Verstappen tells it as he sees it

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 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.

224 thoughts on “Verstappen tells it as he sees it

  1. Nice sign off: I can just see you typing away, getting to that last sentence, spending 30 seconds staring at it and going, “f*ck it” – *publish*.

    1. adam,

      I see nothing wrong with the story published. It raises a point that has long been contentious in F1 circles and I think it would be good for the matter to be address scientifically, if that is indeed possible. that would clear the air.

  2. Now we just have to wait until Webber has been retired 17 years to hear of illegal active suspensions and team orders…

    This, by the way, stinks of sour grapes. And Briatore.

  3. “I braked at the limit and I went into the corners as hard as it was possible. So how could Schumacher have done it?”
    That is hardly proof…. the answer might be Shu was a better driver 🙂 and had different limits due to style, position on track, use of brakes, throttle balancing and a million other things.

    It would not surprise me give the players involved and it’s suspicious to a point that the software was found especially what transpired in the crashgate thing – although as you say no one could prove it was active. The Boss is not adding new information here…. He just suspects something which is not that useful or information based on any fact.

    1. Rob,

      The Boss is adding his impressions – and saying it “On The Record”. That is basically a challenge for Schumacher to sue him. I doubt that will happen.

  4. Aren’t these two guys friends?

    I suppose this might just remain another of sports mysteries like certain alleged doping cyclists

  5. I think it does not really matter either way. Probably fair to say that if it was on the car, it was probably used at times, especially if no one was able to prove it.

    Does show how its only being on a slippery slope with these kind of things. From electronic aids, via who knows what, to the nadir of getting Nelsinho to crash for a chance at an Alonso victory, Briatore was part of some murky things in his time.

    But if one would look back at many a great victory over time, and using tools we have now to investigate, one could probably find an enormous load of things that teams did or might have done to get a fair or unfair advantage.

      1. Hi Joe, I came up on this comment, and just wanted to confirm that indeed, the fact that cheating is used more than once doesn’t make it right. And Verstappen actually saying so out loud is good, because it gives a voice to a wide spread suspision.

  6. You should have used the best quote of them all about him trying Schumacher’s car, spinning it, and then claiming that they had taken it all off for him. Stupidity from Jos, I suppose Salo and Barrichello had driver aids when they beat him in 97 and 98?

    Simple fact is, there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest Benetton used “launch control 13” or whatever it was caused. Senna went to his grave after making a humiliating error in Brazil, and then made such a poor start at Aida he was pitched around into T1. He also went to his grave thinking no one had a right to beat him after Prost hung up his helmet.

    It’s often forgotten that in Brazil, Schumacher made a terrible start and ended up behind Alesi for the first part of the race. Gosh darn those electronic helps! It’s also rather forgotten that McLaren admitted using an automatic upshift, and Ferrari some TC device. It’s never mentioned strangely.

    Jos was also always one for giving strange excuses. Didn’t he blame Michelin for his crash with Montoya in Brazil 2001, because “Montoya needed to brake earlier because of the tyres.” Always an excuse with Jos as to why he never made it. Maybe he just wasn’t very good?

    1. csf,

      Clearly Jos Verstappen was very good. I suggest that you restrain yourself in your criticism of Jos, lest clever modern technology proves you wrong.

  7. The article also gives the following quote from Verstappen:
    “Ik heb dat jaar een paar keer in Michaels auto gereden, zoals in Hockenheim, toen ik er af spinde. Zoals die auto was afgesteld, kon hij nooit zo hard gaan. Maar ja, dat systeem waar hij dan mee reed, zat er toen net even niet in.”

    Translation: “I’ve also driven Michael’s car several time that year, including at Hockenheim, where I spun off. The way the car was set-up, it couldn’t go fast. But the system he used to drive with, wasn’t installed.”

    To me this sounds more like a disgruntled driver. He did great in the feeder series, but just couldn’t do it at Benetton. Comparing your skills at karting as being a near perfect proxy for your performance in Formula 1 is a bit of stretch. Their driving-styles were vastly different and Schumacher had groomed the team to his liking in the years prior to 1994. Verstappen was a rookie who only heard he would drive the first race 2 weeks prior to Brazil.

    The rumours about option 13 remain and as you said, unless someone shows the details backed by evidence, it will remain a rumour. F1 at its pinnacle: speculation that a winner has cheated to win.

  8. So, basically, Jos is saying that not only did Benetton use driving aids of questionable legality, they also only used them on his team mate’s car.

    And he is convinced of that not based on any information he -on the inside- had of such aids, but that his team mate was faster.

    Oh, December, how lovely you are …

  9. Verstappen may be right, but seems that the only evidence is that Shumi was faster than him… According to that nearly half of the grid is using TC nowadays. If you´ve been quiet 17 years and now you just have this to say you´d better stay silent.
    Again, Jos surely has his reasons, and I´m not a Schumacher fan, but he´s just being ridiculous. And he didn´t only drove against a Brawn-Briatore-Shumi complot, also had his chances in other cars and didn´t show the speed he said to have when beat Shumi in karts

  10. Hi Joe, have you seen the Senna movie with the extended interviews?

    In it, Ron Dennis talks about the events of 1994 and refers to the Benetton having TC as if it were undisputed fact rather than merely an allegation. Given Ron Dennis’ character I would have thought he’d only do that if he was absolutely certain of what he was saying. Very interesting.

  11. Joe,

    Until that ever happens, there is far more evidence for Verstappen not being as good as he thinks he was than there is for Benetton using illegal aids. He brings up karting in that argument, but lest we forget that Senna never won the Karting World Championship, despite trying on many occasions to win it, and I don’t think he turned out too badly. 😛

    1. csf,

      Why are you so protective of Michael Schumacher? If it is true then it will be proved. He is big boy, he does not need his fans defending him.

  12. Given Schumacher’s past behavior on more than one occasion,
    it’s not a stretch for me to believe that he knowingly drove an allegedly cheater car.

    Whenever I see a fan who worships Schumacher, I know I have seen
    a fan who has a superficial understanding of what makes a driver a great driver.

    Schumacher won titles, but he has never been a great driver, only a conniving
    and masterful manipulator.

  13. So you’re implicitly saying that you think that Schumacher is / was a cheat. Why don’t you come out and say it explicitly then? You evidently believe it – do you lack the courage of your convictions? I dare say if an ex-team mate of MS were to come out today and claim that Michael never cheated you’d give it the same exposure, right? Oh no…. wait. Sorry. Just realised that there wouldn’t be a nice juicy story for you then, would there? Nor would there be a way for you to label MS a cheat by hiding behind someone else’s account…

    If there’s a single soul alive today apart from Mr and Mrs Verstappen who thinks that their son Jos was a better driver that Michael Schumacher I’ll eat my boxer shorts. You of all people, with your supposed insistence on veritas and accuracy should beware of regurgitating phrases like ‘so how else could he have done it?’ and presenting them as any kind of evidence.

    Senna went to his grave believing that the Lord God Almighty had made him somehow immune from harm. He wasn’t exactly right about that one, was he?!

    1. Bernie,

      You have a lot to learn. I am not hiding behind anyone. Not is ts not a question of having the courage of one’s convictions it is a question of the laws of libel, a subject which you clearly have no idea about. I have not accused Michael Schumacher of anything. If one reports something one must be able to PROVE it. Thus one cannot write anything unless there is clear evidence or a confession from someone involved. I make no accusations. I have reported that Jos Verstappen seems to have made an allegation about Schumacher. I have said that it might be possible to prove such things one way or another with modern technology. I have also said that it is good to have an open mind. If it is proven then it is proven. If not then it is not proven.

      In addition to all that, you clearly have no understanding of Ayrton Senna to have written such a remark.

  14. csf; senna made mistakes trying to keep up with a car that was faster for illegal reasons. It is a FACT that in Brazil schumi won the race in the pitstops it is also a fact that benneton where using a rig with the fuel filter removed which allowed the fuel to flow into the car faster, this enabled schumacher to take the lead. Documented facts. Some poor sap in the team took the rap for that one but we can all be sure that he wasn’t acting on his own initiative can’t we? Too many things in the 94 season don’t add up, illegal ride eights, fuel rig tampering, traction control etc etc. I couldn’t blame the team for sennas death, no one could, but I feel sure there are a lot of uncomfortable consciences.

  15. As Joe says, analysis of the engine sound should prove this one way or another, but it would not be obvious like when it was used officially.
    Cheating has always gone on in F1. McLaren revealed their “brake steering” fourth pedal in the BBC “How to build” series. As soon as someone invents something which gives an advantage it is banned.

  16. Verstappen rose too soon,bad management and he didn’t do it at Benetton.
    Briatore and Schumacher were ruthless and that’s what you need to succeed in Formula 1 I guess?
    Only thing is that Schumacher got away with it and that’s the way it is.
    And he is still here because of his achievements.
    Berger and Alesi also questioned how Schumacher could have gone so fast in the 95 car…are they next?

  17. Joe,

    I figured as much. To me, the fact that 17 years after the last race of ’94, there’s still no convincing evidence to prove these beliefs / allegations is quite telling. If there is fact-based analysis of authentic ’94 materials -as with the audio recordings that you referenced- to be done, I’ll welcome it with open arms. Until such time, though, these stories remain folklore.

    But back to Jos’ interview. Would you think it logical to put driving aids into the winning #1 car of a team, leaving the struggling #2 driver to his own devices, and, through that, basically handing the constructor’s championship (and everything attached to that) to the opposition?

  18. This is just another report from Jos Verstappen about Schumacher. You must take in account that these guys used to be friends but nowadays aren’t anymore.

    Since that happened, Verstappen has written quite a lot of bad things about Schumacher but he could never really give a 100% proof. I think its something personal between Verstappen and Schumacher. Hopefully this bashing will end with Jos putting his energy in his son Max’ career.

  19. Sorry Joe, with “this is just another report” I meant Jos Verstappens column at NuSport and Telegraaf paper, not your piece!

  20. By those days, Schumacher was awesome. No doubt.
    As there’s no doubt that that combination was “too much”.
    Rather than feeling Verstappen’s words as an excuse (he was good enough to need one), they sound logical to me and I see them as an open invitation to put some lights on this issue… a big enigma for most of us, fans. Will they be enough to ignite fireworks?! Hope so…

  21. Though I was a Schumacher fan at the time, my view of him has really changed over the years. I look forward to someone attempting to prove there were driver aids with acoustical analysis. Sadly, even if this were proven, I suppose Schumacher has “plausible deniability” as a defense, much as Alonso had it an the Singapore scandal. Somewhere out there perhaps there is a retired Benneton team member who could step up to collaborate Verstappen’s story.

