Motor Racing: Coulthard `cleared' by Schumacher

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER made a humble and very public retraction yesterday, exonerating David Coulthard over their controversial collision at the Belgian Grand Prix. A contrite Schumacher admitted: "It's clear he did nothing wrong at Spa."

The two drivers had a one and a half hour private meeting in a neutral motor home here, emerged shaking hands, and vowed to join forces for clearer guidelines on lapping and overtaking, especially in the rain.

Coulthard and his team, McLaren Mercedes, will now feel a little easier going in to Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in Ferrari's homeland. McLaren's other driver, Mika Hakkinen, leads Schumacher by seven points.

Schumacher, who in the heat of the moment at Spa accused Coulthard of trying to kill him, called for a meeting last week, which was brokered by the Austrian, Alexander Wurz, a spokesman for the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

Schumacher left the meeting smiling and then, in more serious mood, reflected on the fateful incident when he ran into the back of Coulthard. "Initially it was not so clear," he said. "After looking at it, it was an unfortunate situation but I wouldn't say again he did it purposely to get me out of the race."

Schumacher declined to reveal if he had apologised to Coulthard, insisting he did not intend the saga to develop into a comedy or theatre. "It was the idea of both of us to talk. I know David quite well and there was no point in keeping this going. It was just a question of the right opportunity and I am happy it is now sorted.

"I can't remember ever losing control in that way and hope it will never happen again. It was a natural reaction to the circumstances. But I never would have hit him, I have never hit anyone."

Coulthard, who was given a hostile reception by Ferrari fans at testing here last week, said: "We have cleared the air and discussed a number of matters which we intend to put to the other drivers and FIA [the governing body]. I saw things differently to him and what he said at the time was hurtful because it questions your integrity.

"But I'm thick-skinned, I'm a big boy. I'm prepared to go out and battle with the best. It's not a war, it's a sport. I'm happy to fight wheel to wheel with him on the track as I always have done in the past and I'm sure it will be fair.

"The Ferrari fans are very passionate about their team and Formula One and it would be great to have that passion at all the races. Sometimes they jeer or whistle at us but it's very tame in Formula One compared with what footballers take. Look at David Beckham."

Jordan formally announced that next season Damon Hill would be partnered by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the man he gave way to at Williams. The German's place at Williams is to be taken by his compatriot Ralf Schumacher, released by Jordan in an out-of-court settlement.

"This is the ideal line-up for us," the team owner, Eddie Jordan, said. "I tried to sign Heinz-Harald two years ago and he may settle better in our team situation than he did at Williams."

Hill, who gave Jordan their first Grand Prix victory at Spa, said: "This is not a rest home for ex-Williams drivers. Some drivers flourish in certain environments and some don't. Frentzen obviously has a lot of talent."

Frentzen described Jordan as a team for the future. "I especially like their power. They have good engineers and they have great support from Mugen-Honda," he said. "It's a very good combination. I don't want to make any rash promises but I think we are going to be a good, strong team next year."

He thought the new arrangements for himself and Ralf Schumacher provided a perfect solution for both of them. "Basically we have swapped," he explained. "Ralf wants to drive for Williams and I want to drive for Jordan - so as you can see it is a swap."

But he added: "It remains to be seen who will get the better end of the deal."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches