Michael Blash Reveals Past and Modern Cheating Tactics to Gain Performance in Races

Former Brabham team manager and current senior advisor for the FIA race directors, Michael Blash, has provided insights into the secretive tactics employed by teams in the past to gain significant performance.

He acknowledged that Brabham, led by the ingenious designer Gordon Murray and team principal Bernie Ecclestone, would sometimes push the boundaries to gain a competitive edge.

During an episode of F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Blash shared some intriguing details without fully disclosing all the secrets.

“Well, I can’t give those secrets away, I think it’s well known that we used to sometimes have heavy bodywork and that bodywork would go on at the end of practice or the end of the race,” Blash revealed.

“In those days, you could top up your fluids at the end of the race before you were weighed again, recalled Blash.

“We had these lovely tanks, they must have held about five gallons, and going round to the start of the race, you push the button, and the little electric motor would just dump all of that water out. Then at the end of the race, you’ve got to top up the water tanks.”

In response to inquiries about the prevalence of such tactics among other teams, Blash indicated that many of the leading teams were engaged in similar strategic manoeuvre.

“I think the majority of the top teams were playing. Tyrrell, unfortunately, went a step too far when they were pumping lead into their tyres during the pit stop. I know of a team that was pumping water into their tyres.

“We used to have a rather heavy seat that took two people, our two strongest mechanics, to lift into the car in preparation for weighing at the end of the race. There were lots of little tricks.”

In addition, Blash shared an intriguing story about a distinctive lightweight qualifying car that Brabham utilized specifically for the Monaco Grand Prix.

“Of course, in those days you didn’t have to race with the car that you qualified in,” said the 74-year-old.

“I think that must have had the smallest fuel tank, a little motorcycle battery. It wouldn’t have been able to do more than six laps.

“In those days, teams were not required to race with the same car they qualified in. Blash revealed that the car had the smallest fuel tank and a little motorcycle battery, making it capable of only six laps.”

Despite the strict rules set by Formula One’s governing body in the current era of F1, the former team manager revealed the tactics deployed by various teams, labeling them as ‘computerized’.

“The tricks today are basically all computerized, and obviously the cars are scrutineered from top to bottom,” he explained.

“It’s so restricted, whereas back in those Brabham days, it was very relaxed, and it was so easy to do things that you shouldn’t do.”

Blash also disclosed a fascinating anecdote about a unique lightweight qualifying car Brabham employed for the Monaco Grand Prix.