Getting into F1 is no easy task, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. To get into Formula One, a driver needs talent, A couple of championships in the junior class, experience and the most important – sponsors. If a driver can get in on talent alone, that’s one thing, using a sponsor to buy a seat in F1 is another thing altogether. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with buying a seat in F1. But to stay in F1, you need to have the talent to back it up. The following drivers fall in the ‘pay drivers’ category but lacked the skill to stay in the series. So who are the worst F1 pay drivers?
Worst F1 Pay Drivers
Kicking off our Worst F1 pay driver list is Alex Yoong. The Malaysian met very little success in the junior categories namely, Formula Three, Formula 3000 and Formula Nippon. Yoong created history by being the first Malaysian driver to compete in F1. He made his debut at the 2001 Italian Grand Prix. He signed for Minardi thanks to sponsorship from the government-backed Magnum Corporation. He partnered Fernando Alonso and they raced until the end of the season.
However, Yoong ended the season with two retirements and a 16th place finish and was beaten by Alonso on 2 occasions. For the 2002 season he teamed up with Australian Mark Webber for 2002. Webber blanked his Malaysian teammate, outqualifying him in every race. Yoong was later dropped at the end of the season with team boss Paul Stoddart threatening legal action for $1.5 million of unpaid sponsorship. Yoong’s best finish was 7th, 2 places behind Webber at a chaotic Australian GP. Since then he had only 4 race finishes, 6 non-finishes and failed to qualify on 3 occasions. Yoong is now an F1 pundit, often providing insight into F1 from time to time.
Another driver on the list is Yuji Ide. He too has a record of his own, namely, one of the oldest F1 rookies to take to the grid at the age of 31 in 2006. Many dispute that Ide’s Super Aguri drive only arose due to the team’s desire to form an all-Japanese team. However, he was consistently slower than his experienced teammate Takuma Sato. the 31-year old finished behind Sato in Bahrain and failed to see the chequered flag in Malaysia.
In Australia he was found guilty of blocking Rubens Barrichello during qualifying. Raceday was no better as he spun a number of times. All this while, the FIA refrained from interfering but Imola was the last straw. He had his Super Licence revoked for instigating an opening lap crash with Midland’s Christijan Albers.