A footnote of history

McLaren boss Ron Dennis revived a curious incident in the course of this week's debates on the question of team orders, referring in passing to the Australian Grand Prix of 1998 when David Coulthard was ordered to let Mika Hakkinen win the race. According to Dennis, McLaren does not and has not manipulated Grands Prix, unless there were "exceptional circumstances". Dennis went on to give the example of Melbourne, saying that "someone had tapped into our radio and instructed Mika Hakkinen to enter the pits".

Hakkinen did pit and thus lost his place to Coulthard and the team felt that this situation should be reversed in the interests of fairness.

Coulthard did not agree at the time but was eventually convinced of the wisdom of such a move.

Radio interference is not unusual in Formula 1 with TV companies sometimes blamed but on occasion other more colourful explanations coming to light: one year in Canada McLaren found its radios picking up delivery orders for a Chinese takeaway.

However, deliberate sabotage of strategy using radio communication has never before been mentioned.

There are some conspiracy theorists who believe that engines can be blown up using radio interference but no-one has ever come up with any evidence to back this up.

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