  22. interesting. to be followed. there are only 2 possibilities actually: true or not 🙂 so lets wait.
    joe – you said it is documented, that’s one thing but do FIA intend to formally investigate or not?

  23. I’m interested to know what he learnt to convince him and if he’s known for a long time, why has he gone public now?

    Although I’m surprised people are disputing this and claiming the only evidence is that Schumacher was faster which clearly isn’t true because they found the system.

    My big question to the doubters is why would Benetton have it on the car if they didn’t use it?

    1. Ragerod,

      I believe Benetton did not remove it because it was too complicated to do so. The question did come up in 1994.

  24. Why the headline is always Schumi cheated? Why is it not Benetton or Flavio cheated? Schumi was not a computer programmer or engineer but he is the only one who is always highlighted in this matter!

    Another thing if Benetton were that desperate about M.S winning the championship then why didn’t they put the drivers aids on Jos’s car? He could have taken many needed points from Hill.

    Also why is he telling this now? Why didn’t he tell all this to the media back then? Or after he left Benetton? Why now? Does he want some publicity?

    Though this is not related to this topic but Bernie openly admitted that he used to cheat in his Brabham days!

  25. I find it remarkable that JYS doesnt inclued MSC in his best racing drivers, considering his sucess.
    Hmmm……………….maybe he knows a thing or two this JYS

    1. Kibby,

      I think that Jean Todt has done a decent job. I do not agree with Bahrain and I think that appointing that WRTC commercial rights holder may have been a mistake, but he has done much good for the FIA.

  26. I don’t know why the only two opinions here are “disgruntled driver” vs “it’s true, Schumacher had TC”.

    Why not both? I bet he’d keep his mouth shut had is car had TC as well.

  27. If it´s true, well… What Michael should have done? Refuse to run? It´s funny how people can blame a driver for management choices… Everybody is there to find a gap. There are penalties and they faced a risk of being caught. Fact is: they were not.

    IMHO it is clear that Schummi´s car had something different. It´s not a matter of being a good/better driver. The back end was really planted under throttle. I don´t know what Benetton did, but they surely found a way to put the power down and to have massive traction (much more than anybody else).

    Now braking late, taking different lines to the apex, nursing the tires, smashing the throttle a bit sooner than your teammate… That´s stuff a driver can do. Traction… You either have it or not.

  28. As interesting as these comments are for conversation I’d be disappointed if Michael even acknowledged them in the public realm. At this point the record books are closed and the past is written. That’s one of the things I always admired about Michael, he could take a punch and brush it off as nothing.
    Of course, the Formula One Racing media will be thrusting microphones under his nose at the first chance and egging him on as usual.

  29. Joe,
    From the very early days Schumacher hid data from his fellow driver team mates, most of them have complained about that, has had the benifit of team orders, best prepared car, hand picked parts, first of any new development etc. All the things that went with being the number one driver, but in spades. So why would a different software build than a team mate be a shock to anyone? If there was a way to get an edge he has done it. Sometimes in public like parking his car during qualifying in Monoco (and lied to cover up) and punting Hill off to win rather than racing to win the championship. This is not someone with the best track record, so why anyone (others comments here) is shocked he could have used a banned device is beyond me?

    I hope some TV show gets the software and the audio tape and does an analysis. Of course Bernie has the rights so it is unlikely, unless he wants the publicity! I for one would watch that show, just to know for sure. Lets hope Jos speaking out makes that happen to put it to rest!

  30. How is it not relevant?

    I’m merely pointing out that “Verstappen is just bitter he didn’t make it” is (while perhaps entirely true) nothing that would suggest his allegations are false (as users of the argument imply).

    I find it entirely believable that he would be really pissed off at being kept out of the loop on what might well have made him at least a race winner back in the day.

  31. Yeah Joe “times have changed” So what’s the point of bringing this subject up again now?

    Also you didn’t answer as to why the headline is always Schumi cheated? Why is it not Benetton or Flavio cheated? If this allegations are true for it has not been officially been declared as true, Schumi didn’t design the software or put it in the car so why is he the only one who is always highlighted in this matter? Why not the engineers or the other people from the team?

  32. Chances nothing for me, Ive always considered Schumachers ’94 title to be the result of cheating and I cant imagine anything will change that opinion.

    I really dont expect that he (or anyone else) will care what I think though 😀

  33. It’s interesting, but none of Verstappen’s comments really stand as any kind of proof. Saying “I braked at the limit and I went into the corners as hard as it was possible” relies entirely on the assertion that going into the corners as hard as possible is preferable to going out of them as hard as possible; as well as ignoring the compromise that must be struck between the two.

    It’s also true that Senna did himself no favours at the start of 1994, and conceivably had plenty of reason to be bitter about how Prost had claimed an easy title the previous year only for circumstances to conspire against Senna having the same opportunity.

    Whatever the truth, I’m glad I’m young enough to not really care. Proof that Benetton cheated is no proof that Schumacher couldn’t have won the title without it. Nor is it proof that Schumacher couldn’t have beaten Verstappen without it. I doubt very much anyone who had either a fondness for Senna or a grudge against Schumacher will allow themselves to be that rational however.

  34. I seem to remember the CODE for TC being found in the software but that there was no obvious way to enable it. I can easily believe that Jos had the same car as Michael but had not “discovered” that a certain combination of inputs worked wonders. Our Nige had a similar thing going on in his championship year when he used changing the cars attitude to advantage, I think this was not shared with Ricardo.
    At least it was not a special heavy scrutineering wing that has been rumoured some teams used in the 70s.

  35. I remember an advert for a 1994 Benetton firmula1 car, as driven by Herr Schumacher. The advert included traction control as an option fitted to the car. There is no doubt whatsoever it was fitted. The doubt is whether is was used in a race. Given Michael’s already noted ‘win at all costs’ mentality, I can’t believe that if he knew t/c was fitted he would not have used it. As to why Jos was not given the chance, I can only assume Briatore wanted to ensure Michael was always the lead driver. I am sure Michael would have demanded this also.

  36. Thanks for the fun story Joe, I’m tempted to go and watch some 1994 videos on YouTube and listen to the engine myself!

  37. At the risk of treading on Joe’s toes, for those too young to remember it went down something like this.

    The FIA found an option in the Benetton software to select launch control (rather than generic traction control, though obviously it’s similar). This was the famous ‘option 13’ in a control menu of which only the first 10 options were visible on the laptop (you know, the one they plug into the car on the grid) without selecting a particular random set of key inputs.

    Benetton’s defence was that they had used it in previous years when legal, but couldn’t remove it without totally rewriting the entire engine management programme. ( Which is odd as iirc they had a totally new engine for 1994).

    The reason it was hidden, so they said, was so that the engineer couldn’t select it accidentally (coughs loudly in a way that sounds like it contains the syllable ‘locks’)…

  38. When the central theme of an argument is:

    “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.”

    I always struggle to believe it holds any merit.

  39. Joe, In a podcast with Motorsport the director who produced the Senna movie talked of coming across FIA footage of Schumacher spinning at Tosa in 1994. He mentioned that while other cars who spun there lit there rear wheels up when taking off the Benetton just “coughed” and took off. It’s a pity that they didn’t include this footage in the movie, apparently it ended up on the cutting room floor although it would have been nice had they included it in their “out takes”. There was so much suspicion at the time that the Benetton was illegal, I am not surprised by Verstappen’s remarks. He has nothing to gain from making such allegations. I think the subsequent actions of Briatore in 2008 have shown that he had no compunctions about breaking the rules.

  40. rpaco

    > As soon as someone invents something which gives an advantage it
    > is banned.

    That’s what made the original Can-Am so great… as long as your car had fenders and what pretended to be a 2nd seat, you could do any damned thing you pleased. While I was even then very much enamored of F1, I could not help but think that Can-Am had the right idea about being racing’s pinnacle. I wish we could see what Adrian Newey would do if he didn’t have to be preoccupied playing Houdini with the formula’s restrictions.

    As for cheating, well, it’s hard to defend it. But if it’s going to happen, I think it’s best done with flair. More than anything else, that’s what I miss about the newer pasteurized and homogenized version of NASCAR. Back when the cars really were modified stock cars, the cheating was brilliant and wonderful. One favorite was Smokey Yunick and his many claims to fame. Among them, he became so annoyed when pre-race tech inspectors gave him 9 items to fix to make his car conform with the rules, that he picked up the fuel tank (which had been removed and emptied by the inspectors), threw it in the car, then started the car with no fuel tank, said “better make it ten”, and drove the car back to the garage. That’s cheating the way God intended 😉

  41. Amazing how your past will follow you around isn’t it? From what I can recall these suspicions were publicly aired back in ’94 when it was allegedly going on, wasn’t it? And nothing proven.

    Nothing new here, move along. Jos needs to find a hobby to keep himself occupied.

  42. Given that there were rumours in 1995 that Johnny Herbert’s Benetton was not exactly equal to Michael Schumacher’s, it would not surprise me if Jos was not operating on a level playing field in ’94. I seem to remember talk of Herbert finishing one race with quite a lot of extra fuel on board. And let’s not forget that, in his short tenure at Simtek in ’95, Jos ran as high as 6th in Argentina, so I don’t think you could exactly call Verstappen a slouch.

  43. I still do not understand his motives or reasoning at this point. Is he expecting someone to do something about it? 17 years later? Best to leave sleeping dogs alone.

  44. joesaward

    > I think that Jean Todt has done a decent job. I do not agree with Bahrain
    > and I think that appointing that WRTC commercial rights holder may have
    > been a mistake, but he has done much good for the FIA.

    This may or may not be the place, but I would like to be better informed about the job Todt has done.

    I have no particular opinion of him, am not looking for any particular conclusions, I am just interested to learn more, that’s all.

  45. Did some homework on Verstappen and he cancelled the RoC just days before the event.
    So I think he was trying to avoid the media fuzz generated by these allegations.
    He is in talks for a race seat next year it’s kind of weird to miss an event were you can show that you still have some talent right?
    He hasn’t competede for quiet some years….

