Jos Verstappen has alleged that in 1994 his Benetton team-mate Michael Schumacher was using illegal electronic aids to help him win the Formula 1 World Championship. At the time the FIA discovered software in Schumacher’s Benetton that could have been used to run traction-control, but the federation was never able to prove that the system has actually been used. The team always denied that this was the case.
“I know what happened when we were together at Benetton,” Verstappen is quoted as saying by the http://www.nusport.nl website. “People think that I’m looking for excuses, but I know that his car was different from mine. I always thought it was impossible. I braked at the limit and I went into the corners as hard as it was possible. So how could Schumacher have done it? There was something wrong.”
Verstappen said that he later asked team boss Flavio Briatore about it, but said that the Italian did not want to discuss the matter.
“There were electronic driver aids,” Verstappen claimed. “It was never mentioned, but I am convinced. I know enough now. Like everyone else, Michael is dependent on his car. For most people he was a god but he is not superman – in a kart he never beat me.”
It is a matter of record that Ayrton Senna went to his death convinced that Schumacher was using traction control, having watched the Benetton in action in Aida, after being taken out in a first corner crash.
It is 17 years since Schumacher won that title and while there have always been suspicions in F1 circles, no-one has ever come out and said it before. The good news for Verstappen is that acoustic analysis has developed considerably over the years and it might (conceivably) be possible nowadays to prove the matter scientifically – one way or another, based on the revs and gearchanges recorded.
Then again, it might not.