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F1's biggest wastes of potential


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#1 Dunc

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:17

What do you think have been the biggest wastes of potential in the history of F1? Great cars given to the wrong drivers, great drivers who lucked out, behind-the-scenes people who never got the chance to showcase their ideas - all welcome here.

 

I'll start with a couple of my own opinions:

  • the 2012 Lotus and the 2014 WIlliams. Both were unexpectedly good cars and I believe that if both teams had had more competent drivers they could well have been WDC and WCC challengers (admittedly, both would have been outside bets);
  • Nico Hulkenberg, no explanation needed on that one;
  • the 2009 Toyota looked like an amazing car and had a better team been at the wheel maybe it could have been a front-runner

Over to you forumers.



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#2 babbel

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:19

I'll add in the 2020 Force India and the Benetton of 1996



#3 William Hunt

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:21

Why do people always assume that when a midfield team is quick that it has nothing to do with the drivers in the cockpit? And when drivers win races in a car it is suddenly not the car but the drivers. That's odd logic in a sport where the equipment you have determines how competitive you can be.

 

Take March for example. March had a neat car when they had Adrian Newey as designer but a great driver with Capelli. Reason that they didn't do better was an underpowered engine + lack of budget.



#4 PayasYouRace

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:22

Nothing is a bigger waste of potential than hiding our wonderful sport behind paywalls.

#5 William Hunt

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:25

Where I live we can still see it for free on national tv but they have to renew that contract every year. One day there may be a year where it's suddenly behind a paywall too here.... There used to be a German tv channel where we could also see it for free as an alternative (they had Christian Danner as lead commentator, I used to switch to that channel during a tv add, luckily those ad breaks are very short and only two per race so not like in the US where there is an ad every 10 minutes and long add breaks) but they don't broadcast it this year.


Edited by William Hunt, 10 August 2022 - 11:26.


#6 pacificquay

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:26

Nothing is a bigger waste of potential than hiding our wonderful sport behind paywalls.

 

I have some sympathy for that view, but I think F1 is at its best when its popular enough to be broadcast live but not popular enough that everyone's talking about it



#7 IrvTheSwerve

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:26

Always thought Kamui Kobayashi deserved a good seat somewhere. I think he would have finally been a pretty successful Japanese driver…race wins, etc.



#8 maximilian

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:27

Karl Wendlinger.  He was better than Schumacher. 



#9 CaptHaddock91

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:28

I think the 2002 Arrows could be a much better car than the results suggest, but by that time the Arrows team was finished and their economic situation reflected on the team's performance.

Williams FW34 was also a quite good car, had the team chosen to go ahead with Raikkonen instead of hiring Bruno Senna...

 

On another level - Honda's decision to pull out at the end of 2008 was a huge potential waste on their side. At least someone else picked up the pieces, but think of what could have been if the Mercedes engines deal didn't work out....



#10 blackhand2010

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:35

Obvious candidates:

Jan Magnussen and Montoya, neither of whom really wanted to apply themselves, but both who could have been significantly better than their results.

 

Leftfield:

From a tech/design point of view, I've always thought that both Nick Wirth and Mike Gascoyne could have had far more stellar careers had their ego's not got in the way. I always thought that Wirth was onto something moving design all to CFD, but the tech just wasn't their to support him, and he was too driven to look at phasing in the process.

 

The tragic:

If the whole Mclaren/Ferrari saga hadn't happened, I think Nigel Stepney could have become a strong TD, even if it wasn't for Ferrari. 



#11 messy

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:36

I remember reading a feature on the 2002 Arrows, I think it was in one of those massive bricks of season annuals you used to get, where one of the designers was talking about what a good car it was. How it was one of those cars that was just right from the moment of conception. But because of Arrows’ financial nightmares, they really never got to scratch the surface. Says a lot I guess that it was still active and qualifying for races four years later with Super Aguri.

I’ll have a think about this one before giving any nominations because I think this one deserves some real thought!!

#12 PlatenGlass

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:36

Karl Wendlinger. He was better than Schumacher.

I mean, he definitely wasn't.

#13 Peeko

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:38

The F1-75.



#14 Aaaarrgghh

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:39

The 1966 Ferrari was pretty wasted, given that with Surtees at the wheel, it looked like a title-contending package.



#15 P123

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:45

Obvious candidates:

Jan Magnussen and Montoya, neither of whom really wanted to apply themselves, but both who could have been significantly better than their results.

 

Leftfield:

From a tech/design point of view, I've always thought that both Nick Wirth and Mike Gascoyne could have had far more stellar careers had their ego's not got in the way. I always thought that Wirth was onto something moving design all to CFD, but the tech just wasn't their to support him, and he was too driven to look at phasing in the process.

 

The tragic:

If the whole Mclaren/Ferrari saga hadn't happened, I think Nigel Stepney could have become a strong TD, even if it wasn't for Ferrari. 

Montoya won races, including the Monaco GP, and reliability and dodgy stewarding took him out of the fight for WDC going into the final round in 2003.  As wastes of potential go, I'd say there is a huge chasm between him and Jan.  JM never really scratched the surface of his apparent potential.  One of the biggest letdowns.



#16 FortiFord

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:48

Karl Wendlinger.  He was better than Schumacher. 

 

So was Frentzen, apparently. 



#17 aray

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:50

Despite his 7 wins, I would say Montoya since the time I started watching F1 (1998).



#18 messy

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 11:50

It’s a boring choice, but I’m going to nominate the 2012 Williams-Renault FW34, which showed flashes of absolute frontrunning potential on the hands of Pastor Maldonado and won a Grand Prix from pole position on pure merit. It was wasted by its drivers that season for starters, the number of times Pastor would pop up at the front of the grid then have an accident or something and throw away loads of points (in my head right now is an image of him spinning like a top in Melbourne, and crashing with Hamilton in Valencia, and, and, and…), but looking at the drivers they had that season, how good actually were they?

Maldonado was immediately outpaced by Bottas the following year and was generally trounced by Grosjean in 2014/15, especially in qualifying. In 2012 he developed a rep as a banzai qualifier, but the rest of his career made a complete lie of that. Was he really the very fast but erratic performer he appeared in 2012 or just an average erratic driver in a really good car? Bruno Senna, I really wanted him to succeed and he had his qualities, but he was never quick was he? I’d nominate this as a really weak driver pairing in hindsight, and yet the car was a winner.

#19 RedRabbit

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:00

Why do people always assume that when a midfield team is quick that it has nothing to do with the drivers in the cockpit? And when drivers win races in a car it is suddenly not the car but the drivers. That's odd logic in a sport where the equipment you have determines how competitive you can be.

Take March for example. March had a neat car when they had Adrian Newey as designer but a great driver with Capelli. Reason that they didn't do better was an underpowered engine + lack of budget.


I think the case with both Lotus in 2012 & 2013, and the RP in 2020, is that we know their lead drivers weren't absolutely top tier, even if one of them is a world champion.

Both teams also had fairly poor strategy and race operations those years.

I, think, if Ferrari and Alonso had used the Lotus car in 2012, he would have beaten Vettel to the title quite comfortably.

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#20 Claudius

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:02

Montoya won races, including the Monaco GP, and reliability and dodgy stewarding took him out of the fight for WDC going into the final round in 2003.  As wastes of potential go, I'd say there is a huge chasm between him and Jan.  JM never really scratched the surface of his apparent potential.  One of the biggest letdowns.

 

I agree with you but the expectations were so high that his actual achievments feel like a letdown. 

He should have stayed in F1. He's one of the most talented drivers I've seen in F1, incredible car control. 



#21 Scaboo22

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:03

Always thought Nick Heidfeld had a lot more in him but never quite managed to achieve his full potential. Hulkenberg before Hulkenberg but at least Quick Nick sat on the podium several times.



#22 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:07

So was Frentzen, apparently. 

 

Everyone who at one point or another finished a single race, qualifying session or unofficial team testing session faster than Schumacher before F1 was apparently faster than him.



#23 messy

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:08

I think the case with both Lotus in 2012 & 2013, and the RP in 2020, is that we know their lead drivers weren't absolutely top tier, even if one of them is a world champion.
Both teams also had fairly poor strategy and race operations those years.
I, think, if Ferrari and Alonso had used the Lotus car in 2012, he would have beaten Vettel to the title quite comfortably.


I guess the problem with rating midfield cars is that so very few of them are driven by non-midfield drivers. If every generation there are three, four, five absolute ‘top drivers’, by and large they’re all in the top cars so every 2020 Racing Point, or 2012 Sauber, is being driven by a Sergio Perez rather than a Lewis Hamilton, so we’ll never really know where they stand. (Just realised that both of my examples were literally driven by Sergio Perez, which was actually accidental!!)

