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Craziest driver market decisions


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#1 F1Frog

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 21:49

Sergio Perez's contract extension at Red Bull is looking crazier by the race. Since Monaco 2023, I would argue he has performed worse than Gasly or Albon ever did. I would suggest picking Perez over Sainz could well cost them the 2025 constructors' championship. The only contract extension to which it is comparable, to me, is Paul Lambert's five year extension at Ipswich Town in January 2020.

 

It made me wonder about the opposite of this thread: https://forums.autos...d-driver-moves/

 

What are the craziest driver market decisions by teams in motorsport history? Either like the rejection of Harry Potter by so many publishers, a driver who turned out to be amazing but the teams didn't see that potential, or a decision that seemed brain-dead even at the time.

 

In my opinion, there is one that will never be topped. Renault's decision in 1983 to fire Alain Prost, already the best driver on the grid but just coming into his prime, in favour of Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay. This has got to be the most ludicrous.

 

Unfathomably, Prost was fired by a second team in his career, Ferrari in 1991, but that wasn't quite as bad as the Renault one as Prost wasn't as strong a driver at this stage. Still, I think it takes second place, while replacing him with Ivan Capelli can be put down to a gamble that didn't pay off, as he had looked good at Leyton House.

 

Williams signing Alex Zanardi in 1999 is another that comes to mind, although again, that is a gamble that didn't pay off. He could have been another Jacques Villeneuve, although his two years at Lotus in 1993-1994 gave some indication otherwise.

 

Ferrari chose to run Piero Taruffi instead of Stirling Moss in the 1951 Bari Grand Prix, a move that potentially cost them many titles in the long run as Moss then refused to drive for Ferrari when he was the undisputed best in the world because of that snub, although he would have driven a privateer Ferrari in 1962 had he not had his accident.

 

Alpine giving Esteban Ocon such a long contract extension and then missing out on a potential Alonso/Piastri lineup in 2023 springs to mind.

 

They won the 2007 championship anyway, but Ferrari ditching Michael Schumacher in favour of Kimi Raikkonen was surely a mistake. I think Schumacher would have collected the 2008 title had he stayed on.

 

Another would be Aston Martin replacing Sergio Perez, rather than Lance Stroll, with Sebastian Vettel in 2021, but reasons for that are very clear.

 

McLaren chose Patrick Tambay over Gilles Villeneuve for 1978, leading to Villeneuve moving to Ferrari instead.

 

Lotus bowed down to Innes Ireland demanding a seat rather than John Surtees in 1961. A Surtees/Clark lineup would have been something quite special but maybe they didn't need them both.

 

Perhaps there has been a second crazy decision recently, with Alpine parting ways with Esteban Ocon for 2025. It seems unlikely that he will be replaced with anyone better than Mick Schumacher or Jack Doohan at the moment, although I am sure Ocon wanted to leave anyway.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

I would also be interested in the opposite. A move that looked ridiculous at the time but turned out to be inspired. For example, Felipe Massa to Ferrari in 2006 didn't appear to make much sense but he turned out pretty well.



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#2 ClubmanGT

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 21:56

Luca forcing out Schumacher is probably up there.

 

I personally thought Lewis to Mercedes was dumb as hell given their inability to last a full stint and Hamilton's reputation for shredding tyres, but that made an idiot out of me. 

 

I wonder if there is another one of these brewing with Lawson. 



#3 Myrvold

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 21:56

Alpine giving Esteban Ocon such a long contract extension and then missing out on a potential Alonso/Piastri lineup in 2023 springs to mind.

 

Perhaps there has been a second crazy decision recently, with Alpine parting ways with Esteban Ocon for 2025. It seems unlikely that he will be replaced with anyone better than Mick Schumacher or Jack Doohan at the moment, although I am sure Ocon wanted to leave anyway.

 

I am confused.



#4 P123

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:00

Williams ditching Hill for Frentzen.



#5 F1Frog

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:03

I am confused.


