No-Hit Wonders


Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Having been a fan of F1 for 50 years, I just started to think about those drivers that appeared to have the talent yet never managed to obtain a single victory in their Formula One career. The two main ones I can think of were:

Chris Amon whom I remain amazed wasn't a WDC, never managed to obtain a single race win. Time after time he would be in the lead, and his car, usually a Ferrari, would break or have something go awry which would cost him the win (worn tyres, fuel feed problems etc). His luck seemed atrocious (but he did get out of the sport alive, which is more than a lot of drivers of that time could say). He couldn't have been hard on the machinery because his record in endurance races (including winning Le Mans with Bruce McLaren in the Ford GT Mk II) was actually rather good. So his lack of success remains baffling to me.

Jean-Pierre Jarier was lightning-fast and was the man that teams usually called upon first to substitute for a driver that had been injured or killed, which shows that the teams of that time knew he had speed. Yet he never got a permanent drive at a top team and wound up with the same number of victories that we all have: zero.

What drivers would you add to this list, and can you provide a better explanation for their shut-out than I can for my two choices: primarily a matter of luck?
Derek Warwick deserves a mention.

Finally thought he had a top drive when he joined Renault.... as the team was beginning a terminal decline. Still gave a good account of himself in 1984, generally overshadowing Tambay and came within 10 laps of his first win at Rio, where was denied by a suspension that finally fell apart following a contact with Lauda earlier in the race.

Was vetoed by Senna at Lotus when it was too late to get another drive.

He was 33 after that year and his chance of ever joining a top team was pretty much gone after that.
A modern example I would cite is Nick Heidfeld - a driver capable of taking the scalps of multiple winners Webber, Massa and Raikkonen as well as huge talent in Kubica.

Only once did a sister car to Heidfeld win a Grand Prix, he was second on a different strategy. And he was a master of changeable conditions and Safety Cars just through knowing what to do.

Take Spa 2008, when he took the gamble to change tyres and it got him into 3rd. This became 2nd because of Hamilton's penalty, so he'd made up his deficit.

It was he at the vanguard of BMW's first coming in 2007 as he contributed to his career 12 podia.

He was just too unremarkable to get his fair dues, and he did usually come across a driver having a great day in a better car on his best performances.

The best example is Britain 2008 where his performance was stunningly good. He pulled off double overtakes where required and came from behind to be on the lead lap in P2. Lewis was better, but...

I say given the opportunities peers like Fisichella, Massa, Barrichello, Webber and Coulthard got, Heidfeld would have at least equalled their win tally.

He's not Amon, but that's too high a bar ;)
I have to admit that I never viewed Senna the same way after he vetoed Warwick.Clark didn't veto Graham Hill, a proven WDC, joining Lotus in1967. Senna should have shown a similar amount of guts.
De Cesaris had a great chance of winning Monaco 1982. I forget how close he was to Senna at Spa in 1991 - could he have caught and passed the ailing McLaren if his engine hadn't let go?

Ivan Capelli's day of days at Paul Ricard is one of my favourite races of all time. His move to Ferrari in 1992 was just rubbish timing, and he was plagued with unreliable cars through his whole career.

I think the only driver with a hatful of podiums but no wins, who never got close to a win, was Stefan Johansson, probably because he was always playing second fiddle to Prost. Did he have any near-misses?
I am surprised no one has mentioned him yet Bernard Ecclestone. :snigger:

No, seriously the aforementioned Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof.
Esteban Tuero? One of the very few back-markers, if not the only one that far back, I remember from my childhood, he used to impress me.
Didn't Johanson run out of fuel, while leading the San Marino 1985 GP?


Yes he did, but then again everybody else ran out of fuel. Some were just lucky to run out of fuel in their slowing down lap.

Imola was the most dreaded race of the year, fuel consumption-wise.
If I remember correctly onboard fuel consumption computers were only just beginning to appear and only a handful of cars had them. McLaren were among the first to have them. They weren't always reliable though.
Imola 1985 was actually the first race when we saw a direct Senna V Prost battle for the lead,
It was exciting close-fought race until about 15 laps from the end when Prost let him go, alarmed at the readings on his computer while Senna in the lead deprived any fuel consumption info could only cross his finders and hope for the best. He ran out of fuel a good 4 laps from the end letting Johansson through who'd already passed a by-then cruising Prost.
The tifosis went delirious but Stefan didn't have an onboard computer either and run out of fuel half a lap later. Prost took the lead back and crawled to the finish then was disqualified as his car turned out to be 2 kilograms underweight, and what had been a terrific Grand Prix for most of its duration turned into a total farce in the eyes of many, eho despised the fuel-limited formula.
Last edited:
Ivan Capelli ... as Legs says ... his day of days at Ricard ... and his teammate in that Adrian Newey designed Leyton House March ... Mauricio Gugelmin ...

Pierluigi Martini ... from mobile chicane in 1985 to a pretty handy driver pushing a Minardi onwards and upwards ....

I have to throw in Jos Verstappen ... on his birthday .... happy 42nd ... and may your 16yr old son who has just got an F3 deal make you proud !
Think I'm going to have to disagree with you massively on Verstappen I'm afraid ZakspeedYakspeed as he really showed so little actual content to go with all that promise he showed prior to F1

To be honest if I had to pick between that Jos the Boss and our Jos the Boss to drive for my team I'd be hard stumped.
OK OK OK ... I'll own up to it RasputinLives .... it was a shameless plug on his birthday ...... and the announcement that his son has a Euro F3 deal with the same team that Jos got a start in back in the day ....

our own Jos the Boss is lightning quick .....
How about Danny Sullivan? The guy had speed, and accorded himself fairly well during his lone F1 season. He fought Keke all the way home in the 1983 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and went on to win the 1985 Indy 500 in remarkable fashion. He also collected 16 more Indy car wins in his career.
I might surprise quite a few here by adding the name of Ukyo Katayama to this list.
He managed some impressive performances at the wheel of the Tyrrell in 1994, generally overshadowing the then-highly rated Blundell.

It earned him the chance of a top-team drive the following season which he somewhat puzzlingly turned down.
His performances then dropped dramatically thereafter.

It much later turned out he'd contracted a form of back cancer which kept him in constant pain for a number of years and which he'd kept secret throughout.

Who knows how things might have turned out ffor him otherwise?
Off of the current crop, 3 names standout:

Sergio Pérez
Romain Grosjean
Nico Hulkenberg

Both Pérez and Grosjean have been but so close to get their maiden win but as far as I can remember The Hulk hasn't been able to get close to winning a race. The 3 of them are solid drivers though and it's about time they break their duck ...
Top Bottom