Michael defends cutting-up Ralf

World Championship leader Michael Schumacher has defended his actions after cutting across brother Ralf at the start of Sunday's European Grand Prix, causing a post-race bust-up between the German siblings

Michael defends cutting-up Ralf

Schumacher Snr started the Nurburgring race from pole position, but his younger brother made full use of the BMW grunt of his Williams to make a better start from second on the grid, only to be squeezed towards the pit wall in the dash for the first corner.

"The start wasn't as perfect as it was supposed to be," said the elder Schumacher. "Again I had a little dip where I lost out a couple of metres and then I saw Ralf on the inside."

Ralf was forced to back off to avoid a collision and, although his race was ruined later anyway by a 10-second stop-go penalty for a pit exit misdemeanour, the 25-year-old had words with his big brother after the race. The reigning world champion says, however, he did not act outside the rules and that getting to the first corner first was his priority.

"Obviously I knew which strategy I was on," said Schumacher Snr. "But not knowing what strategy they were on, thinking they may be only on one stop, I had to make sure I would be first in the first corner, otherwise I would be in trouble. So I used the maximum that the rules allow you, to move over once, and tighten up the line.

"I think that's the way you have to work unfortunately. I don't think he touched the wall. It's tight and maybe for the person who has to lift off it seems unfair but on the other side that's the way the rules are written. You're allowed to do this and you have to make sure that you stay up front."

Schumacher was criticised for his aggressive starting techniques after moving over on rivals last year, but a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association clarified that drivers were allowed to weave across the track once to defend their position.

"We had this discussion at length some time ago," said Schumacher, "and I think it's clear what is allowed and what isn't allowed."

Schumacher's championship rival David Coulthard disagreed, and although the Scot believes that while the triple world champion was within the rules, he still wasn't in the right.

"I still maintain that if you do something that makes someone else take avoiding action, or be forced to brake, then that can't be right," said Coulthard.

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Ralf keeps tight-lipped over brotherly tiff

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