It’s 1986 all over again.

A few minutes before yesterday's race in the Brazil began, I had a bad feeling about how the Formula one world championship would end. I know my F1 history (Recently I correctly dated each car in a display of F1 cars from the 1980s and 90s:  to the shock of some colleagues who were with me, and the chap who was showing us the cars). When ITVs commentator said this was the first time since 1986 that 3 drivers had a chance at the last race, I knew that was the year that Englishman Nigel Mansel went to the last race of the season expected to come home as champion. Over the season his team had insisted they were being fair to him and his team mate - Nelson Piquet, who had been champion twice before and expected number one status. (Some also suspected that Honda who were backing the team wanted Piquet.) Would Piquet snatch it ? In the end a failure on Mansel's car put him out of contention, Piquet couldn't do enough to take the title and Alain Prost came through and won.

Change the names and 2007 was the year Englishman Lewis Hamilton went to the last race of the season expected to come home as Champion. Over the Season his team had insisted they were being fair to him and his team mate -Fernando Alonso, who had been champion twice before and expected number one status. (would McLaren sponsor Banco Santander be happier seeing a Spaniard win ?) Would Alonso snatch it ? In the end a failure on Hamilton's car put him out of contention, Alonso couldn't do enough to take the title and Raikkonen came through and won.

With [a] England's football team looking like they won't make it to the next European finals and [b] the Rugby team proving that whilst you can beat a better team, but not if you give them more chances to kick penalties than they give you (ignoring officials who take very strange views) it made up a very nasty hat-trick, as a couple of this morning's papers have pointed out.

Since I mention officials, there is a ghost of chance that cars ahead of Hamilton will be disqualified - since both Williams and BMW had chilled their fuel to an illegal degree. Of course that would require the FIA to do something which worked against Ferrari. Since they didn't take points away when Ferrari were found to have run an illegal car in he first race the chances of that happening is infinitesimal. Indeed whilst I can name every world champion back to 1968 from memory, I can't recall the FIA ever punishing Ferrari, please post a comment if you can.  Pete at sent me a link to his Ferrari parody T-shirt after my last post about the organization lots of people think of as "Ferrari International Assistance". Looks like I might end up buying one.


Comments (13)
  1. James ONeill says:

    Rob, Left the virgin book of F1 records out to check Mansell really was in front at the Australian GP in 86. This morning my daughter (7) was looking through it for names of drivers she knew. "There’s Nico Rosberg" she said… "No, that was his Dad".

    "Wasn’t Nakajima the one who ran over his Mechanics" … Looked at the book "Yes, but *that one* was *his* dad"

    she may be going the same way …

  2. James ONeill says:


    The car had a flexible floor, which was Ferrari were banned from using subsequently, because moving and flexing aerodynamic devices are a no-no.

    I think Ferrari (and others) have a get out in this situation because if no-one has ruled it illegal, AND the stewards rule it is OK then it can be raced. If Ferrari weren’t told they had to fit a legal floor before the race it wouldn’t be fair to DQ them afterwards for something the stewards had said was OK.

    I’m far from being the only who thinks that F1 seems to be run with one set of rules for Ferrari and another for everyone else. And for me that goes all the way back to Lauda Vs Hunt in 1976.

    However the circumstances around the illegal floor Ferrari used in Australia mean that any team in the same position should have been allowed to keep the points.

    What of the Williams and BMW fuel in Brazil though ?  You see once you have the appearance that rule 1 is that any judgement should be arranged to help Ferrari, the question in a lot of minds will be was that what guided the judgement ?

    Roberto’s incident is 25 years old. Can anyone remember Ferrari getting punished for anything in the last quarter century ?

  3. James ONeill says:

    Hey Roberto, your written English is better than some people who speak it as a first language ! Thanks for contributing.

    McLaren did lose all their points from the 2007 championship, otherwise they would have been constructors champions.

    My "F1 record file" published by Virgin only goes up to the end of 1999, and says the last Ferrari driver to be disqualified was Nigel Mansell in 1989. And Schumacher had his second place in the 1997 championship taken away for trying to push Villeneuve off at the end of

    the season.

  4. James ONeill says:

    Roberto, it didn’t affect their championship did it ?

