Drivers who quit during the season


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Many drivers have been obliged to leave a team during the season, even multiple World Champions Niki Lauda and Alain Prost were immune to being given the boot by a team. Following the discussions on the Nico retirement thread I thought I would list a few I can recall and if you have any of your own please feel free to add them.

James Hunt - three years after taking the title James moved from McLaren to Walter Wolf racing for the 1979 season. The car was, reputedly, difficult to drive and he announced his retirement from F1 after the Monaco GP. Lots of rumours abound that he deliberately broke the car in Monaco to force retirement from the race and clearly his heart was no longer in it.

Niki Lauda - Lauda never completed the 1977 season with Ferrari even though he had just won his second World Title for them. For 1978 and '79 he was at Brabham until practice at the Canadian Grand Prix where he announced himself "fed up with driving round in circles" and walked away. He came back in 1982 with McLaren and won the title again in 1984.

Carlos Reutemann - After a very difficult season at Williams in 1981, where Reutemann lost out on the World Title in the last race of the season to Nelson Piquet, Carlos was to be team leader for 1982 following the retirement of Alan Jones. Reutemann raced for Williams in South Africa and Brazil before packing it in before the US GP at Long Beach. Wiki claims that tensions over the Falklands influenced Carlos' decision to leave the most British of F1 teams although Patrick Head believes he had simply had enough.

Juan Pablo Montoya - Half way through the 2006 season JPM announced he would be driving in NASCAR in 2007. Ron Dennis took umbridge at this and Juan Pablo was "stood down" from the McLaren team. However, McLaren still had Montoya under contract so to be able to race in NASCAR that year he had to resign from receiving a payout from the team to escape the remainder of his contract. He duly did, ran some races in some the NASCAR feeder series and still finished 8th in the F1 title race that season.

There must be some more?
You mention Post getting sacked by Ferrari before the end of the season for calling the car crap which is a big one.

I seem to remember Heinz Harold Frentzen being pensioned off mid season.

Jacques Villenurve got booted by Sauber much to everyone's delight.

Sebastian Bourdais was also booted.
I was looking more for drivers who made the decision to go rather than the team suggesting they might like to "seek opportunities elsewhere".
Jochen Mass turned his back on F1 after the 1982 French GP at Paul-Ricard. He was the driver Gilles Villeneuve fatally somersaulted over in the tragic Zolder weekend so his spirits were already at rock-bottom for most of the season.

Then came the crash involving him and Daly at the end of the Mistral straight when his car ended up in the crowd and injured several spectators... Miraculously there were no fatalities but that was too much for Jochen to take and he retired from F1 on the spot...
I think we can count Graham Hill on that list. After failing to qualify his Embassy Hill F1 car for the 1975 Monaco GP he knew the game was up and apart from a farewell lap of Silverstone he called it a day.
John Miles who replaced a badly injured Graham Hill as a works Lotus driver in 1969 retired immediately after Jochen Rindt's death in 1970. There couldn't have been too many hard feelings from Colin Chapman as Miles was given a job with Lotus cars where he worked for many years.
How can you not infamously remember Mansell at Mclaren in 1995. First off all signed to make Marlboro happy despite Ron never rating then he was too fat for the mid wing car and had to miss two races. Then he had two races where San Marino he would have got points if he did not have a puncture, and Barcelona he was simply awful and saying he did not trust the car. A few days later agreed with Ron Dennis to end the relationship despite saying he did not retire .
According to Nigel Mansell's best selling biography (which I recently purcased at a jumble sale for 10p):

Page 380 "I had a meeting with Ron Dennis and we talked through a whole lot of things. We were both disappointed and frustrated about the car and regretted the way things turned out, and it was agreed amicably - at my request - that I should stand down"
Reading Mansell's biography is very funny. I'm sure I could lift a number of quotes from it and play "Hamilton or Mansell?"

Also, the number of cast iron, nailed on, promise guv contracts he had with various teams that magically failed to mamaterialise is comical. He goes to great lengths to tell the reader that his contract offer for 1993 was set in stone after he won the title, in Hungary and in front of a witness, his wife. He says that about 6 times over 4 pages.
I read Mansell's auto-biography and I had to put it down many times; it's self-centered, he comes back to the same idea multiple times and at the end is plain boring. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't get some help from a formal author or editor.

... My apologizes to his fans, that's just my opinion ...
No need to apologise Olivier, you're absolutely right about it.

Any driver vein enough, to treat us to an opening chapter outlining his racing philosophy and another called 'the peoples champion', all before getting to the interesting stuff about the racing, deserves all the criticism he can get.
I read Mansell's auto-biography...

I can't even listen to the man, he oozes self-libricating oil. Have you seen that piece where he interviews Hamilton? They're practically licking each other with the mutually reaffirmed knowledge that they're both 'pure racers' of the highest order.
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