With Felipe Massa and (possibly) Jenson Button competing in their last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi they’ll be hoping to go out on a high. The likes of Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher (in his first retirement) had memorable final races but some other drivers weren’t quite so lucky. Here are five final races that didn’t go particularly well:
David Coulthard – Brazil 2008
The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix is famous for being an epic championship decider, but for David Coulthard in his last race it was one to forget. Winner of 13 Grand Prix and championship runner-up to Michael Schumacher in 2001, his 246th and final race was meant to be something to remember. He had a special ‘Wings For Life’ livery on his Red Bull and a camera on his helmet, but it wasn’t to be. In the wet conditions he collided with both Williams at the first corner and was out on the spot.
Giancarlo Fisichella – Abu Dhabi 2009
Brilliant in midfield teams, not so good in top teams, Giancarlo Fisichella performed several giant-killing performances during his long career but it ended on a bit of a bum note for Ferrari. After his sensational 2nd place for Force India at Spa he was brought in to replace the struggling Luca Badoer but he struggled to get a handle on the KERS-equipped F60. At Abu Dhabi he qualified dead last and could only finish 16th out of 18 finishers in what turned out to be his final race.
Johnny Herbert – Malaysia 2000
It’s amazing that Johnny Herbert had an F1 career at all after his horrible F3000 accident in 1988, let alone one as long and successful as he managed. After winning a race for Stewart in 1999 he stayed on as they morphed into Jaguar for 2000, but it was a lean season with no points scored. During his final race in Malaysia his suspension failed on the fast run up to turn four. He crashed heavily and had to be stretchered away. “I was carried to the cockpit for my first Grand Prix, and I was carried from the cockpit in my last” as he put it.
Jean Alesi – Japan 2001
The incredibly popular Alesi was driving as well as ever during his final season in 2001, finishing pretty much every race and even scoring points for the struggling Prost team. A late season switch to Jordan saw him score another point, but his season (and his F1 career) ended in the gravel at Suzuka. On lap five he got caught up with a spinning Kimi Raikkonen, couldn’t avoid him and was out.
Damon Hill – Japan 1999
Hill’s final season was not especially memorable; he spent much of the second half of the year threatening to retire on an almost race-by-race basis. He only scored 7 points all year whilst team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen fought for the championship, and after a small off during his final race at Suzuka simply withdrew after 21 laps, despite there being nothing wrong with the car. It was a low-key end to an outstanding career.