Best Debut

Which driver had the most dazzling debut race in F1 history?

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No passing through my dirty air please
Roll up Roll up and nominate your candidates for most dazzling debut! Who knocked your socks off on their first time out? Doesn't have to be a great just someone who really came in with a bang.

I've given you 4 to start with and will add any nominations to the poll.

Lewis Hamilton. Aus 2007. Fabulous start. Fabulous 3rd.
Mark Webber. Aus 2002. 5th in a Minardi!

Jean Alesi France 1989. From 16th to 4th in a Tyrell

Jacques Villeneuve. Aus 1996. Pole, Fastest lap and 2nd place
It's a tough one as both Webber and Alesi benefitted from retirements, and Hamilton and Villeneuve benefitted from great cars. But I've put Villeneuve as he was only prevented from beating Hill due to an oil leak - without that he could have won the race, whereas Mclaren seemed to be the fastest car in 07. So I voted Villeneuve. But I would say that Hamilton had a better debut season.
Mark Donohue finished 3rd on his debut at the 1971 Canadian Grand Prix. And, of course, Giancarlo Baghetti stole the lead from Dan Gurney on the last lap of the 1961 French Grand Prix to win on his debut.

Thanks Legs my knowledge pre 1990 is lacking somewhat so will add those to the list fella.
I would add these two:

Schumacher out qualified de Cesaris by 7 tenths at the 1991 Belgian GP, before retiring at the start.
Gilles Villeneuve outqualified Jochen Mass at the 1977 British GP despite driving the previous years car.
Lewis' start at Melbourne 07 was absurd. That gets me vote alone.

Sadly we don't see stuff like that from Hamilton anymore as he's lost the innocence (naivety?) that comes without having been involved in any F1 dustups. Lewis (and others) cannot pull moves like that anymore because if it doesn't come off then they will look awfully foolish while hurting themselves and their team.

This was also at a time when Alonso didn't truly know what he was dealing with. By Canada he was willing to carve new paths off the road in an attempt to get in front of Hamilton at the start.
Mario Andretti - took pole on his debut for Lotus and battled Jackie Stewart for the lead before retiring.

Ricardo Rodriguez - at the age of 19, qualified second for the Italian Grand Prix on the combined Monza road/oval circuit, and contested the lead with Ferrari team-mates Phil Hill and Richie Ginther before retiring.

Carlos Reutemann - took pole position for his debut race in Argentina, with team-mate Graham Hill 16th, and was running in the top four before having to pit for new tyres (unusual in those days) - he finished seventh.

For various reasons, my vote goes to Schumacher - virtually no experience of the car, and none of the circuit whatsoever.
I would pick Schumacher too.

But of the 4 listed:

Alesis I did not see.

Webber 5th in a Minardi (that’s like an HRT but more loved) was very impressive. Yes benefited from retirements like Alesi but still brought it home in 5th (Imagine an HRT finishing 5th!).

Villeneuve and Hamiltons are similar as in they both started in top teams and given a good car but Villenueves Pole, Fastest Lap and 2nd position (should have been 1st if it wasn’t for losing his oil (spraying all over Hill) whilst leading causing him to slow) outshines a Fabulous start and a 3rd place.

So it would be between Webber and Villeneuve… Villeneuve.
Stunning as Autosport described Hamilton's debut at quuestion. Lewis's first move, at his first race, into the first turn was just......breathtaking.

My vote for Hamilton is flawed because I don't know anything about the debut's of the other drivers. Perhaps that I don't know anything about them suggests that they are lost in history rather than elated in history. Or perhaps I am just ignorant of F1 history. If it didn't happen in my viewing period then I'm not all that interested. Even then, I tend to only rely on my memory and then a bit of Google if my memory needs refreshing or my statements need justifying.
I just watched that start again and actually it doesn’t seem quite as impressive as I remembered it, 4th to 3rd overtaking Heidfeld. He actually had an less than amazing getaway and almost lost a place to Kubica.
(It was still good before anyone gets defensive, it being his first race is what makes it good.)

I think this poll needs updating to include at least Schumacher as he’s had 6 mentions so far which would put him clear top (4 being the current top).

Sebastian Vettel (2007 United States Grand Prix, BMW Sauber)
Substitute for Robert Kubica, qualified 7th behind his team-mate, despite Heidfeld's retirement finished 8th becoming the youngest driver to pick up an F1 point.

Mark Webber (2002 Australian Grand Prix, Minardi-Asiatech)
With eight cars eliminated at turn one, Webber battled two laps down with the Toyota of Mika Salo for 5th place, significantly beating both his team-mate and Pedro de la Rosa's Jaguar.

Fernando Alonso (2001 Australian Grand Prix, Minardi-European)
Outqualified a Prost and a Jaguar to start 19th and embarrassed his parent team by beating home Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and leading Jenson Button before the latter's retirement.

Felipe Massa (2002 Australian Grand Prix, Sauber-Petronas)
Outqualified team-mate Heidfeld but eliminated at the first corner in the mess caused by Ralf Schumacher ploughing into the back of Barrichello rather than braking...!

Jenson Button (2000 Australian Grand Prix, BMW Williams)
Qualified on the back row, but had made his way into the points positions when the new BMW engine gave up on him.

