Accidental Athlete: Jim Clark, if we look at his skill, is perhaps the best example of this. His first race was due to a friend entering him (he went faster than the friend in the car they were sharing). Later, as a part of the Borders Reviers, he went with his friend to collect a sport car from Colin Chapman who offered them a chance in his single seater racing car. Chapman was pretty much impressed with Clark right up until he heard that not only had Clark never driven a single seater but he had never driven on that track. Chapman would soon hire Clark for his Team Lotus...
The Ace: Michael Schumacher is the archetypal example in Formula One; Ferrari team principal Jean Todt once said that Ferrari's true worth was not where Schumacher finished (on the podium) but where Schumacher's teammate, Eddie Irvine, finished (usually between fifth and tenth).
The Alleged Car: A good number of the privateer entries from the 70s to the early 90s showed up with cars so poorly designed that even in the hands of moderately talented drivers, they weren't even able to get past pre-qualifying half of the time. And the half they did? They usually didn't get past full qualifying/started at the very back of the grid and had something break a handful of laps into the race. The crowning example of this trope are the 1990 Life entry, occasionally up to 6 minutes off pole time.
Always Second Best: There are extremely talented drivers out there, who, due to bad luck or inferior cars, never manage to win the championship. Mark Webber, Stirling Moss, Gilles Villeneuve, Jean Alesi, Ronnie Peterson, Rubens Barrichello...
Anticlimax: Any race after a driver has the championship already wrapped up. Notable examples were 1992, where Nigel Mansell had the championship by the eleventh race (out of sixteen), and 2002, where Michael Schumacher did the same (out of seventeen, this time).
The 2011 race at Monaco. Sebastian Vettel was leading Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in the closing laps with heavily worn tyres. The finish was ruined however, when Vitaly Petrov became trapped in his car, bringing out a red flag, where Vettel was able to change his tyres. He went on to win the race.
The entire 2013 season might well count. For the first half of the season it was relatively close, with Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and a couple of others all in the running for the championship...then Pirelli reverted to the old tyre formula, and Vettel won the last nine races in a row, setting a Formula One record and winning the championship with three races to go.
Anyone Can Die: A worryingly common fact in the first three decades of the sport and what often encouraged new safety rules and regulations. Even in the dangerous 1960s drivers were shaken when Jim Clark was killed in a Formula Two crash, and the 1970 title was awarded posthumously, since Jochen Rindt had been killed at the Italian GP and nobody had beaten his points total. Luckily, this trope has been increasingly averted, starting with Jackie Stewart pushing for improved safety during the 60's and 70's after he had a serious crash at Spa and there were no marshals around to help. He was ridiculed for this at first, but his campaigning eventually paved way for improvements in medical care, marshaling and circuit safety, to the point where no drivers have been killed since Senna and Ratzenberger in 1994, and no-one at all has died since a marshal was killed in 2001. Stewart has been quoted as saying:
"If I have any legacy to leave the sport I hope it will be seen to be an area of safety because when I arrived in Grand Prix racing so-called precautions and safety measures were diabolical."
The Apartheid Era: The 1985 South African Grand Prix was a casualty of this. Two French teams, Ligier and Renault, were forbidden to race due to sanctions France took against South Africa. Zakspeed also withdrew by their own volition. Many drivers were almost forbidden to race by their own governments, including Prost, Senna, Piquet, and Rosberg, but they were permitted to race at the last minute. After this race, the FIA president vowed there would be no more South African Grand Prixs while apartheid was still law. (It was only held twice more, both after apartheid ended.)
Artifact Title: The 1982 Swiss Grand Prix was actually held in Dijon, France. This was both because France already had a Grand Prix that year, and because Switzerland banned motorsport in the country after the 1955 Le Mans Disaster. This trope is also why, during his comeback, Michael Schumacher was identified as 'MSC' in the race overlay rather than 'SCH': it was a leftover from back in the days when his brother Ralf ('RSC') was also competing.
Technically, it's not the only misleading title (the San Marino GP took place in Italy, and the Luxembourg GP took place in Germany), but it is the only one under this trope.
Ascended Extra: Ross Brawn, formerly a technical director for Benetton and then Ferrari, bought out Honda to form his own team. Said team, Brawn GP, became the first team to win the Constructors' Championship in its debut year.
Badass Boast: An interesting one from Jean-Louis Schlesser, whose only real claim to fame in F1 was accidentally colliding with the leading Ayrton Senna at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix, denying his Mc Laren team a perfect winning record that year (they won every other race). Twenty-five years later, ex-Mc Laren team boss Ron Dennis met Schlesser again at Monaco, and referred to him as "the man who ruined my life, and our perfect winning record back in '88". Schlesser's undeniably awesome response: "No, I made you, because what happened that day at Monza kept you hungry..."
