• Top ten ... F1 outbursts

F1's motor mouths

Laurence Edmondson and Chris Medland
June 7, 2011

After Lewis Hamilton's well-publicised comments at the Monaco Grand Prix, we look back at ten of the most memorable outbursts in F1 history

The relationship between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel was stretched to breaking point at Silverstone in 2010 © Getty Images
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Mark Webber - 2010
As a close title battle continued to gather pace, Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were 3rd and 4th respectively as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button led the way. The McLaren pair had made the most of Red Bull failings, most notable when Vettel and Webber collided when disputing the lead in Turkey. Further friction came at Silverstone where Vettel broke his new front wing in practice, and Red Bull proceeded to remove the other new wing from Webber's car to give to Vettel as he was ahead in the standings. A clearly annoyed Webber went on to win the race and responded to the congratulations over the radio with "Not bad for a number two driver".

Rubens Barrichello - 2009
After years as Michael Schumacher's No.2 at Ferrari, Rubens Barrichello finally got a proper shot at the title in 2009 alongside Jenson Button at Brawn. But by mid-season he was already 23 points behind his team-mate and desperately needed a win to boost his chances. The German Grand Prix appeared to be the perfect opportunity as he led into the first corner and Mark Webber, who was a close second in the early stages, was hit with a drive-through penalty. However, Barrichello's three-stop strategy saw him get stuck in traffic and left him sixth by the chequered flag, behind Button. The Brazilian pinned the blame entirely on his team: "There was a great show from the team today of how to lose a race. I did all I could today, I got first at the first corner, and they made me lose the race. If we keep going like this we're going to lose both championships. To be very honest with you I wish I could get on a plane and just go home, because when I go to the team afterwards there will be a lot of 'blah, blah, blah' and I don't want to hear that right now."

Fernando Alonso - 2006
In the midst of an intense battle for the 2006 title with Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, Fernando Alonso - whose Renault team had been dealt a massive blow when its innovative mass damper was banned by the FIA midway through the season - finally let rip at the Italian Grand Prix. The straw that broke the camel's back came when Alonso was penalised during qualifying for blocking Schumacher's team-mate Felipe Massa, and in a Renault press conference on race day the Spaniard made his deepest feelings clear. "If this is blocking anyone intentionally, we will have a lot of problems from now on in qualifying," he said. "If this is blocking also I don't understand how we will race today if this is the minimum distance. I am a sportsman, I love the sport...I love the fans coming here, a lot of them from Spain. And I don't consider any more Formula One like a sport." After the race, Renault team principal Flavio Briatore also spoke out, comparing F1 to the match-fixing scandals in Italian football at the time. "This is a world championship which has already been decided at the table," he said. "We have understood how things go - it has all been decided. They have decided to give the world championship to Schumacher and that is what will be. Compared to what is happening in Formula One, calciopoli (the reference to Italian football) just makes me smile." Briatore later claimed that he was joking and that his words had been taken out of context.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Patrick Head struggled to see eye-to-eye after the 2003 French Grand Prix © Sutton Images
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Juan Pablo Montoya - 2003
Juan Pablo Montoya was known for speaking his mind during his time in F1, but at the 2003 French Grand Prix he took it one step too far in the eyes of his paymasters at Williams. His team-mate Ralf Schumacher was in the lead of the race but Montoya had a chance to pass if he could find some clear air following his final pit stop. The Colombian pitted as planned but Schumacher reacted immediately and asked to make his final stop, covering off his team-mate. Montoya was livid, believing Williams had favoured Schumacher, and in a tirade of swear words he expressed his thoughts over the team radio. Technical director Patrick Head did not take kindly to being abused by one of his drivers and a further heated exchange followed behind closed doors after the race. Clearly there were few kind words between the pair as a week later Montoya signed a contract with McLaren for 2005 despite having 18 months left on his Williams deal. Speaking about the whole situation some time afterwards, Head said: "Juan is a passionate character and sometimes this means he makes impulsive decisions which lead him to impulsive conclusions. Once he had made his decision [to leave] that was that. In France he went into a sulk and we couldn't have a situation where he accused the team of being incompetent. I felt this was not something we could say nothing about."

Michael Schumacher - 1998
A wet race at Spa-Francorchamps exploded on the 24th lap, when Michael Schumacher came round to lap the recovering David Coulthard. Schumacher's title rival was Coulthard's team-mate Mika Hakkinen, who was already out of the race, and Ferrari boss Jean Todt had already been down to McLaren to request he was allowed to pass without impediment. Coulthard lifted to allow Schumacher past but stayed on the racing line, and unsighted by the spray the Ferrari ploughed in to the back of the McLaren. Having both made it back to the pits Schumacher stormed up to the McLaren garage - along with numerous TV cameras - and had to be restrained as he shouted to Coulthard "Are you trying to f****** kill me?"