Midfield cars only tend to be driven by ‘top drivers’ if they’re rookies and therefore not ‘top drivers’ yet, or at the end of their career and therefore arguably on the slide. Makes it really hard to judge.

Edited by messy, 10 August 2022 - 12:09.


#24 Risil

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:10

Everyone who at one point or another finished a single race, qualifying session or unofficial team testing session faster than Schumacher before F1 was apparently faster than him.

 

Backhanded compliment to Schumacher of course that the thing many people feel is most remarkable about Frentzen, Wendlinger etc is that at some point in their careers they ran with Michael.



#25 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:17

Backhanded compliment to Schumacher of course that the thing many people feel is most remarkable about Frentzen, Wendlinger etc is that at some point in their careers they ran with Michael.

 

Yep.

 

Though in the case of Wendlinger, he obviously had a lot of talent and potential and could/would have achieved a great deal more in F1 if he hadn't had his Monaco accident. That doesn't mean that he was more talented than Michael though.



#26 Risil

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:21

Impossible to judge how Wendlinger's career would've turned out, yeah. In that sense Michael was at least somewhat fortunate that he avoided serious injury in the mid-nineties when it was clearly a major hazard of the job.

 

Ultimately it's like Schumacher's shrewdest observers, like Peter Sauber, have long said: he worked harder and spotted opportunities for growth and improvement that others missed. Whether or not his skill behind the wheel was as great as Frentzen's or Wendlinger's -- not really the point as it's not talent alone that brings success -- the broader the canvas he had to work on, the more he excelled. In that sense his potential to succeed was higher than almost anyone else's.



#27 Vesuvius

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:25

I think the case with both Lotus in 2012 & 2013, and the RP in 2020, is that we know their lead drivers weren't absolutely top tier, even if one of them is a world champion.
Both teams also had fairly poor strategy and race operations those years.
I, think, if Ferrari and Alonso had used the Lotus car in 2012, he would have beaten Vettel to the title quite comfortably.


2012&2013 Kimi was still very good, althought not as good as he used to be. Lotus car was good, but not a title car.

2012 Williams definately was wasted potential, as was 2003 williams.

#28 Loosenut

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:27

Everyone who at one point or another finished a single race, qualifying session or unofficial team testing session faster than Schumacher before F1 was apparently faster than him.

Frentzen challenged Schumacher and Hakkinen for the WDC in 1999, in a Jordan. I know that doesn't prove he was faster, or anywhere near as good, but both those drivers were at their peak, in superior cars/teams and Frentzen made a real fight of it. In my opinion, the most outstanding driver of that year. I guess this is what the top teams saw in him, until his Williams stint. Just for some reason his performance maybe seemed to depend on his environment.

EDIT: ...and what Risil said.

Anyway, for my tuppance, it was Kobayashi. I really wanted to see him in a top car, he was so entertaining, but alas he just disappeared.


Edited by Loosenut, 10 August 2022 - 12:28.


#29 pacificquay

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:31

Stefano Modena



#30 Claudius

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:31

Frentzen challenged Schumacher and Hakkinen for the WDC in 1999, in a Jordan. I know that doesn't prove he was faster, or anywhere near as good, but both those drivers were at their peak, in superior cars/teams and Frentzen made a real fight of it. In my opinion, the most outstanding driver of that year. I guess this is what the top teams saw in him, until his Williams stint. Just for some reason his performance maybe seemed to depend on his environment.

EDIT: ...and what Risil said.

Anyway, for my tuppance, it was Kobayashi. I really wanted to see him in a top car, he was so entertaining, but alas he just disappeared.

 

 

No he never challenged Schumacher who was out by Silverstone. Nor did he challenge Häkkinen at any time that year.

Don't get me wrong, I like Frentzen. But he wasn't challenging the top dogs that year.



#31 PlatenGlass

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:34

On the Wendlinger thing, he might have achieved a lot more, but I think some people also forget that he already had about two years of F1 experience when Frentzen joined him as an F1 rookie at Sauber, and Frentzen was faster from the off. 3-0 in qualifying before Monaco.



#32 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:35

On the Wendlinger thing, he might have achieved a lot more, but I think some people also forget that he already had about two years of F1 experience when Frentzen joined him as an F1 rookie at Sauber, and Frentzen was faster from the off. 3-0 in qualifying before Monaco.

 

I think it was precisely one year's experience. But fair enough, your point is still valid. :)

 

Edit: Actually, I'm full of cr*p. He did race for March in 1992 as well (plus two cameos in 1991).