Badass Driver: It's a given you have to have a fair amount of self-confidence to even strap into one of these groundbound missiles, but the story going around back in the Sixties was that everyone gave John Surtees a little bit more respect because he had won a motorcycle World Championship before taking up F1. "We're crazy," the prevailing opinion went, "but Surtees is insane".
Badass Grandpa: British ex-driver Stirling Moss has stated he's glad he was racing in the era he did, because it's too safe now for his tastes, and he survived a fall from an elevator shaft with only a few broken bones earlier in 2011 and is expected to fully recover. For a man in his 80's that's pretty badass too.
Best Served Cold: In 1989, Alain Prost punted Ayrton Senna off the track in the next-to-last race, thereby maintaining his points advantage and winning the title. The following year, in the same track, they were in reversed positions, so Senna unceremoniously crashed into Prost at the very first corner.
Bias Steamroller: After a collision between the two Red Bull drivers (Vettel and Webber), the paddock unanimously blamed Vettel - barring Christian Horner (the Red Bull team principal) and Helmut Marko, the leader of Red Bull's youth programme (we think?) of which Vettel was the valedictorian. Lampshaded by Webber after his retirement:
Mark Webber[on Helmut Marko]: I still don’t really know his role in the team, so... yeah... He was very critical of me from Day One but in the end he’s obviously brought Seb through and done a great job with that. He’s probably disappointed that F1 teams have to have two cars. But they do.
Bittersweet Ending: Any session completed that resulted in a serious injury for a driver, most recently Felipe Massa at the 2009 Hungarian GP qualifying. Or for Mario Andretti in 1978: he won the title in the Italian GP, and hours later his teammate Ronnie Peterson died in hospital after a crash in the race.
On a less fatalistic note, the end of the 2008 season for Felipe Massa - he wins his home Grand Prix, the last race of the season, in dominating fashion, but fails to win the title because his main rival passes the opponent on the title-winning position in literally the last corner. This goes for any winner, if an opponent wins the title during that race.
Downer Ending: Any session that ends with a driver's death. Thankfully averted since the 1994 San Marino GP, which sadly had a double downer: Roland Ratzenberger died in qualifying, Ayrton Senna during the race itself. And that's just part of the fiasco of that weekend as well. Rubens Barrichello almost died during Friday practice. The start of the race had a start-line accident where parts of car flew over the protective fencing and injured 9 people. A rear-right wheel came loose from Alboreto's Minardi as it left the pit lane. It hit two Ferrari and two Lotus mechanics, who were left needing hospital treatment. There's a reason why the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is called 'The Blackest Weekend'.
Bland-Name Product: Up to the mid-90's, some of the major F1 teams had tobacco sponsors because such sponsors paid a lot of money and thus could easily finance the team's huge budget. Then the European Union issued a ban on tobacco advertising. During the transition to change product sponsorship, such teams resorted to this trope, particularly during races held in European circuits. The results ranged from mundane to funny to weird. Some examples:
Ferrari/Marlboro: A barcode like symbol replacing the word Marlboro, or sometimes just the Marlboro logo without the name
Mclaren/West: The name of the driver stylized like the West logo
Jordan/Benson and Hedges: The words "Bitten and Hisses" plus a snake head on the nose in 1997, then "Buzzing and Hornets" with a hornet's head on the nose in subsequent seasons. One year, they simply blanked out a few choice letters from Benson And Hedges from the brand name on their rear wing so it read "Be on edge". After 9/11, they had the text changed to "Bitten Heroes" for the 2001 Italian Grand Prix
Benetton/Mild Seven: For the 2001 season at least, they replaced the logo with the driver's name written in a similar font
Boring, but Practical: Pit lane leapfrogging. Not the most exciting thing ever, but because current aero regulations make cars very hard to actually pass on the track, the vast majority of position-jockeying takes place in the pits.
But Not Too Foreign: Nico Rosberg has a German mother and races under a German license, but his father was Finland's first champion, Keke Rosberg.
Butt Monkey: Two of the racers with the most starts: leader Rubens Barrichello (unable to achieve Senna's numbers, spent most of his career with middling cars, was second fiddle to Schumacher in Ferrari and had his bad luck attack him in Brawn) and eighth place Andrea de Cesaris (holds the records for most races entered without winning any - 214 - and most race retirements - 138).
Nick Heidfeld achieved the most podium finishes of any driver never to win a race, and suffered disappointment after disappointment... the German media ended up nicknaming him "Leidfeld" ("Leid" being German for "misery").
Calling the Old Man Out: This has happened frequently with the teams against Max Mosley, to the point they were willing to form a breakaway series until he stepped down. Webber's response after he won the 2010 British Grand Prix, where he said that wasn't bad for a number 2 driver, falls under this trope as well.
