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Schumi insists that he had done nothing wrong

But his former Benetton team chief, now boss at Alonso's Renault team, Flavio Briatore, vehemently disagreed.

india Updated: May 28, 2006 16:42 IST

Schumacher insisted that he had done nothing wrong, saying that "No, I didn't cheat -- and I think it is pretty tough to be asked if I did".

The 37-year-old claimed he had attempted to find reverse, when he realised his car was stranded on the racing line of the circuit, but the gear did not engage.

"I didn't really want to back up just by myself without knowing what was coming around the corner and finally, it stalled," he said.

But his former Benetton team chief, now boss at Alonso's Renault team, Flavio Briatore, vehemently disagreed.

"I think he is taking everyone for a ride. Someone who was seven times a world champion wants us to believe that he didn't do it on purpose. It's fairyland."

Alonso, stony-faced after the session, was clearly livid and like most paddock observers could hardly believe that Schumacher had deliberately stopped on the track to gain an advantage in that way.

"For sure, I'd have been on pole if I did not see the yellow flags. I was three-tenths (of a second) up on the lap until then. I am not going to give my true opinion on the matter here though. It is not the right place or time," said the Spaniard.

Schumacher has often courted controversy in his 15-years career in Formula One, most famously when he crashed into Briton Damon Hill in the decisive season-ending 1994 Australian Grand Prix to win his first drivers' title.

In 1997, after leaving Benetton to join Ferrari, he collided with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in a bid to win the drivers' title, but ended up handing his rival the crown and being disqualified, stripped of his runners-up place in the title race and disgraced again.