in 1995, of course, but we've all agreed to forget that ever happened.



#10 Risil

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:33

Tony Brooks to BRM

 

Jacky Ickx to Lotus

 

The whole Automobili Turismo e Sport affair



#11 Clatter

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:38

Mansell at Ferrari. Mansell at Mclaren.

#12 ensign14

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:42

The ultimate is Piquet to Lotus.  Killed the team.  They went from Senna to someone who could barely outqualify Nakajima and from championship contention to double DNQs.

 

Emerson Fittipaldi's legacy in F1 would probably have been at least a three-time champ and potentially winning titles to the start of the 1980s had he not gone with his brother's team.



#13 Risil

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:43

James Hunt to Wolf



#14 Beri

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:45

Senna to Williams.



#15 tifosii

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:51

Alonso to Ferrari..I expect them winning titles but..

#16 absinthedude

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:53

Damon Hill and Jordan.

 

 

Damon had an excellent 1998 including winning Jordan's first grand prix. 

 

Mansell at Ferrari. Mansell at Mclaren.

 

Mansell won his first race for Ferrari and went on to win Hungary from 12th on the grid, overtaking Senna in the process. The car was highly unreliable and hardly ever finished without gearbox problems, being the first ever semi-auto F1 'box.

 

Mansell to McLaren is fair game though.

 

I'm going to add Michael Andretti to McLaren

 

Jacky Ickx to Ligier in mid 1979

 

Alan Jones to Beatrice/Lola

 

Rene Arnoux to Ligier



#17 absinthedude

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:54

Senna to Williams.

 

Is it fair to say that given he was killed in the 3rd race of the season?

 

One might then add Elio de Angelis to Brabham but I think that's disrespectful too.



#18 Clatter

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:55

Damon had an excellent 1998 including winning Jordan's first grand prix.


Mansell won his first race for Ferrari and went on to win Hungary from 12th on the grid, overtaking Senna in the process. The car was highly unreliable and hardly ever finished without gearbox problems, being the first ever semi-auto F1 'box.

Mansell to McLaren is fair game though.

I'm going to add Michael Andretti to McLaren

Jacky Ickx to Ligier in mid 1979

Alan Jones to Beatrice/Lola

Rene Arnoux to Ligier

Mansell was getting results at Ferrari, but it was all very acrimonious when they hired Prost.

#19 SpeedRacer`

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 12:58

Frentzen to Williams was a disappointment. 



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#20 Victor

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:06

Am I the only one tinking that Vettel to Ferrari was a flop, even with all the victories he achieved?



#21 JHSingo

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:08

Am I the only one tinking that Vettel to Ferrari was a flop, even with all the victories he achieved?

 

Possibly in terms of not winning the championship, but then again, given what we've seen at Ferrari lately, you can argue that he must have been very good to have won as many races at such a clown show!  :lol:



#22 Collombin

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:09

Keke at McLaren was underwhelming until the very last chapter.

#23 garoidb

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:12

Jacques Laffite to Williams for 1983 and 1984. He was a competitor for the 1981 title through to the last round and returned to form somewhat in 1985 and 1986 back at Ligier.



#24 Anuity

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:16

Fisichella to Renault in 2005, after having a brilliant season in 2004. He was quite talked up with some expecting him to give a hard time to Alonso.

Fisichella to Ferrari in 2009, after his amazing SPA weekend, though that Ferrari was pretty bad.

Frentzen to Williams

Alesi to Benetton in 1996

Michael to Mercedes

Kovalainen and Perez to McLaren

Ralf to Toyota

Montoya to McLaren

#25 Beri

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:17

Is it fair to say that given he was killed in the 3rd race of the season?
 
One might then add Elio de Angelis to Brabham but I think that's disrespectful too.

 
It wasnt meant as disrespectful. I sincerely mean it. Of the two races that I do count, he didnt finish once. This whilst, in pre season, everyone was expecting he would win all races. He even managed to run most of the Brazilian Grand Prix behind Schumacher instead of leading it. So in that light, yes I do think his short stint at Williams was a let down. And despite his untimely death, I seriously doubt if he would actually have won the championship that year.