Cameo: A fight scene in Iron Man 2 takes place at an Expy of the Monaco Grand Prix (as if it weren't dangerous enough already!)
Camera Abuse: I'm looking right at you, Barrichello. (He tends to bang the camera in his face or give it a (inverted?) Smooch of Victory when celebrating a pole/victory.)
Car Fu: Taki Inoue was victim twice in the same season. In practice for the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix, he was hit from behind by the safety car, flipping it over (he was okay, the car was not). Later in the year, he was hit by a course car while attending to his parked car, which was smoking. Except he wasn't in the car that time...
Cheaters Never Prosper: Inverted with Nelson Piquet Jr. and Renault in Singapore 2008. Alonso won the race and it took a year for the truth to come out when Piquet got fired, even though he was utter shite in the 1.5 seasons he had. It seems unlikely he will ever get back into F1 (especially now that he's finding success in NASCAR). Schumacher had a meeting with this trope as well in 1997 when he tried to crash into Jacques Villeneuve a la Ayrton Senna. It didn't work, Villeneuve won the championship and Schumacher was disqualified from the entire championship that year.
Averted as many times as it is inverted or played straight. Schumacher, Vettel, Senna...
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Sebastian Vettel is becoming quite the Base Breaker for doing anything to win... despite being ordered by his team principal to hold position, he still stabbed his teammate in the back by overtaking when he couldn't do anything to fight Vettel off.
Kimi: Why am I getting all the blue flags!? [while in seventh]
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Before commercial sponsorship started in the late 1960s, cars were painted according to their country's official racing color. German cars were white or silver, Italian red, British dark green, French blue etc. Nowadays cars generally take the colors of their sponsors, but there are remnants of the old ways: Ferrari is red, for instance, Mercedes and McLaren-Mercedes silver, and the 2010 Lotus was painted green.
Cool Car: The series bleeds this trope. Although F1 cars are, usually, automatically awesome, special mentions go to the Williams FW14B, the most advanced F1 car up to this day, and the McLaren MP4/4, the most dominant car ever driven in F1, winning 15 out of 16 races in 1988.
Cool Old Guy: Drivers who continue to race despite being over 40, even if they raced in F1 and then moved onto other forms of racing. Examples include Juan Manuel Fangio (all his championships came when he was 40 or over), and Stirling Moss for surviving a perilous era and for pitying modern drivers and their sponsor obligations and PR events, when in his era they spent most of their spare time "chasing crumpet". Modern examples are former partners Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
Special mention goes to Murray Walker for being the voice of F1 for over 50 years. Many motorsport fans grew up listening to him.
Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Naming other racing series like Indycar, A1GP, or even Le Mans as 'Formula One'. The use of the term 'Grand Prix' in the other series is probably the main cause of confusion, since it's not a term limited to Formula One or even motorsport.
Crazy-Prepared: Stefan GP, a team that already has a car prepared, crash tested, and shipped to Bahrain, and is also on the verge of signing drivers-despite the fact that it failed to get one of the open slots on the grid, and that its only chance to get on the grid is for one of the new teams to drop out (which none plan on doing) or for FOTA to vote to allow 14 teams on the grid (which Williams already declared its intention of voting against). US F1 did drop out by now, but the FIA denied Stefan GP the empty slot, choosing instead to run with 12 teams.
Similarly but less successfully, the Indianapolis 500 was an official Formula One event from 1950 to 1960. The lack of success came from few F1 drivers willing to make the trip to Indy and attempt a 500 mile oval race, but nonetheless, drivers like Bill Vukovich and Jimmy Bryan are credited as F1 winners and the top finishers received their proper points in the season standings.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Quite a few races and even a few championships have ended this way. One of the most notable was the 2002 season, when Michael Schumacher won 11 of the 17 races and finished second in all but one of the rest (where he finished third). He scored almost double the number of points of the championship runner-up (his team-mate Rubens Barrichello), and between them the Ferrari duo scored the same number of points as everyone else in the championship combined. The following season the points system was changed to try and make things closer, and while it worked that year, it didn't quite work as well in 2004.
The 1988 Constructors' Championship was even more of a Curb-Stomp Battle, thanks to the rivalry between their two drivers, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The team won all but one race, scored triple the points of the second-placed team, and were a single point off matching Ferrari's feat of equalling their opponents' combined tallies.
Due to the quirks of the championship's scoring system back in 1952, Alberto Ascari won the championship that year having effectively scored the maximum number of points possible.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Ayrton Senna's staccato throttle technique. In cars that were so nervous that hitting the throttle wrong entering or exiting any corner would cause a spin, he rapidly feathered the throttle and jiggled the wheel to induce oversteer in his car to get it to round corners faster than if the car was driven "properly". Modern traction control wouldn't allow such a technique, and most drivers would be so afraid of spinning the car or wearing out the tires that few ever dared to try the same technique. Telemetry data suggested that another driver who flirted with this technique was Michael Schumacher.
