Top Four: Drivers who switched teams mid-season

Max Verstappen will turn out for Red Bull this weekend after beginning the season with Toro Rosso, but he’s not the first F1 driver to change teams in the middle of the season.

The 18-year-old replaces Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull, with the Russian demoted to Toro Rosso in a move that has been touted as one that would ease some of the pressure on Kvyat.

After just four races in the 2016 campaign Verstappen now has his chance to make his mark in a more competitive car. Here are four other drivers who have been handed similar chances…

1. Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi – Jordan and Prost, 2001

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While this was a case of two drivers swapping teams, the situation differs somewhat to the Verstappen-Kvyat swap. Frentzen was dropped by Jordan after 11 races of the 17-race season. Jordan brought in Ricardo Zonta to replace the German, but that proved a short-lived partnership, with Prost’s Jean Alesi agreeing to a move back to the team he won the F3000 title with in 1989 just two races later.

This left Prost short of a driver, and with Frentzen without a drive, the German would see out the season with Prost before joining first Arrows and then Sauber. The 2001 season would prove to be Alesi’s last in F1.

2. Jarno Trulli – Minardi to Prost in 1997

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Trulli would make two mid-season moves, and his first came in his debut season in Formula 1. The Italian was given his chance by Minardi and impressed in his first six races. With Prost in need of a replacement for Olivier Panis who broke both his legs in a heavy crash in Canada, they called on Trulli. The then-novice didn’t disappoint either, scoring a top-six points finish in just his third race with Prost.

Trulli would go on to spend 15 seasons in F1, and raced for among others Jordan, Renault and Toyota.

3. Mika Salo – BAR to Ferrari, 1999

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When it comes to bizarre seasons, Mika Salo could claim to have the chart topper. The Finn was not due to take part in the 1999 season, but was elevated to a race seat at BAR after Ricardo Zonta suffered a foot injury. The Brazilian would return four races later, relegating Salo back to the sidelines. However, he would once again be the beneficiary of a fellow driver’s ill fortune.

This time, it was an injury to Michael Schumacher that opened the door for Salo, with the German breaking his leg in a crash at Silverstone. Salo stepped up to aide Eddie Irvine’s charge for the World Championship, and memorably handed the Ulsterman the win in Germany when – having out-qualified Irvine – he allowed his team-mate through when leading the race. Irvine would go on to claim the victory, and handed Salo the winner’s trophy on the podium in recognition of his efforts.

Salo notched up a second podium finish in Monza before he was replaced by the fit-again Schumacher. Unfortunately for Irvine, he lost out on the Championship to Mika Häkkinen by just two points.

4. Giancarlo Fisichella – Force India to Ferrari, 2009

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The 2009 season will be remembered as one in which Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was lucky to survive a horrific head injury in Hungary when a suspension spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn ripped through his helmet.

Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer was initially called on to fill the void left by Massa, but the Brazilian was unable to adapt to the pace of racing and was replaced after two races. It’s every Italian’s dream to drive for Ferrari, and so when Ferrari approached Force India about acquiring the services of Fisichella, the team did not stand in his way.

Fisichella turned out for the Scuderia in the final five races of the season, notching up a best finish of ninth, a string of performances which would prove to be his last in the sport.

Enjoy the full experience of the 2016 FIA Formula One season on FOX Sports Play, where you can catch LIVE races from angles unseen before, exclusive interviews, behind the scenes, in-depth analysis and so much more. Don’t miss it!

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