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Williams await hearing decision 19 Aug 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams climbed from a lowly seventeenth on the grid to finish fourth in the race.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd2, Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, 23 March 2003

In a hearing in front of the FIA's International Court of Appeal in Paris this morning (Tuesday) Ralf Schumacher claimed that no one was to blame for the first-corner accident in the recent German Grand Prix.

Schumacher was handed a ten-spot grid penalty for the next round in Hungary after stewards at Hockenheim decided he was responsible for the incident in which his Williams, the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello and the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen came together, effectively removing all three cars from the race.

However, this morning Williams argued that Schumacher was ahead of the other two cars at the time of the accident and that his field of vision did not allow him to foresee the collision.

"It was definitely very annoying," Schumacher said. "There is no one to blame for this crash. It was a completely normal racing accident. It could have happened to anyone in any race."

Schumacher denied the stewards' claim that he had admitted not paying attention to the position of the other cars. He also said that he felt he had already been punished enough by being forced out of the race, which was ultimately won by his team mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Both Barrichello and Raikkonen were also present at the hearing. The former insisted he had been powerless to prevent contact with the Williams. "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, meanwhile, refuted suggestions that he could have avoided the crash by driving further to the left of the track. "I didn't want to drive off the course because that is not the best route," said the Finn.

The FIA is due to announce its decision on Wednesday afternoon.