Michael Schumacher sent to the back of the Monaco GP grid

The Monaco Grand Prix stewards have deleted all of Michael Schumacher's times in qualifying today, sending him to the back of the grid for tomorrow's race

Michael Schumacher sent to the back of the Monaco GP grid

They said in a statement on Saturday that the seven-times champion had deliberately stopped his car on the track in the closing seconds of qualifying, preventing rivals from setting a faster time.

The decision means Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso will now start on pole, with Williams driver Mark Webber alongside on the front row.

The decision was announced eight hours after qualifying ended - the longest deliberation by stewards in recent years.

The three FIA-appointed stewards - Tony Scott Andrews, Joaquin Verdegay and Christian Calmes - said in a statement they have heard evidence from Schumacher himself; his race engineer Chris Dyer; Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn; Ferrari team manager Stefano Domenicali; race director Charlie Whiting; and FIA software analyst Alan Prudom.

The stewards further considered data evidence produced to them by both Ferrari and the FIA, viewed video evidence, and compared data evidence from Schumacher's previous laps in qualifying.

Their findings were: "having set a fast time in sector one, the driver lost time in sector two, arrived at Turn 18 at a speed little, if any, different from his previous fastest lap, and braked with such force that his front wheels locked up, requiring the driver to regain control of the car.

"The driver ultimately did so without hitting the barrier on the outside of Turn 18. The engine of the car subsequently stalled, with the result of the car partially blocked the track.

"Having compared all relevant data, the stewards can find no justifiable reason for the driver to have braked with such undue, excessive and unusual pressure at this part of the circuit, and are therefore left with no alternatives but to conclude that the driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit in the last few minutes of qualifying, at a time at which he had thus far set the fastest laptime."

The stewards said this was in breach of the 2006 Formula One sporting regulations, Article 116¹, "and hence a driving infringement."

Therefore, the stewards have "accordingly directed that the qualifying times of Michael Schumacher be deleted. The effect of this is that he will start from the back of the grid."

The stewards penalised Schumacher under Article 112² of the Sporting Regulations, leaving Ferrari no option to appeal.

The stewards added: "Article 112 enables the stewards to delete any number of a driver's qualifying times for a driving infringement, which decision is not susceptible to appeal."

The verdict means that Ferrari will now have both cars at the back after Schumacher's Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa crashed out in the first part of qualifying.

¹ Article 116b to the Sporting Regulations states: "If, in the opinion of the stewards, a driver deliberately stops on the circuit or impedes another driver in any way during the qualifying practice session his times will be cancelled."

² Article 112 states: "In the event of a driving infringement during practice the Stewards may delete any number of the relevant driver's qualifying times. In this case, a team will not be able to appeal against the steward's decision."

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