Zonta defends ramming Schumacher

Ricardo Zonta has defended his actions after ramming Formula 1 World Championship leader Michael Schumacher out of the Austrian Grand Prix on the first bend

Zonta defends ramming Schumacher

The British American Racing driver started from sixth on the grid - his highest qualifying position so far this year - and got off the line well, getting past Jarno Trulli and amongst the Ferraris of Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello by the first corner.

"I got a really good start but I was caught between the two Ferraris," said the 24-year-old. "Michael was on a really tight inside line and almost came to a stop as he was turning. I braked as hard as I could, but touched the back of his car and, as it turned out, damaged the front wing of my car."

While Schumacher was punted out of contention, the handling of Zonta's BAR-Honda was little affected by the impact.

"Actually, the balance was okay after that and I just pressed on as hard as I could until my pit stop when the mechanics fitted a new nose."

The Brazilian did not get off scot-free as he was hit with a 10 second stop-go penalty after the race stewards had examined replays of the incident. He returned to the race in 14th place only for his engine to blow 11 laps from the finish after debris blocked the air intakes.

"I'm very sorry about the problem in the race because, as usual, everyone on the team worked really hard this weekend and it would have been nice to get a result for them," he added.

Zonta will be hoping to recreate his Austrian qualifying form in Hockenheim in two weeks time as he battles to retain his Formula 1 seat for next season.

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