F1 hasn't had traction control since 2007, so it would now be possible, but modern cars are lot narrower than in Senna's day so it's not a good idea to try. That said, most drivers today like a front end that overpowers the back, so they can get the tail to slide even with zero throttle just by turning in really hard. Vettel in particular seems to like hanging the tail out this way.
Dark Horse Victory: Almost enforced since the driver leading the championship before the last race has never won the title if there were three or more drivers with a shot at winning the title, no matter how good his chances were.
As a rule, this is in effect when the winning driver is not from (currently) Ferrari or Red Bull, and in 2014, everyone not from Mercedes would countnote In the first five races of 2014, a non-Mercedes driver has only finished in the top two once, and that's because polesitter Lewis Hamilton had an engine failure.
Dead Drivers Are Better: Let's face it, this is why Ayrton Senna and Gilles Villeneuve are so beloved and remembered. As the trope page noted, more Senna merchandise is shifted now than it ever had been when he was alive.
Congratulations Christian Horner on your OBE, your first (and hopefully only) title this year.
So we'll start P10 and P29 for the Canadian Grand Prix. Oh well, perhaps next year we'll start from the centre of Montreal... we like a challenge.
Determinator: Due to the mental and physical strength needed to make it in F1, there are countless stories of drivers fighting illness and injury to achieve great results. Also, a number of drivers have managed to do great things despite suffering the loss of someone close to them.
Special Mention should go to Niki Lauda who was back in his car, racing and competing for the championship mere weeks after being nearly killed at the Nurburgring in a horrific crash in 1976 that left him horribly and permanently disfigured. He had to force his helmet on because of the bandages his face was still swathed in, and by the time he pulled it off again at the end of the race they were drenched in blood. And he still managed to come a close second to James Hunt for that years' championship. It's difficult to find a more hard-core example than that.
Diabolus ex Machina: In play whenever a leading driver suffers a mechanical failure towards the end of a race with perhaps the most heartbreaking example in Damon Hill's case: so close to winning the only victory in Arrows' history with quite a slow car but suffering from throttle problems and being taken on the last lap by Villeneuve.
Then there was Nigel Mansell's infamous blow-out at the 1986 Australian Grand Prix. After Keke Rosberg retired from the race, Mansell was elevated into second place, enough for win to win the championship... one lap later his tyre dramatically exploded, putting him out of the race and destroying his hopes of winning the title.
Disaster Dominoes: The 1998 Belgian GP, where in the first lap David Coulthard crashed into the wall and ricocheted into traffic, causing a horrendous crash involving thirteen drivers. Miraculously, only a couple drivers were injured, and only four drivers missed the restart (one of the aforementioned injured, and three that had no car to start with since his teammate's car was in the wreck as well, and they chose to give the teammate the spare car).
Murray Walker: (as the carnage unfolds) Oh, this is quite appalling- this is the worst start to a Grand Prix that I have ever seen in the whole. Of my. Life.note Considering how some of the Grands Prix Murray commented on started with fatal crashes, this really is saying something.
Again in the 2006 United States Grand Prix. 7 cars crashed out nearly all at once at the same corner, an accident reputedly blamed on Juan Pablo Montoya for crashing into his teammate Kimi Räikkönen, allegedly starting the whole thing.
On a much smaller scale, but happening twice on the same lap - the 2000 Italian Grand Prix. The first chicane had 4 cars crash, then six more at the next chicane, this one also resulting in the death of a race marshal.
Another notable one was the 1994 German Grand Prix (the Verstappen fire) where 11 cars were taken out right after the race begun and several fell away soon after. The only front runner in the points was Berger in a Ferrari, the others points scorers were in Ligier's, Footwork's and even a Larrousse!
Down to the Last Play: As in many sports, can happen to drivers if they are in a winning or points position on the last lap and encounter a problem, or if they are championship contenders and retire in the last race.
The 2008 season is the epitome of this trope. Going into the final race at Brazil, Lewis Hamilton led Felipe Massa by seven points: to win the title, Massa needed to win with Hamilton finishing sixth or lower. Lo and behold, going into the final lap of the race Massa was in the lead with Hamilton sixth, and as Massa crossed the line to win the race both he and his team thought they had won the championship...only for Hamilton to overtake Timo Glock just seconds later, leapfrog into fifth place and win the title at the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season. To say Massa and his team were devastated is a massive understatement.
The Dreaded: In 2005, even Renault and McLaren's strategists were taking into account the potential of being stuck behind the Toyota of Jarno Trulli.
An explanation: Trulli was a legendary qualifier, but comparatively dismal in race pace - however, the regulations made overtaking very difficult indeed, leading much faster cars to spend dozens of laps trapped behind Trulli's car while the two or three in front of him waltzed away into the sunset. The phenomenon even received a nickname: the "Trulli Train".
