Perennial no. 2 drivers. The unluckiest of the lot. Those bound by team orders for most of their careers or hampered by cars that were not good enough to challenge the other top guns of the sport. We take at these rather unlucky drivers from the past decade in Formula One.
The parameter forthis selection includes minimum 100 races, and should have raced for one of the elite teams in F1.
Race Starts – 243
Wins – 15
Some people might be surprised to see the former World Champion from Brawn on this list. But the fact of the matter is that Button has one of the worst win to races started records winning only 15 of the 245 races that he has started.
Button started driving in F1 in 2000 with the BMW powered Williams. He impressed in his debut season. however he was thrown into the wilderness the next year when he joined Benetton. His time with Benetton(renamed Renault the next year) was a miserable one and he was often to blame. His bad results led to him being a branded a ‘Lazy Playboy’ by Flavio Briatore, his team boss. His move to BAR at the end of 2003 did not work out that well.
However when Honda took control of the team in 2006, the team started to show improvement and Button finally made it to the top step of the podium in his 113th start in Hungary. The next two years saw yet another decline in form for the Brit. In 2009, it seemed that he would be out of a job as Honda pulled out of F1. However team Ross Brawn brought the team and secured an engine deal with Mercedes. The new Brawn car helped Button to 6 wins in that immortal season of 2009 when everything seemed to go right for him and Brawn.
However, he still hasn’t been able to replicate that season’s wining form despite being handed one one of the best aerodynamic packages in F1 McLaren. In the four season that he has been racing with McLaren, he has only managed to win 8 races(he still hasn’t won this season – courtesy a rather bad car).
4) Felipe Massa
Race Starts – 186
Wins – 11
Felipe Massa joined F1 with Sauber in 2002. However, his tendency to spin forced the Brazilian out of first team action the next year. He spent 2003, testing with Sauber’s engine suppliers, Ferrari. In 2004 he returned to competitive racing with Sauber. He still displayed his rather unfortunate tendency to spin. Two years later,Massa replaced his country-mate Barrichello at Ferrari after 3 years in F1. Despite winning twice in his maiden season with the tifosi, he was kept in the the no. 2 spot at Ferrari as Raikkonen replaced the departing Schumacher.
The next year, he helped Ferrari to the constructor’s championship as Raikkonen won the driver’s championship by a single point. 2008, though was Massa’s year at Ferrari as he outperformed his team-mate and almost won the championship in Brazil only for Lewis Hamilton to ruin his mood. Massa had won the race and needed Hamilton to finish 6th or below. Hamilton however passed Toyota’s Timo Glock on the last lap to claim 5th place and the championship. This wpould prove to be Massa’s last win till date in F1.
However his string of bad luck continued in 2009 when he was hit on the helmet by a spring from the rear suspension of Barrichello’s Brawn. The incident kept him away from the track for the rest of the season. Since his return in 2010, Massa has never seemed to have regained any sort of form and has been only seen on the podium three times since.
3) David Coulthard
Race Starts – 246
Wins – 13
DC as he is better known in the F1 paddock has been one of the biggest underachievers of the previous decade. he started in F1 with Williams in 1993 and got the race seat next year following Aryton Senna’s tragic death at Imola. His first full season came next year and he won his first ever race in Portugal that year. However, he retired 8 times that season due to bad luck and some major errors.
The next year(1996) he joined McLaren. However the car was not up to the standards and he managed to get on the podium only once that year. The next 5 years of his career were his best as he finished third thrice(1997, 1998, 2000) and second once(2001). He won 8 times during this period. In 2001, despite finishing second he only managed to 65 points compared to the 123 points tallied by Schumacher. His decline though started soon after Raikkonen joined the team and outpaced him. In 2003, when F1 bosses introduced single lap qualifying, his star dimmed even further.
In 2005, he joined Red Bull and his poor run of form continued as the Red Bulls were not able to challenge the leaders though he did guide the team to their first ever podium in 2006 at Monaco. He got onto the podium two more times before bowing out in 2008. He was knocked out of the race after a smash-up.
2) Mark Webber
Race Starts – 211
Wins – 9
Mark Webber was not always the unlucky figure that we know today. In fact in his first year in F1(with Minardi) he won the Rookie of the year award from numerous motor-sport magazines. However it was the next year when he joined Jaguar that his run of real bad luck started. This was really highlighted in Malaysia 2004 when the fire extinguisher discharged into his face.
Hoping for a change in luck, he switched to BMW Williams in 2005. He got his first ever podium finish that year in Monaco where he finished third. However the Williams car proved to be very unreliable and Webber retired in 14 of the 37 races he drove in the Williams. In 2007, he joined the fledgling Red Bull Racing team where over the next two years with David Coulthard he started to score points on a regular and scored a podium in the 2007 European grand prix.
When Coulthard left at the end of 2008, many expected him to become Red Bull’s no.1 driver. However, he soon found himself in his usual seat as the second driver as Red Bull pushed a young Sebastian Vettel came to the fore. However he did manage to win his first ever race in Germany in 2009 and then in Brazil as Red Bull almost won the championship.
The next year he found himself in the lead after hammering out four wins but his dream of winning the Championship went up in smoke at Korea when he crashed out in spectacular fashion in the pouring rain. Over the next two years he managed to win only 3 races and despite consistent performances, Webber found himself overshadowed by Vettel.
This year the tension in the red Bull camp exploded in Malaysia when Vettel passed Webber after specifically being told not to do so. Webber blasted the team and Vettel and later on he announced that he was leaving F1 for good at the end of the season.
1) Rubens Barrichello
Race Starts – 322
Wins – 11
Rubens Barrichello joined F1 in 1993 with Jordan and by the time he left at the end of the 2011 season he was the most experienced racers on the grid. On the way he became the first ever F1 driver to compete in over 300 races.
His start with Jordan wasn’t very promising as the car proved to be rather unreliable. In 1994 he got onto the podium for the first time in his second race the next season finishing 3rd in the Pacific Grand Prix. He went a step further the next year when he came second in Canada.
Barrichelo switched to Stewart in 1997 but that proved to be a rather bad move for him as he only managed to finish 3 out of the 17 races, though he did bag another 2nd place finish that year in Monaco. The next year was yet another year of frustration for Barrichello at Stewart as had 9 DNF’s and one DNS(Belgium). His final year at Stewart though brought him some joy as he finished in the points 7 times that year including three 3rd place finishes.
In 2000, he made the big switch to Ferrari where he had been recruited as the second driver. He managed his first win in the German Grand Prix that year. He continued to blossom at Ferrari but his role was made quite clear to everyone when he was forced to let Schumacher win the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002. He continued as Schumacher’s support in Ferrari winning a total of 9 races with the Italian team the last of which came at China in 2004.
He joined Honda in 2006, but his form which had been deteriorating since the previous year continued to dwindle as he only managed a single podium in 3 years(Silverstone 2008) as his younger teamate jenson Button slowly took over the reins. 2009 though renewed Barrichello’s career as he and Button took the newest team on the grid Brawn GP(the former Honda team) to the constructor’s championship. However Barrichello was overshadowed again by his team-mate as he won only 2 races( his first win after 5 years) compared to Button’s six.
His final two years at Williams were not his finest as he found himself in a car that was barely competitive and he raced his final F1 race in front of his home fans in Brazil where he finished 14th one lap down but one place ahead of former team mate Michael Schumacher.