Mosley: Schumacher would have lost ’94 title under modern rules

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Nurburgring, 2007 | Ferrari MediaJames Allen claims in his new biography of Michael Schumacher that FIA president Max Mosley believes Schumacher would have been stripped of his 1994 world championship under the current F1 rules.

Here’s what the book has to say:

According to Mosley, mitigating circumstances were missing in the case of Schumacher’s deliberate collisions with opponents later in his career. Schumacher got away with driving Damon Hill off the road in 1994, but if today’s systems had been in place then, Hill would have been awarded the championship.

But what were the ‘mitigating circumstances’? And what changes to the rules would prevent the same thing happening today?

Senna and Prost

Whenever he says something controversial Max Mosley has a complicated explanation. This one goes back to the collisions between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1989 and 1990.

In 1989, Prost deliberately collided with Senna to take the Brazilian out and win the championship. Senna was able to continue in the race but was disqualified for missing part of the course. Senna believed FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre sided with Prost.

In 1990 the championship situation was reversed and Senna won the title when he deliberately took Prost out at the first corner of the race at 120mph.

Twelve months later, by which time Mosley had usurped Balestre as FIA president, Senna admitted he crashed into Prost deliberately. Mosley gives two reasons why he did not punish Senna: Mosley claims he was not politically strong enough, and states he had defended the race director of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, John Corsmidt, when Balestre attacked Corsmidt over the second collision.

The Schumacher collisions

If Mosley did want to punish drivers who won world championships by crashing into their rivals, then why did he not punish Schumacher for colliding with Damon Hill in 1994? He cites ‘mitigating circumstances’ but it’s not clear what they are.

When Schumacher tried the same thing on Villeneuve in 1997 he was punished, but there was another crucial difference – he failed to take Villeneuve out and lost the championship anyway. (See video of the Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Hill and Villeneuve incidents.)

Many commentators (myself included) saw Schumacher’s punishment of disqualification from the 1997 championship as a meaningless slap on the wrist – why would he care about losing second place? But that changes if we believe Mosley would have applied the same punishment had Schumacher successfully taken Villeneuve out – i.e. Mosley would have stripped the world champion of his title.

Why no appeal in ’94?

Perhaps by ‘mitigating circumstances’ Mosley means the lack of an appeal from the Williams team after the 1994 collision. Following the controversy at Monaco last year, Williams stalwart Patrick Head shed some light on why they didn’t appeal at the time:

As far as Australia 1994 is concerned, Monaco 2006 doesn’t really make any difference. And that’s because, that day in Adelaide, we at Williams were already 100% certain that Michael was guilty of foul play. It was so blatant.

He was about to drive his stricken Benetton up the slip-road when he spotted Damon’s Williams about to pass him and abruptly veered across the track to prevent that happening.

We seriously considered lodging a formal protest there and then, on the grounds that it had been so blatant, but decided against it simply because of what had happened earlier in the year.

Because 1994 was the terrible year it was – in other words, because Ayrton Senna had been killed in one of our cars at Imola – we didn’t really think it would have been right for Damon to win the world championship that year, especially if he’d done so in court, so we didn’t protest.

But had it been any other year – or had Ayrton not been killed in one of our cars – then most certainly we’d have lodged a formal protest on the very grounds on which Michael was found guilty at Monaco in ’06.

This year’s championship is getting increasingly tense and controversial. It would be a shame to see it end in an acrimonious and cynical take-out – but if it did, should the FIA step in to award the title to the wronged driver?

I think they should. For the credibility of F1, I think they would have to.

Photo: Ferrari Media

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22 comments on Mosley: Schumacher would have lost ’94 title under modern rules

  1. Cooperman said on 23rd August 2007, 15:49

    As I recall Williams didn’t appeal over the ’94 collision as they were just keen to get the season, the one that took the life of Senna in their car, over with.

    And of course Williams had the Constructor’s title which mattered more to them anyway.

  2. bernie's nemesis said on 14th September 2007, 12:53

    Its a shame that Max didn’t treat Micheal the same way that judgment has been handed out to Mclaren. He was blatantly cheating, and seen around the world to do this. Should have had a years ban, but Flav holds a lot of power with the FIA.

  3. Absolutely… I believe Hill deserved the championship that year. Maybe Hill didnt derserve it… but Schumacher definitely deliberately crashed into Hill. He did it again in Jerez in 1997 to Villeneuve. But this time the FIA did strip him of second place

  4. Hamilton fan said on 18th September 2007, 15:35

    i Dont think schumacher did it intentioally i think if hill had left it to the next corner he would have made it past and won the tittle (im not going to say if he had waited for michael to retire because he didnt know what had happened to be fair to hill) but i think during hills career there are obvious times where he just lunged up the inside when there was really no hope of getting past (silverstone 95, monza 95, im sure there are others) and looking at the cortner he tried to past michael at adelaide didnt look to be the best place. (i have no knowledge of the adelaide circuit i was only 6 when this happened and i didnt start watching formula 1 til 1997 but being a schumacher fan i have seen alot of races from his 1st couple of seasons)

    and as far as alonso goes, no doubt hes very quick and talented, but if he wins the tittle this year hes got three already, same as senna, and i dont think hes that good.

  5. Giovanni said on 21st September 2007, 15:16

    …..still, 6 W Titles !!! No-one from today’s group of Drivers will come close to that……..

  6. No one from today’s group of drivers will come close to the sheer lack of competition that Michael Schumacher enjoyed for most of his career, either. Most seasons, he not only had the best car, he also had a teammate who was required to lay down for him. It’s a lot easier to win a WDC when you only have to beat guys like Damon Hill or Mika Hakkinen, as opposed to having to run in a field with men like Prost, Senna, Piquet and Mansell. When another real star finally came along in Alonso, Schumi stopped winning titles and then retired.

  7. If you apply that rule Schumacher would have won in 1999 because the current rules would have made his car stronger and he wouldn’t have broken his leg! No one can deny how talented he was – he broke every record out there.

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