Watching Takuma Sato flounder in IRL has been painful. Having become used to watch him drive competitively and convincingly in F1. From being the most successful Japanese driver in F1 history, to having 9 DNFs in 15 races must be a confidence killer. But he isn?t the only driver to endure a tough transition from one motorsport to another. Here are a few examples:
Michael followed his father from American Championship racing to go into F1. He went straight into McLaren and shared a garage with the great Ayrton Senna. With great credentials from his time in America, one would have thought he would flourish in F1. But sadly, due to a number of factors including an alleged conspiracy against him (his son Marco?s words) saw him return to America with one podium and 7 points to his name.
Becoming IRL champion for the first time, Dario decided to defect to NASCAR, in a move similar of Juan Montoya. Wanting a new challenge, Dario seemed enthusiastic about his switch. Yet he would only last 8 races before he broke his ankle in a crash at Talladega, and two DNQs saw his team shut down due to lack of funding. Though, you wouldn?t know he had a year out from IndyCar, because on his return he would take his second championship on the last race of the season. Dario should definitely stick to open-wheelers.
Making Champ Car history in 2007 by winning his fourth title in America, Bourdais finally got a seat in F1, five years after his initial push for the top flight formula. His sacking from the Toro Rosso team, in my opinion, was a little unfair. For a backmarker, he really couldn?t have done much more with what he had. Saying that, four points finishes in two years speaks volumes for a record holder, and since Bourdais has struggled to keep his ride in the Superleague.
The two time SBK champion had been linked for a long time with MotoGP, and in 2008 he finally made the switch. Initially good in the first half of 2008, he slipped backwards and became a backmarker over time. He never finished higher than sixth, and coupled with in garage fighting with his team-mate Colin Edwards (a man you shouldn?t fight with) saw him switch back to Superbikes, where he is still struggling to find his form.
It seems that most of these drivers were maybe looking instant results too fast, never adjusting to their new surroundings. But where there are those who have found it hard, there are those who found it easy:
- JOHN SURTEES: The six time bike champ added an F1 championship to his impressive resume in 1964.
- MARIO ANDRETTI: An F1 title was acquired after 4 USAC titles and 1 dirt track championship.
- NIGEL MANSELL: The only driver to win the CART title after the F1 title.
- JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: He?s won races in three different types of motorsport.
So it?s not just a one way street. How do some drivers become easily adjustable to different series and others not?
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