Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Adelaide, 1994

Schumacher’s “cheating” was justified – Lauda

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In the round-up: Niki Lauda says Michael Schumacher cheated because racing drivers have to in order to win.

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If Hamilton tries to incur a reprimand in order to get his ten-place grid penalty out of the way on a weekend when his starting position is already compromised, should the stewards punish him more severely?

If I was a steward, I would look VERY suspicious on something like that I would probably decide on more than just giving a reprimand if I thought there being any chance of doing something like that on purpose.

Maybe giving an in race stop and go or something, to make sure no one will try and game the system on reprimands like that.
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  • 55 comments on “Schumacher’s “cheating” was justified – Lauda”

    1. Cheating is never justified. I have big respect for Michael Schumacher, but it could have been a lot more if it wasn’t for his sometimes questionable driving. Lauda’s comments surprise me.

      1. racerdude7730
        26th August 2016, 0:25

        Cheating does suck but i know first hand that what Lauda said is true. If you are not cheating or trying to cheat(gray area) its very hard to win. With most stuff its a competition to see who cheats the best without getting busted for it. Most people dont like to hear it but its always been part of sport and its really been a big part in racing history.

        1. racerdude7730
          26th August 2016, 0:28

          i meant to also put that i have worked for a few race teams over the years so i know first hand….. we need an edit button on here

          1. I agree with you about the edit button. However, most world champions have won without cheating. Schumacher, Senna and Prost are the only exceptions to this. The others have never taken out other drivers on purpose or park it on the apex to win. Cheating is wrong in every sport, not just Formula 1. I hope Schumacher recovers from his unfortunate skiing accident, but it sucks that him, Senna and Prost won titles with cheating, and pretty blatant cheating too. This is why I do not regard one of them as the best. My choice for best ever is Fangio. I was happy that Schumacher only got away with it once though. Regarding teams, Briatore of Benetton/Renault was the biggest cheat of all time and was rightly banned for it, so I don’t think that teams need to cheat to win as some risk getting banned.

            1. Racerdude7730
              26th August 2016, 1:23

              I think that’s wrong they did that and it’s never right for a driver to hit or hurt someone else’s race. I meant more on the team side like with the car maybe not being legal and they have hidden it away. I agree tho there’s no place for a driver to hit anyone. It’s not just unsportsmanlike it’s downright dangerous. Sorry I wasn’t clear

            2. No need to apologise. Agreed. :)

            3. knoxploration
              26th August 2016, 1:42

              Schumacher, Senna and Prost are not the only exceptions to this. Take Alonso, for example: He unquestionably knew McLaren were cheating (and participated in that cheating himself) during the Spygate scandal, and it’s pretty much beyond question that he also knew Piquet Jr. would be ordered to crash to benefit him at Singapore 2008. That’s at least twice he’s been caught.

              It’s also possible (or even likely) that Hamilton was involved in Spygate, but that hasn’t been proven to my knowledge. He did, however, try to cheat by knowingly lying to the stewards in Australia 2009.

              Sadly, other than Button and Raikkonen, we haven’t had a world champion who hasn’t been implicated in cheating since the turn of the millennium.

            4. To knoxploration: Button drove that Bar Honda (or just Honda then?) Which was banned for a couple of races because it had a couple of extra fuel tanks inside the tank. The driver needed to activate some valve in order to make it open / close. So even Button cheated during that season until the team got busted.

            5. knoxploration
              26th August 2016, 2:29

              To Omar: Thanks for that. I had completely forgotten that incident, but yes, the 2005 BAR-Honda was found to be cheating.

              I’d say arguably that was more an attempt to stretch the rules, rather than directly cheating (crashing into another driver, parking on track during a live session, having another driver crash to help you, stealing confidential data from another team or lying to the stewards), but it’s still cheating nevertheless.

              I can’t remember any implication at the time or since that either Button or Sato / Davidson were aware of the cheating, though. In the other incidents, the drivers were either certainly or almost certainly aware of the cheating, and did nothing to stop it. (Alonso threatening to blow the lid on Spygate doesn’t count, because he did that as an attempt at blackmail, not to stop the cheating, and also didn’t do it immediately that he first became aware of the cheating.)

