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Formula 1

Right place, wrong time: It happened to these drivers

Sometimes you "just" need a little luck in life. But the dime can also fall the wrong way, as these drivers now know better than anyone....

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Becoming an F1 driver is an incredible achievement when the number of racing drivers in world motorsport is considered. But for most, simply taking part is not enough.

The next step after securing a drive is scoring your first point, then your first podium, then your first win. After that, you want to become World Champion.

But even to do that you need some luck. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton can be of equal performance, but if one driver's car is good enough to be at the front of the grid and the other's at the back, there is no competition.

To become champion, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Some drivers have done that over the years, whilst others weren't so lucky...

Jenson Button (Williams, 2000) (Benetton/Renault, 2001-2002)

Jenson Button made his F1 debut with Williams in 2000 with the aim of performing at the front with the team that had been title winners as soon as three-years prior.

But the team had taken steps backwards and the Briton could only amass 12 points across the campaign, albeit with the old scoring system honouring only the top six finishers.

With a best result of only fourth, Button moved to Benetton - another team with its glory days in the past. One point came in year one and although the second season was a step forward, he was replaced by Fernando Alonso. Guess who became a Grand Prix winner in 2003...

Button did however experience the other end of the spectrum in 2009 when winning his only Drivers' title with Brawn GP, a team created out of the ashes of the Honda entry after the Japanese manufacturer pulled out of the sport at the 11th hour.

Michael Schumacher (Mercedes, 2010-2012)

A year after Button's triumph, Mercedes took over from Brawn and the Briton moved to McLaren.

Williams took teammate Rubens Barrichello with Nico Rosberg joining the Silver Arrows. But the big name signing was the return of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher from retirement.

But the team began in the midfield, unable to build on the success brought by Brawn. It took until 2012 for signs of promise to be shown - Rosberg winning in China as a pit-stop error left Schumacher out of the race.

A podium came in Valencia for the legendary German whilst a stellar lap at Monaco would have given him pole position had it not been for an existing grid penalty.

Ahead of the 2013 season, Schumacher again retired, just as the Silver Arrows began a journey that has seen Rosberg pick up a title and Hamilton six.

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	© xpb.cc

Sergio Perez (McLaren, 2013)

After two fantastic years at Sauber, Sergio Perez switched to McLaren in 2013 as Hamilton's replacement alongside Button.

But this was the beginning of McLaren's mid-2010s downfall and saw the MP4-28 fall well short of the Red Bulls, Ferraris and Mercedes.

Perez was able only to record a best result of fifth place, with Button's best only fourth. The Mexican left the team at the end of the season for Force India, missing McLaren's best years of the decade by joining a year too late.

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	© XPBimages

Kevin Magnussen (McLaren, 2014)

Perez's departure left a space alongside Button and McLaren elected to promote rookie Kevin Magnussen.

The Dane had a great start to the season: finishing second on debut at the Australian Grand Prix. But for Magnussen that was as good as it got. The car was not up to scratch and his first podium has also, so far, turned out to be his last.

So having landed at the historic team in the midst of a lull, he finds himself still on the grid whilst McLaren fights back to the front. That has to sting.

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	© XPBimages

Fernando Alonso (McLaren, 2015 - 2018)

When Ferrari announced in 2014 that Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel would make the switch for 2015, Alonso found himself switching back to McLaren, the team he almost became world champion in 2007.

The Woking-based outfit also rekindled its partnership with Honda, which was returning after leaving the sport ahead of 2009. But any dreams of challenging Mercedes rather than being a customer fell apart.

Just 11 points came in 2015 and things didn't get an awful lot better. Alonso's outbursts over team radio - including the "GP2 engine" jibe at Honda's home race - led to a ditching of that partnership, though it was not enough to instantly turn fortunes around.

Alonso left F1 after 2018, though returned with Alpine in 2021. His time with McLaren was perhaps only any good for his Indy 500 tilt.

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	© XPBimages

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