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Recent winning driver not getting a new drive?


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#1 garoidb

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 17:22

We all like to think that the top drivers in F1 should be in a certain amount of demand, and that all the machinations behind the scenes eventually place the truly top drivers in fairly good seats. Obviously, never perfectly but hardly ever disastrously either. I am thinking about this because of Carlos Sainz, who is obviously near enough the top of the pecking order but who lost his Ferrari drive without having another one immediately lined up. However, I am not starting a thread about him. The question is - has it frequently happened in the past that an existing non-journeyman (top eight, lets say) driver who really should have found a way to stay in F1, and who wanted to, was accidentally shuffled out by circumstances? I am thinking of John Watson but are there other examples of similar stature?

 



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#2 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 17:24

We all like to think that the top drivers in F1 should be in a certain amount of demand, and that all the machinations behind the scenes eventually place the truly top drivers in fairly good seats. Obviously, never perfectly but hardly ever disastrously either. I am thinking about this because of Carlos Sainz, who is obviously near enough the top of the pecking order but who lost his Ferrari drive without having another one immediately lined up. However, I am not starting a thread about him. The question is - has it frequently happened in the past that an existing non-journeyman (top eight, lets say) driver who really should have found a way to stay in F1, and who wanted to, was accidentally shuffled out by circumstances? I am thinking of John Watson but are there other examples of similar stature?

Interesting question.
Not out of a drive completely, but Damon Hill going from WDC to Arrows was probably the biggest step back I have seen. 



#3 Risil

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 17:48

Hill had other options, though none as good as Williams, but probably misjudged the level TWR Arrows would perform at in 1997.

 

It's happened a bit more in Indycar, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson, Dan Wheldon and Paul Tracy all having fallen victim to the "great driver, no drive" curse. 



#4 Secretariat

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 17:51

I would say the way Kimi Raikkonen was treated staring in 2009 fits the description.



#5 Lights

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 17:55

Of course the famous example that then didn't happen was Button and Barrichello in 2008 after Honda pulled out.

They were without a drive until mere weeks before the 2009 season started.

 

In modern F1 the only borderline example that I can think of is Ocon.

Ocon hadn't won yet but was arguably a top 8 driver in 2018 and lost his seat to Stroll as his dad had bought the team.

Ocon couldn't find another seat for 2019 and was a test driver for Mercedes before returning in 2020 with Renault.



#6 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:01

Perez also was "almost" out of the drive.
The race win in Shakhir and Albon being underwhelming all helped out in the end. 



#7 Dolph

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:17

Hill had other options, though none as good as Williams, but probably misjudged the level TWR Arrows would perform at in 1997.

 

Wasn't that about the biggest guaranteed paycheck?



#8 Risil

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:22

Wasn't that about the biggest guaranteed paycheck?

I'm sure that was part of it but if Hill had expected that level of performance he wouldn't have left in a year, surely.



#9 AnttiK

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:23

Nelson Piquet couldn't get a drive for 1992 although he won a race in 1991, or at least couldn't get a drive that he would have been happy to take. I don't think he ever officially retired from F1.



#10 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:30

I'm sure that was part of it but if Hill had expected that level of performance he wouldn't have left in a year, surely.

struggling to make 107% in Australia was hard to watch



#11 Risil

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:35

struggling to make 107% in Australia was hard to watch

At least Mastercard Lola were there to made them look good



#12 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:40

At least Mastercard Lola were there to made them look good

oh, the Sospiri and Rosset driver line up with car that seemed (and probably was) assembled in a weekend garage effort

they were more than 10 seconds off the pace



#13 Risil

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:42

And the tiny Pennzoil sticker on the huge sidepod! You can get nostalgic about the weirdest stuff.



#14 NewMrMe

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:45

Alain Prost getting sacked by Ferrari before the last race in 1991. By then the competitive seats for 1992 were already signed. Prost did test for Ligier, which was probably the most competitive drive available. After that though he decided to sit out 1992 and concentrate on getting a top drive for 1993.



#15 Dolph

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:53

I'm sure that was part of it but if Hill had expected that level of performance he wouldn't have left in a year, surely.

 

In 1996 he signed for Arrows which was the 9th best team on the grid scoring 1 point. 

In 1997 Arrows was 8th with 9 points and nearly a win.

