One of the race stewards at the centre of the Michael Schumacher qualifying controversy in Monaco has admitted that it was a 'painful decision' to punish the seven-time world champion, but claimed there was no choice after finding out that Schumacher had lost control of his car at just 16km/h.
Joaquin Verdegay, who is vice-president of the Spanish motorsport federation and one of the three stewards on duty last weekend, has revealed that all the evidence pointed towards Schumacher having acted deliberately in stopping his car.
He claims that the speed at which Schumacher went off, allied to the sequence of events that led to the car stalling, all pointed to the fact that the Ferrari driver had tried to deliberately block his rivals by leaving his car on the track.
"It was a painful decision because we could not make a mistake and put the reputation of a driver at risk," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We don't know if the entire manoeuvre was deliberate, but in that spot he had certainly not done anything like it throughout the weekend: he braked over 50% more heavily than on the other laps.
"Then he performed some absolutely unnecessary and pathetic counter-steering, and that lasted five metres, until there was no more chances of going through the turn normally.
"He lost control of the car while travelling at 16km/h! That's something completely unjustifiable. And the engine shut off because he wanted it to, by losing enough time before hitting the clutch. And the excuse that he did not engage reverse because there was traffic doesn't make sense."
Verdegay added that if Schumacher had actually hit the barriers then the stewards would probably have given him the benefit of the doubt that the entire incident was accidental.
"If he had damaged the car we would have probably filed the matter as an error. As it is, to 'park' it that way, you only do it deliberately," he added.
"We've only applied article 116 of the sporting regulations: if a driver affects the results of other drivers by committing an error, you can cancel all his lap times."