With the scramble for the remaining F1 seats truly underway for the 2014 season, many drivers know they must improve their performances or face disappearing from the sport.
Today’s F1 grid is blessed with talent.
Even the so called “pay drivers”—who come with valuable sponsorship—have worked their way up through the junior formulae. This hasn’t always been the case. F1’s history is littered with drivers who were often a danger to themselves and others just because they could afford to enter the sport and teams needed them.
Honourable mentions must go to Slim Borgudd who sported pop group ABBA’s logos across his ATS sidepods after a fleeting involvement as a studio drummer for the band.
Son of Jean-Paul Belmondo—of the French movie, Breathless—Paul Belmondo entered 27 races in F1 between 1992 and 1994 and only qualified for seven of them.
And Piercarlo Ghinzani wins the prize for the most persistent if not successful of drivers. He entered 111 races scoring only two points.
Even these mobile chicanes don’t quite break into our top 10 of the worst drivers in F1 history.
Black flags at the ready...
Our first such “pay driver” to make the list is Malaysia’s Alex Yoong.
After relatively little success in Formula Three, Formula 3000 and Formula Nippon, Yoong became the first Malaysian driver to compete in F1 at the 2001 Italian Grand Prix. He signed for Minardi thanks to sponsorship from the government-backed Magnum Corporation.
He ended the season with two retirements and a 16th place finish before teaming up with Mark Webber for 2002.
Webber totally outclassed his teammate, outqualifying him in every race and he was dropped at the end of the season with team boss Paul Stoddart threatening legal action for $1.5 million of unpaid sponsorship.
Marco Apicella makes the list because he has the record of the shortest F1 race career in the history of the sport.
Apicella drove for Jordan in the 1993 Italian Grand Prix but only made it to the first corner when he was hit by JJ Lehto’s Sauber.
He had driven just 800 metres and was replaced Emanuele Naspetti for the following round in Portugal and never raced in F1 again.
We'll never know how good he may have been so perhaps is more unlucky than bad and he went on to win the Japanese Formula 3000 series
It may seem strange to have a former F3000 champion and Ferrari’s longest serving test driver on this list, but the statistics speak for themselves.
Badoer competed in more F1 races than any other driver in history without scoring a point.
The Italian made his F1 debut for BMS Scuderia Italia in 1993 before stints with the equally uncompetitive Minardi and Forti teams.
Ten seasons as Ferrari’s test driver followed, but when Felipe Massa was badly injured in practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Badoer had his chance as a race driver for the team.
It proved a disaster, Badoer qualified three seconds off pole-sitter Rubens Barrichello in Valencia and was fined for speeding in the pit lane. He again qualified last in Belgium before finishing 14th, as teammate Kimi Raikkonen took victory.
He was replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella after just two races.
Taki Inoue is more famous for his comedy accidents during an eventful 1995 season than for his distinctly average driving.
The first came during the Monaco Grand Prix when he stalled his Footwork during the first qualifying session. While sitting in the cockpit waiting to be towed back to the pits, his car was hit by a Renault Clio course car and flipped on its back.
Inoue was fortunately still wearing his race helmet and took part in the race despite a minor concussion.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix of the same season, Inoue retired with an engine failure and was helping marshals to get a fire extinguisher when he was hit by a course car and knocked off his feet. Fortunately he was unharmed but retired from F1 at the end of the season.
Our second Japanese driver to make the list is Yuji Ide, who became one of the oldest F1 rookies to take to the grid at the age of 31 in 2006.
It is arguable that Ide only got his Super Aguri drive due to the team’s aspiration of forming an all-Japanese team but he was significantly slower than teammate Takuma Sato in Bahrain and failed to finish before retiring in Malaysia.
Things went from bad to worse in Australia when he was blamed for blocking Rubens Barrichello during qualifying before spinning a number of times during the race.
And the FIA’s patience finally ran out at Imola. He had his Super Licence revoked after causing an opening lap crash with Christijan Albers.
Adrian Campos is known, in the F1 community, for having more retirements than Michael Jordan.
Spaniard Campos participated in 21 grands prix for Minardi in 1987 and 1988 but retired an incredible 14 of the 16 races he started.
His F1 career got off to an awful start when he was disqualified in the season-opening Brazilian Grand Prix because he somehow forgot his ear plugs.
By the time he had fitted them, the rest of the field had moved away and Campos was disqualified after re-taking his grid slot instead of starting from the back.
Scottish driver Susie Wolff is the latest woman who hopes to break through into the F1 big time and is the current development driver for Williams.
She is not the first to have tried and she can hardly do worse that Italy’s Giovanna Amati.
Amati made her first appearance in an F1 car testing for Flavio Briatore’s Benetton team in 1991 and it was rumoured she was also in a relationship with the team principal.
She signed to drive for Brabham in 1992 after the team failed to sign Japanese F3000 driver Akihiko Nakaya and her debut in South Africa was a disaster, Amati spinning six times during practice before setting a qualifying time nine seconds off pole sitter Nigel Mansell and four off teammate Eric van der Poele.
After failing to qualify for the next two races in Mexico and Brazil, she was sacked and replaced by Damon Hill.
Jean-Denis Delatraz actually raced against Giovanna Amati in F3000 and beat her at Jerez.
But his Formula One career was just as short lived and it only lasted three races.
Having joined cash-strapped Larousse with sponsor funding in 1994, Delatraz made the grid for the season-ending Australian Grand Prix but was lapped ten times before retiring.
He drove just two more times for Pacific in 1995, retiring in Estoril with cramps before finishing 15th at the Nurburgring, despite almost crashing into Damon Hill.
Canadian Al Pease was actually an extremely successful driver in domestic competition and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1998.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of his F1 career and Pease goes down in history as the only F1 driver to be disqualified for driving too slowly.
The infamous race was the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix when, driving an Eagle-Climax, Pease was shown the black flag for being a general menace and battling with race leaders despite being several laps behind.
When Jackie Stewart was nearly taken out by the Canadian, Ken Tyrrell lodged a complaint and Pease was disqualified.
The closest most Formula 1 fans get to competing in the sport is through their dreams or chosen video games console.
For successful Israeli businessman Chanoch Nissany, his dreams became reality when he bought himself a drive for the Minardi team.
Nissany only took up racing as a hobby at the ripe old age of 38 but made his F1 debut during practice for the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix, then aged 41.
Well off the pace, Nissany span into a gravel trap before being craned off the circuit whilst still seated in his car because he couldn't remove his steering wheel.
He was immediately replaced by the far more competent Enrico Toccacelo.