Worst F1 Pay Drivers in the Sport

Published 12/28/2017, 6:24 AM EST
Al Pease


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?

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Worst F1 Pay Drivers

Alex Yoong
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.

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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.
Yuji Ide
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.
Chanoch Nissany
Israeli businessman Chanoch Nissany had always harboured dreams of driving an F1 car. Nissany dug deep into his pockets and bought himself a drive for the Minardi team. The 38-year old took up racing as a hobby fairly late in F1 standards. He made his Grand Prix debut during the practice session for the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix at the age of 41.
Once on track, Chanoch was clearly out of his depth and his cause wasn’t helped when he spun into a gravel trap. The poor fellow had to be craned off the circuit whilst still seated in his car. This was so because he couldn’t figure out how to remove his steering wheel. Minardi eventually decided to end the joyride, which was 12.9 seconds slower that the leader. Italian driver Enrico Toccacelo, who had far better credentials, got the call up to replace the Israeli.
Jean-Denis Deletraz
The Swiss driver stepped in for the financially struggling Larrousse team in 1994. But he was woefully off the pace. He qualified in 25th place and was lapped 10 times in the race. The car put him out of his misery when it gave up due to a gearbox failure. He returned in 1995 with the Pacific team on a 5-race contract. He dropped out after just 2 races for not meeting the performance clause. This is why he is one of the worst F1 pay drivers.
Taki Inoue
Regarded as one of the worst F1 pay drivers, if not the worst, the Japanese driver was well-known for his comedic crashes. Taki Inoue made his debut at the 1994 Japanese GP with Simtek where he spun and retired. 1995 was his full-time debut with Footwork Hart. Needless to say, out of 17 races, he only saw the chequered flag 4 times in his entire Formula One career. The rest of the year was peppered with retirements. His career best finish was P9 in Canada. The only things he was remembered for was the 1995 Monaco GP where his car was hit by the course car while being towed to the pit lane. In the second incident, he was assisting marshals at the Hungarian GP to extinguish his car. Unfortunately, he failed to see the medical car come by and was bowled over. He ended up with a broken leg, but recovered in time to finish off the season.
Al Pease
Canadian driver Al Pease was actually extremely successful in the domestic class. He was even inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1998. His F1 career was a different story. Pease actually has a record of his own, albeit an unwanted one. He is the only driver in the history of Formula 1 to be disqualified for driving too slowly!
The race in question was the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix. Pease was driving an Eagle-Climax at the time and was shown the black flag for being a general menace. He was battling with race leaders despite being several laps behind. One of his competitors, Jackie Stewart was nearly shunted out by the Canadian in the process. Ken Tyrrell lodged a complaint and Pease was disqualified. He was disqualified on his 22nd lap for being too slow. He had done much less than half the amount of laps the leaders had done. You have to be one of the worst F1 pay drivers if you are disqualified for being too slow.

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Dhruv George

11300 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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