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5 most unlucky F1 drivers of all time

When it comes to Formula 1, it really is a numbers game, with over 800 drivers, and 160 plus teams racing in the competition since it was inaugurated in 1950. With this in mind, it goes without saying that not everyone can be a winner; however, some drivers have had more than their fair share of bad luck on the track. Here are five of the most unfortunate ever.

Dave Walker – 1972

‘Nil Pois!’ or so they say (with a very bad accent) in the Eurovision song contest – But only one driver has ever had the honour of earning zero points in an F1 season. Despite winning multiple F3 titles while driving a Lotus, Walker just couldn’t cut it on the F1 circuit. In what turned out to be his only ‘full’ season, he failed to score a single point. His bad luck just didn’t stop coming, with a disqualification and two missed races all helping to set his unfortunate place in the record books. 

To add insult to injury, Jochen Rindt, the 1970 world champion, is famously noted for stating that ‘even a monkey could have won’ with Walker’s car. Ouch.

Ernest Loof – 1953

Another unfortunate career record is that of German driver Ernest Loof, whose claim to fame is the shortest distance ever raced in an F1 career.

Now many fans will remember Marco Apicella, who started the 1993 Italian Grand Prix in 23rd for Jordan, before famously getting wiped out 800 metres later at the Rettifilo corner and never racing in F1 again. Loof’s record far surpasses this misfortune, however…

After qualifying in 31st place on his F1 debut, he managed an entire two metres off the line before a fuel pump issue ended his career. Unlucky!

Hans Heyer – 1977

If you are going to go out, go out in style, or so the old adage says. Well, that pretty much sums up what Heyer did. In a single afternoon in Hockenheim, he managed to begin and end his F1 career, with a DNQ, DNF and DSQ all in one race. 

Despite not qualifying for the race, he managed to somehow convince the board holders to allow him to start the race. After developing issues with his gear linkage on the ninth lap, he retired and was subsequently banned for life. Impressive!

Andrea de Cesaris – 1985-1988

A somewhat undesirable record is that held by Italian racer Andrea de Cesaris, a former driver for McLaren, Jordan and Minardi. Although he jointly holds the record for the most retirements (147) with fellow countryman Riccardo Patrese, this is not even the worst of it…

He also has a joint record for the most consecutive failures to finish a race. The joint record holder? Himself! He started 18 races from the 1985 French Grand Prix to the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix without finishing a single one – and managed to achieve the same remarkable feat from Monaco ’87 to Canada ’88.

Al Pease – 1969

Of all the records to hold in F1, Al Pease’s is possibly the most unfortunate. In a sport where speed is everything, some will inevitably be faster than others. But only one driver has ever been disqualified for… driving too slowly. 

The 1969 Canadian Grand Prix was Pease’s second F1 race, in which he was driving an ageing Eagle T1G. In the same time, it took Race leader Jacky Ickx to complete 46 laps, and Pease had completed just 22, leading to the race organisers kicking him off the track – and, in so doing, cementing his most unfortunate place in F1 history! 

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