Before reaching Formula One, every driver needs to start somewhere to get their career on track. Along the journey, they will have performed exceptionally well in junior categories to be noticed by F1 teams.
However, there are some drivers who have not quite cut it when they reached the big leagues. In the 2019 season, things are no different and some drivers, who were quite successful before Formula One, failed to convert that upon reaching.
On the outside, this may seem harsh as he is only in his second season in Formula One. However, he showed a lot of promise in his debut season in 2018 when racing for Toro Rosso. Evidently, this was enough to earn him a seat at Red Bull in place of a departing Daniel Ricciardo. Unfortunately, the Frenchman has struggled to keep up with his more experienced teammate, Max Verstappen.
The good news for him is that he is slowly beginning to find his feet and deliver more competitive performances. The lowest that Pierre Gasly has ever finish in Formula One in 2019 is 11th. Also, in Silverstone, he equalled his highest ever finish of 4th, and the only direction he could move onto is up. Gasly is the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion, as well as the 2016 GP2 champion.
Carlos Sainz is another driver who could have had a promising career in Formula One. The Spaniard is the Formula Renault 2.0 champion in 2011 and he won the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship. Unfortunately, Carlos Sainz was seemingly a victim of circumstance and a case of the ‘right place at the wrong time’.
He made his debut alongside the much-heralded Max Verstappen and was quickly sidelined by the Dutchman. Sainz was an excellent driver, but it was Max who reaped all the accolades and praise. Then in 2016, the slap on the face came, a struggling Daniil Kvyat failed to make an impression and Verstappen was handed the promotion. Carlos Sainz easily got the better of Kvyat, but seemed to be fated to be stuck in Toro Rosso. So, in 2017, he decided that he had had enough and moved to Renault. After a decent couple of seasons there, he switched to McLaren for the current season.
The Hulk was touted to be one of Formula One’s future stars, but unfortunately one that failed to rise. Nico Hulkenberg has a particularly impressive resume, consisting of the 2005 Formula BMW ADAC championship, the 2006-07 A1 Grand Prix championship, 2007 Masters of Formula 3 championship, 2008 Formula 3 Euro series championship, 2009 GP2 Series championship, and the piece de resistance, the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With accolades like that, one would expect many top Formula One teams to knock on his door. Unfortunately, he only had stints with Williams, back when they were still competitive, Force India, a brief one in Sauber and finally, in Renault. Now, at the age of 31, the chances of him ever joining a top team are extremely slim. He also holds the unwanted record of having the most race starts without a podium.
When Kevin Magnussen arrived in Formula One, he literally burst onto the scene, and in style. A podium on his debut with McLaren in 2014, was highly impressive, but he had big shoes to fill. After Sergio Perez‘ horrific season in 2013 in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s departure to Mercedes, the Dane was brought in on the back of winning the 2008 Danish Formula Ford and the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship.
Sadly for him, it would remain his only ever podium in his Formula One career as he too was a victim of the ‘right place at the wrong time’ curse. At that time, McLaren’s decline was just beginning and he and teammate Jenson Button were the first victims. In 2016 he joined Renault on their return to Formula One but only lasted a season before moving to the newly formed Haas F1. Sadly, Haas are also a midfield team at best and with their off-track issues, things are not looking good.
The Russian driver got the short end of the stick during his Formula One stint, particularly at Red Bull. Daniil Kvyat is a decent driver, with a 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 championship and a 2013 GP3 series to boot. In 2014, he got his big break in F1 with the Toro Rosso team and delivered a reasonable performance. A year later, he got a promotion to the sister team, Red Bull and everything looked rosy.
Unfortunately, everything would be unravelled in 2016 after he had a relatively slow start to the season. With the threat of the impressive Max Verstappen hanging over his head, he cracked under pressure and Red Bull demoted him to Toro Rosso after 4 races. In 2017, things got worse and he was no longer a permanent driver after Singapore that year. He was let go by the Red Bull programme for 2018, joining Ferrari as a test driver, before being given a second chance ahead of the current season.
What can be said about poor old Romain Grosjean? The Frenchman’s accolade sheet is almost as decorated as Nico Hulkenberg’s but he too has failed to turn up in Formula One. He won the 2003 Formula Lista Junior 1.6, 2005 French Formula Renault, 2007 Formula 3 Euro Series, 2008 GP2 Asia Series, 2010 Auto GP Championship, 2011 GP2 Series and GP2 Asia series.
He debuted in 2009 Formula One season after Nelson Piquet Jr was unceremoniously dropped in the wake of the controversial 2008 Singapore GP. Unfortunately for Grosjean, it was pretty much a trial by fire situation as he was partnered by none other than Fernando Alonso.
He would not appear in F1 again until the 2012 season with Lotus F1 alongside a returning Kimi Raikkonen. He had a relatively decent time at Lotus, with a handful of podiums, but the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix would be the last time he ever stepped on the podium, with his highest position being 2nd in USA 2013. Unfortunately, Romain Grosjean built himself a reputation for being a ‘Crash King’, if his almighty smash at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix was any proof.
Now, in 2019, currently with the Haas F1 team, his fortunes are not looking too bright there either. His in-race antics and frequent whines on the radio are rapidly forcing team principal, Guenther Steiner lose patience with him. Also, the fact that he has retired from half the races this season, does little to improve his standing within the team.