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[Finished] Case #8: The Collision between Coulthard and Schumacher at Spa 98


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#1 Rainstorm

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Posted 24 January 2001 - 12:34

Smooth has brought to the Atlas F1 court the case of the collision between David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher at the Belgian Grand Prix of 1998.

The object of this case is to find out whether this incident is to be blamed on Michael Schumacher, or David Coulthard, or perhaps be simply put down as a racing incident with no malice from either side. In short: we shall attempt to find out who is to blame.

This case has been accepted for hearing by the court, and I shall be the residing judge. Hearing will begin on March 22st, for a period of 7 days. A decision on the case will be posted up to 7 days after hearing is closed.


Judge's Preamble:

This is arguably one of the biggest controversies on this Bulletin Board, if not among all contemporary Formula One fans worldwide.

The incident, regardless of who is to be blamed, robbed Michael Schumacher of what seemed to be a certain victory, and subsequently of valuable 10 points that may have given him the World Championship that year.

This incident also brought out fierce emotions from the two drivers involved, deepening the feud between Schumacher and Coulthard, and between their teams, Ferrari and McLaren. Little wonder, then, that it became such an emotional debate among the fans as well.

Nevertheless, I do urge all sides to argue this case with dignity to each other and with patience. And, to leave emotions aside. There are probably a lot of factual evidence that could be presented and I for one would love to read, once and for all, a full account of this incident from both perspectives.

For myself, I have of course seen the race and have had my share of thoughts on the case. However, I cannot say that my mind was ever made up either way, perhaps due to the fact that I've never seen this case discussed with mere rationale. I am therefore eager to hear arguments from all sides and be presented with facts that could assist me in coming to a conclusion on this long standing debate.

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#2 bira

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 19:41

While Rainstorm is away for a couple of days, I've opened this case for hearing in the mean time.

#3 Greg L

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 21:59

My comments on the collision will be brief, and I will assume that everyone has seen video of the accident. First off, I think it is important to recognize that Schumacher was the driver behind, as he was overtaking Coulthard, and that the overtaking driver traditionally has responsibility for ensuring that the overtaking manouvre is performed safely (this puts the burden on MS). As I see it, the only way MS would NOT be responsible for this accident is if DC in some way slowed down or swerved in front of MS to prevent the pass. This is certainly possible if one looks only to the video of the accident, but after the accident, the FIA investigated the accident and issued the following statement as printed in Road & Track magazines F1 Season Review:

"Ferarri lodged a complaint but McLaren's Ron Dennis showed stewards the telemetry that indicated neither braking nor deceleration on Coulthards part. Ron also produced tapes of voice communication telling David that Schumacher was closing in and to let him pass.

FIA President Max Mosley concluded, "The data exclude a McLaren conspiracy 100 percent. Coulthard clearly wanted to help Schumacher pass him, but the spray deceived them both.""

As telemetry showed DC slowed in no way, and as video clearly shows DC driving straight ahead (not swerving in front of MS), it seems clear that DC did nothing out of the ordinary that would make him responsible for the collision. The matter then becomes "was it MS's fault or a racing accident?" The track was VERY wet, and there was a great deal of spray behind DC's car, and this may have played a role in the accident. Still, I for one feel that Michael is too experienced and too skilled to blame an accident on excessive spray: he knew his vision would be clouded by spray and he should have made his overtaking manouvre more carefully. I think that it is clear that Michael, as the overtaking car, should have executed the pass with greater care (especially considering the wet conditions), and when the collision occured, it was because of poor judgement on Michaels part.

To those who point to the fact that the collision hurt Michael's chances of winning the WDC, I would argue that it also hurt McLaren from the perspective of possible lost points in the WCC. Let us not forget that DC was also taken out the race, due to what I feel is poor judgement on the part of Michael Schumacher. The resulting feud in the pit lane can be best summed up by former Ferarri driver Clay Regazzoni: "Michael is the best driver in the world, and he knows it so well that he wants to humiliate his opponents, not just beat them. His behavior is not worthy of a champion." I for one feel that DC is completely without blame, and that the collision occured almost solely because of an error in judgement by Schumacher.

#4 mikedeering

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 22:12

Spa 98.