  46. So there was proved to be a traction control device on the car but they didn’t use it. Nothing suspicious about that. Nothing at all. And Michael Schumacher doesn’t have any kind of reputation for winning at all costs. And then theres Flavio Briatore whose record is equally spotless…so yeah, what a non story…

  47. Get Vettel away from MS!! I didnt like Schumi’s win at all costs attitude. Clearly Vettel idol worships this guy. I hope he doesnt get corrupted by his hero’s attitude.

  48. Will Campbell

    > I doubt very much anyone who had either a fondness for Senna or a
    > grudge against Schumacher will allow themselves to be that rational however.

    If you wish to be rational, then you must accept that cheating is always on the periphery of racing (if not closer). Always has been, always will be. This is due to the nature of the beast. The job is to go as fast as you can, and the rewards for being fastest are great.

    When presented with a championship car, name a driver who would say, “Either guarantee it’s 100% legal or else I insist we make it slower.”

    The simple imperfect truth is that a car is legal until it’s ruled otherwise… it has nothing to do with the “spirit of the rules”, and everything to do with being forced to give up an advantage… all of which has nothing to do with grudges against one driver or fondness for another.

    1. RShack,


      If an F1 driver drives a car that he knows will give him an unfair advantage, who is he cheating?
      Primarily, he is cheating himself. Thus the very best drivers prefer to measure themselves against the best in cars that they know to be legal.

  49. “Clearly Vettel idol worships this guy. I hope he doesnt get corrupted by his hero’s attitude.”
    Your trust in humanity is admirable, good sir.

  50. Joe, unless you know different, I’ve always understood that the FIA’s crack down for the ’95 season was effective, and that Schumacher’s ’95 successes were uncontroversial.

    I mention this because at the end of ’95, as I understand, neither Berger nor Alesi could achieve remotely competitive times in the B195, prompting a chorus of “I told you so” from supporters of Johnny Herbert (like, er, me). But the issue didn’t appear to be that their cars were knobbled,or that Schumacher’s had any unfair advantage, just that Schumacher’s extremely pointy front-end biased setup was both a) theoretically much the quickest and b) undriveable for lesser mortals, even such talented (and oversteer-preferring) ones as Alesi.

    Do you know of a flaw in my recollection here? Was Michael using TC in ’95? If I’m correct, and -if- it’s accepted that the B195 was a straight car, then I think that blows a bit of a hole in the argument. I have no opinion about the B194, but Vestappen’s statement makes no sense:

    – “I know that his car was different from mine.”

    “I always thought it was impossible.”
    …I thought you said you “knew” his car was different?

    “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.”
    …Oh, OK. You don’t -know- anything, but like Senna and many other people, you -infer- a conclusion based on it not being possible that in that car, at that time, Schumacher might have been that much faster than you. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong, but you don’t actually -know-, do you?

    “There were electronic driver aids,” Verstappen claimed. “It was never mentioned, but I am convinced. I know enough now.”
    …Oh, right. You are “convinced”, because you don’t know. You have a reasonable belief,based on a coherent argument, but actually you are adding no factual information (based on this quote) to the debate of the last 17 years.

    Maybe these quotes are out of context, maybe the original Dutch says something different. But I don’t see the smloking gun here, I honestly don’t. And given Berger and (particularly) Alesi’s experiences at the end of ’95, I don’t actually find -this argument- (or Senna’s beliefs likewise) very compelling, unless it’s claimed that the B195 that Alesi and Berger were testing had also had driver aids enabled for Schumacher, but disabled for them. (In which case, why bother? If the team was still getting away with it in ’95, and with less suspicion than in ’94, why not carry on into ’96?)

    None of this says that Benetton were innocent. I’m just not seeing what’s new here. And, based on the comparison with ’95, I find -this particular argument- much less compelling with hindsight than it seemed in ’94.

    I’d appreciate being knocked down on this one. I seem to remember Berger saying that he didn’t know how Herbert even reached the end of a race in the B195, and he didn’t care, because the team would build him (Berger) a completely different car that he -could-drive for ’96…

  51. I would put it this way, if there was some (magical) way to know which teams cheat and which ones don’t, I would put my money on the majority being cheaters.

    1. GP,

      Then I think that you have a poor view of the F1 world. There is a difference between clever rule interpretation and running an outlawed system such as traction control.

  52. Don’t really have an axe to grind one way or the other but I noticed a couple of posts saying Vestapen disproved his point by saying he couldn’t drive Schumacher’s car as well as him because they had taken the system off. However, the FIA finding the system but not automatically banning the car suggests that the system was ‘disconnected’ in some way so that the officials could not prove that it had been used? If this were the case, surely it’s just a question of semantics with Vestapen saying the system had been removed when he meant disconnected?

    Obviously none of this explains why they would give the system to only one driver although it does go to explain why some people feel Schumacher is being targeted with the cheater title – rightly or wrongly. If the system was only on Schumacher’s car it suggests there was some complicity on his part. To my mind giving only one of your drivers a tool to make them much faster than the rest of the field seems a bit like waving a red flag at the issue although you could conversely say that if both drivers had been equally fast, this would have looked more suspicious than just one who could be heralded as a unique talent. Hmmm maybe Briatore is cleverer than I thought.

    One thing for sure, there will always be someone accusing someone else of cheating in F1. I guess the simple answer is ‘you didn’t cheat if you didn’t get caught’!

  53. “People think that I’m looking for excuses…I always thought it was impossible…so how could Schumacher have done it…”

    What pathetic comments. The sole basis for his claims are that he couldn’t drive the way Schumacher did.

    As for your suggestions Joe, that acoustic analysis may reveal something…now we’re talking. Some genuine technical analysis to prove or disprove the issue would be fantastic, whereas baseless accusations from a well beaten former team mate are essentially meaningless.

      1. And Elio De Angelis and Alain Prost COULD also drive fast though 😉
        I could be wrong but in relation to what someone said about 1995 I look at this and think that if Schumacher had traction control his throttle trace would be different – he’d accelerate sooner in the corner, not only deviate his throttle control less than Herbert? And he wouldn’t need to deviate his steering like he did?

        Jonathan Palmer thought he was looking at Schumacher’s talent, not traction control anyway despite the 1994 rumours being public. Herbert also gave him a glowing reference.

        And wasn’t he quicker than Berger/Alesi testing a 1995 Ferrari too?
        And quicker than Piquet (mutiple World Champion) straight away at Benetton? And 0.7 seconds quicker at Spa qualifying than De Cesaris in his first race? Why would there be a conspriacy in his favour at that point (or later really)?

        Braking latest appears not to be the most beneficialthing (I would have guessed not and the video says not). Prost never claimed he always braked as late as possible so how could Senna be quicker did he (and he did claim a few things about Senna but never that I don’t think).

        Just a few thoughts, though of course I don’t know Benetton never used TC in 1994 and only on one car (for whatever reason).

        If Schumacher was only averagely talented, he must have been a good liar and had everyone fooled though lol. Or maybe he didn’t know until Nico Rosberg often outpaced him?

        1. Just to expand on my first post:

          In qualifying at least Schumacher was normally a lot quicker than Brundle too, in a year where traction control wouldn’t need to be hidden.

          Irvine said in an interview with Sky (and seems to always say) that although Schumacher’s ability to set-up the car perfectly might be over-stated, his pace wasn’t and if Irvine had been quicker then the team would have got round him instead. Of course in 1999, Irvine was going for the Championship after Schumacher broke his leg – Ferrari would surely not pass up the chance of a drivers championship to preserve Schumacher’s reputation – the German did drive to help Irvine anyway despite being comfortably quicker again in qualifying – if they’d wanted they could have made Irvine’s car better but you’d think they’d at least make it as good at that point and Irvine belives they always did (and says to win a Championship a team needed Newey or Schumacher in that era).

          Would Verstappen believe he should also be 0.7 seconds to a second quicker than Irvine? Or is he suggesting Schumacher always got a better car (not just preference on the track once he was going for the Championship) than his team-mate? If all a driver has to do is try his hardest then surely most team-mates would always match each other within a tenth or two and there would be no such thing as super quick drivers. Although, perhaps to be fair he was suggesting that the gap should just not be AS big as it was. Or maybe he felt (or suspected and after the TC rumours and Nico Rosberg’s matching/beating of Schumacher suspects more) that he should be as quick as Schumacher just based on karting but wouldn’t necessarily feel that way about Senna? Anyway, I tend to believe that Schumacher did have great talent as an F1 driver and that was the reason he ever got any preferential treatment (whether or not that includes TC at any inappropriate point). Comng back at 40 years old and having new tyres, rules and a car that wasn’t bulit for him…plus a very quick team-mate who has quite often out-paced and/or beaten Hamilton subsequently – maybe the results are not so surprising or out of keeping with his previous achievments. If he knew that he’d always cheated but came back without being able to do so – that would seem strange. The fact that in the end he was able to beat Rosberg in races, then the following season out-qualify him more often than vice versa says that he was still among the best drivers – getting pole at Monaco too. Whether it says he wasn’t a ‘superman’ – I suppose it does, at least not coming back in different cars (maybe different to as a youngster moving from lower formula into F1? – or maybe cars were easier to adapt to then – he had done sportscar driving a lot which was different apart from the steering wheel I’d assume!) and importantly as an ‘old man’ in Grand Prix terms.

          Again though, I can;t say that Benetton didn’t cheat in 1994. Only Launch Control was actually found at all though wasn’t it? If Schumi always had TC though, that’d certainly put a different slant on him being quicker by bigger margins when it was illegal compared to when it was allowed (generally speaking e.g vs Barrichello) – the video I posted before would suggest his talents and feel for the car, but the other possibility if my interpretation of that is incorrect could conceivably be that his team-mate only had it when it was legal I suppose lol!

  54. I can imagine you, Joe, with either a big grin or sly smile on your face when you made some of your “open mind” and similar replies, then I remembered you reported listening to an audio simulation of the turbocharged V6 engines a while back and it got me thinking. Do you know whether audio from 1994 has already been analysed in the way you describe, or is waiting to be?

    Perhaps I read too much into some of your remarks.

  55. Joe your article ok, but your comments come across as defensive and even biased. Anyone would think you’re pushing the Shumi cheat line, rather than just reporting a story. I expect more from you, but on the other hand, you normally come across as defensive and pro-Lewis Hamilton. Not entirely sure I want to keep following you.

