Reaching Formula 1 is and will always remain an extraordinary achievement, and succeeding at the pinnacle of motorsport remains a career peak achieved by a relatively exclusive few.

Unfortunately for some though, it is a peak that isn't always followed up and some will go through their career regarded as something of a 'one hit wonder'... here are just a few examples

Jacques Villeneuve won the F1 title at only his second attempt in 1997, but visited the podium just four times thereafter over the next nine years
One Formula 1 Drivers' World ChampionshipJacques Villeneuve - 1997

Whilst no Formula 1 World Championship title can ever be belittled, history has shown on occasion that some drivers struggle to maintain their own lofty standards and that reaching a fleeting pinnacle can only mean a decline awaits on the other side.

This is perhaps best demonstrated by Jacques Villeneuve, an F1 star that shone brightly early in his fledgling career as he swept to the 1997 world title, only to spend the next few years slowly dimming into mediocrity.

Following his remarkable rookie campaign with Williams in 1996, Jacques - son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve - went on to clinch the 1997 crown in a thrilling (if controversial) year-long dice with Michael Schumacher but success thereafter was difficult to emulate.

Failing to win another race after his title-winning campaign, the Canadian continued to race in F1 until 2006, during which time he raced with ambitious start-up project BAR (initially a disaster but one that evolved solidly with Honda investment), Renault briefly, Sauber and the factory BMW team it morphed into.

Indeed, in the 132 F1 races he started after standing on that Jerez podium on 26th October 1997, only on four more occasions would he make it back onto the rostrum.

When Villeneuve injured himself in an accident during the 2006 German Grand Prix, behind-the-scenes movements would see him cede his seat entirely, never to make another F1 start. An ignominious conclusion to an F1 career that started so extraordinarily yet ended so ordinarily...

Jarno Trulli managed just a single win from 256 F1 starts across a 15 year career
One Formula 1 WinJarno Trulli
There have been many race winners in F1 over the last 66 years - 106 to be exact -, and of those 22 have achieved the feat just the once.

Nine of these can be accounted for by 'wild-card' appearances by local American experts at the Indianapolis 500 when it was featured on the F1 schedule -, while others may have gone on to achieve more but for career - or life-ending - incidents, such as Robert Kubica, Alessandro Nannini or Francois Cevert.

Other first and last race winners include Jean Alesi, Olivier Panis, Heikki Kovalainen, Pastor Maldonado and - for the moment - Max Verstappen, but arguably the primary 'one-hit wonder winner' remains Jarno Trulli, a man that took a full seven years from his F1 debut to finally hit the big time... albeit just the once.

Making his F1 debut in 1997 with Minardi, it took Trulli 119 races to break his long-awaited duck, achieved with a steadfast lights-to-flag victory in the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix at the wheel of a Renault. It was a fitting win, Trulli becoming known for his one lap prowess, if not his ability to maintain such form over a race distance, but the limited overtaking opportunities in Monaco played to his 'strength' and victory was his.

Though his career would continue for another eight years, it was a peak he would never repeat. Indeed, Trulli would come relatively close - particularly with Toyota - by notching up four pole positions and a total of 11 podiums in 256 races across an impressive career span of 15 years, but he would just do so without ever tasting the winners' champagne again.

Nico Hulkenberg is the only full-time F1 driver to have started an F1 race on pole position without ever stepping on the podium
One Formula 1 Pole PositionNico Hulkenberg

Though this is subject to change, as it stands Nico Hulkenberg has the ignominious title of being the only full-time driver in F1's history to have taken a pole position without having yet stood on the podium.

In all, 97 drivers have started an F1 race from pole position - Daniel Ricciardo being the most recent in Monaco -, 30 of which have achieved the feat on just a single occasion. Interestingly, one of these one-timers is none other than Denny Hulme who despite his eight wins, 33 podiums and 1967 world title win, only began one race from the top spot.

Hulkenberg's pole position came in a weather-affected session for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix driving for Williams, the team's gamble on slick tyres around a drying Interlagos circuit proving shrewd as he went on to claim a surprise top spot - his first (and so far only) pole, as well as a first for Williams in five years.

Roberto Moreno notched up an F1 podium in a career that saw him start just 42 of the 77 races he was entered for
One Formula 1 PodiumRoberto Moreno

You could happily reel off a long list of drivers to have only tasted champagne on the F1 podium just the once, but some drivers more than others

Super-sub, podium winner, perennial back-marker, part of F1 folklore... Roberto Moreno possibly enjoyed (or is that endured?) one of the most unusual F1 careers. Making 42 starts from 77 entries across a vast span of 13 years, Moreno may be well known for propping up the DN(P)Q timesheets for the likes of Forti, Coloni, Andrea Moda and EuroBrun, but It's easy to forget he made it onto the podium in F1.

Stung by an inauspicious F1 debut in 1982 so poor - he failed to qualify by two seconds in a Lotus car that had been on the podium that year - that he didn't get another shot until five years later, Moreno was finally called up by the AGS team having re-established his reputation with successful turns in American open-wheel, F3 and F3000.

Replacing Pascal Fabre for the final two races, though he very nearly didn't start in Japan - a late withdrawal saw him go from DNQ to last on the grid -, he went a long way to redeeming himself by surviving a brutal Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide to finish sixth. The result marked his first point and one of only two top six finishes AGS would score between 1986 and 1991.

Though he went on to win the F3000 title in 1988, two desperate seasons in 1989 and 1990 with Coloni and EuroBrun saw just a single race finish in 30 starts, which is perhaps why Moreno was the surprise choice for Benetton to replace Alessandro Nannini for the final two rounds of 1990 after the Italian lost his hand in a helicopter accident. A race of high attrition it may have been, but a second place finish on his debut with the team showed F1 exactly what he could do with the right package.

Unfortunately, his time at Benetton was curtailed in 1991 by the emergence of Michael Schumacher and he went back to the back of the grid - perhaps most famously with his farcical Andrea Moda team - until his final start at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix.

Pedro de la Rosa only made one start in 2005 but his appearance in Bahrain yielded a fastest lap in the McLaren
One Formula 1 Fastest LapPedro de la Rosa

Arguably more famous for his valued development efforts behind-the-scenes than for the 104 grand prix starts he made in a somewhat on-off F1 career, Pedro de la Rosa does at least have the distinction of being proud holder of the lap record around the Bahrain International Circuit.

Making his F1 debut in 1999, stints at Arrows and Jaguar ultimately led to a test driving role with McLaren in 2005 and 2006, during which he was called up to race with the former title-winning outfit on nine occasions over the two years.

With 2005 marking the final outings for the screaming V10s, de la Rosa made his mark on his McLaren debut (first visit to Bahrain) by smashing the fastest lap en route to fifth position, at the time his best result in F1.

A record that continues to stand more than a decade on, de la Rosa - who went on to race for Sauber and HRT - might not have much longer to enjoy it as a sweeping change in technical regulations in 2017 are set to see benchmarks drop.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...