Hamilton joins Senna, Prost, Schumacher and others who had F1 wins confiscated

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton joins the likes of Senna and Schumacher - by losing a win after the race
Hamilton joins the likes of Senna and Schumacher - by losing a win after the race

Lewis Hamilton will have to hand over his Belgian Grand Prix winner’s trophy to Felipe Massa (appeal pending).

It will be small comfort to him that plenty of other drivers have had wins taken off them in the past. Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and others have lost race wins after the chequered flag. More encouragingly for Hamilton, a small number of them got their wins back

However by my reckoning only one driver has lost a win because of a racing incident, rather than a technical infringement or stewards’ mistake: Ayrton Senna. Here’s a look at some of these controversial races:

1976: James Hunt, McLaren, Spanish Grand Prix, Jarama

In 1976 F1’s governing body began setting limits on the dimensions of the cars. They used the McLaren M23 as the reference for the maximum width, because it was the widest car in F1 at the time. But when the team used a new construction of tyre at Jarama it failed to notice it made the car 1.8cm wider than the regulations allowed, and Hunt was disqualified after winning.

However his win was reinstated on appeal.

1976: James Hunt, McLaren, British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch

Later that same year Hunt was caught up in a crash on the first lap of the British Grand Prix. Ironically, it was triggered by the two Ferraris. Hunt was originally going to be barred from taking part in the re-start in his spare car, but after noisy objections from the crowd the race organisers relented and let him start.

He won the race, but was disqualified afterwards for using his spare car, handing the win to Ferrari’s Niki Lauda.

1980: Didier Pironi, Ligier, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

Didier Pironi crossed the finishing line at Montreal in 1980 about 40 seconds before Alan Jones’s Williams. But Pironi had been given a 60 second penalty for jumping the start which dropped him to third behind Jones and Carlos Reutemann in the other Williams.

1982: Nelson Piquet, Brabham, and Keke Rosberg, Williams, Brazilian Grand Prix, Jacarepagua

FIA rule enforcement at its most bonkers. After an especially hot and gruelling Brazilian Grand Prix (Piquet collapsed on the podium) Piquet and Rosberg were disqualified because their teams had been using ‘water-cooled brakes’ as a means of getting around the minimum weight regulations.

Their disqualification promoted Alain Prost’s Renault into first place. Behind him were John Watson (McLaren) and Nigel Mansell (Lotus), both of whom were also using ‘water cooled brakes’ but were not disqualified. Given how close Watson came to beating Rosberg to the championship, a major embarrassment was only narrowly avoided.

1985: Alain Prost, McLaren, San Marino Grand Prix, Imola

In 1985 refuelling was not allowed, turbo engines were thirsty, fuel tank size was restricted, and the technology used to monitor fuel levels was crude. At races where the rate of fuel consumption was high cars would often run out of petrol in the final laps.

Prost’s McLaren just made it across the line on dregs of fuel at Imola in 1985. But he had so little fuel left in the car it fell underweight, he was disqualified, and victory went to Elio de Angelis in the Lotus. The disqualification rankled with Prost, and he has said he feels he has won 52 races instead of 51. Including, of course, that controversial Brazil ’82 win.

1989: Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka

One of F1’s great controversies. Senna was trying to pass team mate Alain Prost on lap 47 when Prost turned in on him. The pair interlocked wheels and slithered off the road (perhaps this is what would have happened if Hamilton had not driven off the track at Spa last weekend?)

Prost got out of his car and retired – he knew that with Senna out of the race he would be champion. Undeterred, Senna re-gained the circuit via an escape road, pitted for a new front wing, caught new leader Allessandro Nannini, and won the race.

Or so we thought. But the stewards chose to disqualify Senna for missing out part of the track. McLaren appealed the decision but found themselves asked to answer a series of additional charges when they confronted the FIA. Senna’s disqualification stood, and Prost became champion.

1990: Gerhard Berger, McLaren, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

In a bizarre repeat of circumstances at the same track a decade earlier, Berger was the winner ‘on the road’ but a 60s penalty for jumping the start left him fourth. Team mate Senna collected the win.

1994: Michael Schumacher, Benetton, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps

Having led all but one lap of the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix it was particularly galling for Schumacher to be disqualified for excessive wear on the plank on the underside of his car. The planks had been introduced by the FIA earlier in the year to force the teams to run higher ride heights for safety reasons.

