TFTV – Australia Controversies

Features Tales from the vault

The 2018 season begins this weekend in Melbourne. In this edition, we are going to look back at three memorable Australian Grand Prix’s, a title decider, a debut win for a team and the beginning of a remarkable fight… but all proved to have controversial.

1994 Adelaide – Crash gives Schumacher first title

The final race of the season was the title decider held in Adelaide between Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill. Hill’s teammate Nigel Mansell took pole, from Schumacher and Hill.

The Benetton took the lead of the race at the start from Mansell followed by Hill, who moved into second place. That would give Hill the title, until on lap thirty-six the Englishman catch the German when Schumacher went wide at East Terrace and hit the wall.

Schumacher failed to cease the lead going into turn five when Hill mounted a move. The crashed into each other tipping the German up against the wall and giving the lead of the race to Hill. If Hill did not sustain damage and finished the race he would have become champion.

The stewards decided the incident was no more than a racing accident and no action was taken. While Hill’s Williams team claimed they “Were already 100% certain that Michael was guilty of foul play.”

2009 Melbourne – Brawn take debut win on debut

Jenson Button took his first win for Brawn on the team’s debut with a dominating victory over teammate Rubens Barrichello. Brawn became the first team to win on their debut since Mercedes at the 1954 French Grand Prix.

It was a fairytale story, Brawn didn’t have a grid spot a month earlier and put a car together following the withdrawal of Honda in 2008. Brawn went on to win six out of seven races in the next four months like the Mercedes team now it was about getting results early on.

However, that race remains controversial as Lewis Hamilton past Jarno Trulli under the safety car after he went wide. But the McLaren manager Dave Ryan instructed Hamilton to ‘lie to the stewards’ about the Trulli incident.

Well, that was OK, until a video emerged where Hamilton gave another account to the media as well as radio communication between Hamilton and the team.

A week later, at the Malaysian Grand Prix Hamilton was disqualified for misleading the stewards.

2014 Melbourne – Mercedes win as Red Bull falters  

The 2014 race was the beginning of the hybrid era, where Mercedes were dominating the race from the start. Nico Rosberg took victory after dominating the race after his teammate Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from the race.

Mercedes led by half a second over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who finished second. However, the Australian was disqualified from the race for a fuel irregularity. Red Bull argued that the teams own fuel measurement was correct.

The team appealed the decision to the court, as the team argued that the fuel flow sensor at the heart of the case was “unreliable”, “inconsistent” and “immature technology”. Saying that the teams own calculations were within the rules.

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