10 most controversial fines and punishments by the FIA in F1 history
F1 is a sport where teams and drivers go to extreme lengths to gain an advantage over their competition. With every constructor in charge of developing their car according to the set 'Formula' stated by the FIA, it is more often than not the teams and drivers end up on the wrong side of the rulebook. Technical infringements of the rules, poor racing etiquette on the track and influencing results on track via means other than racing have not been unheard of in the sport.
Such behavior is often met with stern reprimands from the FIA, which acts as the governing body of the highest echelon in motorsports. There have been several instances in the history of F1 where the committed crime is deemed so heinous that sponsors are forced to pull out of commitments with the teams and the sport.
Such events also attract record-breaking penalties from the FIA, which go on to set a precedent in the sport. After all, with F1's global presence, the conservation of the sport's image also lies in the hands of the governing body.
10 most controversial fines and punishments handed out by the FIA in F1
The history of F1 has seen significant events where a team's or driver's desire to win overcomes rational thinking, leading to controversial behavior, often followed up with suitable punishment. In a sport as high a stakes as motorsport, success is more often than not found by those willing to push the limits.
The following are the 10 most controversial fines and punishments handed out by the FIA in F1:
#10 Schumacher's delibrate contact with the barriers at Monaco
Often referred to as the greatest driver in the history of F1, Michael Schumacher liked to flirt with the rules regularly. One instance of the German's clever tactics came at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.
Schumacher failed to challenge for pole position over the weekend, due to which he hit the barriers at the circuit's Rasscasse corner, bringing out the yellow flags. This resulted in all the drivers behind the Ferrari being forced to abandon their laps. After being proven guilty, the FIA dropped Schumacher to the back of the grid.
#9 James Hunt's disqualification
The 1976 season has been showcased as one of the closest and most intense title fights ever to have taken place in the sport. The season, which was deemed good enough for a Hollywood movie, saw James Hunt retire twice out of the opening three races of the year, with Niki Lauda cementing his lead over the Britton.
Hunt bounced back into contention with a win at Jarama, which he was later disqualified from due to technical infringements on his McLaren. However, two months later, the win was reinstated by the FIA.
#8 Tyrell's disqualification from the championship
One of the most serious punishments ever handed out by the FIA came in the form of Tyrell, a constructor in the sport's disqualification from hr championship in 1984.
The team was found to have multiple technical infringements in the form of illegal fuel, fuel lines and ballast in their car. This led to them being excluded from the season with three races to go.
#7 BAR's 2-race ban
British American Racing, better known as BAR, was also one of the teams that managed to step on the wrong side of the FIA's rulebook. The team received a 2-race ban from the governing body in 2005 after an inspection revealed a second fuel tank in the car.
The tank was used to add extra weight to the car, which would drop once the fuel was used up in the race, giving them an unfair advantage in terms of the overall weight of their car.
#6 Ferrari team orders
"Felipe, Fernando is faster than you. Do you understand?” - were the words that Massa heard while letting his teammate through. However, a penalty was incoming for the prancing horse soon after, as blatant team orders were banned in the sport at the time. Ferrari ended up paying a fine of $100,000. The team-order rule was overturned soon thereafter.
#5 Mercedes and Pirelli's repriman in 2013
After the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, F1 team Mercedes and the official tire supplier of the sport, Pirelli, was seen at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya well after the event was over. This raised suspicions in the paddock regarding the two organizations' probable exchange of information.
It was later discovered that Pirelli and Mercedes conducted tire tests for the 2014 specification tires at the track, with no exchange of data whatsoever. Mercedes were banned from the Silverstone Young Driver Test, whereas Pirelli's punishment is anyone's guess.
#4 Senna disqualified at Suzuka
In one of the most famous scenes in F1 to date, the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix saw Ayrton Senna drive into his teammate Alain Prost on the last chicane of the race. The incident, which solidified Senna's chances of winning the championship through Prost's retirement him continuing to win the race after a bump-start from the marshals, was later seen as illegal by the FIA.
On the grounds of not re-joining the track where he left off, Senna was disqualified from the championship, thus handing it to the Frenchman. This decision saw major backlash against the FIA president, who was also a French native.
#3 Renault's Crashgate
Seldom has the FIA banned an individual from the sport for the rest of his lifetime. Flavio Briatore, however, has been one of the few who has managed to receive such a reprimand from the FIA.
The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix saw the Renault F1 team orchestrate a crash from teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. which ultimately helped Fernando Alonso win the race. Investigations later found out the allegations were true after Piquet Jr. pleaded guilty to his deliberate crash. This led to team principal Flavio Briatore being banned from the sport for a lifetime, a decision which the parties later appealed.
The appeal process saw the punishment overturned. As if the FIA could not make up their minds, a third appeal against the decision was filed, ultimately leading to Briatore's exclusion from the 2008 F1 season.
#2 Michael Schumacher vs Jacques Villeneuve
Another appearance by Michael Schumacher and his 'win at all costs' mentality, which earned him seven championships, came in the form of the title decider of the 1997 season.
The 1997 European Grand Prix saw the German driver try and ram into the side of Jacques Villeneuve's Williams as the latter tried to overtake Schumacher's Ferrari. The result was a stern punishment from the FIA by removing him from the championship standings. Many believed a seasonal ban should have been enforced.
McLaren, in 2007 was accused of a scandal so big that it not only bought the British team to its knees but also involved the sport's premier teams and its reputation as a whole. During the 2007 season, McLaren were accused of stealing confidential data from Ferrari.
After being proven guilty due to multiple investigations, McLaren's punishment came in the form of an exclusion from the championship, along with a £50 million fine. The resulting loss of points meant the team lost all the prize money that year. Drivers for McLaren's F1 team at the time, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso's pit lane blocking did not help matters for the constructor in 2007 either.