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  Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 12:08 GMT
Crash drivers blame each other
Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari launched Ralf Schumacher's Williams at the first corner
Schumacher flies over the Ferrari at the first corner
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Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello have blamed each other for the spectacular crash that took them and a further six cars out of the Australian Grand Prix at the first corner.

Schumacher's Williams-BMW was launched over the back of Barrichello's Ferrari as the two were disputing the lead just after the start.

Schumacher claimed that Barrichello had moved across the track to defend his position too many times, while Barrichello said that the German braked too late.

Schumacher said: "It was a risky moment. I got a great start, but Rubens changed direction two times too much. That was the main problem.

If I wasn't there, he wouldn't have made the corner
Rubens Barrichello
"He braked a bit early, but that's up to him, but he just moved too much.

"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose; he was just trying too hard to defend his lead.

"I tried to go on the inside and he closed the door, then I tried to go on the outside and he closed the door again.

"I tried to go back on the inside, he closed the door and braked at the same time, then he tried to brake into the first corner. It was a great start and it's a shame I did not make use of it."

F1 drivers are allowed to change line only once to defend their position, but Barrichello was not punished by race officials despite moving at least three times.

The Brazilian said Schumacher braked too late.

Rubens could have had brain damage - his helmet was damaged and he's a very lucky boy
Jackie Stewart

"I think if I wasn't there, he wouldn't have made the corner," Barrichello said.

"If he wanted to overtake on the outside he should have moved a lot further, I didn't get in his way.

"I just saw a part hitting my helmet and that's it, but it's just silly to see something like that... because we were going to be first and second out of the corner."

Triple world champion Jackie Stewart, Barrichello's former boss at the Stewart team, blamed Schumacher for the crash.

"That incident sparked a chain reaction because Barrichello was turning sharply. And when there's all that tyre smoke, the other drivers can't see anything, so there's nothing they can do about it.

"It was a big mess and you have to recognise the safety we have in F1 that allowed everyone to walk away uninjured. Ralf and Barrichello got off extremely lightly not getting injured.

"If Ralf's own car had flipped over at that speed, you never know what would have happened. And Rubens could have had brain damage. His helmet was damaged and he's a very lucky boy."

See also:

02 Mar 02 |  Formula One
Barrichello happy in old car
02 Mar 02 |  Formula One
Australian GP qualifying clockwatch
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