Motor Racing: Frentzen ire turns heat on Schumacher

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER seemed to have got it wrong when he arrived in the rain here wearing shorts. It became still more uncomfortable for the German as he faced further interrogation about his behaviour on the track and was urged by his countryman Heinz-Harald Frentzen to resign as an official spokesman for the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

As ever, Schumacher defended himself, maintaining he had not deliberately driven Frentzen off the circuit in Canada three weeks ago, and argued that, in common with all leading drivers, he was an easy target for critics.

For good measure, he suggested he and Ferrari might be capable of sustaining their championship challenge to McLaren-Mercedes, starting with Sunday's French Grand Prix here.

Frentzen, who in tandem with his Williams team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, condemned Schumacher's driving in Montreal and contends his compatriot is not fit to sit alongside Damon Hill and David Coulthard as ambassadors of the drivers' body.

"A driver like Michael, the way he drives, he can't be our spokesman," Frentzen said. "He is always going on about safety and then continues to drive the way he does. At our next meeting I will call for him to step down."

Schumacher is sticking to his claim that he did not see Frentzen as he came out of the pits in Montreal. "Now I have seen the incident on television I know it shows I was wrong," he said. "But when you are in my position it is normal to have critics. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle but I don't care what people say."

Schumacher had a difference of opinion with Hill over another incident in Canada and could not resist a further dig. "I've not had the chance to speak to him. If he runs over me I will. It's not so easy to find him."

Schumacher, second in the championship behind Mika Hakkinen after his victory in Montreal, added: "We have closed the gap and I expect us to do so for the rest of the season. We could be there. The next two grands prix will tell us."

Coulthard, relegated to third, is equally eager to make up ground here and at the British Grand Prix in a fortnight. The Scotsman said: "I don't see this as all or nothing but I could do well in the next two races and change everything to my advantage. I'm third and that's no reason to be downhearted. I can make up 17 points in seven races as Mika has in the first seven races."