AUGUST 3, 2010
Deja vu as Warwick says Schumacher would have been black-flagged
Michael Schumacher would have been black-flagged for his aggressive defence of 10th place against Rubens Barrichello in the Hungarian Grand Prix had there been more laps of the race remaining.
In the immediate aftermath of taking the place from Schumacher, Barrichello came on the radio to the Williams team and said: "Black flag, black flag! He should be black-flagged. That was horrible."
Former F1 driver Derek Warwick, one of the four FIA stewards in Hungary, has explained that with just five laps of the race remaining, there was not sufficient time to collect the video evidence, study it and discuss any course of action, therefore any penalty imposed on Schumacher had to be retrospective.
Warwick told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Throwing the black flag would have shown a better example to our young drivers but by the time we got the video evidence we ran out of time."
Schumacher has now apologised for the move via his German website but Warwick indicated that he had not been impressed by the seven times champion's explanation at the time, when Michael claimed that his move to the right had been an attempt to force Barrichello to pass him on the left.
"We interviewed Rubens and Michael and it was kind of disappointing how Michael handled it, and we had no option but to give him a 10-place penalty," Warwick said. "You could disqualify him from the next grand prix, two grands prix, whatever, but we felt that a 10-place grid penalty is a big penalty to carry for Spa and effectively puts him out of that race. Hopefully he will learn from that and remember that the new stewards, myself included, will not tolerate that sort of driving."
On his website, Schumacher said: "Right after the race I was still in the heat of the moment but after I watched the scene again with Rubens, I must say that the stewards are right with their assessment: the move was too harsh. I wanted to make it hard for him to pass me but I wasn't trying to endanger him. If he had this feeling, then sorry, that was not my intention."
Although the current level of Mercedes/Schumacher competitiveness renders a repeat highly unlikely, it may be remembered that Schumacher won the 1995 Belgian GP at Spa having started 16th. Ironically, he picked up a one race ban, suspended for four races, for his defence of the lead against Damon Hill that day too.
Schumacher led by lap 16 that afternoon but stayed out on slick tyres on a wet track and defended physically against a gaining Hill, who was shod with wet tyres at the time.
"If the rules do not prevent drivers from using their cars as instruments to prevent other drivers from overtaking - in other words to forcibly drive at another car - then the rules are wrong, aren't they?" Hill said at the time.
"If the rules say we can go out there and smash into each other as much as we want, then I'll have to make a decision on whether or not I want to be in this sport...
"I've told Michael what I thought of his driving but anyone who comes through to win from 16th has to be congratulated. We had some pretty hairy moments and I must say, I'm not satisfied with being driven into. Michael drove very defensively to the point of touching wheels at the top of the hill.
"That's all well and good if it's accidental but if it's meant on purpose, I would be pretty upset. These are F1 cars, not go-karts."
Schumacher retorted: "I think that's absolutely right. Touching wheels in high speed corners is not acceptable but at the speed we were doing, I think you can do this. We are professional drivers and know how to keep these cars on the road."
Other drivers who looked at the Spa '95 incident, which occurred in the Les Combes chicane, viewed it as something and nothing, a very different scenario from Hungary, where Schumacher committed his offence at close to 200mph in what Barrichello also labelled a "go-kart manoeuvre."