Formula 1’s top dicks uncovered

The world of F1-writers is slowly recovering from its winter rest. In the absence of a good silly season, I more or less hibernated.

No silly season means there are less rumours, and what can you do when there are no rumours? Well, you can dive in Formula 1’s rich history. “Top 10” lists always do fine, so let do one of those.. But how to pick a nice subject??? Difficult (at least for today!) so let’s do a list on a “lesser nice” subject: the biggest dicks in (and out) of Formula 1.

To get a good start, how about a dick-looking car as main image?

Everybody has a list of people they love to hate. For example, drivers that said something negative about their colleagues, team captains making wrong decisions, sponsors dropping out last moment. Stuff you simply cannot forgive, even over time.

Below you find my personal list. Don’t worry if you feel offended by my list, you have that right (ie. to be offended) This list in no way expresses the views of TJ13. The order in which I will put this list doesn’t really rate the “dickness”, although most of us will agree with my number 1 being on the top spot.

  1. Flavio Briatore

As former Renault Formula One managing director, Flavio Briatore was banned from motor sport for life in 2009 for his part in the Singapore GP ‘crash-gate’ scandal. The world Motorsport Council mentioned events to be of “unparalleled severity”. It is cost him the position of chairman at football club Queens Park Rangers.

Crash-gate happened in 2008, when the team asked Nelson Piquet Jr’ to crash into a wall during the 2008 Singapore grand prix. This advantaged his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, who started as 15th from the grid, but took the win.

What some people don’t know is that Flavio already has some runnings in with the law before he came involved in Formula 1: He was convicted of multiple counts of fraud in the 1980s, receiving two prison sentences. To avoid imprisonment, Briatore lived in Saint Thomas (Virgin Islands) He never went to prison and only returned to the EU after both convictions were extinguished by amnesty…

amati - poseIn the beginning of the 90’s while romantically involved with Briatore, Giovanna Amati managed to get a seat at the ailing Brabham. In total she participated in 3 races. South Africa: her qualification time was nine seconds slower than pole sitter Nigel Mansell and four seconds slower than teammate Van de Poele. Mexico: she set a qualification time more than 10 seconds slower than Mansell. Brazil: her qualification was 11 seconds slower than Mansell. 3 DNQ’s is a row. Did she get a seat because of her speed, or Briatore’s questionable morals? You decide.

In 2003 Briatore began dating model (and now TV personality) Heidi Klum. After she announced pregnancy Briatore left, and abandoned the pregnant girlfriend. The kid was later adopted by singer (and new husband of Heidi) Seal.

When asked what the most important element for romance was, Briatore decidedly responded “finance”.

briatore - fat Well, at least he is a realist.

 

 

  1. Eddie Irvine

Eddie’s motorsport career spanned more than 10 years. He was active in F1 fom 1993 to 2002. One of the issues which didn’t really make him like was the fact that his daddy had a large wallet to keep him in the sport.

In his first GP at Suzuka, driving a Jordan, he got into an argument with Ayrton Senna. After which he made headlines by being punched by Senna in the Jordan motorhome. After that legendary punch, Eddie yelled “Insurance claim there!”

In 1994, Irvine had to take a one race ban after a bad incident, taking out Jos Verstappen in his maiden F1 race at Brazil’s Interlagos circuit .

When asked to do promo work and a photo shoot he was reported to have said: “Do I have to? Send out some f**ker in my helmet, they’ll never know the difference”

Things continued on when driving alongside Schumacher at Ferrari Eddie was asked why Schumacher’s helmet had an odd shape. Eddie replied: “Because he’s German, he’s got an odd shaped head.”

Irv was asked on Irish TV if he ever stopped by Damon Hill’s Dublin house for a quick visit: “Well, to be honest, you’d have to be a pretty sad bastard to need a racing driver for a mate”

In 1999 Irvine was handed the No. 1 spot at Ferrari after Schumacher broke his leg: “Ferrari didn’t hire me to win the world championship, but this is what they’ve asked for now and I’m going to try my best to deliver.”

Asked which driver he liked the most apart of Michael Schumacher: “Hmmm…mmm…well we’re all a bunch of tossers really” His opinion on Ralf Schumacher didn’t help either: “He has something missing from his head.”  or on Jacques Villeneuve: “Villeneuve only got into F1 because of his father.”

When asked about how he felt about the national anthem being played after he won a race Irvine said: “I couldn’t give a sh*t which song is played or which flag is flown. I race for myself and for no-one else.” Not to mention some controversy about using the Irish flag while in fact Eddie is Northern Irish.

Finally, on David Coulthard: “I didn’t call him a fag, I actually said he should stop being a fag and worrying about what I say.”

