AUGUST 20, 2003

Schumacher loses appeal, penalty changed to fine

Ralf Schumacher has lost his case in the FIA court of appeal over his crash at the German Grand Prix. Although the ramifications of the incident are not nearly as severe for the driver. The FIA has enforced a $50,000 penalty as opposed to the original punishment which would have pushed Ralf back 10 positions from his qualifying position on the grid for the Hungarian GP.

"The court (of appeal) confirmed the stewards' finding against Ralf Schumacher but considered that the sanction imposed was inappropriate and substituted a fine of $50,000," the FIA said.

The FIA also said they will ask German race stewards to look into the accountability of Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen in the collision.

"It appeared to the court, in particular from reading the report by Peter Wright (technical and safety consultant) analyzing accident data recorder information, not available to the stewards, that some responsibility might possibly be imputed to the other two drivers involved in the incident," the FIA said.

"The court decided that the case should be referred back to the panel of the stewards of the German Grand Prix so that the conduct of Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen can be considered in the light of the evidence from Mr. Wright."

Ralf Schumacher has maintained that the accident was no one's fault.

"It was a completely normal racing accident. It could have happened to anyone in any race," he said.

In court on Tuesday, Williams officials stated Barrichello and Raikkonen were in Ralf's blind spot and that the Williams driver could not have seen the crash coming. Barrichello refuted such claims, telling the panel that Schumacher had in fact crashed into him and not the other way around. Raikkonen argued the suggestions 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.

The decision by the FIA is a big boost for BMW-Williams who are only two points behind Ferrari for the constructors championship with only four races remaining.

Team boss Sir Frank Williams said: "We are delighted that the FIA court of appeal saw fit to remove the serious penalty of a 10-place demotion on the starting grid for the next race."

"The substitution of a financial penalty at least means we can compete in Hungary with Ralf still in a competitive position in both championships."