5 ambitious Formula 1 transfers that absolutely failed


5 ambitious Formula 1 transfers that absolutely failed

This spring, Formula fans have watched with bated breath as Riccardo, Vettel and Sainz debut in new racing teams. And if for Sebastian and Carlos the first part of the season in the new conditions went well on the whole, then for the Australian the situation is the opposite. High hopes were pinned on the Riccardo-McLaren alliance, both on the part of the pilot and on the part of the leadership of the British team. So far, however, Daniel’s performance for McLaren has fallen short of pre-season expectations. In this and next seasons, Riccardo will still have the opportunity to rehabilitate himself for starting failures. In the meantime, we will recall other examples of promising alliances between pilots and teams, which in the end could not live up to expectations.

Jean Alesi – Ferrari

In 1989, Jean Alesi held his first Formula 1 race. The debut of the French pilot turned out to be very bright: behind the wheel of “Tyrrell” Alesi managed to finish fourth on the home track “Paul Ricard”.

Initially, it was assumed that as part of the British team, Jean will play only one stage. However, Ken Tyrrell was so impressed with Alesi’s performance that he offered him a contract until the end of the season. In the same 1989, the French pilot took the Formula 3000 title and had a couple of successful races in F1.

For the 1990 season, Alesi approached one of the most promising pilots in the peloton. Having shown speed at the start of the season – two podiums in the first four races – the French pilot attracted the attention of the top teams. In particular, Williams was actively interested in Alesi’s persona. As a result, Sir Frank made Jean an offer, which he could not refuse.

Alesi and Williams signed a preliminary contract, but the Grove squad was in no rush to officially announce the rookie. The story with the contract was slightly delayed, however, in the end, Jean signed an agreement, only not with Sir Frank’s team, but with Ferrari. For the termination of Alesi’s contract with Williams, Scuderia had to pay four million dollars to the British team.

At that time, the future union of Alesi and Ferrari looked incredibly promising: the rising star of F1 signs a contract with the team that is fighting for the title. In many ways, it was the speed of the Scuderia in the 1990 season that persuaded Jean to opt for Ferrari. Moving to the camp of the Italian team, Alesi probably counted on fighting for the highest places.

However, fate decided to slyly play a trick on the Frenchman. Indeed, it was in 1991 that one of the most difficult periods in history began for Ferrari. During the five years spent in the camp of the Italian team, Alesi was not even close to fighting for the title. The most successful in the Ferrari camp for Jean was the 1995 season – one victory and five podiums. Obviously, Alesi was not counting on such a result when he turned down Williams for the sake of transferring to Scuderia.

Jacques Villeneuve – “BAR”

Moving to BAR can be called one of the key decisions in Villeneuve’s career. In 1998, the Canadian had his third and worst season with Williams. Sir Frank’s team lost Renault engines and were no longer able to compete with the leaders. And in the summer of 1998, Jacques decided on radical changes in his career, signing a contract with the newly formed BAR team.

The union of Villeneuve and BAR went beyond the cooperation of the pilot and the team. For the newly formed team, the Canadian was to become one of the key figures at the initial stage. Villeneuve even acquired a stake in his new team. In turn, for Villeneuve, the transition to BAR was an opportunity to build a team for himself. After all, the founder of the team was the manager and longtime friend of Jacques Craig Pollock, who had unlimited trust in the Canadian.

5 ambitious Formula 1 transfers that absolutely failed

By the debut season, “BAR” managed to build a relatively combat-ready, but terribly unreliable car. The result of the first season for the F1 debutant was the last place in the Constructors’ Cup. In the 1999 season, BAR became the only team that did not score a single point. The following year, the British team managed to improve, but this was only enough to fight in the middle of the peloton. As a result, over the five years spent at BAR, Villeneuve did not manage to bring the team to the top level. The main achievements for the Canadian were two podiums won in the 2001 season.

Regarding the hopes that Jacques pinned on cooperation with the British team, his transition to BAR can be called unsuccessful. Especially considering that for the sake of Craig Pollock’s team, Villeneuve turned down McLaren in 1998. But that’s a completely different story.

Eddie Irvine – Jaguar

Irvine’s story is somewhat similar to the epic with the participation of Villeneuve. Like the Canadian, Eddie left the ambitious team for the newly formed team. Irvine signed the Jaguar deal in the midst of his title battle with Mika Hakkinen. The 1999 season was the finest hour in the British career: after the injury of Michael Schumacher, Irvine had to take on the role of the first driver of Ferrari. Contrary to pre-season alignments, it was Eddie who had to fight for the championship in the 1999 season.

