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Formula 1

In defence of 'F1's worst ever driver' on his birthday

There have been 775 F1 drivers in the World Championship - with one having an unfortunate tag of 'being the worst' but that's rather unfair.

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Yuji Ide has an unfortunate place in the history of Formula 1.

The Japanese racer, who turns 49 on January 21st, only took part in four Grands Prix for the Super Aguri squad back in 2006 - coming in as a 31-year-old rookie.

After tipping Christijan Albers into a barrel-roll on the opening lap at the San Marino Grand Prix, the FIA stepped in to revoke Ide's super licence until he had gained more experience.

18 years later, Ide's super licence is still revoked after he headed back to Japan and Super GT racing.

But the odds were stacked against Ide, meaning he never really got a fair crack at Grand Prix racing.

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	© xpb.cc

In defence of Yuji Ide

Ide was not a world beater, but held a respectable record in Formula Nippon, finishing third in 2004, just one point behind champion Richard Lyons and level with Andre Lotterer, who would go on to win Le Mans three times and the 2012 WEC title.

Ide would go one better in 2005, but was pipped by Satoshi Motoyama in the final standings before his unexpected F1 call-up to be team-mate to Takuma Sato in the team created especially for him after the works Honda team dumped him ahead of the '06 season to allow Rubens Barrichello to join from Ferrari.

When it came to the season-opener in Bahrain, Ide qualified slowest of all, nearly 2.8s slower than Sato - who himself was 1.4s slower than Tiago Montiero. Ide was nearly seven seconds off the pace in Q1, set by Michael Schumacher.

It didn't get much better as he retired from that race, and the next one in Malaysia, before at least seeing the chequered flag in Australia with a 13th place finish - albeit three laps down on winner Fernando Alonso.

Next time out at Imola, Ide tipped Albers upside down into the gravel at Villeneuve corner on the opening lap, and later retired with suspension problems after 23 laps. They would be the last laps he'd ever drive in F1 machinery.

Yuji Ide's F1 career

Race Qualifying Result
Bahrain 21st - Kimi Raikkonen set no time DNF - Engine
Malaysia 22nd DNF - Throttle
Australia 22nd 13th
San Marino 22nd DNF - suspension

Tough break for Ide

Being shoe-horned into an F1 seat, at the team that was purpose-built just so your team-mate could continue to have a drive probably isn't the best atmosphere to make your Grand Prix debut - at any age.

But while Ide did not have the easiest time of it, neither did he show any flashes of promise that at least there could be something to work with if he was given more time.

Indeed, his greatest achievement is seeing the chequered flag at the tricky Albert Park circuit in Melbourne in round three in Australia.

After the FIA withdrew his super licence, Ide returned to Japan to compete in Super GT racing, picking up a win at Suzuka in 2010.

In 2022, he completed a part-campaign, banking a second at Fuji and sixth once again at Suzuka

Results have been decent enough, although his last win came in 2010 at Suzuka. In 2022, Ide claimed second place at Fuji and sixth at Suzuka in his part-campaign.

It's not fair to characterise Ide as a complete no-hoper who had no right to be anywhere near a Grand Prix car, unlike some others who went before and paid their way onto the grid.

A perfectly competent racing driver, the cards were stacked against him, and at the end of the day, he was just a little out of his depth in Formula 1. There is no shame in that.

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