Schumacher was clearly to blame, along partly with Ferrari Management (Brawn & Todt).

Schumacher would surely have seen he was approaching a McLaren, Ferrari's main title rivals that season. He had a huge lead, was obviously going to win as long as he kept going, Hakkinen was out of the race etc. Why the need to go so fast and take a risk against any traffic, espeically a McLaren which was bound to push the rules of sportsmanship to the limit? Regardless of whether Coulthard slowed deliberately, Schuey should have been prepared for any of DC's antics (after all, he as much as anyone else bar Senna encourages his rivals to use such tactics through his own behaviour).

From this perspective, MS is to blame regardless of DC's actions. And within this the Ferrari pit are partially to blame for perhaps not forewarning their man of the McLaren (although since I was not in the pit that day, I can not vouch for any pit conservations that did or did not take place - I assume Ferrari did not alert MS as well as they should have done in retrospect).

So MS is guilty. As for DC, was he totally blameless? Again, you must judge whether any driver would deliberately cause an accident at such speed and in such conditions. By apparently giving the German a brake test, Coulthard would have been exposing himself and Schumacher to immense danger. History has shown the consequences of high speed collisions between F1 cars in the wet - witness Hockenheim 1982 and Pironi/Prost in practice. Now Coulthard may not know the complete history of F1 in the same way the average F1 Atlas reader does, but he would know the potential for F1 cars to cartwheel when touching at speed - would he wish to risk this for the sake of 10 points to his rival? I doubt it - McLaren and their recent drivers have acted with caution in most instances over the last few years - one only has to hear Ron Dennis' comments on intermediate tires and Ferrari at Sepang last week to understand their metality. The whole outfit is overtly cautious and this can explain away numerous defeats to the men from Maranello in recent times.

So no, DC would not have taken the risk, if only for his own self preservation. And McLaren Mercedes would not have encouraged him to take such a risk either for taht matter.

DC may have slowed, but not to the extent that an accident was unavoidable. And such tactics are seen at every GP - Schumacher is probably more guilty of this behaviour than anyone else on the grid - picture Spain 2000 and Ralf vs Michael vs Rubens - Schumacher deliberately interfered when he was effectively no longer a factor in the race to benefit his team. DC slowing at Spa was much the same thing - except MS seemingly did not expect such behaviour, or more likely fell asleep as he is prone to do at times it seems e.g. Monaco 1996.

So there you have - my opinion, for what it's worth. I don't expect all if any will agree, but still, happy debating.

md


#5 Jackman

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 23:24

For what it's worth I was about 100m from the collision when it happened, standing on the next corner (Pouhon, I believe). The rain falling at that stage was so strong that I was unable to see the cars when they collided - I didn't see the incident until a. the rain slowed down a little (on the next lap) and b. they showed it on the giant screen on the other side of the track.

The cars went by in front of me and sounded horrible - my guess is that they were driving slowly enough that the engine was misfiring, as it does on the slow down lap. Coulthard seemed to cross the track and travel off the racing line - certainly all of the cars were on the other side of the track for every other lap - and the fact that the spectators were unable to see the cars must mean that Schumacher's view was somewhat limited.

After Schumacher was confirmed to be out of the race, the vast majority of the German fans left the track.

#6 Thunder

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 04:44

David Coulthard is clearly faulty in this accident.

There is no need for the telemetry of McLaren he clearly didnt change his speed where is the real problem. He is cruising in a racing circuit and he doesnt have the right to go so slowly. Michael Schumacher clearly didnt expect McLaren to go this slow .

Was it intentional ? No i dont think. But somene should ask the same question MS asked about Coulthard. "Why he was lapping faster with a broken car after he returned to the track?"


By definition it was MS's fault , but by morale it was Coulthard's .


What if some brakes too early than normal and collects the one just behind. aka Austrian 2001. Which one is guilty? Those racers must trust eachother and MS was right in thinking that Coulthard should not be so slow there. He trusted in the wrong man. If it was Hakkinen who was in place of Coulthard MS had won this race.