Benetton argued the wear had been caused by Schumacher’s spin across the kerbs on the exit of Fagnes. But their appeal against the exclusion failed and Damon Hill inherited the win. Others suggested that the changing conditions throughout the weekend and lack of data on running with the planks caused Benetton to set Schumacher’s ride height too low.

1995: Michael Schumacher, Benetton, and David Coulthard, Williams, Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

The Renault-powered duo of Schumacher and Coulthard were originally excluded because of fuel irregularities. But on appeal the FIA chose to give the drivers their points back, but not the teams. The rationale was that a technical breach had been committed but no advantage had been gained by the drivers.

This unusual decision was not seen again until last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, when McLaren were stripped of their constructors’ points following the infamous qualifying incident.

1999: Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang

Another famous controversy. Ferrari had finished one-two in the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix but after the race both drivers were disqualified because their barge boards were deemed to be 1cm outside the tolerances allowed by the regulations. This meant Mika Hakkinen was the winner not only of the race but also the world championship.

On appeal Ferrari convinced the FIA that the barge boards had not been accurately measured by the Malaysian Grand Prix stewards and were in fact legal. The FIA accepted this claim, reinstated the Ferraris, leaving the final round to decide the championship.

McLaren’s Ron Dennis felt the stewards had allowed Ferrari to get away with a deliberate misinterpretation of the rules in order to guarantee an exciting championship finale:

I believe, along with probably every technical director in Formula One, that the manufacturing tolerance referred to under article 3.12.6 of the Technical Regulations has no bearing on any other aspect of the car other than the vertical flatness of the horizontal surfaces that form the underside of the vehicle. We think the push for our sport has inevitably become quite commercial. Everybody wants to have an exciting race in Japan, but I think that the price we have paid for that one race is too great.

Read more about the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix

2003: Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

The final example concerns a driver and team who hadn’t actually broken any rules at all – instead the FIA stewards were at fault in failing to follow the rules correctly.

The 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix was red-flagged to an early halt following a severe crash for Fernando Alonso. This came shortly after Giancarlo Fisichella had passed Kimi Raikkonen for the lead. However the rules for stopping the race meant that the final positions would be those on the lap before the race was halted. This, they felt, meant Raikkonen was the winner.

However it was only when they studied replays of the race and timing data afterwards that they accepted Fisichella had complete one more lap than they initially realised. Therefore he was in fact the winner, and Raikkonen handed over the winner’s trophy to him at the following round at Imola. It was Fisichella’s first and Jordan’s last Grand Prix win.

Can you remember any other instances where drivers lost F1 wins after the race? Which of these did you think was particularly fair or foul? have your say in the comments.

54 comments on “Hamilton joins Senna, Prost, Schumacher and others who had F1 wins confiscated”

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  1. It is pretty clear even from this set of incidents that FIA was always in the pockets of Ferrari.

  2. Like you said Keith, little consolation. Sadly I think the WDC was decided by the stewards on sunday.We all know how important 2 extra points could be at the end of the season.

  3. McLaren – 6 – 1 back
    Benetton – 2 – 1 back
    Ferrari – 2 – 2 back
    Williams – 2 – 1 back
    Ligier – 1 – 0 back
    impressive :)
    from this stats McLaren have no chance on appeal if they decide to appeal :)

  4. Jolene – actually, Massa gained two points and Hamilton lost four so the net difference is six.

  5. Oops.Sorry Keith. Realised that afterwards. Even worse then. Even changed my gravatar coz Ferrari sucks! Why is the old pic still showing? Now I’m going to be slaughtered!

  6. Keith I don´t believe in conspiration theories…normally

    That Schumacher disqualification in Malaysia 99 for the huge barge board difference of 1cm :-) was shameless something…. clearly due to race that was completely manipulated by Herr Nowadays FIA don´t need to appeal to tech-reg… the sport-reg suffices

    That Senna disqualification in Suzuka 89 was little bit surreal.

    Hamilton is wellcome to the super-competent excluded drivers club.

  7. Hmm…not a conspiracy theorist, but McLaren drivers seem to appear on this list A WHOLE LOT.

  8. Ops! Herr Schumacher. Sorry

    He was disqualified of all points in all races in 1997. Another record…

  9. “It is pretty clear even from this set of incidents that FIA was always in the pockets of Ferrari.”

