• Top Ten - Worst F1 careers

Drivers who failed to make the grade

Laurence Edmondson February 5, 2010
Yuji Ide spent most of his F1 career trying to get out of the way of other cars, and he wasn't very good at that © Sutton Images
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Yuji Ide
In 2006 Ide had his superlicense revoked after failing to qualify within five seconds of pole position at any of the four grand prix he entered and making a general nuisance of himself during the races. Driving an outdated Super Aguri was never going to be easy, but Ide made it infinitely more difficult by not being able to communicate with his team in English. He finished just one race, the Australian Grand Prix, in 13th but three laps down. Franck Montagny was quickly drafted in to replace him and Ide returned to his native Japan to race in Formula Nippon and the Super GT championship.

Chanoch Nissany
After taking up motor-racing as a hobby at the grand old age of 38, it should have been no surprise that Nissany was 13 seconds off the pace when he made his F1 debut with Minardi during practice for the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix. He reportedly said over the radio: "Guys, I'm coming in, I'm having too much grip." Well that will tend to happen in an F1 car…

Taki Inoue
As well as being one of F1's least successful drivers, finishing just five races from 18 attempts, he was also involved in two of the sport's most bizarre accidents. At the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix he stalled during first qualifying and had to be towed back to the pits at the end of the session. Nothing too abnormal about that, but as he sat in the cockpit with his Footwork roped to a tow truck, he was hit and flipped by a Renault Clio course car driving full pelt around the circuit. Fortunately Inoue was wearing his helmet, and despite mild concussion, still took part in the race. The second incident was at that year's Hungarian Grand Prix. Inoue retired on lap 14 with engine failure, and as he hustled marshals to get a fire extinguisher, he was hit by a course car at low speed. He staggered on his feet for a few seconds before clutching his leg and falling to the ground. He retired from F1 for good at the end of the season. It was probably for the best.

Luca Badoer
As an F3000 champion and highly regarded Ferrari test driver, Badoer's inclusion on the list can easily be debated. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that he has competed in the more F1 races than any other driver without scoring a point. He was undoubtedly held back by terrible cars in his early career, driving for BMS Scuderia Italia, Minardi and Forti. Ten seasons as a Ferrari test driver then followed before he was finally given a chance to race for the team in 2009. Sadly his dream of racing for Italy's No.1 team soon turned into a nightmare. While team-mate Kimi Raikkonen took a third place and a win at the European and Belgian Grand Prix, Badoer qualified plumb last at both events and was over a second off the pace in the races. As a result of his poor performances the British press saddled him with the nickname Look-How-Bad-You-Are.

Esteban Tuero was often at the centre of the accident © Getty Images
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Esteban Tuero
From the age of seven he was groomed to be a racing driver and by his 18th birthday he was competing in Formula One's feeder series F3000. But unlike Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton, Tuero rocketed through the ranks as a result of his sponsors' money rather than any outstanding talent. With just enough experience to gain a superlicence he made his debut with Minardi aged 19 but immediately looked out of place. Commentator and ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle said: "I don't like to see these guys out there with so little experience. To be honest, it annoys me, people like that, with zilch credibility." He finished the season with 12 retirements from 16 starts before returning to his native Argentina to race in touring cars.

Al Pease
There were many private entrants from the early years of F1 who could qualify for this list, but Pease stands out from the crowd. He distinguishes himself by being the only F1 driver ever to be disqualified for being too slow. Driving an uncompetitive Eagle-Climax in the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix, he was several laps down at the time but still determined to have a scrap with anybody who came up behind him. When a rather dastardly swipe nearly took Jackie Stewart out of the race, team owner Ken Tyrrell lodged a complaint with the stewards and Pease was shown the black flag.

Paul Belmondo
Son of Jean-Paul Belmondo, the star of cult French film Breathless, Paul entered 27 races in Formula One between 1992 and 1994 before his funding ran out. He only qualified for seven of them, and one of those he had to retire from due to physical exhaustion. Driving for the failing March team in 1992 and the hopeless Pacific outfit in 1994, he barely gave himself an opportunity to shine. But given his poor performances in the junior formula, he probably should never have been in F1 in the first place.

Giovanna Amati failed to qualify for any of the races she entered © Sutton Images
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Giovanna Amati
Amati made her Formula One debut testing for Benetton, around the same time she was rumoured to be in a relationship with team principal Flavio Briatore. In 1992 she got a race drive at the failing Brabham team, but was way off the pace and span six times during her first practice session at Kyalami. After failing to qualify for the next two rounds she was finally dropped in favour of Damon Hill.

Marco Apicella
He had the shortest F1 race career in history, competing in just one grand prix and making it to the apex of the first corner before being clouted out of the race by JJ Lehto's Sauber. To be fair to Apicella he was probably capable of more, having achieved the odd podium in European F3000, but it wasn't to be and his one-race contract with Jordan wasn't extended. He then moved to Japan where he won the Formula Nippon championship and continues to race in the Super GT sportscar championship today.

Jean-Denis Deletraz
He made his grand prix debut at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix with Larrousse, when the cash-strapped F1 team ditched its long-serving driver Eric Comas in favour of Deletraz and his sponsor's money. He surprised many by qualifying off the back of the grid, but during the race it quickly became clear that he was out of his depth. He was passed by the leaders after just 10 laps, and by the time he retired midway through the race, he had been lapped a further nine times. He competed at just two more grand prix, again paying for his drive, but this time at Pacific. He retired from the first at Estoril with cramp but managed to finish the second, at the Nurburgring, in 15th position - albeit seven laps down. Despite his terrible F1 experience, Deletraz proved to be a very competent sports car driver and twice won in his class at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010