hit tracker
Friday, September 29, 2023
HomeSports"What are you doing!?" How one of Formula 1's worst drivers...

“What are you doing!?” How one of Formula 1’s worst drivers surprised his rivals

Date: September 29, 2023 Time: 09:00:40

There are several ways a running back can make history. You can become a great champion like Senna or Schumacher, get into a big scandal like Nelsinho Piquet, or become such a lousy driver that in the future he will be legendary. It is about such a rider that we will talk about today. The hero of our material is Jean-Denis Deletraz.

Graduated from the same racing school as Alain Prost

Jean-Denis Deletraz was born on October 1, 1963 in Geneva, but the Swiss began his motorsport career in France. In 1983, he graduated from the legendary Winfield Racing School at Paul Ricard, which had previously graduated from behemoths such as Alain Prost, Didier Pironi, René Arnoux and many other notable French drivers.

Having received a racing education, Delétraz began his career as a professional driver with performances in the French Formula Ford Championship, in which he will spend two full seasons: two wins and runner-up in the second year.

The next step in Deletraz’s career was the local Formula 3 championship, a fairly competitive junior series at the time. Competing with the main French talents, Jean-Denis failed to show at least some decent results: the most the Swiss managed was to finish in sixth position in one of the races. At the same time, Deletraz also competed in the German and British F-3 championships, but even there he did not show anything super outstanding.

Despite the inconclusive results, Deletraz still managed to take a step forward, gaining a place in the Formula 3000 championship (the last step before F-1), the benefit of the budget allowed. Paradoxically, it was in the most competitive junior championship where the Swiss gave the best segment in single-seaters. He spent the last three races of the 1988 season in the GBDA Motorsport team ready for combat, which saw him finish third twice.

Jean-Denis Delétraz at the 1989 Formula 3000 International at Brands Hatch

Photo: Pascal/Getty Images

The end of the 1988 championship may have inspired some optimism regarding the future of Delétraz’s career, but those two podium finishes will remain the Swiss’s crowning achievement in the F-3000. The next season he started in the relatively competitive stable FIRST, but this time he did not show encouraging results: 0 in the “rated” column.

In 1990, Deletraz becomes the owner of FIRST: he will spend the next two seasons as the team’s owner. However, having taken ownership of the racing team, Jean-Denis stopped performing on the F-3000 with a full schedule. And already in 1991, Deletraz lost control of the FIRST by decision of the Italian justice due to the claim of the former driver of the team, who did not say goodbye very competently from the legal point of view.

Left with nothing, a native of Geneva tried to direct his career in a completely different direction, turning his attention to the “body”. In 1992 he made his debut on French tours, where he will spend the next three years. Jean-Denis did not achieve great success in the new field, which, in general, did not prevent him from signing a contract with the SEAT factory team in 1994. However, this was far from the brightest event of that year in the Deletraz’s career.

Worst driver of the 21st century:

The story of the worst Formula 1 rookie of the 21st century. Ide was banned from racing after 4 races.

In the debut race he lost to the leader by 10 laps.

Today, a driver with experience in Deletraz (1994) would never have made it to F1. In an era of cult youth programs and fear of rookies, Jean-Denis would have had to buy at least one of F1’s teams to get a place in the field; There is no other way. And we’re also bringing up the question of the superlicense, which he would not have received in any way.

Fortunately for Deletraz, the active years of his racing career came in the early 1990s, an era when there were so many teams that not all took part in the race, as a maximum of 26 cars was allowed on the grid (formerly of the competition). qualification and subsequent qualification cut redundant). Consequently, there were many vacant places in the field, allowing not very talented drivers to sign contracts with F-1 teams as drivers for hire. Moreover, which is important, for much smaller amounts than now, even taking into account inflation).

Deletraz’s “real racing” debut came at the final stage of the 1994 season in Adelaide. The Swiss joined the dying Larrousse, who was mostly supported by drivers for hire: in the same season, six different drivers played for the team.

Start of the 1994 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images

At the time, Jean-Denis had not raced open-wheel cars for three years, so no one expected anything from a 31-year-old rookie. Deletraz naturally finished the first practice in last place, but already in qualifying he gave his first small surprise, ahead of three riders and thus earning himself the right to start the race. However, that qualifying cannot be called very successful either: the Swiss lost more than two seconds to his teammate Hideki Noda, for whom that Grand Prix was the third of his career.

In the race, Deletraz started penultimate, and after the first corner, he began to completely close the pack, jumping ahead of Schiattarella. In the future, Jean-Denis only increased the distance to his rivals: already on lap 10, the race leaders Schumacher and Hill were ahead of him. Moving forward, the aged rookie only exacerbated his situation by receiving a speeding ticket in the pit lane, and for him it was already the third such offense for the race weekend. And on lap 56, Jean-Denis finally ended the fight due to a gearbox failure: at that point he was 10 laps behind the race leader!

