‘New theory’ emerges for Schumacher cheating

An interesting article, and likely a sponsored one for the new book, but worth a look for

TJ13 readers interested in the 1994 season and Schumacher’s’ traction control allegations,

potentially the reason Senna died.

 

MSN.com have recently published a piece written by Brett Graham, taking quotes from the recently published book 1994: The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial Season.

In it, the book describes this ‘new theory’ which actually is one of several excuses or possible reasons (depending on which side of the line you sit) several individuals touted back in the day. Still, the story makes for interesting reading.

TJ13 has copied the article for the benefit of the F1 online community below.

Enjoy.

New theory emerges for Schumacher cheating scandal

New light has been shed on one of the greatest controversies in Formula One history – whether or not Michael Schumacher cheated his way to his first world championship in 1994.

Ayrton Senna famously went to his grave believing Schumacher’s Benetton team was using traction control to minimise wheel-spin under hard acceleration, which had been outlawed from the start of the 1994 season.

Senna was killed after crashing during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, with some believing he pushed his Williams beyond the limit in a desperate attempt to stay ahead of the illegal car of Schumacher.

Senna had retired on the opening lap of the previous race in Japan, and before returning to the pits, stood trackside to observe his rivals, becoming suspicious about the legality of his main rival’s car after hearing the engine note under braking.

“Senna himself was convinced that there was something different about Schumacher’s car,” former Williams team manager Ian Harrison told Autosport in 2014.

“Whether there was or not I don’t know, but Senna was utterly sure there was.”

The suspicions gained further credibility in 2011, when Schumacher’s teammate from 1994, Jos Verstappen, claimed the German was using banned electronic driving aids.

Now a new theory has emerged, which some former F1 figures believe puts Schumacher in the clear.

A just-published book – 1994: The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial Season, floats the idea that Schumacher’s technique of braking with his left foot could have fooled Senna into thinking the Benetton was illegal.

Left-foot braking was new to Formula One in 1994, but Schumacher was quick to adapt and telemetry traces from later in his career showed how he used his right foot to maintain 10-15 per cent throttle even while braking with his left foot. This method kept the car stable and allowed the aerodynamics to work more efficiently.

Willem Toet, the Australian-raised Head of Aerodynamics for Benetton in 1994, believes it was Schumacher’s technique that Senna mistook for illegal traction control.

“I think it was the use of left-foot braking combined with the throttle which would have made the strange noise,” he said.

“It would have been strange to hear the engine working in those places on the track.

“That’s what I believe is the most likely scenario.”

Mark Blundell drove for Tyrrell in 1994, and agrees that left-foot braking “became a trend at that stage,” and “it would have made a different sound.”

Suspicions that the Benetton was illegal reached fever-pitch midway through the 1994 season, after the sport’s governing body, the FIA, seized the black box that contained the engine management software.

An independent analysis of the source code revealed Benetton had software “capable of breaching the regulations,” and although the team admitted the existence of the code, it claimed it was redundant and could not be activated by Schumacher.

The rules at the time only prevented the use of traction control, not the existence of software that might be used to implement it. As the FIA had no proof it was being used, no action was taken.

A mechanic for Senna’s teammate Damon Hill also revealed that engine supplier Renault were convinced Benetton were using traction control based on analysis of audio recordings. Team owner Frank Williams has since confirmed that Senna wanted to lodge an official protest, but Williams chose not to.

In a season full of controversy, the championship went down to the final race in Adelaide. With Schumacher just a single point in front of Hill, the pair were battling for the lead of the Grand Prix when they collided as Schumacher returned to the track after briefly losing control, putting both drivers out and handing the German the title.

Although many felt Schumacher had deliberately caused the collision knowing his damaged car wouldn’t have been able to finish the race, Hill’s team declined to protest.

“We at Williams were already 100 per cent certain that Michael was guilty of foul play,” said technical director Patrick Head.

“We seriously considered lodging a formal protest there and then, on the grounds that it had been so blatant.

