10 British Drivers You May Have Forgotten Raced in Formula 1

Oliver Harden@@OllieHardenFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

10 British Drivers You May Have Forgotten Raced in Formula 1

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Britain has produced more Formula One world champions than any other nation, with 10 drivers claiming a grand total of 14 titles.

    Mike Hawthorn took Britain's first world crown in 1958, with all-time greats such as Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and John Surtees joining the list.

    Britain has also produced the only father-son world champions, with Damon Hill following in the footsteps of his father, Graham, in 1996.

    But it hasn't always been about glory.

    The country has produced some of the more forgettable drivers in F1 history, while the achievements of some have been innocently lost from the memories of fans.

    Ahead of the 2014 British Grand Prix, the event which will see the iconic Silverstone circuit host its 50th race, here are 10 British Formula One drivers you may have forgotten.

Justin Wilson

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    As someone who saw off the challenge of Mark Webber to win the 2001 International Formula 3000 title, Justin Wilson deserved more than 16 grands prix to prove his worth.

    After nine retirements, two teams (Minardi and Jaguar) and with just a single point to his name in 2003, however, Wilson was spat out of Formula One and left to rebuild his career in American open-wheel racing.

    And that he did, emerging as a leading protagonist in Champ Car, but settling for best of the rest behind Sebastien Bourdais in 2006 and 2007.

    Since the series merged with IndyCar, however, Wilson has found success harder to come by, winning only three races since 2008 with a best championship position of sixth.

Perry McCarthy

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    When a driver's career highlights include acting as The Stig on Top Gear, you know his professional career is not much to write home about.

    Perry McCarthy was, however, a Formula One driver—but never actually raced in Formula One.

    Driving for the Andrea Moda team, it was always going to be hard for McCarthy to make an impression and so it proved, with the Essex-born driver failing to even pre-qualify for five of 11 events in 1992.

    The farcical team failed to turn up for the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours and fitted wet tyres to McCarthy's car for a dry session at Silverstone.

    Andrea Moda was stopped in its tracks as the season entered its latter stages, with the team denied entry to the paddock at Monza.

    There are many drivers on this list who have been forgotten for the wrong reasons, but you suspect McCarthy himself has tried to forget his spell in F1.

Reg Parnell

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    Reg Parnell became the first British driver to stand on a Formula One podium in the sport's inaugural grand prix at Silverstone in 1950.

    The Derby-born driver—despite hitting a hare—inherited third place after the late retirement of Juan Manuel Fangio, finishing almost a minute behind race winner Giuseppe Farina and second-placed Luigi Fagioli.

    Parnell took part in only five more grands prix, driving different cars in each, before going into team management.

    He led Aston Martin to victory at Le Mans in 1959 and provided stepping stones for the careers of Chris Amon, Mike Hailwood and John Surtees, who took pole position for the team at the Dutch Grand Prix of 1962 and scored two podiums later that year. 

Johnny Dumfries

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    Johnny Dumfries, despite a strong junior career, lucked in to a Formula One seat in 1986, partnering Ayrton Senna at Lotus after the Brazilian vetoed the team's move for Derek Warwick.

    Senna believed the threat posed by Dumfries would be insignificant in contrast to that of Warwick, and he was proven correct.

    Senna won two races and scored six podium finishes on his way to fourth in the drivers' championship.

    Dumfries, in the same car, scored three points in 15 starts, retired from nine of those races and failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix, ending the season 13th in the drivers' standings.

    The Scot would be replaced by Satoru Nakajima the following season as Lotus switched from Renault to Honda engines, but he went on to win at Le Mans in 1988.

Kenny Acheson

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    Kenny Acheson made his Formula One debut in 1983 for the RAM team, but failed to qualify for a race until his sixth attempt, at the South African Grand Prix.

    The Northern Irishman recorded RAM's best finish of the season at the Kyalami circuit, although he finished six laps behind race winner Riccardo Patrese.

    It proved to be Acheson's last appearance in F1 until 1985, when he returned to the team to replace German driver Manfred Winkelhock, who had been killed during an endurance race.

