CTAs Most Underrated F1 driver of all time: Nominations


No passing through my dirty air please
Ok guys I recently did CTA's best debut and now I thought I'd try and find CTAs most under rated driver. This is the nominations thread before the actual poll so here you can state your nominations and argue your case for why your fellow forumites should vote for your candidate. I'm going to start you off.

James Hunt - You think of old James and you think of the booze and the women but in actual fact he was a talent and a half. Possibley the fastest British driver ever for raw pace but everyone seems to forget that. Hunt rarely appears in anyones top 10. Maybe he should?

Nelson Piquet - He's a 3 times world champion but hardly anyone has a good word to say about him. Its very true that as a hunan being Nelson senior its not the nicest a rep that has not improved by the actions of his son in F1. Its also true that in his later career he was in it for the money and his form was a bit patchy at best but which former champion hasn't had a spell like that? In his favour Nelson was an incredible driver on his day and if it wasn't for a certain Ayrton Senna blitzing him he may be celebrated as such.

Damon Hill - came in as what would be considered old age now days and was considered Prosts lackie and seemed to act as such. He was all set to be Senna's until that tragic day at Imola. He then of course became team leader and took the fight to thecdriver set to become one of the GOATs Michael Schumacher. He lost of course and despite the circumstances having the best car and not winning didn't reflect well on Damon. He eventually became champion but against Villeneurve who history has not treated kindly. But then came a fabulous day in an Arrows. Did we all have Damon wrong was he actually one of the best but the super Williams blinded us too it?
I agree with Damon Hill, I think he was far better than people gave him credit for, especially taking into account how the team he left fared after his exit, I was disappointed in the manner of his exit, however, I can forgive him that, especially bearing in mind the magical moments that he provided, which have stuck with me, namely that moment in Japan in 1996, Belgium 1998 and Hungary 1997. Nearly winning a race in an Arrows? unheard of.

Johnny Herbert - Possibly a bit of a left field choice, however, I always thought, along with many of the people I spoke to in the racing world, that he was a lot better than his opportunities allowed him to show. His time at Benneton would seem to show that he was not a great in the making, however, many people in the know were of the opinion that (to quote a source) "No-one is 1/2 a second a lap quicker than Johnny" I cannot help thinking that he could have been luckier, and really shown what he could do.

I will need to trawl the dim dark recesses of my brain for the names of the others that I cannot quite think of at the mo.
Don't laugh. Nick Heidfeld.

Heidfeld's only big chance of a race win was in 2008, and he blew it, no? Well, he didn't ever win a race. Kubica did. But that was the only race won while he was in the other car, in his F1 career. His calmness under pressure was second to none - his podiums often were on days when the guys in the faster vehicles lost their heads. But that's to forget about the abilities that have been less publicised - the astounding double-overtakes at Silverstone in 2008 the most memorable but there was some great overtaking in other races too.

I'm not saying he was a Champion-in-Waiting (although up to 2006 his career record was quite similar to one J. Button) but I do feel that in a world where Mark Webber can win 9 races, Felipe Massa can win 11 and Jacques Villeneuve can win a world title then there ought to have been space for the team-mate that vanquished all three of them to have won at least one race.
I'm going to nominate a favourite driver of mine from the 80's, Derek Warwick.

If ever there was a driver who could be said to have been in the wrong place at the right time then it was Derek and yet he always seemed to do decent things in cars that were absolute buckets.

Having started with Toleman in his three years with the team each year brought improved performances. In 84 he was seen as the man to replace Prost at Renault. On the 5 occasions the Renault engine didn't explode he brought the car home in 2nd twice and in 3rd twice showing that if the French outfit could have produced a reliable car Derek was indeed as good as anyone on his day.

He was also seen as too good by Ayrton Senna who vetoed his move to Lotus for the 1986 season.

For me, one of the most difficult things he ever did was to get into the car and qualify it in the top 10 in the aftermath of Martin Donnelly's massive crash for Lotus at the 1990 Spanish GP. That car was truly awful and you only have to look at the pictures to see what happened to Donnelly to know how bad any car of that era was when hitting the barriers. Warwick said himself, that if he didn't go back out and try to qualify the car that day, then it would have been all over for him as a driver.

Warwick scored points for virtually every team he drove for and virtually every team he drove for gave him cars that ranged from poor to bloody awful.

(for BTCC fans, there should be extra points here for the fact that he co-founded the 888 racing team and took a win in the BTCC series as well)

So there you go, that's my nomination.
Dan Gurney

Jim Clark told his father that Gurney was the only driver he worried about. That is accolade enough for me!

Add to that the fact that Gurney scored the maiden victory for THREE marques (Brabham, Porsche and AAR Eagle), something only one other driver that I am aware of can claim--Sir Jackie Stewart. Need I say more?
I will put Jean Alesi on the list but he wasn't the kind of driver I had in mind. Yes stats wise we all know he should have done better but his reputation is a good one and he would frequently grace various peoples top ten drivers because he is rated quite highly. I was more after drivers who are either not thought of well or have been forgotten but when you look at their performances and stats you think wow they were good.