“Because 1994 was the terrible year it was – in other words, because Ayrton Senna had been killed in one of our cars – we didn’t really think it would have been right for Damon to win the world championship that year, especially if he’d done so in court, so we didn’t protest.”

Although stewards investigated the crash and took no action, FIA boss Max Mosely later revealed in his autobiography that he felt otherwise.

“My private view was that Michael was very lucky not to be penalised and thus lose his world championship.”

It brought an end to a season of acrimony, although accusations he cheated his way to the 1994 title would dog Schumacher for the rest of his career.

“I would never use an illegal system,” Schumacher said in 1998.

“I know in 1994 that we didn’t have anything illegal, but there was so much talk it became like the truth.”

And as the 25th anniversary of that terrible season approaches, perhaps this new book brings us one step closer to uncovering what really happened.

31 responses to “‘New theory’ emerges for Schumacher cheating

    • The Team was cheating, not Schumacher. He may have known about but he was just the driver.

    • Shoemaker was always a cheater… He crashed into Hill deliberately in 1994, he tried it again with Villeneuve in 1997 etc. Benetton was running illegal cars in 1994 and 1995 and everybody knew it. Michael had whole series of cheating with Ferrari and illegal devices. He goes into history as 7 times world champion, but we all know he did not deserve them all…

      • Miran, baš si glup. Tvoj Senna:
        1985
        His determination to take pole at the Monaco Grand Prix had infuriated Alboreto and Niki Lauda; Senna had set a fast time early and was accused of deliberately baulking the other drivers by running more laps than necessary, a charge he rejected, though the accusations would continue in Canada when drivers accused him of running on the racing line when on his slow down lap forcing others on qualifiers to move off line and lose time.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbNLHGJUGTQ

        1986
        De Angelis was replaced at Lotus by Scotland’s Johnny Dumfries after Senna vetoed Derek Warwick from joining the team, saying that Lotus could not run competitive cars for two top drivers at the same time. Senna allegedly pushed for his former flatmate and fellow Brazilian Maurício Gugelmin to join the team as a pure number two driver, but the team’s major sponsor John Player & Sons (JPS) insisted on a British driver which led to the signing of Dumfries.

        1987
        The team guaranteed Senna contractually preferential treatment over Nakajima in the allocation of equipment.
        Lotus used new secret helping electronics to win in 1987
        It was the “invention of the year” and the newest F1 thing in 1987 (computer controlled technique). It was designed for automatic acceleration and computerized traction control. Also an automatic, hydraulic wheel control was installed and many more like breaking control .. controlled by a black-box. It was a very big advantage, f.e. in the rain.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDJX6LX8Iz8

        Adelaide 1987
        Senna finished second but was later disqualified when post race scrutineering revealed oversized brake ducts on his Lotus.
        https://youtu.be/ALMYI3vUiZg?t=78

        1988
        Brasil – Senna’s first race for McLaren got off to a bad start when the cars gear selector broke on the grid, causing a restart. The Brazilian was eventually disqualified for switching to the spare car after the green flag had been waved following the warm-up lap.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-4qD9clvL4

        Portugal – Prost made a slightly faster start than Senna, but the Brazilian dived into the first corner ahead. Prost responded and went to pass Senna at the end of the first lap. Senna swerved to block Prost, forcing the Frenchman to nearly run into the pit wall at 290 km/h (180 mph). Prost kept his foot down and soon edged Senna into the first corner and started pulling away. Though Prost was angered by Senna’s manoeuvre, the Brazilian got away with a warning from the FIA. At the postrace team debrief, Prost voiced his anger at the move which prompted Senna to apologize to Prost for the incident.