Ayrton Senna - 1993
Ayrton Senna was leading at Suzuka when he came round to lap debutant Eddie Irvine and Damon Hill, whose team-mate Alain Prost was closing in second place. Having got ahead of Irvine, Senna struggled to dispatch the slick tyre-shod Williams on the drying track, so Irvine retook the leader and attempted to pass Hill, twice getting by but being unable to make the move stick and eventually running wide to allow Senna back through. Senna went on to win but sought out Irvine after the race and opened the conversation with "What the f*** do you think you were doing?" Irvine responded by saying he was racing, and Senna said "You're not racing! You're driving like a f****** idiot. You're not a racing driver, you're a f****** idiot!" The confrontation in the Jordan motorhome ended with Senna punching Irvine and walking out.

Ayrton Senna drove in to Alain Prost as a statement to Jean-Marie Balestre © Getty Images
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Ayrton Senna - 1991
In 1989 Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were battling for the world championship, and in Suzuka the pair clashed. Senna used a run-off at the final chicane to rejoin the track, went on to win the race but was then disqualified and Prost won the title. Senna blamed FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre for manipulating the championship, and felt the same the following year when he had initially been told that pole position would switch sides to the racing line, only for Balestre to block the change. In 1991 Senna revealed "I said to myself: 'OK, you try to work cleanly and do the job properly and then you get f***** by stupid people. All right, if tomorrow Prost beats me off the line, at the first corner I will go for it, and he better not turn in because he is not going to make it'. And it just happened." Senna took out Prost and in turn won the world championship.

Gilles Villeneuve - 1982
Following a boycott of the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola by members of FOCA (about an ongoing row about cars that were excluded from the Brazilian Grand Prix that season) only 14 cars started this race and it was to be a straight fight between Renault and Ferrari. Both Renaults retired, leaving Gilles Villeneuve and team-mate Didier Pironi to cruise home having been told to take it easy by the Ferrari team. Villeneuve took that as hold station and, after twice swapping positions for what he believed was the crowd's sake, was cruising round the last lap when Pironi - believing they were free to race - passed him and took the victory. Villeneuve was livid and said "From now on it's war, absolutely war" and "Second place is one thing, but second because the bastard steals it is something else." His most chilling comment, however, was when he vowed never to speak to Pironi again. Two weeks later Villeneuve went out late in practice at Zolder to try and beat Pironi's time and crashed fatally.

James Hunt would always make his feelings known © Sutton Images
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James Hunt - 1977
James Hunt was never shy about expressing his feelings and was often seen shaking his fist at rival drivers on track several laps after an accident. One such incident came at the 1977 Dutch Grand Prix when Mario Andretti dared to overtake him around the outside of Zandvoort's famous Tarzan corner. The pair collided on the exit as Hunt refused to make way for the faster Lotus, but he came off worse and was forced to retire from the race. He immediately stormed back to the paddock, found Lotus boss Colin Chapman and shouted: "Your driver will never win the world championship until he learns not to hit people on the track." When Andretti's engine blew a few laps later, Hunt tracked down the American and gave him a similar ear-bashing. Andretti later told the press: "Hunt says you don't pass on the outside in grand prix racing - silly jerk! James Hunt, he's champion of the world right? The problem is that he thinks he's king of the god-damn world as well!" Hunt, who quickly made up with Andretti once he'd calmed down, was ridiculed by the press for saying drivers don't pass on the outside in F1. His reply was typically forthright: "If they actually saw it, either live or on television, and still came to the conclusion that I was to blame then I have to say that they know less about motor racing than I know about writing."

Jochen Rindt - 1969
On the surface it may not seem to be as big an outburst as some of the other examples on this list, but Jochen Rindt's open letter on the use of wings in Formula One was a big deal in 1969. After a nasty crash due to a failed wing at the daunting Montjuich street circuit in Barcelona the same year, Rindt was understandably touchy about the issue and had made his thoughts known to his Lotus boss Colin Chapman in a private letter. "I can only drive a car in which I have some confidence and I feel the point of no confidence is quite near," he wrote. In his separate open letter, published in Autosport and Motoring News, Rindt laid the blame for the sudden development in aerodynamics firmly at Chapman's door. "Wings are dangerous, first to the driver and secondly to the spectators," it said. "When wings were first introduced to F1 racing at Spa last year they were tiny spoilers at the front and back of the Ferrari and Brabham. They had very little effect except at high speed, when they were working as a sort of stabiliser. This was a very good effect and nobody thought any more about it until Lotus arrived at the French GP at Rouen a month later with the first proper wing. Suddenly everybody got the message about what could be done with the help of air; but unfortunately nobody directly concerned gave much thought to what could happen if the wings went wrong; and what effect they would have on racing." Rindt was not only questioning the safety of Chapman's car but also arguing against a concept that was helping Lotus to win races. Chapman was absolutely livid and for some time the pair refused to speak face-to-face, communicating only via Rindt's manager Bernie Ecclestone.

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