#7 Arnaldo

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 05:20

I watched the race on TV only. My impression was that the rooster tail from Coulthard's car was so large as to prevent Coulthard from judging exactly how far the Ferrari was behind him. Moreover, in the extreme conditions, Coulthard would have been looking ahead most of the time, and only being aware of the proximity of the Ferrari behind through radio contact with his pits. Under the circumstances, brake testing would be impossible to judge or implement, not knowing exactly how far the Ferrari was behind. The telemetry from McLaren supports Coulthards contention that he did not brake test nor deviate from his course to cause the Ferrari to crash.
Furthermore, it would have been imperative for Schumacher to pull out of the blinding rooster tail behind the McLaren early enough so that he could see where he was going and then overtake the McLaren.
Finally, I agree with Greg L that Schumacher was the overtaking car, and it was incumbent on him to avoid the car in front. I concur with Greg L's view that the incident occured through poor judgement on Schumacher's part, and that Coulthard is completely without blame.
I consider Schumacher's outburst in the pits subsequently as made in the heat of emotion, but neverheless unwarranted.

#8 Greg L

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 05:37

Thunder, with all due respect, I think you are missing the point completely. "He is cruising in a racing circuit and he doesnt have the right to go so slowly. " Excuse me? By definition, a person about to get lapped is probably going fairly slowly but has every right to be on the curcuit. His last lap (before the accident) was about 2 seconds slower than that of MS; DC was not on a tear, but he was hardly going so slow that he caused a danger to other drivers.

"Those racers must trust eachother and MS was right in thinking that Coulthard should not be so slow there. " What? :confused: MS was about to put DC a LAP DOWN! I don't know about you, but if I'm about to lap somebody, I assume they must be going slower than me. As the overtaking car, Schumacher had a responsibility to pass DC with due caution. MS was leading the race by a mile and passing a backmarker and should have been more careful. Due to his error in judgement, he ended his race and Coulthards. Whether MS expected a McLaren to go slowly is irrelevant. MS is too experienced to be thinking "Well, DC's driving a Mac, and they're usually so damn fast I just didn't expect it to be going slowly." Please; in Formula One, that excuse doesn't fly.

#9 baddog

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 10:19

I think that if everyone involved could agree then an initial agreement might be had by everyone concerned (and possibly formalised by the judge here) that there is no question of deliberate action by either driver, as it is inconceivable that any driver would instigate an accident with such a clear risk of fatality for themselves or others. I feel that taking this whole emotive non-issue out of the debate may assist in a clear discussion of the facts.

Shaun

#10 Jimbo

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 10:51

Although it has not been brought fore in this case yet, people in the past have indicated that DC chose a 'bad spot' to allow MS to overtake, which would indicate that DC is more to blame than MS is for causing the accident. I am sure it will be brought up again in this case.

However, I beg to differ. While he may not have chosen the 'best' spot to allow MS to drive by, it does not automatically imply that he chose a 'bad' or 'inappropriate' spot.

What defines a good overtaking spot under those conditions anyway? It has been suggested that the braking point at La Source hairpin or the Bus Stop chicane would have been better, but I would like to remind the court of a similar accident happening at the Busstop between Fisichella and Nakano (? Please note the name of the second driver may not be correct ?), clearly indicating that there was no 'good' spot to allow lapping when the overtaking driver is not careful enough.

As a result, I think we can conclude that under the conditions, David did everything humanly possible to allow MS to overtake, and should therefore be completely blameless for his part in this unfortunate accident.

#11 Bodzolca

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 12:12

I agree that there's no question whether both drivers (one or another) deliberately caused the incident. MS was leading and I don't think that there's a driver who would risk his and opponent's life to help his teammate.

But Thunder made a good point about the telemetry. Was DC too slow on that straight? What I would really like to know is the both speeds of the cars, because I suspect that Mac was far slower than Ferrari and I would like to know both speeds on the same straight lap or two before. If DC was faster the lap before that was obviously because he knew Michael was behind him. I believe he didn't slow down and hope MS would crash into him but because he didn't want to slow MS not even for a second.

But now we have to clarify one thing. Does a backmarker have to slow the car in the straight line? Usually backmarker is passed in the corner, on the beginning of the straight or the corner. But he usually doesn't slow the car in the middle of the straight, he just doesn't close the door in the end of it, maybe brakes a little bit earlier. But DC slowed significantly.

