ibsey wrote:Benetton wrote:He's not a reject but how Alexander Wurz didn't pan out is still a mystery to me. What happened to him after 1998?
He performed really well during the three races Gerhard Berger was absent in 1997, scoring a podium in only his third race for Benetton.
Wurz also got a good start to the 1998 season, scoring consistent 4th and 5th place finishes and setting a fastest lap in Argetina. Apparently Ferrari was interested at that time in him.
But come late 1998 onwards Fisichella started to really crash Alex on the timesheets.
Wurz & Benetton massively benefited from superior Bridgestone tyres in early 1998 hence his good results. In fact, some people believe that Benetton cheated somewhat because they switched from Goodyear tyres to Bridgestone extermely late in the day for the start of the 1998 season, leading people to suggest that they passed on the Goodyear data to the Bridgestone people (hence their early season adavntage). However Goodyear got their act together after Monaco & M Schumi (a Goodyear runner) won the following 3 races thereafter. Also, it is a little known fact that Fisco suffered from a major road car accident in early 1998, hence the reason he wasn't quite on the pace until mid season.
I personally thought Wurz was a little overrated, because that podium result at Sliverstone 1997 was largely down to retirements of other front runners (i.e. M Schumi, Hakkien, Frentzen etc). Also I don't think the 1997 Benetton was that bad a car, I think both Alesi & Berger were under performing partly because they were disenchanted with all the rumours surrounding Benetton at the time. Having said that, I do think he did show some promise during 1997 & 1998, but appeared to lose confident whenever his teammate beat him. We saw that again, when he was at Williams in 2007.
Thank you for the insights. Benetton did have a knack of starting the season well but after the midway point, or for them usually Canada and a guaranteed Fisichella podium, they seldomly got any points in '98, '99 (when the car was pretty horrible) and '00.
Fisichella was certainly a driver that was regarded highly in the late 90's, and with reason, few come and put up podiums and 20 pts in their rookie season with the 5th best car in the field (Jordan). Anyone know why Ferrari didn't choose Fisichella to replace Irvine in 2000? If he had a contract with Benetton for 2000 and onwards it couldn't have been that difficult to buy him out, especially with Briatore not being in the picture since Rocco Benetton was team principal at that time. How Renault chose Fisichella over Trulli in 2001 was also a surprise in my opinion. Fisichella's drive in Belgium 2001 was one of the drives of the year.
Wurz was the youngest Le Mans winner (at that time) so how he just lost his confidence was weird. He should and could've put up a better fight against Fisi and stayed on the grid for some 150+ races. Especially since he was regarded as a decent developer.