Murray Walker use to back Pedro Diniz up by saying he was not as bad as people make him out to be and certainly not just a pay driver.
I just checked he actually outscored Jean Alesi in 1999 ! Yes Jean Alesi and scored as many points as Mika Salo in 1998
Galahad Should Nelsinho get a mention in this thread then? We know the reasons why now and clearly a victim of Flav's driver management to massage Alonso's ego
I will defend both Pizzonia and Zonta because their teammates were a$$ holes and thought they were world beaters. In doing so both these guys were potentially psychologically damaged by their experiences.
Pantano - another driver who 's promising career stalled . Flav helped him out initially but then wanted his 25% fee if he is to go further. The Jordan drive was not good because the team were in a mess thanks to Ford's late decision to pull out. Heidfeld's career could have ended after being dropped by Sauber whilst Pantano was bringing in money to the team just to pay Heidfeld's wages but it also took a toll on his family to remortgage
Firman - only reason he got the seat was that Ford wanted a British driver but he was probably about 5 years too late to start F1 given he won F3 back in 1996
Marques - its a funny one because in 1997 he was considered talented but wild and did not go further
6. Max Chilton - 0.545s/lap slower than Jules Bianchi across 2013-14
5. Lucas di Grassi - 0.554s/lap slower than Timo Glock in 2010
4. Robert Kubica - 0.643s/lap slower than George Russell in 2019
3. Marcus Ericsson - 0.755s/lap slower than Kamui Kobayashi in 2014
2. Lance Stroll - 0.771s/lap slower than Felipe Massa in 2017
1. Jolyon Palmer - 0.803s/lap slower than Nico Hulkenberg in 2017
I think there are enough extenuating circumstances for the others to move Max up to #1 on this list, but hey, these are the numbers, do with them what you will.