My take on Schumi-gate
As I'm sure the whole world knows by now, Michael Schumacher was stripped of his pole-setting time (and all his other times) at the Monaco Grand Prix by the stewards after they found that he had deliberately impeeded other drivers by stopping on the circuit. It took the stewards eight hours to come to that conclusion even though most everyone outside of Ferrari was thinking it as soon Alonso passed Schumacher's stricken car and then the chequred flag and failed to beat his time.
The first question is: Was Schumacher's incident at Rascasse a deliberate attempt to stop Alonso beating his pole time, or just an accident that couldn't have happened at a worse time for both parties? If it's deliberate and goes unpunished Alonso loses out on what was almost certainly going to be a pole setting lap. If it was a genuine accident and is punished (as it now has been), Schumacher has not only been sent to the back of the grid (which at Monaco is as good as disqualifying him), but he also has the stigma of being found guilty of cheating by the race authorities, possibly unfairly.
The second question is: If Schumacher is guilty, what is a suitable punishment? For not paying enough attention during the crowded qualifying sessions of 2006, several drivers have been penalised by losing one or more of their times. That's a fine punishment for not paying attention or even for being a bit stubborn about letting another driver past. But to know you are on pole and then block the track so nobody can better your time? If it was premeditated, that's got to be worth at least a one race ban, possibly more. Remember that Schumacher himself was found guilty of trying to end Jacques Villeneuve's race in the 1997 season finalé and as a punishment was essentially disqualified from the whole season by having all his points removed. Shouldn't Michael Schumacher have at least some of his points removed, or be prevented from scoring points via a one-or-more race ban if he really did what he's been accused of?
To me the punishment by the stewards smacks of: we think he's guilty as hell, but we can't really prove it, so we'll give him the harshest penalty we can without him being able to appeal. [Removal of qualifying times can't be appealed - if it could it would be a useless punishment since any useful appeals procedure would take more time than the period between qualifying and the race].
My personal opinion is that the incident wasn't premeditated as some have made out. I think he did make a genuine error in locking up his front brakes going into Rascasse and you could see from the in-car footage that he made several attempts to regain control of the car at all cost to the lap he was on and the lap he was (according to Ferrari) about to start. BUT, realising he'd screwed up, he made a very poor attempt at removing his car from the corner. Another thing you can see from the in-car is that the front suspension isn't damaged in any way - the wheel barely touches the soft barrier there, if at all. As far as I could see there was no need to reverse at all. It was a in-the-heat-of-the-fight decision to do something that he wouldn't have considered doing in advance. That's what I think happened in 1997 as well - there was no master plan to crash into Villeneuve if he tried to pass, but as he saw his first title slipping away he figured he could make it look like an accident. It didn't look like an accident and it didn't have any effect other than making him look like a cheat, but that's easy to see in the cold light of day.
This story is mana from heaven for everyone who comments on Formula 1 of course. Qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix will be just the start of a very long saga. Ferrari will almost certainly try and get some justice (as they see it) and the name of their start driver cleared, even though there's no space in the sporting regulations for that to happen. There will likely be calls from the other drivers to have Schumacher removed as the head of the Grand Prix Drivers Association and given his history both proven (Jerez 1997) and unproven (Adelaide 1994), it's a wonder that he got to be head of the predominatly safety and driving standards concern. Still, this was just the spice this season needed :)
Thoughtful comments. I don’t think it was a deliberate thing. Further, I don’t think it was such a bad thing to avoid hitting the wall as he did; any driver worth their salt would do the same, as they want to start the race in an undamaged car…
What really annoys me is that he instantly was labelled a cheat, regardless of whether it was actually deliberate or not. That label isn’t going to magically disappear, regardless of the eventual outcome.
indigoid () (URL) - 29 05 06 - 20:40
Michal Schumacher is innocent. He is not a Cheater. I know him from last 10 years. He will Bounce Back for further 11 Round. I am pretty confidence he will defineately will win a WORLD TITILE of FORMULA 1 2006.
Rakesh Tawde - 30 05 06 - 02:39
Agree in general on the comments.
If you consider what happened, you realize that Schumacher caused a problem with failing to move away, rather than getting into an accident. If anything, what should have been discussed was his intentional or accidental stall, not the accident. This demonstrates how the entire process of penalization was bogus. If he had taken off, there would have been no investigation, so the problem, if there is one, is that he failed to “flee the scene”.
The arguments against his innocence are absolutely ridiculous, since all these great drivers that had something to say have screwed up a lot more often and in worse ways than Schumacher did this time; but they have the face to talk about it. Take Villeneuve: in a wet Canadian GP of a few years ago he misjudged a braking point by about 30 meters and collected a couple of cars ahead of him while he was sliding off track out of control. He looked like the biggest moron on earth. But he’s got a fast mouth, he was quick in expressing an opinion on what Schumacher did; these “missed braking points” seem to be a constant for him I remember when he missed one at the end of the Indianapolis track straight, ending up some 40 meters out of the track; I was there and he looked (again) like a dumb ass; but he’s sure Schumacher has done it on purpose; what about Montoya, a couple of races back, sadly losing the car as he was warming it up? This entire accusation is simply pathetic.
The facts are the following:
1) Whatever Schumacher (or any driver for that matter) does, at all times, he does on purpose; this decision of penalizing him came on the simple basis that they thought that the motivation for behaving like that was to penalize drivers.
2) Schumacher could have gone for another lap, which Alonso wouldn’t have had the possibility of completing. So the reasoning behind the decision was that Schumacher would have rather thown away a last attempt to a fast lap, risked to damage his car with the advantage of starting first instead of second or third (and this supposes that he knew where Alonso was and he also knew he wouldn’t be able to do another lap after that one).
3) There was no guarantee that he would either take pole or even start in front of Alonso, since the Spaniard lost the pole on that lap for only 30 something thousands of a second, so the entire process would have been simply absurd. Immagine if Alonso had taken any other corner before that point 40/1000 of a second faster: he would have gone on to pole anyway, and Schumacher’s move would have taken away from himself the possibility of fighting back in that last lap.
Beyond any other consideration, the bottom line is that when it comes to Schumacher, anything that moves a hair away from perfect clarity is a fellany; when Senna used to do this stuff, the press was always with him, unconditionally (and one year after Suzuka’s move on Prost which gave the Brazilian his third title, he even admitted to have done that purposely!).
I am disgusted because I have had enough of people expressing opinion based on thin air. I must have heard in forums a zillion times: “when I looked at the camera car, I saw he did that on purpose…” Who are all these geniuses? When have they ever even set foot beside an F1, let alone in it or driven one? I am just fed up and honestly, I feel like I want to stop watching something I have watched religiously for the last 30 some odd years.
And to close my venting, what about stripping Alonso of his time? he lost 3/10 of a second in the last sector… That is slowing down? Give Me a Break.
Giovanni () - 31 05 06 - 20:10