            6. To knoxploration: It was cheating, plain and simple. The car had fuel tanks that let the car be under the weight limit (I think 600 kg at that time) during most of the race, letting it “fly” (better power / weight ratio) and just at the last refuelling the driver opened the valve that made those tanks full, thus reaching again 600 kg to pass the weight control. And it was the driver, not the team, the one who activated that “back door” to breach the weight regulations. So it was impossible for the drivers not to know.

            7. knoxploration ok mate explain to me why Alonso would risk his whole career for a win he didn’t need??? He is a bright lad so he wouldn’t of. So he clearly didn’t know. Afterwards i am sure he did but before no way. Anyone that thinks he didn’t needs a serious reality check.

              And remember it was the team that NEEDED that win or renault were going to pull the plug on the whole team… which they eventually did anyway.

              End of.

            8. I think I wouldn’t really count the spygate thing against Alonso (nor would I against McLaren) – that kind of thing sort of was not an exception, and you just have to look at previous (Toyota) and following cases (Renault, even Ferrari itself) to see there was probably something else going on that made the FIA single out McLAren the way they did.

              I agree with most of you guys that all of that gaining an advantage, getting as close to cheating without getting cought is going on often enough that you can sort of expect that from sports, and from technical sports even more (the mastery of Red Bull, for example, was that they were able to brush close and pull it off).

            9. I wouldn’t really say that Alonso and Hamilton were cheats because of ”Spygate”. McLaren were to blame for the incident. It was McLaren which took the Ferrari information, not Alonso or Hamilton.

            10. Alonso was asking specific questions that he wanted answered from their Ferrari contact. Alonso and Pedro De La Rosa were actively involved in figuring out Ferrar’s secrets. If I remember correctly there were e-mails with questions about strategy and the gas Ferrari used in their tyres.

            11. Your ‘exceptions’ are 3 of the greatest champions in this sport, with 14 world championships between them. Taking the mantra ‘lead by example’, its easier to see Lauda’s perspective.

        2. sunny stivala
          26th August 2016, 7:21

          lauda for sure knows that cheating was always part of the sports, its not like he did not win any in F1!

        3. There is not one champion in recent history who has not won by “bending” the rules a “little”.

          Schumacher was on the limit often, quite often over the limit aswell… Black flags etc. First real totalitarian racer was Senna, but maybe even before.

          Now every young upstart tries to bend the rules and cheat s little… As say Verstapen, moving in braking zones… Nico Rosberg and his pronounced understeer when on the inside of rivals… They all try what they can, and most champions push for any advantage possible.

          1. @jureo
            Hahahah, it’s clear who you support. The understeer bit isn’t Ros his thing, that’s Hams’.

      2. @ultimateuzair Somehow Lauda seeing it that way does not surprise me the slightest. Though, to be fair to him, he also never went bitter when he was cheated on. Probably because it really was just part of the game for most of the 70ies till at least the late 90ies, or maybe even until 2008. And that did somehow add some flair to the soap-opera that is/was F1, which is probably something that we´ve lost due to the corporate streamlining and along with losing personalities like Briatore, Mosley (or before that, Jean-Marie Balestre).

      3. knoxploration
        26th August 2016, 1:33

        Likewise, I agree cheating is never justified.

        I was a huge Schumacher fan until Jerez 1997, and only continued to support him after he admitted and apologized. (I believe in giving everyone one chance to change.) When he cheated without question a second time in Monaco 2006, I stopped supporting him permanently. It’s a pity; he was an exceptionally talented driver, but his record is forever tainted by his cheating.

        That Lauda feels cheating to be acceptable likewise negates any respect I had for him.

      4. It is not necessary to cheat to win in motor sport. It’s not like doped sports at the respective peaks of their doping – and if that situation existed, anything condoning cheating would be making the problem worse instead of better.

        Thankfully, in F1, the majority of competitors comply with the rules the majority of the time, and when they do breach the regulations, it is almost invariably by accident (either due to a mistake/oversight on the competitor’s part or due to questionable rule definition or enforcement on the regulator’s) and not deliberate (i.e. cheating). The regulation-related beauty of F1 is not that it cheats – it is (to paraphrase Eddie Jordan) that its participants read the regulations and then create the most effective means they can of approaching, sidestepping, re-imagining, rendering irrelevant or otherwise working around the rules to optimise their competitive endeavours.

      5. I agree. This attitude some people have strikes me as rationalization disguised as resigned realism. I challenge those people to change their definition of “winning.” If you cheat to win, it’s stealing, and if you learn to accept that in yourself, you’re a loser.

