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F1 NEWS 

Patrese says Schumacher witch-hunted

Former Grand Prix driver Riccardo Patrese believes there is a witch-hunt against Michael Schumacher following the Monaco Grand Prix incident.

The Ferrari driver's reputation was dented after he seemed to deliberately stop on track during qualifying, impeding his rivals. The race stewards penalised Schumacher for the incident, stripping him of pole position and sending him to the back of the grid.

Schumacher was criticised by his colleagues and the media for his behaviour, and his colleagues will ask him to come clean in a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association at Silverstone.

Patrese, however, has defended Schumacher, saying the seven-time world champion should be believed when he says he made a genuine error.

"What's happening against Schumacher is something from the days of the Inquisition, it's a witch-hunt," the Italian told his country's Autosprint magazine. "Back in my days nothing like this would have happened in F1: dirty moves on track have always occurred to defend a position or a qualifying spot.

"But these were matters we would sort by talking among us  - like men - at the following Grand Prix.

"But this is madness to me. How can you decide that Michael stopped in the middle of the track deliberately? He's my friend and I believe him when he says it wasn't foul playing, but all the other drivers, even the worst ones, are going wild in criticizing. Who do they think they are by going so heavily against a seven-time world champion?

"Let me say another thing: in 1990 Senna crashed into Prost at the first turn in Suzuka. Afterwards, he clearly said he did it on purpose. Does it look like Ayrton is less respected because of that? That he isn't a legend in F1?

"Today people say how Schumacher deliberately parked it at Rascasse. I think this is either taking the piss, or it's a sign of how poor is the F1 environment nowadays. People say F1 is in a crisis: of course it is, with people like these."

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