Formula 1 is a serious sport. In the intense heat of battle the pilots don’t have a single second available to take their eyes off the track as they meticulously manage their throttle and brake, hitting each and every apex as they dart around the twists and turns. Eventually the drivers have to release the adrenaline pent up inside them in one way or another, which can sometimes come out in unexpectedly weird ways. This article will have a look at some of these moments, as well as other bizarre happenings in the world of F1.
Mika Salo’s Unique Entry into F1
Team Lotus were hanging on by a thread in Formula 1, barely able to make ends meet throughout 1994. They sought the services of Finnish driver Mika Salo, who with his financial backing could afford to pay all of the team’s mechanics as well as pay for the seat itself.
Gathering money from various sources in the middle of the night against the clock, Salo procured the funds and handed them to the men at Lotus on the week of the Japanese Grand Prix so that he could compete at Suzuka which was a track he knew well.
He arrived at the Lotus paddock with around $100,000 dollars worth of cash, discreetly carried within a Donald Duck rucksack!
Lewis Hamilton Starts the Hungarian Grand Prix Alone
The start of the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix was an utter shambles, with 6 cars retiring by the end of lap 3. Various on-track incidents brought out the red-flag, which was enough time for the Hungaroring to dry up and for everyone to carry out a free pitstop for dry tyres.
Everyone did so except Hamilton, who for some reason elected to remain on intermediates. So everyone lined up for the race restart one behind the other in the pitlane, whilst the Mercedes driver took his usual grid position all alone on the main straight. This made for some truly meme-worthy scenes as he raced off into the distance, with the slick-tyred competition in hot pursuit.
Montoya Explodes at a Cameraman
Better to just watch the video for this one. The 2004 season was not going as well as expected for the Williams team and Juan Pablo Montoya, so perhaps he needed to let off some steam.
He unwittingly walked into an innocent cameraman, but nevertheless launched a barrage of expletives at the poor man and accused him of breaking his head, which could mean any number of things.
Other F1 drivers refused to let this moment be forgotten by history, including David Coulthard who did a cracking imitation of the Colombian at Interlagos in 2008.
Andrea Moda F1 Team
This particular Italian outfit competed for 9 rounds in the 1992 F1 World Championship, qualifying for only 1 of them with Roberto Moreno at the wheel
. Andrea Moda was run by fashion guru Andrea Sassetti, who treated the team like most would a pile of leaves littering the sidewalk. At the Canada round both cars turned up with no engines as Sassetti hadn’t paid engine supplier Judd, so they refused to give the motors to the team.
The team was also notorious for their unfair treatment of second driver Perry McCarthy. For example at the British driver’s home race at Silverstone he was sent out in his S921 on wet tyres on a bone-dry circuit. At Spa-Francorchamps McCarthy was knowingly sent out for a session with a broken steering column!
In fact the Belgian Grand Prix ended up being the last for Andrea Moda, as Sassetti was arrested for forgery of invoices pertaining to various F1 car parts. Soon after the FIA banned Andrea Moda from Formula 1, citing failure to operate the team to a high enough standard.
James Hunt Attacks a Marshal
The Canadian Grand Prix took place at Mosport rather than Montreal back in 1977. James Hunt had retired on lap 61 after crashing out of the race. Frustrated and with adrenaline pumping through the Brit’s veins, anything could have set the defending champion off, especially knowing his temperament back in his racing days.
When a marshal named Ernie Strong put his hand to Hunt’s shoulder to check up on him, Hunt threw a ferocious punch right at the marshal’s face, knocking him to the ground with the elegance of a sack of potatoes.
James was subsequently fined 2000 dollars for the assault on the unfortunate gentleman, epitomising Hunt’s botched title defence in which he finished 5th in the Drivers’ Standings that year.
Taki Inoue gets Hit by the Medical Car
Taki Inoue of Japan only spent a year at the pinnacle of motorsport, with a few memorable moments to his name but for all the wrong reasons. He was regularly miles off the pace and retired from 13 of the 18 races he started on the grid for.
After retiring from a practice session at the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix, his car was being towed back to the garage by a flatbed truck when the latter vehicle was struck by the safety car, which resulted in Inoue’s Footwork rolling into the barriers and causing some damage.
But the most unforgettable moment occurred at the Hungarian Grand Prix of the same season, where a medical car spectacularly ploughed into the Japanese driver at some speed and momentarily launched him into the air. As exemplified by the video, this was all seen on live television for millions to witness! A medical car crashing into a driver and causing injury? Probably the most oxymoronic situation in all of F1.
Taki continues to be a figure of fun to this day, posting bizarre and hilarious photos and comments on Twitter and other social media.
Hakkinen vs. Irvine in a Press Conference Battle
At the press conference following qualifying for the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, the 3 drivers at the top of the timing sheet were in a positively playful mood after a solid session.
Eddie Irvine sparked the “war” after throwing a towel in Mika’s direction, but the ice-cool Finn put on a brave face and refused to retaliate. But Mika’s deference was soon shattered when Irvine took it a step further by jettisoning some juice right at Hakkinen, with the McLaren driver responding in earnest by throwing the entire jug of liquid at the Irishman as the latter attempted to make an escape from the room!
All the while Michael Schumacher sat between these two jokers, not wanting to be a part of the shenanigans ensuing around him but enjoying the show nonetheless!
The 2005 United States Grand Prix
After a rule change in 2005 which outlawed pitstops for tyre changes, as well as a repavement of the banked corner section of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, tyres were being put under immense loads which had never been experienced before in Formula 1.
After a high-speed accident for Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher which injured the German driver and a similar crash for Ricardo Zonta who replaced him, it was found that everyone using Michelin rubber was unable to last more than 10 laps on the same set without the tyres bursting.
After failing to reach a compromise with the race organisers, all Michelin-shod teams refused to take part in the race, leaving only 3 teams (Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi) to take part in the race.
Michael Schumacher too victory in one of the loneliest events in Formula 1, much to the disgruntlement of the thousands of American fans watching from the grandstands.
Leprechaun Raids the Track
The 2003 British Grand Prix was an exciting affair, with plenty of overtakes and varying pit strategies. But as if it wasn’t thrilling enough, an Irish priest called Neil Horan claims that he received a sign from God which inexplicably told him to run out onto the middle of the track towards cars travelling in excess of 280 kilometres per hour while holding out signs demanding people to read the bible.
This unbelievable situation brought out the safety car which may well have helped win the race for Rubens Barrichello and Ferrari.
Horan has continued to disrupt various other major sporting events after the British GP. He attended the Marathon race at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens where he pushed the leader of the race into the crowd, and at the 2006 World Cup he threatened to perform the Nazi salute at one of the stadiums but was luckily arrested before he had the chance.
Hans Heyer at the 1977 German Grand Prix
Heyer had almost no experience in single-seaters come the German Grand Prix in 1977, so was unsurprisingly unable to qualify for the race.
But he really wanted to race. He somehow managed to evade the watchful eyes of stewards and marshals, darting out of the pitlane to join the rest of the pack that had started from the grid. He eventually retired after 10 laps with a gearbox malfunction.
Stranded on the side of the road, organisers finally realised that he wasn’t supposed to be out on track and disqualified him. His crazy antics got him a lifetime ban from Formula 1, but I’m sure he had an absolute blast regardless.
For more updates on the website and extra info, follow our Instagram @thef1scoop and our Facebook @FOne Scoop.