 

In 1997 Jordan was 5th in the hands of two rookies with a few podiums and real chances at victories.

 

 

Based on this evidence I cant see how you conclude that Hill didn't sign into Arrows purely for money as their 1996 was even more hopeless than 1997.

 

I also can't see why he couldn't look at Jordan, think they are a real contender team on their way up and sign for them because of the promise they showed, not because Arrows sucked.



#16 NewMrMe

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 18:55

Michele Alboreto briefly made this category in 1989. After Ferrari signed Nigel Mansell to replace Alboreto, Michele set his sights on Mansell's old seat at WIlliams. Other seats got filled so the Williams seat became all or nothing in terms of getting a competitive drive. Williams decided to sign Thierry Boutsen instead.

 

Alboreto signed for Tyrrell. He did end up briefly left without a drive mid season. Tyrrell started the season without a sponsor. Part way into the season they signed a major sponsorship deal with tobacco company Camel. The problem was that Alboreto had a personal sponsorship deal with Marlboro that required him to display their logo on his helmet and racesuit. As a result Alboreto was dropped. He did turn up again later that year at Larousse.



#17 garoidb

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:18

Nelson Piquet couldn't get a drive for 1992 although he won a race in 1991, or at least couldn't get a drive that he would have been happy to take. I don't think he ever officially retired from F1.

 

Yes, Nelson could probably still have got the job done in 1992. It's arguably similar to Watson in that a quick youngster became unexpectedly available and indirectly (in Nelson's case) displaced him. It probably didn't help that both Piquet and Watson were fairly near the end of their natural careers anyway.



#18 garoidb

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:21

Alain Prost getting sacked by Ferrari before the last race in 1991. By then the competitive seats for 1992 were already signed. Prost did test for Ligier, which was probably the most competitive drive available. After that though he decided to sit out 1992 and concentrate on getting a top drive for 1993.

 

A little different, I think, in that Prost was actively sacked for specific causes (at least from the team's perspective) rather than just not renewed. The lateness was the main reason it messed up his chances, rather than just the clumsiness of the market.



#19 garoidb

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:22

Michele Alboreto briefly made this category in 1989. After Ferrari signed Nigel Mansell to replace Alboreto, Michele set his sights on Mansell's old seat at WIlliams. Other seats got filled so the Williams seat became all or nothing in terms of getting a competitive drive. Williams decided to sign Thierry Boutsen instead.

 

Alboreto signed for Tyrrell. He did end up briefly left without a drive mid season. Tyrrell started the season without a sponsor. Part way into the season they signed a major sponsorship deal with tobacco company Camel. The problem was that Alboreto had a personal sponsorship deal with Marlboro that required him to display their logo on his helmet and racesuit. As a result Alboreto was dropped. He did turn up again later that year at Larousse.

 

This is a good example that I had forgotten about. Michele's career seemed secure, but he just missed that jump to the next good team and his career never remotely recovered momentum. Ironically, it was a high profile British driver joining Ferrari that pushed him out. 



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#20 DW46

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:27

In 1996 he signed for Arrows which was the 9th best team on the grid scoring 1 point.
In 1997 Arrows was 8th with 9 points and nearly a win.

In 1997 Jordan was 5th in the hands of two rookies with a few podiums and real chances at victories.


Based on this evidence I cant see how you conclude that Hill didn't sign into Arrows purely for money as their 1996 was even more hopeless than 1997.

I also can't see why he couldn't look at Jordan, think they are a real contender team on their way up and sign for them because of the promise they showed, not because Arrows sucked.

What I took from that is Hill had a decent impact on both teams in 97/98 in only a few good results, despite starting to get past his best.

Does Pastor qualify?

Edited by DW46, 12 April 2024 - 19:28.


#21 ARTGP

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:29

Michael Schumacher getting pushed into retirement at the end of 2006. 


Edited by ARTGP, 12 April 2024 - 19:30.


#22 RedRabbit

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:50

Interesting question.
Not out of a drive completely, but Damon Hill going from WDC to Arrows was probably the biggest step back I have seen.


Funny enough, Alonso from McLaren back to Renault in 2008 was about a similar sized step back. Renault's downfall from champions to mediocrity was quite steep.