  1. Adrian Sutil

sutil - crashIn 2012 German driver Adrian Sutil has been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to a F1 team owner. Renault F1 executive Eric Lux suffered cuts during the drinking glass incident. The victim was left with 24 stitches in his neck.

Sutil was given an 18-month suspended sentence,  and was ordered to pay a 200,000 euro fine by a Munich court.

In the running up to the trial Sutil labelled Lewis Hamilton a ‘coward’ after Lewis declined to testify.

Yep, likeable all the way.

 

  1. Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques makes it to my list of F1 assholes for having quite a mouth. This Villeneuve is son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, but the younger went one better than his father and became F1’s first and only Canadian World Champion. Jacques made it to a single World Championship, driving the (then) unbeatable Williams having previously been beaten by his team mate Damon Hill.villenueve - weird

Jacques told everybody his frank opinion on everything which made people within the team feel uneasy. Since then he hasn’t kicked the habit with wild remarks about Verstappen “could kill someone” and fellow Canadian Lance Stroll “It is one of the worst rookie performances in the history of Formula 1.”

In another likeable interview he dissed Felipe Massa, going so far as to say it was him and not Kimi Räikkönnen who should have won the championship in 2007. Well, aside that Massa did not win the championship in 2008, but saying that someone doesn’t deserve a championship… Every F1 championships are battled hard and aren’t handed over on a silver platter (yeah, yeah, with an exception for people named Michael Schumacher).

  1. Monisha Kaltenborn

In 2014 Sauber contracted Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde for a testing role during the 2014, with the understanding the Giedo would race in 2015. Giedo brought personal sponsors to keep the cash-strapped outfit from failing. These sponsors where asked to pay up front (for 2014 AND 2015), which they did.

kaltenborn - vd garde

In preparation for the 2015, that money was gone though, and Kaltenborn had signed Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr to bring in fresh money, effectively booting van der Garde out. Obviously van der Garde didn’t like this too much. He initiated the lawsuit and a Swiss court ruled that Sauber could not deny van der Garde the right to drive.

Naturally, the Kaltenborn appealed the ruling, and their appeal was denied. Van der Garde then asked to have the ruling enforced in Australia, since the first race was coming up.

Sauber tried to argue that the cars were already set up for two other drivers (how lame), and that putting Van der Garde in this late in the season presented a safety hazard (yeah right). Furthermore, he had not been racing since November, and missed out on training in the new car. (whose fault was that?). In the meantime the Dutchman was ordered to be given access to the pitlane, where he was shunted by his own team.

Ultimately van der Garde dropped the case in a financial settlement.

Some say: the team was doing badly financially so Kaltenborn had no other choice. But treating a driver with so much disrespect… A definite no-no and a spot earned on my top 10.

  1. Max Mosley

Max is the son of Nazi supporter and fascist Oswald Mosley (political leader of the British Union of Fascists or BUF) and Diana Mitford. This kind of stuck to young Max while he battled his way through some politically coloured incidents in the early 60’s.

In the middle 60’s he found his way to racing. When he found out he would never make it to world champion, he started the famous March F1 outfit. The Formula One operation was costing more than they were making, in those early years.

Max became member to all kinds of groups to get more grip on F1’s money stream: GPCA, FOCA (was which led by Ecclestone at the time). In the 80’s Mosley was a leading figure in the FISA/FOCA war: is dispute between organisers and constructors. I wrote about that period of time before, and the conflict between Balestre (FIA) and Mosley (FOCA) was hard. It led to the first Concorde Agreement, a document which describes how FIA controls of the rules and FOCA control of commercial and television rights.

More recent versions of those Concorde Agreements are more or less pushed down the throat of team owner, either by Mosley, or more benignly by Ecclestone.

Obviously Mosley is best known for his sex scandal. The former motorsport supremo admitted his obsession with the practices saw him speaking German or with a mock German accent as he played out bizarre role-plays with five prostitutes. The women claimed that their ‘private parties’ had a Nazi or concentration camp theme.

mosley - grid girls

Recently Mosley commented that Liberty Media should have kept Ecclestone trying to sell that the sport’s new owners may find it “quite difficult” to cope without the 86-year-old.. Well no, they didn’t found it hard at all. In fact they needed to distance themselves from Ecclestone quite quickly to create a manageable situation.

Uhm.. “No thank you”.

  1. Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis was forced out of McLaren in November 2016, but he didn’t leave before going around telling people he would be back and that he would wreak revenge on the former friends and partners who had ended his reign at the company that was his life. Dennis was at McLaren for 35 years.dennis - little me

Those 35 years had seen successes, but also some deep disasters.

