With the rumour mill at its most fervent as the season reaches its climax, and the driver roulette wheel of Formula One fortune still spinning as multiple racers scramble for coveted seats on the 2014 grid, Crash.net takes a look back at six memorably bad career moves which definitively proved that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Jean Alesi (Ferrari, 1991)

Very few F1 drivers have ever made a first impression quite like Jean Alesi. From his stunning 4th place on debut for Tyrrell at the 1989 French Grand Prix to his sensational duel for the lead with Ayrton Senna at Phoenix in 1990, Alesi was seemingly destined for superstardom from the moment he set foot in a Formula One car.

Alesi's hard-charging, heavy-drifting all-action style enthralled fans with its passing reminiscence to the maximum attack ethos of Gilles Villenueve, and Alesi coupled his heart in mouth driving with a notorious heart on sleeve Latin temperament.

At the end of the 1990 season, in which Alesi had regularly driven the Tyrrell to places it had no right to be in a performative sense, the young French-Sicilian received firm approaches from two leading teams: Williams and Ferrari, as well as an offer to stay with Tyrrell for 1991.

With Nigel Mansell moving from the Scuderia to Williams, Alesi's choice was between partnering the Englishman at the Didcot marque, or following the emotional pull of inheriting the spiritual legacy of Villeneuve at Ferrari, racing alongside three-time world champion Alain Prost.

Williams, who were gradually returning to competitive form after three fairly fallow years following the loss of Honda engines, saw their credentials for 1991 further bolstered by the recruitment of an innovative young designer by the name of Adrian Newey.

Ferrari, on the other hand, had competed for the 1990 championship to the penultimate round with Prost, and, spearheaded by one of Formula One's pre-eminent drivers, looked poised to challenge strongly again in 1991. Prost had won at least one race per season every year since 1981, so it was inconceivable that the Frenchman wouldn't be driving winning machinery.

Taking what seemed to be the logical choice for his head and his heart, Alesi signed for Ferrari. Little could he have known that the Scuderia were about to embark on a nearly four year winless streak, and that Prost would be fired by season's end for publicly lambasting the car as a 'truck'. Meanwhile Williams enjoyed a renaissance in 1991, and by the second half of the season were comfortably the fastest car on the grid as Mansell chased down Ayrton Senna for the World Championship.

In 1992, Ferrari would sink to a new low, Alesi scoring just 18 points in a dismal season while Williams produced the FW14B, one of the most dominant cars in Formula One history which saw Mansell cruise to the title in then record time and style. Alesi would only ever win one race, a tear-stained spiritual epiphany at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1995, but had he taken the plunge with Williams it surely would have been so, so many more.

Nelson Piquet (Lotus, 1988)

Nelson Piquet's critical standing in the F1 pantheon of icons remains surprisingly low despite his status as a triple-world champion, and perhaps his latter career 'lost years' at Lotus abet the perception of Piquet as a lucky chancer rather than a truly all-time great.

Piquet left the previously all-conquering Williams team to join Lotus for 1988, following the precious Honda engines that had powered his third title in 1987. Little did Piquet know however that Lotus, who had enjoyed something of a renaissance led by Ayrton Senna after a fallow early-80s, had just entered the terminal decline that would see them exit Formula One altogether within seven seasons.

Although Lotus were a Honda team in 1988, they certainly weren't the main contender powered by the Japanese marque. That mantle went to their other new team, McLaren, who dominated the season in comprehensive fashion - with Senna taking the mantle of leading Brazilian driver from Piquet to boot.

Perhaps Piquet's relatively low standing can also be attributed to his brash spikiness, as evidenced by comments made in early 1988 when he ungraciously chose to attack rivals including Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Senna in the media, calling his fellow Brazilian, 'the Sao Paulo taxi driver'.

Piquet and Lotus did at least hold a performance advantage over former team Williams, now powered by Judd, but Nelson could still only limp to sixth place in the championship, and worse was to follow.

