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

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.

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

  1. Jolene said on 9th September 2008, 15:07

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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)

  5. Antifia said on 9th September 2008, 15:43

    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.

  6. Journeyer said on 9th September 2008, 15:49

    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.

  7. 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 ;-)

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2008, 15:51

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

  9. Journeyer said on 9th September 2008, 16:02


    ‘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.

  10. mail123456 said on 9th September 2008, 16:02

    @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 :)

  11. 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.

  12. 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…”

  13. Ryan Willday said on 9th September 2008, 16:56

    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.:(

  14. S Hughes said on 9th September 2008, 17:15

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

  15. John Taylor said on 9th September 2008, 18:35

    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.

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