Top 5 most controversial moments in Formula 1 History go to show that in this glamorous sport all that glitters is not gold. There have been some extraordinarily controversial episodes during the 7 decades since the sports’ inception in 1950. Today we take a look at the dark side of Formula 1.
The treason of Mount Fuji 1976
Breaching an alleged gentleman’s pact in order to win the title is not the most elegant way to win an F1 crown. Well, according to legend, that’s what happened at the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix at the Mount Fuji Circuit.
The title was still to be decided between James Hunt and Niki Lauda when they arrived at the last race of the season. The Ferrari driver from Austria, who had survived a terrible accident at the Nürburgring two months earlier, was three points ahead of his British rival from McLaren.
On the day of the race, October 24, drivers woke up to torrential rain. Track conditions were very dangerous. Given the circumstances, the drivers agreed to take the start but retire during the first few laps.
Lauda and his colleagues kept their word. Hunt, on the contrary, stayed out and finished third, winning the World Championship by a single point. It was his first and last title. The following year the driver from Vienna sealed the second of his three F1 crowns. This was one most controversial moments in Fórmula 1.
Prost and Senna’s memorable battles in Japan 1989 and 1990
Just as the year before, the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix would decide the winner. Both contenders for the glory were also the same as the previous season, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost but on this occasion, the battle, and one of the best duels, would take place in the Suzuka circuit.
The Frenchman was twelve points ahead of the Brazilian but the latter had been cutting in the distance over the last few races and was on a roll. Their deep sporting and personal animosity would reach its climax at the land of the rising sun. The McLaren partners were no longer rivals, but true enemies, but signed on of the best Formula1 races.
Senna needed a win. He sealed a colossal pole position, beating Prost by 1.7 seconds and after his rival got off to a bad start, he took the lead of the race.
Senna tried to overtake him but the Frenchman closed in on him again and again. The decisive moment would come on the forty-sixth lap. Ayrton tried to overtake Prost in the chicane, but the latter did not give in, pushing the Brazilian off the track.
Prost would win the title but Senna nonetheless, resumed the race and after a magical comeback, took the victory. In the end, he was disqualified for skipping the chicane and returning to the track, through a supposedly forbidden area.
Behind that controversial decision was the hand of Jean-Marie Balestre, president of the FIA, and a fellow countryman and friend of Prost. Prost added his third Championship and moved on to Ferrari with a two-year contract.
Senna´s revenge: 1990 Japanese GP
Meanwhile, the driver from Sao Paulo was sanctioned with $ 100,000 and a six-month suspension. His tremendous disappointment almost pushed him into retiring from Formula 1.
But a year later he would execute his revenge on the same stage. Same place, same circumstances, the glory to be decided in the last race of the championship.
Senna got the pole position against Prost by 0.232 seconds, however, the South American soon started having problems. A new rule of the FIA established that the first position of the grid should be changed to the right side; the dirty part of the track.
Furious at that decision, Ayrton warned that if he lost the first place at the start because of that new rule, he would not stop. And so it happened.
Senna crashed with Prost at more than 270 km / h at the first corner of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix. Both were knocked out of action and the Brazilian won his second World Cup. It took place on October the 21st at Suzuka. A sad day for the sport and one of the most controversial moments in Formula 1 memory.
Ferrari’s orders in Austria 2002
The sixth race of the 2002 season, in which Michael Schumacher exerted an unquestionable dominance, had one of the most controversial outcomes in memory.
Up until that moment, the German star had accrued 44 points out of the 50 available and his closest pursuer, Juan Pablo Montoya, was 21 points away from him. No one questioned this was going to end up with a fourth consecutive title for the ‘Red Baron’.
His team-mate Rubens Barrichello had suffered a dreadful start to the year with three abandonments. On the weekend of the Austrian Grand Prix, however, Barrichello was on top form. He won the pole and was leading the race when suddenly everything came crashing down.
Ferrari’s sports director, Jean Todt, ordered him to hand over the victory to his teammate, Michael Schumacher. Outraged by the orders he stopped the car right on the finish line to let the German pass. The boos echoed through the A1-Ring as the winners climbed up the podium.
Embarrassed by what happened, the Kaiser gave the trophy and the top step of the podium to the driver from Sao Paulo but the damage to the image of the Scuderia and of the F1, in general, was done. Of course, another one controversial moments in Formula 1.
The ‘crash-gate’ in Singapore 2008
The first Singapore Grand Prix took place in 2008. It was the first ever night race and the 800th of the F1, but it all was overshadowed by the so-called ‘crash-gate’.
On September the 28th, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr allegedly suffered an accident after following his engineer’s instructions on the radio. The accident triggered a safety car that played in favour of his teammate, Fernando Alonso’s strategy.
In the end, the victory was for the Spaniard although this has always been shadowed by what happened. Flavio Briatore, director of the team, was forced to resign from the F1. It was one of the worst controversial moments in Formula 1.
The USA 2005 scandal
Very rarely has a Formula 1 race started with only six cars on the grid. Well, that’s what happened at the USA Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Speedway in 2005 after a problem with one of the two tire suppliers. Michelin executives said that their compounds would only last about ten laps if a chicane was not installed in turn 13.
The alarm had been raised on Friday when in the free training sessions Ralph Schumacher had suffered a serious accident at that exact point at 282 km / h. and his rear left tire had exploded. Subsequent studies by Michelin concluded that they could not guarantee the safety of those tires.
The organization refused point blank to suspend the race or change the layout in any way. The seven teams that had Michelin tires, therefore, retired to the pits after the parade lap.
Schumacher won the bizarre race followed by his teammate Barrichello and by Tiago Monteiro. Behind the Portuguese, came Narain Karthikeyan, followed by Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher.
An enraged audience of about 120,000 spectators, began throwing cans of beer and soda on the track. Undoubtedly, one of the most ignominious days of the F1.
Most controversial moments in Formula 1 Images: Pinterest.