        1990
        Suzuka – Senna secured the pole, but was unhappy with the side of the track it was situated on, claiming that pole should always be on the racing line. He and Gerhard Berger then went to the Japanese stewards, to request a change of position of pole to the cleaner left side of the track. The stewards initially agreed but an injunction by FISA president Jean Marie Balestre later that night rejected the decision and the original pole position remained on the dirtier, less grippy right side of the track. In addition, as revealed by F1 journalist, Maurice Hamilton,[2] the FIA had warned that crossing the yellow line of the pit exit on the right to better position oneself at the first corner would have not been appropriate, further infuriating Senna.
        Some in the F1 paddock found Senna’s complaints as strange given that the pole was actually on the same side of the track (the inside next to the pit wall) as it had been since the first Japanese Grand Prix held there in 1987. Many also noted that Senna had not complained about the position of the pole in either 1988 or 1989, both races he had started on pole and both races he was fighting Prost (who qualified 2nd in both years) for the World Championship.

        After this, Senna vowed that if Prost (starting second) got the advantage into the first corner, which most were sure he would, Senna would attempt to take the lead into the first corner, regardless of the consequences.

        At the beginning of the race, Prost pulled ahead of Senna, who immediately tried to repass Prost at the first corner. While Prost turned in, Senna kept his foot on the accelerator and the cars collided at 270 km/h (170 mph) and spun out of the race, making Senna world champion.

        1992
        At a test session for the German Grand Prix, Senna and Schumacher had a confrontation in the pits, with Senna grabbing Schumacher by the collar and accusing him of endangering him by blocking him on the track. But apparently it was ok when Senna gave Schumacher a “brake test” on the straights.

        15 year old girl
        Senna then courted Adriane Yamin, daughter of an entrepreneur from São Paulo, who was 15 years old when they began the relationship in 1985 and often chaperoned by her mother during meetings with Senna. They were briefly engaged, but the relationship was broken off by Senna in late 1988.
        Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayrton_Senna

    • I have to laugh when a Senna fan writes Schumacher was a cheater….

      Senna “The Saint”
      1985
      His determination to take pole at the Monaco Grand Prix had infuriated Alboreto and Niki Lauda; Senna had set a fast time early and was accused of deliberately baulking the other drivers by running more laps than necessary, a charge he rejected, though the accusations would continue in Canada when drivers accused him of running on the racing line when on his slow down lap forcing others on qualifiers to move off line and lose time.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbNLHGJUGTQ

      1986
      De Angelis was replaced at Lotus by Scotland’s Johnny Dumfries after Senna vetoed Derek Warwick from joining the team, saying that Lotus could not run competitive cars for two top drivers at the same time. Senna allegedly pushed for his former flatmate and fellow Brazilian Maurício Gugelmin to join the team as a pure number two driver, but the team’s major sponsor John Player & Sons (JPS) insisted on a British driver which led to the signing of Dumfries.

      1987
      The team guaranteed Senna contractually preferential treatment over Nakajima in the allocation of equipment.
      Lotus used new secret helping electronics to win in 1987
      It was the “invention of the year” and the newest F1 thing in 1987 (computer controlled technique). It was designed for automatic acceleration and computerized traction control. Also an automatic, hydraulic wheel control was installed and many more like breaking control .. controlled by a black-box. It was a very big advantage, f.e. in the rain.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDJX6LX8Iz8

      Adelaide 1987
      Senna finished second but was later disqualified when post race scrutineering revealed oversized brake ducts on his Lotus.
      https://youtu.be/ALMYI3vUiZg?t=78

      1988
      Brasil – Senna’s first race for McLaren got off to a bad start when the cars gear selector broke on the grid, causing a restart. The Brazilian was eventually disqualified for switching to the spare car after the green flag had been waved following the warm-up lap.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-4qD9clvL4

      Portugal – Prost made a slightly faster start than Senna, but the Brazilian dived into the first corner ahead. Prost responded and went to pass Senna at the end of the first lap. Senna swerved to block Prost, forcing the Frenchman to nearly run into the pit wall at 290 km/h (180 mph). Prost kept his foot down and soon edged Senna into the first corner and started pulling away. Though Prost was angered by Senna’s manoeuvre, the Brazilian got away with a warning from the FIA. At the postrace team debrief, Prost voiced his anger at the move which prompted Senna to apologize to Prost for the incident.

