• October 17 down the years

Confusion and controversy in Malaysia

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Premature celebration: Eddie Irvine on the podium in Malaysia, shortly before being disqualified © Sutton Images
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1999
Mika Hakkinen retained his world championship for seven days after both Ferraris were disqualified after finishing first and second at the Malaysian Grand Prix, giving Hakkinen, who crossed the line in third, the win. The announcement the barge boards on the cars infringed permitted dimensions by one centimetre came two hours after the race ended and with drivers heading home. Amid widespread confusion, Eddie Irvine was telephoned while checking in at Kuala Lumpur airport to be told his win did not count. Bernie Ecclestone said the disqualification was "a nonsense", and Hakkinen, contrary to McLaren's official view, added disqualification was "not the way" to settle the championship. A week later the FIA overturned the punishment and so Irvine headed to the final race in Japan with a four-point lead over Hakkinen. As it was, Hakkinen won at Suzuka, Irvine was third, and this time there was no dispute - the championship was the Finn's.

Alan Jones leads the field away at the start of the Caesar's Palace Grand Prix © Sutton Images
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1981
Alan Jones won the Caesar's Palace Grand Prix from pole position in what he had said would be his final race but surrendered his world title to Nelson Piquet, who came fifth and whose two points were enough for him to squeeze out Carlos Reutemann by one point. Reutemann, 39, had led the championship coming into the race but lost fourth gear and finished out of the points in eighth. Jones undiplomatically made little secret of his dislike for both Piquet and Reutemann in the post-race interviews following clashes earlier in the season, gleefully speaking of his pleasure when he lapped team-mate Reutemann. Piquet's celebrations were muted as he had to be lifted out his car at the finish. "When 33 laps to go were signalled I nearly died," he said. "By then my head was going out of the car at the bends … I was almost finished. My back and right shoulder were in agony."

1979
The birth of Kimi Raikkonen, the talented world champion who really did not enjoy racing in modern Formula One. He finished runner-up twice for McLaren before he secured his title with Ferrari in 2007, but had become so disenchanted that he moved into rallying in 2010 despite still being in contract with the Italian team. A hard-drinking, party animal, you suspect he would have thrived had he been involved a generation earlier. As he himself said: "If the F1 world could go back 20 years, it would be the same as rallying now."

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