Drives Like Crazy: Kamui Kobayashi being the most recent example among virtually all Japanese drivers with a longer career (Sato, Nakajima). Senna and Mansell also have done this on occasion. Also, drivers like using this as a complaint about new drivers, especially when they get overtaken by them.
Epic Fail: The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, the most comedic race in Formula 1 history.
To summarise; Alain Prost was leading from Riccardo Patrese, Didier Pironi, and Andrea de Cesaris on Lap 74 of 76, only to slam into the Armco after the chicane. Patrese took over the lead, only to spin out at the Loews hairpin and stall. Pironi actually remained on track, but then he ran out of fuel. de Cesaris would have taken the lead, only to run out of fuel himself. Fifth-placed Derek Daly could have won, only for his gearbox to fail on the pit straight. Patrese, mercifully, got going again, and made it across the finish line.
Especially incompetent pay-drivers; Al Pease was disqualified for being too slow, Chanoch Nissany was replaced after only one practice session, Jean-Denis Délétraz retired on lap 14 at the Portuguese Grand Prix due to arm cramps (the left arm, incidentally, on the clockwise Estoril circuit)...
Then there was Yuji Ide, who wasn't a pay driver, but was so slow (and drove so dangerously) that the FIA actually revoked his Super License, effectively banning him from the sport completely.
There were a few teams like this as well; the Life team from 1990 managed to build a car that was slower than a Formula Three car (or indeed, almost any car at all), the MasterCard Lola team from 1997 were effectively kicked out after a single race for being so slow, and as for Andrea Moda...
Jean Alesi managed to get himself into second place at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix and was chasing hard for a win, in spite of his engineers screaming at him over the radio for five laps to pit for fuel and settle for a comfortable P2. He basically completely ignored them until the inevitable happened.
Every Year They Fizzle Out: Williams are the current example of this, the last few years have seen them making cars that show a lot of promise but fail to deliver during the season.
Mc Laren. Their only constructor's championship in the past 15 years was in 2007... which, incidentally, they were then disqualified from for copying second-placed Ferrari.
Fernando Alonso. Everyone, even his fellow drivers, acknowledge that he is the best driver of the field right now. He lost 2007 due to inter-team politics, he lost 2010 due to Ferrari's strategic ineptitude, and he lost 2012 because his car had the aerodynamic abilities of a truck (and yet he still came second in all three).
Executive Meddling: This was what nearly destroyed Lola Cars after the Mastercard Lola effort. They announced in 1996 that they were intending to enter the championship in 1998, giving them 18 months to get a car designed, built and tested, a smart move. However then Mastercard made them enter in 1997, Have you tried making an F1 car from scratch in less than 4 months? Well that was what they now had to do, the car never had anything more than a shakedown run, and never saw a wind tunnel, which meant the aerodynamics were horrendous! The end result? They were over 10 seconds off the pace in Melbourne, then they folded, having amassed over £6 million in debt in the process, even [[Incompetence,Inc. Andrea Moda managed to qualify for one race...]]
Eye Scream: Austrian Helmut Marko was blinded by a pebble shot from another car's rear tyre. Massa luckily only inverts this, he has an obvious scar next to his left eye after his crash but was saved from otherwise assured blindness by superior modern helmet technology.
In a self-inflicted example, Jacques Laffite once eliminated himself from a race meeting after he confused visor cleaning fluid for his eye drops.
Fashionable Asymmetry: Former Benetton driver Alexander Wurz would wear mismatching colored shoes when racing. It was said they were good luck charms for him.
When British American Racing (or BAR) joined in 1999, they wanted to run one car in a blue-and-yellow 555 livery, and one in a white-and-red Lucky Strike livery (both companies being tobacco brands owned by parent company British American Tobacco). The FIA refused, saying that both cars had to have identical liveries, so their solution was this trope: one side of the car was blue-and-yellow, one side was white-and-red, with a "zip" down the middle.
Friendly Enemy: Considering this is a sport where drivers could be teammates one year and rivals the next, this trope is invoked often. When he went onto Top Gear, Michael Schumacher said he often had a beer with his rival Mika Häkkinen after a race. Not to mention how many leading drivers nowadays are friends - Webber and Alonso, for example.
Inverted greatly with Prost and Senna; despite getting on initially at McLaren they quickly became bitter rivals, climaxing at Japan in 1989 when Senna collided with Prost at the last chicane. Senna continued and was disqualified, handing Prost the title. One year later at the same race Senna ran into Prost and took them both out at the start, giving Senna the title; he would later admit that this was deliberate. Which did eventually lead to Antagonist in Mourning: Prost was one of Senna's pallbearers. He and Senna had started to repair their relationship at the end of 1993 and even spoke to each other the day before Senna died.
