Ralf Loses Appeal, Penalty Changed to Fine

Williams driver Ralf Schumacher has lost his appeal over a crash at the German Grand Prix, the sport's ruling body (FIA) said today.

Ralf Loses Appeal, Penalty Changed to Fine

Williams driver Ralf Schumacher has lost his appeal over a crash at the German Grand Prix, the sport's ruling body (FIA) said today.

But the FIA imposed a fine of $50,000 instead of the original penalty, which would have meant Schumacher dropping 10 positions from his qualifying spot at the start of his next race, this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Schumacher, younger brother of World Champion Michael, collided with McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari as the three cars left the grid at the start on August 3. Race stewards blamed the German driver for the crash.

The FIA also said they would ask German race stewards to investigate the roles of Finland's Raikkonen and Brazilian Barrichello in the first lap collision.

"The court (of appeal) confirmed the stewards' findings against Ralf Schumacher but considered that the sanction imposed was inappropriate and substituted a fine of $50,000," the FIA said.

Three other cars were caught up in the wake of the crash and forced to abandon the race at Hockenheim, which was won by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in a Williams.

Schumacher appealed against his penalty at a FIA hearing in Paris on Tuesday, saying the crash was not his fault. Immediately after the race Williams said they did not believe their driver was totally to blame for the crash.

"It appeared to the court, in particular from reading the report by Peter Wright (technical and safety consultant) analysing accident data recorder information, not available to the stewards, that some responsibility might possibly be imputed to the other two drivers involved in the incident," FIA said.

"The court decided that the case should be referred back to the panel of the stewards of the German Grand Prix so that the conduct of Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen can be considered in the light of the evidence from Mr Wright."

Nobody's Fault

At the court's hearing on Tuesday, Schumacher said the collision was nobody's fault.

"It was a completely normal racing accident. It could have happened to anyone in any race," he said.

Williams officials said Barrichello and Raikkonen were in Schumacher's blind spot and their driver could not have seen the crash coming. Barrichello told the panel that Schumacher had crashed into him, not the other way around.

"I tried to take avoiding action," he said. "I braked and moved a little bit. I didn't drive into Ralf. He hit me."

Raikkonen rejected suggestions from Williams officials that he could have avoided the crash by driving on, or to the left of, the white line on the left shoulder of the track.

"I didn't want to drive off the course because that is not the best route," Raikkonen said.

Schumacher is in fourth place in the Championship with 53 points, 18 behind the leader, his brother Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari. Raikkonen is in third with 62 points and Barrichello is fifth with 49.

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