The James Hunt-Nikki Lauda rivalry of 1976 is the stuff of legend, but this British Grand Prix that year was a best a farce, and at worst, a near-riot.
The race was al set to be a showcase of the Brit’s title challenge, but Lauda had other ideas by sneaking pole position. At the start, his Ferrari teammate Clay Reggazoni jumped from fourth to challenge the Austrian for the lead, but they touched, and chaos ensued.
Hunt was caught up in the melee and took to an escape road to get back to the pits. As this was against the rules at the time – a car had to complete a full lap of the circuit to make any restart – Hunt was excluded. The fans became restless.
As the team’s started to prepare for the restart, the partisan Bristish crowd became restless, chanting Hunt’s name and demanding he compete. The stewards, fearing an incident, let him, and the foppy-haired playboy duly won in front of his supporters.
It wasn’t to last. Protests came in immediately and a few months later the result was rescinded, gifting the he win to a grateful Lauda.
Rubens Barrichello can be seen holding the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix trophy in a number of photos from the time but he didn’t actually win on the day.
Having led for the entire race, Barrichello was controversially asked to just let fellow team-mate Michael Schumacher win so that he could gain a greater points advantage in the 2002 Drivers Championship.
The Austrian fans were so outraged that the boos and hisses refused to cease until Barrichello jumped onto the winner’s podium and took the trophy for himself. Ferrari were fined for breaking podium protocol and the event prompted the banning of team orders.
Ayrton Senna was not someone who liked losing or injustices (mainly losing though). After failing to convince the FIA that there was a major disadvantage to being in pole position at the Japanese GP in 1990, he took the law into his own hands and crashed straight in rival Alain Prost as he passed him from 2nd place before the first bend.
Prost would of course go on to experience many better days in an F1 car but regardless of the pole position debate Senna had used the crash to once again secure the F1 World Championship title.
Everything was going quite rosy for McLaren in early 2007. Not only did they have a car that was challenging for the title, but they were also able to give reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso the opportunity to take a third straight title. The only fly in the ointment was a certain rookie named Lewis Hamilton.
The youngster’s performances drove a wedge between Alonso and Team Principle Ron Dennis, so much so that by two-thirds of the season they hit rock bottom. McLaren were implicated in a spying scandal after being caught with photocopies of Ferrari designs, and Alonso threatened to reveal confidential email exchanges in an argument with Dennis during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
McLaren were found guilty, stripped of their points for 2007 and fined a massive €100m. Fernando returned to Renault for 2008.
Outrage, scandal, fines, bans, court hearings and F1 in turmoil; this case had it all.
It’s 28th September 2008 and the Renault F1 team, under controversial team principle Flavio Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds, tell Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash to allow teammate Fernando Alonso to catch up with the rest of the field while the safety car is out.
Alonso won the race, but Briatore was chucked out of F1 all together and Symonds was given a 5 year ban. While both of their sentences were eventually overruled, in drawn out court battles, only Sumonds has returned to F1.
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