From Bad to Worse: How to best sum up Michael Andretti's tenure in the sport. Granted his last race ended in a podium but before that has to be seen or read to be believed. It's no wonder he ended up the most requested driver on F1rejects despite not being eligible for it. Andrea Moda also qualify for this. The whole effort was just one huge joke that just got more unbelievable as time went on.
The 1994 season in general, and the San Marino Grand Prix in particular, where tragedy was heaped upon tragedy with two drivers killed, a third nearly killed and multiple bystanders injured. One of the new teams for that season was Simtek, which started off full of optimism and high spirits but everything that could go wrong for them did.
Giant Killing: This is usually averted due to how close the field has gotten in recent times, less than 2 seconds apart, meaning anyone has some chance of winning something. Toro Rosso pulled this off when they won at Monza in 2008 due to some unfavourable conditions allowing Vettel to take pole in the rain and then lead from start to finish. However the best example would probably be when Damon Hill came within half a lap of winning the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix in an unfancied Arrows car. Qualifying 3rd and with the car set up perfectly he took Villenueve and then Schumacher and led until his throttle got stuck open, allowing Villeneuve to take the win and for Hill to crawl home in second.
Half the Man He Used to Be: François Cévert, while attempting to qualify for the United States Grand Prix in 1973. He presumably overcompensated going through the track's famous Esses complex, losing control and crashing hard into the barrier at nearly 90 degrees, actually UPROOTING the barrier. Cevert's body was cut in half from his neck to just above his hip. Stewart would later go back on track to discover the cause of the crash, discovering that while he liked to take the complex in low 4th gear to ensure a smoother ride, Cevert preferred to take it in a high 3rd gear for the added speed, which made the car more jumpy over bumps.
The death of Cévert and the retirement of Jackie Stewart was also the sad point where Tyrrell began their slow decline. Cévert had been Stewart's protege and had showed he was more then capable of matching the Scot on track. 1974 would have seen him lead the team alongside a young Jody Scheckter, however despite Scheckter managing to take the odd win the team were unable to seriously challenge for the title again.
Hates Small Talk: Phil Hill, the first American Formula One Champion was described as being uncomfortable with small talk, but would happily have a serious discussion on any topic.
Heroic BSOD: Five weeks after his horrific 1976 crash, Niki Lauda forced himself in the cockpit again, in order to defend his title. In his absence, runner-up James Hunt had steadily eaten the points advantage Lauda had. Fighting fear and pain from his unhealed face burns, he managed a third and a fourth place, which slowed Hunt's catching up. In the last race, it rained torrentially and Lauda couldn't bring himself to race anymore (the Nurburgring crash had happened on a wet track). He retired at lap two, Hunt finished third and won the championship.
Heroic Sacrifice: We can say this in hindsight now, but Senna and Ratzenberger. Ratzenberger's death was the impetus for the reformation of the Grand Prix Drivers Association. Sadly, the one who was chosen to lead it, Senna, died that day, jumpstarting improvements in safety techniques and technology.
Honor Before Reason: Ferrari tends to invoke this in MANY drivers, due to it being a prestigious Long Runner. Many of the current drivers have expressed interest in driving for Ferrari someday, as had many past drivers. Even Ayrton Senna had intended to become a Ferrari driver someday. Not to say that it's ALWAYS this trope, as Ferrari have had their good, championship-winning years, but they've had their bad years too. Other classic teams tend to invoke this as well.
Husky Russkie: Vitaly Petrov, Russia's first F1 driver, was the tallest driver on the grid and one of the heaviest.
I Call It Vera: Sebastian Vettel is prone to naming his cars. Names included 'Randy Mandy', 'Kate', 'Kate's Dirty Sister', and 'Luscious Liz'. His 2011 car was 'Kinky Kylie' and his 2012 car is called "Abbey" (or Abby).
I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Some of the theories about Schumacher's problems after his F1 return are about the fact that he gets dizzy in the simulators team use these days as a replacement for testing.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Several of the drivers have raced on simulators to practice and get a feel for the track prior to a race. Notably, Fernando Alonso once claimed he was ready for a then-new track because he played it in a video game, leading Jeremy Clarkson to try the same thing on Top Gear.
Insufferable Genius: Senna could be considered the natural example for this trope when you look at how he was at races. Although he subverts this by being quite a different man off-track, being highly religious and donating millions of pounds of his fortune to childrens' charities. The same thing has been done by Lewis Hamilton since he has been developing an bad attitude for a couple of seasons now.
Interestingly, Senna's rival Alain Prost counts as well, although his kind of genius highly varied from Senna's genius. His nickname was the Professor.