At the end of the 80’s Dennis paired Prost and Senna in the McLaren. A recipe for disaster. Prost was a very smart driver: “the professor”. Senna was volatile but brilliant. They drove brilliantly, but soon the pushing and shoving begun, and a period of cold war started. This reached its peak at Prost’s last GP for McLaren, in Japan 1989. Prost and Senna fought for the lead late in the race and collided, taking Prost out and led to Senna’s disqualification only to give Prost his third World Championship. Obviously 2 drivers battling it out wasn’t a real problem. However, in the leading up to the conflict Dennis broke some promises to the drivers, which made the situation worse. Prost chose to sit out the final seasons Australian GP.

In 2007, Dennis signed Alonso had wanted to drive for McLaren from a young age. Alonso joined the team alongside a novice called Lewis Hamilton. Dennis had promised Alonso priority status in the team but then reneged (once again!) on it when Hamilton – who Dennis had had under his wings since Lewis was 11 years old – drove well. That led to all kind of strange situations and a heavily frustrated Alonso.

And let’s not forget Dennis played a role in the McLaren and Ferrari “spygate”.

  1. Bernard Charles Ecclestone

Ah, Old Man Bernie. The F1 Supremo. The 3rd muppet in the balcony. Every time he opened his mouth another brainfart came out. I hated the way he controlled my sport. He has so much money, he could have easily saved a team or 2.

But what else was wrong? Well, he was kind of sexist.. On Danica Patrick he said: “Yep, she did a good job. Super. Didn’t think she was going to make it though. You know I’ve got one of those wonderful ideas … women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”

Oh wait, that one made me like him just a bit more.. Gosh, I am a male sexist pig.

But remember when he got mugged in 2010? He had about £200,000 worth of jewelry stolen. Sure, he could have left it at that: the guy has more money than Croesus, but instead he decided to make back the money which was stolen through an add for Hublot. Hublot was watch partner of Formula One at the time.

ecclestone - hublot

Money made him move, and he tried (and mostly succeeded) to rake it in by the millions.

First time he had the TV right to Formula 1, he created the organization FOPA, which distributed TV earnings. 23% of all earnings went back into FOPA. And you can already guess where FOPA earnings went.. Yep, right into the pocket of mr E.

Second time he got the rights Ecclestone and a banker by the name of Gerhard Gribowsky did a deal. Gribowsky undervalued F1 when it was sold to CVC. CVC was the preferred buyer because it would keep Ecclestone on as the CEO. Ecclestone bribed Gribowsky with USD 44 million. Gribowsky ended up in jail, Ecclestone bought his way out.

  1. Nigel Stepney

stepney - railingIn June 2007 a blonde entered a copy shop holding a stack of 800 pages. She asked the clerk to scan them to CD. Nothing special you might think.. Unless the clerk wasn’t an avid F1 fan, and the papers didn’t all bare the Ferrari logo.. The clerk had a second look at the material: schematic drawings, technical reports, pictures, and financial information.. Enough information to design a Formula One race car. The blonde’s name was Trudy Coughlan.  McLaren’s chief designer was called Mike Coughlan, the clerk knew.. And with that, controversy was born.

Ferrari filed a formal complaint, and Stepney found himself main culprit in a criminal enquiry that resulted in his dismissal from the Ferrari team and a prison sentence of 1 year 8 months and a €600 fine for his part in the spy affair. He was found guilty of “sabotage, industrial espionage, sporting fraud and attempted serious injury”. The world remember this one as “spygate”.

  1. Alain Prost

prost - nose

Yes, Prost is also know for smelling around corners.

In 1997 Prost took over the Ligier team, the only French team left on the grid. He renamed it Prost Grand Prix and made it go belly-up in 2002. Good driver, crappy manager. I just can’t forgive that he bankrupted the last French team.

Well.. If you made it this far (this article has become somewhat longer than I originally wanted): in the writing of this article I took some shortcuts, and made it look worse for some people on this list. I surely don’t want to demonize people, so take it with a pinch of salt. No smoke without fire though.

I hope you had some fun reading, as I had fun writing it. If you feel I forgot people: do send in your comments!

Advertisements

29 responses to “Formula 1’s top dicks uncovered

  1. Irvine’s father owned a scrapyard, which may have made him richer than the average person, but wouldn’t have put him into the super wealthy category. Irvine’s racing career was funded almost from the beginning by Marlboro.

      • Why facepalm?

        That’s a genuine question. On the face of it, cavallino just mentions two factoids about Edster – which may or may not be factually true, but don’t seem to be saying anything particularly controversial or inflammatory – but I might be missing some context, of course – hence my question.

        Cheers, C.

