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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 August, 2003, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Ralf punished for pile-up
Ralf Schumacher (left), Rubens Barrichello (hidden) and Kimi Raikkonen collide at the start of the German Grand Prix
Three leading drivers were taken out by this collision
Ralf Schumacher will be demoted 10 places on the grid at the next Grand Prix for causing the first-lap pile up in Germany on Sunday.

Race stewards found the German Williams driver guilty of causing the accident that took himself, Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen out of the race at the first corner.

The stewards said Schumacher had caused an avoidable collision and "admitted to paying no attention to the position of the other cars" when he moved to his left to get a better line.

Williams said they would appeal against Schumacher's penalty. It is not yet known whether the appeal will be heard before the next race in Hungary in three weeks' time.

Ralf Schumacher said: "I was just trying to defend my position and I didn't make any sudden move or anything so there was all the time in the world for other cars to move away from me.

"The impact from Raikkonen's car crashing into my car, damaged all of the left sidepod and radiator and the floor and I couldn't do anything but retire."

The three cars collided after the field bunched following a slow start by Barrichello, who was third on the grid.

Raikkonen was trying to pass the Brazilian on the outside when Schumacher moved across to defend his position.

I don't think going down the outside was a risk - if there had been no space, I would have hit the rear of Rubens' car
Kimi Raikkonen
The Williams clipped the Ferrari sending it canoning into the McLaren, which smashed into the barriers on the outside of the track.

No-one was injured in the accident, although Raikkonen did suffer some bruising.

"My leg is very painful and it will take a few days to get back to normal," said the Finn.

"I don't think going down the outside was a risk. I was ahead of Rubens. I don't know what happened but it was safe to go. If there had been no space, I would have hit the rear of his car.

"I'm not taking the blame for it because I didn't do anything wrong."

Barrichello said: "I had nowhere to go at the moment of the accident. I had an average start. I think both Ralf and Kimi took big risks, especially Kimi who went very wide to get past.

"Ralf moved to the left and gave me nowhere to go. I braked and then I was hit while not making any changes of direction with the steering wheel. A real shame."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said: "It was triggered by Rubens' poor start. I don't think Ralf Ralf squeezed Rubens deliberately but that's what happened.

"Everyone was trying to take advantage of Rubens' poor start. It was a racing incident."




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