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MARCH 15, 2001

Villeneuve criticizes Schumacher

JACQUES VILLENEUVE has criticized BMW-Williams driver Ralf Schumacher for the accident which caused the death of a marshal at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Following German Schumacher's comments that Villeneuve missed his braking point, Villeneuve said that it was Schumacher's early braking which caused the crash.

"Ralf was having problems with his front tires," said Schumacher. "He was extremely slow and he was braking earlier than everybody else on the race track.

"So if that happened, and you know that is what is happening, you don't stay in the middle of the racetrack you stay on the left or the right and give enough room for everybody else to react.

"If you're going to brake 30 metres earlier than everybody else because of problems then there is no way anyone can react."

Villeneuve had tried not to get involved with discussions on the accident, but he was disappointed to hear Schumacher's comments on the move.

"I made an effort to be neutral in my comments and not put my blame on anybody, and the other side reacted like a bunch of babies trying to point the fingers," he added.

"I thought that was highly unacceptable when there was a racing incident with some miscomprehension.

"I don't blame anyone or anything. The only thing I would say is that you should move left or right if you are slow in the middle of the track."

The aftermath has seen calls for reduction in speeds and improvements in spectator safety, but Villeneuve believes things could not be much safer, and that safety is now down to driver conduct.

"The drivers are becoming more aggressive now, which is a good thing," he added. "But I think that mistakes now there is much more blaming going on than there used to be.

"You can't do anything apart from not having a race or not having fans, spectators or marshals. You cannot make it safer so you have to react better."