Max Mosley accused of helping Michael Schumacher win 1994 championship

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Michael Schumacher, Benetton-Ford, 1994, 470150

Max Mosley has been accused of helping Michael Schumacher win the 1994 world championship by advising his Benetton team on how to handle a dispute with the FIA.

Benetton were investigated by the FIA following the fuel rig fire that engulfed Schumacher’s team mate Jos Verstappen’s car in the German Grand Prix.

The FIA accused Benetton of illegally removing a fuel filter from the refuelling rig, but team boss Flavio Briatore insisted the removal of the device had been done with the permission of the FIA. It is now alleged that Mosley told Benetton’s lawyer not to try to pin the blame on the FIA. Benetton instead pleaded guilty and were not given a punishment.

The revelation came in an article in yesterday’s Sunday Express (see below) written by Christian Sylt. According to Sylt the lawyer who handled Benetton’s case, George Carman, claimed Mosley approached him in a bar the day before Benetton’s hearing.

According to Carman Mosley told him: “it was best… not to seek to blame any FIA personnel.”

The potential value of Schumacher to Formula 1 at the time is hard to underestimate. Within a few years the sport had lost several world champions – Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet had retired, Ayrton Senna had died, and Nigel Mansell was still dallying with Indy Cars.

And the financial value of a successful German driver was enormous. As Sylt notes RTL currently pay ??95.9m for the rights to air Formula 1. Mercedes had joined F1 in 1993 and at the time were expected to take up an option on Schumacher’s services in the near future. From 1995 to 2006 two Grands Prix per year were held in Germany, and BMW returned to the sport in 2000.

Schumacher had lent his support to Mosley in the wake of the sex scandal the FIA president is embroiled in, saying last month:

I know Max as a professional person and I really rate him very highly. I always thought that I didn?t want people to comment about my private life, so there?s no reason to get into other people?s private life.

Mosley suggested last year that Schumacher would not have been world champion in 1994 had today’s rules been in place. He claimed that Schumacher would have been stripped of his title for the crash with Damon Hill in the final round at Adelaide.

(I haven’t been able to find a copy of the story on the Express’s website – you can download a PDF copy of it here.)

1994 F1 season history

Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Adelaide, 1994, 470313

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Max Mosley accused of helping Michael Schumacher win 1994 championship”

  1. Ridiculous.
    What is the point of these revelations? All they will do is give the conspiracy theorists another chance to let off some steam at Schumacher and Benetton for alleged cheating. It has been 14 years. Yes, Mosley is a dodgy bloke, but nothing can be done about him telling Benetton’s lawyers something that would have occured to them anyway (despite Flavio being a bit of a moron).
    Schumacher won the championship. Give it up.

  2. Vertigo, i think the point is sullying MadMax some more, essentially its saying that the people who support him are the ones he’s bent the rules for.

  3. Can’t say I’d be surprised if they were true. It’s a big *if*, though.

    I’m a Hill fan, so I’m biased. :-)

  4. Yeah, you’re probably right.
    I still reckon it’s unfair on Mosley to reveal this before his meeting with the FIA though. Despite his numerous faults, he deserves a fair trial, and this sort of thing is likely to corrupt the people who are deciding his future.

  5. Of course these allegations have come to light because of the other scandal Mosley is already embroiled in. I don’t think anyone would imagine otherwise.

    But the substance of the allegations, if true, is damaging. I cannot agree that “nothing can be done about him telling Benetton’s lawyers something that would have occured to them anyway.” You cannot have a judge telling a defendent how to handle their case. It’s a clear conflict of interest which seriously calls Mosley’s impartiality into question.

    I do agree with your wider point, Vertigo, that the FIA hearing on Mosley should not be seen as a referendum on his presidency. That should solely be concerned with whether the sex scandal compromised his ability to do his job.

  6. This isn’t a new story. Odd.

    I remember seeing an article on this on the fora a long time ago – it had been reposted from somewhere. (I saved a copy – have it at home.)
    From memory this was mentioned in Carmen’s notes and in his biography. It’s quite likely to be true – Carmen, and AFAIK his son (who wrote the biography) had no interest in F1 and had no reason to lie, it was just a small anecdote from a long and colourful career.

