Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008

Fake winners, DRS and the manhole cover that stopped a race

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Can a driver finish first without winning the race?

And did an F1 driver really stop a race by crashing into a manhole cover?

It’s time to answer another batch of F1 Fanatic readers’ questions.

‘Fake’ winners

Sounds like one reader is planning the next big F1 controversy:

Do they now or have they ever had a rule in place involving on track timing that would allow the driver crossing the finish line first to not be the winner?

In other words, if the leader has a ten second lead and the safety car comes out, does the leader still have a ten second lead when the green flag comes out again?

Yes to the first question, no to the second one.

Yes, a driver could be given a time penalty which means that they cross the line first but don’t win – this is what happened to Lewis Hamilton at Belgium in 2008:

These days it’s unusual for us to know in advance of the chequered flag that it’s going to happen. However it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which it would be quite predictable.

It has happened in the past: in the 1990 Canadian Grand Prix Gerhard Berger crossed the finish line first but had already been given a 60-second penalty for jumping the start (this was in the days before drive-through and stop-go penalties). He was classified fourth.

Here are some other drivers who were stripped of race wins, though not all the circumstances Racefan alludes to:

Manhole cover ends race

Speaking of races at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1990, here’s a question from Stanislao Avogadro:

I have read that in the 1990 Montreal GP a manhole cover was lifted by a Group C car and nearly killed a driver, typically said to be Jesus Pareja.

Thing is, I have never seen video of this and half the information on this incident is copied from Wikipedia. Do you know if this actually happened?
Stanislao Avogadro

There seems to be a huge amount of misinformation about this on the internet so let’s clear it up.

First of all, yes, the crash did happen but no, it was not a Grand Prix. The race in question was round eight of the FIA World Sports-Prototype Championship for Group C cars.

Jesus Pareja was on his 59th lap driving a Porsche 962C entered by (and shared with) Walter Brun when he hit a fragment of a manhole cover which had been torn out of the ground by a car further ahead.

Several cars hit the debris but Pareja was especially unfortunate. His fuel tank was ruptured and the car immediately burst into flames.

Remarkably, the marshals were able to put the fire out and rescue Pareja. But his car was written off, as was a second Brun Porsche driven by Harald Huysman.

No footage of the crash appears to exist but here are some pictures of Pareja’s blazing car and the aftermath.

To say this was a lucky escape would be a gigantic understatement. Here’s a video showing what happened.

Brun threatened legal action against the race organisers afterwards. Making matters worse, another of his cars was written off during practice for the next race in Mexico.

Which way to Istanbul?

Stephen Dutton wonders how the teams will get to round four:

Does anyone know if Turkey is a flyaway race or a European race, mainly do they carry the cars by trucks to Turkey or fly them there?
Stephen Dutton

They use the trucks. Head over to McLaren’s website to find out more about how they get the cars there:

Funky charts

Tristan Cliffe has his eye on the F1 Fanatic charts:

Having read a lot of your articles via your tweets, I’m very impressed by your interactive graphs – race positions, race lap times etc…

How do you create them? I can’t believe you program the data all by hand in notepad, so you must use some generation software.
Tristan Cliffe

Thanks very much – all credit for the charts design must go to Kareem Shaya who designed them for me last year. They use a combination of CSS and Javascript.

The data is supplied by the FIA and processed by me.

Have a look at the charts in the championship points table here:

DRS danger

Sean Goodridge asks about the great bugbear of 2011 – the Drag Reduction System:

What would happen if the DRS was opened but got stuck open? Would they get penalised?

Sensibly, the rules instruct teams to design the wings to minimise that risk. Article 3.18.1 of the technical regulations says: “The design [must be] such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost closed section returning to
the normal high incidence position.”

However the system isn’t foolproof and during the Chinese Grand Prix Fernando Alonso’s rear wing was seen opening at a point on the circuit where it shouldn’t have.

This was because the control electronics were activated later than they should have been. Although the wing closed correctly when Alonso braked for the hairpin, it also briefly re-opened the wing on the way out.

He was not given a penalty, nor should he have been.

But the incident does raise the worrying possibility of the rear wing being opened in the middle of a high-speed corner – such as Eau Rouge or Istanbul’s turn eight – which could cause a serious accident.

Got a question for F1 Fanatic? Send it in via the contact form. Please include your real name.

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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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  • 57 comments on “Fake winners, DRS and the manhole cover that stopped a race”

    1. Interesting questions. I think the first one might also be referring to a situation like Damon Hill found himself in at Japan 1994 where the race was stopped with Schumacher in the lead, then in the second half Hill was in the lead and had to overcome the lead that Schumacher had.

