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. Keith, Monza 1978 also belongs to your list. Andretti lost his win to Lauda. Check it out. But I’ll also include it in my Italian GP retrospective.

  2. McLarens – clearly the bad guys of the lot :-) I wonder how FIA allows them to race at all! They should be at least banned from Q3 ;-)

  3. Journeyer – ah yes hadn’t thought of that one!

  4. Brar,

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

    Only his 2nd place in the Championship was stripped off him. He kept all his points and wins.

  5. @aa – what I think doesn’t matter … I just do the math … and OK agree about Ferrari. Let it be 1 – 1 back.
    My Point was that McLaren have 6 (yes 6 more than any other team) taken wins and only 1 returned after appeal.
    So it’s very impressive in terms of what is going to happen or not – McLaren appeal against Hamilton penalty.
    After GP on sunday everybody needs to laugh – go on it’s all about the fun anyway :)

  6. Journeyer.
    He wasn´t there in tha Stats until a gave a click and appeared the last table line on the window. Thank you for this one!

    It seems he remains with his points for statistical purposes: he loose nothing. Piquet quote “The second one, is only the first looser”.

    PS: The first time I remember that there was disqualifying problem: 1970 with Jochen Rindt in British G.P for rear wing measurement problem (high) but he was then reinstated.

  7. Martin Whitmarsh has made an interesting point:

    “…”Following our decision to register our intention to appeal the penalty handed out to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA Stewards at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, we hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal,” said team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

    “From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to repass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was ‘OK’. If Race Control had instead expressed any concern regarding Lewis’s actions at that time, we would have instructed Lewis to allow Kimi to repass for a second time…”

  8. I think that hamilton should get the win because when lewis took Vettel on a shacane and didn’t give the place back he got a 10 place drop. In contradiction here is that lewis gave Kimi the place back yet he gets punished for it again for doing the right thing.:(

  9. Thanks for that Keith – you answered my question beautifully. I really enjoy your blog.

  10. I start with a fact: Louis Hamilton won the Belgian Grand prix. I am surprised Raikenon has not stepped forward to say so. He knows what happened out there and as a sportsman and fellow racer he should tell the FIA their Stewards got it wrong.

  11. @ mail12345 and aa
    I may be mistaking, but this is my list from the article above:

    1. Williams gains 2
    2. Ferrari gains 1
    = Jordan gains 1
    = Lotus gains 1
    = Renault gains 1
    6. Benetton loses 1
    = Brabham loses 1
    = Ligier loses 1
    9. McLaren gains 3 (gains 2, loses 5)

  12. Reading this is either a conspiracy against McLaren or the proof that McLaren are used to braking the rules…

  13. Ahahaha… the petition is getting stronger and stronger. It is in AUTOSPORT right now:


    Don’t give up, Lewis… Let’s get YOUR win back!!!!

  14. I think the 1989 disqualification was the foulest of them all. If you watch the incident Prost turns in way too early and if Senna had not restarted prost would have won the world championship anyway.Balestre was French and Prost had already agreed to go to ferari and had previously driven for renault.

    After what Phil said maybe thats the main reason why the fia favour ferrari.

  15. Thanks Becken; I’ve just signed the petition. I don’t know what to believe, but it just looks like if McLaren step out of line just a little the FIA come down like a ton of bricks. Whereas, some other teams are given the benefit of the doubt. (And that’s being diplomatic)

  16. Let’s remember that over the time period quoted above neither the people awarding the penalties, nor the owners of McLaren receiving them, are the same people we have today.

    I can believe that Max hates Ron, I can even believe that Ron gets unfairly treated because of it, but not that this is a generational thing spanning decades.

    Enough conspiracy, thank you ;-)

  17. So far Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Cesare Fiorio(who used to run Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher and others have come out against the penalty. Only Trulli from outwith Ferrari is in favour of it.

    In answer to an earlier point both water cooled brakes and water injectio to the engine were used. The water cooled brakes were a complete con. At the first couple of corners the contents of the tank were dumped and the tanks run empty for the rest of the race. Technically they were legal but against the spirit and the intention of the rules.

    FISA was the sporting arm of the FIA. Max was FISA president after Balestre became FIA president and used that position to mount his attack on the FIA presidency. To prevent anyone using that position to challenge Max he effectively closed down FISA and now the FIA has supreme power over motor sport.

  18. The decision in Suzuka 1989 is by far the worst.

    First Senna was run into by Prost and stopped. When he got going he used the exit road, but the alternative was to do a U turn and drive towards the oncoming cars. After changing his nose cone (talk about getting no advantage from cutting the chicane, LOL) he STILL won.

  19. Becken said:
    Martin Whitmarsh: “From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to repass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was ‘OK’”
    Becken, I believe this is an all-important contribution, you have some sources?

  20. http://f1.gpupdate.net/es/noticias/2008/09/09/domenicali-ve-un-poco-extrema-la-sancion-a-hamilton/

    this is not appearing (yet) in the english version of GPUpdate

    it reads “Domenicali remarked tha Ferrari didn’t protest and simply got a call from the stewards at the end of the race to talk about the chicane’s maneuvers. Nonetheless, the italian team’s director admitted that, personally, the penalisation to their rival seemed to him “a bit hard”.

    “It seems to me a little bit extreme” he reckoned. “When you’re competing it is normal to attack, the problem is the advantage you can gain thanks to a maneuver of that kind, and that is the key to this. I believe this is what they took into consideration”.

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