    • Cav gives feedback to other peoples horsesheet like me……some “writers” out there stick their necks above the parapet and get shot at because they make a nice profit and dont care about anybody elses opinion because at the end of the day they get the inside information and always know before most of us whats going on….and EJ might soon be called “The Prophet” for some of his early season on-air predictions that become reality!!! anyway…back to the game and a beer! #:)

      • I doubt JS makes very much at all from his blog. Factor in the costs if travel, accommodation, visas etc…

        Some peiple should be grateful for others endeavours and contributions

    • Doesnt matter….the French GP with him and Rene trading places all over the circuit will always be 1 of the greatest races ever!!!! Show that race to a child for the first time in his life and you have a Fernando Alonso, a Lewis Hamilton, a Daniel Ricciardo, a Sebastien Vettell or a Max Verstappen on your hands! Every one of those have watched that last 10 laps probably 20 times by now and even more probably already had battles that seems as strong to them as the battle between Gilles and Rene. #:)

  2. Oh … oh …. oh oh …. _very_ interesting read! 🙂

    I am not going to argue with your pick the the Flav. And I agree that it’ll be hard finding people to disagree.

    I always found Irvine an utter dickhead, but you’re actually making me like him 🙂

    Sutil: never gave much thought to him, can’t say I find your description makes him dick-worthy to me, but ok I don’t specifically like him, so fair game to you.

    Villeneuve: never liked him. Big mouth, very little to show for it.

    Monisha: hard to disagree with you there.

    Max: I like him. Sorry. And I couldn’t give a flying foohk what he does in his free time – that’s his thing, it’s a sexual fetish and I think people should be free do to whatever the F. they want as long as it’s clear it’s a fetish-thing only and does not reflect actual political/ideological sympathies. It’s actions that count, which I to a very large extent respect. Besides what he did for safety let’s not forget that he went to Roland Ratzenberger’s funeral when everyone else was crying croc tears over Senna.

    Ron: I can’t help but love to hate him and hate to love him. I love Ronspeak a _lot_ more than the man himself and was both sad and glad to see him go. I think he really had that coming.

    Bernie: Aw argh splutter I kinda like him. He’s the kind of clever troll who loves stirring the pot with a stick of dynamite. Doesn’t mean I approve of everything he said/did/says/does, and in a way I’m glad the problem with my conscience is solved by the Coupe de Liberty, but I do feel a weird kind of fondness for him.

    Stepney: no argument with you there.

    Alain: never thought about it actually. I’ve always respected him as a driver but that’s about as far as I’ve become familiar with his biography. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here on the assumption you did your homework and know what you’re talking about.

    Really … cool article and thought-provoking in the right way. Thumbsup from Berlin!

    • Hard to really blame Prost for the bankruptcy of his team. He was probably the first F1 casualty in the tobacco ad war. The French government sued the owners of Gitanes / Gauloises for health care costs from smoking and also put pressure on the company to stop motorsport sponsorship. The company gave into the government pressure, pulled their sponsorship, and as Prost couldn’t find new sponsorship, went bust.

      • Cavallino, are you aware of some more in-depth background reading on the Prost-team story? Preferably from a neutral point of view, and lighting all the angles. At the time I was in a bit of a slump viz. following off-track F1, so I didn’t catch much of it, but it seems like a story with many angles.

        He seems to do a good job at E.DAMS, in any case (but if I understood correctly he’s not owner or highest-up boss in the organization, right?)

      • Yes, actually. Despite the fact that I’m Dutch, Jos was the main reason Max had to overcome a Berlin wall of prejudices from me when he entered F1 – until I saw what he did on track, obviously (Max) … that was a clear case of “ok, I was wrong, I’ll shut up”.

    • Agree with Kolles, not a dentist I would visit as I doubt your teeth would still be in your gums after the visit

  3. Interesting article, lots of views I agree with too.

    As to Sutil and Hamilton, nobody from the media circus is reporting the truth about that nightclub incident…

      • I wonder if anyone but those directly involved really knows.

        It fascinates me how there still are these things where (even if legal statements or judgements are involved) at the end of the day nobody seems to know what actually happened.

        Alonso’s mystery crash in Barcelona testing would be another one – nobody seems to know to a satisfying degree what _really_ went on inside that car for those couple of minutes.

    • Mentioning him reminds me that on my way to the S-Bahn station I pass a driving school, “Fahrschule Astor”

      I can’t help reading an extra letter and smirking, everytime I walk past it 🙂

  4. I would rank Pastor (Crashtor) Maldonado higher than a few on the list. Fast but a stuuuuuppppiiiddd oaf when racing in close quarters.
    Surprised by The Professor being on the list. Asked John Bisigniano once who he preferred Prost or Lauda and said Prost was approachable while Lauda was a complete A–Hole.

Leave a Reply