Since the sport’s very first world championship in 1950, Formula One has been considered by many to be a sport of gentlemen and good sportsmanship. After all, unlike many sports, Formula One carries with it a number of potential dangers and common sense, as well as mutual respect, is vital for the safety of the drivers. However, there have been a number of high-profile occasions in the sport’s recent history that have overshadowed this “gentlemanly” reputation.
In 2007, the constructor team McLaren were found guilty of spying on their rivals Ferrari. The incident is alleged to have involved a number of technical documents being passed from Ferrari to members of the McLaren team. After being found guilty of the alleged crimes, the team were fined a record-breaking $100 million and excluded from the 2007 constructor’s championship. Later in 2007, further allegations were made that members of the McLaren team forwarded their received information to members of the Renault team, though these charges were later dropped.
Throughout its existence, Formula One has seen a number of great rivalries between teams and drivers. However, few have ever matched the intensity of the rivalry between Germany’s Michael Schumacher and Great Britain’s Damon Hill. The most famous flare up between these two former world champions came in 1994 when, going into the last race of the season, Schumacher led Hill by a single point in the driver’s championship. The race couldn’t have been any tighter going into lap 36 when a Schumacher error paved a path for Hill to overtake. However, Schumacher had other ideas and deliberately crashed into Hill’s car dealing it with a sufficient amount of damage to force him to retire, thus handing the title to Schumacher. Schumacher was also involved in a similar incident that could be described as less than “sporting” when, during qualifying for the 2006 Grand Prix in Monaco, Schumacher stopped his car his on one the circuits corners in order to slow down the track. This prevented his rival Fernando Alonso improving his qualification time and achieving pole position for the actual race. Whether the move was deliberate is still a matter of debate, however, Schumacher’s actions were deemed “deliberate” by the race stewards and he was demoted to the back of the grid as punishment, a move that effectively promoted Alonso to pole position.
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