    Yeah right. Specially in 2007. Ask Fiamilton and his flying car lol

    Lewis gain an advantage and has been punished.
    Live with that people.

  10. Lewis has always said he wants to emulate Senna, his wish has come true!

  11. Hi Keith,
    If I remember correctly, Ferrari admitted that the barge boards were too big immediately after the Sepang race, blamed it on a manufacturing fault but seemed to accept they were in the wrong. They then appealed and won, by claiming that, although the boards were indeed illegal, they were within the manufacturing tolerances allowed by the regulations. I might be a bit cynical here, but it may well have been the red paint on the boards that allowed them to get away with it! I believe it was after this appeal case that Max actually blamed McLaren for the Ferrari appeal being upheld, because they hadn’t turned up at the appeal and argued against it correctly! As if McLaren were actually the ones who should have been ‘prosecuting’ the offence.
    As for the water-cooled brakes, I thought it was actually a ‘water injection’ system for the engine that was used to circumvent the rules on weight, by allowing the water ballast tank to be topped up after the race to meet the minimum weight. Of course, most of the water was dumped on the track during the warmup lap… Most British teams at that time were quite good at finding loopholes like this, especially my favourites, Williams, and also Lotus.
    At that time the FIA was called FISA and run by Balestre, who most British observers thought favoured Ferrari and also Renault. Both teams supported FISA in various disputes and rule changes, against the predominantly British teams, who supported Ecclestone and FOCA. That was back in the Eighties, before Max, Bernie and Charlie Whiting turned from poacher to gamekeeper. Happy days.

  12. poor fisi. he and the team were pretty sure he’d won but then he was told he hadn’t. he must have felt even worse than hamilton does and who didnt’ have a soft spot for jordan? at least that came out alright in the end-well, if you don’t consider kimi. still, that was an incident really of two drivers having had the win taken away. at least fisi got his back.

  13. Lewis is in good company, then, with 4 multiple-champions, 2 one-time WDCs and 2 multiple-race winners on the list.

  14. i say start listening to the guy who dresses funny.


    and make him head of the fia before it’s too late.

  15. GuyPV, you seem to be correct and although I understand that Macca wants to concentrate on Monza, what about all the fans who have been waging war since sunday? How many comments have been made since then? it all seem so futile now. They should have taken the fight to the FIA. This is either a brilliant move or a stupid one. Either way, Im upset that they’re letting it go.

  16. It’s ironic [or moronic…) that motorsports have the most grandiose official ceremonies of any sport to recognize the event results, yet is the only form of sport where later altering those results is not completely out of the question.

  17. mail123456, you’re the biggest fanboy I’ve ever seen.

    First, You said Ferrari 2-2 Can you enumerate them? Because I only see 1-1

    Second, McLaren 6-1… do you really feel that Raikkonen should have kept the win, when he clearly didn’t? You’re incredible, boy…

    Maybe if they’re 5-1 it’s because they’re cheating (and copying) more than others…

  18. F1 fans seem utterly partisan regarding Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari.

    If the appeal is won, the Ferrari fans will moan about how LH can’t win without cheating. If the appeal is lost (or not even accepted), LH fans will moan about “Ferrari International Assistance”. I have never known a driver like Lewis Hamilton acquire such a positive/negative split amongst fans. He is either utterly adored or utterly despised.

    On balance, Lewis is a cocky, hot-headed racing driver. He is prone to make big mistakes, but equally adept at providing some of the most exciting over-taking moves we have seen in years. The last driver to remind me of such mercurial form was Nigel Mansell.

    (sorry, that was a bit irrelevant and meandering)

  19. Conspiracy theory? James Hunt run with tyres 1.8 cm wider than what was allowed and got his win back. He was then disqualified for using the spare car when doing it was not allowed – where is the conspiracy? In other two instances in which a Mclaren driver was disqualified another Mclaren driver won the race – where a hell is the conspiracy? In the other two cases, in one the car was underweight and in the other the race had been red flagged before the Mclaren driver got the lead. And last Sunday, Hamiboy tried one more of his antics – Cut the chicane, get a toe and overtake where you would not have been able to otherwise. He got busted and deserved it.

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