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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 July, 2004, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Dennis attacks Ferrari
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Silverstone

Ron Dennis and David Coulthard talk tactics at Silverstone
Dennis and McLaren driver David Coulthard talk tactics at Silverstone
McLaren boss Ron Dennis has reopened his long-running feud with Ferrari by criticising their conduct in pre-qualifying at the British Grand Prix.

Dennis defended the tactics of teams who slowed their cars but said Ferrari did so in an underhand way.

"If you want to use the word farce, you should use it on one team who spun their cars and expected the others to believe it was an accident," he said.

Both Ferrari drivers admitted they deliberately made disguised errors.

Pre-qualifying determines the order in which cars run in the qualifying session.

And because a rain shower was forecast 10-20 minutes into qualifying, teams were keen to run as late as possible.

Barrichello, who qualified second to McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, ran wide at Vale on his lap while Schumacher spun at Priory.

Barrichello said: "I did run wide deliberately at Vale to get a slower time in pre- qualifying. It seemed a nicer way of doing it than just going slowly.

"I don't see anything wrong with what I and other drivers did."

Schumacher added: "For strategic reasons we chose not to look too good in pre-qualifying."

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was happy Ferrari's ploy had worked, with Barrichello taking second on the grid and Schumacher fourth.

"We didn't want to risk being last out on track and we tried to do it in such a way that the other teams would not understand our intentions, but they did the same thing anyway," said Brawn.

We are trying to do the best we can but it's not always the best thing for the spectators
Kimi Raikkonen

"It was a strategic drive. Pre-qualifying is only about setting a car up and getting the best qualifying position for the proper qualifying, so that's what you saw happening. People did it in different ways."

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had led a campaign to change the format of qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

His idea to split qualifying into two 25-minute sessions with drivers doing six laps in each and the grid order determined by aggregate times was initially accepted by the teams.

But it was thrown out when Minardi boss Paul Stoddart withdrew his support at the French Grand Prix last weekend.

He was concerned about the return of the 107% rule, which dictates drivers must lap within that margin of the pole time or be excluded from the race.

He felt this would adversely affect his uncompetitive cars.




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