    Acheson retired from the Austrian Grand Prix before failing to qualify for the following round at Zandvoort.

    His F1 career ended with another retirement at the next round at Monza, with Acheson going on to enjoy a credible career in sports cars.

Julian Bailey

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    A worrying trend is developing here, with Julian Bailey also a Top Gear Stig.

    Unlike fellow Stig Perry McCarthy, however, Bailey actually raced in Formula One, starting seven grands prix between 1988 and 1991 for iconic names such as Tyrrell and Lotus.

    The problem for Bailey, though, was that he joined both teams as they fell from prominence.

    The Woolwich-born driver failed to qualify for 10 of the 1988 season's 16 rounds and achieved a highest finishing position of ninth—which counted for no points in that era.

    In contrast, Bailey's teammate, Jonathan Palmer, failed to qualify on only two occasions and ended the season with five points to his name.

    Having been outperformed, Bailey then spent two years in sports cars before returning to F1 as a pay driver with Lotus in 1991.

    To his credit, Bailey scored his first and last Formula One point at the third round at Imola but failed to qualify for the United States, Brazilian and Monaco grands prix before being replaced by Johnny Herbert after his funds dried up.

Peter Gethin

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    Peter Gethin won the 1971 Italian Grand Prix (above)a race which featured the closest finish in Formula One history.

    It was the Surrey-born driver's only podium finish in 30 grand prix starts, marking the peak of a career which saw Gethin make appearances for McLaren, BRM—for whom he triumphed at Monza—and Embassy Hill.

    Gethin's win in Italy led to him finishing a career-best ninth in the '71 drivers' standings, but he scored only two points elsewhere in his F1 career: at Canada in 1970 and at Monza a year after his victory. 

John Miles

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    Not until Scott Speed arrived in Formula One in 2006 did a driver have a more suitable name for grand prix racing than John Miles.

    The former Lotus driver, however, didn't get as many miles under his belt as he would have liked, retiring from eight of the 12 races he started between 1969 and 1970 and failing to qualify for two consecutive races in the early stages of the 1970 season.

    Miles began the '70 campaign with his first and only points finish, taking fifth place after starting 14th at the South African Grand Prix.

    The Londoner, though, raced in the shadow of teammate Jochen Rindt, who became the only posthumous world champion in F1 history. 

Tony Brise

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    Tony Brise didn't complete a full season of Formula One, but his performances in the events he did participate in suggest the Kent-born star could have gone all the way.

    Having triumphed in British Formula Three in 1973, Brise was handed his grand prix debut by Williams in 1975, finishing a respectable seventh in Spain.

    Two rounds later, Brise was handed the honour of replacing Graham Hill in the two-time world champion's own team after Hill had taken the decision to retire after failing to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix, a race he had won on five previous occasions.

    After retiring from his debut race with the team in Belgium, Brise scored the only point of his career in Sweden, coming close to adding to his tally in the Netherlands and France and qualifying as high as sixth in Italy.

    The rising star, however, was among the fatalities in the helicopter crash which claimed the life of Hill and other members of the Embassy Hill team in November 1975. 

Tony Brooks

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    When you think of British drivers in Formula One in the 1950's and 60's, you tend to think of first Sir Stirling Moss and then Graham Hill.

    Tony Brooks is, rather harshly, the era's afterthought.

    Moss himself believed this to be true of his friend, whom he described—according to ESPN F1's Martin Williamson—as "the greatest unknown racing driver there has ever been."

    Brooks, like Moss, never became world champion—but did everything but.

    He won on six occasions in 38 starts, recording three of those victories in the 1958 season, with a poor reliability record leaving Brooks third in drivers standings'.

    Brooks came one step closer to the crown in 1959, finishing second to Jack Brabham by a margin of only seven points.

    The 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree, however, seemed to epitomise Brooks' career, with the "racing dentist" handing his car over to Moss, who had suffered technical problems with his own machine, at the halfway stage.

    Moss, of course, went on to win the race.


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