In the Blood: Springing up more in the 90's and 2000's are the sons of former drivers, seeking to emulate Dad's glory. However Damon Hill still remains the only son of a world champion to win the title himself. Most other drivers are not so lucky and generally are accused of only getting where they are due to their surnames. Michael Andretti is a respected racer at least in the US where he has had some success like his father. Although most people still only remember him for 1993 though.
Jacques Villeneuve won the 1997 World Championship. His dad Gilles died before he could achieve the same.
In Universe Nickname: Due to the (generally) friendly nature between the drivers and the others involved many racers will end up with nicknames, even if it's just shortened versions. Many are ascended from the fandom (or the other way around).
Schumacher is called "Schumi", David Couthard is "DC", Vettel was called "Baby Schumi" (but this didn't last long), Giancarlo Fisichella is "Fisico", Timo Glock is "Tim O'Glock" (after somebody mistook him for an Irish driver and a previous (Irish) team he drove for called him this), Kimi Räikkönen is "Iceman", Jean-Éric Vergne is "Jev" and Nico Rosberg is "Britney" (due to his Pretty Boy looks).
Irony: In 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso won two world championships with Renault. Come 2010, he is on course for a third after Mark Webber's crash in Korea... and his race is ruined by being trapped behind a Renault.
Since Pirelli changed the tyres, Red Bull's star driver Sebastian Vettel has won every race (bar one, which he finished third).
I Was Never Here: Teams that get an entry for the Formula 1 World Championship but fail to appear for even one race, examples being Prodrive or USF1.
I Will Only Slow You Down: When a front runner comes to lap a backmarker the backmarker is supposed to move out of the way or get a penalty. This can lead to disastrous consequences if they are in fact fighting for position, as Webber in Valencia can testify. In past years there was the 107% rule in place to make sure drivers that were driving too slowly would not be able to qualify. This is coming back for the 2011 season.
Kavorka Man: Alain Prost, despite his less-than average looks, still managed to run off with Jacques Laffite's wife. He had brains, money and influence. More than enough for many women.
The Lancer: Number two drivers to the number one drivers. The most notorious example is Rubens Barrichello to Michael Schumacher in the early '00s.
And part of the controversy is seeing technical innovations squashed by teams who think it is cheaper to stop innovation than innovate themselves.
Long Runner: Ferrari have participated in almost literally every F1 championship race ever. The record for the most race entries by a single driver is held by Rubens Barrichello at 326, about 38% of all the races ever held.
Love Hotels: Believe it or not, this was one of the bigger complaints about Korea: because of a combination of the circuit getting an eleventh hour reprieve and the lack of more appropriate hotels to stay at (which all got snapped up by drivers and bosses), the teams had to scramble to find accommodation, with the result that most of the personnel had to stay at these sorts of hotels.
Ludicrous Speed: Physically, modern F1 cars, even as far back as the ground effect days in the late '70s and early '80s, were and still are extremely physically demanding cars to drive. Modern drivers are often examples of physical fitness just to cope with the G-forces of acceleration, braking and turning. Mentally, F1 cars accelerate and corner so quickly and are meant to be driven so fast in order to generate grip via downforce that a normal person would simply be unable to think as fast as the car can maneuver, which was lampshaded literally by Richard Hammond when he tried driving the Renault F1 car.
Current F1 cars are even somewhat slower than the cars of yonder. Many of the the lap records date from 2004 as this was the last year that 3-litre V10 engines and tyre changes were allowed (V10's were used in 2005 but as the tyres had to last the whole race the rubber compounds were harder and therefore slower). Less powerful 2.4 litre V8 engine rules were implemented in 2006 and since then engine development has been more highly restricted and many of the more complex aerodynamics have also been outlawed. The F1 cars with the highest horsepower outputs, and thus the fastest acceleration, were the late turbo era machines. Extremely wide, low, with ridiculously powerful engines (since the introduction of turbo chargers the engine power skyrocketed to the point that FIA had to officially limit it at 1000 bhp late into the period) and wide, ultrasoft tires, these were easily capable of up to 380 kph on the straights. During the ground effect era in the late 70's to early 80's the cars were somewhat slower overall, but due to the aerodynamic effects they generated so much downforce that they were but glued to the track, which allowed drivers to corner without lowering the speed. Unfortunately, even the minor handling problems like a somewhat higher curb or a stone under the wheel tented to disturb the ground effect, resulting in car immediately losing much of the downforce and catapulting out of the corner at high speed, which led to the ground effect ban in 1983.
Man on Fire: Riccardo Paletti. He qualified for his first race at Canada in 1982. However at the start Didier Pironi stalled, but the start could not be aborted as there was no procedure for it. While most cars managed to squeeze past him, Paletti failed to react quickly and hit the Ferrari head on, crushing the front of it and causing him chest injuries and wedging him against his steering wheel. Pironi and Professor Watkins tried to stabilize him and get him out. It went From Bad to Worse; petrol leaked and caught fire with him still unconscious inside. By the time it was put out and he was cut free he had no pulse and died in hospital. This was witnessed by his mother too. He was the last driver to die at a Grand Prix until Ratzenberger and Senna 12 years later. This counts as a Tear Jerker. When refueling was a part of Formula 1, this tended to happen - although thankfully not often.