      1990
      Suzuka – Senna secured the pole, but was unhappy with the side of the track it was situated on, claiming that pole should always be on the racing line. He and Gerhard Berger then went to the Japanese stewards, to request a change of position of pole to the cleaner left side of the track. The stewards initially agreed but an injunction by FISA president Jean Marie Balestre later that night rejected the decision and the original pole position remained on the dirtier, less grippy right side of the track. In addition, as revealed by F1 journalist, Maurice Hamilton,[2] the FIA had warned that crossing the yellow line of the pit exit on the right to better position oneself at the first corner would have not been appropriate, further infuriating Senna.
      Some in the F1 paddock found Senna’s complaints as strange given that the pole was actually on the same side of the track (the inside next to the pit wall) as it had been since the first Japanese Grand Prix held there in 1987. Many also noted that Senna had not complained about the position of the pole in either 1988 or 1989, both races he had started on pole and both races he was fighting Prost (who qualified 2nd in both years) for the World Championship.

      After this, Senna vowed that if Prost (starting second) got the advantage into the first corner, which most were sure he would, Senna would attempt to take the lead into the first corner, regardless of the consequences.

      At the beginning of the race, Prost pulled ahead of Senna, who immediately tried to repass Prost at the first corner. While Prost turned in, Senna kept his foot on the accelerator and the cars collided at 270 km/h (170 mph) and spun out of the race, making Senna world champion.

      1992
      At a test session for the German Grand Prix, Senna and Schumacher had a confrontation in the pits, with Senna grabbing Schumacher by the collar and accusing him of endangering him by blocking him on the track. But apparently it was ok when Senna gave Schumacher a “brake test” on the straights.

      15 year old girl
      Senna then courted Adriane Yamin, daughter of an entrepreneur from São Paulo, who was 15 years old when they began the relationship in 1985 and often chaperoned by her mother during meetings with Senna. They were briefly engaged, but the relationship was broken off by Senna in late 1988.
      Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayrton_Senna

  1. BS, I rather believe Senna and Verstappen than a new stupid book and a quote from a Benetton teammember, pffft.

  2. Schumacher had a history of cheating. Remember how he ‘parked’ his car in Monaco to ruin a qualy lap by the competition? He was a great driver, but not an honorable man.

  3. I’ve read from too many people involved in F1 in the mid-90’s that what Benneton did was load traction-control software into the volatile memory in Schumacher’s car via a laptop. When the car was shutdown the code disappeared – which was why the FIA could never find it.

      • Why don’t you send me a copy because that’s the only way I’d bother to read it. You act like that’s the only definitive work on the man.

        • Happy to send you a copy of the book if you pay the same price as everybody else. After reading the book you’ll see every single allegation made about 1994 is fully discussed and analysed in detail and all the sources of those allegations are cited, So how can I claim its the only work on the man? For instance when asked about electronic devices on cars which deleted automatically, Mosley replied “ah, you’re talking about ‘volatile memory.’ Yes, we’re paying particular attention to that (in 1994) and if we find any in the system, we’ll know exactly what it’s there for. Of course, the volatile memory itself needs some sort of operating system to activate it – to make it do what it’s not supposed to do.” Do you also know the FIA undertook post race checks on the top 3 cars after Suzuka 94 (which included MS’s Benetton) to specifically check for any votile memory. Likewise the FIA’s IT expert was LDRA’s and Steve Hennell from the, indicated his feelings about your theory: “Telemetry in itself need not be conclusive. People talk about this sort of technology and dream up all sorts of models, but it’s a lot harder to do than people think. Also, it is very dangerous to have a rogue code wandering about a system on something that travels at 200mph. It could work against the system very easily.” Just trying to save you embarrassing yourself, by encouraging you to read up on the facts behind your theory you seem to hold and see what evidence I’ve uncovered. If you don’t want to read it then that’s your call, however in the words of the book’s first review the book is “great value & highly recommended” ; https://www.facebook.com/ibrar.malik.58910049

          • I wouldn’t pay a penny for your stupid book. I thought I made that clear, and the more you tout it the more transparent your motivation becomes. Senna was a brilliant driver and an honorable man, Schumacher was a cheat and a disgrace to the sport no matter how many titles he “won”.

