They are all famous names and great drivers, but can you identify them from these close ups?
We are often very critical about so-called pay drivers, doubt about their skills and we put their right to be in Formula one under serious question. But, who are really the worst drivers we’ve ever seen in a Formula one cockpit? I know that the name of Pastor Maldonado will be almost on top of everyone s list but in my opinion, he is not the worst at all. So that’s why I made this list of so-called “mobile chicanes” we saw in Formula One history…
the twelve examples where we really reached the bottom….
So this list has no intention to elect the worst driver of all times, but only to make all of us remember what we saw in all these years and to admit that not all pay drivers are so bad as the ones mentioned above.
For a long time in Formula 1, when a racer was victorious, it was not such a genuine and sincere joy as with the great victory of Kimi Raikkonen in Austin. The fight for the title of world champion was pushed back into the background, as well as rivalry and personal offenses. The world of Formula 1 was united in sincere congratulations that were raging from all sides. Iceman was Formula 1.
Kimi Raikkonen, who again won the red car after 2009, is one of the last giants of the fastest sport. With victory in Austin Finn became the first racer to win both the V10 and V8 as well as the hybrid era of Formula 1. In his long and successful career, Iceman fought with Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton for the title of the world champion. At 39 became the oldest winner of the race since Britain’s Nigel Mansell triumphed at the age of 41 in Australia in 1994.
Although it took 15 years for the first and final victory of the Finn, Kimi always remained true to himself. Like in 2003 in Sepang, he also went cold-blooded out of the car in a car with the same expression on the face which makes Iceman unique – “More racing, less bullshit.” A phrase that many drivers have said in history, but rarely are those who actually lived. Kimi still does.
That’s why Kimi Raikkonen is one of the most popular racers in the history of the motorsport. His unique character represents what Formula 1 once was and what in the eyes of many enthusiasts should have been today. The legacy of James Hunt, which has grown into a series of pay drivers over the years, Kimi Raikkonen maintains in the 21st century, the style Formula 1 once had, and today with virtual racing already fades slightly into oblivion.
The wins are important, but far from the most important. Formula 1 is much more than that. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, love of speed which bringing together millions of people around the world. Just like Kimi Raikkonen did in Austin.
It is perfectly human that when someone important dies we start thinking about it. And sooner or later all kinds of theories come out about what happened especially if they are supported by ”proofs” that came from different sources than the ones officially recognized.
It is perfectly normal that we want our heroes to be a little superhuman and unmistakable so usually, the simplest and easiest explanation is simply not enough. We start searching for the ”truth” or ”our truth” that mostly has no connection with reality.
One of those moments happened on May 1st, 1994. Result of unpredictable circumstances and unlucky actions caused the death of one of the greatest drivers of that era Ayrton Senna. Moments after the tragic impact lots of people started talking about more or less confirmed sources about what ”really” happened and what was the ”real” cause of the accident. There were theories that are still alive today that Ayrton was under heavy psychological stress after the death of Ronald Ratzenberger and personal love issues. But let’s be serious for a moment. Do we really believe that such a great racing driver, a three-time Formula One world champion wasn’t mentally strong enough to overcome that? I am sure that when he put his racing helmet on the left his problems behind. Even if they didn’t share much time together, the death of a fellow colleague driver was more of a motivation for winning than a death premonition.
A second, more plausible theory talks about his Williams driving over debris from a previous accident and got a tire puncture. That is possible however do we really believe that such an experienced driver as Ayrton Senna did not notice that? I think it’s almost impossible. More so we were in the era right after the ban of active suspension with all the information about the ride height of a car immediately available in the pits. There however was no sign of any puncture. Some might argue that the team covered something but all that information only confirmed that was a fatality and not a conspiracy.