In a bitter struggle, Irvine still lost the duel to Hakkinen, but the performance of the Briton that season can be considered worthy. And the Ferrari leadership hoped to continue to cooperate with Irvine. However, Eddie turned down Luca di Montezemolo’s offer and signed with Jaguar.

Irvine’s decision was dictated, first of all, by the desire to finally take the leading roles in the team. For obvious reasons, the status of the first driver in Ferrari was unattainable for Eddie. And in “Jaguar” Irvine had to become not only the leader of the team, but also the face of the entire formula program of the British concern. By the way, Eddie’s nationality became one of the factors of his invitation: the leadership of the Jaguar wanted to see the British as the leader.

When Irvine moved to Jaguar, the newly formed team received an experienced, fast driver, and Eddie, in turn, hoped to receive the status of the first pilot of the factory team. It is all the more offensive that the ambitious alliance between Irvine and Jaguar ended in nothing. Eddie spent three years in the camp of the British team, won two podiums and left the racing team at the end of the 2002 season. Yes, Irvine was the undisputed number one, but he achieved much less than in the status of a carrier of shells for Schumacher.

Juan Pablo Montoya – McLaren

It should be noted right away that one and a half seasons spent by the Colombian in the camp of the “silver arrows” can in no way be called a failure. In this collection, Juan Pablo is present solely because of the expectations that were placed on the alliance of Montoya and McLaren. The history of the relationship between Juan Pablo and the Silver Arrows dates back to 2003. In his third year with Williams, Montoya’s relationship with the team began to deteriorate. Against this background, Ron Dennis offered the Colombian a contract for the 2005 season, and Juan Pablo agreed.

At that time, McLaren’s agreement with Montoya looked like a deal of the century. By 2003, Juan Pablo was already a full-fledged F1 superstar and was perceived by the public as a future champion. And the move to McLaren was supposed to give the Colombian long-term prospects in the fight for the title.

5 амбициозных трансферов в Формуле-1, которые абсолютно провалились

However, Juan Pablo never got a real chance to compete for the championship as part of the Silver Arrows. For the first part of the 2005 season, Montoya tried to get used to the eerily unbalanced MP4-20. Plus, the adaptation in the new team was hampered by the injury received by the Colombian in the spring of 2005. In the second half of the season, Montoya finally started showing speed, winning three victories in the remaining races. However, he still fell short of Raikkonen’s results.

The next season in the McLaren camp was a real disappointment for Juan Pablo. The new MP4-21 car was noticeably inferior to last year’s in competitiveness. In 2006, the Silver Arrows were no longer able to fight for victories – the ultimate dream was the fight for the podiums, while Ferrari and Renault were playing for the title.

Against the background of not very successful results, as well as uncertainty with a new contract (for 2007, Alonso had already been signed), Montoya decided to continue his career overseas. Upon learning that Juan Pablo had signed an agreement with the NASCAR team for the next season, Ron Dennis initiated the termination of the contract with the Colombian. As a result, the 2006 US Grand Prix was the last for Montoya in F1.

Fernando Alonso – McLaren

Fernando Alonso’s case is unique – if only because he tried to connect his future with McLaren twice, and each time was unsuccessful. The first attempt by the Spaniard to build a long and serious relationship with the Silver Arrows was made fourteen years ago. In 2007, Alonso’s move to McLaren looked incredibly promising. The two-time world champion moved to a team aiming to fight for the title, and Ron Dennis, in turn, got the fastest rider in the peloton.

It would seem that Alonso comes to the new team seriously and for a long time, but Lewis Hamilton has multiplied Fernando’s prospects in the camp of “silver arrows” by zero. The unexpectedly high pace of the British newcomer challenged the Spaniard’s privileged position at McLaren. For the Woking team, the result of an internal duel between the two pilots was a lost title and a ruined relationship with Alonso. At the end of the season, Fernando left the camp of the “silver arrows” and took a break in relations with the team for eight years.

In 2015, Alonso re-entered into an agreement with the Woking team. This time Fernando had high hopes for a very promising alliance between Honda and McLaren. The Spaniard was not afraid to believe in the Japanese minder, believing that with him the British team would be able to return to the leading group.

However, unfortunately for the Spaniard, his expectations never came true. The 2015 season was a nightmare for McLaren: the Honda engine was by far the worst in the peloton. In subsequent seasons for the British team, Alonso, at best, fought for points with the same average as McLaren. As a result, after a mediocre 2018 season (already with Renault engines) Fernando left F1 for two years.

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