  7. Don – you’re right it has been reported before I just found out myself! I don’t remember seeing it before but from what I’ve heard it was in a magazine in 2004 or 2005. Am surprised it didn’t get more attention at the time, but there you have it.

    I haven’t seen any reaction to it from the FIA at the time, does anyone know if they denied it?

  8. I’m pretty sure I read something similar by Tom Rubython (but I can’t remember when), but I can’t remember when. If so, it would explain why it was Christian Sylt who wrote the article this time, because they worked together in the F1 Magazine days.

  9. I think it could have been written by Sylt when he worked for Rubython. I think someone said the FIA filed suit over it, but I’m not sure – we’d probably have heard more if they had.

    I’ll try find the exact date later.

  10. The question that the FIA members should be asking themselves at their meeting should be “has Max Mosley been compromised in carrying out his duties by the sex scandal”. When you consider that:

    * The majority of teams refuse to be seen with him
    * All of the race organizers don’t want to be seen with him, nor want him in their country
    * Prince Albert didn’t want to be seen with him
    * The engine suppliers didn’t want to meet with him.

    Then the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’ and Max should go. Its a shame that such a great race weekend at Monaco was almost over-shadowed by Max’s presence there.

  11. I seem to remember Mansell saying that he was given instructions, from people he didn’t want to name yet, on the grid of Adelaide in 1994. His intimation was that it was rigged but he was waiting for someone to die/leave the sport before spilling the beans. If it was Max and Max gets booted then we could get a lot more stories like this.

    As for 14 years being too long to bother about it anymore then yes, provided:

    a) There is a 13 year statute of limitations in the FIA rule book.
    b) The people involved are no longer in a position to mess with F1.

    In other words don’t be ridiculous, this sort of controversy is still very relevant to F1 and therefore should be discussed. Renault spygate make more sense to anyone now?

    Keith, to your point about the ‘scope’ of the vote of no confidence. Are you sure the delegates aren’t allowed to take other factors into account when deciding their Max ‘confidence’ level? Regardless, I would argue that they will (and should be able to).

  12. Oh yes – Christian Sylt spoke to the lawyer who handled Benetton’s case, George Carman (who happens to be dead)
    How convenient!!!

    My mate spoke to someone down the pub who knew Bin laden once – doh

  13. Did he really?
    Ha ha ha

  14. I know it’s been said before, but it always amazes me the level to which Schumacher’s career is tainted by this and many, many, MANY other scandals…
    Keith, I’ve realized many readers are relatively new to F1, how about a post listing all the controversies in MS’s career?
    I haven’t seen anything like that around, and my guess is that some people will be impressed by the amount of times he has been perceived as a cheat.

  15. Diacho – no I don’t think I’ve ever written anything just about the various controversies Schumacher was involved in during his career (Although after over 3 years and 2,135 posts it’s getting hard to remember every single one!)

    I did a retrospective at the end of his career in 2006 which mentioned a few of them:

    Michael Schumacher career retrospective

    As does his biography in the biographies pages:

    Michael Schumacher biography

    Just to be clear about the Carman thing, the information came to light via his son, George Carman having passed away earlier.

  16. Keith, no denial as yet, which means its true.

    a blanket denial is usually issued if an allegation is false, if no denial is issued then the lawyers are pulling the strings, in an attempt to nurse the situation.

  17. Here is the original story from 2003, with a bit more meat:

    It was things such as this I hoped would be the downfall of Max, but if it takes a sex scandal to get rid of him, then so be it.

  18. Just read both posts, Keith, very well written as always – congratulations!
    Some incidents are missing, though: the win in GB in 98; throwing HHF off the track after a pit stop; spinning on purpose in a qualifying lap to escape the rain; NOT helping Irvine in 99, while playing soccer at home; parking in the middle of the track to force a red flag and a restart (I’m not talking about Monaco/Rescasse here. It’s another incident altogether); the barge boards incident in 2000…
    Conspiracy theorists? Many people compare MS’s antics with Senna’s. Still, it’s pretty clear to me that Senna was nowhere near these kinds of tricks in his career. Even if you take the Japanese GP in 1990 in consideration, that’s one event only, compared to what? 15? And if not Senna, who in F1 history can be compared to Schumacher when it come to dirty racing?