And now for the biggest theory of them all, the one about the poorly welded steering column. That column was fixed especially on Ayrton Senna’s request before the race. However, it was fixed in a way that anyone who knows a little bit about racing cars would consider it unacceptable if not offensive. Such modifications are not acceptable even in local lawn mower races and here we are talking about Formula 1. The fact is that the steering column was broken yet it remains a mystery if that happened before or after the crash. The footage from the camera is showing what everybody would want to see, however, the tape stopped when the crucial moment came. The big process in Italy based on that fact found the team guilty yet nobody was sent to prison. And after years of trials what remains is just theories without any strong proof.
After all these theories I dare making my own one. One that is based on simple and possible things that probably happened. I hope that we all agree that Ayrton Senna was a stubborn character, one that drove always on the limit of his car and sometimes even exceeding that limit. His driving style was rather nervous, always searching for the grip of the car. That was a part of him, a part of his greatness. On the other hand, the Williams FW16 had a little flaw. It was an evolution of the FW15C but without the active suspension. Patrick Head and Adrian Newey confirmed that that car had a very narrow setting window and was very prone to change from an oversteer tendency to an understeer one. We also have to keep in mind that FW 16 had servo-assisted steering which was a new thing in that era. Only with the revisited WF16B the Williams team partially solved that issues and won the constructor championship at the end of the year.
Here I think it is right to mention the words of the closest person to Ayrton in that race and who should know the situation best, his team mate Damon Hill who said that it was a driving mistake and not a strange conspiracy. I hope we all agree about Ayrton Senna being an extraordinary human being and driver however he was not a mythological god. Maybe he really did a mistake and in combination with an unpredictable and nervous racing car, Ayrton Senna found himself in a situation that even he was not able to solve.
Peter Sauber, what do you think about the return of Kimi Räikkönen to Sauber?
I’ll say it now in the words of Adolf Ogi: Joy prevails. That this possibility exists, I already found out during my visit to Monza. That it worked, is a great signal. Kimi has an excellent reputation in Hinwil and is also very popular with the fans. His commitment will give the whole team a huge boost.
Does Räikkönen get his bread of charity in Hinwil?
Anything but that! Kimi is very ambitious and feels that Sauber is going uphill. A year ago he probably wouldn’t have taken this step. With his experience he will help the team in every respect. He has considered this step very well and will not want to lose his reputation.
You have discovered Kimi Räikkönen. How did that happen?
The English manager David Robertson came to Hinwil in winter 2001. By the way, his son Steve still looks after his Räikkönen today. Robertson told me about a prodigy in Formula Renault. A man without races in Formula 3 or Formula 3000, as Formula 2 was called then. My gut feeling told me: we test this man. Since that always costs money.
Then we went with 2 cars for three days to Mugello. Kimi was shy and taciturn. He barely spoke English. Well, he almost did not speak at all. But his body language was unique. When I first met him, I felt like he was walking through me. I never forget this impressive encounter. He just gave the impression of total determination.
And he was fast.
Yes. He has never used the clutch or changed gears on the steering wheel. But he drove out to the pit lane as if it was nothing. His lap times were very fast right from the start. And he was incredibly consistent. When we put him on track with 30 kilo less fuel then he was one second faster. And with new tires another second. Like a clockwork. I have never experienced something like that again. We were fascinated and signed him.
With a provisional super license.
Yes. In a plea I had to convince the other team bosses that we give this newcomer a super license. I asked them: Go and watch him driving. Then you will understand me.
Has there developed something like a father-son relationship?
Not as with young drivers like Karl Wendlinger. Räikkönen was too aloof for that. But up to this day he has a close relationship with team manager Beat Zehnder.
And in the first race of 2001 it worked right away.
That was in Australia. Kimi drove straight into the points and finished sixth. Nick Heidfeld finished fourth. At the end of the season, we finished fourth in the constructors’ championship. It was the most successful season for Sauber. It was better only with BMW, when we were once second and once third.
Will the return of the lost son Räikkönen give Formula 1 a new boom in Switzerland?
I hope so. A world champion returns to his second home. That’s a nice story and a great signal for the Sauber team.