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F1 2017 Midseason Review: Five worst performances of the season so far

Which drivers have put in the most forgettable performances of the year? Be it avoidable accidents, poor pace, or just bad judgment, there have been plenty.

The 2017 F1 has been full of great performances, from Nico Hulkenberg’s qualifying brilliance to Sebastian Vettel’s ridiculous overtakes and Fernando Alonso just being able to get the McLaren to race distance at a reasonable race.

However, it’s not all been sunshine and roses. There have been some truly dreadful performances too, and that’s what we’ll be highlighting in this piece. From a bad Friday practice to a horror first corner, there are plenty of ways drivers have ruined their weekend this year.

1. Jolyon Palmer – Russia

This list could be a montage of Jolyon Palmer clips, but I’m going to limit myself as much as possible. However, this was easily the worst weekend of the year so far.

It started with a loss of power just half an hour into Friday’s first practice session. Not Palmer’s fault, but it was a blow to what is seemingly a very fragile psyche.

Come Saturday, Palmer was once again under serious pressure from his much faster teammate. While Nico Hulkenberg put in a 1:35.5 in Q1, Jolyon Palmer was almost a full second slower and in the drop zone. So he did this…



All by himself, on a fairly simply corner, Palmer just lost it. Not only did he lose it, but he couldn’t save it and sent the car into the wall, front and rear. The result was a full rebuild and long, long night for his race crew. Not great.

They got him out on the grid the next day though, because race crews are generally silent heroes in motorsport. How did Palmer thank them? By crashing at the first corner.

The incident with Romain Grosjean was deemed a racing incident, but there is no denying that Palmer had plenty of space and turned into Grosjean. The Frenchman wasn’t blameless, but Palmer had to do better.

2. Marcus Ericsson - Monaco

Little is expected of Saubers, and even less is seen usually. Ericsson had been out-qualified by Pascal Wehrlein in every race going into Monaco, and then proceeded to finish Saturday in dead-last, leaving some obvious frustration. However, with Wehrlein left on his side thanks to Jenson Button and a safety car to back the pack up to him, Ericsson had a chance to make a bit of a mark. Unfortunately, the only mark he left was one on the barrier at Sainte-Devote.

In Monaco there isn’t a lot of space, but unlapping yourself from the safety car shouldn’t be a problem. For Ericsson it was. This is the most embarrassing moment of the season by far.

3. Sebastian Vettel - Azerbaijan

An example of how one moment can totally sully your weekend. Sebastian Vettel had one of his worst qualifying performances of the year in Azerbaijan, starting fourth and clocking in over a second slower than title-rival Lewis Hamilton.

A coming-together between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen early handed Vettel second place, and two safety cars put him right on Hamilton’s gearbox. Literally.

Coming out of turn 15 during the second safety car period, Vettel misjudged Hamilton’s pace and collided, relatively gently, with the rear of the Mercedes. Believing Hamilton had brake-tested him, Vettel pulled alongside the Briton and turned into him, hitting him wheel-to-wheel. Vettel was highly fortunate to only be handed a 10 second stop-and-go penalty. It could have been much, much worse.

In the end, due to Hamilton having trouble with his headrest, Vettel even ended up finishing in front of Hamilton, but that doesn’t diminish the stupidity of the incident.

4. Daniil Kvyat - Austria

Since returning to Toro Rosso just over a year ago, Daniil Kvyat has not had a happy time. Nicknamed “Torpedo” for his habit of crashing into helpless cars and sinking their races, Kvyat’s most egregious incident this season was in Austria, where he started 14th. After getting a good start off the line, he darted inside his teammate Carlos Sainz and all was going well. Right up until it didn’t.

Kvyat managed to lock up both his front wheels and go careening into Fernando Alonso, who was sent out into Max Verstappen, knocking both out of the race. Kvyat was able to get back to the pits and continue, though he ended up coming last of the classified finishers.

Not only was it yet another confirmation of his “Torpedo” nickname, he managed to take out a Red Bull at the company’s home Grand Prix. Not a good look.

5. Stoffel Vandoorne - Spain

Life as the teammate of Fernando Alonso can’t be easy. Trying to compete directly with one of the greatest drivers in F1 history can heap pressure on a young driver, but that’s no excuse not to check your mirrors.

After qualifying a massive 1.5 seconds slower than Alonso in the Spanish Grand Prix, the 2015 GP2 champion was starting dead last and managed to only go backwards. While Alonso was fighting tooth and nail to score a point, Vandoorne was trying just to finish, which he didn’t.

Felipe Massa was catching him following a pit stop, but Vandoorne seemed totally unaware of the veteran Brazilian as, coming up to turn one, he pulled out of Vandoorne’s slipstream and up the inside of the turn. Vandoorne was totally unaware that he was there and turned in as normal, crashing him front-right into Massa’s car and breaking his suspension. It was an embarrassing moment for someone who had come into the season so highly touted and yet struggled so much.

What do you think was the worst performance of 2017 so far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.


I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

F1 2017 Midseason Review: Five worst performances of the season so far

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