With the news of Esteban Ocon being handed his F1 race debut with Manor after replacing Rio Haryanto fresh in the headlines, it has provided an ideal kicking point to look back at a few famous faces who also broke on to the scene midway through a season at full charge.

While some have been destined to the sidenotes in the archives here are a few names which demonstrated their talents despite entering the fray with little time to prepare.

David Coulthard - Williams, 1994 Spanish Grand Prix

Following the tragic death of Ayrton Senna at Imola, Williams test driver David Coulthard was handed the task of taking up the Brazilian driver's race seat at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1994.

Despite being forced to retire in his F1 debut while running in the points, the Scottish driver battled back on his next outing in Canada to claim his first championship points.

After pressure grew from engine supplier Renault to see 1992 F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell back in the sport, Coulthard sat out the French round and even though he returned at the next race at Silverstone the move put stress on his relationship with Williams which resulted in a contract dispute.

Having seen out the 1995 season with Williams, in which he claimed his first Grand Prix victory in Portugal, Coulthard secured his dream McLaren move a year later which started his eight-year stint at the team before moving on to the rebranded Red Bull squad for the final four years of his F1 career. Coulthard was replaced at Red Bull by another famous name to make his F1 debut midway through a season...

Sebastian Vettel - BMW Sauber 2007 United States Grand Prix

One of the most successful drivers in the modern era, Sebastian Vettel had been backed by Red Bull since age 11 and was on the fringes of F1 at 18 as BMW Sauber's test driver in 2006.

After Robert Kubica's serious crash during the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix Vettel was called in as cover for the subsequent race at Indianapolis where he became the youngest-ever points score in F1 - until Max Verstappen broke that record last year.

At the time of his maiden F1 outing, Vettel had been leading the Formula Renault 3.5 Series but with great things expected from the German he was fast-tracked into the Red Bull F1 set-up by replacing Scott Speed at Scuderia Toro Rosso from Hungary onwards before propelling himself into F1 greatness with Red Bull two years later as Coulthard's replacement.

Jean Alesi - Tyrrell, 1989 French Grand Prix

While on his way to the Formula 3000 title in 1989, Jean Alesi was snapped up by Ken Tyrrell for a trial in the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard when he replaced Michele Alboreto. The initial deal only covered the French race but Alesi made such an impression on the team finishing fourth on debut, while also being in contention for a podium place all race, that Tyrrell offered the Frenchman an 18-month F1 contract immediately after the chequered flag.

Alesi completed the 1989 campaign with two further points finishes in Italy and Spain, but missed two races as it clashed with his Formula 3000 title charge with Eddie Jordan Racing, which sparked his 13-year F1 career which poetically ended back with the Irishman under the guise of B&H Jordan Honda in 2001.

Robert Kubica - BMW Sauber 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix

A relative unknown before hitting the F1 scene, Kubica got his big break when BMW Sauber ruled Jacques Villeneuve unfit to race after complaining about headaches from his accident in Germany which opened the opportunity for Kubica to become the first Polish driver in F1.

Kubica instantly impressed by out-qualifying Nick Heidfeld before finishing seventh and in the points but the result was scratched from the history books when he was disqualified for an underweight car post-race.

With Villeneuve opting for the exit at BMW Sauber, Kubica retained his seat and stormed the headlines in Italy a month later by grabbing a rostrum result in just his third F1 race.

Michael Schumacher - Team 7UP Jordan 1991 Belgian Grand Prix

If Esteban Ocon needs any encouragement on making his F1 race debut at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps he can look to the most successful driver in the sport's history as Michael Schumacher made his opening cameo for Jordan in 1991.

The seven-time F1 World Champion probably had the most unusual circumstances under which he made his debut in the sport.

Schumacher took up Bertrand Gachot's race seat as the Luxembourg driver was serving a two-month prison sentence for assaulting a London taxi driver, but being contracted to Mercedes team owner Jordan had to pay $150,000 for the German to be allowed to drive at Spa having impressed the team during a test at Silverstone.

Despite never competing around the historic circuit before, Schumacher qualified seventh on the grid but had to retire on lap one with clutch problems.

Even though the German had suffered a false-start to his F1 career he was quickly snapped up by Benetton for the remainder of the 1991 season, igniting the greatest racing career in the history of the sport.

No pressure then, Esteban...

 

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