I was waiting for the first person to nominate Jenson Button/Lewis Hamilton and it was you Mephistopheles so well done you win a prize. Just message me your credit card details and pin number and I'll get it straight to you.
As a close second to Gurney, I would nominate:

Chris Amon.

Time after time he showed he had the talent to be a WDC, yet he was always let down by the unreliability of his car! He was one of the unluckiest drivers I can think of.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (I know I bang on about him a bit, but...) - I think he got tarred with the "replaced Damon at Williams and fluffed it" tag, but did remarkable things at Sauber before then, and Jordan afterwards.

Sebastian Bourdais - anyone who watched him in F3000 or ChampCar could see that this was a guy who could drive, but he never got a decent break in F1. A 4th on the grid at Monza in '08 was squandered with a stall on the line, and he was robbed of a good finish at Fuji with that incomprehensible penalty for being crashed-into by Massa.

( I was going to mention Jenson, but I think he's not so much underrated as discriminated against by certain folk for having the temerity to a) win a WDC the year after Lewis and b) proceed to team-up with the aforementioned Lewis and occasionally out-perform him - note that I used the qualifier "occasionally" - the lid must remain firmly on this can of worms!)
I hope you are winding everyone up about Piquet Snr given his reputation based on superior equipment

Definitely Damon Hill head and shoulders ( no pun intended) above the rest in the last twenty years

- dealing with Senna's death and then robbed cruelly last race

- he went from hero to zero and the press savaged him at every attempt due to his inability to deal with Schumacher's mind games and single mindedness because of his sporting ethics upbringing from his Dad

- the critics said it was the car..how wrong were they when Williams went downhill after he left and he managed to improve both Jordan and Arrows who both were never as consistent after he left

There are a lot of underrated drivers some who never had a fair chance

I cannot comment on drivers I've not seen race although Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick( only saw the end of his career) as two who should have got more breaks

from late 80's to early 90's

Ivan Capelli - he had a great 88 with the non Turbo March but then a pointless 89 ! Followed by some strong races in 1990 ..

A dream move to Ferrari turned into a nightmare as the politics within was too much for him and sadly left F1 disillusioned - he is the reason why Ferrari have never gone for Italian drivers again apart from stand ins (Badoer and Fisichella)

Pierluigi Martini - impressed in 1989 in the Minardi ford which lead a race but never got a break with a top team after trying with both Minardi and Dallara

Gabriele Tarquini - dragged his car into the midfield and did not get a consideration
During the 90's

Johnny Herbert - he impressed in the Lotus in 1992-93 but never got the results to back them up. A disastrous 94 season was potentially rescued by a ticket into Benetton which turned into a nightmare once Schumacher realised he might have a seriously quick teammate to contend with. Isolated and outcasted .. driven out by Briatore

- glimpses of his ability in Sauber and Stewart were there but opportunities at a top team never came again

Karl Wendlinger - similar potential to Schumacher and made his name in the penniless March and touted as a potential Ferrari driver - the crash at Monaco effectively ended his F1 career


- thrusted too early into F1
- he showed flashes of his ability with Arrows and Simtek but never had continuity and was wrongfully dismissed by Tom Walkinshaw for Frentzen



- Fisichella - not helped by being managed by Flavio in moving teams therefore missing out on drives
apart from 1998 he had beaten every teammate which includes Button, Schumacher and Massa

A return to Renault really did not work as Alonso was the main man . A last hurrah at Ferrari appeared ill advised considering he came close to winning for Force India
I'll throw Martin Brundle into the ring. His career was obviously disrupted by injury, uncompetitive machinery, and successful stints in other racing series, but he was able to show that on his day that he was a very fast F1 driver, notching 9 Podiums along the way.

I'm not sure I can make a case for him being the "Most" underrated of all time, but there's no question that Brundle could have done bigger and better things had the opportunity presented itself.
On the basis that others don't rate as highly as I do - Nico Rosberg. Draws with Webber in his rookie year, drags the Williams into respectability for a few years, takes on and beats 7 time world champion over three years and now scaring the life out of the once perceived king of speed, Lewis Hamilton. A couple of lights to flag victories along the way. Still people put him down and come up with excuses for his successes.

I'm not sure how long he is going to qualify for this award though? The number of critics is falling quickly now.

On the basis that I under-rated him, Valterri Bottas. Yes, I over-rated Maldonado, but Bottas has been better than I thought he would be, even taking Pastor into account. Ditto Jules Bianchi (not that I ever over-rated Max Chilton, sorry).

Maybe Jean-Eric Vergne too? Still not sure on him, so if he does well from now on, you'll know I under-rated him now :s
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