    1. Poket,

      I am simply reporting what Verstappen said and leaving it up to open-mnded people to look at the evidence. If that comes across as defensive it is because Schumacher fanboys immediately launch into abuse of Verstappen (most of which you have not read because the comments were inappropriate and libellous). No-one is saying that Jos is perfect. He clearly feels that what happened in 1994 had an important effect on his F1 career and perhaps that burns away inside him. Racing drivers are often like that. If Michael Schumacher is sure that he is right and Verstappen is defaming him, then there will be a lawsuit and the evidence will be examined. If Schumacher does not wish to defend his reputation then he has that choice as well and people will interpret that as they wish.

      If you are not open-minded then it is not my problem. I am not being biased.

      Nor, for the record, am I particularly pro-Lewis Hamilton, beyond the fact that he is clearly a very special driver.

      So, to be quite frank, I think what you have written is a load of hogwash and I really do not care whether you follow me or not.

      Why do people think that their presence as a reader is somehow important? I don’t care about statistics. I am simply trying to educate and inform people who are seriously interested in this wonderful sport. If one day I can monetize a large audience then all well and good, but that is not the aim.

  56. i think only by winning a record amount of championships, michael schumacher was able to shake the stigma that followed him for the first couple of years. even in germany, they used to call him “schummel schumi” in the beginning, which translates to “schumi the cheat”. i also remember that there were so many irregularities in the ’94 season that it was downright ridiculous that benetton and schumacher weren’t banned. i always put that down to bernie figuring that a german champion was good for business and rtl needing a german champion to justify the investment they had made into formula 1. neither senna nor hill winning the championship would have created such a huge new market for formula 1.

  57. Jos The Boss and Shumi were (and are) good friends.
    He never made a secret about the Benneton situation but reluctant to talk about it. A few years ago he said that he could not tell the truth because his son might need some people to progress in the future. In that same interview he also mentioned he did not want to say which person dissapointed him the most in his F1 period. Pretty sure it was not Walkinshaw but another person that left the paddock.

    Nobody liked the Benneton’s driving behavior of but for some reason only Shumi was able to extract it. Jos drove it so he knows more then us, we all know Briatore is …mmmhh… sort of a Berlusconi so maybe somebody can ask Herbert for his opinion.

  58. Joe,
    I have most races from 94 on VHS. Only ones I’m missing are Brazil, Aida, Spain, Canada, France. Got the rest of them. I’ll have to have a close listen to the audio!! I used to be a Schumi worshipper, however time has turned me into a pragmatist. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s probably a duck. Read into that what you wish. 🙂

  59. Joe,

    I’m curious about what Johnny Herbert has ever said about it. I would think that he must know, and is certainly not MS’s best friend.

    What does puzzle me is – if Benetton were desperate to win the Constructors in 94 (and even replaced Jos for the last 2 races to get more points), why didn’t they give Jos (or Johnny) the same traction control as MS?

  60. Jos Verstappen

    F1 Wins: 0
    Championships: 0
    Pole positions: 0
    Fast laps: 0
    Has-been/never-was race driver slamming his former teammate to regain 30 seconds of fame: priceless.

    It sure is silly season, isn’t it?

    1. Bigwagon,

      What is it with Schumacher fans? If Jos thinks this and is not worried about legal questions then I think he deserves to be heard.

      In any case, read this: This is the FIA’s statement published in JULY 1994, and clearly written by Max Mosley (“the best evidence” is the give away”)


      According to LDRA Ltd, the company appointed by the FIA to investigate Formula One electronic systems, the best evidence is that Benetton Formula Ltd was not using “launch control” (an automatic start system) at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Had the evidence proved they were, the World Motor Sport Council would have been invited to exclude them from the World Championship. Given the evidence available, such a course of action would obviously have been wrong.

      To avoid speculation, the report of the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate submitted to the World Motor Sport Council on 26 July is attached

      Hockenheim, 29 July 1994

      Report by the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate on the investigations carried out on the electrical systems on Car Number 5 in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

      An investigation into the software used in the computer systems of the cars finishing in the first three places at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was undertaken by Liverpool Data Research Associates Ltd. (LDRA).

      LDRA is a company which specializes in the analysis, validation and verification of highly complex computer software such as that used in modern civilian and military aircraft and a wide range of safety critical applications.

      On race day (1st May 1994), each of the teams was requested to supply the source code* for the software on board the car and schematic circuit diagrams of the electrical system. (Appendix 1 )
      One team complied in full with this request and a demonstration of the complete electrical system was set up with entirely satisfactory results.

      Having received nothing from the other two teams, a fax was sent on 9th May (Appendix 2) asking for urgent action.

      An alternative suggestion was received from Benetton Formula Ltd. In this letter dated 10th May (Appendix 3), they stated the source codes could not be made available for commercial reasons.
      In a fax to Benetton Formula dated 15th May (Appendix 4), we accepted this proposal, on the condition that Article 2.6 of the Technical Regulations was satisfied.

      On 27th May we received a detailed program for the demonstration at Cosworth Engineering. (Appendix 5)
      The tests which were scheduled to take place on 28th June were canceled, by Benetton, after some discussion between Ford and themselves concerning non-disclosure agreements

      By a fax dated 28th June, we again requested the tests take place as a matter of urgency. (Appendix 6)
      The demonstration and tests took place on 6th July. We received a report from LDRA on 11th July (Appendix 7) which left a number of unanswered questions which we were advised could only be addressed by close examination of the source code.

      In a letter to Benetton dated 13th July (Appendix 8 ) we made it clear the demonstration had been unsatisfactory and we required the source code for the software.

      Following another exchange of letters on the 13th and 14th July (Appendices 9 and 10) a meeting was set up at the Benetton factory on 19th July, an agenda for which was received on 18th July (Appendix 11) which gave our advisors full access to all the source code, but only on Benetton’s premises and subject to the instructions set out in Appendix 11.

      Analysis of this software, which had been used at the San Marino Grand Prix, revealed that it included a facility called “launch control”. This is a system which, when armed, allows the driver to initiate a start with a single action. The system will control the clutch, gear shift and engine speed fully automatically to a predetermined pattern.

      Benetton stated that this system is used only during testing. Benetton further stated that “it (the system) can only be switched on by recompilation of the code”. This means recompilation of the source code. Detailed analysis by the LDRA experts of this complex code revealed that this statement was untrue. “Launch control” could in fact be switched on using a lap-top personal computer (PC) connected to the gearbox control unit (GCU).

      When confronted with this information, the Benetton representatives conceded that it was possible to switch on the “launch control” using a lap-top PC but indicated that the availability of this feature of the software came as a surprise to them.

      In order to enable “launch control”, a particular menu with ten options, has to be selected on the PC screen. “Launch control” is not visibly listed as an option. The menu was so arranged that, after ten items, nothing further appeared. If however, the operator scrolled down the menu beyond the tenth listed option, to option 13, launch control can be enabled, even though this is not visible on the screen. No satisfactory explanation was offered for this apparent attempt to conceal the feature.
      Two conditions had to be satisfied before the computer would apply “launch control”: First, the software had to be enabled either by recompiling the code, which would take some minutes, or by connecting the lap-top PC as outlined above, which could be done in a matter of seconds.

      Secondly, the driver had to work through a particular sequence of up-down gear shift paddle positions, a specific gear position had to be selected and the clutch and throttle pedals had also to be in certain positions. Only if all these actions were carried out would the “launch control” become available.

      Having thus initiated “launch control”, the driver would be able to make a fully automatic start. Such a start is clearly a driver aid as it operates the clutch, changes gear and uses traction control by modulating engine power (by changing ignition or fuel settings), in response to wheel speed.

      When asked why, if this system was only used in testing, such an elaborate procedure was necessary in order to switch it on, we were told it was to prevent it being switched on accidentally.

      A full copy of the LDRA report of the 9 July meeting can be seen in Appendix 12.

      In the circumstances, I am not satisfied in accordance with Article 2.6 of the Formula One Technical Regulations that car number 5 (M.Schumacher) complied with the Regulations at all times during the San Marino Grand Prix and I therefore submit this matter to the World Council for their consideration.
      Charlie Whiting FIA Formula One Technical Delegate

      *Source code
      Computer instructions are usually called machine code and are represented internally as a series of noughts and ones known as binary numbers. This form of instruction is very difficult for humans to understand, so computer languages have been devised that enable us to express instructions in a form that is more natural to us. Programs written in these languages are known as “source code”. A computer can not use them directly but they can be translated to machine code that it can understand by using another program called a compiler. When the machine code is loaded into the computer’s memory the processor can then execute the instructions that are described in the source code.

  61. Here’s a fawning vid analyzing Michael’s magically superior driving style:

    Doesn’t prove anything, but fun to watch.
    I didn’t go to Montreal ’94 or ’95, but my cousin did and told me he was seeing Schu braking 50 yards later than anyone else into a particular corner. My response was that if that was so, in a Grand Prix that magnitude of difference had to be greatly down to the car, still giving the driver lots of credit for setting it up. Maybe my statement was far more profound than I realized!

    1. Badger,

      What is truth? Science can provide absolute truths, but otherwise it is all a bunch of waffle. I think it would best for acoustic analysis to settle the matter once and for all. That would clear the air.

  62. Well given Briatore’s record with pushing the envelope to win it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that he’d be prepared to run TC in his number one driver’s car even if it was banned.

    I find it interesting that Senna thought Schumacher’s car was running TC. You’d imagine he’d have a well trained ear for the sorts of sounds such a system would make on corner exit from driving cars with it in the years previous to the ban.

    Still cheating isn’t new in F1. In fact there’s the famous quote from Mr. B Ecclestone himself about being the master of cheating during his time at Brabham.

    1. Ben

      Cheating in F1 has become increasingly rare because of the policing. In the old days of Brabham, it was a different world, with different levels of coverage. And who was the chief mechanic at the team?

      Charlie Whiting…

  63. The link from Anthony (@PTaruffi) above is really interesting.

    The difference in telemetry between Schumacher and Herbert is rather starkly stunning. Such different behaviours. So was it the car or driver?

    Personally I mark all MS successes with an *. I would love to see an objective, scientific analysis.