Sergio Perez (2011 Australian Grand Prix, Sauber-Ferrari)
Watched all the other teams struggle on Pirellis, beating home his team-mate Kobayashi despite qualifying behind him for a 7th place he lost to disqualification for a small rear wing infringement.

Kimi Raikkonen (2001 Australian Grand Prix, Sauber-Petronas)
Qualified 13th, benefitting from a couple of retirements (notably Hakkinen and Montoya) came through to finish 6th, 2 places behind team-mate Heidfeld.

Romain Grosjean (2009 European Grand Prix, Renault)
Qualified 13th, but caught up in a first corner incident with Luca Badoer. Executed the only semi-overtake of the race by passing Badoer on the pit exit! Finished 15th, but on the lead lap.

Nico Rosberg (2006 Bahrain Grand Prix, Williams-Cosworth)
Caught up in a first corner incident with Nick Heidfeld which dropped him to the back, came through the field to finish 7th behind team-mate Webber, becoming the youngest driver ever to set fastest lap (record stands!)

Lewis Hamilton (2007 Australian Grand Prix, McLaren-Mercedes)
Starting from 4th, beat team-mate Alonso off the start and led the race in the pit-stop phase, eventually leapt by Alonso for 2nd place and finished 3rd.

Nico Hulkenburg (2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, Williams-Cosworth)
Spun on lap 3 to drop him to the back of the field, got past the Caterham Lotus, Marussia Virgin and HRT drivers to finish 14th.

Esteban Gutierrez (2013 Australian Grand Prix, Sauber-Ferrari)
Eliminated in Q1, but won a race long battle with Williams' Valteri Bottas for 13th position.

Paul di Resta (2011 Australian Grand Prix, Force India-Mercedes)
Got ahead of team-mate Sutil at the start but lost out later on, finished a lapped 12th until given a point by the disqualification of the Saubers ahead.

Adrian Sutil (2007 Australian Grand Prix, Spyker-Ferrari)
Beat his team-mate Christijan Albers by 2 seconds in Q1, qualifying 2nd last. He was beaten off the line by Albers and was caught from behind by Super Aguri's Davidson. Finished last.

Pastor Maldonado (2011 Australian Grand Prix, Williams-Cosworth)
After qualifying down in 15th place, ahead of his no-time setting team-mate Barrichello, was the first retirement of the race with transmission failure, after only 9 laps.

Valteri Bottas (2013 Australian Grand Prix, Williams-Renault)
Knocked his team-mate out of Q1, but qualified only 16th. Leading Maldonado when the Venezuelan retired then losing to Gutierrez to finish a lapped 14th.

Jean-Eric Vergne (2012 Australian Grand Prix, Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Qualified 11th, despite a poor start came back through the field to finish 11th, but overtaken by a team-mate in last after lap one. Only 3 seconds behind 6th, and 4-tenths behind 8th on the finish line.

Daniel Ricciardo (2011 British Grand Prix, HRT-Cosworth)
Qualified last behind team-mate Liuzzi, and stayed there! Finished 3 laps down on winner Alonso.

Charles Pic (2012 Australian Grand Prix, Marussia-Cosworth)
Beat only the 107%ed HRTs in qualifying and was running last until his car stopped.

Giedo van der Garde (2013 Australian Grand Prix, Caterham-Renault)
Beat team-mate Pic only in wet qualifying, lost a race-long duel with Chilton for 17th place and finished last.

Jules Bianchi (2013 Australian Grand Prix, Marussia-Cosworth)
Beat his team-mate Chilton in wet qualifying, the only one of the Marussia/Caterham drivers to finish only one lap down at the race.

Max Chilton (2013 Australian Grand Prix, Marussia-Cosworth)
Beat the Caterhams in qualifying, ran in last place for most of the race before passing Van der Garde for 17th.
My vote for Hamilton is flawed because I don't know anything about the debut's of the other drivers.
Which is why he’ll win this poll.
I bet most people on here saw Hamiltons debut race while fewer saw Villeneuves and together with popularity (lets face it how many Villeneuve fans vs. Hamilton fans are on here) he’ll walk it despite Villeneuves debut race being so much more impressive (Pole, Fastest lap, win, well should have won! was leading until the car started losing oil) and just blitzing his team mate Hill.
My vote for Hamilton is flawed because I don't know anything about the debut's of the other drivers. Perhaps that I don't know anything about them suggests that they are lost in history rather than elated in history. Or perhaps I am just ignorant of F1 history. If it didn't happen in my viewing period then I'm not all that interested. Even then, I tend to only rely on my memory and then a bit of Google if my memory needs refreshing or my statements need justifying.

Thats a shame Ninj coz I think you'd prob love some of the 80's era racing.
Hands down Alesi... not the 4th fastest car in the field ... fantastic opening lap negotiating the Gugelmin carnage ... ran as high as second ... one of only 4 drivers to finish on the lead lap....

Webber ... kept it together and brought it home after the carnage and managed their own car issues... solid debut

Villeneuve ... that car was the class of the field in 1996 ... impressive, but not unexpected that he should be challenging at the front of the field

Hamilton ... again ... class of the field that season with the Ferrari ... impressive... but for someone who had been in the McLaren creche for that long, with talent he had already displayed, not unexpected
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