Let’s take a look at the drivers who racked up the most failures to pre-qualify for Formula 1 races
Well before the three-stage, knock-out qualifying format used in F1 today was brought in, some F1 teams had to compete in something called “pre-qualifying”.
Through the 80s and early 90s, F1 grid numbers were around 26 but at some races there could be over 40 entries. Pre-qualifying was introduced to weed out the dead wood.
New teams or the worst from the past season would compete for a spot in qualifying and even then, some drivers would miss out on getting to start the actual race.
It was a high-pressure environment and a quick browse through motorsport stats heaven, Forix, revealed the drivers with the most failures to even pre-qualify, let alone qualify:
Here’s a driver perhaps best known for his success in touring cars (winning British, European and World Championships). But Gabriele Tarquini also made 38 starts in F1 between 1987 and 1995, although he was entered in 79 races.
He, unfortunately, holds the record for the most failures to pre-qualify with 25. Ouch… but hardly surprising when you remember the teams he raced for: Osella, Coloni, First, AGS, Fondmetal and Tyrrell.
The Brazilian racer gave Tarquini a run for his money when it came missing out on making it through to pre-qualify, as Roberto Moreno failed to do so 22 times during his stint in F1 on and off from 1982 to 1995. He made 42 starts from his 77 entries and had some success with Benetton, but largely spent time at struggling teams such as Coloni and EuroBrun.
Another driver who took to tin-top racing after single-seaters, Nicola Larini raced in F1 from 1987 to 1997, spread over stints at backmarkers such as Coloni, Osella and Modena. He made 49 starts from 75 entries and failed to pre-qualify for 17 of them. However, he did have a better time in his final few sporadic starts in F1 with Ferrari and Sauber.
Aguri Suzuki is probably best known to newer F1 fans as the owner of Super Aguri, the charming-yet-slow backmarker from 2006 to 2008. During his time as a F1 driver, he made 64 starts from 88 entries and failed to pre-qualify 16 times.
One key fact about his pre-qualifying misses were that they all took place in 1989 with the staggeringly slow Zakspeed team. Yeah, he failed to qualify for every race. He later drove for Larrousse, scoring a podium at Suzuka in 1990, Footwork (another stupid team name from the 90s) and Ligier.
The French driver is another with 16 pre-qualifying failures on his CV. He’s best known for opening the door to Michael Schumacher at Jordan in 1991 after he was jailed for two months for spraying a taxi driver in the face with CS gas in London.
He made 47 F1 starts in total, both before and after his prison sentence, with 84 entries. His failed pre-qualifying attempts were at Onyx and Coloni, but he also missed out at the next stage (actual qualifying) quite a few times with rubbish teams such as Rial, Larrousse and Pacific.