The tail-end of Schumi-gate (I hope)
Just about everyone has had their say on Schumi-gate by now. A thread on the Autosport-Atlasf1 forums was started by a user soon after the end of Monaco qualifying. By the time I first saw it a couple of hours later it already had over 300 messages. By the end of the race it had over 1500. At the time I write this it has almost 2600 follow-up postings.
Autosport.com even dedicated most of their weekly journal to the subject the following week. Bernie was annoyed because he was looking forward to a close contest between Shumacher and Alonso during the race, but he was happy with the decisiveness of the new permanent stewards. Max Mosley couldn't say much because he didn't want to risk calling into question the FIA-appointed stewards. Autosport editor Damien Smith laments the amount of time it took to get the decision out. Writers Adam Cooper, Richard Barnes and Dieter Rencken lay into to Schumacher to a greater or lesser degree. Certainly it's was hard to find anyone who had a good word to say until Riccardo Patrese popped up last Wednesday to say that Michael Schumacher had been "witch hunted" by his collegues.
In his Weekly Grapevine column, Dieter Rencken makes a good point that if he was guilty of deliberately stopping his car on track to block his rivals, Schumacher got away pretty lightly. He relates the case of Max Angelelli at the 1997 Macau F3 race where he was found by the stewards to have deliberately blocked the course during the race. His case was referred to an FIA court in Paris and he was banned for 3 months on less evidence than the Monaco stewards had available. Guilty or not, I don't think it's really in the interests of the sport to have Michael Schumacher banned for 3 months, even if only because he's the only serious challenger to Alonso in their years championship, but it makes you think.
Although there were a few anti-Schumacher banners at Silverstone for qualifying today, the drama has been more-or-less absent. There was a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers Association where Mark Webber and particularly Jacques Villeneuve wanted an explanation from Schumacher of what really happened. David Coulthard had already said in Monaco that the GPDA was really concerned with track and car safety rather than the behaviour of drivers, but there were still plenty of drivers who thought even then that it's not reasonable to have your president found guilty of cheating. The drivers promised to give him a fair hearing and keep what they heard private, but apparently Schumacher just retold what he's been telling everyone since the incident happened and with no appology or better explanation from Schumacher forthcoming and no chance of censure from the GPDA, Villeneuve has decided to resign instead.
Villeneuve's resignation will probably be seen as sour grapes or just a temper tantrum by Schumacher's fiercest critic, but I think he has a point. If the GPDA asks for an honest explanation because it's members demand one by a majority (regardless of the association's mandate), and Schumacher refuses to give that explanation, and the GPDA then considers the matter closed without offering any censure at all, surely the GPDA is nothing more than a useless talking shop.
Just one more observation from me because I haven't seen it posted anywhere else. I don't think the stewards in Monaco consulted any body-language experts or psychologists, but if they did, there was one part of the post-qualifying press conference that would have interested them particularly. When asked to explain what happened on his final lap, Schumacher said something like "As I approached the second-to-last corner, err Rascasse I think they call it, I locked up..." I don't have a recording of that press conference and I can't be 100% sure of the rest of that quote, but I'm sure he actually said "Rascasse I think they call it". You think they call it, Michael? Aside from perhaps David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher knows Monaco better than any other driver out there. I'm pretty sure he knows not only the name of every corner, but where every escape lane, crane, fire-marshall and flag-man is positioned around the course. That press conference gaffe was a classic example of someone fumbling their words when they're trying to hide something. To Schumacher's credit, people who are usually very honest are more prone to fumble their words like this, but still, it wasn't a good sign.
On not knowing the name of Rascasse, I think he genuinely didn’t know.
All the drivers and technicians refer to the corners by number, rather than name, to avoid any ambiguity. Jenson Button at Silverstone the other week didn’t know the names of the corners on his home track.
Keith (URL) - 21 06 06 - 08:33
Hi, I am looking for Dieters email address please, he is a friend and I have lost his address, Thanks, Alan
Alan Mac () - 27 08 06 - 08:17
Dieter Rencken? I don’t know his email address. If you have a subscription to Autosport.com you can look at any of his articles: http://www.autosport.com/journal/article.. for example and there’s a “contact Dieter” link that takes you to a webform. If you can’t read that page, I guess you could post a message on the Autosport-Atlas BBS (use the Atlas forum there) http://forums.autosport.com/ and ask them to pass a message on.
rich () - 02 09 06 - 13:38