      Had Hill won by a smaller margin, he would have crossed the line first but actually finished second.

      This aggregate style rule doesn’t apply now though as its too confusing.

      1. Yeah that’s not been in the rules for quite a while. Japan ’94 was the last ‘aggregate’ race.

        1. Can you check please Keith. I was under the impression that this was still in the rules for the very unusual situation in which the race is red flagged because the track is completely blocked.

          In that situation I thought, they restarted from the grid once the debris was cleared and aggregate times added together. If however, the race is stopped under safety car and then restarted this wouldn’t apply.

          1. Yes it does still exist, I will get back to you on it ;)

      2. I was just about to say that! But I didn’t know the rule had been dropped. Personally I think it’s such a rare occurrence that I don’t see why it was, it was quite a fair rule.

        No ingratitude to the work done on the charts but I preferred the amCharts you used before. You could full screen them and even highlight a specific section of the race. I guess they came at a cost though. Not like I can’t zoom the page to make the new ones look full-screen anyway.

        1. Japan 1994 was the first thing that sprang to my mind too. Surely the aggregate result rule still exists?

          If there’s a red flag after 75% distance, full points are awarded. If it’s before the completion of a small distance (is it 2 laps?), there’s a complete restart although the number of laps covered is deducted from the new race distance. Anything in between, I thought there would be a restart for an aggregate race, with half points only awarded if the race could not be restarted? Or am I wrong – if there’s a red flag on lap 12 for a brief track blockage, do they all go home?

          1. Yeah, I remember the commentators said something of that sort when the 2009 malaysian GP was red flagged. They said that’s why the cars had been stopped on the start-finish straight and didn’t go into the pit lane.

          2. As you say, presumably the rule still exists – but red flags are so rare nowadays it rarely figures.

      3. It is very confusing, it took me a while to understand it.

      4. I do believe that situation actually happened at Mexico 1987, whioch was stopped with Mansell in the lead; Piquet crossed the line first on the road, but Mansell was declared the winner on aggregate.

      5. “Three point three six seconds… and that means to say that Damon Hill wins the Japanese Grand Prix!”

    2. Isn’t it possible the hydraulics that control the DRS would get stuck or something like it? I guess that’s a clever design too to not allow that to happen.. But I could, couldn’t it? Some valve or whatever getting stuck and keeping the pressure?

      1. I always think of it as something like the air brakes on a big truck. There’s a mechanical element (in the case of a truck a very heavy spring) which forces the wing into the closed position. The Hydraulics then have to overcome the tension in the spring to open the wing. It is possible that the spring could break, but the aerodynamic properties of the wing may be that when it is in airflow it is forced closed as well.

        I’m sure it’s not 100% fool proof though, as nothing really is.

    3. Nice Little article…… with regards to the manhole cover ending the race…. what about in Monaco recently when I think Rubens ran over a raised one in the race – causing all sorts of havoc :-)

    4. Jack Cowie
      1st May 2011, 9:38

      @sw6569 plus it’s dumb in an age where races get frequently closed up halfway through thanks to safety cars anyway. (Question: after a red flag, would a race restart under the safety car now rather than another standing start?)

      1. I would think so yes. Probably start from the pit lane in order of how they went in behind the safety car for a lap then back to business.

    5. unnnococooc
      1st May 2011, 9:40

      Nice to see good questions, but whoever answered them missed a bit to question 1.

      If a race is red flagged then it goes back to whoever was leading a lap prior I believe. I think their is a case in recent history of such a phenonaman.

      And Ironically it occurs in a linked article.


      2003: Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

      Fisi passed kimi for the lead but then the red flags went out and the race result was that of 1 lap earlier. Turns out Fisi did win it, but if Fisi and Kimi had done one less lap since the pass then Kimi would have one it dispite Fisi finishing ahead.

      1. And of course, Monaco 1984.

        1. It’s crazy anyone believed Prost wanted the race stopped because Senna was going to overtake him. Prost would have known that had the race gone to lap 57 he would have received 1.5 more points. Of course, he might have been caught by Arnoux too for a net loss of .5 points but really?

          1. he was asking for the 1984 monaco gp to be stopped. And even if he was one of the drivers that most used their heads during a race, i think self preservation was paramount at that particular moment.

            1. Yes, but msieur Balestre made sure to stop it before Prost lost the lead.
              Of course fortuna laughed last and best and Lauda won the championship by 0.5 point.

            2. Maybe there is a back story I don’t know about, but surely if you need to stop a race, for whatever reason, sooner is better than later.

