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F1 2023

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

There have been 772 F1 drivers in the World Championship - with one having an unfortunate tag of 'being the worst' but that's rather unfair.

XPB 114524 Hi Res
To news overview © xpb.cc

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

The Japanese racer - who turns 48 on January 21st - only took four 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.

16 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.

			© xpb.cc
	© 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.

He would go one better in 2005, but was pipped by Satoshi Motoyama in the final standings, before his unexpected F1 call-up to be teammate to Takuma Sato in the team created especially for him after the works Honda squad dumped him ahead of the '06 season.

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 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 -
Malaysia 22nd DNF -
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 teammate could continue to have a drive probably isn't the best atmosphere to make your Grand Prix debut - at any age.

While Ide did not have the easiest time of it, he did not show any flashes of promise or skill during his brief stint in F1.

Indeed, his greatest achievement is seeing the chequered flag on the Melbourne street circuit without hitting someone or something.

After the FIA withdrew his superlicence, he returned to Japan to compete in Super GT racing.

Results have been decent enough, although his last win came in 2010 at Suzuka.

In 2022, Ide claimed a second place at Fuji and a 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.

A perfectly competent 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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