Top 10 F1 One Race Wonders

Fewer than 1000 drivers have ever competed in Formula 1 – and even then some have only one race to their name. Here are our favourites

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Marco Apicella

This Bolognese driver’s sole outing in a Formula 1 race lasted mere seconds. Competing in the 1993 Italian Grand Prix for Jordan, he qualified in 23rd place – yet he was out of the race by the time he arrived at the first corner, after his car was struck by JJ Lehto’s Sauber. He wasn’t asked back, being replaced by Emanuele Naspetti for the following round in Portugal. Apicella, who had earlier earned the occasional good placing in Formula 3000, continued from where he’d left off racing in Japan; he claimed the national F3000 title a year later.

AutoFact: Apicella was former chief test driver for the unraced Dome F1 project.

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell was a former Formula Ford 2000 champion, and Formula 3 regular, before making his one and only world championship F1 appearance during the 1980 Belgian Grand Prix. It followed protracted wrangling over him gaining a Super Licence with which to compete in motorsport’s top tier, and which had hitherto stopped him from participating. He retired his Ensign at Zolder, and then failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. It marked the end of his F1 hopes, but Needell enjoyed a long career in sportscars and as a broadcaster.

AutoFact: Needell contested the Le Mans 24-hours on 14 occasions, with a best finish of third in 1990.

John Rhodes

Better known for his tyre-frying escapades in saloon car racing, this works Mini ace was also an accomplished single-seater pilot. A race winner in Formula Junior, he occasionally stepped up to Formula 2 and non-championship Grands Prix driving for Bob Gerard’s equipe. The team then entered an aged Cooper-Climax T60 for Rhodes to drive in the 1965 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, in what would be prove to be his sole outing in a points-paying F1 race. The 37-year-old soldiered on for 39 laps before retiring the car with ignition problems. Rhodes largely concentrated on saloon cars thereafter.

AutoFact: Rhodes also won his class at Le Mans in 1965, as well as on the 1966 Targa Florio.

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Damien Magee

Known within the racing fraternity as ‘Mad Dog’, Magee had talent and ability. The Belfast man had shown form in Formula Ford and F3 prior to making his sole world championship F1 start in the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix. He finished 14th driving a Williams FW03. He was granted the opportunity to race a RAM Racing Brabham in the following year’s French race, but failed to qualify. Magee was a frontrunner in the 1976 ShellSport Group Eight series driving a Hexagon-March, but effectively walked away from racing at the end of the following season.

AutoFact: He was the inspiration for an Autosport cartoon character.

John Riseley-Prichard

A gentleman driver in modern-day parlance, this insurance broker began racing aboard a road-going Riley before acquiring a Connaught A-type from Rob Walker. He achieved relatively little of any consequence with the car, save for victory in the non-points 1954 I Cornwall MRC Formula 1 Race. Nevertheless, he ran the car in that year’s British grand prix, but spun off into retirement. His greatest contribution to motorsport was in loaning his car to Tony Brooks later that season, giving the future star his big break. The duo shared a works Aston Martin in the infamous 1955 Le Mans 24-hours, with Riseley-Prichard hanging up his helmet thereafter.

AutoFact: He later fled to Thailand to escape prosecution for some unsavoury crimes.

Peter Ashdown

A highly successful driver in Formula Junior, this Essex ace had the talent to have gone further but for an accident at Rouen-Les-Essarts in 1958 that blunted his career momentum. He recovered from his injuries to race in Formula 2, and ran in the F2 category of the 1959 British Grand Prix at Aintree aboard an Alan Brown Cooper-Climax. He placed 12th overall and third in class. Thereafter, he continued to drive in Formula Junior, and shone in Lola sportscars, before hanging up his helmet in 1962. He later opened a Vauxhall dealership and helped nurture Perry McCarthy’s racing career.

AutoFact: Ashdown was principal of the Candy Apple Cars kit car firm in the 1990s.

Masahiro Hasemi

A legend in his native Japan, this former motocross racer had established himself as a standout saloon car and GT racer prior to participating in the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix for Kojima. The record books state that he finished 11th – seven laps down on Mario Andretti, who won for Team Lotus. He was also credited with setting the fastest lap of the race, a ‘fact’ that has since trickled down into several reference works. It was now widely held that there had been a timing error and Jacques Laffite should have received the honour.

AutoFact: Hasemi went on to be multiple Japanese F2 and touring car champion.

Clemente Biondetti

Justifiably revered for his sportscar exploits, this Italian star won the Mille Miglia a record four times and the Targa Florio twice. He competed at grand prix level prior to the emergence of the F1 World Championship in 1950, but made only one points-paying start that year – by which time he was already the wrong side of 50 years old. He fielded his homebrewed Ferrari-Jaguar special in the Italian Grand Prix, but retired the car with engine problems. He would continue racing to 1954, before succumbing to cancer a year later.

AutoFact: Biondetti enjoyed success racing on two wheels before turning his attention to cars.

Graham McRae

This Kiwi’s F1 tally stands at only one start, but that bellies his success as a driver and car builder. A three-time Tasman Series winner and US Formula 5000 champion, he drove a Frank Williams Iso-Ford in the British Grand Prix, only to be eliminated in an accident on the first lap. He never stepped up to that level again, but months earlier he had contested the Indy 500 for the first time and claimed Rookie of the Year honours. As a car builder, he built dozens of single-seaters, one of which Roy Lane steered to the 1975-’76 British Hillclimb Championship titles.

AutoFact: McRae later made exacting replicas of the Porsche 356.

Gérard Larrousse

This amiable Frenchman was winding down his career when he was presented with the chance to compete in F1. Larrousse had already parlayed success in rallying into even more glory as a sportscar driver, but he was relatively inexperienced in single-seaters despite having won a race on aggregate in F2. His outing in the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles aboard a Scuderia Finotto Brabham was a miserable one, and ended in retirement. He failed to qualify the same car for the French Grand Prix, and a year later he quit driving for team management.

AutoFact: As Renault’s team principal, he helped usher turbocharging into F1.

Images courtesy of LAT Archive

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