  4. Whether Senna was pushing his car or not, it was the broken steering column that caused his death, not whether Schumacher was left-foot braking!!!! Do you really think in your wildest dreams that Ayrton Senna would have been fooled by Schumacher left-foot braking!!!? He already knew and understood this technique and used it himself, so I doubt he would have been misled into thinking the car had illegal software operating it it was just his opponent left foot braking.

    • No Mark Blundell, confirmed to me when he was McLaren’s test driver in 92 he NEVER saw Senna LFB. Furthermore I’ve included an extract from the book below and a link to a video which explains why Senna would have found it difficult to convert over to LFB given his very famous “stabbing” throttle techinque. Here is the video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nEHnuoQ6wY

      • What happened in 1992 is irrelevant to what happened in 1994.In 1992 McLaren started the year with the MP4/6B which was a manual, then introduced the MP4/7A which was a semi. In 1993 the MP4/8 was a semi and in 1994 the Williams FW16 was also a semi. To suggest that that Senna, arguably one of the greatest drivers ever, couldn’t figure out in a year and a half that LFB was a superior way to drive a semi, while other drivers could, stretches any credibility you have.

        • Your forgetting that traction control & active suspension would have made left foot braking unnecessary in 92 & 93 so Senna (or anyone else) wouldn’t have been adopting left foot braking in 92 or 93. Give me one piece of evidence to show Senna left foot braked prior to 1994 in F1? Because I’ve spoken with Mark Blundell, Willem Toet James Robinson (Senna’s race engineer in 91 & 92), Paul West a Williams mechanic in 94 all of whom confirm he didn’t left foot brake. Not only this but all the telemetry/visual evidence within the book (i.e. evidence that is indisputable because you can see it with your own eyes) supports what they’ve said and that is all referred to in the book. On the question of mine or the book’s creditability, just have a look any review of the book or this theory (by someone who has ACTUALLY read the book) like the first one to come in here; https://www.facebook.com/ibrar.malik.58910049 Simliarly see on my facebook page or my twitter page what everyone’s feedback has been on both the book and the left foot braking theory https://twitter.com/ibsey1 At the end of the day one can only take the feedback from people who have NOT read the book, with a pitch of salt.

  5. If the story is true perhaps we are also witnessing another German trying to cheat his way to the championship victory by cheating. Perhaps Ferrari were doing the same thing to Vettel. Hamilton once said Ferrari are using some tricks. Vettel himself wanted some advice from Michael, why when already a four times world champion? I don’t know !! The truths always appeared after 20-100 years of events. EMBARRASSING….

  6. I thought i was the power steering pump in Senna`s gearbox that failed that caused the steering column to break Hill was allowed to re start as his car did not have power steering fitted otherwise I am sure both cars would have been withdrawn

    • Hill had power steering but it was disconnected before the race was restarted.
      Interesting that the initial reaction from the Williams team was centred around a suspicion of steering failure

      • The steering column was very thin lightweight material as you know if you switch off the engine while driving a car with power steering it becomes very heavy hence the column broke Hills car was different

  7. I thought it was generally accepted that Schumacher’s Benneton was illegal. under Briatore, Benneton could not lie straight in bed.

