Besides the stand-in drivers there is also another group. The almost stand-in drives. Why would you cover these? Well, if you see the names that appear during the research of the subject and see the story behind it. These are worth sharing! Most of the almost drives are long forgotten by the most fans. It makes it only more worthwhile to dive into these stories and uncover the full story. Well as far as possible ofcourse. I choose on purpose for drives instead of drivers in this case.
Michael Andretti is one of the drivers that kept in interest with teams, even hitting 49 he was still asked to be one of the stand-in drivers for a team. Even at that age Michael was still competitive winning races and championships. The almost stand-in drives from Mario
1984 Renault: Mario Andretti was ready to race with Renault during the US GP to replace the injured Patrick Tambay. In the previous race, he had an accident. However, he arrived fit enough in America.
1989 Ferrari: Gerhard Berger had a huge shunt in San Marino and Ferrari was looking for a replacement driver. Mario Andretti was asked. However, he thanked for the offer, as he was not able to test the car beforehand. Almost a return of Andretti can you imagine?
Michael Andretti, the son of Mario Andretti, only drove one season in the Formula One. In 1993 he would race for the McLaren team of Ron Dennis. However, after the Italian Grand Prix where he scored his first and only podium he would leave the Formula One. A story with a nasty taste surrounding Dennis wanting to have Mika in the McLaren. Besides his year with McLaren his first taste with F1 could have been in 1986!
1986 Haas-Lola: During the US-GP of 1986 Haas asked Mario Andretti if he was interested to replace the injured Patrick Tambay. Mario thanked for it and told the team to take his son. Michael not having the needed super licence the drive went to Eddie Cheever.
1990 Benetton: Michael Andretti was asked by Benetton to replace the injured Alessandro Nannini.
The Australian World Champion of 1980 retired after 1981 from the Formula One. Eventually he would race in 1985 and 1986 almost all races for Team Haas. Despite his retirement of the sport it did not mean that they all forgot about Jones. The almost stand-in drives from Alan.
1982 Ferrari: Pironi had a massive crash in Germany and Ferrari need a driver. Ferrari offered Jones the seat. However, he wavered away. In the end Michael Andretti would was given the job.
1987 Williams: Alan Jones was linked to drive the number 5 Williams at Adelaide in 1987. Nigel Mansell was unable to race after his crash at Suzuka. The only reason Jones did not appear in the cockpit was the fact he was under contract with Toyota for their sportscar and Touring Car Racing in Japan.
My fellow Dutchie Jan Lammers is perhaps the most unlucky driver the F1 has known. He made his debut with Shadow in 1979 and kept on racing for the smaller teams during the years. It seemed in 1982 his F1 book was closed. Ten years later he would re-appear on the grid with the March Team at that time from another fellow dutchie Henny Vollenberg. Seeing 1993 slipping through his fingers he would try a last attempt with Dams in 1995. However, many don’t know he got offers from teams as Ferrari and Renault to replace their injured drivers!
1981 Brabham: Lammers was to race for Brabham in 1981 as Nelson Piquet preferred him as his teammate. However the money from Pemex of Rebaque talked dirty and Lammers would not appear on the grid with Brabham.
1982 Renault: Alain Prost had a huge crash in Monaco and seemed to be unable to race in Detroit. Renault asked Lammers to replaced Alain Prost. However, Prost recovered fast from his crash and was able to race in Detroit. Jan would stay with Theodore in Detroit instead.
1982 Ferrari: As said Lammers was to race with Theodore in Detroit. Before the free practice started Ferrari asked Jan Lammers if he was willing to replace Gilles Villeneuve at the team starting in Zandvoort. While the deal was canned, Lammers injured his when the accelerator of the Theodore becomes stuck. Lammers crashed in the wall and breaks his thumb. He was almost a Ferrari driver. Eventually Patrick Tambay would sign the contract. Still Ferrari promised Lammers a test with the Ferrari at Fiorano later that year.
1989 Tyrrell: Ken offered Lammers the seat of Michelle Alboreto, which leaved the team after the Canadian Grand Prix due to a sour relation between Ken and Michelle. While Tyrrell even offered a fee for it, Jan decided to stay with TWR Jaguar. Jean Alesi would get the drive at Tyrrell instead.
1995 Pacific: It is said that Jan Lammers almost drove for the Pacific team, due to a Dutch sponsor, in Imola when Montermini felt ill and was unsure if he could race. Eventually Montermini would race.
The playboy of the Formula One announced its retirement in 1979 when he drove his last races for the Walter Wolf Racing Team. While he was close to race for Ferrari from 1979 as you can read here. On the 8th of June 1979, he retired. However, it meant not the end for Hunt and his ambitions to the Formula One.
