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Formula 1

The harsh punishments and penalties dished out in Formula 1

Whether it be espionage or team orders, Formula 1 is never short on teams pushing the limits when it comes to following the rules. Occasionally lines are crossed, like last season when Racing Point were fined and docked points. Here's a look at some of the harshest punishments for those that crossed the line.

When Racing Point were handed a €400,000 fine and deducted 15 points for copying Mercedes' 2019 brake ducts last season, it raised some eyebrows around the grid and amongst viewers at home. However it wasn't the stiffest penalties handed out in Formula 1 history, as the list below shows.

Ferrari, Schumacher and Barrichello: $1 million

Rubens Barrichello was set to win the Austrian Grand Prix back in 2002, only for team orders to rear their ugly head just before the finish line. The Brazilian hit the brakes with meters left in the race, opening the door for teammate Michael Schumacher to claim the victory. The maneuver didn't sit well with spectators at the track and those watching at home, especially since the race was just the sixth out of the 17 scheduled for that season, meaning there were no pressing title implications.

It certainly made the podium ceremony awkward as well, as fans booed Ferrari's decision given Barrichello started on pole and led for most of the race. Schumacher tried to help the situation by letting Barrichello climb to the top step and giving him the first place trophy, but he in fact made things worse.

While there were no rules against team orders at the time, there were rules against changing places on the podium. As a result Ferrari, Schumacher and Barrichello were handed a fine of $1 million, with each paying a third immediately. The incident also led the FIA to ban team orders at the start of the 2003 season, though they were then reintroduced in 2010.

Renault: Two year conditional suspension

Team orders were at the heart of the Renault controversy that erupted in 2008, though the context was very different. Fernando Alonso won the Singapore Grand Prix after starting from 15th spot, inheriting top spot thanks to the safety car being deployed after teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed at turn 17 on the 14th lap.

While the Brazilian initially stated his accident was a simple mistake, he changed his story one he was dropped by the team after the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. Piquet stated he was asked by the team to deliberately crash in order to help Alonso, given the Spaniard had previously made an early pitstop and benefitted from the safety car conditions.

The FIA charged Renault with conspiracy, and the team announced they would not contest the charges. The team were handed a disqualification from Formula 1, which was suspended for two years pending any further comparable infractions. Team managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds left the team, with the Italian banned for life and the Brit banned for five years.

Piquet escaped punishment, along with Alonso, who's involvement in the incident was never proven.

BAR: Two-race suspension

Fernando Alonso beat Michael Schumacher to the finish line at the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, but it's what happened in the final podium spot that made headlines. Jenson Button took home third place in the BAR-Honda car, while Takuma Sato finished fifth, a welcome result for the team given their slow start to the season.

However things took an ugly turn for the team after the race, as the FIA found Button's car to be 4.99kg underweight. The car was found to have a second fuel tank, that when drained, meant the BAR car was underweight. Although the stewards initially accepted the team's explanation, that tune changed at a court of appeal.

BAR were stripped of the points earned at Imola and banned from the following two races in Spain and Monaco. They eventually finished the season sixth in the constructors' standings with 38 points.

McLaren: $100 million fine

While the 2007 season was memorable given Kimi Raikkonen took the three-way title fight at the final race, accusations of espionage dominated the headlines for much of the season. Known as Spygate or Stepneygate, the original case saw Ferrari accuse former employee Nigel Stepney, senior McLaren engineer Mike Coughland and his wife of stealing technical information.

Although an initial hearing didn't result in any penalty for McLaren, a second hearing brought forward compelling evidence that resulted in a stiff penalty for the outfit. McLaren were excluded from the 2007 constructors' championship and handed a fine of $100 million.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton entered the final race of the season in Brazil ahead of Raikkonen. They both missed out on the drivers' title by one point.

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