Choosing Ocon over Alonso and Piastri was a bit mad in my opinion because they are both far better drivers, but for 2025 they are no longer available. When the replacement is likely to be Doohan or Schumacher, I think ditching Ocon now seems a bit mad as he is much better than them. But I doubt that was all Alpine’s decision. Alpine’s stock falling so much has caused this weird situation.

#6 Deeq

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:03

If Zanardi & Williams, then McLaren signing Michael Andreti is up there..

#7 HistoryFan

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:05

Zanardi to Williams wasn't crazy. He was that fast in IndyCar. Noone could know how the season went...



#8 Deeq

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:05

Luca forcing out Schumacher is probably up there.

I personally thought Lewis to Mercedes was dumb as hell given their inability to last a full stint and Hamilton's reputation for shredding tyres, but that made an idiot out of me.

I wonder if there is another one of these brewing with Lawson.

Lucas madness was more potent than simply letting Schumacher go...he dismantled the dream team while at it.

#9 LB

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:06

I think there might be other reasons than just pace why Prost was fired from Renault



#10 Deeq

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:07

Zanardi to Williams wasn't crazy. He was that fast in IndyCar. Noone could know how the season went...

I agree but the OP mentioned the Zanardi signing only..

#11 Deeq

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:08

I think there might be other reasons than just pace why Prost was fired from Renault

Heard hade to do with Uganda..

#12 Anuity

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 22:58

whether it’s true or not but Michael out for 2007/2008 was kind of crazy. But then again Kimi got it right in 2007. So it’s 50/50.

 

more crazy was mismanaging Alonso at McLaren. I think if fully backed up by the team he would have taken 2007/2008/2010



#13 Alfisti

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 23:10

Are we talking strictly a racing decision or taking other factors into account? Apparently Perez is worth tens of millions in merch and drink sales.

#14 Autodromo

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 23:29

whether it’s true or not but Michael out for 2007/2008 was kind of crazy. But then again Kimi got it right in 2007. So it’s 50/50.

 

more crazy was mismanaging Alonso at McLaren. I think if fully backed up by the team he would have taken 2007/2008/2010

I have always thought that was Alonso's mis-management of the situation.  He was experienced enough that he should have powered through that situation.



#15 ensign14

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Posted 09 June 2024 - 23:40

Bernie getting Alfa to pay him to put their boat anchors in the back of Brabhams instead of Bernie paying Cosworths for their actual proper engines.  Given the 1976 world title went to someone in a 4 year old car, surely a BT44 with quick Carloses powered by something that worked would have been a contender rather than an also-ran.

 

Bernie of course filled the second Brabham seat with **** paydrivers like Zunino, Rebaque, and Hesnault, rather than proper drivers, and that surely cost Brabham a constructor crown or two.

 

Ferrari pissing off Surtees also cost them big time - Bandini and Scarfiotti were not fit to hold Il Grande John's racing boots but had the right nationality for Dragoni.

 

And didn't Lotus, needing a German driver for the German GP in 1991, go for Michael Bartels because he was involved with Steffi Graf?  They could have had Schumacher.



#16 Gravelngrass

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 00:00

Sergio Perez's contract extension at Red Bull is looking crazier by the race. Since Monaco 2023, I would argue he has performed worse than Gasly or Albon ever did. I would suggest picking Perez over Sainz could well cost them the 2025 constructors' championship. The only contract extension to which it is comparable, to me, is Paul Lambert's five year extension at Ipswich Town in January 2020.

It made me wonder about the opposite of this thread: https://forums.autos...d-driver-moves/

What are the craziest driver market decisions by teams in motorsport history? Either like the rejection of Harry Potter by so many publishers, a driver who turned out to be amazing but the teams didn't see that potential, or a decision that seemed brain-dead even at the time.

In my opinion, there is one that will never be topped. Renault's decision in 1983 to fire Alain Prost, already the best driver on the grid but just coming into his prime, in favour of Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay. This has got to be the most ludicrous.

