The Severe Brain Fade Award

Hotly contested award for a driver suffering great public embarrassment due to an unforgivable error.

3. Mika Hakkinen, 1999

2. Damon Hill, 1995-96

1. David Coulthard, 1995

F1 Rejects Award
3. Mika Hakkinen
Mika spins at the RetafilioMika runs away to cry

Mika spins at the Retafilio (left) and storms off the track to find some bushes (right) at Monza, 1999.

Hakk lets it all flow out Twice in 1999, World Champion Mika Hakkinen succeeded in going off the track just as the cameras had locked onto him. And both times in Italy, too, in front of the Italian tifosi, which would have made it doubly embarrassing.

But the crash at Imola was outdone by the Monza excursion and its aftermath. Having settled into a comfortable lead, Hakkinen suddenly spun going into the Retafilio. Inexcusably stalling his engine, he threw out his steering wheel hurriedly and ran away from his car like a man possessed, for what reason no-one quite knew.

It became apparent soon enough, and what happened added the soap opera to the brain fade. Hakkinen ran for the nearest bushes, took off his helmet, and exploded into tears, as cameras hovered around him as for a fugitive criminal. While it certainly showed the softer side of this usually unemotional ice-man, few knew whether to sympathise or laugh. But the sheer public-ness of the spin and the resulting water works earns him a well-deserved third place in this category.

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F1 Rejects Award
2. Damon Hill
Damon folds under pressure in Germany

Damon finds the gravel trap after making a great start at Hockenheim, 1995.

Demon Damon Hill's had his fair share of public mishaps over the years, most notably towards the end of 1995 when he seemed haunted and confused by Michael Schumacher's dominant spectre. But here we pick what we think are his two most pathetic moments of all in a dead-heat for the second prize.

Having torn away into the lead of the 1995 German GP, by the end of lap one he had a comfortable cushion over Schumacher. Then suddenly, going into the first corner, he lost the back end and spun off into the gravel trap and then the tyre wall. Though he would have loved to have blamed in on a mechanical failure, it was by all accounts a driver error. Schumacher literally could not believe his luck and coasted to an easy victory.

The other one, like Hakkinen's, also occurred at the Retafilio, whilst Hill was leading the 1996 Italian GP. Cones and then tyres had been placed on the inside apexes of the chicane to prevent kerb-hopping, but in a moment of carelessness Hill clipped one of those sets of tyres on lap 6, damaging the front suspension and forcing him to spin, upon which he stalled the engine anyway. To rub salt into the wound, Schumi won this one too.

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Hill lets Schuey take another victory in 96

Damon trudges back to the pits after a startling error while leading at Monza, giving Schumacher another victory.

F1 Rejects Award
1. David Coulthard
A must-hear clip of Murray Walker almost having an apoplexy.
"And into the pitlane ... OOAARRGGHH! ... I have NEVER seen that before!"
he screams. (.WAV, 128k, 11 secs)

Coultard slams into the pit lane wall

Coulthard (right) exhibits brain fade of uncalculable proportions at Adelaide, 1995 (right).

One of the most embarrassing moments in F1 history took place in the 1995 Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide. Scot David Coulthard was leading the race strongly in his Williams/Renault Coultard where's the paper bag over his head?when he came in for his first scheduled pit stop for fuel and tyres. Or at least tried to come in.

Braking hard as he entered the pit lane, Coulthard slid straight on into the pit wall, destroying his front left suspension, and compelling Murray Walker to produce an ear-splitting scream which seemed excessive even by his standards.

Climbing forlornly from his car, Coulthard thus ended his association with Williams. He walked back to his garage (not that far away ...) and proudly tried to blame the so-called 'idle strategy' installed into his car, saying that it drove him forwards into the pit wall. He then repeated the claim in his newspaper column.

Barry Sheene, reporting in the pits, bought this explanation; Dr Jonathan Palmer, in the BBC commentary box, bought it as well. But I think hardly anyone else on the face of the planet did ...

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