Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008

Fake winners, DRS and the manhole cover that stopped a race

Your questions answeredPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008
Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008

Can a driver finish first without winning the race?

And did an F1 driver really stop a race by crashing into a manhole cover?

It’s time to answer another batch of F1 Fanatic readers’ questions.

‘Fake’ winners

Sounds like Racefan is planning the next big F1 controversy:

Do they now or have they ever had a rule in place involving on track timing that would allow the driver crossing the finish line first to not be the winner?

In other words, if the leader has a ten second lead and the safety car comes out, does the leader still have a ten second lead when the green flag comes out again?

Yes to the first question, no to the second one.

Yes, a driver could be given a time penalty which means that they cross the line first but don’t win – this is what happened to Lewis Hamilton at Belgium in 2008:

These days it’s unusual for us to know in advance of the chequered flag that it’s going to happen. However it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which it would be quite predictable.

It has happened in the past: in the 1990 Canadian Grand Prix Gerhard Berger crossed the finish line first but had already been given a 60-second penalty for jumping the start (this was in the days before drive-through and stop-go penalties). He was classified fourth.

Here are some other drivers who were stripped of race wins, though not all the circumstances Racefan alludes to:

Manhole cover ends race

Speaking of races at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1990, here’s a question from Stanislao Avogadro:

I have read that in the 1990 Montreal GP a manhole cover was lifted by a Group C car and nearly killed a driver, typically said to be Jesus Pareja.

Thing is, I have never seen video of this and half the information on this incident is copied from Wikipedia. Do you know if this actually happened?
Stanislao Avogadro

There seems to be a huge amount of misinformation about this on the internet so let’s clear it up.

First of all, yes, the crash did happen but no, it was not a Grand Prix. The race in question was round eight of the FIA World Sports-Prototype Championship for Group C cars.

Jesus Pareja was on his 59th lap driving a Porsche 962C entered by (and shared with) Walter Brun when he hit a fragment of a manhole cover which had been torn out of the ground by a car further ahead.

Several cars hit the debris but Pareja was especially unfortunate. His fuel tank was ruptured and the car immediately burst into flames.

Remarkably, the marshals were able to put the fire out and rescue Pareja. But his car was written off, as was a second Brun Porsche driven by Harald Huysman.

No footage of the crash appears to exist but here are some pictures of Pareja’s blazing car and the aftermath.

To say this was a lucky escape would be a gigantic understatement. Here’s a video showing what happened from around five-and-a-half minutes in, including a fragment of the solid metal cover the cars hit:

Brun threatened legal action against the race organisers afterwards. Making matters worse, another of his cars was written off during practice for the next race in Mexico.

Which way to Istanbul?

Stephen Dutton wonders how the teams will get to round four:

Does anyone know if Turkey is a flyaway race or a European race, mainly do they carry the cars by trucks to Turkey or fly them there?
Stephen Dutton

They use the trucks. Head over to McLaren’s website to find out more about how they get the cars there:

Funky charts

Tristan Cliffe has his eye on the F1 Fanatic charts:

Having read a lot of your articles via your tweets, I’m very impressed by your interactive graphs – race positions, race lap times etc…

How do you create them? I can’t believe you program the data all by hand in notepad, so you must use some generation software.
Tristan Cliffe

Thanks very much – all credit for the charts design must go to Kareem Shaya who designed them for me last year. They use a combination of CSS and Javascript.

The data is supplied by the FIA and processed by me.

Have a look at the charts in the championship points table here:

DRS danger

Sean Goodridge asks about the great bugbear of 2011 – the Drag Reduction System:

What would happen if the DRS was opened but got stuck open? Would they get penalised?

Sensibly, the rules instruct teams to design the wings to minimise that risk. Article 3.18.1 of the technical regulations says: “The design [must be] such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost closed section returning to
the normal high incidence position.”

However the system isn’t foolproof and during the Chinese Grand Prix Fernando Alonso’s rear wing was seen opening at a point on the circuit where it shouldn’t have.

This was because the control electronics were activated later than they should have been. Although the wing closed correctly when Alonso braked for the hairpin, it also briefly re-opened the wing on the way out.

He was not given a penalty, nor should he have been.

But the incident does raise the worrying possibility of the rear wing being opened in the middle of a high-speed corner – such as Eau Rouge or Istanbul’s turn eight – which could cause a serious accident.

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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo