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.
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…
In 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”.
Well, at least he is a realist.
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.”
In 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
In 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”.
- Alain Prost
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!