Being a successful Formula 1 driver requires a complex series of skills that all need to work in concert — but not everyone is able to achieve all those skills at once. Take, for example, Italy’s Andrea de Cesaris, who still holds the record for the most Formula 1 races without a win: 208.
Part of de Cesaris’ problem came in the form of unreliability: He just couldn’t manage to finish a race. And while some drivers suffered from the unreliability of a poor team or a frustrating car, de Cesaris just... crashed. A lot. So much so that he managed to destroy 18 chassis in the 14-race 1981 season, during which time he only managed to finish six races. It earned him his nickname, de Crasheris, because he was one of the boldest and most fearless drivers on the grid.
Despite that, his skill was evident. When he managed to finish a race during the first years of his career, de Cesaris was usually in a points-scoring position (though, of course, that didn’t matter much when he wasn’t scoring any other points). Still, his attitude and talent — if only he could get it under control — was such that he was a presence on the F1 grid between 1980 and 1991, racing for 10 different teams: Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial, Dallara, Jordan, Tyrrell, and Sauber.
“If you come into Formula One too early, you cannot cope with the pressure, and your mind goes a little crazy,” de Cesaris he said in a 1991 interview, as quoted in the New York Times. “At 23 you have enough experience. So I was 21 years old; I had no experience; I didn’t know the tracks. It was a mistake.”
Young World Champions like Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel might disagree with that sentiment, but times have certainly changed since de Cesaris’ day.
Alongside his 208-race winless streak, de Cesaris also holds the following accolades:
- He scored five podiums, one pole position, and a total of 59 points throughout his career. He scored points with every team he raced for, with the exception of Minardi.
- He holds the record for the most consecutive non-finishes (18 in a row during the 1985 to 1986 seasons).
- He holds the record for most successive non-finishes in a single season (12 in 1987).
- He has the most DNFs (14) in a 16-race season.
- Out of the 208 races he competed in, de Cesaris retired from 135 of them.