Edited by Rediscoveryx, 10 August 2022 - 12:37.


#33 lewislorenzo

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:36

This years Ferrari!

#34 Loosenut

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:37

No he never challenged Schumacher who was out by Silverstone. Nor did he challenge Häkkinen at any time that year.

Don't get me wrong, I like Frentzen. But he wasn't challenging the top dogs that year.

Ah yes, Schumacher's accident of course.
But in any case, he won races and he was sitting on pole on race 14 out of 16 within 10pts of the lead, in a Jordan.

He absolutely challenged the top dogs that year!



#35 aray

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:39

Another name that generally comes up as wasted potential is Tommy Byrne. Ron Dennis didn't want him so much that he detuned his test car. Byrne still went faster. :drunk:


Edited by aray, 10 August 2022 - 12:41.


#36 absinthedude

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:43

I have some sympathy for that view, but I think F1 is at its best when its popular enough to be broadcast live but not popular enough that everyone's talking about it

 

Ah...."the right crowd, and no crowding".

 

I'm firmly with PAYR on this one. The biggest waste of potential by some way is that F1 is on pay TV and in countries where it used to be talked about in pubs and over family dinner.....it no longer is....because so few are watching it.

 

Some big wastes of potential in my view:

 

Tommy Byrne 

Stephen South - though losing a leg will do that

Jean Alesi

Ivan Capelli

Olivier Panis

Martin Brundle

Kamui Kobayashi



#37 pacificquay

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:45

Another name that generally comes up as wasted potential is Tommy Byrne. Ron Dennis didn't want him so much that he detuned his test car. Byrne still went faster. :drunk:

 

A lot of that story is mythical though



#38 absinthedude

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:45

On the Wendlinger thing, he might have achieved a lot more, but I think some people also forget that he already had about two years of F1 experience when Frentzen joined him as an F1 rookie at Sauber, and Frentzen was faster from the off. 3-0 in qualifying before Monaco.

 

Wendlinger was good, and I think should have achieved more, but I never got the impression he had the potential to be a regular winner. 

 

Karl himself said he came back too soon after his Monaco crash in 1994....but that he feared if he didn't attempt his comeback quickly, he'd be forgotten. By his own admission it was two or three years before he was back at his best. See also Stirling Moss. 



#39 BerniesDad

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:46

Chris Amon ?



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#40 aray

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:46

Yeah! But that's the story ! :lol:

 

A lot of that story is mythical though



#41 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:50

Jean Alesi has been mentioned, but to me he's probably the best example in the (somewhat) modern era. 

 

My feeling when he entered F1 was similar to the one I had when Charles Leclerc or Fernando Alonso entered the sport. He just seemed like such an obvious future WDC and yet, his whole career netted just one win.

 

Has anyone mentioned Vandoorne yet?  :smoking:


Edited by Rediscoveryx, 10 August 2022 - 12:50.


#42 djr900

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:50

Obvious candidates:
Jan Magnussen and Montoya, neither of whom really wanted to apply themselves, but both who could have been significantly better than their results.

Leftfield:
From a tech/design point of view, I've always thought that both Nick Wirth and Mike Gascoyne could have had far more stellar careers had their ego's not got in the way. I always thought that Wirth was onto something moving design all to CFD, but the tech just wasn't their to support him, and he was too driven to look at phasing in the process.

The tragic:
If the whole Mclaren/Ferrari saga hadn't happened, I think Nigel Stepney could have become a strong TD, even if it wasn't for Ferrari.


Wasn't Nigel Stepney chief mechanic or something similiar ?
Did he really have the knowledge & experience to be in charge of the design of a car ?
( Just asking, maybe he did )

As for Gascoyne & Wirth, I always felt they were a bit over rated , and couldn't deliver what they promised.

#43 JRodrigues

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 12:59

Wendlinger was good, and I think should have achieved more, but I never got the impression he had the potential to be a regular winner. 

 

Karl himself said he came back too soon after his Monaco crash in 1994....but that he feared if he didn't attempt his comeback quickly, he'd be forgotten. By his own admission it was two or three years before he was back at his best. See also Stirling Moss. 

 

Beat Zehnder spoke a little about the Wendlinger crash on Tom Clarkson's podcast. He said he was not the same afterwards.

 

Having worked with Frentzen, Schumacher and Wendlinger on the Sauber-Mercedes, he also said Frentzen had greater talent than Schumacher.

