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Formula 1

The 10 shortest F1 debuts since 2000

After Nikita Mazepin's short-lived Formula 1 bow, we at RacingNews365.com decided to take a look at some other disastrous driver debuts from years gone by.

Article
To news overview © Haas

Nikita Mazepin's Bahrain Grand Prix lasted less than two corners at the 2021 season opener - this after he had previously spun out in qualifying. While few F1 entrances have been as catastrophic as the Russian's, he is by no means the only rookie to experience a very short-lived F1 debut.

Here are 10 of the shortest we have seen since the turn of the new millennium.

Ralph Firman - 6 laps

The German driver made his Formula 1 debut back in 2003 with Jordan. While the team did miraculously win a chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix that year - courtesy of Giancarlo Fisichella - Firman wouldn't be so fortunate, with his early retirement in Australia pretty much summing up his entire campaign.

Sergei Sirotkin - 4 laps

Brought in by Williams for the 2018 season, Sirotkin barely had a chance to familiarise himself with his new car, as overheating brakes and pedal failure caused him to retire early from Australian Grand Prix. The Russian endured a terrible season with Williams, who by this point were regularly lining up at the very back of the grid.

Lucas di Grassi - 2 laps

You may know Lucas di Grassi best from his successful stint in Formula E, but, before he went electric, the Brazilian had an ill-fated season at the Virgin F1 team. His debut race was a sign of things to come, as just two laps into the 2010 curtain-raiser in Bahrain, he suffered from a hydraulic failure and was forced to park up.

His teammate didn't fare much better, with Timo 'is that' Glock also ending the Grand Prix prematurely due to transmission problems.

Enrique Bernoldi - 2 laps

The rookie class of 2001 was quite something, as Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were all making their F1 debut in that year's Australian Grand Prix. However, the forgotten debutant that day was new Arrows driver Enrique Bernoldi, who got off to the worst start possible.

Unlike the previous entries, the Brazilian driver's early shower was self-inflicted, after he ran wide at Turn 2, and smashed into the barriers. Within 18 months, both he and the Arrows team would no longer be in F1.

Andre Lotterer - 1 lap

Don't worry, we don't remember this brief cameo either. However, it turns out that in the middle of the 2014 season, Lotterer - better known for competing in Formula E and endurance racing - did briefly drive for the Caterham F1 Team at the Belgian Grand Prix.

At 32, he was the oldest debutant in F1 history, even managing to outqualify teammate Marcus Ericsson on the Saturday before the race. Cruelly, his joy was short-lived, as an electrical issue forced him out of the Spa race after just one lap. This was to be his first - and to date only - Formula 1 outing. Ouch.

Karun Chandhok - 1 lap

Another innocent victim of the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix was Karun Chandhok, where the Indian driver was preparing to turn out for new F1 team, HRT. The weekend didn't get off to an ideal start for the driver-turned-pundit, as his car conked out several times during free practice alone.

Chandhok then didn't help matters, as he careened into the barriers on the very first lap of the race - something Nikita Mazepin would later replicate at the same track a decade later.

Sakon Yamamoto - 1 lap

Super Aguri's first season in F1 was shambolic by today's standards. One of the drivers they started the season with, Yuji Ide, would become something of a meme - such was his stark lack of speed when compared to teammate, Takuma Sato.

By the time of the 2006 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Ide had been replaced, with Yamamoto the lucky man chosen to drive for the Japanese team. Unfortunately for the debutant, he was half a second slower than Sato in qualifying, before a drive shaft issue caused him to retire on the very first lap.

It was most certainly a debut weekend to forget.

Nikita Mazepin - 0 laps

And so we come to the Russian driver whose debut weekend, much like Yamamoto's, was abysmal from start to finish. Nikita Mazepin spun out in just about every session of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, culminating in his most costly error of all.

Just two corners into the new season, Mazepin lost the rear of the car and smashed his Haas into the barrier. The American car certainly looks a handful, but a string of rookie errors across all three days will do little to silence his many critics.

Felipe Massa and Alan McNish - 0 laps

Its one of the most notorious opening laps in Formula 1 history. The abiding image from the 2002 Australian Grand Prix was that of Ralf Schumacher's Williams - frozen in mid-air after driving over the top of Ruben Barichello's rear wing.

Half of the field was forced to retire in the ensuing carnage - including the unfortunate Felipe Massa of Sauber, and Alan McNish of Toyota. Both were making their respective F1 debuts, but were ultimately unable to exit the first corner in one piece.

Thankfully nobody was seriously injured, but as F1 debuts go, its just about the worst start imaginable - as neither driver was at fault.

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