F1 Top 10 scandals

What is F1's biggest scandal

  • Prost/Senna clashes at Suzuka

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • Crashgate

    Votes: 8 42.1%
  • Liegate

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Spygate

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Mercedes and Pirelli "illegal" testing

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Max Mosley's private life

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Schumacher title decider clashes with Hill and Villeneuve

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bernie and The German Banker

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • BAR 2nd storage tank and banned

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Benetton and launch control

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Tyrell disqualified in 1984

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Michelin's expanding grooves

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Lauda's Ferrari walkout

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Water Bottle Row of 1982

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Depaillier killed in testing 1980

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Patrese Kangaroo Court

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Hunt DQ 1976

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 6 car race Indy Farce 2005

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • Others

    Votes: 5 26.3%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


World Champion

I remember when reading a magazine about Grand Prix history from 1950 to then 1995 as it were there was an article of the Top 10 scandals in F1

At the time they listed the following were back then

The Water Bottle Row -
where during the beginning of the FISA/ FOCA war it was the British teams using Ford Engines with superior chassis against Ferrari/ Renault and Alfa Romeo who wanted to promote turbos. During 1982 both Piquet and Rosberg disqualified after running their cars underweight following a protest from Renault. The weight was measured at the end of the race but terms were deliberately using a water bottle to release water to cool the brakes and top up at the end . This lead to the British teams to boycott Imola 1982 as they needed to redesign their cars except Tyrell who participated due to pressure from sponsors

- The Shadow/ Arrows copyright design

Members of the Shadow team left to form Arrows and their new car was unveiled and looked like the Shadow back in the 1970's Arrows were sued for intellectual copyrights and the team were forced to redesign the car

-Tyrell disqualifed from a whole season 1984 for running illegal fuel to manipulate the weight. Later results showed the fuel sample was within the regulations for a non turbo but the team 's original verdict was upheld. Some saw it as a sinister ploy to gain unanimous verdict for promoting turbos for 1986 as it required all teams to do so and since Tyrell had no right then this made it easier

- Streiff's accident in Rio 1989 - the failure of the medical team to give him adequate aid as he began to feel lose feelings in his hands and is paralysed to this day

- Patrese Kangaroo court
in the aftermath of Peterson's death at Monza there were those who blamed Patrese as the cause as previous history about his wayward driving caused concern including James Hunt. This lead to some voicing not wanting to race next race if Patrese was allowed to compete. The FIA had a kangaroo court set up to ban Patrese from the next race. Obviously later replays showed Patrese was not involved in the accident - a huge embarassment to everyone

- The supposedly dud March in 1970's

- a wealthy person bought him a March chassis to complete in F1 but failed to qualify for the grand prix. Thinking he was sold a dud he went to prosecute the March owners for selling faulty product. It was a more a reflection of his own ability as the March owners had Ronnie Peterson demonstrate this by lapping two seconds faster in the same car at a test. This wealthy guy decided to retire after being upstaged and proven wrong

- Lauda's treatment at Ferrari 1977

Never forgiven the way Niki surrendered the drivers title in 1976. Ferrari had made Reutemann No 1 by allowing him access to new parts first during testing despite Lauda being the best driver then and leading the championship. Niki fighting against the forces against him proved to be superior driver through greater consistency and securing the title but walked out of the team once Ferrari wanted to test Villeneuve in a 3rd car having grown tired of the politics. HIs race engineer was shamefully treated by Ferrari for helping Niki secure the title

- James Hunt restart at British Grand Prix 1976

Hunt's car was damaged after Regazzoni and Lauda tangled. Hunt restarted in the spare car and won the race but a protest came from Ferrari about him starting in a spare despite Regazzoni always doing so but he had retired . The result was overturned under appeal and Hunt was disqualified

- Depailler's killed in testing in 1980

his car vaulted over a barrier killing him in the process testing at Hockenheim. What was scandalous was the catch fencing was not rolled out the time before he took the testing

Then No 1 at the time

Prost / Senna clash Suzuka 89/90

Need I say more

I did mention Streiff accident because poor medical aid and Depailler because the catch fencing was not rolled out where he hit the barrier and got killed even though they were right next to armco
Any driver injured due to avoidable negligence or poor design.

I agree.

