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. @ 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)

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

  3. 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!!!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

  6. Phil B said on 9th September 2008, 21:20

    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 ;-)

  7. Steven Roy said on 9th September 2008, 21:49

    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.

  8. teamorders said on 9th September 2008, 23:16

    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.

  9. qazuhb said on 10th September 2008, 3:19

    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?

  10. qazuhb said on 10th September 2008, 3:51


    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”.

  11. the limit said on 10th September 2008, 4:32

    All these facts are very informative, well done Keith yet again for your research. Although my point is not connected to the topic at hand, it is however related to last Sunday’s events at Spa.
    I can recall the Hungarian Grand Prix two years ago in which a McLaren and a Ferrari were engaged in a furious battle for track position, not unlike that of Hamilton and Raikkonen. The drivers were Pedro De La Rosa (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
    De La Rosa, if I remember correctly, was standing in as Juan Pablo Montoya’s replacement following his falling out with Ron Dennis. This particular battle stands out in my mind because I could never remember De La Rosa being that much of a fighter before, but that day he really put Schumacher through the grinder.
    As Schumacher approached a particular chicane towards the end of the lap, De La Rosa had gained enough ground on the German to attempt a pass. Not unlike Hamilton, the Spaniard saw an opportunity and went for it.
    However, in this instance it was Schumacher who cut the chicane, in a desperate bid not to lose track position. Afterall, he was fighting Alonso for the championship at the time, and could not afford the loss in points.
    At no stage did Schumacher allow De La Rosa to regain the track position that Michael had attained by shortcutting the chicane. Schumacher did not even slow down, and at the end of the race, Michael kept his position, which he had attained by delibrately braking the rules.
    If Lewis Hamilton was guilty of breaking the rules on Sunday, then so was Schumacher two years ago in Budapest, yet the punishments were completely different. Thankfully, Schumacher did not benefit from this blatant ‘foul’ enough in order to win the 2006 championship, and I hope the 2008 championship is not won or lost due to this blatant injustice we have seen.
    My point really is Keith, can you research instances in the past where drivers have delibrately shortcutted chicanes and got away with it? Cheers, and keep doing what you do best mate!

  12. UKK..if you want McLarens banned from Q3, please watch A1GP. You should be happy there as all the cars are supplied by FIArrari. It’s a 1 make series, nomatter who wins, FIArrari wins. That ought to get you juices flowing, remember to wash afterwards.

  13. Keith,

    Found this on Facebook. Too good to let it get away without sharing.

    Ferrari International Assistance (FIA)

    Got a Ferrari?

    Not quite good enough at driving?

    Are other boys faster than you in the wet?

    Then you need:

    Ferrari International Assistance (FIA)

    This exclusive Ferrari only membership club has many benefits. Including:

    ● Anti overtaking assurance
    o Been overtaken? Feel a bit silly? Don’t worry, we’ll rule out the other party even if it’s embarrassingly obvious that they’re faster than you

    ● Exclusive access to a secret “second lane” in the pits
    o Just to make things a little bit easier we’ve arranged a private second lane just for you

    ● Guaranteed world championship?
    O Had a crash? Need to win the world championship? Don’t worry, just limp across the track and take off your nearest championship title contender – we’ll do the rest.

    ● A bit strapped? Need extra cash?
    o Simply get one of your team to tell someone else how you make your cars.

    ● Bits falling off your car? Looking a bit dangerous?
    O At Ferrari International Assistance we operate a “blind eye” policy just for Ferrari drivers.

    ● Been a bit silly? Taken off another driver whilst following the safety car?
    O It’s ok, as long as you didn’t hurt yourself. I mean, who are Force India anyway? And how dare they be in front of you?

    ● A bit bored? Want some extra action?
    o With FIA plus you can take part in a number of additional membership activities

    ● Not sure when you might need us next?
    o Relax. Check out our track record. We’re confident that we’ll be able to make something up on the spot that will get you out of any pickle that you might find yourself in.

    Ferrari International Assistance – Making it up as we go along for over 100 years

  14. Ronald said on 10th September 2008, 9:22

    That last one is really Funny,

    but since some of you guys/girls have been throwing taunts at each other. let me say this.

    McLaren are lucky to be in the championship this year. i think the 100 million fine they got last year was the best that could happen to them. my opinion was to get them barred for a year or two and relegate them to GP2 or something

    they had a clear line of communicaiton to the inside of the opposing team taking advantage of every single detail. even tyre pressure !!!! so if the FIA resents them, i understand and you should too.

    Dennis should pack up and go. and Hamilton should shut up and race. he’s been braging about playing the championship point by point, and yet he was greedy to pounce and make a mistake for two and now he lost 4.
    i’m sure if he had let raikko pass clear, he would have been able to pass him fare and square a couple of corners later, because it was obvious that he had him in the conditions. he should mix his incredible ability with some wisdom. he will learn eventually how to dog fight with a brain rather thatn just seem of the pants driving.

    so hamilton fans, if he’s the true prodigy you claim he is (obviously there’s something there), then he will make up for it. but this Hamilton is clearly in the wrong team, after what happened last year, McLaren will be tainted for a few more years to come.

    as for you Keith, great work on the articles!! keep it up.

  15. It doesn’t matter who you support, that was some of the best F1 action we’ve seen in years, and any minor technicality should have been put aside for the glory of the sport.
    There’s some great footage on Youtube showing clearly what happened, and it should be obvious to even the one-eyed commentators that Lewis not only lifted to alow Kimi past, he went behind the Ferrari, which meant he was clearly going slower, and the outbraked him on the wet side of the circuit. In both the chicane and the hairpin Kimi breaked incredibly early, and it is not a greedy driver that takes the place – it’s a racing driver.
    If you look at the arguments it gets even simpler. Lewis did cut out the chicane (did he jump or was he pushed…?), and did what he was penalised in France for not doing – yielding the position.
    Did he gain an advantage? A resounding no – he already had the advantage! If the track had been dry, Lewis wouldn’t have regained the position at the hairpin because Kimi would have been able to stay in front. The advantage that Lewis had was that in the circumstances, he was the faster driver.
    Sometimes when we are partisan we enjoy the benefit of “wrong” FIA (or other referees) decisions, but we should still be able to accept that it’s wrong.

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