Irvine in attack on 'dangerous' Schumacher

Just when Michael Schumacher thought it was safe to go out into the open and bask in the adulation of his countrymen, he found himself embroiled in another feisty chapter in the ongoing saga of his racing morals.

Just when Michael Schumacher thought it was safe to go out into the open and bask in the adulation of his countrymen, he found himself embroiled in another feisty chapter in the ongoing saga of his racing morals.

He arrived for Sunday's German Grand Prix here armed with his customary cool front against questions about whether he and his Ferrari team were in a state of crisis after seeing his world championship lead shrivel from 22 points to six in two races.

However, his demeanour changed markedly when he was again challenged about his driving style and his tendency to steer in front of other cars at the start.

McLaren-Mercedes' David Coulthard, Schumacher's closest challenger, had voiced his disapproval after the French Grand Prix, earlier this month and received support from Eddie Irvine, for four years the No 2 to the German at Ferrari, and Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion.

Irvine called Schumacher "a bully", while Villeneuve questioned his ethics. A stern-faced Schumacher responded: "I don't take those two guys or their comments seriously."

Irvine, back on duty at Jaguar after missing the Austrian Grand Prix with a still undiagnosed abdominal complaint, and sporting a new blond look, interpreted that statement as evidence for the prosecution.

"He should take us seriously," the Ulsterman said. "That's very arrogant. I'm not doing it to wind him up. I'm doing it because it's a safety issue. If he's not taking the issue seriously he should not be the head of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association."

Schumacher counters that the case against him has already been put to the authorities and rejected. Charlie Whiting, the international motor racing federation's race director, has reaffirmed that a driver is permitted one change of direction in any manoeuvre and that Schumacher drove within that rule at the French Grand Prix.

Irvine contends that Schumacher made two changes of direction in France and offended more seriously at the San Marino Grand Prix this year.

"He should have been disciplined," Irvine said. "What he did at Imola, especially, was out of order. The way he drives at the start of races is dangerous.

"The problem is that it's not a simple black-and-white matter for Charlie. Apparently it's OK if he gets away with it and the guy behind him lifts. But that's like shooting at someone and not being charged with attempted murder if you miss.

"I always believe that what goes around comes around. I'm convinced of that. My relationship with Michael is fine, no problem. It's just that I don't agree with his starts."

Schumacher implied that hypocrisy and British bias is fuelling the campaign against him. He said: "Charlie clarified the rule and if the rule allows the way I drive I shall continue to drive that way. Is this Formula One or Happy Families on an afternoon drive, stopping off to drink coffee?"

He added: "The people who complain have done the same thing in the past. I'm seen as the bad guy in England, but this is the way Formula One has been ever since I have been racing in it. What about [Ayrton] Senna and [Nigel] Mansell at Monaco in 1992? Everybody said that was great racing."

On that fabled occasion Senna used every inch of the principality, weaving this way and that, to block Mansell and win the race. It was, indeed, hailed an outstanding spectacle and Schumacher has a valid point.

Ironically, Coulthard, another official of the GPDA, was the least animated by these latest exchanges. The Scotsman, just two points ahead of his McLaren team-mate, Mika Hakkinen, was more anxious to contemplate Sunday's race. He said, a little reluctantly: "Every time a car goes on to the track there is a potential for an accident. It's an issue over what the rules are. Charlie has given his view, and as long as we know where the line is we go racing.

"Danger is an accepted part of our sport and I'd be surprised if any driver would put his own safety at risk to put another driver's at risk."

And Ferrari's championship campaign in crisis? "No, it's not," Schumacher said calmly. "It's not been ideal for us in the last few races but we have had enough bad luck and it's our turn for good moments. I don't feel it's slipping away."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick