Formula 1's Weirdest Record: How Hans Heyer Scored a DNQ, DNF, and DSQ in One Race

How did Heyer fail to qualify for and finish a race from which he was disqualified?

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Hans Heyer racing a Ford Escort in 1974. There aren’t many photos of his disastrous F1 debut.
Hans Heyer racing a Ford Escort in 1974. There aren’t many photos of his disastrous F1 debut.
Photo: Lothar Spurzem / Wikimedia Commons

There are some Formula 1 records that make sense. You can understand why you might want to secure the record for the most wins overall, or why you might want to be the youngest-ever World Champion. But one man named Hans Heyer managed to score one of the weirdest records in history: He’s the only driver in the history of the sport to earn a DNQ, DNF, and DSQ in one race.

If you’re not up on F1 lingo, no worries. Here’s what those acronyms mean:

  • DNQ: Did Not Qualify. This means a driver did not set a qualifying time, did not make it through pre-qualifying, or was too slow to qualify.
  • DNF: Did Not Finish. This means a driver started the race but did not complete it.
  • DSQ: Disqualified. This one is self-explanatory.

All three of those designations tend to preclude one another, but at the 1977 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Hans Heyer managed to do it.

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Here’s what happened: That year, 30 cars entered the German GP, but there was only space for 24 cars to run safely on the track. That meant that drivers would have to make it through pre-qualifying to then be able to qualify for the race; basically, six slow cars would be unable to compete for a spot on the grid.

Young Hans Heyer, competing with the ATS Racing Team, didn’t make the cut. It was, after all, his debut race in F1, and his team wasn’t exactly what one would call “good.” Because of that, he earned a DNQ.

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Heyer was a third reserve driver for the event, meaning he could have a chance to race if three other drivers dropped out. But, miraculously, that did manage to happen: Patrick Nève’s car wasn’t prepared, and the second reserve’s engine failed just before the race. So, technically, Heyer was in line to compete.

And then, at the start of the race, there was a problem with the starting lights that put a delay on the race. The commotion meant Heyer could slip out of the pits and start the race without being noticed. It was only when his gearbox failed after nine laps (and earned him a DNF) that people realized he was even competing. As you can imagine, not getting the official go-ahead meant that Heyer was disqualified.

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Heyer was then banned from competing in the subsequent five Formula One races, which ultimately translated to a lifetime ban, since Heyer wasn’t planning on coming back to the world of single-seater racing.

The wildest part is the fact that Heyer did have a little success in touring car races, but his 14 attempts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans also ended in a DNF every time. It seems Heyer just wasn’t cut out for the big leagues.