    On the other hand (and I will not defending MS) I long ago watched two drivers who exhibited similarly divergent driving styles. Jim Clark and Graham Hill in Lotus 49s. Graham was the more traditional last minute brake, prrrrrp through the corner, then stand on it. In the one corner I was watching Clark was amazing in that instead of actually braking or letting off throttle (like everyone else) he could just hold the revs delicately steady and tiptoe through the corner before re-applying throttle. This in the rain. Before aerodynamics. I will never lose that image (Watkins, 1967).

    1. Interesting comment – thanks.

      Nice memories of Clark – I know you said it wasn’t to defend Schumacher but that seems to be exactly the sort of difference described by that video on which Herbert is convinced of Schumacher;s ability in that respect – the inference must be that it is down to talent and feel more so than tactics, otherwise you’d think he’d try the same technique. But like I said with my last comments/reply (under the same name) a while ago I’m not technical enough to discount TC as the reason for sure (it was 1995 though lets remember). The only think I recall hearing/reading from Herbert re: complaints was that after one session where he’d been competitive with Michael, the German decided that they wouldn’t share data (or something like that).

      1. Only thing, not only think. Not sure if that was a typo or my computer changed it (since I never intended to write think and k is nowhere near g lol!).

  64. They all cheated: delibrate crashes, spygate, planks, water cooled brakes, fuel tanks with internal reserves even waving a clipboard in front of a sensor to get poll. More spectular removal of refuel filters and crash gate.

  65. Okay, it’s Jos vs. the Fanboys! From where I sit, Jos has two major points in his favour:

    1) He was there, the fanboys weren’t.

    2) Jos clearly isn’t afraid to be held to accountable for his words. I find it hilarious when people hide behind ludicrous pseudonyms while berating others for lacking courage in their convictions.

  66. I remember that Schumacher would come to a complete stop on the track, prior to going for a quick lap in practice. Only in 1994, never before or since. This seemed to be ignored by the press, and I never found out why. I assumed it was to do with enabling the (alleged) traction control. Can anyone verify it?

  67. Wasn’t the 1992 Williams the most technologically advanced car in history in F1 history? If anybody would be able to see driving aids wouldn’t it be Nigel Mansell along with Senna and Prost? Did Mansell ever give his opinion of this subject. We know what Senna said. Also, did Prost ever say something on the Schumacher/traction-control subject?

  68. We have to be realistic. The full story (whatever it might be) about the design, configuration, testing, qualification and racing of the B194 is unlikely to be revealed by people who were the beneficiaries of the car’s performance. That includes not only Michael Schumacher, but also Flavio Briatore, Ross Brawn and other team members of the time, including high-profile former team members like Steve Matchett, whose current US TV gig may owe a lot to the performance of Michael Schumacher while he drove for Benetton. Quite simply, there are too many former members of the Benetton team still in influential roles in and around F1 for there to be much chance of new information being revealed from within F1.
    The full story will only (possibly) be revealed by a combination of analysis of video and audio and other available information from the 1994 season, and by information made available by people no longer involved in F1 whose careers were either not enhanced by association with the Benetton team or possibly even damaged in a lasting way i.e. people with nothing to lose. The main challenge, as ever, lies in assessing levels of completeness and truth for any new information. Just because the individuals providing new information did not win 7 F1 titles does not reduce or eliminate their credibility in advance. That is lazy and fallacious reasoning. Their credibility should be determined by other factors.

  69. When Senna wasn’t winning, he was usually convinced someone was either cheating or the establishment was working against him, so does his opinion have much weight on this matter?

  70. I see two ends to this:
    1. Michael did not cheat – which makes him deserving the championship.
    2. Michael did cheat – and it went unproven for 17 years long. I would say that is a bigger achievement than winning the world championship.

    Whom are we kidding Joe, F1 has always been about cheating. It is about finding the edge of the rules and breaking them without letting anyone know about it. Engineers who could do this well excel in the sport. Bennetton did excel in this. Hence, their success.

    1. sumedh,

      You are not correct. There is a difference between exploiting a “grey area” of the regulations, such as creating a bendy front wing, or a double diffuser. These are within the rules, even if the FIA’s intention was for them not to be. That is clever.

      Breaking the rules, using a bigger than allowed engine, having outsized wings or running traction-control when it has been banned is not clever. It is cheating. Intelligent engineers find it insulting to be beaten by people who use such methods.

  71. Its just sounds like motorsports 101

    Even from a karting level – the winner is always going to be accused of cheating.

    How often that is actually true – who knows?

    Is there any evidence why the team would have favoured Schumi?
    If they had TC – why not give it to both drivers and get a 1-2 instead?

  72. Joe ,

    I am genuinely impressed with your knowledge of F1 , I really enjoy your work .

    thanks for such a diverse range of topics to read .

  73. It would have been different if Verstappen went out and said publicly that HE had used traction control and he thought that Schumacher also had done that. THEN I would be more inclined to believe him. Coincidentally there was one team driver who did just that, in 1994 already, Nicola Larini who drove for Ferrari.

    Why dont you perform a sound test yourself Joe? You seem to dislike the fellow enough to be motivated, and it would prove to be a real scope if true…

    And regarding open minds, I thought my comment regarding Webber proved just such a thing. 🙂

  74. “Primarily, he is cheating himself. Thus the very best drivers prefer to measure themselves against the best in cars that they know to be legal.”
    I realize you know F1 drivers while I certainly don’t, but evidence from other professional sports (let’s say cycling) seems to suggest very clearly that most top athletes are very willing to take any (unfair) advantage they can – no doubt deluding themselves into thinking it’s “okay” because “everyone does it” and they’re “only levelling the playing field”.
    Why should this be any different in F1?

  75. I remember JJ Lehto telling on Finnish TV that Schumacher’s car had buttons that his car didn’t. That was probably 5 or more years ago.

  76. The problem with the “truth” in this issue, is that it would hurt F1, especially with Schumacher still driving. There’s no way the F1 “business” will let it come out that someone cheated their way to a world championship. It will stay hidden and tests will never be done or funded, otherwise the sport will be devalued and people will start (or continue) becoming skeptical of Vettels current results.

    The only way we’ll find out is with an independent analysis, which the F1 business and certain people will find easy to “discredit”. All we can do as fans, is speculate.

  77. Its largely thanks to the great work of journalists that some things get found out at all, either when being used or later (teams protest only when they get behind it and can give some evidence, I guess). Thank heaven for the great work of all of you.
    Just think how ScarbsF1 wrote about a way that might help explain what Webbers floor looked like this year. Or the picture of the Mclaren 3rd pedal.

    I just wanted to say it does not suddenly make Schumacher the worst driver ever, neither does it render Bennettons championships worthless. It does add the asterixes, as others have had those added in the past.

    And neither do I blame Verstappen for talking about it only after this long a time (compare cyclists now admitting to dope use decades ago).

  78. There must be a book or documentary in the 94 season as a whole. You have the tragedies of two drivers, controversy of driver aids, Mansell’s last F1 win and heartbreak for Hill at the last race.

  79. Joe,

    this is clearly an emotional subject for many. And whatever the outcome, it won’t change the course of history. But what I’m really interested in is what do you think about the timing of Jos’ statement?

    Why wait 17 years? Why now and not earlier?

    If he’s not afraid to speak out now and potentially risk a law suit for libel, then what has changed recently?

    You may not know his true motives, but maybe you do have an inkling why this is happening now?


    1. F430-FOX,

      I have no idea. Does he have to have a motive? Could he not just be angry about how it affected his career?

  80. NeilH had it right – the 1994 Benetton came up for sale a couple of years back (was it on Ebay??) and the advert said that it carried traction control. The only question, surely, is whether it was capable of being used, and was being used, during races and not just in testing as stated by the team. That is a matter of conjecture at the moment unless Michael or Flavio cares to respond to Jos’ statement.

  81. PS Off-topic, but rumours today that Sauber are about to leave FOTA. Not that surprising I guess as they are obviously very fond of their engine supplier. And given Red Bull’s exit, its hard to imagine Toro Rosso hanging around much longer. Looks like writing on the wall for FOTA.

  82. A launch control feature can’t explain the .5 to 1 second difference between Michael Schumacher and Jos V. on every race lap.

    Sure Jos is perfectly entitled to give his opinion but I’m perfectly entitled to dismiss it as hoghwash by a washed-up and disgruntled mediocre racing driver.

    Well it’s the off-season people -and blogs- need something to talk about and Schumacher is still a subject people LOVE to talk about.

    1. Frans,

      I think that your remarks are unwarranted. And to describe Verstappen as “mediocre” is rubbish. Mediocre racing drivers fail to advance from Formula Ford and Formula Renault.

  83. It is entirely possible to set up software with other channels for operating/initialisation, and if the software guy is cute enough it can be well documented but still ‘invisible’ to the inquisitive eye.

    Just look at all of the unintentional ‘improvements’ in Windows software over the years to see that in action.

    Someone, somewhere will have a copy of that engine management software, just needs to be found and re-analysed with modern equipment.

    Good article, Joe, thanks for posting it.


  84. It was 17 years ago, so does it really matter in the grand scheme of this for F1 now?

    Not really. It is just a an old driver whose career didn’t pan out as he expected, venting off about a rumour that is irrelevant to the current F1 seasons.

    1. Nick,

      I disagree with you. If it undermines the achievements of someone in the sport – or allowed someone to win when they did not deserve to win – then it should be highlighted.

  85. Hi Joe
    Fascinating and amusing thread, at least with the responses from the Schumi fans. 😉
    My view is that MS won the 94 championship by cheating, traction control or not, through taking out his rival on the road – not for the last time.
    Some thoughts. Given that it is unlikely that MS actually programmed the software himself, who did and where are they now? Are they still in F1 and with which team?

    1. Rich2,

      The name you are looking for is Tad Czapski.

      A former Lucas electronics engineer, Czapski set up his own electronic design consultancy business for aerospace in the 1980s. He was head-hunted in 1992 by Tom Walkinshaw, the then new Engineering Director of Benetton. He was responsible for control systems at Benetton from 193. He followed Schumacher to Ferrari but after around five years returned and went back to Benetton, becoming Head of Vehicle Technology. I believe that he left the team a couple of years ago and is now developing a solar photovoltaic farm on the old RAF Broadwell site, near Burford.

