Thursday June 7th, 2001
Michael Schumacher waded into the row between Enrique Bernoldi and McLaren on Thursday, defending the Brazilian's actions in holding up David Coulthard for much of the recent Monaco Grand Prix.
"I think Enrique did everything right, there was nothing against the rules," said Ferrari's Formula One world champion, who won the race two weeks ago to take a 12-point lead over his McLaren rival after seven of 17 races. Coulthard had qualified on pole position but stalled on the formation lap in Monaco, sending him to the back of the grid where he stuck for lap after lap behind Bernoldi's Arrows.
"If I would have been in the same situation for sure I would have been somehow frustrated as well, but then that's the way it is. Sometimes you have to accept these circumstances," Schumacher told a news conference previewing Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
"There is nothing against Enrique," he added, sitting between Bernoldi and Coulthard. Coulthard branded the Brazilian an idiot after the race while McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug confronted the driver in the pit lane.
Schumacher said he had heard about that incident a few days after the race and found it hard to comprehend.
"When I hear that Enrique was approached by a team principal then I have no understanding for that, honestly. They should know the rules and they should act by the rules."
Bernoldi said his team had been 100 percent behind him in defending his position during the race, despite the fact that Coulthard was a title contender.
"I think that in the race I did what I was supposed to do," said the Brazilian.
Coulthard appeared more conciliatory towards Bernoldi, acknowledging him to be a good driver doing what he was paid to do but also accusing him of dangerous actions.
"To qualify why I called him an idiot, it's because I felt that he was weaving on the track in a way that, as a group of drivers, we had agreed you don't do," he said. "There were a couple of occasions on the track, and only I can judge this and only you can take my word for it, that I felt were outside the agreement that we had as drivers."
The Scot said that on one occasion, going round Mirabeau, he had got inside Bernoldi's line but the Brazilian had closed the door in a way that could have been disastrous.
"In another situation with another driver trying to overtake him it could have ended in an accident which could have flipped him upside down," he said. "As to him holding his position, going racing, that's absolutely what we're all there to do and I respect him for doing that. I do feel for him that he's got so much flak for doing that."