It's a conspiracy I tell you !!

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Today’s F1 drivers have well and truly grown up in the internet age where every move they make and every step they take is watched, reported on and discussed. It never ceases to amaze me how a certain few drivers attract literally thousands of fan hours of writing claiming one conspiracy theory after another. That being the case, I though I’d look at some of F1’s biggest conspiricies that pre-date the Internet age (or at the very least run into the pre mass fan site age). These aren’t the eventually proven ones such as Spygate or Crashgate but are the ones that people still talk about today and yet have no conclusive answers about.

I’ll start with a relatively recent one:

Eddie Irvine – World Champion?

The Facts: The year is 1999 and Ferrari look set to finally win their first title since 1979 with Michael Schumacher leading the charge. That was until the British GP when mechanical failure put Schumacher into the barrier and out for a long while with a broken leg. His team mate Eddie Irvine now lead the team. Going into the final few races Irvine was in a close race with Mika Hakkinen for the title. That was until the European GP when, with Hakkinen out of the race, the Ferrari mechanics made a total louse up of Irvine’s pit stop. Irvine eventually finished seventh In the remainder of the season, Irvine was off the pace, only took a win thanks to it being handed to him by a returning Schumacher (who by now was well out of the title race) and would eventually finish second in the championship by 2 points. Ferrari took the constructors title but had to wait another year before taking the drivers title.

The Conspiracy: On the 15th of September, three days after the Italian GP, Irvine had announced that he was leaving Ferrari to join Jaguar the following season. Obviously Ferrari didn’t want their first world champion in 20 years to take the number 1 with him to a new team. Anyway, Ferrari was built around Schumacher and it wouldn’t do that this young Irish upstart winning the world title that was supposed to be the Germans. So Ferrari did their utmost, including sabotaging Irvine’s pit stop, to prevent him from winning the title.

Verdict: While you feel that anything is possible at Ferrari, Schumacher moved over to give Irvine the win, therefore, CAT’s verdict is – Conspiracy Unlikely

Prost – With a little help from his friend

The Facts: One of the most famous team mate battles of all time ended when Prost closed the door on his team mate Senna at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix. The sight of the two McLarens, wheels interlocked, stationary just before the chicane is a famous F1 image. Prost, leapt of his car, effectively the new World Champion, Senna on the other hand was having none of it and after being push started, rejoined the race to go on to win. In doing so he kept his championship hopes alive going into the final round of the season in Australia. After the race however, the decision was handed down that Senna had been disqualified for missing the chicane. Senna appealed and Ron Dennis found himself in the interesting situation of having to defend one of his drivers against the other (Prost by now had announced he was leaving McLaren to join Ferrari for 1990). The appeal failed on Prost was awarded the world title.

The Conspiracy: The man wielding the biggest stick in F1 in 1989 was Jean Marie Balestre the Frenchman who rule F1 with an iron rod. Evidence was produced at the appeal to show that many drivers that race weekend and in the passed had used the escape road and missed the chicane without penalty however the appeal was thrown out. The French Balestre was obviously only doing this to help a French driver become world champion. Senna went on record as saying it was a conspiracy.

The verdict: Too hard to call this one however, I have a feeling that it wasn’t the fact that Senna missed the chicane so much as the fact that he failed to rejoin the track at the point at which he left it which was the rule used to hang him. Would Balestre have behaved differently if the situation didn’t involve Prost? Maybe. CATs verdict: Conspiracy Possible

Tyrrell – The thorn in F1’s side

The Facts: Being the last team in F1 to run a normally aspirated engine, Tyrell were able to take advantage of the lighter smaller car to produce some impressive results during the 1984 season. There was however, a little trick they were using that allowed the car to run underweight thanks to the rule that said all cars could be topped up with fluids before being weighed at the end of the race. This had been used by several teams in the 1982 season when water cooled brakes appeared. The water tanks fired the water in the rough direction of the brakes and were empty within a few laps allowing the car to run under weight until they were topped up at the end of the race. Tyrrell went one further however, and were using lead shot in their engine water injection supply tanks. So much lead shot in fact that the bits that escaped during the injection of the shot at the last pit stop of a race, some of spilled out and shot down the pit lane. Obviously this couldn’t go on and when the powers that be got wind of it, Tyrrell were dragged over the coals, disqualified from all of their race finishes that season and banned for the rest of the year.

