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I was not to blame for crash: Ralf
August 19, 2003 17:59 IST
Ralf Schumacher said on Tuesday no one was to blame for a pile-up at the start of the German Grand Prix and the crash was a normal motorsport accident.
Appearing at a hearing to appeal against a penalty imposed on him by the sport's governing body, Schumacher denied making any post-race statements admitting he displayed a lack of caution before the crash with Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren.
"It was definitely very annoying," Schumacher said. "There is no one to blame for this crash. It was a completely normal racing accident. It could have happened to anyone in any race."
Supporting Schumacher's case with film and graphics of the crash, Williams officials argued that the German was ahead of the other two drivers when the accident happened on August 3.
Stewards said after the race in Hockenheim that Schumacher had admitted in a brief hearing to not paying attention to the position of the other cars during his manoeuvre and penalised him for what they called an avoidable crash.
If the penalty stands, Schumacher will have to drop 10 positions from his qualifying spot at the start of his next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 24.
Williams officials said Barrichello and Raikkonen were in Schumacher's blind spot and their driver could not have seen the crash coming. He drove exactly the same line into the first corner at Hockenheim the two previous years, the team said.
"Three of the favourites were out of the race all of a sudden," Schumacher said after telling the panel he felt punished enough by being forced out of the race, which severely damaged his chances of winning the championship.
The hearing in Paris was broadcast live on television in Germany. The decision by the ruling body, FIA, is due to be announced on Wednesday.
Schumacher collided with Raikkonen and Barrichello as the three cars left the grid. Three other cars were caught up in the wake of the crash and forced to abandon the race, which was won by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in a Williams.
Barrichello told the panel that Schumacher had crashed into him, not the other way around. Williams officials pointed out Barrichello was the only one of the three who braked before the crash, suggested he was the only one who saw it coming.
"I tried to take avoiding action," Barrichello said. "I braked and moved a little bit. I didn't drive into Ralf. He hit me."
Raikkonen, also appearing before the panel, rejected suggestions from Williams officials that he could have avoided the crash by driving on, or to the left of, the white line on the left shoulder of the track.
"I didn't want to drive off the course because that is not the best route," Raikkonen said.
Schumacher is in fourth place in the championship with 53 points, 18 behind the leader, his brother Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari. Raikkonen is in third with 62 points and Barrichello is fifth with 49.