  86. joesaward

    > RShack,
    > Senna.
    > If an F1 driver drives a car that he knows will give him an unfair advantage,
    > who is he cheating?

    Everybody else, that’s who.

    As for Senna, why was he hell bent for more than a year on moving to Williams? The reason was obvious: until its automated systems were abruptly neutered, the Williams car provided its driver with very unfair advantages over all other drivers. It was perfectly legal until it suddenly wasn’t, but lets not be unrealistic about what the essence of Senna’s motivation was. Championship seeking drivers don’t want a level playing field any more than they would insist that their car be made slower. They don’t want a fair fight, they want a car that’s superior to all others. Fangio didn’t change teams like crazy for a change of scenery. He did so to be in the best car, thus giving him the advantage. Despite their special talents, they are nonetheless mere mortals and, not being stupid, they want the fight to be unfair in their favor, not fair. Mark Donohue made that phrase Roger Penske’s slogan: “the unfair advantage”.

    Now, there remains the question of legality, as not all unfair advantages are illegal. Perhaps the best current example is Vettel and Red Bull’s droopy wing. Some very thoughtful people have reasoned that the car is designed to explicitly violate the rule by exploiting the testing procedure itself to conceal the truth by deceiving inspection. For purpose of discussion, if that conjecture were to be true, would you think less of Mr. Newey for figuring out how to exploit the testing procedure to violate the rule? Would you say Vettel has cheated himself by driving the car to his 2nd championship? And would you have expected Vettel to demand that the car be redesigned to be slower despite its success at deceiving tech inspection?

    To be clear, I am not recommending cheating. Yet as a practical matter I think racing and cheating are never all that far apart. It’s the job of race car designers and engineers to exploit every loophole they can find, and it’s the job of tech inspection to catch them. And while those parties do that dance, drivers will happily drive the fastest car that they can get their hands on. This is nobody’s fault and everybody’s fault. It’s just the nature of the enterprise.

    1. RShack,

      You asked me for an example and I gave you one.

      As to loopholes. There are loopholes and there are deliberate cheats. They are different.

  87. Joe,

    Let me re-phrase then mediocre F1 driver. Still the discovered launch feature can’t explain the huge difference in laptimes between Jos and Michael Schumacher.

    A launch feature is used only at the start.

    1. Frans

      If you read the responses here, you will see that lots of people think that there was more to it than launch control.

  88. There is a very interesting piece about Benetton cheating with illegal software in the last chapter of Richard Williams’ ‘Death of Ayrton Senna’, which explains how it (could have) worked and why nothing was ever traced. I hear former Benetton engineer Steve Matchett wrote some books about his time with Benetton. Jos isn’t talking bollocks here… See Steves reaction about Jos’s remarks on @mrstevematchett

  89. Oh, my earlier post seems not to have made it. Perhaps I should have liberally sprinkled it with “allegedly” – though it is a commonly held misconception that this alone protects you from libel.

    I agree with Joe that Verstappen had some talent. It’s a shame that he’s best remembered for being set on fire (due to an ALLEGEDLY illegal Benetton fuel rig), driving over Martin Brundle’s head (thus proving that his car DIDN’T have traction control, else it would have stayed on the track) and the hardly earned nickname of “Jos the Boss”. Personally, I always liked him, not least because his name reminded me a bit of the German officers in ‘Allo ‘Allo, like General von Kilnkerhoffen.

  90. Its Schumi and Benetton run under Flavio wer talking about here.. if he could ruin Piquets career the way he did .. anything is possible.

    Then to end that year taking Hill out .. he never should have been awarded the title that year.

  91. Oh also, I remember reading an article in F1 Racing magazine around 3 years ago…It was a quickfire round of questions with Symonds.

    They asked him what his favourite car of all time was and he said (unexpectedly) the B194. He said that in the early season before ride-height limits and air intake holes, the car was simply perfectly balanced and wonderful to drive. He said they had given Schumacher his perfect car.

    Doesn’t prove anything but at least it shows how much pride he took in his work.

  92. Schumi’s B194 was also advertised in respectable UK periodical “Motorsport” over a year ago-ish. It was, as I recall, worded something like :-“The most technically advanced F1 car ever built, complete with full traction control and 4 wheel steer system”.The cat was out of the bag then.PS :- I’m not climbing into my loft to find the mag just yet!

  93. Amazing how any mention of the 94 season provokes such a huge response after all these years. The Schumacher faithful must feel a bit uneasy about the great man’s first and most controversial WDC, traction control and some dodgy driving being the just the pre cursor to the championship being won by Michael deliberately ramming Damon Hill off the track after making an un forced error.
    I don’t think anyone is trying to say that Jos was as good as MS, it’s clear that Michael was the faster driver, but maybe the gap wasn’t as large as their 94 comparison would seem to suggest. Jos simply says that “Like everyone else, Michael is dependent on his car. For most people he was a god but he is not superman”.This seems like a reasonable thing to say, the gap between drivers is rarely as much as a second, Jos of course is not the only person in F1 to believe that the TC system that was on the car was used.
    We know that Michael, as well as being a very good F1 driver, also had a massive amount of ambition and a serious ruthless streak. It’s not surprising to me that given the option of using traction control by his team bosses he decided to gain that advantage, we have seen since that he is more than comfortable with bending and breaking the rules to win. We have seen the same cavalier attitude to the rules of the game from his then boss Flavio Briatore, I think it’s possible that these two men, who clearly had the option of using the installed software, did so in order to win the championship. It cannot yet be proven of course, but neither has it been disproven, given the form of the characters involved, it is highly likely.

  94. Hi Joe
    It was almost as if you had Mr Czapski’s details ready to go all along, even more amusing. Burford, eh? I’d peddle down there now if it wasn’t raining and a bit windy! 😉

  95. Matchett has always fiercely denied anything dodgy happened in 1994, if you read his book. To my mind it stretches credulity.

  96. @Toleman fan: Herbert was initially very quick in the Benetton, but then didn’t have access to the other car’s telemetry after getting too close to Schumacher’s times for comfort. They were definitely hindering him.

  97. Bear in mind that Jos was asked this question in the week or so after the Senna-movie was just shown on dutch tv. They showed the movie after the Brasilian Gp.

    For the rest, you see my nickname. He added something extra to F1 for us dutch viewers at least. Which his ‘succesors’ failed to do (Albers, Doornbos)

  98. What all the Schummi defendants seem to over look is that other drivers and team personal voiced the suspicions and beliefs that his car was using TC in the opening races of the 94 season and THEN because of those accusations the team was investigated and found to have secretly hidden TC software.
    Then after long delays and denials from the team, they said OK we admit we have it but now prove we used it.
    The point is, if other people could see MSC was using TC before it was investigated & found, it tends to indicate he might have been!

  99. I’m sure that having been around as long as you have, Joe (as have I), you’ll remember that Ayrton was famous for blipping the throttle very rapidly in corners when driving the turbos, in order to keep the turbo speed high. Is it not possible that Schumacher developed a similar technique to keep the rear tyres just on gripping point, similar to the way anti-lock braking works? This would perhaps sound like traction control cutting in and out to an observer.

  100. “Briatore says he is in F1 to make money and admits he has no interest in racing. F1 is a way of selling pullovers.”

    Joe wrote about it back in 1994
    GLOBETROTTER: Rocking the boat

    BTW some people here seems to forget Verstappen did win LeMans in a LMP2 and destroyed the competition in the 2008 season . That and surviving F1 for 10 years means something to me.

  101. I always wondered at the time what the hidden options 11 and 12 were for.. Or if option 13 was also TC and SC in the one code package.

    I also wonder if there is any in car footage at the start of any of the 94 GP’s or in the pits prior to the start or even qualifying, of MS actuating his complicated set of inputs via the gear paddles and pedal position that would activate those hidden options.

    The truth will come out eventually, it always does, technology eventually catches up and exposes it all. The actors involved certainly have form, but I doubt it will keep MS or FB awake at night though.

    Somebody who might not be sleeping too well as technology keeps advancing is another multiple champion and Tour de France winner. There’s frozen pee samples stored awaiting further analysis and there’s no statute of limitations on testing those..

    I hope for his, his many supporters and the charities he is involved with and has helped enormously that they find nothing, it would be tragic for all concerned if they did.

    MS will be fine though either way.. At worst he’d lose one of his WDC’s and a few GP wins but like Joe says, the FIA will do nothing.

  102. He sheer volume of comments here are proof positive that this is a story that people want to hear about. Fascinating stuff.

    I have no opinion on the issue here, but as someone who has worked in software for 20 years I can say with absolute certainty that it would not be difficult to:
    A) embed event driven logic in the code that would enable the launch control feature
    B) make that code difficult to find
    C) compile it into the object code, then remove it from the source code altogether
    D) show the fia a diff version of the source code

    All very possible. But then many things are and people don’t do them, they choose to play straight. We don’t know what happened here so should assume them innocent.

    Incidentally why would you leave a feature on a car for “testing purposes” when your tests are supposed to be representative of race conditions and thus enable you to learn or progress. That to me does raise an eyebrow but there is prob a simple explanation.

  103. A clear case of The Medium Is The Message. People don’t believe it because Jos Verstappen said it. If it had been the other way around (Schumacher saying that Verstappen was only 1 sec off the pace instead of 3 because of driving aids) many would accept the story. But Verstappen deserves a voice. He has been there (more than we can say) and he’s not the first who mentions it.

    I also find it hard to compare Verstappen with Schumacher. They never raced with similar material except for this year. For the rest of his career, Verstappen was always in underfinanced teams while Schumacher earned most of his success in a Ferrari. Yet, I remember quite many of Verstappen’s performances when he was at Arrows – he may not have had the talent of Schumacher, but he could impress if the circumstances were right.

  104. I remember the race report from F1 News at the French Grand Prix in 1994, where Schumi led into turn 1 from the second row saying something like “Schumacher executed a perfect start, with all the finesse of a computer…”

    Although I bought many issues I can’t remember if your name ever popped up in the contributors list, Joe. Did you ever write for that title? You seem to share a philosophy.

  105. Keith Crossley,

    If you have or can get hands on “The Unfair Advantage,” Mark Donohue, and look in Chapter 14-1968-McLaren M6B, you’ll see that Mark’s winning wet-weather driving style was similar; at least the tiptoe part.

