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Ranking the Top 5 Most Disappointing Replacement Drivers

Fraser MasefieldContributor IFebruary 13, 2014

Ranking the Top 5 Most Disappointing Replacement Drivers

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    You have to feel for Heikki Kovalainen. Having been overlooked for a Caterham drive he appeared to have in the bag before the end of the 2013 season, he has been told his drives for Lotus cost him the seat.

    Kovalainen filled in for Kimi Raikkonen for the remaining two races of the 2013 season but struggled to adapt to the E21, failing to score any points in the process.

    Former team boss Tony Fernandes recently rubbed salt into the wound.

    "Obviously we would lie if we said it didn’t play a part," Fernandes is quoted on Autosport.

    It will be scant consolation for the Finn, but he is not the first driver to have failed to fill in successfully for a driver at short notice.

    Here are five other drivers to have fallen on their faces in such circumstances.

5. Marc Gene

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    CHRISTIAN LUTZ/Associated Press

    With two seasons at Minardi and a year and a half as the test driver for the Williams F1 team under his belt, Spaniard Marc Gene was already an experienced Formula One driver when called up after Ralf Schumacher was injured in a high-speed shunt at Indianapolis in 2004.

    With the Williams FW25 having already secured three podiums, the experienced Gene was expected to make a good fist of things, but he failed to score any points in France and Germany before Schumacher returned to action. 

4. Zsolt Baumgartner

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    IMRE FOELDI/Associated Press

    Things could not have worked out much better for Zsolt Baumgartner when he was asked to step in for the injured Ralph Firman at his home grand prix in Hungary in 2003.

    Firman had suffered a huge shunt in practice and was knocked unconscious after a catastrophic rear wing failure. As a result, Baumgartner became the first driver from his country to start a grand prix in front of his home fans.

    However, there was to be no fairytale ending. Baumgartner retired with an engine issue on Lap 34.

3. Tomas Enge

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    TOM STRATTMAN/Associated Press

    Like Kovalainen, Tomas Enge was brought in right at the end of the season and asked to do a job at short notice after Luciano Burti was injured in a crash at Spa.

    The Prost AP04 he was asked to drive was hardly a world beater, but he was well off the pace and could manage only 12th and 14th in Italy and USA before retiring in Japan. 

2. Jean-Louis Schlesser

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    French driver Jean-Louis Schlesser will go down in history as the man who wrecked McLaren’s chances of an unprecedented clean sweep in the 1988 season.

    When Nigel Mansell was ruled out of the Italian Grand Prix through illness, Schlesser was brought in to deputise but with disastrous consequences.

    Having qualified a disappointing 22nd on the grid, Schlesser had made his way up to 11th. Meanwhile, race leader Ayrton Senna was bearing down on him on the penultimate lap of the race, with the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto in close attendance.

    For whatever reason, Senna risked lapping the Frenchman at the Rettifilo chicane. However, Schlesser turned in on him, T-boning the McLaren and leaving it beached on the kerb.

    Berger and Alboreto streamed past to take a famous 1-2 at their home race and Schlesser was forced to make a tearful apology to Senna. 

1. Luca Badoer

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Italian Luca Badoer has competed in more F1 races than any other driver in history without scoring a point.

    He made his F1 debut for BMS Scuderia Italia in 1993 before stints with the equally uncompetitive Minardi and Forti teams.

    Ater that, he spent 10 seasons as Ferrari’s test driver. However, when Felipe Massa was badly injured in practice for the 2009 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, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen took victory.

    He was replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella after just two races. 

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