    Max Mosley was keen to point out that the $100M McLaren fine on was less than the difference between their budget (or Ferrari’s) and team like Williams’ so what’s half a million split 3 ways.

    Is that the worst that Ferrari have had in 25 years ?

  5. James ONeill says:

    Christian Fittipaldi was Emmo’s nephew as well. But Andretti’s grandson ? I feel old. Really old.

    I remember the day Andretti became champion. The only person who could have overhauled him was Ronnie Peterson, and Ronnie died (the details are on Wikipedia. No-one thought Ronnie that badly Hurt). My model of the 6 wheel Tyrell had Ronnie’s name on it,and for some reason the Dinky Model of the Lotus 72 came with stickers for Fittipaldi or Peterson and I chose Peterson.

    I remember the all conquering lotus of 78 – I saw Gunnar Nilson showing it on TV (though I don’t think he raced *that* car before he died)Mario’s championship, and Ronnie’s death intertwined.

    After some of the great things I’ve seen in F1 (Mansell being in a lot of them) it’s amazing how many of the key memories are linked to deaths.

    I can remember Jackie Stewart on the Radio in my parents Kitchen saying he was retiring, because his team mate had been killed.

    I can remember being Hysterical when it seemed Lauda was going to die. The rest of that season is a blur … I was at the Benson & Hedges cup final (Kent Vs Glos) the day of the British GP and I remember the cheer when they announced Hunt had won, and I remember the rows, and the Japanese GP where Hunt clinched the championship.

    All I recall of 77 is that Tom Pryce hit a Marshall carrying a fire extinguisher in South Africa and was killed.

    And I was in France when Patrick Depailler died in a testing accident in 1980, I remember "Depailler est mort" on news-stands.

    I lived a couple of miles from the Williams factory when it was in Didcot, and May 1994 won’t leave me either.

  6. James ONeill says:

    Rob, you must have sat down an learned that 🙂 I’ve picked it up by Osmosis.

  7. Jimbo says:

    "Since they didn’t take points away when Ferrari were found to have run an illegal car in the first race the chances of that happening is infinitesimal."

    You make that statement as if it were fact.  But even Ron Dennis tempered his statement with "as far as we are aware".

    Has it been proven that Ferrari ran an illegal car in the first race?

  8. Roberto says:

    The first one I can remember is in

    1982 at Long Beach, the driver was Gilles Villeneuve  and he was disqualified: his car had a rear asymmetric double wing

  9. Rob says:


    If I remember correctly (had to double check via google) Ferrari were disqualified in Malaysia 1999 for some dodgy aerodynamics… but i think they were reinstated. So no ferrari probably haven’t been punished for a long time.

    PS James, I am younger than you and I can recall the F1 champ back to the first champion in 1950, when cars were proper cars, not computers. Those were the good old days.

  10. Roberto says:

    Ok less then 25 years ago … I have to search, my memory is not as good as your:

  11. Rob says:

    Hell yeah I learnt that. Every christmas my relatives would buy me books such "The History of Forumla 1", "Formula 1 in the 80’s (the turbo era)" etc etc. I can enthuse about motor racing for hours, how/why I retained all that useless information, I don’t know. I just wish I could pick up and retain techie information as easily… that would be where you come in.


  12. Rob says:

    Crikey I’ve just had a thought, not only are Rosberg Jr and Nakajima Jr currently racing in F1, but Ayrton Senna’s nephew is coming up throught the ranks, Nelson Piquet’s son is Renault’s test driver, Mario Andretti’s grandson is racing has tested an F1 car, Niki Lauda’s son is driving in DTM and Mansell’s sons are in F3.

    Wow, in a couple of years time half the F1 grid could be full of sons of former f1 drivers!!

  13. Roberto says:

    You’re right, that fine didn’t affect Ferrari’s championship in 2002 and you may agree that even a $100M fine do not affect McLaren’s 2007 championship.

    I’m simply bringing to your attention that there was times when Ferrari was punished by FIA.

    Of course I’m not trying to "win" this discussion, it’s even too difficult for me to write in "english" … every time I write I cross my fingers and hope that someone who really write in english don’t laugh at me too loud 🙂

    So that’s it for me, I’m sure I couldn’t add more.

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