  106. Watch the start of 1994 French GP. Williams front row, 0.5 seconds ahead of Benetton. Schmi, perfect start, beats both Mansell & Hill into 1st corner, as if they were standing still. What skill??

  107. Interesting post Joe.

    I seem to remember that some ‘reliable’ sources indicated that the FIA attempted to recruit the best electronic experts in this field at the time to help investigate and police this area of technology.

    They headhunted these guys and found they were employed… Benetton!

    Coincidence? – I think not…!

  108. He’s still a good driver. Take that 1 away and he won 6. And, by the way, don’t tell me that they’re taking it away from him now. I think he’s telling this story now because there’s more chance that he is believed, because of Schumi’s current performance.

  109. As Joe and others have noted, the FIA looked into this at the time and decided to take no action. This does not necessarily mean that Schumacher and Briatore (and other at Benetton) did nothing wrong. It would not be the first or last time that the FIA had not taken action where a rule was broken (if indeed that was the case). The idea that Benetton “getting away with it” rested on the FIA not being able to prove that the system in the car had been used is a legal nonsense; if it is against the letter of the rules to use it, then it is against the spirit of the rules to have it in the car, and the FIA could have thrown the book at Benetton had it wanted to.

    So why didn’t they? Well, 1994 was a very dark period in F1 following Senna’s death. To many (obviously not including Schumacher and Briatore) the importance of winning grands prix and championships paled somewhat compared to the loss of the sports only remaining superstar (Piquet, Mansell and Prost having all retired in the previous few years). Damon Hill is on record as stating that Senna’s death utterly shattered the Williams team to the extent that their will to win the championship was affected. Against that backdrop, the idea that someone would cheat their way to the championship would have seemed totally unpalatable. No doubt the powers that be thought the sport could do without the bad press following the Senna tragedy. Plus, with all the aforementioned superstars now absent (Mansell’s cameos notwithstanding) did the FIA really want to be seen to be slapping down the young pretender who was clearly going to be the next superstar? Of course not.

    Caveat: the above views are my own, not those of Joe Saward or WordPress, and are unsubstantiated speculation based on hearsay and gossip. Will that do? 😉

    1. Jerry,

      You forgot the fact that FIA President Max Mosley recognised that if Benetton was to be punished the federation would need to have 100 percent rock solid evidence. Benetton showed up with George Carmen QC, who was famous for his work as a libel lawyer. This was obviously a message. With only “smoking gun” evidence Mosley did not dare risk a major defamation case from the clothing company Benetton and so he cut a back room deal which resulted in management changes at the team, a hefty fine for not being helpful and Michael Schumacher being involved in endless FIA road safety campaigns.

  110. It is astonishing just how protective of MS his fans can be. Given his his proven guilt at both Jerez ’97 and Monaco ’06 (and the litany of officially unproven but clearly dodgy behaviour in other incidents), it amazes me that in lieu of facts, anyone could confidently take the high ground in his defence. I notice also that those pleading for MS often conveniently seem to avoid mentioning the man at the helm in ’94. Another proven cheat.

    What also really surprises me is how little many of his fans understand their idol and why he was so successful. He (was) clearly a very fast driver, but his real talent was an ability to pull the maximum out of every concievable exploitable area. No-one could touch him in that respect, and I don’t begrudge him his success because he clearly worked very hard for it. But he was never a ‘pure god behind the wheel’ type of driver. He also had a tremendous amount of plain old good luck. It’s not a word many like using in F1, but regardless of how well you prepare it is a factor – even more so back in those days.

  111. Joe

    This one looks like it kept you up all night! When do you sleep?

    Note to those who think Verstappen is poor, average, rubbish etc.

    You should have seen him in the LMP2 Porsche al Le Mans a few years ago.


  112. WRT car/driver prowess in general: technology for remotely recording and graphing car/driver performance, by an outside source, isn’t just old-hat, it’s ancient-hat. If they were published, I’m sure I’m not alone in that I’d voraciously study race-weekend graphs, similar to the ones displayed in the vid I linked to above, comparing the competitors’ point-speeds, braking distances, acceleration and other factors. The capability’s been around so long, that I wonder if something’s actively preventing it from being gathered and offered publicly. A conspiracy?, or something as simple as, no one wants to invest in it. Say!, if the COTA owners really want their circuit to break new ground, they should install such system integrally!

  113. I am proud to say I was there, and I’m not handing my medal back.
    Michael was simply the most tallented dedicated sportsman I ever worked with.

    Software audit’s were regulally performed by the FIA, and in spite of what seemed like a vendetta against the team, alegations could never be prooved.

    Jos perhaps has the ache, as he kept falling off the track. In fact after Aida, we Tessa Taped him to a tire trolly, hung a for sale sign round his neck and parked him in the pit lane.

    Bless Him

  114. MS is alleged to have cheated throughout his career and that is the reason him, and his records, mean nothing to me. Remember HHF saying publicly that he followed MS’s Ferrari and swore it had traction control? Poor Heinz was brow beaten into apologizing for his comments…

  115. Joe

    “There is nothing rubbish about Jos Verstappen as a racing driver”.

    That’s what I was trying to say Joe, with my LMP2 Porsche statement, sorry if I didn’t express my point clearly.


  116. George Carman represented whoever paid him, as a barrister should and must.

    But he sure was was the biggest of the big guns; if he was a gun he’d have been one of those big one on a railway truck, or even the ones smuggled in bits to Iraq disguised as drainpipes. Michael Manfield isn’t fit to brush his wig (imho)

  117. I want to see a video of MS’s B194 wheel spinning! I’ve never seen it! The entire TC/LC software was carried over from the B193 …. I mean, come on! If they didn’t want to mess with the software code (to avoid bugs), they could have disabled or nullified it in some other way.

    Just look at the start of the 1994 French GP ( ) … Mansell and Hill were no slouches on the start-line, and yet Schumacher SHOT past them both 😮

    Who honestly thinks that Flavio was/is highly ethical? Remember Singapore 2008? Renault had under-performed that year, and things were getting a little desperate. In comparison, Benetton had aspired to the title in 1993, but the B193 was not a championship contender, much like its predecessors. Benetton were under a lot of pressure in 1994, with a new title sponsor (Mild Seven), and the risk of another failure looming. Also, I think TW was a very competitive person. He could push the rules to the limit, and maybe beyond? 😉

    I think Steve Matchett is telling the truth, and he knew nothing. Let’s go back to SpyGate in 2007 … did every McLaren employee know about Coughlan’s photocopying antics? NO … that was on a “need to know basis”.

    One day we will know the truth … I believe the day of truth will come with a few years … maybe even next year

  118. I don’t feel Verstappen’s comments and the ensuing storm-in-teacup have added anything significant to the same old rumours about the legality or otherwise of the Benetton B194. Mind you, in light of his comments, it would have been interesting to see an FIA report on his car’s ECU to compare it with Schumacher’s…

    If Verstappen wants to publicly claim that Schumacher’s car was illegal, then he should provide some evidence or at least a deposition of some kind to the FIA. Assuming Joe’s blog is a complete and correct translation from the Dutch website, Verstappen says he “knows” the cars were different and that he was “convinced” there were electronic aids, but provides no actual evidence.

    The 1994 season will go down as a dark time for F1 for many reasons, however I am prepared to give Schumacher the benefit of the doubt until someone can provide evidence to the contrary.

  119. Just to add something for debate:

    Years after the 1994 season I found a note published in a 1993 issue of Race Tech magazine about the traction control developed by Benetton for the B193B car. It said that the new TC system operated directly in the gearbox, without the need to cut off cylinders (very useful when you have only eight of them!). So it was not immediately detectable by sound, as the common TC systems of the time.

    I remember that when the rumour about Benetton using TC spreaded in Interlagos, some drivers declared to the press that “of course, not”, just because there’s no sign of the characteristic noise of the cylinders being cut off.

  120. The one thing we can all be sure of however, any kind of skull duggery would have ended the moment he went to Fiat

  121. Joe –

    I totally agree with you that analysis of the engine notes from 1994 should take place.

    I often wondered why there was any doubt at all over TC use in 1994, as the most recent TC systems were about as subtle as a brick.

    However, I presume that to run illegal TC a team would have had to do so in a less overt way than the systems that were present when TC was last permitted in F1?

    The noise the recent TC systems made was clearly audible from ones sofa, let alone track-side or following a car itself. In fact, it sounded horrible; a crunching noise so bad that it’s only trumped by the godforsaken off-throttle gurgles from 2011.

    Was there any hint of TC in the engine notes in 1994 from track-side? Do you remember hearing a difference yourself?



    I’m a huge Schumi fan by the way and I am opened minded enough to admit that if Ayrton Senna spent a few laps following a car in front and swears it was using TC, then it shouldn’t be ignored. Let alone the rest of the field and the FIA investigation… there’s no shortage of ‘smoke’!

  122. Everyone,

    This topic is now closed. I am bored with Schumacher fanboys telling me I am biased and British and all the other crap that they come up with.

    End of story.

  123. How are any of you still arguing about this?
    Verstappen’s remarks are hardly reqiuired.The FIA found Benetton had illegal software hiddden in their operational laptops called – wait for it – Launch Control, that they used illegal fuel rigs without a filter (a dangerous modification that caused the major Verstappen pit fire) to gain precious seconds in refuelling & that they used an illegal skid plank that was reshaped at the front to haul back some small underbody aero gains. Benetton had flimsy excuses for all this, but the FIA lacked the balls to do anything about it. Senna knew at the first race of season that Benetton were cheating.
    Walkingshaw, Briatore, Brawn, Symonds & Schumacher all conspired & cheated. Karma came calling for Symonds & Briatore much later at Renault for race fixing with Piquet Jr, but it was hardly retribution enough. The FIA allowed it & set in motion the virtual formal acceptance ofcheating as part of modern F1.

  124. Hi Joe this is the first time i am posting on your blog
    You say that 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. ….well ron dennis is saying it now.

