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Wednesday, October 29, 1997 Published at 15:29 GMT


No apology from Schumacher

Moments after the collision Schumacher slides into the gravel as Villeneuve heads for victory

Michael Schumacher has admitted making a mistake in Sunday's Grand Prix in Spain, but denied trying to deliberately knock his Canadian rival off the track. He said he believes the whole matter has been blown out of proportion by the press.

The German driver has also denied any similarity between his latest controversial Grand Prix collision with Jacques Villeneuve and the one he had with Damon Hill back in 1994.

The clash three years ago cost the British driver the world Formula One world drivers' title - then won by Schumacher.

But the German, speaking at Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy, on Tuesday, insisted the incident with Villeneuve on the 48th lap of the championship decider bore no resemblance to his brush with Hill.

"Damon wasn't on the inside, like Jacques was," he said. "If you look at it, you'll realise that it was a different situation."

Villeneuve went on to win the world title, while Schumacher's car ended up in the gravel after the German swerved into the bend and made contact with the Canadian's Williams car on the inside.

[ image: Schumacher:
Schumacher: "I should have closed the door on him sooner"
But the former double world champion made no apologies, and the sport's ruling body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), can expect more of the same when they interview him about the incident on November 11 in Paris.

"I haven't been reading the newspapers recently, but I've been told what's in them," Schumacher said. "And I think it's fair to say that the reaction has been exaggerated. There have been a lot more serious incidents than this one in the history of racing and they have come in for a lot less attention. It's not fair for people to say that I tried to knock Villeneuve out of the race. I was just doing everything I could to win, but I made a mistake - which was not to have closed the door on him sooner."

"I want to go to Paris and explain what really happened," added Schumacher, before alluding directly to exactly what he believes took place out on the track.

"I didn't expect to see him so close," he admitted. "When I braked at the Dry Sack, he was suddenly there. I probably over-reacted, but I didn't realise that - I just wanted to keep him under control and I thought that was the only way. He took me by surprise ... I made an error of judgment, for which I went out of the race and Villeneuve won the world title. But I'm human, like everybody else. I, too, can make a mistake. Not many, but this was a big one."

[ image: Villeneuve: no hard feelings]
Villeneuve: no hard feelings
However, the German did revise his immediate comments after the race on Sunday, when he said he would do the same thing again. "I've thought about that a bit," he said. "My reaction would probably be different in future."

Schumacher also related a conversation he had with Villeneuve over a beer after the race, which proved there were no hard feelings between them. "In those minutes, I had no reason to make any apologies," Schumacher said. "Perhaps now I would react in a different way, but he's the world champion now and perhaps he wouldn't need them now anyway."

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