Which ‘blatantly illegal car’ won a championship?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Benetton-Ford, 1994I’ve long enjoyed Nigel Roebuck’s writings on Formula 1 and I’ll miss my weekly dose of the ‘Fifth Column’ and ‘Ask Nigel’ when he departs Autosport for Motor Sport next year.

His final ‘Ask Nigels’ have been especially entertaining but this startling claim really caught my eye:

Anyone in the paddock, for example, will tell you that one year – no, I’m not saying which – the world championship was won by a blatantly illegal car.

So… which year, and which car?

A couple of contenders spring to mind. Roebuck has often insinuating that the 1981 Brabham that powered Nelson Piquet to the world championship ran underweight on occasions – notably at Monaco, where Piquet pipped Roebuck’s favourite Gilles Villeneuve to pole position.

Bitter debates have also raged over the legality of the 1994 Benetton-Ford in which Michael Schumacher won the drivers’ championship. It was found to have a hidden traction control system, and the team was also investigated for making illegal modifications to their refuelling systems.

Prior to the return of traction control in 2001 Max Mosley claimed that at least one team had been illegally using such a system, but did not state which.

Could any of these be Roebuck’s ‘blatantly illegal car’? Or is it something else?

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