Unfathomably, Prost was fired by a second team in his career, Ferrari in 1991, but that wasn't quite as bad as the Renault one as Prost wasn't as strong a driver at this stage. Still, I think it takes second place, while replacing him with Ivan Capelli can be put down to a gamble that didn't pay off, as he had looked good at Leyton House.

Williams signing Alex Zanardi in 1999 is another that comes to mind, although again, that is a gamble that didn't pay off. He could have been another Jacques Villeneuve, although his two years at Lotus in 1993-1994 gave some indication otherwise.

Ferrari chose to run Piero Taruffi instead of Stirling Moss in the 1951 Bari Grand Prix, a move that potentially cost them many titles in the long run as Moss then refused to drive for Ferrari when he was the undisputed best in the world because of that snub, although he would have driven a privateer Ferrari in 1962 had he not had his accident.

Alpine giving Esteban Ocon such a long contract extension and then missing out on a potential Alonso/Piastri lineup in 2023 springs to mind.

They won the 2007 championship anyway, but Ferrari ditching Michael Schumacher in favour of Kimi Raikkonen was surely a mistake. I think Schumacher would have collected the 2008 title had he stayed on.

Another would be Aston Martin replacing Sergio Perez, rather than Lance Stroll, with Sebastian Vettel in 2021, but reasons for that are very clear.

McLaren chose Patrick Tambay over Gilles Villeneuve for 1978, leading to Villeneuve moving to Ferrari instead.

Lotus bowed down to Innes Ireland demanding a seat rather than John Surtees in 1961. A Surtees/Clark lineup would have been something quite special but maybe they didn't need them both.

Perhaps there has been a second crazy decision recently, with Alpine parting ways with Esteban Ocon for 2025. It seems unlikely that he will be replaced with anyone better than Mick Schumacher or Jack Doohan at the moment, although I am sure Ocon wanted to leave anyway.

Any other suggestions?

I would also be interested in the opposite. A move that looked ridiculous at the time but turned out to be inspired. For example, Felipe Massa to Ferrari in 2006 didn't appear to make much sense but he turned out pretty well.

IIRC Prost was not fired by Ferrari in 91 because he wasn’t that fast anymore (he had just taken the 1990 championship to the last race in an, arguably, less capable car and then won 1993, albeit in a great car. But I think they fired him because he called the Ferrari (one of the most beautiful cars in F1 history IMO) a tractor…

And then, yeah, all the decisions about keeping not so fast drivers in some of the best seats for too long: Coulthard, Barrichello, Massa, Bottas, etc….

Edited by Gravelngrass, 10 June 2024 - 00:02.


#17 juicy sushi

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 01:00

Irvine to Jaguar, K-Mag back to Haas, Jacques Villeneuve to Renault, and then to Sauber, Hamilton to Ferrari…

Edited by juicy sushi, 10 June 2024 - 01:00.


#18 Brawn BGP 001

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 01:00

AlphaTauri signing de Vries will always be odd for me, I wonder to this day how good that Williams was in Monza 2022.

 

Alex Wurz to Williams in 2007, was odd too was probably three or four years too late for Alex although he got two great results in carnage races.


Edited by Brawn BGP 001, 10 June 2024 - 01:02.


#19 MattPete

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 01:19

That Wurz hire always seemed odd to me. It would be like Williams signing Vandoorne or Wehrlein for 2025.

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#20 MattPete

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 01:20

Hamilton to Ferrari makes no sense to me.

#21 juicy sushi

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 01:27

Hamilton to Ferrari makes no sense to me.

Charles and Carlos are definitely up there as one of the best possible Ferrari driver pairings, so breaking that up, to me, makes no sense.

#22 Deeq

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 02:36

Charles and Carlos are definitely up there as one of the best possible Ferrari driver pairings, so breaking that up, to me, makes no sense.

