Sex, Nazis, cheating: Top 5 scandals in Formula 1 history
Racing fans know why it’s great to watch formulas in full speed: the rush, the adrenalin, the pure joy of cheering for your favourite driver. But, wherever there’s a lot of money involved, like in Formula 1, you are bound to have some dirty business behind the closed and even open doors. We chose top 5 scandals in Formula 1 history, from sex, to espionage, and of course, cheating. It’s all part of the game, making it even more fun to watch.
1.Monaco Grand prix, 2006
Yes, it involves the one and only: Michael Schumacher. The legendary driver was accused for cheating a number of times, but this one was pretty dirty. Heading into the 2006 Monaco GP, the German trailed Renault’s Fernando Alonso by 15 points. There was much riding on qualifying and who would get the pole. In qualifying, Alonso was fast and Schumacher dealt with this by stopping his car on one of the corners known as La Rascasse – slowing up everyone else behind him and ensuring Alonso didn’t get a better qualifying time. Schumacher explained that he tried to back up and the car stalled. Video didn’t really support this explanation and the stewards didn’t buy it either, taking the pole away from the German.
2. Ladies and gentlemen, Bernie Ecclestone
CEO and President of Formula One Management, a former racer and team owner, Bernie Ecclestone is one of the key faces in F1 and, through the sale of television rights, is a major reason why F1 is so successful globally. But, old Bernie brought a lot of scandal and controversy, as if he was looking for trouble intentionally. Here is a short, but effective list:
In 2005, he enraged women everywhere when, in reference to Danica Patrick, he said that women should be dressed in white to match the appliances. After apologizing, Ecclestone made the same comment again – he apologized a second time. In 2009, the Times quoted Ecclestone saying that Hitler was a leader who could get things done. Needless to say, these comments sparked significant outrage.
But wait, there is more – the F1 number one stated in 2014 that he agreed with Vladimir Putin’s stance on homosexuality.
3. A very naughty boy – The Max Mosley sex scandal
In 2007 then FIA president Max Mosley became entangled in a bizarre sex scandal. News of the World obtained a video which “allegedly” showed the former racer engaging in Nazi-themed acts with prostitutes in the bedroom.
Mosley sued the paper, but he didn’t argue about the authenticity of the tape – he just didn’t want to be called Nazi-themed. Then it’s OK, right?
Anyway, the judge found no ‘Nazi’ elements and awarded Mosley over $92,000 in damages. Mosley still remained a president of FIA until October, 2009.
4. Spying game: McLaren vs Ferrari
The competition in Formula 1 is brutal, and everyone is looking for some way to gain the upper hand on the “enemy”. Usually it is by legal means but… In 2007, a Ferrari chief mechanic allegedly handed over a substantial amount of technical information concerning the team’s cars, plans and finances to McLaren. The plan might have worked if not for a mix of bad luck and stupidity. Firstly, McLaren’s chief designer Michael Coughlan had his wife drop the pile of documents off at a shop to be burned on a CD – not so smart. It turned out the clerk responsible for transferring the images was a Ferrari fanatic who also googled the wife’s name to discover her link to McLaren – bad luck. It all went downhill from there with McLaren, receiving all sorts of penalties and a record $100 million fine.
5. The clash of titans – Senna vs. Prost
If we are talking about rivalry, we have to talk about that of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Heading into the Japanese GP in 1989, Prost had been vocal about his dislike of Senna’s tactics on the track. At the ’89 race at Suzuka, Prost turned his car into Senna’s on the first turn, taking them both out. Senna was able to recover and rejoin the race but was disqualified later, leading him to believe there was a conspiracy to make Prost champion. In 1990, Senna got his revenge on the same track at the same spot. All Senna had to do to get the title was ensure he wasn’t outscored by his now-Ferrari driving adversary. Heading into the first corner, the Brazilian ensured Prost would be unable to finish the race by running into him. Many questioned what had happened after seeing Senna drive straight into Prost’s car. Senna merely wrote it off as a normal racing incident.
Photo credits: www.viator.com, www.autocar.co.uk, feelgrafix.com, www.formula1.com, www.bbc.com, www.telegraph.co.uk