Montoya Sent to Back of the Grid

Ralf Schumacher's qualifying accident at Monaco's quick left-handed Tabac corner has also hit the race chances of his Toyota teammate Jarno Trulli, last year's pole position man and race winner

Montoya Sent to Back of the Grid

Trulli, always quick at Monaco, suffered through being the next car onto the circuit after the delay to clear up the track following the crash from Schumacher, who clipped the barrier on the inside going into Tabac and then cannoned across the road into the opposite barrier.

Trulli had been fourth quickest in Saturday morning's practice session, behind the Renault drivers and Kimi Raikkonen, but could only manage seventh in first qualifying. 

"Ralf's accident didn't help me in more ways than one," Trulli explained. "First, the track temperature dropped during the delay and then the circuit was still quite dusty and dirty around where he crashed. That made it difficult to keep the tyres clean on my warm-up lap."

For Schumacher the weekend has gone from bad to worse. The bad luck started on Thursday when it was discovered that one of his tyres was missing an identification mark and was swapped by Michelin without the appropriate notice being given to the FIA.

The replaced tyre was of the same batch and type and did not introduce any change in performance, on what was a free practice day, but with Article 75d of the sporting regulations breached, the race stewards declared that Schumacher would have 0.5s added to his aggregate qualifying time.

Michelin, meanwhile, put out a statement accepting responsibility and apologising to the team and driver.

On Saturday morning, Schumacher got himself innocently involved in a tangle between David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve, which gave the Toyota team a repair job to do over the lunch break.

"There was no problem with the car after the incident in the morning," Ralf reported. "I was just pushing hard and I clipped the barrier on the inside going into Tabac. That fired me across the track into the barrier on the outside and it was quite a big impact."

The qualifying session was red-flagged while the debris, oil and water from Ralf's accident were cleared off the track, but it was Trulli's misfortune to be the next car to run after the interruption.

Chief race engineer Dieter Gass said that Toyota will conduct a full examination of Schumacher's car to see if it is repairable or whether he will have to race the T-car.

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Series Formula 1
Author Tony Dodgins
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