Wednesday February 28th, 2001
A Belgian sports goods distributor sought an injunction against Michael Schumacher on Wednesday in a breach of contract case which could cost the world racing champion millions of dollars in penalties.
Sports Europe, a Belgium-based distributor of Bell Helmets, is seeking to force the Ferrari driver to wear its products or face damages, which Belgian media put at $1.1 million a day.
The company alleges Schumacher signed a contract to wear the Bell helmet at least until the end of this year.
Schumacher wore a helmet made by a rival German brand, Schuberth Helme, in Formula One trials in Barcelona last month.
Schumacher was not in court. He is in Australia preparing for Sunday's Melbourne Grand Prix.
His lawyers argued that he had chosen to use a rival crash helmet because it was safer.
"How can you force a racing driver to wear a certain kind of helmet when for his own security he has decided to use another?" lawyer Joelle Prosman, acting for Schumacher, asked the court.
Commercial considerations could not be enough to force the racing champion to put his security at risk by using equipment he no longer felt comfortable with, his legal team added.
Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, played down the row, saying Sports Europe should have tried to solve it amicably.
"We used to have good contacts," he said. "They should have just sat down with me, as we did in the past."
Judge Christine Dalcq was expected to rule on the injuction on Thursday.