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Ferrari slam Michael Schumacher's penalty

Ferrari leapt to the defence of Michael Schumacher and criticised race stewards Schumi was stripped of pole position.

india Updated: May 28, 2006 16:52 IST

Ferrari leapt to the defence of Michael Schumacher and criticised race stewards after the 37-year-old German was stripped of pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix and sent to the back of the grid.

Stewards even ruled late on Saturday night that the seven-times drivers' world champion had deliberately stopped his car at the track's penultimate corner, the Rascasse hairpin, in the dying seconds of qualifying to prevent rivals from beating his time.

Schumacher's actions saw an uproar among fellow drivers and team bosses, and his claims that he had simply made a mistake at the corner intensified the argument and saw his times deleted from the session.

He will start 22nd and last on the grid alongside his Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa for Formula One's most glamorous race.

Ferrari team chief Jean Todt said in a statement: "Ferrari notes with great displeasure the decision of the race stewards. We totally disagree with it.

"Such a decision creates a very serious precedent, ruling out the possibility of driver error," the Frenchman added.

"Michael was on his final timed lap and he was trying to put his first place beyond doubt, as could be seen from the fact that his first split time was the best and could have seen him do another very good lap.

"With no real evidence, the stewards have assumed he is guilty."

The ruling wipes out Schumacher's hopes of equalling Ayrton Senna's record of six Monaco wins and promoted championship-leading Spaniard Fernando Alonso to pole position in his Renault, with Australian Mark Webber alongside him in a Williams.

First Published: May 28, 2006 16:52 IST