        But I’m a golfer, and that’s a sport that abhors cheating and cheaters. Probably explains in large part why it’s so unpopular.

      6. In racing, cheating is only cheating if your are caught. Any racer will push the limits of the rules to the edge.

        First hand knowledge comes from NASCAR. A certain #88 car won the Championship in 1999. For sure they were having their carbs inner workings coated with an exotic baked on finish that was similar to teflon… slick and allowed for a small hp gain. Undetectable unless you scratched the surface to expose it. I saw the work being done on the carb, but it never was exposed in competition.

    2. For Pete’s sakes, leave the guy who is struggling for his life alone. Whether he cheated or ran into JV deliberately, how does it matter now. I hate it when they stereotype these kind of bevahiours and tag it to a driver. He won 91 races and I don’t think he cheated 91 times to win all of them…

      1. @icemangrins maybe it was his own success that didn’t let him see himself a a loser, not even as a “clean” loser. So he preferred cheating once in a while (and be bashed for that) than being seen as an honest second-placed driver.

      2. knoxploration
        26th August 2016, 2:31

        Whether he cheated 91 times is beside the point. You can’t definitively say whether or not he cheated in any of those other races, but there is no question at all that he cheated in two races, perhaps three. The fact that he knowingly cheated multiple times in F1 calls the other wins into question.

        1. Yeah but, wherher he had cheated in more than those 3 races or not, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. The guy is fighting for his life & at the end of the day, that’s far more important than some cars going round a track.

          1. Everyone at sometime is going to die. This does not automatically erase all wrong doing. If you follow that logic everyone should never have bad words said against them whatever they do because death is around the corner. Jimmy Saville thanks you. Shumi is a cheat. I will always think of him as a cheat whether he lives or dies.

            I am sorry he is fighting for his life but that is not what the discussion is about.

            1. On the contrary Tiomkin, commenting on fighting for his life it is exactly what this thread was about.
              icemangrins first comment on this thread is about him fighting for his life.
              The previous thread was more along the lines of what you are saying as far as thread topic goes.

      3. It matters because Michael’s approach to potentially controversial track situations carries a variety of lessons for today’s racers. Niki is explaining one angle, many others exist, but the dilemmas and track situations Michael faced are still relevant today, and Michael’s sheer dominance of his era (the most recent clearly-defined one; it’s not yet clear if we are still in the following era or whether the turn of the decade will in time prove to be an era division) means that his approach to such matters is by definition relevant. His is, for better or worse, one of the yardsticks people will instinctively use to measure their own responses (potential or actual).

    3. I could never look back with a clear mind and condone cheating in a racing car.

      But nor could I say with any confidence that, in the heat of the moment, I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

      1. @neilosjames, I admire your honesty – we might condemn him, but how many of us can be quite so certain that we would not do something that could be seen as cheating?

        1. Totally agree but I can say that if I looked back on it and knew that I’d cheated, it would certainly feel tainted.

    4. I’m glad to see IndyCar bucking the F1 trend of ditching old venues in favour in new ones, and instead returning to its old venues. The Road America race this year was fantastic and had a huge crowd, and I think the upcoming race at Watkins Glen will be much the same. Next year, Gateway will be another and hopefully it will also be successful. New venues might bring in money but the old venues with history and character are where the fans are. We’ve seen this in F1 too – just look at the return to Mexico City. The crowd was huge and the atmosphere was fantastic, even on TV that really came across. With a few exceptions, new venues almost always fail on this front.

      We can only hope that F1 could take a leaf out of IndyCar’s book and keeps its historic venues, and maybe brings some more of them back.

      1. I’d love that. But, that ain’t happen as long as old man Bernie is still in charge..

        1. You think Bernie has no nostalgia for F1 history and doesn’t allow such nostalgia to influence business decisions? Wait until F1 is 100% owned by Liberty Media (or who ever), and the CEO is a professional manager not from racing (unlike Bernie).
          Be careful what you wish for.

      2. IndyCar uploaded the most recent race at Gateway onto their YouTube channel and the track looks really good for a short oval. Each of the two sides of the racetrack are completely different and that means serious compromises in the setup have to be made. Really impressed.

    5. That was a really nice interview with Hamilton on the F1 site.

    6. Thanks for the CotD Keith!

      1. @BasCB I completely agree with you. I even believe that a “strategic” violation of the rules should be punished with a race ban. On the other hand, the fact that a situation like this is even possible makes me think there is something wrong with the rules.

