Keep the fight clean, says Ferrari champ Jody

Jody Scheckter, the last man to win a Formula 1 World Championship with Ferrari, has added his weight to calls for this year's title fight to be kept clean as it reaches its climax.

Keep the fight clean, says Ferrari champ Jody

Heading into this weekend's penultimate race at Suzuka, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher leads Mika Hakkinen by eight points and is guaranteed the title if he wins in Japan. But after a season of controversy which culminated in the German lambasting Hakkinen's team mate David Coulthard over his alleged rough house driving at Indianapolis - accusations the Scot robustly countered - F1 is bracing itself for a potentially explosive ending to the title race.

Speaking to the newspaper, Scheckter, who brought the title to Maranello in 1979, urged Coulthard and Schumacher's team mate Rubens Barrichello to leave the title contenders to fight it out among themselves.

"I hate to see team mates get involved in a situation like this," said the South African. "I know you've got to use all the means you can when a championship is at stake. But I prefer to see a straight race between the guys going for the title.

"The trouble is it's so easy for one car to hold up another. Hopefully we won't see it in the two races left. Let's have Schumacher and Hakkinen out in front going for it."

Schumacher accused Coulthard of deliberately blocking him when he passed him for the lead in the United States Grand Prix, but the McLaren driver hit back, saying: "At the end of the day I could have easily pushed him off the circuit. I didn't and I won't in the future, because firstly it's not sporting and secondly that is not the way I do things.

"I work for the team and I will do what I have to to help it - but I will not do anything outside the rules."

Controversy aside, Scheckter believes that Schumacher will take his third world crown and prevent Hakkinen from becoming the first man since Juan Manuel Fangio to take three titles in a row.

"I reckon I'm losing my crown," he said. "It's been fun having this 'Ferrari's last champion' tag all these years, but they've worked hard to win it this year.

"I think Michael deserves it," he added. "There are two races left and he's only got to win one, so I think it's his title."

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