1979 Ligier: When Patrick Depailler became injured Guy Ligier spoke with James Hunt if he was willing to replace Depailler. A contract was signed between the two. Guy only needed from Walter Wolf a letter stating that Hunt was freed of his contract with the team. The letter never appeared, and Hunt would not appear in the Ligier. In the end Jacky Ickx would sign the contract.
1980 McLaren: For the Grand Prix of Long Beach McLaren was in search of a driver to replace the injured Alain Prost who broke his wrist. Soon McLaren and Hunt signed the deal. Hunt would get 1 million dollar 50% was to be financed by Philips Morris. Before the race Hunt went on skiing and broke his leg. Steven South would replace the injured Prost instead.
Huub made his debut in the Formula One in 1984 with Spirit Racing. The team that was once the test hack for the new Honda Turbo engine. At that time the team was powered by the Hart Turbo. Though already in 1981 he was close to appear on the grid in the Formula One. At that time he was active in the Formula Two.
1981 Tyrrell: Rothengatter is said to come close to race for the team in San Marino. However, Michele Alboreto arrived with more funding and got the seat for the remainder of the season.
Justin Wilson a talent that couldn’t impress much in the Formula One. Though impressed a lot in the states. Sadly we lost him too young after his horrible accident. Did you know Wilson was to debut in 2002?
2002 Minardi: Alex Yoong wasn’t the most impressive in the Minardi PS02. At some races he wasn’t able to qualify the car. While Mark Webber had no problems with it. Therefore Minardi offered Justin Wilson a contract to race for the team the new couple of races instead of Yoong. However, Justin was too tall to fit in the Minardi.
For those who don’t know Rob Wilson. He is a former racing driver from New Zealand. After winning several races in lower Formulae series Wilson was to try his luck in the Formula One. It is an episode most of you probably don’t know. By accident I came across this myself.
1981 Fittipaldi: Was asked to replace Emerson who was to retire from Formula One racing. However, he never raced for the team, as he had not enough sponsorship.
1981 Tyrrell: Together with Huub Rothengatter he was rumoured to be one of the drivers for the team during the San Marino Grand Prix.
The Italian driver with probably the strangest carreer in Formula One. In 1977 he already made his debut in the Formula One with McLaren. During the years he raced in several races most of them for Alfa Romeo. Even scoring a podium finish in 1981 at the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. After a year with Toleman in 1983, it seemed the end of his F1 carreer. However, in 1990 he re-appeared on the grid with the Life. What many don’t know is that he turned down an offer from McLaren in 1990 to be their test driver.
1988 March: After Ivan Capelli had an accident at the USA Grand Prix of 1988 March was looking for a replacement driver for France and Great Britain. As they believed he needed more time to recover. Giacomelli signed a deal with the team. However, Capelli recovered quickly and did not need to be replaced.
Made his debut in the Formula One in 1976 with the Heros Racing team during the Japanese Grand Prix. The team hired a Tyrrell 007. A year later, he would appear with the same team again at the Japanese Grand Prix. Though this time with the Kojima KE009. In 1987, he tested for Williams.
1994 Benetton: In 1994 the rumours appeared that Hoshino, at that time 47, was offered to race for the Benetton team in Japan.
The smoking world champion of 1982 retired from the Formula One after 1986 when he drove for Williams. After a break, Rosberg returned on the grid in the 1990 World Sportscar Championship for Peugeot Talbot Sport. However, there have been a couple of changes to re-appear in the Formula One. Like that time that van Rossem wanted Rosberg and Piquet in his Moneytron team in 1990.
1989 Benetton: Rosberg was offered the seat of Johnny Herbert at the 1989 French Grand Prix. He declined the drive as he was unable to do some testing beforehand. He almost made his comeback in the F1.
1991 Jordan: I’m not sure if this would be an almost thing. Keke Rosberg was asked by Ian Phillips to race for the Jordan team in Spa as he was a specialist on that track. Gachot was unable to drive in Spa for the team and they were looking for a replacement. Eventually for a long-term solutions. In the end a guy named Michael Schumacher sat in the car.
A bit of a sad story this is. Scapini has been linked with the Formula One a couple of times. He came close to drive for some teams, if you have to believe the rumours. However, one time he was really close.
1987 Coloni: In 1987 Enzo Coloni was to debut in the Formula One with his own Formula One team. Scapini, at that active in the Italian Formula 3, tested the car a couple of times. In favour he was promised the drive for the Spainsh Grand Prix that year. Never happened.
Emerson left the Formula One at the end of the 1980 season when he focused his work on the management part of Fittipaldi Automotive. They kept on going two years with the team struggling to survive in the Formula One with almost no sponsorship. With a brief return testing the Spirit after they lost their Honda deal in 1984. Emerson was to sign with Spirit however declined it after the test in early 1984 at Jacarepagua.