    6. What would happen if the DRS was opened but got stuck open? Would they get penalised?

      The DRS was deliberately designed in such a way that if it breaks, it will automatically close. In the event of a failure, the actual lifting device can be disengaged, dropping the wing back in place. If, for whatever reason this fails, the driver would be able to pit and the team could undo the latch manually. The driver would not get any advantage from completing a lap with the DRS open because he would have no downforce and would be unable to drive at speed.

      If the DRS is manually disengaged, there is no danger of the wing opening itself (which was a major – though very misguided – concern among fans; I suspect it was people trying to justify dislike of the DRS). The force of air flowing over the car would push the wing closed. The only thing that could reasonably open the wing would be a tailwind travelling at some 300km/h, in which car the drivers are racing in the middle of a tropical cyclone and would no doubt have bigger things to worry about than the DRS opening.

      1. unnnococooc
        1st May 2011, 10:05

        Or if say a car spun….. in which case the wind would be traevlling as a tail wind in effect and the driver scrambling ot brake would immediately lock up due to the wing suddenly flying open

        1. If the brake locks it would still slow the car down. I think the spin would be more dangerous than the loss of drag. Front wings have come off completely in the past and aren’t banned just because they might.

        2. Or if say a car spun….. in which case the wind would be traevlling as a tail wind in effect and the driver scrambling ot brake would immediately lock up due to the wing suddenly flying open

          Only if the car somehow manages to pivot one hundred and eighty degrees without losing any speed. In which case, the effects of the DRS being open would not matter because the driver would almost certainly be crushed by the G-forces, and the universe would unravel in the face of the laws of physics being broken like that.

          1. unnnococooc
            1st May 2011, 13:47


            I never said without losing speed. If a driver is doing say 180mph going into a braking zone locks and spins MORE than 90 degress but less than 270 degrees then the back of the car would be infront of the front of the car and the wing would blow open.

            There are plenty of examples of a driver losing the car under braking, the back kicks out a bit the driver countersteers but the car has turned a bit more than 90 degrees as it slows down at which point the car would go from just under control slowing to a stop to rejoin the race to losing traction and then restarting the slide due to the continuation of the momentum.

            A basic exmaple that probably wouldn’t have turned out so bad if this horror situation happened with the wing would have been Senna at Brazil last year… most recent I can think of.


            ot 0.17 he loses the rear end
            by 0:18 the rear is slightly further ahead of the nose.

            He stopped the car, if the wing had then blown open the car would have lost a bit of traction and could easily have slide slightly more.

            Basic example. Sure it doesn’t look like much but he wasn’t going fast and there is plenty of runoff.

            And finally, no, I don’t need it to argue that the DRS is stupid. It does that for itself.

            Why use things that could happen against it when if it does as is designed it argues against its on use

            1. Surely if the car is travelling backwards the rear wing would provide lift anyway, so the DRS lifting would actually increase your grip?

            2. unnnococooc
              1st May 2011, 15:58

              Surely not….

              If the car is travelling upsidedown it would provide lift as the wings are upside down compared to an airplane, not backwards

            3. @unnnococooc it’s a fallacy that it’s the orientation of the wings that produces lift/drag in planes/cars. Otherwise how could planes fly upside down?

            4. Once going backwards all the aerodynamics become useless, the attitude of the leading edge is all-important in maintaining a laminar flow.

            5. Think about the angle of the wing, going forwards it’s like this ‘\’, going backwards it would therefore be like this ‘/’, relative to your direction of travel. That’s assuming the wing actually works backwards at all, obviously it wouldn’t be as efficient as facing the other direction anyway.

              Being upside-down wouldn’t change the angle of the wing relative to direction of travel, it would still provide a force towards the bottom of the car.

            6. I never said without losing speed. If a driver is doing say 180mph going into a braking zone locks and spins MORE than 90 degress but less than 270 degrees then the back of the car would be infront of the front of the car and the wing would blow open

              It wouldn’t happen. Physics dictates that is impossible. The speed is generated by the car, not by the wind. If a car were to spin at such a speed that the DRS could be forced open, the car would continue spinning.

    7. And of course there was the curious (and controversial) British Grand Prix of 1998, where Mika Häkkinen was the first to cross the finish line on the track, however Michael Schumacher crossed the finish line first in the pits, on the way to a redundant 10-second drive through that was later rescinded due to all manner of procedural errors.

      1. I remember that race, it was hilarious watching my dad (a big Hill fan) getting angry at Schumi :D

    8. If you mention sewer ducts, wasn’t a F1 car dropping out of some kind of race (Montoya, Raikkonen or someone?) a few years ago due to some damage like that?

