The Worst Drives In Formula 1 History

Originally a video script for WTF1 in October 2023, Dre reviews some of the worst F1 drives of the 21st Century.

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Read time: 4 mins

We love F1 because we get to see many of the best racing drivers in the world at the peak of the powers week in, week out. But even the best can have their bad days. We saw Sergio Perez at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix have a horrid time, with two front wing changes, two-time penalties, and eventually two retirements for Checo in one of his worst days in an F1 car.

Perez’s horrible race got us thinking back at WTF1 HQ… let’s turn the Formula on its head. Just what have been some of the worst driving performances in F1 history? 

Yuji Ide – The 2006 San Marino Grand Prix

Yuji Ide was a promising Japanese driver who had some solid results in Formula Nippon, now known as Super Formula in Japan, where Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne and most recently Liam Lawson have won races. 

When Aguri Suzuki started his own F1 team (Super Aguri), the dream was to field an all-Japanese driver lineup. It quickly turned into a nightmare.

On the opening lap of the San Marino GP, Ide tried to dive at Midland driver Christijan Albers, but he lost control of his car and sent the Dutchman hurtling into multiple barrel rolls before coming to a stop in the gravel trap. Ide was able to continue but eventually retired due to suspension failure.

Aguri Suzuki had enough and dropped Ide from the team after the race, replacing him with third driver Franck Montagny. A week later, the FIA actually revoked Ide’s Superlicence citing him needing more experience. 

It’s never a good sign when your boss says: “He didn’t have enough testing because he doesn’t understand how to use the car”. Brutal. 

Luca Badoer – The Valencia and Belgium 2009 Grand Prix

When Felipe Massa suffered a horrific head injury in Hungary, long-serving Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer filled in while the Brazilian recovered. And he was shockingly bad. 

Badoer first filled in at Valencia, and he was 1.5 seconds slower in qualifying than anyone else in the field, and 2.6 seconds off teammate Kimi Raikkonen. In the race, Badoer wasn’t much better, finishing 17th and a lap down, while Kimi ended up on the podium. A week later, Badoer tried again at Spa but qualified last, and would finish 102 seconds off a race-winning Kimi. 

That was deemed enough for Ferrari, who replaced him with Giancarlo Fisichella who ironically very nearly won that Belgian Grand Prix in a Force India, finishing 2nd after qualifying on pole! And the saddest part? Badeor was dropped just before his home Grand Prix at Monza. Ouch.

Felipe Massa – The 2008 British Grand Prix

In a race more commonly celebrated as arguably Lewis Hamilton’s most dominant win, his title rival at the time, Felipe Massa, had a horror showing, unable to handle the extremely heavy rain at Silverstone!

Massa managed to spin FIVE times across the course of the race, including twice in just the first three laps. Two spins at the old start-finish line, two more at the old Bridge, and once at Maggets and Becketts, led to the Brazilian finishing 13th, last of all the cars to see the flag, and two laps off Hamilton, who’d go onto to win by over a minute!

Pastor Maldonado – The 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

The infamous Venezuelan was bound to end up in this video somewhere, right?

There’s a handful of Pastor races we could have chosen from here, but the one that jumped out at us was in 2015 in Hungary during his Lotus days. Over the course of the race, Pastor picked up a hat-trick of penalties. A drive-through penalty for hitting Sergio Perez into the exit of Turn 1, another for speeding in the pit lane and a third for overtaking under the Safety Car. 

This was a record-breaking set of penalties, only broken at the 2023 Austrian GP when Esteban Ocon picked up four time penalties for track limit breaches. 

Valtteri Bottas – The 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

It was a startling fall from grace for the Porridge Boss after winning in Abu Dhabi the previous year. 

Bottas had a painfully slow race, while teammate Lewis Hamilton would battle friend and rival Sebastian Vettel for the win, the Fin would have a horrible day, sliding from 2nd to 5th and eventually finishing 48 seconds behind Hamilton’s winning car. Bottas wasn’t happy after the racing, saying: “I think overall the race sums up the season quite well – started off quite well and then everything turns to s**t,”, and after that performance, can you blame him?

Romain Grosjean – The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

And what list of horrible race performances would be complete without Grosjean at Interlagos in 2016, and a race that he didn’t even start!

It was raining heavily in Brazil on race day, so much so a Safety Car start on the Extreme Wet tyre was mandated. Grosjean wouldn’t make it that far, as coming over the top of the hill in the final sector, the Frenchman lost control of his car and spun into the outside wall, ending his day before it had even started in embarrassing fashion. 

Are there any other horrible driving performances you can remember? Let us know in the comments, and if you liked the video, be sure to Subscribe!

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

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