    7. Re: CotD

      Is it actually at the stewards’ discretion how much they penalize a driver when he accumulates 3 reprimands? It means an automatic 10-place grid drop as per regulations.

      Also, one would assume that Lewis would get the reprimand on Friday or Saturday, before the race. I can’t recall the last time a stop-and-go or 5 sec penalty was handed out to a driver for something he did previously in the weekend. Don’t think it’s possible either.

      1. The 10-place grid drop has to be awarded. The separate penalty for the offence which yields the 3rd reprimand is not fixed (though there would have to be such a penalty, even if it is only driver penalty points), and could be aggravated if the stewards thought the penalty system was being abused.

        1. @alianora-la-canta

          A separate penalty besides the 10-place grid drop could be justified – as penalty points or a fine – but my point was that it cannot be something handed out or served during the race, as the CotD suggested. I don’t think there has ever been an instance of an infringement on Friday or Saturday leading to a penalty *during the race* on Sunday.

      2. It was possible to get stop/go and time penalties for offences earlier in the weekend last year, before the rule about non-served engine/gearbox penalties being punished this way was rescinded. It is unlikely that the loophole allowing other offences to be handled this way would be used… …but there is nothing to prevent this if the stewards are feeling particularly annoyed.

    8. Re comment of the day: It raises interesting questions about the role of intention in the infringement of rules and their subsequent penalties. From here http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/08/12/hamiltons-reprimands-questions-answered/ it seems that there is little subjectivity with many of the rule infringements deserving of a reprimand based on precedent. If Hamilton and Alonso were both to, say, cross the white line on pit exit in free practice today, should Hamilton get a different penalty from Alonso?

      As a neutral, I’d like to see Hamilton get a reprimand just to see the outcome. But I think the stewards giving different penalties for precisely the same infringement has the potential to be a little bit silly.

    9. I think that many drivers and other athletes believe that cheating is completely fine as long as you are not caught and sometimes they refuse to admit that they have done anything wrong even after they are exposed. Apparently, Lance Armstrong still believes that he is the rightful 7-time winner of Tour de France (he indicated that in his Twitter bio not a long time ago). Maybe he is convinced that ‘everyone did that’ or maybe he just believes that all is fair in love, war and sports. The view that there is nothing noble about losing with a halo (no pun intended) is as popular in the world of sports as it is in business, politics etc.

    10. I love that Lauda chose to say this on a weekend where Lewis is potentially going to deliberately break the rules to get a reprimand. Brilliant. :D

      1. Certainly shows that Lauda would be fine with that strategy, doesn’t it @petebaldwin

      2. @petebaldwin Is there actually anything in the rulebook about ‘deliberately’ breaking a rule? If not, then I would see this as strategy, and not as cheating.

        1. @stubbornswiss The same could have been said at the 2012 United States Grand Prix, where Ferrari deliberately broke the rules regarding gearboxes to assist Alonso.

          1. Interesting point @craig-o. Consistency would lead stewards not to over penalize Hamilton as Ferrari as Ferrari admitted back then that the move was strategic.

    11. I was wondering why Lauda came down on Rosbergs side in Spain.

      I no longer wonder.

    12. I’m actually more offended by Pat Symonds’ attempt to defend him than amything else. The idea that you should be absolved of culpability for moral decisions because you have to make them with ‘nano-seconds of thought’ is profoundly amoral hogwash. Schumacher was an experienced driver. In each case he knew exactly what he was doing.

      Maybe he would have done something different if he’d been presented with the choice while sitting in a comfy chair in front of a fire. But he took the actions that he did in the heat of battle on the track, and they revealed a fundamental truth about his personality – that he would do whatever it took to win and was happy to break the rules in doing so. These are the choices that matter, and they were not the choices that would have been made by a ‘totally fair and moral person’. Pretending that they are is simply insulting.

      1. @charleski Completely agree. Had the same thought when I heard that. It is exactly those decisions that are made in the split second that reveal the character…the nano seconds are not an excuse. Saying he is competitive with a capital C does not then give a driver licence to do whatever he wants.

    13. I’ve officially lost all respect for Lauda. Never really liked him, but he really needs to keep his mouth closed, everything he says is pretty stupid and brash.

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