Did we mention that this happened merely 2 days before his birthday?
This also happened to Niki Lauda (who thankfully recovered), and Roger Williamson (who sadly didn't).
Dutch driver Jos Verstappen almost "joined the club" in the 1994 German GP. Fortunately he only received some minor burns to his face.
Manipulative Bastard: Michael Schumacher. Between all the times he's tried to blatantly cheat to come out on top, the establishment of the 'number one/number two' status, and the mind games he's played with other drivers, he can't be called anything else. Just in case one thinks this is an exaggeration, he made a bid to get the number 3, despite Nico Rosberg being signed first, and got it.
Alain Prost, depending on who you ask. Ayrton Senna will usually be this to everyone else.
Both Michael Schumacher AND Mika Häkkinen after the 2000 Italian GP, after a reporter told Michael he'd just equalled Senna's win record. Both drivers had finished on the podium in the 1994 San Marino GP which claimed Senna's life.
Also at that race, a marshal was killed in an incident, becoming the first person to die in an F1 race since Senna.
After Damon Hill crossed the line at the 1996 Japanese GP to win the 1996 World Championship, becoming the first and only son of a former World Champion to accomplish the feat:
Interviewer: You set pole position and 10 fastest laps during the race today, was there anything else that you could have done?
Häkkinen: [pauses] No.
Discussed in Top Gear:
May: And they're also, they're quite, um...quite reserved, the Finns. I mean, you, famously, when you were a Formula One driver, they'd ask you a really complicated question and you'd just say 'Yes'.
Likewise, Kimi Räikkönen, who is also Finnish.
The Medic: For 27 years since 1978 it was Professor Sid Watkins, a renowned British neurosurgeon, who's been the main F1 field medic. Moreover, it was Prof. Watkins who established such a position after the death of Ronnie Peterson in 1978 and his inability to even reach him due to police cordoning off the area. The fact that an ambulance only arrived 18 minutes after the crash was probably a reason for Peterson's subsequent death, and was certainly a reason for establishing a modern medical system in F1.
Watkins (who Bernie had hired only months earlier as the official FIA doctor) went up to Bernie after Peterson's death, told him that the police didn't even allow him to approach the scene, and provided Bernie with a very long list of demands that needed to be met or he would walk. Bernie met every single one.
Specifically, Watkins demanded the following: better safety equipment, an anesthetist (for airway management), a medical car, and a helicopter. In addition, it was also decided that Watkins would be in the medical car following the pack on the first lap, in the event of a first-lap crash.
Modern Major General: In the past, a lot of teams were founded and managed by wealthy playboys or corporate types with a lot of economic and advertising know-how, but with absolutely no idea how to properly run a motorsports team.
Case in point, the dismal farce that was Andrea Moda. Run by Italian shoe magnate Andrea Sassetti, it... in fact, just read the profile. It goes From Bad to Worse...
My Car Hates Me: When a feature on the car works against a driver, with the anti-stall aid being possibly the most famous example of recent times.
Nick Heidfeld once had his car's fire extinguisher discharge into his face while he was on the starting grid.
My Country, Right or Wrong: Spectacularly averted with the Italian tifosi. Exemplified at the 1983 San Marino Grand Prix (basically an alternative Italian Grand Prix); Italy's Riccardo Patrese, racing for Brabham, crashes out of the lead, handing the lead to France's Patrick Tambay, to the delight of the Italian crowd. Why? Because Tambay was racing for Ferrari. The tifosi would prefer that a non-Italian win in a Ferrari than to have an Italian win in a non-Ferrari.
My Greatest Failure: If Coulthard is to be believed, this is why Ron Dennis, former McLaren team leader, favored Mika Häkkinen: guilt over Häkkinen nearly dying in his car in 1995. That was confirmed by Ron Dennis.
It's believed that Frank Williams considers Senna's death this. he had tested for Williams prior to joining Toleman in the 80's, and Frank had wanted to sign him for years. he finally gets his man, and we know what happened next. Some people think this is why he chose to give Bruno Senna a chance at the team in 2012.
My Hero Zero: In normal circumstances, the reigning champion would have the number 'one' on his car for the next year. In the very rare circumstances that the champion decides to retire after his winning season, the first driver for the winning constructors team would get the number 'zero' instead, to represent that the number one driver is no longer racing in F1. The last time this happened was in 1994, when Alain Prost retired, leaving Damon Hill with the number zero (ironically, for the second year in a row, after Nigel Mansell decided to go to Indy Car instead).