Germany's seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has hit out at the critics who accused him of deliberately crashing his car to prevent anyone beating his qualifying time for Sunday's Monte Carlo Grand Prix.
"I am used to being criticised but sometimes people are too quick to pass judgement," Schumacher said in an interview with Bild daily.
"No-one knows exactly what happened. If people believe it was intentional then I have to disappoint them. I did not know where (Fernando) Alonso was and I have a clear conscience."
The 37-year-old Schumacher was in pole position for the race but controversially stopped his Ferrari at the track's penultimate corner, the Rascasse hairpin.
The move denied Renault driver and reigning world champion Fernando Alonso the chance to better Schumacher's time and the FIA, motor racing's governing body, ruled the manouevre was intentional and relegated the German to the back of the grid.
"Everyone has black marks on their record but I do not have many," Schmacher declared.
"Those who shout their mouths off now are too cowardly to say something to my face. You have envy and rivals here (in Formula One) just like in life.
"The reasonable people come to me and they are more important to me than the others."
Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who was Schumacher's team chief when the pair were together at Benetton, was just one high-profile figure to express his disgust at the move.
Schumacher moved from the back of the grid to finish the race in fifth but is now 21 points behind Alonso in the championship standings after the Spaniard won the race.
"I am still second in the standings and I think the title is still possible," vowed Schumacher.
"Whoever knows me and watched the race knows I do not do giving up."