Of course it may seem a bit stupid to inforce some kind of rules for backmarkers, but they do it because this is the safest way. Slowing down on the straight in the hard rain is definitely the worst way to let the guy behind you overtake despite the fact that the same guy is responsible for safe overtaking. DC's speed certainly caught MS by surprise. Just notice on the video that he moved a little to the left side, probably waiting to see DC's back and than overtake.

So I think that both drivers are to blame. MS for unsafe overtaking and DC also for slowing down on the straight. There's no need for slaming both of the drivers, it was a misunderstanding. There's also no need for slaming MS for his behaviour in the pits. Guy's adrenaline was certainly pumping, just notice how his front right tire was catapulted and almost hit him.

Just one more thing. I think that lap or two before the incident I saw DC waving from his cockpit. Did anybody else saw that and if so, why did he do it?

#12 Hooster

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 13:11

I'll just go through some of what has been written here. In previous posts I have written enough about this topic to make a lengthy dissertation here superflous. I will try to avoid quoting people out of context and I will as objective as I can.

Greg L: "My comments on the collision will be brief, and I will assume that everyone has seen video of the accident. First off, I think it is important to recognize that Schumacher was the driver behind, as he was overtaking Coulthard, and that the overtaking driver traditionally has responsibility for ensuring that the overtaking manouvre is performed safely (this puts the burden on MS). As I see it, the only way MS would NOT be responsible for this accident is if DC in some way slowed down or swerved in front of MS to prevent the pass."

In conditions like at SPA98 the driver in front carries much responsibility. Why? Because the driver behind can not see the driver in front when he is approaching. This is obvoius and incontravertible. Somone posting here who was close to the site of the crash says: "For what it's worth I was about 100m from the collision when it happened, standing on the next corner (Pouhon, I believe). The rain falling at that stage was so strong that I was unable to see the cars when they collided. " In these conditions the driver in front HAS to be held responsible for making any unexpected moves that could lead to a collision. DC was cruising at part throttle at a place where acceleration is normal. MS could not see him, accelerated as normal and the result was a crash. DC's fault obviously since MS could not see anything and DC did something unexpected. For those who argue that MS should have been more careful and drove slower I have this to say. MS was in a race and he needed to pass DC who was slowing him down considerably for an unreasonably long time. The only way to do this was by staying close to DC and attempting to pass. DC had ample oportunity to allow MS to pass earlier and should have done so since DC was being lapped. The fact that DC made it very difficult for a car to lap him ads to his blame. Making it difficult for a car to lap in conditions such as they were at SPA98 is in my opinion dangerous and criminally negligent.

mikedeering says: "Regardless of whether Coulthard slowed deliberately, Schuey should have been prepared for any of DC's antics " Same reply as to Greg. MS had no chance of being prepared for DC's antics. He was not even aware of DC's antics untill just before the cars touched because of the bad visibility. A driver who uses antics like DC is not safe and totally responsible. If you expect MS to be prepared for anything DC might pull you are saying MS should never put himself in a positioon to pass DC. MS did not have that option. He was in a race and he had to pass DC.

My conclusions:

1. DC did something irresponsible and dangerous. (Not allowing MS to pass earlier and not accelerating on a part of the track were this is normal.)

2. MS was driving dangerously close to DC. (I don't see he had much choice. He needed to pass DC and DC was making it difficult.)

3. I don't think DC caused the accident on purpose but he was obviously doing his best to make life difficult for MS.

My verdict. DC should have recieved a severe reprimand, phsycological evaluation and a 3 race ban after SPA 98 for dangerous, irresponsible and stupid driving.

#13 Smooth

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 13:11

Greg: you mention the impetus is on the passing driver, but that is held true in the case of racing/passing for position. DC was shown blue flags for a lap. He was, as you stated, lapping slower than Schumacher, but looking at lap times doesn't tell the whole story. Watch the lap prior to the incident, as well as the lap of the incident. DC was driving much more defensively than a backmarker usually does. He shut the door on at least two occasions, and while he shouldn't have had to leave the racing line to be passed by the race leader, his choice in letting up AFTER a corner, where a driver is normally under acceleration was, to say the least, a bad driving decision.
I believe DC was sent back onto the track to try to score any points in the case of further attrition, but he also seemed to have no aversion to slowing down Schumacher.
The FIA absolved DC of wrong doing, but remember they also instigated tougher rules about obeying blue flags after this incident. Actions speak louder than press statements.......