1989 Minardi: For the Japanese Grand Prix Minardi was looking for a replacement driver for Pierluigi Martini. As he was unable to race in Japan. At the age of 43 Emerson was already Indycar champion in 1989. However, Ecclestone did not believe that Emerson had the capacity to drive those generation F1 cars. The drive went eventually to Paolo Barilla.
The younger brother of Eddie Cheever was not as successful as his brother was. He drove 8 seasons in the Japanese Formula 3000 before he would leave the racing sport. With a comeback at indy in 2000 with team cheever. Failing to qualify himself for the Indy 500.
1991 AGS: While racing in the Japanese Formula 3000 he had signed a deal with AGS to drive for the team during the Japanese Grand Prix, instead of Dalmas.
One of the drivers that made it into the Formula One in the early 1990s however not the way you would like it. In 1991, he entered the Bologna F1 Sprint with the Coloni team. He even went up to the Semi-Finals before beaten by Johnny Herbert in a Lotus.
1992 March: During the season, Tamburini signed a deal with the March team to race the last three European races of the season. Somehow, the deal was cancelled.
Who doesn’t know Giovanni Lavaggi? Probably one of the few drivers the last 30 years that appeared in the Formula One pure on his own passion and his willpower. He would race for the Pacific Grand Prix team in 1995 and in 1996 a couple of races for Minardi. Already in 1992, he had his first taste with the Formula one when he was able to test with the March CG911B.
1992 March: In 1992, Lavaggi already tested with the March. Perhaps in favour to debut for the team the last two races. He would join Jan Lammers that was on the edge to make his comeback 10 years after he drove his last race. Sadly, Lavaggi did not arrive.
I have to be clear I never heard of Carcasi before. Despite his name is not well known he won several championships during the late 80’s and early 90s.
1995 Forti: Carcasci was asked by Forti to race for them during the Brazilian Grand Prix and the Argentine Grand Prix. However, his super license was refused.
He raced for over 50 years in basically all type of racing cars. In 2021, he is still an active race driver. Back in the 1970s, Wilds did a couple of Formula One races. As well was he active in the British Formula One series.
1974 March: Mike Wilds signed a deal with the March team to replace Hans-Joachim Stuck for the Swedish Grand Prix. Like it happened with more drivers Mike broke his wrist the week before the Grand Prix and was unable to race for the March team.
Brown is mostly know for his racing in the Sports Car Racing in the 1950s, which eventually would cost him his life. Besides his Sports Car Racing he raced for Connaught Engineering during the 1956 British Grand Prix. That same year he tried to qualify as well for the Italian Grand Prix. What made his career even more amazing is the fact he was disabled from his birth.
1957 BRM: Archie was asked by BRM to drive for them during the 1957 British Grand Prix. While the contract was almost signed, Archie eventually told BRM he preferred to race in the Sports Car Racing.
One of these drivers that stayed for a long time in the Formula One though never appeared on the grid as an F1 driver. He did ofcourse drive the safety car in the Formula One between 1997 and 1999. In between Gavin tested a lot in the Formula One, though it seemed not to impressed the teams.
1995 Pacific: Oliver Gavin was offered one of the Pacific seats for the Australian Grand Prix. He would replace Gachot. The story goes that Wiggins would tell the media that Gachot was either ill or was injured. Eventually Gachot just raced in Australia and the news appeared that Gavin was ditched due to not owning the needed super licence.
König Ludwig as his nickname is, is well known for his achievements in the touring cars. Some highlight in 1979, 1984 and 1985 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He won many titles in the DTM, and won uncountable races. Still, he came close to become an almost Formula One driver as well. If I have to believe some books I have.
1986 Zakspeed: Some sources claim that Klaus Ludwig was to race for Zakspeed during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. For unknown reasons he did not race. Other stories speak about the Belgium Grand Prix.
I had a hard time to figure out who Carlos Guerrero was. Ending up at Roberto Guerrero who isn’t related at all. Eventually i understood he did in the mid-1990s some Indy Car world Series races and before a couple of seasons in the Mexican F 3000 series. His last races are from 2014 when he drove in the F3 Panam powered by ABARTH. What forgot is that Guerrero tested with March 7th of May 1992 at Pembrey.
1992 March: A deal was made Guerrero to race for the March F1 Team after his test with the team. His race would be the San Marino Grand Prix. However, March had BP as their sponsor, while Guerrero was sponsored by Pemex. This resulted in a cancellation of his deal with March. He almost drove in Mexico though.
Geoff is maybe one of the F1 drivers that had the most stand-in drives during his carreer. In four years Formula one he did 12 races. Though in between the races Lees raced in several series. He won in 1981 the European Formula Two championship which probably led to his return in the Formula One. His last race in the Formula One was in 1982 for Team Lotus.
1989 Arrows: It is said that Geoff Lees had signed a deal with Arrows to race in Japan. At that time he had several Japanese sponsors as he raced in Japan. He never raced in Japan.