Alastair and the rest of the McLaren team find a way to evade to two-tyre rule set down by the FIA.
Alastair and the rest of the McLaren team find a way to evade to two-tyre rule set down by the FIA.

Everybody cheats. No matter what the sport or the game, anyone can find a way to cheat. A man in his shorts, socks and trainers about to run a race, I don’t know how he does it but he’ll find a way to cheat: it’s part of the game. Rules only encourage cheating. As soon as a rule is written, a way to cheat is offered.

1977 Changing Tyres

FIA forbid teams from using more than two sets of tyres on the practice runs.

That’s what Barristers are for. You’ve got speed limits that say: 'Don’t drive over 70,’ or ’Don’t drive over 50,’ but a Barrister can read the book and say that the signs aren’t enough metres apart or they’re not the right shape and dimensions. With enough money a lawyer could argue you out of anything.

In Formula 1 every team cheats. This particular year we had a standard tyre a bit like they have now. You were only allowed two sets in qualifying, but winning the practice is very important so it would have been better to have three sets. To try and stop you from using three sets the organisers from the FIA would come and mark the tyres with radioactive paint a short time before the start of practice. They’d use a decal that was a rabbit or a tortoise or an elephant or something and it would be a different color and shape every race. Lance, who was a very good sign-writer and a very good painter, had loads of paint of all different colors and a stencil kit in the truck. When they came and sprayed the first tyre, we’d bowl it away into the truck and Lance would make a stencil in the same shape, mix the paint to the right color and copy it onto another set of tyres. So now we had three sets.

The good bit that Ferrari could never get their brains round was we put the fraudulent set on first. The Ferrari lawyers would start shouting and pointing and they’d come running with the officials and they’d all gather round the pit road and James would drive back in and they would check: 'Bugger, they were correct! Where’s the third set?' 'What third set?’ That set was long gone with the marks taken off and put back in the rack. They knew we were doing it, but they could never suss it.

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