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Blundell joined as McLaren was in a minor slump.
There are good cases to be made for several drivers not in the top five, and one of those is at the centre of the current debate.
The decision to hire Sauber driver Sergio Perez as Lewis Hamilton's replacement raised eyebrows for three reasons: his reputation (Was scoring podiums with Sauber good enough?); concerns over his Mexican backing buying him the seat and the fact he had long been rumoured a future Ferrari driver.
A little over 10 years prior to that, McLaren signed another surprise Sauber youngster: Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn had ended an impressive debut year in 10th, not bad for a man straight out of Formula Renault UK. Still, it was a big gamble from McLaren, though Raikkonen challenged for the title in his second season.
Working back chronologically, Mark Blundell could be argued as a strange decision on hindsight (What did he ever achieve?), but at the time he'd scored podiums in uncompetitive Tyrrells and Ligiers and was a winner at Le Mans.
Fifteen years further back and a rookie was making his F1 debut with McLaren. That was none other than Alain Prost, though this is less exceptional because McLaren was in a slump, and Prost was thought to galvanise the squad, as he was arriving as the ’79 F3 Euro champion and Monaco GP winner.
Star of the cinema screen, James Hunt, turned heads when he signed for McLaren in 1976 after years with the privately run Hesketh squad. Hunt had a formidable reputation as a driver who shunted a lot and only had one win to his name. But McLaren gambled and was richly rewarded.
Hunt beat Ferrari race-winner and multiple sportscar champion Jacky Ickx to that drive. The Ferrari star almost makes this list by virtue of his one-off in Germany in 1973. But he was well established then as a safe pair of hands, so he misses out.