#14 magic

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 14:55

a racing incident.

dc wasn't helping (ms) either.
just like he did later in suzuka '99 and indy'00.

should he have helped ms, being a lap down?
probably.
but there is a blue flag to remind him.

ms took a risk.
he couldn't judge the situation properly and there are better places in spa to overtake.
ask mh.
was ms in a big hurry to make up places, were his mirrors filled?
no.
he was leading bigtime and his only wdc opponent out.

imo machoism made ms do it.
he wanted to humiliate the others.
did he throw his wdc away?
yep.
did he realise that?
yep, he wasn't angry at dc, he was angry at himself.
he knew he fxcked up.


#15 BRG

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 17:29

It is inconceivable that Coulthard would have risked a fatal accident to help his teammate gain WC points. In the streaming wet conditions he cannot even have known exactly where Schumacher was, or where he would lap him.

Equally, there can be no reason to suppose that Schumacher deliberately drove into Coulthard, as he nothing to gain and everything to lose (including potentially his life).

But we have to consider Schumacher's character and reputation - he is rightly esteemed as an outstanding overtaker, as Senna was before him. Both gained this reputation by not hesitating but going for the pass as soon as they catch the car in front. In so doing, both drivers gained an advantage in that when drivers see them coming, they are more likely to give way. However, this technique comes with a risk factor that if the driver in front hasn't seen you (or doesn't give way as with Villeneuve in Spain), there may be a collision.

Bearing this in mind, do we have the answer? Was Schumacher just following his unhesitating overtaking policy, perhaps almost out of habit? That is certainly my opinion.

I submit that there was no deliberate malice on either side, and that this was a racing accident in extremely difficult and treacherous conditions. Such blame as there was must fall to Schumacher, who as the overtaking driver failed to judge the pass correctly.


#16 ZZMS

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 18:30

just facts (in order of appearance):
1. DC has been driving slower than anybody else, Minardi included.
2. MS has been trying to overtake DC for more then one lap, but DC defended his position despite blue flags. There are plenty of evidence on the net.
3. After the right handed turn next was left handed, so naturally DC stayed on the ideal trajectory. He had to stay as far to the left as possible, whereas he stayed as far to the right
4. The huge damage of MS's car tells us that there was a huge diff. in the speed. Thereby DC's behavior was far off the normal, because a lap before at the same part of the track there was no such difference in the speed.
5. after collision DC started lapping as fast as leaders (compare to fact 1).



#17 CONOSUR

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 21:15

as posted by Greg L
Ferarri lodged a complaint but McLaren's Ron Dennis showed stewards the telemetry that indicated neither braking nor deceleration on Coulthards part.


There is no way that Schumacher's Ferrari launched itself into some form of hyper-speed, hitherto unseen in F1, and crashed into the back of DC's McLaren in a flat out section of track.

The accident happened after coming out of Beau Rivage, through the little right handed bend on the way down to Pouhon, if I'm not mistaken. This section is taken flat out by everyone.

If you had just been told to let the race leader through (which, embarrassingly, would put you a lap down to your main rival), would you not wait for the upcoming breaking area for Pouhon and then move off-line to the right side of a left handed corner where the trailing car could then safely pass you on the left, or would you let him by in a flat out sweeper, while being drafted, in the rain, on the racing line, where no one would ever expect such a move?

In Grand Prix racing, where all the participants have an FIA issued Superlicense, one has the comfort of knowing that you can tail someone closely without the fear that they'll lift where everyone else accelerates.

In my opinion, DC lifted too soon. Even the announcers (FoxSports/USA - James Allen & Derek Bell - not that their opinions really count) stated their beliefs that DC definitely lifted.

After having just reviewed the tape again, I believe DC was totally at fault for the ensuing accident. I do not believe, however, that it was an intentional attempt to put Michael out, but even a rookie would know how to let someone through.

