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1998 British GP blunder that made all stewards resign

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1998 British Grand Prix
The 1998 British Grand Prix. Photo/PlanetF1
  • The 1998 British Grand Prix evokes memories of the most controversial moments in F1
  • Legendary German driver Michael Schumacher was at the center of this drama
  • There was uproar over claims the stewards favoured Schumacher

The 1998 British Grand Prix evokes memories of the most controversial moments in the history of Formula One. Legendary German driver Michael Schumacher was at the center of this drama that saw all stewards at Silverstone resign.

Memories of this day emerged shortly after a spirited 2023 British Grand Prix where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won his 10th race of the season.


It was a race where Mika Hakkinen and Schumacher squared off aggressively with the Finn starting the race in the lead in his McLaren. Hakkinen, a Finn, led Schumacher by 49 seconds after a strong first half of the race, but the second half of the race was marred by great drama caused by a heavy downpour.

The 1998 British Grand Prix

The 1998 British Grand Prix. Photo/Grand Prix Photo

Hakkinen damaged his front wing with a fast 360-degree spin at Bridge, right before the Safety Car was sent out owing to the intense rain. With 10 circuits remaining in the race, he could barely keep up because of the damage to his MP4/13. The race resumed on lap 50, with Hakkinen leading, Giancarlo Fisichella of Benetton in second position, and Schumacher third.

A witty Schumacher overtook Fisichella into Copse and chased after Hakkinen immediately after the Safety Car pulled into the pits.  Hakkinen, under pressure from his damaged vehicle, slid off at Becketts and gave the lead to the German who was then a Ferrari driver.

This is where the 1998 British Grand Prix turned into a battle as Schumacher swiftly pulled away. However, there was still more drama as Schumacher got a 10-second time penalty later on for overtaking Wurz during the Safety Car interval.

Surprisingly, Schumacher didn’t enter the pits as the laps continued to run. Instead, he entered the pits on the very last lap, paused for 10 seconds at his pit box, and then continued. By the time he got to his pit box, he had already passed the start/finish line. This show caused an uproar.


On lap 41 of the race, Schumacher passed Wurz while a yellow flag was in the air. Drivers are expected to slow down when they notice a yellow flag, which was raised in response to a collision involving Pedro Diniz. Wurz was in second place at the time, but Schumacher did not slow down and passed him.

He came under fire because officials did not impose any penalties on him as they should have been thereby letting him win the race. This is what sparked uproar among fans citing the FIA stewards for favouring the seven-time F1 World Champion.


Due to the criticism surrounding the way the race was handled, three FIA stewards who supervised the 1998 British Grand Prix resigned after the event. The stewards were charged with several errors, including failing to disqualify Schumacher for overtaking Wurz while the flag was still in yellow.

The 1998 British Grand Prix

The 1998 British Grand Prix. Photo/SportsLumo

The trio; Roger Peart, Howard Lapsley and Nazir Hoosein released a statement explaining that their resignation was in a bid to prevent further embarrassment to the FIA. Their resignation followed an Appeal by McLaren at FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

It emerged that insufficient evidence by Race Director Charlie Whiting prompted him to request Peart not to take any action against Schumacher. Peart and the other stewards, on a typed note with a handwritten amendment citing Article 57E, decided to give Schumacher a 10-second time penalty, nonetheless. Yet, they never requested Race Control to alert the teams of the penalty through the timing monitors.

This became their biggest undoing at the 1998 British Grand Prix. Nevertheless, FIA President Max Mosley jumped into the stewards’ defence stating that he was confident in their skills as race stewards who delivered great results even when under pressure.  He exuded confidence in their skills at Silverstone known for its dangerous tracks and harsh weather at times.

Within a few years, Peart would return to race stewarding and ascended to the helm of the FIA Circuit Commission. He was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame and assisted with the redesign of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve while serving as President of the Canadian ASN in the 1970s. He stopped stewarding in 2018 and died in the early months of 2023.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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