#23 RedRabbit

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 19:58

Hmmm, so far in the thread we have had examples of Alboreto, Prost, Schumacher , Raikkonen and now Sainz all shifted out of a drive by Ferrari

#24 Grippy

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:03

Nigel Mansell wanted a Williams extension the year he was becoming WDC, but wanted more money than offered as he got closer to becoming WDC, Williams refused and said Senna had offered to drive for free, so Mansell went to CART.



#25 Dolph

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:09

Hmmm, so far in the thread we have had examples of Alboreto, Prost, Schumacher , Raikkonen and now Sainz all shifted out of a drive by Ferrari

 

Irvine was also shifted out of Ferrari, no? But he landed a high paying Jaguar gig, so does not qulify for the thread, but does to your post.



#26 LittleChris

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:27

End of 1983, John Watson got the heave-ho despite scoring the same number of wins ( 1 )  and twice as many points as Niki Lauda and of course being a bit naive politically.  Would've like to have seen what he and Stefan Johansson could've done with the Toleman TG185 in 1985 ( if Hawkridge hadn't pissed off Pirelli the previous season ) given Supergrass Fabi put it on pole in Germany. 



#27 Collombin

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:28

Nigel Mansell wanted a Williams extension the year he was becoming WDC, but wanted more money than offered as he got closer to becoming WDC, Williams refused and said Senna had offered to drive for free, so Mansell went to CART.


And Prost had to either forget his "no Senna" clause the following year or leave. He left.

#28 garoidb

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:35

End of 1983, John Watson got the heave-ho despite scoring the same number of wins ( 1 )  and twice as many points as Niki Lauda and of course being a bit naive politically.  Would've like to have seen what he and Stefan Johansson could've done with the Toleman TG185 in 1985 ( if Hawkridge hadn't pissed off Pirelli the previous season ) given Supergrass Fabi put it on pole in Germany. 

 

I would have liked to have seen that too, although Fabi was also a good driver. 



#29 DeKnyff

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:42

I would say the way Kimi Raikkonen was treated staring in 2009 fits the description.

 

I'm not sure Räikkönen counts, IIRC he himself chose to be paid a lot of money from Ferrari and take a two years gardening leave. As I understand it, he could have continued in the sport (for sure he would have found a drive) if he had renounced to his severance pay. So, he was kinda "voluntarily" out of a drive.



#30 Dutchrudder

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 20:50

In 1996 he signed for Arrows which was the 9th best team on the grid scoring 1 point.
In 1997 Arrows was 8th with 9 points and nearly a win.

In 1997 Jordan was 5th in the hands of two rookies with a few podiums and real chances at victories.


Based on this evidence I cant see how you conclude that Hill didn't sign into Arrows purely for money as their 1996 was even more hopeless than 1997.

I also can't see why he couldn't look at Jordan, think they are a real contender team on their way up and sign for them because of the promise they showed, not because Arrows sucked.

This was covered in an episode of Bring back the V10’s podcast (the one about Jerez) iirc it was stated that Eddie Jordan had claimed that Tom Walkinshaw made promises to Damon that he had no capability to follow through on.

#31 PayasYouRace

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:05

In 1996 he signed for Arrows which was the 9th best team on the grid scoring 1 point. 

In 1997 Arrows was 8th with 9 points and nearly a win.

 

In 1997 Jordan was 5th in the hands of two rookies with a few podiums and real chances at victories.

 

 

Based on this evidence I cant see how you conclude that Hill didn't sign into Arrows purely for money as their 1996 was even more hopeless than 1997.

 

I also can't see why he couldn't look at Jordan, think they are a real contender team on their way up and sign for them because of the promise they showed, not because Arrows sucked.

Arrows might not exactly have been setting the world alight in 1996, but when you find out you’re out of a job so late in the season, you have few options. Still, to reduce it down to money isn’t accurate. He was going to the might of TWR and with a works engine deal and a strong financial base. It turned out Walkinshaw couldn’t manage his way out of a tyre blanket, but at the time Arrows seemed like a decent future prospect to a driver left with few options.

 

He did look at Jordan for 1997, anyway, and McLaren too. But he felt the deals weren’t befitting the Williams team leader since Senna’s death and champion elect.



#32 Sterzo

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:24

We can add Jean Behra to the drivers ousted from Ferrari who didn't go to another team.

 

Nigel Mansell's departure from Williams and move to the States might count as an example too, though who did what to whom isn't entirely clear.



