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Formula 1 is a global sport, and drivers from a total of 41 countries competed in the Championship since the first race in 1950. Only 9 of these countries had only one representative in the Queen of Motorsports, and one of them scored podiums and victories. Who were the drivers, and which nation did they represent?

9. Eliseo Salazar – Chile

Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar had a long career in multiple top level motorsports series spanning over three decades. The highlights of Salazar’s extensive career include driving in Formula One from 1981 to 1983 with teams like March, Ensign, and ATS. Though his F1 career lasted only 3 seasons, Salazar managed an impressive 5th place finish at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix driving for ATS. Beyond Formula One, Salazar found even greater success competing in rally racing. He won the Chilean national rally championship in both 1984 and 1985. His skilled and aggressive driving style was well suited to the twists and turns of rally stages.

8. Tomas Enge – Czechia

In contrast to the championship winning achievements of Eliseo Salazar, the driving career of Czech racer Tomas Enge serves as a cautionary tale of talent derailed by drugs and controversy. Enge’s professional racing debut came in the Formula 3000 feeder series in 1998. He showed flashes of promise early on, like scoring his maiden podium with a 2nd place finish in 1999 at Magny-Cours. The highlight was winning from pole position at the Hockenheim round in 2000.Thanks in part to backing from a sponsorship deal from Coca-Cola, Enge had a big break to make his Formula One debut in 2001. He stepped in to replace the injured Luciano Burti at Prost Grand Prix for the final three races of the season. So Enge became the first driver from Central/Eastern Europe to start an F1 race at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

7. Zhou Guanyu – China

Zhou’s success in the F1 feeder series secured him a drive with the Alfa Romeo F1 Team for 2022 alongside experienced teammate Valtteri Bottas. In a remarkable achievement demonstrating Zhou’s readiness for the top level of open wheel racing, Zhou scored a point by finishing 10th in his very first F1 race at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

While he struggled in qualifying for most of the season, Zhou impressed on race day. His breakthrough result was an 8th place finish at the Canadian Grand Prix. Zhou continued honing his race craft over the season and reduced the gap to his more accomplished teammate.

Through sheer consistency, Zhou outperformed his rookie expectations in a season highlighted by surviving one of F1’s most violent and frightening crashes ever at the British Grand Prix.

6. Zsolt Baumgartner – Hungary

Stepping into F1 with Minardi in 2003 and later with Jordan in 2004, Baumgartner’s career was a classic underdog story. While his point at the 2004 United States Grand Prix might seem modest, it was a monumental achievement, placing Hungary on the F1 map. Baumgartner’s journey resonates as a testament to perseverance, showcasing that even in a sport dominated by technological giants and astronomical budgets, there’s room for individual heroism. His legacy extends beyond the track, inspiring a generation in Hungary to dream big, proving that to punch above one’s weight is not just a figure of speech but a reality for those who dare to defy the odds.

5. Rio Haryanto – Indonesia

Rio Haryanto made history as Indonesia’s first and only Formula 1 driver, carrying the hopes of a nation when he debuted with Manor Racing in 2016. His journey to F1 was fueled by sheer willpower and the support of a country eager to see its flag on the global motorsport stage. Although his stint was short-lived, with only half a season under his belt, Haryanto’s impact was profound. He demonstrated that barriers are there to be broken, and with enough drive, athletes from nations less represented in global sports can make it to the pinnacle. Haryanto’s story is a beacon of inspiration for Indonesian youths, illuminating a path that hard work and determination can indeed pave the way to achieving seemingly unreachable dreams.

4. Rikky von Opel – Lichtenstein

Rikky von Opel, the only Liechtensteiner to have competed in Formula 1, carved a unique niche for himself in the annals of motorsport history. A scion of the Opel automotive dynasty, Rikky’s entry into F1 in the early 1970s with teams like Ensign and Brabham was more than just a rich man’s whim; it was a pursuit of passion. Despite not securing championship points, von Opel’s presence on the grid was a statement of ambition, showcasing that even the smallest of nations can have representation at the zenith of motorsport.

3. Alex Yoong – Malaysia

Alex Yoong is Malaysia’s sole representative in the realm of Formula 1, having taken to the track with Minardi in 2001 and 2002. Yoong’s journey to F1 was a cocktail of talent, determination, and national support, embodying the aspirations of a nation keen to make its mark in the high-octane world of motorsports. While his tenure in F1 was challenging, facing off against the titans of the track, Yoong’s presence was a significant milestone for Malaysian motorsport. It underscored the importance of perseverance and the role of national backing in nurturing sports talent. Today, Yoong’s legacy is not just in his races but in his role as a mentor and commentator, where he continues to inspire aspiring racers in Malaysia and beyond, proving that the race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep running.

2. Robert La Caze – Morocco

Morocco not only has only one driver in the F1 history, but Rober La Caze has only 1 start in his career. But the start was memorable, as La Caze participated in his home grand prix in 1958. Many drivers dream of being able to race in front of their home crowd, and La Caze had the opportunity. Unfortunately, he didn’t succeed, or score points, but there are some aspects which could make him proud. In the qualifying, he was only 2 positions behind Bruce McLaren, with 20 seconds of difference to the pole sitter. In the race, Robert La Caze gained 9 positions and finished 14th, ahead of Graham Hill.

1. Robert Kubica – Poland

Robert Kubica is the most successful driver in this group, and therefore the most successful F1 driver from Poland. Starting in 99 races, he won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, and scored 11 other podium finishes. His story is the biggest “What ifs” in the sports history. After overperforming in the BMW, he switched to Renault in 2010 and was supposed to join Ferrari in the 2011 season, alongside Fernando Alonso. Sadly, during a Rally in Andorra in February 2011, he suffered a terrible crash, which put him in come and sent to a long recovery. Kubica managed to return to Formula 1, despite undergoing many operations, long rehabilitation, and never fully recovering. In 2019 he joined Williams, and scored the only point for the team, outperforming George Russell. In 2020 he became Alfa Romeo’s third driver and started in the 2021 Netherlands Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix, replacing ill Kimi Räikkönen.

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