Michael Schumacher has apologised to Rubens Barrichello for trying to put him in the wall in the closing stages of yesterday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Writing in German only on his website (the English version of the site does not yet have the post at the time of writing) he says,
“Yesterday right after the race I was still in the heat of the action, but after I watched the scene again with Rubens, I must say that the Stewards are right with their assessment: the manoeuver against him was too harsh. I wanted to make myself of course difficult to overtake. I wanted to make it hard for him to pass me. I clearly showed him that I didn’t want to let him pass. I wasn’t trying to endanger him with my move. If he had this feeling, then sorry, that was not my intention. ”
The reaction against the move has been quite strong and it has kept the media busy this last 24 hours. There have been calls for him to be banned for a race or more and for him to retire, from some quarters. His former team mate Eddie Irvine was very critical of his behaviour and called for him to be more severely punished than the 10 place grid drop he received at the next race.
Although many of Schumacher’s fans have stuck by him and supported his move, with plenty of supportive words among the 400+ comments on this site, 73% of a sample of 8,500 readers on the JA on F1 site said they felt the move was “outrageous”, while 22% said it was “hard but fair.”
Schumacher has rarely said sorry in the past. It is not in his character to accept pressure from other people, particularly the media, to apologise. He was forced by Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo to make a public apology after Jerez 1997, when he drove Jacques Villeneuve off the road and he famously said sorry to the tifosi when he crashed early in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1996, but he has always refused to apologise for parking his car at Rascasse during qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.
It is amazing to think that Schumacher and Barrichello, with a combined age of 79 and a combined total of 556 Grands Prix, who once dominated F1 in Ferraris, were fighting over a single point for 10th place!