 



#44 RedRabbit

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:05

2012&2013 Kimi was still very good, althought not as good as he used to be. Lotus car was good, but not a title car.

2012 Williams definately was wasted potential, as was 2003 williams.


The 2012 Ferrari should never have been in a title fight till the last race, but it was. And that's kind of the point, the Lotus that year could have put a very serious title challenge in (Kimi was 3rd in WDC).

Race operations of the team were quite weak, as was their strategy. I remember at least one race they left Kimi out until his tires dropped off the cliff completely and he dropped from a podium place out of the points.

We also have a reference that Alonso slaughtered both Kimi and Grosjean at different points. Grosjean was a rookie, but beaten so badly by Alonso they sent him back to GP2.

#45 messy

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:11

Wasn't Nigel Stepney chief mechanic or something similiar ?
Did he really have the knowledge & experience to be in charge of the design of a car ?
( Just asking, maybe he did )
As for Gascoyne & Wirth, I always felt they were a bit over rated , and couldn't deliver what they promised.


Wirth produced one really good car, the ‘98 Benetton, that surely would have been a multiple race winner were it not for the Renault withdrawal and the inexperienced drivers (even then it should have won at least one Grand Prix), but aside from that I’m struggling. He joined the team in ‘96 and the car through 96-97 was a fairly conservative evolution so I suppose that was his first clean-sheet design there? The following year he got carried away by the Front Torque Transfer stuff and the car was an absolute dog. Then I remember him popping back up at Virgin. Gascoigne developed some nice cars.

Magnussen is a good call. He wasn’t even all that bad in 1997, he showed flashes of good speed including a couple of top six grid positions. The whole team only scored points on one occasion that year so he can’t really be blamed for non-scoring. He was so up and down though, he’d be over a second slower than Barrichello one weekend then right with him the next. People talk about the attitude, the lack of effort, the smoking, but in that era he wasn’t the only one who had limited commitment to fitness and so on, and certainly not the only one who was a smoker (Salo, Frentzen, even the sainted Schumacher in the off-season as a recent documentary revealed!), so I think that was overstated.

#46 blackhand2010

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:13

Wasn't Nigel Stepney chief mechanic or something similiar ?
Did he really have the knowledge & experience to be in charge of the design of a car ?
( Just asking, maybe he did )

As for Gascoyne & Wirth, I always felt they were a bit over rated , and couldn't deliver what they promised.

 

Yeah, he was, but he was at the time classed as part of the "dream team" alongside Brawn, Todt, Schumacher and Byrne.

And when I said TD, I meant more in a Brawn kind of sense as a organisational/team manager, rather than being the designer.

 

I could of course be wrong, but when he was at Ferrari he was always highly praised in the press, and talked up about moving to that next level.

However, and given the Ferrari/Mclaren saga, and his subsequent death, his role seems to have been quietly forgotten.



#47 A.Fant

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:14

The 2012 Ferrari should never have been in a title fight till the last race, but it was. And that's kind of the point, the Lotus that year could have put a very serious title challenge in (Kimi was 3rd in WDC).

Race operations of the team were quite weak, as was their strategy. I remember at least one race they left Kimi out until his tires dropped off the cliff completely and he dropped from a podium place out of the points.

We also have a reference that Alonso slaughtered both Kimi and Grosjean at different points. Grosjean was a rookie, but beaten so badly by Alonso they sent him back to GP2.

I understand what Lotus were trying in Malaysia. They were easier on tyre wear than the competition and it looked like Kimi would get 3rd by taking a stop less. The tyres only went off the cliff 2-3 laps before the end so it looked like the gamble was going to pay off right until the very end.

Edited by A.Fant, 10 August 2022 - 13:15.


#48 eibyyz

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:16

Bruno Giacomelli. Jan Magnussen. Jos Verstappen. 


Edited by eibyyz, 10 August 2022 - 13:31.


#49 Claudius

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:18

Beat Zehnder spoke a little about the Wendlinger crash on Tom Clarkson's podcast. He said he was not the same afterwards.

 

Having worked with Frentzen, Schumacher and Wendlinger on the Sauber-Mercedes, he also said Frentzen had greater talent than Schumacher.

 

 

But what did Wendlinger achieve before his accident? Or Frentzen in his early days?

Schumacher arrived with a bang in F1 and was immediatly poached by Benetton. That shows his talent was immense and better suited to F1. 



#50 F1matt

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Posted 10 August 2022 - 13:22

Mike Thackwell.