As an example, Jo Siffert died as Brands Hatch from asphyxiation. His BRM was inverted and caught fire after a crash in which he sustained only broken legs, yet the marshals were so poorly equipped and/or trained, that they couldn't suppress the fire long enough to extract him. Unfortunately, that type of thing was an all-too-common occurrance during the 60s and 70s.
I tend to think of a scandal as a deliberate act, and because of that I don't really think accidents caused through negligence are necessarily scandals, and hindsight plays a part on how we perceive them. I put crash-gate purely on the basis of what could have happened. Someone, and not necessarily Piquet Jr, could have been seriously injured or killed as a result of that deliberate crash and it was an incredibly stupid thing to actually plan in advance. Clever though!

Fair enough.

Accepting that as a guideline, I would consider it a 3-way tie (how's that for a cop-out) between Piquet Jr's crash, the Prost/Senna (partly because that served as the inspiration for Schumacher's transgressions at a later date) and Indy 2005 which could have easily been averted as new tyres could have been flown in, but Max and Bernie wouldn't allow it (though I doubt that would have been the case had the problem arisen at, say, Monaco or virtually any other track IMHO).


Schumacher at Monaco 2006

Benetton in 1994, ignoring the black flag and the fuel filter

Jerez 1997

Michelin tyre saga at Hungary 2003


The Driver's strike at Kyalami

Senna/Prost at Suzuka 89/90

Zolder 1981
As with crashgate, the ramifications of a draconian punishment for Senna would have sent shock waves through the F1 world. You can be sure that the previous years events played a part in the leniency of 1990 as well.

Reflecting back quickly, was there ever more of a mountain made from a molehill than the saga known as "lie-gate"?

The shear underhand nature of it all to willfully manipulate a race was an all time low for F1 Nelson Piquet jnr, Flavio Briatore, and Pat Symonds, shame on you for what you did.
I think it's hard to truly define what a scandal is in the context of this thread because it seems to me that the bulk of the choices above, are actually acts of at best, rule bending and at worst willful acts of cheating. If you take Crashgate as an example, the only people who may see that as a scandal are the people directly connected to the team and the sponsors. For the rest of F1 it was a deliberate and shocking act of cheating. It would only become a scandal in my opinion if, for the sake argument, the governing body had found out that a a driver involved with the team knew why he'd been ridiculously short fueled when in the normal scheme of things it would make no sense, and yet agreed to cover up this fact and keep quiet about it, in exchange for private testimony against a team principle. I mean, that would be a scandal.

I believe you have to include the lack of safety in F1 as a scandal. Deaths such as Jo Siffert and Roger Williamson should never have happened. Stories are plenty of tracks paying lip service to safety regulations by planting crash barriers in sand or drivers having to take up spanners and go and mend parts of broken crash fencing are heard throughout the late 60's and early 70's. Even Bernie Ecclestone who introduced Sid Watkins into the sport in the late 70's can't be totally blameless on this. His Brabham team were testing at Paul Ricard when Elio De Angelis crashed and, like Siffert and Williamson, was alive and almost un-hurt but trapped in a burning car. This was 13 years after Williamson's death and yet at the test there were no where near enough martial's, no medical facilities on site and it took over 30 minutes for a helicopter to arrive and take De Angelis to hospital. That to my mind is a real scandal where an organisation knows that something is wrong and yet does nothing about it.
Crashgate is far worse than Senna/Prost at Suzuka and Schumacher v Hill/Villeneuve. In the earlier incidents it was a decision made by the driver when the championship was on the line. The win at all costs attitude is one that those drivers were famous for. Shocking yes but not much of a scandal even though there was huge media outcry at the time.

With crashgate it was a deliberate tactic conjoured up by senior team management. Has there ever been a more deliberate and pre-planned effort to pervert the result of a race?
Well said cider_and_toast. Deaths that should have been prevented surely have to qualify as the greatest possible scandals in motorsport.
I read quite a bit about De Angelis's accident. It's difficult to know how exactly the crash hapened since there is no actual footage of the accident but what is certain is that three drivers were present at the scene: Mansell, Prost and Alan Jones, who gave a damning account of the "facilities" in place at the Paul-Ricard that day. The three drivers tried in vain to overturn the car and get Elio out but were repelled by the intense heat generated by the fire. They couldn't believe they had to wat for what must have felt like an eternity for anyone to arrive on the scene and when security services arrived they were carrying poxy extinguishers not much bigger than the pocket-sized ones onboard their own cockpits'.
Jones wrote of his disgust at the way a human life can "be tossed away" like that....
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