DC broke the cardinal rule where one doesn't lift in an acceleration zone while being drafted, in the rain, without moving off the line.

#18 Thanassis

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 21:23

I understand that telemetry showed that DC nor accelerated neither braked on that point of the track, but I also think that this has no meaning whatsoever.
I don't remember the exact spot on the track, where this accident happen, nor I know whether the cars accelerate or brake there. Still, it is my belief that DC played the main part. Watching the video of the accident from various angles, I think that MS was going really faster than DC on that spot. (I reached at this conclusion because of the severity of the crash)
Well, what if on that spot of the track the cars DO accelerate hard? Telemetry showed that DC didn't do that! Thus MS (who was accelerating as usual) didn't see DC (because of the spray) and hit him from the back.

According to my views the incident happened the following way:
MS is going really fast and is approaching DC.
The McLaren pits inform DC and ask him to let MS pass.
DC complies with the team orders, and doesn't accelerate, BUT for some reason doesn't get off the racing line.
MS because of the spray doesn't see the exact position and speed of DC and hits him.

As a result none of the drivers is to blame. It was just a racing accident (that if it wasn't for the weather conditions wouldn't have happened). They were both doing their jobs.
Of course if anyone can supply data that proves me wrong feel free to ignore my views. In fact, I shall change my views about the accident the moment I hear something different (with enough data to support it).

#19 ZZMS

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 02:08

1. if it was not for facts 1. 3. 5. it could be considered as a racing accident. Otherwise it is deliberate action by DC and McLaren.

2. It is mostly probable that DC didn't want to cause a crash. I think he was trying to force MS into "driver error" (for example by taking quick evasive action and swerving in those poor condition off the racing line) but overdid it.



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#20 Greg L

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 03:22

I think that there are some really good points being made here, including some information that I was not aware of earlier. I think, based on what some of you have argued, that we can agree on several points:

1. MS was traveling a LOT faster than DC at the time of the accident.
2. The collision occured at a section of the track where both cars would usually be traveling fast and/or accelerating.
3. DC had been shown at least one blue flag prior to the collision.

Keeping this (and my earlier arguements) in mind, I would still argue that MS should be held responsible for the collision. Regardless of whether DC was going fast or slow in a fast section of track, it is Schumacher's responsibility to execute the pass properly and safely. Ideally, both drivers would be able to take actions that would facilitate a safe pass, but in such wet conditions, only MS could see DC (by the spray from the back of his car) while DC could likely NOT see MS in his mirrors (again, due to the spray). DC knew MS was approaching him (because of radio orders and blue flags) but who's to say he could see MS and knew exactly where MS was on the track at the moment of the collision?

Regardless of the role of rainy conditions and blue flags, I still think that MS acted rashly considering his ENORMOUS lead at the time of the collision. He knew he was considerably faster than DC and had to know that he was pretty damn close to DC's car. Many here have argued that MS was simply unprepared for DC's car traveling slowly and/or traveling on the racing line. I would argue that a driver with Schumacher's considerable skill and experience should have been prepared for this when passing a backmarker. The fact is that as the overtaking driver, MS was in a better position to execute a safe pass than DC was to assist MS in executing a safe pass. Regardless of whether or not it is raining, I still feel strongly that the responsiblity lies with the overtaking driver. Schumacher should have approached the pass with more caution, and I feel that his over-zealousness contributed to an error in judgement that caused the collision.

#21 Indian Chief

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 03:58

In my mind DC is to blame. Even before the collision, what DC had done was illegal.

The rules state that DC had to let Schumi past before he passed 3 marshall's posts. But he held the leader behind for ONE AND A HALF LAPS - which works out to about 3 MINUTES that DC held Schumi behind. It is also obviuos that DC could see Schumi in his mirrors at slow corners like the La Source hairpin, where there was very little spray.

After spending so much time under DC's rear wing, it is inconceivable to me how MS could have anticipated the McLaren slowing down suddenly.