#26 PlatenGlass

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:22

Alan Jones to Beatrice/Lola

Rene Arnoux to Ligier

Was anything really expected of these?

Piquet to Lotus. Edit - already mentioned actually.

Edited by PlatenGlass, 05 August 2022 - 13:23.


#27 PlatenGlass

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:24

Berger to McLaren was a disappointment overall.

#28 Claudius

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:26

I don't know, I don't think any other example fits in. 

 

This is about a massive flop that's been going on for 18 months. Not just getting suboptimal results from time to time.

Hill had a great year in 98 with Jordan, Schumacher was pretty close to Nico who went on to become a WDC, Senna had barely started at Williams, Frentzen was underwhelming in the Williams but no disaster. And Alesi and Berger got the results they usually got.

 

Maybe Mansell or Andretti in the McLaren comes close to the current flop. But even then they had much less time to prove themselves. Mansell got 3 races and Andretti half of a season IIRC.



#29 amerikalei

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:26

Zanardi's return to Williams after being very strong, if not dominant in CART.  Although seeing Montoya wheel that entry the year after he left raised the standard even higher, IMO.



#30 Dolph

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:26

Dan Wheldon to Ganassi?

 

Dan Wheldon at Ganassi was pretty good actually. He lost the title on a tie breaker in 2006. He slipped back in 2007 and 2008 after IRL started introducing Road courses.



#31 Mohican

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:27

Stewart, Amon and Andretti to March.
Amon to Matra.
Ickx to Lotus.
Peterson to Tyrrell.
Lauda to Brabham.
Andretti to Alfa Romeo.
Laffite to Williams.
Rosberg to McLaren.
Irvine to Jaguar.
Webber to Williams.
Vandoorne to McLaren.

Ricciardo is far from alone.

#32 PlatenGlass

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:32

Capelli to Ferrari. He wasn't exactly the biggest name but he had a good reputation from his time at Leyton House or March or whatever it was called. Then the 1992 Ferrari was just bad and he didn't match Alesi anyway.

Edit - Also Tambay and Warwick to Renault. Renault were a top team, Warwick was Britain's big hope and Tambay was a winner at Ferrari.

Edited by PlatenGlass, 05 August 2022 - 13:38.


#33 midgrid

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:40

Ralf to Toyota

 

An oft-forgotten fact is that Ralf outscored Trulli in 2005 and 2006, although he was admittedly being paid at least twice as much.



#34 George Costanza

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:40

Alesi at Ferrari, then Benetton.


Jean was never a world championship type driver... IMHO.

#35 Alfisti

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:41

Most of these guys are either a) not "big" or b) were at the end of their career and we could see it falling apart. Who really expected a geriatric Schumacher to come back like he used to be? Or someone like Seb who had come off a bad year, expectations were tempered. 

 

Proper big names, peak career, that failed. 

 

  • Andretti to McLaren, yes indy driver but he was such an F1 type driver
  • Montoya to McLaren
  • Dan Ric to McLaren (there's a trend here)

I cannot think of anyone else. 



#36 Disgrace

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:42

If Montoya was 20 years younger, I think he would have thrived in Zak Brown-era McLaren instead of Ron Dennis-era McLaren.



#37 Risil

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:43

 
It wasnt meant as disrespectful. I sincerely mean it. Of the two races that I do count, he didnt finish once. This whilst, in pre season, everyone was expecting he would win all races. He even managed to run most of the Brazilian Grand Prix behind Schumacher instead of leading it. So in that light, yes I do think his short stint at Williams was a let down. And despite his untimely death, I seriously doubt if he would actually have won the championship that year.

 

If I started a new job and then died after a month in post I hope people wouldn't describe me as a let down!



#38 George Costanza

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:44

Frentzen to Williams was a disappointment.