      And remember last years Monaco, where Adam Cooper found out a loose sewer duct was the reason for Barricello’s crash?

      1. yeh, that was china 2005 with montoya i believe.

        1. you are right, and monty totaly destroyed the floor of the mclaren. Poor montoya, a very fast driver, and one of the best qualifyers, but so unluky. You have to feel for him nowadays in nascar. He is not getting any results due to everything you can imagine, even if he get some poles. What a waste of talent going around in circles. Shame on f1 for pushing such a talent away, while drivers like trulli still around.

          1. Shame on f1 for pushing such a talent away, while drivers like trulli still around.

            I’d like to have Montoya back as well but let’s not pretend it wasn’t his decision to quit

            1. he quit because nobody wanted him. He was pushed into a corner. His only real option was coming back to williams (option that was clearly not a good one). At bmw they wanted to hire heidfeld insted of montoya!!!, because they knew monty was going to be hard to handle when he knew they rather lose a title, that get out of the plan they made when they entered f1, like kubica found out the hard way. And yes he had an offer from gerhard berger to drive at toro rosso. ja ja
              He made the only decision he could at the time, because f1 was not after talent.
              He was the best overtaker when they were saying it was impòsible to overtake, and then considered him dangerous for doing it. It was all a bad joke. It was an era of ferrari domination, and it was imposible for him to fight the political enviroment. He was fed up after all that, and quit. And many of the old time fans were left wondering Why? He didn’t have the right passport either, and his character didn’t help him either. To tell you the truth my love for the sport started to vanish right there.

          2. Shame on f1 for pushing such a talent away, while drivers like trulli still around.

            Yes, Mclaren pushed him to publicly announce his move to NASCAR without even telling them?

          3. “Drivers like trulli still around ” 0.0
            Trulli regularly finished the races before Alonso in Renault ! Maybe you want to say “Drivers like Kovalainen , like Heidfeld , like … Webber “

            1. And has done pretty much nothing ever since and has been achingly slow for years.

        2. Bit more info on it. I remembered the Montoya incident, but I more so remember it for the vasectomy Mark Winterbottom nearly got in the V8 Supercar race earlier than year.

    9. I have not read the comments above, but I would like to point out that most teams have their trucks driven to Trieste – Italy, then shipped to Istanbul. The shipping is via company called Blitz, which are responsible for sea-shipping. They also ship for WRC.
      Few days ago I heard from my father, who owns a shipping company, that Blitz used his ship(s) to transfer the cars to the Jordanian WRC couple of weeks ago. They are closing up on a deal to use his ships for transferring F1 cars next year to races such as Turkey as well. :)

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        1st May 2011, 20:00

        That sounds really intersting. Please keep us posted as to how that pans out.

      2. Better tell your Dad to check what’s on the trucks very carefully just in case…

    10. Terry Jones
      1st May 2011, 18:03

      I was in Montreal for the Group C race. Walking back to the pits after the abbreviated race, I saw the remains of Pareja’s car. All I can say is that Pareja was lucky to drive a car with the driver on the right-hand side. As can be seen in some photos, the piece of the manhole cover went right through the window on the left hand side, head high.

    11. If in a race there is SC , a the end of neutralization can the DRS be used already in the first lap without SC ?

      1. wow, i just realised we haven’t had a safety car in the first 3 races. when was the last time that happened?

      2. I think you’re asking if DRS can be used on the same lap the safety car goes in? It can’t, it’s basically treated like a race restart.

        1. I imagined it but my doubt is about the use of DRS in the first complete lap without SC . Or the drivers must expect 2 laps as for the start ?

          1. Drivers cannot use DRS in the first two laps after a restart:

            The 2011 F1 rules changes at-a-glance

    12. Highlights of another race where the leader on the track didn’t win are being shown on Andrew Benson’s BBC blog at the moment

      1978 Italian Grand Prix

      1. You can even see a very young Bernie at 8m14s hahaha!

    13. Related to the issue of winning and not finishing is scoring and not finishing.

      I have seen F1 races where drivers scored points but they did not finish. But is it possible for a driver to score points and NOT be _classified_ (i.e. finish 90% of the race)? The only races I can remember where this almost happened were Monaco 1996 (Hakkinen 6th, 70 of 75 laps) and Spa 1998. If the points systems after 2003 had been around, Coulthard would have not been classified in a points position.

      Has there ever been a race where the race ended and a driver(s) in a point positions was not classified? Was the driver allowed to score those points? To my mind, such a driver shouldn’t be allowed to score. Being classified should be a requirement.

    Comments are closed.