Max Mosley accused of helping Michael Schumacher win 1994 championship

Michael Schumacher, Benetton-Ford, 1994, 470150

Max Mosley has been accused of helping Michael Schumacher win the 1994 world championship by advising his Benetton team on how to handle a dispute with the FIA.

Benetton were investigated by the FIA following the fuel rig fire that engulfed Schumacher’s team mate Jos Verstappen’s car in the German Grand Prix.

The FIA accused Benetton of illegally removing a fuel filter from the refuelling rig, but team boss Flavio Briatore insisted the removal of the device had been done with the permission of the FIA. It is now alleged that Mosley told Benetton’s lawyer not to try to pin the blame on the FIA. Benetton instead pleaded guilty and were not given a punishment.

The revelation came in an article in yesterday’s Sunday Express (see below) written by Christian Sylt. According to Sylt the lawyer who handled Benetton’s case, George Carman, claimed Mosley approached him in a bar the day before Benetton’s hearing.

According to Carman Mosley told him: “it was best… not to seek to blame any FIA personnel.”

The potential value of Schumacher to Formula 1 at the time is hard to underestimate. Within a few years the sport had lost several world champions – Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet had retired, Ayrton Senna had died, and Nigel Mansell was still dallying with Indy Cars.

And the financial value of a successful German driver was enormous. As Sylt notes RTL currently pay ??95.9m for the rights to air Formula 1. Mercedes had joined F1 in 1993 and at the time were expected to take up an option on Schumacher’s services in the near future. From 1995 to 2006 two Grands Prix per year were held in Germany, and BMW returned to the sport in 2000.

Schumacher had lent his support to Mosley in the wake of the sex scandal the FIA president is embroiled in, saying last month:

I know Max as a professional person and I really rate him very highly. I always thought that I didn?t want people to comment about my private life, so there?s no reason to get into other people?s private life.

Mosley suggested last year that Schumacher would not have been world champion in 1994 had today’s rules been in place. He claimed that Schumacher would have been stripped of his title for the crash with Damon Hill in the final round at Adelaide.

(I haven’t been able to find a copy of the story on the Express’s website – you can download a PDF copy of it here.)

1994 F1 season history

Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Adelaide, 1994, 470313

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27 comments on Max Mosley accused of helping Michael Schumacher win 1994 championship

  1. I think the phrase ‘claimed Mosley approached him in a bar’ sums the whole situation up nicely.
    Are dirty deals still being done in bars, even in 2008?

  2. The FIA statute of limitations for internal cases, as a general rule, is that once a championship is declared, it cannot be altered unless a legal decision has been made beforehand allowing a specific matter to be considered later (which was why such a rider was put on the McLaren/Ferrari case last July). For F1, this usually means the November or early December of the year in question. So nothing could be done about the 1994 championship results, even if the beans had been spilt on the first race of 1995. Of course, the “people still in a position to mess with F1″ point still stands.

  3. the limit said on 27th May 2008, 14:09

    I can imagine in another thirteen years some juicy information being made public about last year’s ‘spygate’ scandal.
    This is what we have all believed for years, and the political goings on followed Schumacher on to Ferrari.
    This is nothing new, as Benetton were under alot of suspicion concerning the legalty of their car anyway.
    Frank Williams admitted that, before Senna was killed,
    Aryton had voiced his concerns about certain elements of the Benetton car, in terms of it playing to the rules.
    All of this has been well documented over the years, from many different sources, however, one fact is completely undeniable.
    The 1994 World Championship was won and lost when Schumacher and Hill collided in Australia. If Damon’s car had not been so badly damaged, he would have been the champion, end of story.

  4. Michael Counsell said on 27th May 2008, 18:31

    Didn’t a lot of teams also remove a certain part of the the fuel rig? I don’t remember.

    This is a strange way of looking at it because Benneton were getting penalised left right and centre in 1994 and if they blamed the Mosley advised them not to blame the FIA it may have been a threat.

    That year was almost set to be a last race decider with Nigel Mansell making an appearance. It was arguably contrived but more to favour Damon Hill who don’t forget was the son of one of the most popular drivers in history and the effective replacement of Nigel Mansell another of the most popular British drivers ever.

    F1 became bigger than ever and started a controversial rivalry with Schumacher and Hill. If anyone was trying to manipulate anything it certainly worked…

  5. Like it matters?

    Press must be at a loose end this year.

  6. Alex Jones said on 29th May 2008, 16:30

    IIRC, the FIA actually provided details and diagrams to some other teams to do the same modifications to the fuel rigs.

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