The Conspiracy: There’s actually two at play here. Firstly, the FIA wanted all of the teams to run Turbo engines, it is claimed this would attract more sponsors and make F1 more marketable. Ken Tyrrell was adamant in his disapproval of Turbo engines and was avoiding at all costs having to use one. The teams were also unhappy with Tyrrell because rule changes need unanimous disapproval from the teams to be blocked from being introduced. The FIA wanted to limit the amount of fuel turbo cars could carry in order to reduce overall speeds in a race. Tyrrell with a normally aspirated engine weren’t bothered about this at all but the big teams with their big and thirsty turbo engines were. Hence when little Tyrrell were thrown out there was much rejoicing all round.

The Verdict: After coming through several years of upheaval in F1, the political aspects of the sport had really taken hold. CAT’s verdict: Conspiracy most likely.

There are a few to begin with.

I know there are more out there so which ones are your favourites ??
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
It's true you know, there are plots afoot everywhere you look all you have to do is look for a pattern and join the dots to suit your particular beliefs...

Man really didn't land on the moon by the way...
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
2007. Spygate.

Were they quite a few more people at McLaren aware from the start of the "exchanges" of technical data than we have been told, including the man at the top?... 8-)
After all, when Alonso and De La Rosa insisted the team should try such a device and such a technique, wasn't there anyone there who asked "Why?"...
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
I thought Senna's disqualification was completely justified, although not just for the reason used. He received a push start from the marshals, while regulations stipulated that all starts must be made via the self starter. Therefore, IMHO, it was the right decision but for the wrong quoted reason.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Tyrrell getting thrown out was a shameful episode and being the only team with a non turbo with no fuel limit would have benefited them enormously

It set Ken's team and they never achieved the glory years of the 70's
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
siffert_fan The thing I never really undestood about the whole thing in terms of people's views on the incident down the years, is the fact that regardless of opinions on the actual incident, one rather important detail seems to have been completely forgotten about.

i.e even if Senna hadn't been disqualified, he still would have lost the championship anyway.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I agree with you siffert_fan. The only thing I would ask though is when did the clause about cars being in an unsafe place being allowed to be push started come in? That has happened several times to my knowledge.

Incubus I didn't include spygate as while it was going on it was a conspiracy but the truth outed and everything came out in the press or at the hearings.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Ferrari not helping Irvine was blatant conspiracy
- Things did not go to plan first race when Irvine won and Schumacher was only 5th. Suddenly Eddie feels great being on top of the world but the message from Todt and Brawn were not encouraging ... it was more of the lines " Ok Eddie you 've had your moment of glory but know your place in the team"

There were some strange calls by the Ferrari team against Irvine such as

Brazil - a mysterious pit stop to remove debris from his side pods
France - clearly M Schumacher was struggling with a problem but Irvine was not allowed to pass which in turn allowed R Schumacher to pass both and therefore costing Eddie at least 2 pts

Italy - with Hakkinen out of the race , stand in driver Salo was 3rd and Irvine 6th - no call was made for pull Salo in and fall behind Irvine which would have given him a 1pt lead over Hakkinen

At this point Schumacher had stated he was not coming back before the season

Then came the awful pit stop at Nurburgring where the pit crew forgot where the tyre was and the infamous return of Schumacher who was playing football in the garden when Luca rang his house and his daughter answered

-------------------------

Having said that some will point to Salo giving away a potential win to help Irvine and accused of blocking R Schumacher in Spa despite being a lap down

Both Lauda and Scheckter said Eddie Irvine simply was not good enough to be world champion
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
So at Monza. In Italy. In front of the tiffosi. You wanted Ferrari to order one of their drivers to slow down or pit, costing Ferrari a certain podium, in order for Irvine to gain one point and costing Ferrari 2 points in the constructors championship?

Hmmm.

I think thats what we call conspiracy with after thought.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
C_A_T

I recall several instances of that as well. However, I also seem to recall more than one occasion when the driver that benefited from the push was called into the pits (or just came in to change flat-spotted tires) and was made to shut off the engine and restart using the starter, a process I always felt was eminently fair.
 
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Olivier

Race Winner
Somewhere I read that in 1984 before the last race of the season, someone at McLaren opened a box with "Prost 1984 champion" posters for Lauda to see. Coincidence?
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I hate to bring this up but in 2007 McLaren kept Lewis out on tyres which a blind man could see where worn out in China and then there was a mysterious gearbox problem in Brazil which handed the title to Raikkonen in the same season as McLaren were handed a $100 million fine for using Ferrari technical data. How odd a McLaren driver wasn't able to win the title...
 
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