Motor racing: Schumacher eyes accord

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MICHAEL SCHUMACHER is seeking a peace formula with David Coulthard today in the wake of their angry confrontation at last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

Schumacher wants to speak to Coulthard in private at Monza, where teams are testing, and avert the escalation of a conflict that could have catastrophic consequences at the next race, the Italian Grand Prix, on Sunday week.

Coulthard claims he was accused by the Ferrari driver of trying to kill him when their cars collided. The incident cost Schumacher the race and the leadership of the championship, which was retained by the Scot's McLaren-Mercedes team-mate, Mika Hakkinen.

The race stewards rejected Ferrari's contention that Coulthard deliberately slowed and caused their driver to run into the back of the McLaren, but Schumacher remains unconvinced. If Coulthard is prepared to shoulder some of the responsibility for the crash, the German will make a public apology for his subsequent behaviour.

Although Coulthard is adamant he did nothing wrong, he has already said he is willing to discuss the matter "man to man" and realises a political compromise could help ease the plight of his team during the run up to a race in Ferrari's homeland.

Both men will recognise also that, as officials of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, they are duty bound to set an honourable example.

McLaren are considering what security measures to put in place for the race but a declaration of peace with the Ferrari camp would be the best insurance of all.

The fateful coming together on Sunday is still puzzling leading figures in Formula One. Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's impresario, said: "Schumacher is not the type of driver who would normally make a mistake like that. It seemed to me there was something strange about it."