HHF's problem was Patrick Head. Patrick was quite demanding on exactly what he wanted and you have to adapt in that environment of Williams. Not many drivers could. And obviously Jacques could easily do that, Jaques was an incredible talent and his skills were apparent quickly. HHF's thrived in the Jordan environment. But was he better than Jacques? No. Only Michael Schumacher was.

#39 Risil

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:45

I don't know, I don't think any other example fits in. 

 

This is about a massive flop that's been going on for 18 months. Not just getting suboptimal results from time to time.

Hill had a great year in 98 with Jordan, Schumacher was pretty close to Nico who went on to become a WDC, Senna had barely started at Williams, Frentzen was underwhelming in the Williams but no disaster. And Alesi and Berger got the results they usually got.

 

Maybe Mansell or Andretti in the McLaren comes close to the current flop. But even then they had much less time to prove themselves. Mansell got 3 races and Andretti half of a season IIRC.

Yeah, the closer analogue to Ricciardo at McLaren is something like Laffite or Frentzen at Williams.

 

Possibly Andretti and certainly Mansell felt like a bit of a panic from McLaren, or perhaps Marlboro. I don't imagine Ron Dennis every really wanted them or envisioned building the team's next 5 years around them. Whereas Ricciardo certainly was supposed to fill that role at Woking.



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#40 George Costanza

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:46

If Montoya was 20 years younger, I think he would have thrived in Zak Brown-era McLaren instead of Ron Dennis-era McLaren.


Ron Dennis was extremely successful. Sure he did it his way, like Sir Frank, but, Zak Brown can't even tie Ron's shoes.

#41 Disgrace

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:50

Ron Dennis was extremely successful. Sure he did it his way, like Sir Frank, but, Zak Brown can't even tie Ron's shoes.

 

It's not a question of achievement, but personality and atmosphere. My point is that McLaren isn't the same team now as it was then. Unless they still use a carbon fibre tool to space out chairs at the board meeting.

 

A driver can thrive in an team that is less successful if the environment is right. See: HHF, Fisichella, etc. Even at the time, it was clear that Dennis/Montoya was a personality mismatch.



#42 ensign14

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:50

Graham Hill to Rob Walker?  Bit of a technical one.



#43 eibyyz

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:51

Grosjean to AA.  Pains me to say it.



#44 markpenske

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:53

Can't remember the details but Adrian Newey signed with Jaguar only to back out. Could have saved Rahal if he stuck around


Edited by markpenske, 05 August 2022 - 13:53.


#45 Collombin

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:54

Can't remember the details but Adrian Newey signed with Jaguar only to back out. Could have saved Rahal if he stuck around


McLaren still had an option on his services, of which Newey was apparently unaware.

#46 eibyyz

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:55

Graham Hill to Rob Walker?  Bit of a technical one.

 

Pretty car, though. :-)



#47 Jones Foyer

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 13:58

Emo to Copersucar.

#48 DeKnyff

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 14:03

James Hunt to Wolf

 

 

Alonso to Ferrari..I expect them winning titles but..

 

 

Alan Jones to Beatrice/Lola

 

Rene Arnoux to Ligier

 

 

Stewart, Amon and Andretti to March.
Amon to Matra.
Peterson to Tyrrell.

Lauda to Brabham.
Webber to Williams.

 

I think those who I've kept in the quoted posts were more a case of uncompetitive cars, not drivers unexpectedly underperforming (which is what i think the OP was referring to).


Edited by DeKnyff, 05 August 2022 - 14:12.


#49 FLB

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 14:06

 

 

Rene Arnoux to Ligier

Arnoux to Ligier worked for the first part of 1986. The whole team collapsed after Laffite's accident at Brands.



#50 Collombin

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Posted 05 August 2022 - 14:09

I think those who I've kept in the quoted posts were more a case of uncompetitive cars, not drivers unexpectedly underperforming (which is what i think the OP was referring to).


I think so too, in which case Lauda at Brabham should also come off the list. He wasn't the problem.