With turbo engines outlawed for 1989, Lotus too took on Judd power, with their new V8 engine offering a power deficit of 125 bhp to the McLaren Honda V10. Results were suitably poor, with no podiums, a paltry 12 points, and the embarrassment for the three-time champion of failing to qualify at Spa.

Piquet would enjoy an Indian summer of redemption at Benetton in 1990-91, re-casting himself as a venerable elder statesman, but the Lotus years remain as a black mark of ill-motivated and poor-performance fuelled disappointment on the Piquet CV.

Jacques Villeneuve (BAR, 1999)

Jacques Villeneuve entered Formula One in a blaze of glory, a tousled and baggy-clothed punk-rocker catapulted into the all-conquering Williams-Renault team for 1996, and subsequently becoming World Champion in only his second season in the sport.

After Williams' fortunes dipped in 1998, Villeneuve made one of the most left-field moves in Grand Prix history, jumping ship to the new British American Racing team; a British American Tobacco backed outfit rising from the ashtray of the dissolved Tyrrell marque for 1999.

The project was headed by Villeneuve's manager and former school teacher, Craig Pollock. The opportunity to build a winning team from the ground up would cement Villeneuve's legacy as a pre-eminent driver of his era. And BAT would reap the rewards of unbridled free advertising for their cigarettes, running their two cars in unique separate liveries. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, pretty much everything. The first myth to be debunked was the liveries, with FIA regulations forcing BAR into a chronically fudged compromise; the infamous 'zip' paint job. A more enduring problem was a fundamental lack of speed, grip and reliability, which would see Villeneuve and teammate Riccardo Zonta in the wall or parked by the roadside more often than taking the chequered flag.

Villeneuve and Zonta's somersaulting double-demolition job in practice at Spa was the nadir of a dismal pointless season, with BAR the only team to fail to score (behind even Minardi) during the campaign.

Villeneuve was determined to see the venture through, and fortunes gradually improved over the next two years, allowing the now plain white-liveried team to fight for minor points placings, and Villeneuve to return to the podium after a three-year absence at the 2001 Spanish GP.

By the time results really came good for BAR, in 2004, Pollock and Villeneuve wer long gone, the former forced out after the 2001 season, and Jacques floundering around the lower order trying to save his career at Sauber. The endearing edginess had been replaced by a brash spikiness, and the former golden boy slipped almost un-noticed out of F1 in mid-2006 having wasted his peak years on an ultimately misguided venture.

Emerson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi, 1976)

If Piquet and Villeneuve were champions whose fortunes oscillated after career mis-steps, for double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi the only way was down after his shock decision to leave McLaren at the height of his powers to race for the family firm, Fittipaldi Automotive.

Fittipaldi Automotive was founded in 1974 by Emerson's older brother, Wilson, and remains the sole Brazilian constructor in F1 history. At the same time as Wilson was preparing the team's F1 effort in 1974, Emerson was asserting his status as one of the world's great drivers by winning his second title for McLaren at the tender age of 25, and a glittering career at the top of Formula One beckoned. Instead, he conspired to throw it all away.

Fittipaldi Automotive's debut season in 1975 was completely inauspicious, with Wilson, the sole driver, earning a best finish of tenth place across a meagre five race finishes. For 1976, Emerson sensationally replaced his brother in the cockpit, qualifying fifth on his debut in Brazil but scoring only three points during the campaign.

The team's Brazilian set-up was woefully inadequate, and despite a move to the UK in time for the 1977 season, results remained elusive, with the double world champion a forgotten footnote to the competitive business of the season.

Although 1978 would see Emerson score 17 points, including the team's sole podium at Interlagos, it proved to be Fittipaldi Automotive's high point. Two dismal seasons, across which Emerson went 17 scoreless races and was regularly outpaced by young teammate Keke Rosberg, saw the former champion hang up his F1 helmet at the close of the 1980 season after five mostly fruitless campaigns. Still, he would soldier on at a management role until the team finally folded at the end of 1982.