I am not of Carlos fan per se but he is damn fine driver and along with Charles best team duo right now imho. Hamilton is not slowmow but he is not getting younger, He is not the future yet they sacrificed the future for him
Odd decision to say the least.🤔

#23 CoolBreeze

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 04:04

IIRC Prost was not fired by Ferrari in 91 because he wasn’t that fast anymore (he had just taken the 1990 championship to the last race in an, arguably, less capable car and then won 1993, albeit in a great car. But I think they fired him because he called the Ferrari (one of the most beautiful cars in F1 history IMO) a tractor…

And then, yeah, all the decisions about keeping not so fast drivers in some of the best seats for too long: Coulthard, Barrichello, Massa, Bottas, etc….

Completely false.



#24 Otaku

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 04:30

What about Williams not getting Senna in 84 because of "being too young"?

#25 Gravelngrass

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 04:43

Completely false.


Not completely: https://youtu.be/pz2...wVyPtgGYtZbUM-G

#26 RainyAfterlifeDaylight

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 05:50

All the front runner teams that chose him instead of me! Crazy crazy decisions!

#27 messy

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 06:28

It’s already been said, but Hamilton to Ferrari. It’s too late in the day for it to be a massive coup for Ferrari. Lewis will be 40 years old and although he’s still performing to a good standard, he’s getting tonked by Russell in their qualifying head to head and clearly showing that (at least 2022-24 spec Lewis) if you take away a dominant Mercedes, he’s just another guy. A good one, but not some record-breaking phenomenon who’s going to pull Ferrari up to the next level. My prediction is that Leclerc will beat him pretty comfortably and the partnership probably won’t last all that long.

In Leclerc-Sainz, they have a balanced lineup of drivers who compliment each other beautifully, are both (reasonably) young, get on well, and have proved that they’ll balance out each others bad days on the occasions where the car is good enough to win to ensure one of them does just that. Ferrari wanting to turn their back on that dynamic to chase Hamilton just strikes me as dumb and short sighted.

#28 Henri Greuter

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 06:59

Perez at RedBull reminds me about the strategy of Brabham once Lauda was gone and Piquet took over the effective #1 seat.

From then on it became a matter at Brabham of `filling the seat next to Nelson` and keep him happy since it was a clear as hell #2 car that the rules required.

Probably the best examples on the lists of Nelson's lap dogs:  Ricardo Zunino, Hector Rebaque, and most of all, no personal offence intended: Francois Hesnault.

The latter especially is the signing that, without all this knowlegde makes no sense at all.

 

EDIT: Saw that Ensign14 mentioned all this already, Sorry Ensign!

 

Another driver who showed similar behaviour as long as he remained with the team he had signed for (Lotus....) was Senna. How about Lotus taking on Dumfries in 1986? Because of after allowing Senna to push De Angelis out of the team and him refusing to accept Derek Warwick for team mate.

 

 

What happens at RedBull right now as caused by the behaviour of the effective #1 driver looks kind of similar to me.

As the past weekend (and previous results) approves, the results and effeciency of the driver in question kind of excuses and approves the behaviour.

But it ain't nice and it won't help the levels of the end year's bonus for the mechanics courtesy the final classification of the team within the constructors title.


Edited by Henri Greuter, 10 June 2024 - 07:02.


#29 ensign14

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:10

A good one, but not some record-breaking phenomenon who’s going to pull Ferrari up to the next level. My prediction is that Leclerc will beat him pretty comfortably and the partnership probably won’t last all that long.
 

...which is the entire point, surely?  Hamilton brings over experience, might bring some fresh personnel over, helps bring Leclerc up a notch, and completes the Senna story arc by finishing his career at Ferrari.  Like Benetton brought Patrese in, not for his outright speed (which was still decent enough), but for a decade and a half of F1 knowledge alongside a comparative new bug.



