The most wins in a season. The most consecutive poles. The most World Championships.
All of those (and plenty of others) are the sort of records young drivers coming into F1 might dream of breaking. There are some other records which drivers most definitely do not want, but unfortunately someone has to hold them! Here are 10 drivers who hold some of the sports most unwanted records.
Chris Amon – Most laps in the lead without a win
The last race Amon led was the 1972 French GP, but victory went begging again as he dropped back with a puncture
Phil Hill led 172 laps in a career which saw him win three Grands Prix and the 1961 World Championship. Chris Amon led 183 laps in his career…and never won a single race.
In 1968 alone he retired from three races with whilst in a position to win, the poor reliability of his Ferrari meaning he ended the year only 10th in the championship when he was arguably the best driver of the year.
Four more times he led races, but something always seemed to conspire against him being there when the flag fell, leaving him saddled with the horrible reputation of being the best F1 driver to never win a race.
Teo Fabi – Most poles without leading
Teo Fabi couldn’t stay in the lead after any of his three pole positions
Usually scoring pole position gives a driver a great chance of leading the early stages, but despite scoring three of them during his career, Teo Fabi didn’t manage to officially lead a single lap.
He fluffed his start following a brilliant pole for Toleman at Hockenheim in 1985, and back-to-back poles for Benetton in 1986 in Austria and Italy yielded no time at the front either. Well, he did take the lead at one point in Austria, but his engine blew up before he could cross the line.
Narain Karthikeyan – Worst finishing position
It could be a while before anyone manages to finish lower than 24th
There have only been seven occasions in the history of F1 where every single car that started the race also finished it. Of those races, the 2011 European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit had the most cars, which meant that the driver who finished last holds the record of the lowest ever finishing position in an F1 race.
Narain Karthikeyan was that driver, his HRT coming home in 24th place, three laps down on winner Sebastian Vettel, in what was a thoroughly uneventful race. Adding to Karthikeyan’s ‘achievement’, he was also the slowest in every practice session and in qualifying. What an honour!
Andrea de Cesaris – Most consecutive non-finishes
Ligier sacked de Cesaris because his constant accidents were costing the team too much money
Andrea de Cesaris is the king of unwanted records and could feature on this list multiple times. He also holds the records for most starts without a win (208), most career DNFs (148), most consecutive DNFs in a season (12 in 1987) and most DNFs in a season (14 in 1987).
It’s his record for most consecutive non-finishes which perhaps stands out the most though. After he finished 10th in the 1985 Detroit Grand Prix, de Cesaris retired from the next 18 races he started until he finally recorded an eighth place finish at the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix – 16 months later!
It could have been an even bigger streak, but he missed the last five races of 1985 after being fired by Ligier and he couldn’t get his Minardi onto the grid in Monaco in 1986. Still, 18 consecutive retirements! Even those who have driven for McLaren-Honda these past few years haven’t got anywhere near that amount.
Jarno Trulli – Most first lap retirements
For two years on the trot Trulli failed to make it past turn 1 in Canada
From the endless media commitments to the hours of practice and tension of qualifying, a Grand Prix weekend builds up to one thing: the race itself. Now imagine putting in all that hard work and then retiring on the very first lap.
For Jarno Trulli, that happened a record 14 times, 12 of which were down to collisions and pile-ups. Incredibly five of them happened during the two years he spent with Jordan in 2000/2001 – does that make him the original ‘first lap nutcase’?
Luca Badoer – Most races without scoring a point
Badoer was a solid driver but, two races with Ferrari aside, never had cars good enough to give him a decent chance of scoring points
If you were in 50 Grands Prix, you’d think that in at least one of them a certain set of circumstances would happen that would allow you to score a point. For Luca Badoer, those circumstances never arose.
He didn’t exactly drive decent cars in his career, but even when there was a race of attrition or something, poor Badoer seemed to be flat out of luck, like at the 1999 European Grand Prix, when he was running fourth for Minardi with a handful of laps to go when his car broke.
Two races for Ferrari in 2009 following Felipe Massa’s accident should have been his best chance at finally getting a score on the board, but he was woefully underprepared. After the 2009 Belgian GP the team replaced him and his F1 career ended with 50 starts and zero points.
Ernst Loof – Shortest distance covered
The first corner of the 1953 German GP, which Loof didn’t even reach.
Now retiring on the first lap is bad enough, but what about if it happens in your only Grand Prix? It’s happened to a few drivers in F1 history, and of those German driver Ernst Loof covered the least distance.
Starting towards the back of the field for the 1953 German Grand Prix, Loof’s F1 career lasted for just two meters as the fuel pump on his Veritas gave up pretty much as soon as the flag dropped. Now that’s got to suck!
Stirling Moss – Most wins without a championship
Moss was the stand-out driver of his era
Stirling Moss was one of the very best drivers of his era, winning all sorts of different races in all sorts of different cars. He won 16 Grands Prix, was runner-up in the championship four times, and some of his performances in F1 rank among the greatest drives of all time, yet he never managed to win a title.
Why? Initially it was because Juan Manuel Fangio was busy winning everything, and once he retired Moss had developed a tendency to drive British cars for privateer teams, which restricted his chances at becoming champion. He had a good chance to do so in 1958, but his incredible sportsmanship led to countryman Mike Hawthorn winning the title.
Then in 1962, while he was right in his prime as a driver, his career was cut short following a nasty accident at Goodwood. His lack of a title means little though – he’ll forever remain one of the best F1 drivers of all time.
Claudio Langes – Most entries without starting
Langes was way off his teammate in terms of pace
Imagine achieving your dream of becoming an F1 driver. Now imagine never even making it to an actual practice session because your car is so slow. Unfortunately for Claudio Langes, that was the story of his sole F1 season for Eurobrun in 1990, when he failed to pre-qualify for each of his 14 entries.
The car wasn’t great, but teammate Roberto Moreno at least made it out of pre-quali five times, and even into the race on two occasions. Langes was nowhere near Moreno’s ability though and was often several seconds a lap slower.
Two races from the end of the season Eurobrun withdrew from the championship. Langes also disappeared from the sport, taking with him the unenviable record of 14 Grand Prix entries and no starts.
Sebastian Vettel – Fastest penalty
Vettel was a bit too keen to start his F1 career
During Sebastian Vettel’s first Grand Prix weekend at Turkey in 2006, he drove for BMW-Sauber in Friday practice. Just six seconds after leaving the garage for the first time, he was penalised for pitlane speeding. Honestly! He made up for it in FP2 though by ending the session fastest of all.
Now Vettel has broken plenty of records, but getting a penalty just six seconds into his F1 career is one that will probably never be beaten – unless someone does it on purpose, anyway. After all, even Pastor Maldonado couldn’t manage it, and if he couldn’t, then who will?!