Although Emerson's sense of loyalty and patriotism were commendable, his story is fuelled by a sense of sadness at a lost prime, a notion of misplaced ambition only exacerbated by Emerson's subsequent glittering Indycar career. What could he have achieved had he dedicated his best years to his own legacy?

Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 2007)

Has any team and driver partnership ever suffered a fallout as nuclear as that between Fernando Alonso and McLaren after their bitterly acrimonious 2007 season?

Results for the Alonso/McLaren partnership were strong, with the Spaniard missing out on a title hat-trick by just one point, but the sheer scale of the personal, political, and on- and off-track shenanigans provided a permanently hostile backdrop to one of F1's most contentious partnerships.

The noble intentions were clear. Alonso, as double world champion, would restore glory to a McLaren team without a title since 1999, leading the charge to glory backed-up dotingly by rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton, and McLaren would receive a $xxxm title sponsorship from Santander to boot.

McLaren certainly delivered on the performance front, with the MP4-22 their first genuine title challenger since the days of H?kkinen and Newey. What wasn't foreseen however was the raw pace of Hamilton, whose stunningly consistent podium-laden opening salvo saw him quickly mature from subservient sidekick into genuine threat.

The amiable master/apprentice relationship disintegrated rapidly, and Alonso's response to the challenge from within was to unleash a spectacular volley of toy-throwing from the cockpit of the No. 1 McLaren.

In Hungary, Hamilton was deliberately blocked in the pit-lane to prevent him challenging Alonso's qualifying time. Arguing the case with team boss Ron Dennis, Alonso blew the 'Spygate' scandal open by threatening to expose McLaren's possession of confidential Ferrari data, forcing Dennis to report the matter to the FIA himself.

Hamilton and Alonso, who had long since suspended speaking terms, squabbled via the press and fought to the bitter end for the championship on the track - although with neither willing to assist the other, both lost out; Kimi R?ikk?nen stealing the title for Ferrari at the last round in Brazil in a three-way showdown.

Reputation sullied, Alonso left McLaren by 'mutual consent' and returned to Renault to skulk in the shadows for two largely unsuccessful seasons, before finally finding the model of undisputed inner-team hegemony at Ferrari - although rumblings from within the team during 2013 highlight that Alonso's shrewdly political Machiavellian streak lies far from extinct.

Damon Hill (Arrows, 1997)

Despite clinching the world title for Williams in 1996 after consecutive years of near-misses, Damon Hill was dropped by Frank Williams in his moment of triumph, kicked to the kerb in favour of Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the 1997 campaign.

Hill became the fourth Williams world champion in a row not to drive for the team the following season, and was cast into the driver market in naturally high demand given his 21 GP victories across the past four seasons.

Despite offers from McLaren, Benetton and Ferrari, Hill, deciding that neither matched his financial worth as reigning world champion, instead plumped for a move to Arrows, a team who had never won a race in their 20-year history.

Arrows, using the new Bridgestone tyres, were optimistic of improving on a 1996 season in which they'd scored a sole point, but got off to an inauspicious start, with Hill and teammate Pedro Diniz barely qualifying for the first race in Australia.

Both the car's pace and reliability were mostly chronic, but there would be a mid-season modicum of redemption for Hill's season. After finally scoring his first point of the year at Silverstone, Hill produced one of the greatest performances in modern F1 history at the Hungarian GP, scene of his maiden win four years earlier.

With the Bridgestone tyres coming good in the intense heat of the Hungaroring, Hill qualified a stunning third, and made a strong start to the race, incredibly passing Michael Schumacher for the lead on lap 11. The Briton stormed away, building a lead of over 35 seconds, which he held until his hydraulic pump failed three laps from home. Hill was able to nurse his car to the flag, but was passed by Villeneuve on the final tour to take a heartbreaking second place.

It was a sole flicker of life in an otherwise dismal campaign, and Hill left for Jordan at the season's end, his title defence remembered as a lucrative folly rather than the competitive second career wind it could have been.

Will Saunders @formulawill