#30 Nemo1965

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:18

I think there might be other reasons than just pace why Prost was fired from Renault

 

Haha, poor Prost. The incident you refer to was quite infamous in Zandvoort, where my father lived and had an office at the time. I myself worked in the tourist-industry there (beach-server) and whatever happened in the Bouwes Hotel (where all the drivers stayed), I knew several witnesses who told me there at least was a shouting match in hysteric French... but of course my barbarians of school-mates did not understand French so they were left guessing what the hell went on. Funny enough there is a rumour that Prost' nemesis, René Arnoux got fired by Ferrari half-way season for the same, eh, activities. 

 

BTW: Frentzen instead of Hill was not THAT a bad move in hindsight, right?



#31 Risil

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:24

BTW: Frentzen instead of Hill was not THAT a bad move in hindsight, right?

 

Hill might've been the better bet in 1997 than Villeneuve, but Jacques got it done. 



#32 jee

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:25

Most of the examples - compared to the Perez situation - can only be answered in hindsight, which makes them a bad comparison in my opinion.

It could well be that a decision taken at the time looked crazy, turned out to be good and doesn't look stupid in hindsight.



#33 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:43

When multiple WDC's are written as crazy market decisions, then I don't know what crazy is anymore.



#34 Risil

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:51

On the Perez point, I doubt drivers are queuing round the block to be beaten by Verstappen.

#35 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 07:53

On the Perez point, I doubt drivers are queuing round the block to be beaten by Verstappen.

 

Most of them should though, points, podiums and the occasional win, life can be much worse for a 2nd level F1 driver.



#36 Anderis

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:03

That Wurz hire always seemed odd to me. It would be like Williams signing Vandoorne or Wehrlein for 2025.

Different times. Unlike drivers today, Wurz actually drove F1 cars a lot during the time he was a test driver. And he got a podium in his stand-in drive in 2005, in less than ideal circumstances (he was too big to fit in the car comfortably and drove in a compromised position) suggesting he still had some speed. And with in-season testing still being allowed in 2007, I think his technical feedback was more valuable than it would be today. There's really nothing to compare to what it would be like today.



#37 PayasYouRace

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:05

There are a few early season splits that definitely all appear crazy to me, even when the trains are well published.

Surtees and Ferrari in 1966 has already been mentioned.

Peterson leaving Lotus after 1 race in 1976. Was March really a better prospect. It probably didn’t work out too differently for him that year, but just seemed like a waste of time when he went back to Lotus eventually.

Then there’s Reutemann and Williams in 1982, and Arnoux and Ferrari in 1985. Both for mysterious reasons and both missed out a potentially great year.

#38 PayasYouRace

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:09

Different times. Unlike drivers today, Wurz actually drove F1 cars a lot during the time he was a test driver. And he got a podium in his stand-in drive in 2005, in less than ideal circumstances (he was too big to fit in the car comfortably and drove in a compromised position) suggesting he still had some speed. And with in-season testing still being allowed in 2007, I think his technical feedback was more valuable than it would be today. There's really nothing to compare to what it would be like today.


Even given all that, it seemed like an odd choice at the time. Then again, he was probably a better choice than Toyota foisted Nakajima.

(And his 2005 “podium” was post BAR’s disqualification.)

#39 messy

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:12

...which is the entire point, surely?  Hamilton brings over experience, might bring some fresh personnel over, helps bring Leclerc up a notch, and completes the Senna story arc by finishing his career at Ferrari.  Like Benetton brought Patrese in, not for his outright speed (which was still decent enough), but for a decade and a half of F1 knowledge alongside a comparative new bug.


I doubt that's Lewis' plan!!

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#40 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:13

On the Perez point, I doubt drivers are queuing round the block to be beaten by Verstappen.


This is one possible explanation.

Another is that Max is effectively blocking any attempt to get a decent number two into the other car.

A third is that Red Bull feel confident that Max is that good and that he is flattering the car (rather than Perez making a mess of it) - hence whoever they replace Perez with would only be a slight improvement anyway

A fourth is that keeping Perez is some sort of a business decision as there are markering advantages to be had.

