From Lewis Hamilton v Sebastian Vettel to Ayrton Senna v Alain Prost: Seven on-track controversies in Formula One history

Sport360 staff 08:57 26/06/2017
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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were involved in an astonishing row at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday.

The drivers collided on lap 19, as Vettel ran into the back of Hamilton’s car, later accusing the Briton of brake-testing him while the Safety Car led the cars around the circuit.

But Vettel’s reaction was the greater controversy, as he inexplicably drove into the side of his rival’s car, leading Hamilton to say the German “disgraced himself”.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at on-track controversies from Formula One’s past.


Ayrton Senna complained that pole position was wrongly situated on the track and demanded to be moved into the racing line. When his request was rejected and he was overtaken by title rival Alain Prost at the start, Senna took out the Frenchman on the first corner to secure the world championship.


Michael Schumacher’s  Benetton had suffered irreparable damage by the time it was involved in a collision with Damon Hill’s Williams in the season-ending Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1994. The crash forced the British driver out of the race and ensured Schumacher secured his first F1 drivers’ title. Schumacher maintained it was a racing incident. Three years later Schumacher collided with another rival, Jacques Villeneuve, in a final-race shoot-out at the European Grand Prix in Jerez. However, the Canadian, who had been attempting to overtake Schumacher when the collision occurred, finished third to take the title while the German, whose second place in the championship was later stripped from him, was forced to retire from the race.


Schumacher, acting under team orders, passed Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who clearly slowed down in order to allow the German to win the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix and claim maximum points in the drivers’ championship. The German was jeered by the crowd, even when he attempted to allow Barrichello to stand on the top step of the podium at the post-race celebrations.


Nelson Piquet Jr revealed he had been ordered to deliberately crash during the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix to create the perfect environment for his then Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to win the race. Team managing director Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Pat Symonds both left the team in the wake of the revelations. Briatore was given an indefinite ban from F1 by world governing body the FIA, with Symonds suspended for five years. Both later had their suspensions quashed in a French court, and Symonds recently worked for Williams.


Ferrari were fined £65,000 by race stewards at the 2010 German Grand Prix after being accused of implementing a team order. Following coded messages over the team radio, Felipe Massa eventually ceded a potential victory to team-mate Fernando Alonso, a move that sparked outrage at the time. Ferrari were deemed in breach of article 39.1 of the FIA 2010 sporting regulations that states ‘team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited’. In December 2010 the article was deleted from the FIA’s statutes.


Sebastian Vettel apologised after blatantly disregarding Red Bull team orders to claim a controversial 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix victory. Mark Webber held sway over team-mate Vettel following the fourth and final pit stop and at that point the call went out to the duo to hold station to the chequered flag. Vettel, however, had other ideas and instead went wheel to wheel with Webber for more than a lap, even ignoring a call from frustrated team principal Christian Horner who said: ”This is silly Seb. Come on!” Despite that warning, 25-year-old world champion Vettel bulldozed his way past Webber to triumph for the 27th time in his F1 career.


Hamilton moved within 11 points of title leader Nico Rosberg after their last-lap collision in the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. The German appeared on course to extend his championship lead but crashed into Hamilton as the Briton attempted to pass his Mercedes team-mate around the outside of turn two. Rosberg limped home in fourth and was subsequently handed a 10-second retrospective penalty for the crash – the third time in five races the pair collided. Team boss Toto Wolff called the coming together ”brainless”.

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