The Most Controversial Moments in F1 – Part Two
As we continue our list of the most controversial moments, it’s evident that not everyone in Formula One had an easy time of it. Some of them deserved the bad press and others didn’t. However in this list it’s up to you to decide whether they were at fault or not.
Monaco – 2006 – Michael Schumacher
Yes. Yet again, it’s Michael Schumacher that appears on this list but we must not forget that he wasn’t the only one who caused controversy in the sport, with Senna, a prime example of someone considered to be a “troublemaker”. It would seem the great ones are often the ones picked on more because they are held up in such a light that they are the supposed shining examples.
Unfortunately, Schumacher was used as an example to the rest of the field and showed that you could not do what he did and expect to get away with it, whilst claiming ignorance. During the qualifying session he collided with the barrier at Rascasse (a tight right hand u-bend-type corner) and clipped his car. His Ferrari stopped on the circuit and stalled which resulted in the yellow flags being brought out. It was an unusual place to stall even though he had hit the barrier, as it wouldn’t have caused someone of his skill to stall. But he claimed it did and in the confusion, this meant that the rest of the field couldn’t complete any flying laps they were on due to the yellow flags which could only benefit him. Audiences were sceptical and the stewards found him guilty of deliberately trying to manipulate the qualifying session to his benefit and they removed his times and forced him to start from the back of the grid. Many fans claimed it was a mistake and a freak accident with no intended foul play but his reputation preceded him and he was punished accordingly.
Barcelona – 1976 – James Hunt
After a poor start to the season and a retirement within the first three races, James Hunt’s Championship challenge was looking like it was slipping away at McLaren. Until the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, where he took his first win of the year. However, in a shock discovery, the stewards found Hunt’s car to be 1.8cm too wide, therefore not adhering to the FIA’s technical regulations. He was disqualified from the race and found himself back where he was after race three. No win and no title challenge. They appealed and the race win was reinstated much to Niki Lauda’s annoyance and McLaren claimed it must have been the heat that expanded the tyres to create a wider frame and overall increase in the measurements of the car.
San Marino – 2005 – BAR Team
The BAR team were to eventually change into the Brawn GP team under Ross Brawn’s guidance in which they won a World Championship in 2009. But before all of that, they were generally back-of-the-pack runners, with some high calibre drivers racing for them over the years, including Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button. Both now World Champions. But in 2005, just when they were becoming competitive they were disqualified for running illegal cars that were considered too light and not adhering to the minimum total car weight of 605kg. They were able to find a loophole technically which meant that during the race, with fuel on board, it would push the car over the minimum requirement but not during pre-race scrutineering. It was an interpretation of the rules which the FIA didn’t like and BAR were banned for two races (rather than the expected whole season). It proved that interpretation of the rules is as good as cheating as far as the FIA were concerned.