      1. Was his car suspected of being illegal in only in 94 or 95 too ? and how does this impact his legacy among the circles who matter in F1

        1. Also 93, 92 and 91 (including his Jordan at Spa)….

          Do Piquet or Brundle think he was quicker than them because of driver aids they didn’t have? Unless it’s all a big conspiracy from the start I don’t think his talent can be doubted honestly (whether or not his car was enhanced illegally in 1994 with or without his knowledge – would it have to be with because he’d have to activate the system?). At least not substantially. But I’m not saying any cheating was ok. I can’t remember which race it was or which coverage (Eurosport or BBC or some American channel even) but I was viewing a race from either 1993 or the start of 1994 not long ago where the commentator said that Brundle had said that he thought Schumacher was quicker than Senna. He raced vs Senna in Formula 3 didn’t he and although he might have had a better car and it is a different formula at a different time (see Schumacher v Verstappen also though) he was Senna’s big challenger and was a highly rated young driver wasn’t he?

          1. Hi Peter
            There was no was the car could have been enchanced without his knowledge as the driver had to manually scroll to the software’s menu of programmes, scroll down beyond the bottom line, select an apparently blank line, press a secret key – and without anything showing on the screen, Launch/Traction Control was ready for action.
            This coupled with using an illegal fuel valve, without a fuel filter, that pumped fuel into the car 12.5% faster than a normal, legal fuel valve that had a filter and explained how Schumacher was able to leap frog Senna and take the lead at the season opening Brazilian GP .
            In fact in a recent interview fo the 20th anniversary of Sennas death on sky f1 Ron Dennis openly says that the Benetton b194 was an illegal car.
            Martin Brundle has consistently said that senna was the fastest he had ever seen.

            1. Thanks Clyde – hopefully we are adding to a good discussion.

              I had read similar things re traction control yeah, so the question remaining is whether traction control was ever used in the races (or was up to a certain point in the season which would include the first 3 races) I suppose.

              I’ve read a few pages this morning (but can’t link them of course which is fair enough if those are the blog rules) including one that was discussing a pro-Senna quote from Berger in relation to Schumacher (but the date was in question – it was being discussed in 2000). Someone else mentioned Brundle commenting in favour of Schumacher in 1994 (either on there or more likely as a comment on that Ron Dennis/Schumacher video I posted from McLaren’s 1993 season video I believe) so I guess that was the same comment and if in 1994 that would mean it was said during one of the opening two races of 1994 (I’m sure it wasn’t the Imola race). If I find it I’ll let you know – over the last year or so I’ve looked back at quite a few races on Youtube including classics involving Giles Villenueve etc that I was too young to have witnessed or remembered at least. Some races have been on Sky’s new channel too of course.

            2. Brazil 1994 for the Brundle comments stated by an American commentator after the 1st pitstop.
              I made another post including the video (also saying I knew that Brundle had called Senna the most naturally talented before…not sure what else I said but I dunno whether my post hasn’t been approved so making this one brief and without the video although of course I’ve posted others – anyway the video is Senna v Schumacher Brazil 1994 on Youtube so not the full race, and he just says Brundle apparently thought Schumacher might be quicker than Senna in the same car based on his time as his team-mate 2 seasons before).


    1. I didn’t find anything about Dennis claiming the Benetton was illegal recently (maybe you could show a link too if allowed). This is interesting though (we can all pinpoint where the conversation went a bit ‘wrong’ I think – not gonna claim I know what Dennis’s intentions were at that point and not saying it stopped Schumacher being a McLaren driver at any point in his career – him alongside Hakkinen would have been interesting although he’d already said he was staying at Benetton for the following season – 1994):

      Anyway, how ever much anyone likes or doesn’t like Schumacher…rates him among the best ever or has doubts re that – lets hope he makes a good recovery still. I think like Senna he did have some good traits as well as being ruthless with competitors at times (not saying they were very alike in personality or driving style – the driving style video says not and actually I still feel like Prost could have avoided both accidents with Senna in title deciders – those weren’t the only Senna ‘incidents’ though so I felt Murray Walker did give a more accurate description than Johnny Herbert during the Senna programme that was on Sky last night but recorded a few days earlier I think – Herbert said Schumacher was more ruthless on track basically but I don’t know about that although some memories of Senna pushing Mansell off when in a Lotus are vague childhood memories and I know Mansell got on ok with him.

  125. Just to post this also re: Jordan’s view (initially moreso than after Schumacher’s 1st career ended although that’s when he’s speaking of course):

    And this site has the comments attributed to Berger about 1995 testing at Estoril at the bottom (presumably he’s referring to Schumacher’s pace in a Ferrari as well as his struggles in the Benetton; otherwise indeed TC could feasibly be an issue if it was turned off for him as for Verstappen, or of course just getting used to a car I suppose; the Benetton B195 Wikipedia page does seem to refer to something about this test btw, along similar lines.

  126. Was my link not ok to be posted or has it just disappeared by accident? I can copy and paste relevant sections maybe? But I thought links would be ok.

    (It was provisionally at the bottom of my previous post after this “And this site has the comments attributed to Berger about 1995 testing at Estoril at the bottom (presumably he’s referring to Schumacher’s pace in a Ferrari as well as his struggles in the Benetton; otherwise indeed TC could feasibly be an issue if it was turned off for him as for Verstappen, or of course just getting used to a car I suppose; the Benetton B195 Wikipedia page does seem to refer to something about this test btw, along similar lines” with I thought a : rather than a full stop after the word lines).

    1. If you read the blog rules it is very clear about links. too many people try to get a free ride and so I don’t ANY allow links unless I want to do.

      1. Oh, ok sorry mate – no problem. Not sure my comments made sense on their own and I did think the link was interesting (I guess it could be viewed in a pro-Schumi way but generally it was a good read I thought – it definitely wasn’t anything to do with me though).

        So, here is the comment re: Estoril testing in 1995:
        Let me tell you, I’ve never seen such a fantastic posting about the Schumacher vs. Senna subject. I’ve been watching F1 since Monaco 1981 and I haven’t missed a GP since Imola 1986. It’s possible this may not seem so impressive for you, since you said you watched every one of the GPs Senna was in, but if you think I’m 41 years old, that meens I’m a fan almost since the day I was born… Having said that, let me tell you your views on the Schumacher-Senna duel are great. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s almost like someone picked up my ideas (all of them), and put in writing. I’ve been discussing this subject for along, long time. I started discussing it back in 1992, but I’ve never been able to put it in such an assertive and objective way, like you did. Another thing is that I followed (follow, cause it seems to continue…) this subject very closely, I know a lot of stuff about it, but I’ve managed to learn a little bit more by reading your article.
        Just to give you an information you may or you may not know. I’m Portuguese, and in the end of 1995, before Schumacher joining Ferrari and the Ferrari boys joining Benetton, there was a private test in Estoril, very near from the place I lived (3 km, maybe). In that test, the Benetton and Ferrari teams made an agreement, and let each other drivers test their cars. Schumacher tested the Ferrari 412 T2 and Berger (can’t remeber if Alesi was in that test or not) tested the Benetton B195. The testing got on, Schumacher made the best results, and Berger… spun in the Parabolica. Some time after, Berger gave an interview to a Portuguese newspaper, saying that “Schumacher is the best driver of all times. I can’t imagine anyone winning a GP with this car, and certainly not a World Championship. (…) I’ve always been a little pissed off by all this Schumacher mania, and everyone saying how great the kid was, and I’ve always found it a little bit dificult looking at him eye to eye because of that. I mean, the kid had just entered to F1, and having everyone saying he was as good as the best, made me mad. But I have to say I was wrong. After that test in Estoril I’ve have no doubt he is the best driver of all times.” (What I have quoted is not exactely what Berger said, but the whole idea is there. Maybe you can find it in the net) Great site you have!

        João Silva”

        And the reply:

        Hi João:
        Thanks for your kind words and most importantly, this peace of info. I didn’t know about that, and don’t believe many Formula 1 fans know about that. It’s an fascinating peace of information.
        I think that I heard about them testing together, but I’m not sure. Now, when you remind me about that, maybe I can put together another peace of information: I read somewhere, before Schumacher joined Ferrari (I think it was an interview with Schumacher, probably after this test) that he sad that he can not understand why and how can Ferrari lose a championship with car like that. He also said that 412 T2 was the best car he ever drive (till then) and if Ferrari can produce same car for next year he will be very happy.
        Who know what will happened if he really get car like that in his first year in Ferrari.”

        I’m sure anyone can find the page (entitled Senna vs Schumacher) by searching for Senna Schumacher Berger Estoril.

        1. And to add to the discussion about Schmacher’s speed/ability (I suppose conjecture about that is an offshoot from the original topic) a couple more quotes from the main article I had linked:

          Andrea de Cesaris was Michael Schumacher’s first Formula One team-mate. His own words after Michael’s first laps out during training session in Spa, Michael first F1 race ever:

          “When you’ve never driven an F1 car before except 20 laps of Silverstone three days ago, when you’ve never driven on SPA circuit before and after two laps you’re taking Eau Rouge flat, well… I couldn’t believe it.”
          “I said to my engineer: ‘This guy’s got guts’. I realised straight away that he wasn’t just some newcomer – this guy could really drive. Now it’s easy to say that he was really bloody quick, but Spa is no picnic. It’s one of the toughest tracks, very quick, long and extremely challenging. In short, it’s unforgiving and I expected the rookie to struggle there. I’d never met this guy before we arrived at the circuit. Straight away he was as quick as me. My engineer, Gary Anderson, came to me and said: ‘Look, Michael is taking Blanchimont flat and you’re not. You have to take this corner flat’. For me it was a very demanding weekend!”

          Andrea de Cesaris competed in 160 grand prix and suddenly there’s this kid who you’ve never heard of and the only experience he has to his name is 20 laps of Silverstone three days ago, and now your race engineer is showing you telemetry which confirms the new boy is quicker than you, and it’s Friday and not even lunchtime yet. Andrea feels no bitterness. Just sheer admiration and a sense of pride that he was there.

          His engineer, Gary Anderson:

          “Michael suffered a water leak on the Cosworth in one of the sessions, and back then that would have been an engine-out job which would have put us out for the rest of the afternoon. Andrea felt there was something wrong with his car too and, because he was the senior driver, took the spare car. To get more laps I asked Gary if it would be OK for Michael to take Andrea’s car. We bundled Michael in, and had no chance to even adjust the pedals or anything. Well, immediately, Michael was beating Andrea again… it was surreal.”

          That should do now to show what I’d intended to. Thanks.

          1. Andrea de Cesaris was running in second place in this very same race at spa before his engine blew FYI

            1. True.
              Schumacher’s clutch went on lap one and De Cesaris had problems 3 laps from the end so Jordan had an unlucky weekend.

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