Villeneuve Upset by Suzuka Penalty

Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has refused to accept that he was in the wrong after being blamed for driving Juan Pablo Montoya off the track on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix

Villeneuve Upset by Suzuka Penalty

The race stewards handed Villeneuve a 25-second penalty after they felt he had failed to give Montoya enough room as they raced side-by-side out of the chicane.

That resulted in Montoya being forced onto the grass and crashing into the tyre barriers - bringing out the Safety Car.

But despite the Stewards saying they had no doubts Villeneuve caused an avoidable accident, the Sauber driver insists he did nothing wrong.

"I was a bit surprised when I saw Juan Pablo in the wall," said Villeneuve, sitting with Montoya in a pre Chinese Grand Prix press conference. "When you're racing and you go through a corner, you only leave room if the guy's next to you.

"If the person is still behind you just take your line and you expect the other person to lift, because he hasn't won the corner. That's all.

"I was concentrating on the straight line and once I got on the straight, I looked in the mirrors to see where he was and I saw him in the wall so I was a bit surprised. I guess Juan Pablo judged that he would be next to me by the time we got to the exit..."

When Montoya claimed that he was alongside him, Villeneuve responded: "No you weren't. If you had been next to me, it would have been front wheel against front wheel.

"Being next to one means that your front wheel is next to his front wheel. If you're behind the front wheel, then you're not next to the person, you're not in the line of sight."

He added: "I spent all my career always accepting blame when I've done something wrong, and this time I won't accept blame and I find it very, very disappointing because the next step is when someone tries to overtake you, you just lift in the middle of the straight line and let him by.

"I find that a little bit dangerous, mostly when you see that some drivers will put another one on the grass in the middle of a straight-line and there's no punishment for that.  So I find that a little bit difficult to accept."

Montoya still believes Villeneuve was to blame for the crash, however, and claims he went off the track in a bid to avoid a bigger collision.

"The rules are so inconsistent with everybody that it's very hard to judge," said the McLaren driver. "In a way he got a penalty, but in a way he didn't.

"He got a 25 second penalty when he finished 12th. What does that matter? It doesn't change anything. It's kind of ridiculous that you give a penalty to someone who finished 12th which is probably going to drop him a place. Wow, 13th."

He added: "I think I was side-by-side with Jacques. When I came out of the chicane, he came across the track to block me. I went the other way... on the video, when I came down the circuit I was beside him. It doesn't matter. It happens.

"He said he didn't see me and when he looked it was too late but... I tried not to hit wheels. If you touch wheels you would probably end up in the grandstand or something and I would just rather finish one car in the wall than one in the grandstand."

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