‘Home advantage’ is often talked about in sports, with many believing that the roar of the crowd, or the meaning of the event, can help eke out that additional bit of performance to achieve great moments.
However, there are times when things just don’t come together for a driver on their own turf. We take a look at some of Formula 1’s unluckiest drivers who arguably should have achieved more on home soil.
Charles Leclerc – Monaco
One of Formula 1’s most recent examples, Charles Leclerc has yet to achieve success in his four attempts (2018 – 2022, with no event in 2020) on the streets of the Principality.
In 2018, he suffered from brake failure and crashed into Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, and in 2019, he tagged the wall and sustained damage from his puncture.
He took Pole Position in 2021, albeit after crashing out on his final run, and retired before the race began due to gearbox problems sustained from the crash.
Last year’s event was looking promising after leading the early stages of the wet race, but with Ferrari getting leapfrogged by rivals Red Bull in the pit stops, he fell down to fourth where he remained until the race finish.
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Daniel Ricciardo – Australia
The popular Aussie should arguably not be on this list, depending on how you interpret history, but has definitely had some bad luck at his home event.
After a lack of opportunity for major success in the junior team, a promotion to Red Bull for 2014 looked to have been rewarded immediately. Ricciardo took second place ‘on the road’ at the season-opening race in Melbourne, but was disqualified for a fuel flow infringement.
Ricciardo would never really have the same opportunity again, and the closest he came to a podium was a P4 after a strong recovery at the 2018 event, less than one second away from the rostrum.
Jenson Button – Britain
The 2009 World Champion was able to contest his home Grand Prix in every full season of his F1 career, 17 times.
However, the best result at Silverstone that he could muster was a P4 finish on three occasions: 2004, 2010 and 2014.
He and/or his car were off the pace during his front-running seasons. In 2004 he scored podiums in over half of the races, but a Silverstone podium eluded him.
In his championship-winning year, the British GP was the first event of the season where he did not achieve a podium finish, and in the competitive 2010-2012 McLaren years, he generally lacked the pace or fortune of then-teammate Lewis Hamilton .
Mark Webber – Australia
Unfortunately there’s another Australian who could’ve had a home podium, and arguably had more opportunities than Ricciardo to do so.
The Australian Grands Prix started well for Webber; he claimed a stunning fifth place on his debut by capitalizing in a remarkable race of attrition.
From there, his performances in Melbourne were rarely sub-par, but, when finally handed capable machinery from 2009 onwards, he was unable to match the results of teammate Sebastian Vettel, and took a best finish of P4 in 2012.
Rubens Barrichello – Brazil
The experienced Brazilian racer is a unique entrant to this list because he actually did achieve a podium finish during Ferrari’s dominant 2004 season, but his pace around the Interlagos track certainly warranted greater success.
He regularly dragged unworthy cars into podium contention and, when equipped with a regular race-winning car, he would often be more than a match for Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher.
He took three Pole Positions (2003, 2004 & 2009) but, mostly through a lack of fortune, was unable to convert any of these into a desired victory.
Phil Hill – USA
When equipped with a race-winning Ferrari, 1961 World Champion Phil Hill had a very unique reason for being unable to claim any success at the United States Grands Prix: Ferrari simply did not attend during his peak years.
The first official US Grand Prix (not the Indy 500 races) was held at Sebring in 1959 and, with Hill becoming a semi-regular podium challenger for Ferrari, might have fancied his chances of silverware, but his first effort ended in race retirement.
After taking his first win for Ferrari at the 1960 Italian GP, the team decided not to bother with the season finale in the US (this time at the Riverside Raceway) as the championship was already decided. Hill was allowed to race for another team, but podium success was never likely to be achieved in an outdated customer car.
The 1961 season ended in tragedy. The championship was decided at Monza where Hill’s rival, Wolfgang von Trips, was killed in a crash that also claimed the lives of 14 spectators. With Hill winning that race, and the championship, Ferrari elected not to race at the final round in the US, which had switched again to Watkins Glen.
Hill would get one final year at Ferrari and, although the car was less competitive (Graham Hill and BRM won that title), there would still be podium opportunities at the US Grand Prix. However, Ferrari’s employees went on strike and the team pulled out of the final two events, one being the race at Watkins Glen.
He would have further opportunities to race in the US, but he would never compete in a front-running F1 car again.