“He puts all his effort into keeping the car on the track,” ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer summed up Deletraz’s debut briefly and clearly.

The story of a driver who started his career at the age of 38 and entered F-1 four years later:

my God

Shameful page in the history of Formula 1. The debut of the 42-year-old Israeli became a farce

In a Formula 1 car, he was driving slower than the drivers in the junior category.

The following year, Larruss ceased to exist, so the Swiss was quite logically left without a place in Formula 1. In the same 1995, Deletraz made his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a McLaren F1 GTR. That marathon was relatively successful for him: he finished fifth overall.

However, despite the success in the “bodies”, Deletraz continued to dream of Formula 1. Fortunately for the Swiss, he still had a chance to return to the Royal Races. Experiencing huge financial problems, “Pacific” invited a wealthy pilot to participate in the final five stages of the 1995 season.

As part of the “Pacific” Deletraz replaced another driver for hire – Giovanni Lavaggi

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Deletraz’s comeback fell at the Portuguese Grand Prix. This time it turned out even worse than the first time around: he was five seconds behind the penultimate qualifying time and 12 seconds behind polesitter David Coulthard, only to start from 22nd position!

The results of the Swiss could not go unnoticed by more classmates. Some drivers were seriously concerned that such a slow runner was taking part in the race. Damon Hill, for example, bluntly expressed the hope that Deletraz would retire early in the race and not hurt anyone.

After such powerful psychological support from his colleagues, Jean-Denis ran the race according to the expectations placed on him: after the first three laps, he was 40 seconds behind the leader (well, at least there were no accidents). And on the 14th lap, the newcomer “Pacific” stopped in the pits of his own free will: a cramp in his left hand prevented him from continuing the race (due to insufficient physical condition).

His teammate Deletraz Montermini overcomes the circle around the Nürburgring on three wheels

Photo: Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images

On the next stage at the Nürburgring, Delétraz picked up speed a bit, but still posted terrifying times: he lost nine seconds to polesitter Coulthard. As for the race, the Swiss finally made it to the finish, although he lost seven laps to the winner Schumacher. In addition to the gigantic delay, Deletraz was also remembered for some very strange aerobatics. At some point in the race, for no reason at all, he began to weave down a straight stretch of track (did the tire get hot?), after which he abruptly changed course.

“What are you doing?” – exclaimed the legendary commentator Murray Walker, looking at Deletraz’s maneuvers.

This, in fact, ends the path of Deletraz in the “Royal Races”: already at the next stage, Bertrand Gachot returned to the “Pacific”.

In the context of the Swiss formula race, an important detail is worth mentioning. The fact is that a myth has formed among fans, allegedly through the fault of Deletraz, the famous 107% rule was introduced. However this is not entirely true. In fact, the FIA ​​started talking about such an innovation in June 1995, before Jean-Denis’ performance in Portugal and Germany. In general, the 107% rule should have been introduced during the 1995 season, but Pacific and Forti vetoed it, so the innovation didn’t go into effect until 1996. Deletraz may, of course, have partly inspired the racing officials to write a new rule with his debut in Adelaide, but the Swiss did not directly affect the change in the sporting regulations.

You can log into the history in different ways:

7 drivers who made F1 history in unusual ways

Deletraz’s son also became a racing driver (better than father)

Leaving dreams of conquering Formula 1 behind, Delétraz was finally able to focus on the championships, where he still had a chance of success. Jean-Denis spent most of the rest of his career competing in endurance and GT competition, and in places he was very good. For example, in 2001 and 2002 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP675 class. And in 2006, the Swiss took third place in the FIA ​​​​GT championship. Deletraz ended his racing career in 2012 in the WEC championship.

Delétraz Sr.’s crew at the 2002 24 Hours of Le Mans

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Jean-Denis then turned his attention to the career of his son Louis. This decision was correct, as Deletraz Jr. was a far more talented runner than his father. Louis was not bad at all in the youth team positions, was featured in the Renault junior program and even managed to become a test driver for Haas. However, Deletraz Jr. did not reach the level of a potential F-1 driver, so at the age of 24 he turned to drag racing. As history will show, it was the right choice. Louis excelled in the last two seasons of the European Le Mans Series. And this year, the Swiss also leads the WEC championship in the LMP2 class. In terms of fame, Deletraz Jr. is still inferior to his father, but given the context, it’s probably for the best.

Many drivers reveal their potential by leaving F-1:

8 Drivers Who Failed In Formula 1 But Became Legends In Other Racing Series

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

Most Popular

Recent Comments