#33 Collombin

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:36

Nigel Mansell's departure from Williams and move to the States might count as an example too, though who did what to whom isn't entirely clear.


I suppose Nigel's bargaining hand was quite weak with Frank having Prost signed up and a car that everyone knew was the best by far. If Senna was willing to drive it for free (which I doubt he meant literally but that's not the point), then Mansell would always seem expensive in comparison unless he volunteered to become a pay driver - whilst being the reigning WDC!

#34 Dolph

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:40

I do get the Tom Walkinshaw appeal with his Jags in WSCC and his involvement in Benetton. 

 

I remember Salo saying recently how he he went to Arrows in 1998 after looking at their performance in 1997 and being utterly disappointed.



#35 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:41

Funny enough, Alonso from McLaren back to Renault in 2008 was about a similar sized step back. Renault's downfall from champions to mediocrity was quite steep.

not comparable though, is it? Alonso qualified 12th out of 22 cars, exiting Q2 about 1 sec away from the 1st place

Hill qualified 20th out of 22 (Jos the boss and Diniz were slower) and he was 5.5 seconds away from 1st place



#36 Dolph

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 21:44

I suppose Nigel's bargaining hand was quite weak with Frank having Prost signed up and a car that everyone knew was the best by far. If Senna was willing to drive it for free (which I doubt he meant literally but that's not the point), then Mansell would always seem expensive in comparison unless he volunteered to become a pay driver - whilst being the reigning WDC!

 

Mansell could have stayed at Williams. This is actually why Patrese signed with Benetton, because he thought Williams 1993 was going to be Prost-Mansell.

 

I don't think Mansell left because of money, but because of Prost. I think Mansell under-valued himself. Yes, Prost was better than him at Ferrari, but Mansell was killer in active Williams. It is possible he would have had an alternative strong edge over Prost in 1993 active Williams. After all, even though Prost beat Mansell in 1990 in the same machinery, Mansell often looked like he had unbelievable bursts of pace. I believe Mansell would have given Prost in 1993 a strong run for his money.


Edited by Dolph, 12 April 2024 - 21:46.


#37 PlatenGlass

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 22:23

Prost was relatively weak in 1993. Definitely beatable by a strong performance.

#38 LittleChris

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 23:26

I would have liked to have seen that too, although Fabi was also a good driver. 

 

I agree but still a tell tale.  This is assuming of course that the stories of the 1982 Kyalami strike are true and he did sneak out to Ecclestone whilst the other drivers were asleep. Never seen it refuted nor him questioned as to his motive.



#39 EvilPhil II

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 00:20

Arguably, Gerhard Berger

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#40 Sauberfan

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 00:38

Nigel Mansell wanted a Williams extension the year he was becoming WDC, but wanted more money than offered as he got closer to becoming WDC, Williams refused and said Senna had offered to drive for free, so Mansell went to CART.

 

I didn't know that salaries in F1 went to that level  :lol:



#41 garoidb

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 08:42

I suppose Nigel's bargaining hand was quite weak with Frank having Prost signed up and a car that everyone knew was the best by far. If Senna was willing to drive it for free (which I doubt he meant literally but that's not the point), then Mansell would always seem expensive in comparison unless he volunteered to become a pay driver - whilst being the reigning WDC!

 

There was a certain amount of brinksmanship between Williams and Mansell, on the one hand, and with unhelpful interventions from Senna too  :lol: . Still, Mansell had some agency in this and was not just left high and dry without warning or options.



#42 noikeee

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 15:33

This is a good example that I had forgotten about. Michele's career seemed secure, but he just missed that jump to the next good team and his career never remotely recovered momentum. Ironically, it was a high profile British driver joining Ferrari that pushed him out. 

 

Surely that was just a case of a driver dropping out of the top teams because he wasn't performing anymore? His last win was in 85, in 86 87 and 88 he didn't score any wins and was outperformed first by Johansson then by Berger.

 

Otherwise we might as well just pick any driver that drops out of a top team once he's no longer good enough. Ex. Bottas not being renewed by Mercedes, Kovalainen ditched by McLaren etc...



#43 garoidb

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 16:54

Surely that was just a case of a driver dropping out of the top teams because he wasn't performing anymore? His last win was in 85, in 86 87 and 88 he didn't score any wins and was outperformed first by Johansson then by Berger.