I guess you can pick and chose between the explanations above. Whatever the true explanation is, it certainly feels like a very underwhelming and uninspired choice.

#41 Claudius

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:13

I don't believe that Perez signing was due to Max wanting a slower driver. There has to be more to it, apart from the sponsors he brings.



#42 messy

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:18

The thing with Perez is that aside from being properly slow a lot of the time, I don't even think he's that much of a natural team player - this time last year everyone was still going on about his "feud" with Max. Who knows. I was going to suggest he might have compromising pictures of Horner but I think most people do.

Edited by messy, 10 June 2024 - 08:19.


#43 Viryfan

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:25

Even given all that, it seemed like an odd choice at the time. Then again, he was probably a better choice than Toyota foisted Nakajima.

(And his 2005 “podium” was post BAR’s disqualification.)


Thing is that we never saw Wurz full potential following his near fatal encounter with Coulthard in race 1, he got spooked after that.

#44 dmj

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:30

Well, in the initial post there is a question about opposite situations and I’m sure very few, if any, could beat Ferrari/Lauda signing. Zero expectations turned to establishment of one of the most dominant streaks of F1. Of course, haven’t it been for the clash of the egos, Ferrari/Lauda relationship might qualify for an answer to the initial question. If egos were a bit lower, Lauda could easily win 1979. title. Lotus was probably unreachable in 1978. but Niki was the best car developer of any F1 drivers at the times and who knows… With his input one can also presume that Ferraris would never slip to disastrous level of 1980. and most of 1981…

Also, one of the worst decisions ever must be Emerson’s sentence “Yes, brother, I think it is a good idea to have a F1 team. I’ll be glad to drive for you.”



#45 Deeq

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:31

I don't believe that Perez signing was due to Max wanting a slower driver. There has to be more to it, apart from the sponsors he brings.

..I was going to suggest he might have compromising pictures of Horner but I think most people do.

Beat me to it..
Edit: messed up the quots 🙃

Edited by Deeq, 10 June 2024 - 08:39.


#46 DW46

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:34

Irvine to Jaguar, K-Mag back to Haas, Jacques Villeneuve to Renault, and then to Sauber, Hamilton to Ferrari…


Irvine got Jags only podiums?

I remember the media loved it when they replaced him with Webber as Irvine like JV and the Schumacher brothers never had time for a chat with Martin before the race.

#47 P123

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 08:51

Irvine got Jags only podiums?

I remember the media loved it when they replaced him with Webber as Irvine like JV and the Schumacher brothers never had time for a chat with Martin before the race.

 

Scored their only points too.  I think the issue was more to do with how much they were paying him when the team wasn't exactly in great shape.  It needed a lot more than just throwing money at a driver.  

 

In terms of 'crazy decisions', up there with what Toyota were throwing into Ralf's bank account, and perhaps similarly Renault and Danny Ric.  Not that any of them were terrible, but was the level of money really needed to secure their services?


Edited by P123, 10 June 2024 - 08:53.


#48 Beri

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 09:06

Hamilton to Mercedes springs to mind as the most craziest decision in recent history. Even his Ferrari move makes sense to some degree. But his Mercedes signing did not at all at that moment in time.



#49 Anderis

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 09:17

Hamilton to Mercedes springs to mind as the most craziest decision in recent history. Even his Ferrari move makes sense to some degree. But his Mercedes signing did not at all at that moment in time.

Clearly it did make sense given what the effects were. I bet that he had had some indications about what could have happened in 2014.



#50 DeKnyff

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Posted 10 June 2024 - 09:24

Hamilton to Mercedes springs to mind as the most craziest decision in recent history. Even his Ferrari move makes sense to some degree. But his Mercedes signing did not at all at that moment in time.

 

It made some sense if you consider that the 2014 rules were (correctly) supposed to be an "engine formula" and Mercedes had been working on those engines  for years. Also, there was the leadership of Ross Brawn, specially when compared to the mess that McLaren had become in 2012.