  19. That’s where I first saw it alright. Was probably in 2004/2005. Don’t remember hearing the story originally in the press at all.

  20. bernification
    27th May 2008, 2:09

    Didn’t MM make a comment along the lines that MS wouldn’t have been 1994 champ if it wasn’t for the seasons previous events?
    Everything is coming out of the woodwork now though, and there is probably a lot more.

  21. I think the phrase ‘claimed Mosley approached him in a bar’ sums the whole situation up nicely.
    Are dirty deals still being done in bars, even in 2008?

  22. The FIA statute of limitations for internal cases, as a general rule, is that once a championship is declared, it cannot be altered unless a legal decision has been made beforehand allowing a specific matter to be considered later (which was why such a rider was put on the McLaren/Ferrari case last July). For F1, this usually means the November or early December of the year in question. So nothing could be done about the 1994 championship results, even if the beans had been spilt on the first race of 1995. Of course, the “people still in a position to mess with F1” point still stands.

  23. I can imagine in another thirteen years some juicy information being made public about last year’s ‘spygate’ scandal.
    This is what we have all believed for years, and the political goings on followed Schumacher on to Ferrari.
    This is nothing new, as Benetton were under alot of suspicion concerning the legalty of their car anyway.
    Frank Williams admitted that, before Senna was killed,
    Aryton had voiced his concerns about certain elements of the Benetton car, in terms of it playing to the rules.
    All of this has been well documented over the years, from many different sources, however, one fact is completely undeniable.
    The 1994 World Championship was won and lost when Schumacher and Hill collided in Australia. If Damon’s car had not been so badly damaged, he would have been the champion, end of story.

  24. Michael Counsell
    27th May 2008, 18:31

    Didn’t a lot of teams also remove a certain part of the the fuel rig? I don’t remember.

    This is a strange way of looking at it because Benneton were getting penalised left right and centre in 1994 and if they blamed the Mosley advised them not to blame the FIA it may have been a threat.

    That year was almost set to be a last race decider with Nigel Mansell making an appearance. It was arguably contrived but more to favour Damon Hill who don’t forget was the son of one of the most popular drivers in history and the effective replacement of Nigel Mansell another of the most popular British drivers ever.

    F1 became bigger than ever and started a controversial rivalry with Schumacher and Hill. If anyone was trying to manipulate anything it certainly worked…

  25. Like it matters?

    Press must be at a loose end this year.

  26. IIRC, the FIA actually provided details and diagrams to some other teams to do the same modifications to the fuel rigs.

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  28. I’m very late in commenting, but I’ll leave mine anyway. The 1994 F1 season still holds a relevant position in the history of the sport and likely always will.

    It has come out since even this story was published, that Max Mosley, in 1990-91, had helped Ayrton Senna write a letter (by his own admission) to then-President of the FIA, Jean-Marie Balestre, in which he tried to apologize for his actions at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, where he had collided (deliberately, by his own later admission) with Alain Prost’s Ferrari and sealed the championship. Has Mosley since ever been accused of helping Senna win the title? No, he hasn’t…

    It’s funny how, when it is concerning Michael Schumacher, Mosley’s imaprtiality is ‘called into question’ , but yet there has been little if any further mention of this Senna incident. It is important to note that Michael Schumacher was the first and only driver to have been excluded from the results of a WDC (as he was in 1997), a decision that was put through when Max Mosley was FIA President, but that the same Mr. Mosley had decided to help Senna write a letter, even after a year, several years earlier…this lack of consistency is arguably just as damaging, would it not be? But, evidently, it’s something that the press, notably the press in Britain, seem not to like to notice…

    If there was ANY manipulation to the championship in 1994 by the FIA, it was done in Hill’s favour, not in Michael Schumacher’s. The latter was banned for not one but TWO races, after already having served a penalty during the race and being disqualified, for having jumped grid order on the parade lap in Britain (even though he had started at the correct place on the starting grid, and even though he gained no advantage off the start line from it)…

    Schumacher potentially lost 26 points with that alone (excluding the disqualifications for alleged technical infringements), and held a 31 point lead going after Round 10 of the ’94 season…the season would (and arguably should) never even have gone down to Adelaide.

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