 

Otherwise we might as well just pick any driver that drops out of a top team once he's no longer good enough. Ex. Bottas not being renewed by Mercedes, Kovalainen ditched by McLaren etc...

 

Thinking about this - he outlasted Johansson at the team, but Berger had outperformed him over 1987 and 1988, winning 3 races. Fair enough. My point, though, wasn't that he shouldn't have been released by Ferrari. It was that he failed to land another similar, or even next rung lower, seat. Bottas got a better seat when leaving Mercedes than Alboreto got when leaving Ferrari. Kovalainen's career seemed to sink like a stone at that time, and he is a good example for this thread. 

 

I looked again at Michele's career after my earlier post, and was reminded of how many years he stayed in F1 in less competitive teams after being dropped by ferrari. There is something Alonso-esque about it. 


Edited by garoidb, 13 April 2024 - 16:54.


#44 Bleu

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 17:22

He got the drive at Sauber eventually, but I think Johnny Herbert was without drive when 1995 F1 season concluded.



#45 messy

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Posted 14 April 2024 - 12:25

Perez has to be the closest. Because of Racing Point (understandably, I suppose) being lured by 4x WDC Vettel and the unique situation where the other seat is taken for life, he was out on his arse there despite being what, fourth in the championship and a race winner - and relied on getting the nod at Red Bull even though I seem to remember it was far from a given with plenty of people internally favouring Hulkenberg for that seat. The Lance Stroll situation there has potential to do this to the other driver at that team, as Ocon (not quite top eight as specified!) found himself out there too in 2018 because of Lance coming in.

Personally, I kinda think had that gone the other way at the end of 2020 - Vettel retires, Perez stays put at Aston Martin, Hulkenberg gets the Red Bull seat - it might have all turned out a bit more interesting.

#46 Myrvold

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Posted 14 April 2024 - 12:45

He got the drive at Sauber eventually, but I think Johnny Herbert was without drive when 1995 F1 season concluded.

I've spent some time looking at old news now.
Seems like Herbert were all but confirmed for Sauber in September 1995. Except... he didn't want to possibly be seen as a number 2 driver again. He even said that he would turn down Ferrari as he didn't want to be a number 2.
Seemingly he waited on Tyrrell and had talks with Ligier and Pac-West.

It seems that Tyrrell keeping Katayama due to Nokia pulling out made Herbert sign for Sauber.
It also looks like if he had waited much longer, he would've ended up in CART for Pac-West and Blundell in Sauber.

Point being. It looks like it was due to his own choices that it took Herbert until December to sign a contract.
It just took a few weeks after that for Blundell to be confirmed at Pac-West.
It really was a "where one don't go, the other will" with Herbert & Blundell.

Edited by Myrvold, 14 April 2024 - 12:47.


#47 Dolph

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 17:57

I've spent some time looking at old news now.
Seems like Herbert were all but confirmed for Sauber in September 1995. Except... he didn't want to possibly be seen as a number 2 driver again. He even said that he would turn down Ferrari as he didn't want to be a number 2.
Seemingly he waited on Tyrrell and had talks with Ligier and Pac-West.

It seems that Tyrrell keeping Katayama due to Nokia pulling out made Herbert sign for Sauber.
It also looks like if he had waited much longer, he would've ended up in CART for Pac-West and Blundell in Sauber.

Point being. It looks like it was due to his own choices that it took Herbert until December to sign a contract.
It just took a few weeks after that for Blundell to be confirmed at Pac-West.
It really was a "where one don't go, the other will" with Herbert & Blundell.

 

 

Its not that clear cut, I think. Pac-West had a test at Firebird to select a driver and several drivers faced off there:

 

Mark Blundell

Alan McNish

JJ Lehto

Mike Groff

Dominic Dobson

 

There Blundell, indeed gives an interview where he says Sauber need to decide whether its him or Herbert.

 

However, I don't see Herbert at that test. And the team said its very important to evaluate the drivers, how they fit in the team etc. I am not entirely sure Herbert could have just waltzed in at PacWest without a test (and passing it better than any of the other candidates) first.

 

Here is a video of the test (JJ and Blundell talk there):

 

Here JJ is before the test talking about it:

 

(sorry, if you don't speak Finnish. Luckily I do :) )


Edited by Dolph, 17 April 2024 - 17:59.


