When a gentleman's agreement handed Hakkinen a hollow win

©TheCahierArchive

On this day in 1998, McLaren's Mika Hakkinen won a controversial Australian Grand Prix.

The Finn was leading the race convincingly when he misinterpreted a call from the McLaren pitwall and pulled in, letting team mate David Coulthard into the lead.

Just as everyone had gladly resigned themselves to a DC win, the Scot slowed three laps from the checkered flag and waved Hakkinen through.

It later emerged that the McLaren boys and team management had agreed that whoever made it to the first corner ahead should win the race!

The cagey ploy was investigated by the World Motorsport Council which ruled that "any future act prejudicial to the interests of competition should be severely punished".

Teams orders were eventually banned in 2003.

Almost ten years later, speaking about this race, Ron Dennis revealed that "someone had tapped into our radio and instructed Mika to enter the pits"!

Was it therefore a deliberate act of sabotage? We'll never know…