Here is what James Allen wrote : "For corner after corner, Coulthard held Schumacher up. He had several oppurtunities to let the Ferrari past in safety, the best coming at the 30mph La Source hairpin, where he ran wide and seeing MS on the inside of him, he could have easily delayed picking up the throttle, but he chose not to do that........In fact, he (DC) was using just 56% of the throttle....Now suddenly, the McLaren was travelling at just 160 km/h compared to the 220km/h of the Ferrari."

Put yourself in MS's shoes -
You are leading the race by 35 seconds and then, come across a backmarker lapping almost 10 seconds a lap slower. He doesn't let you through for 3 minutes, even when it is clear that he can see you at slower corners. Then suddenly, he backs off in the middle of a straight, when you cannot even see him. How in the world could you have avoided an accident?

Those who say that MS should not have even tried to overtake DC should remember that Schumi was losing several seconds a lap to Hill because of DC....he couldn't afford to lose almost 10 seconds a lap due to a backmarker, or else Hill might have caught up with him.

Also, This incident has a precedent. Ayrton Senna tried to lap Martin Brundle in the 1989 Australian GP held under similar wet conditions. He ran into the back of Brundle's car on the back straight. It seems like a copy of Spa '98, but I haven't read anybody claiming that Senna was completely to blame for the incident.


#22 CONOSUR

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 06:37

as posted by Thanassis
According to my views the incident happened the following way:
MS is going really fast and is approaching DC.
The McLaren pits inform DC and ask him to let MS pass.
DC complies with the team orders, and doesn't accelerate, BUT for some reason doesn't get off the racing line.
MS because of the spray doesn't see the exact position and speed of DC and hits him.


I think you've hit it just right. The problem was that DC didn't accelerate through the bend after showing no sign of slowing to let Schumacher through prior to that. Why would an intelligent driver slow there, on the racing line, in the rain...of all places? ...Unless, as ZZMS stated, it was an attempt to intentionally force Schumacher into an error. No licensed Grand Prix driver, in his right mind, should ever attempt to pull that kind of a stunt in the rain. Period. DC blew it. Big time. :down:


#23 ZZMS

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 08:46

For Greg L in particular
Evidence that DC was well aware of MS and had all chances to let him pass.

Posted Image

this is the first corner of the lap. Either the last lap for MS or the previous one. So DC didn't need orders to let MS through.

#24 Jackman

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 16:33

I think that we are looking at this race with a hindsight that shouldn't really apply - there was not really the level of animosity between Michael and David at that time that existed since that race. I certainly don't believe that David would knowingly take out another driver as has been suggested - it would be incredibly dangerous, given the conditions, and he has always been considered one of the safer drivers there - Rubens even made the point that David always allows room in any maneouvre after error in Malaysia last week.

Team orders have always been a part of Formula One, and given this he may well have been told to go slow by Ron Dennis - it wouldn't be the first (or last) example of these tactics - but given that he was to be lapped he would have been aware that blue flags would be waved at him at some time.

Picture the scene from down the hill (where I was standing, where the television picture is filmed from); the two cars came around the corner towards us, and David crossed to the left side of the track. The racing line is the right, as we saw on every other lap. David was getting out of the way to let Micheal through, and as he went to pass he caught the left rear tyre of David's, and his race was over. McLaren released David's telemetry to show that he went through the corner at the same speed as he had on the last two laps ie. he didn't lift as has been suggested.

I cannot agree that David willingly took Micheal out - I really see it as a racing incident.

#25 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 18:31

Is that an accurate photo? Ie during the race immediately preceding the incident? It seems strange that being that close together it would take Schumacher nearly into Pouhon to have a chance to overtake DC

#26 Greg L

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Posted 25 March 2001 - 04:54

ZZMS,

Good pic, but I think you and I are in agreement on this point. DC had to be an idiot to not know that MS was behind him and closing (orders or not), but my arguement was that DC had no way of knowing WHERE MS was behind him at the time of the collision. I think it has been made clear that DC knew MS was behind him and had opportunities to let him pass, but the issue being debated is whether DC CAUSED the crash (should he be held responsible).