  8. I knew you didn’t want to pay for the book I just wanted to show everyone else what kind of person you are…cheating the system by wanting something for free when others paid for it with their hard earn cash. not very “hourourable” is that, which is something you keep accusing Schumacher of not being. #hypocrisy You also don’t strike me as someone who likes to read/research into things preferring instead to parrot conspiracy theories instead, so on that basis the book is probably a bit too intellectual for you anyway. Oh and by the way all the reviews of the book to date have been extremely positive, so its your loss. For instance Classic and Sports Cars Magazine (March 2019) stated the book was “great value and highly recommend” so. Also have a look at my FB page for comments from people who have ACTUALLY read the book. For instance one today from Stefan Smet; “Great work Ibrar Malik ! Loved to read the insides and many witness reports on the intriguing 1994 season. It s the first time someone investigated the facts to confirm or counter the many rumours that have been around ever since. I think the conclusions of your book come very close to what really happened. Looking forward to your next write ;)” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=361315597787967&set=a.209097413009787&type=3&theater Oh and of course I wish to promote the book any publisher will tell you the BIGGEST problem is authors not promoting their work. As such great books don’t get found by their target audience. Again you’ll see on my Facebook/Twitter page, that LOTS of F1 fans are extremely pleased & grateful that I found them and they’ve learnt new things about 1994 from the book as a result. Your trying to make that out that that is a bad thing which is not surprising from someone like you who would only “bother to read” a book if it was given free to them. The books moto is “there is no point having a mind unless your willing to change it”, if I were you I would consider those words very carefully.

  9. You’re not too bright, are you. Not wanting to ‘buy’ your book was a subtle way of communicating to you the contempt I have for it, but I guess that was a bit too subtle for you to comprehend, so you interpreted my comments in terms of money which is where your focus lies. (no pun intended). I won’t be subtle now. I think you and your book are full of s**t. Any further replies won’t be answered. I’ve wasted enough time on you.

    • The feeling is mutual in that I think you aren’t too bright and are full of shit, and a key indicator on that latter point is how I’ve completely ripped apart all your arguments (which you cannot address) and instead you’ve choosen to attack me and the book. Since that is all in black and white in previous posts I’ll let others decide for themselves who between us “isn’t too bright & full of shit” based on those previous posts here. Here’s an interesting fact to consider, the difference between our views expressed here is that a respected publisher has invested ALOT of money into getting my views into a book and promoting those views. Not only is that is EXTREMELY rare for a first time author like me, but the fact remains those views within my book have been getting great reviews. Can you say the same???

    • Thanks for those links and I’ve read them. In addition to that I’ve spoken to Tad Czapski, Antony John Dennis, Rob Seymour, (the latter two worked for “Vodac” a company contracted to Ford Electronics/Visteon and were Race/Test Field Technician to Benetton in 1994). So were present at the FIA/Benetton electronics audit, as they supplied the means for the FIA to interrogate the ECU’s. Also spoken to some very senior figures at Cosworth who worked with Jim Murphy, and where the FIA investigations during 1994 were conducted, As I said earlier all my 5+ years research on 1994 is contained within the book.

      For those who think the theory is BS, Judging by Ukyo Katayama’s comments at 32:55 into this:

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6qL7VvYLa8&w=640&h=360]

      I think he might agree with that theory? Whatsmore Also consider that Larini / Blundell & Ian Harrison (Williams Team Manager) were all by Senna at some point during that first lap shunt in Aida 1994. None of them are currently claiming Schumacher’s Benetton had illegal TC that day. If your interested in Frank Dernie’s view on the matter (a key book contributor) it is “…that Senna was searching for a reason why the Benetton had so much better traction than Williams, which I am sure was aero, and wrongly plumped for traction control. Once the great Senna had given his opinion it was taken as gospel by many, even though it was just speculation.” As Williams chief mechanic, Dickie Stanford, admitted at 56:56 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6902_YS4RE “Ayrton was convinced that (Benetton) was doing something, and we (at Williams) were as well. I know the engine note was recorded and everything.” (p.s. notice it was me who asked the question in the podcast which led to Dickie’s revealation).

      My book goes on to explain what happened to that recording and how detailed the subsquent FIA investigation was into Benetton’s electronics during 1994 😉 I’m in danger of giving too much away too much of the book here so like I said earlier to any doubters of that theory read at least chapters 1-3 the book then happy to carry on the chat with anyone 🙂

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