#48 Myrvold

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 07:08

Its not that clear cut, I think. Pac-West had a test at Firebird to select a driver and several drivers faced off there:

 

Mark Blundell

Alan McNish

JJ Lehto

Mike Groff

Dominic Dobson

 

There Blundell, indeed gives an interview where he says Sauber need to decide whether its him or Herbert.

 

However, I don't see Herbert at that test. And the team said its very important to evaluate the drivers, how they fit in the team etc. I am not entirely sure Herbert could have just waltzed in at PacWest without a test (and passing it better than any of the other candidates) first.

 

The statement about Herbert/Blundell was a bit tongue in cheek, as they both were rumoured to be in the hunt for the exact same drives.

 

https://www.independ...rt-1524540.html

 

https://www.grandpri...-f1-future.html

 

https://www.grandpri...for-sauber.html

 

When was the testing with Lehto and the rest, do they say that in the vids?


Edited by Myrvold, 18 April 2024 - 07:14.


#49 piket

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 07:46

Yes, Nelson could probably still have got the job done in 1992. It's arguably similar to Watson in that a quick youngster became unexpectedly available and indirectly (in Nelson's case) displaced him. It probably didn't help that both Piquet and Watson were fairly near the end of their natural careers anyway.


Flavio Briatore is on the record that he wanted the 1992 lineup Piquet-Schumacher .
However , Walkinshaw was an owner and he had other ideas .
It is worth mentioning that Piquet realised he was running out of years and Benneton needed more years to make a step up for WC. He was looking at better drives , and that was only Williams and Mclaren , who were not looking . There was talk of Ferrari option , and I am glad nothing came up, due to Ferrari being awful.

#50 absinthedude

absinthedude
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Posted 18 April 2024 - 08:19

Damon Hill found out that he was out of a drive for 1997 by reading Autosport...and even then, Williams denied it to his face. He had little time to sort a drive for 1997 and was adamant that he'd only take a 1 year deal in case he could get a top drive for  1998.

 

Jordan were prepared to offer him a two year deal, which in hindsight he should have taken. 

 

Arrows were prepared to offer a one year deal, and meanwhile Tom Walkinshaw sweet talked Hill into signing on by giving him a tour of the factory and telling him how many millions were being invested in upgrades etc....that Arrows -Yamaha would be a real force to be reckoned with. As mentioned upthread, Tom was exaggerating the investment going into Arrows and his ability to provide a fully funded, ready for the 21st century F1 team with a competitive engine. 

 

Damon, being determined to stick to his idea of a one year deal, took the Arrows seat knowing the Jordan offered more immediate performance but having believed what Walkinshaw told and showed him. Also knowing he could get out after one season.

 

In the end he went to Jordan for 1998, scored their first win and had a decent season before depression set in again during 1999.

 

 

Count me as one who thinks Nigel could have beaten Alain in 1993. Now, overall Prost was the better driver throughout his whole career...no question....but Nigel in those years 1992/93 was probably driving better than anyone else in the world bar none. The high tech active F1 cars of the era suited him perfectly. His confidence in the active suspension and his upper body strength combined to make him utterly devastating on the track...then in IndyCar/CART....those same attributes helped him hustle the less sophisticated cars in ways few could believe. I remember no less than AJ Foyt saying he'd seen nothing like it since Jim Clark. At that specific point in time, I believe Mansell would likely have beaten Prost in the 1993 Williams. Hill, who had no experience at the top, gave Prost a run for his money in several races once his confidence was there. Prost didn't seem quite at his best after a year out. But, we shall never know. 

 

Pastor Maldonado won a grand prix then found himself without a seat a couple of years later. Of course he's a pay driver and a very inconsistent one at that....but there were races where he was both fast and held it together. He thoroughly deserved that win. 

 

The thing with someone like Piquet at the end of 1991 was that he'd certainly enjoyed an "Indian summer" to his career after the disappointment at Lotus....but it was clear that Michael Schumacher was much faster. It was lovely to see Piquet win again, especially after the dire 1989, but he was getting on in years for an F1 driver of the time and we didn't yet know about the issue he was having with his eyesight....but it was clear that he wasn't quite the driver he had been in the 80s. What's more interesting is drivers who appear to be in or close to their prime being dropped such as Wattie....but of course, who could blame Ron Dennis for putting together a dream team of Lauda and Prost?