On this issue, I think it is important to ask whether or not DC could have known where MS was behind him immediately before the collision. I feel that he could not (due to the spray) and that Michael (as the overtaking driver) was in a better position to see DC and ensure that the pass would be safe. In the seconds before the collision, DC probably could not see MS in his mirrors, and pulled to the side of the track to let him pass (knowing that MS was behind him, but not able to see WHERE exactly MS was). Regardless of DC's antics in the preceding laps, when the collision occured, he was putzing along the side of the track to allow MS to pass. MS then hit DC from behind, ergo, DC is not at fault.

#27 Thanassis

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Posted 25 March 2001 - 08:18

Originally posted by BRG
It is inconceivable that Coulthard would have risked a fatal accident to help his teammate gain WC points. In the streaming wet conditions he cannot even have known exactly where Schumacher was, or where he would lap him.

Equally, there can be no reason to suppose that Schumacher deliberately drove into Coulthard, as he nothing to gain and everything to lose (including potentially his life).

As a matter of fact, Hakkinen couldn't have scored points in that race, because he had already dropped out of it! And there is no way DC hadn't been informed about that! The only way the Macs could salvage something from the race, was to prevent MS from finishing.
Moreover, as BRG said, MS had no reason to drive into DC.
But, I can't think why DC didn't get off the racing line, and put his life in danger only to stop MS. It is an action that only DC can explain (and I'm not sure about that)!

#28 jk

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Posted 25 March 2001 - 14:54

I agree with most here, that it was DCs fault. I believe that if DC should have the right to do what he did, he should do it as soon as MS was behind him! Not wait a couple of laps, and then decide that "now i want to be passed, so i'm gonna park my car here at the racing line". As we can see from ZZMS's picture, DC had the change to let MS through but closed the door, and then a ½ lap later, he decided that now it was time. :confused:
I din't think you can blame MS. He raced behind DC a couple of laps, and waited for DC to make room.
When you're about to be lapped, don't park your car at the side!!! Wait until you have a chance, like DC had at La Source. Then accelerate slowly and move of the racing line. And then DC whine about others not doing their backmarker job properly (Imola 99). :confused:

#29 Peeko

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Posted 25 March 2001 - 17:06

1.I do not in anyway believe it was a dliberate move on DCs part to eliminate Schumacher from the race. I think DC and McLaren planned to make it as difficult for Michale to pass as possible, and I believe the incident could have been avoided with some simple cooperation from both David Coulthard and Ron Dennis.

As someone mentioned Schumacher was behind DC for 1.5 laps, at Spa in the wet, that works out to well over 3 minutes, an eternity in a race car. The leader of the race can dictate whatever pace he wishes to drive at. He can be conservative, but he runs the risk of being caught and/or passed; he can run quick, and try to build himself the advantage of enough time for a second pit stop, just to be safe. A lapped car must yeild to the lead driver. He must give way withing 3 blue flags, or corners. I think that Spa has about 14 turns, which at 1.5 laps, works out to be about 21 corners. But 3+ minutes, and 21 turns later, Schumacher has to all of a sudden expect Coulthard to not accelerate on the fastest part of the track? Coulthard was a mobile chicane. I also have a problem with Ron Dennis, as he should have warned his driver that the lead car was upon him and to let it past, and not waited until Jean Todt and 3+ minutes passed to notify his driver. That's just irresponsible and bad sportmanship, especially considering the weather conditions.

Here are some quotes form David Coulthard and Ron Dennis form the 1999 San Marino GP, where they clearly lay the blame and the result of their final position in the race down to the backmarkers. From their quotes, it's obvious they feel the same way about backmarkers and their rights regarding being lapped as I do.

Post race conference
Q. Was Mika on the same one-stop strategy as you?

Coulthard: We will never know! Obviously I don't want to give away any of the team's secrets, and you know now that I was on a one-stop strategy. I think that would have been good enough to have won the race for me today, apart from the obvious difficulties of getting through the traffic. It seemed particularly bad here -- worse than I can ever remember -- and a couple of the drivers didn't seem to respond to the blue flags. I think the circuit marshals did a reasonable job in using the flags, but [certain competitors] were not too keen to move over.

Q. On the podium you seemed to be upset

Coulthard: I am disappointed. Today I lost a race that I should have won. But because of factors other than the performance of the car and my driving, we didn't win it. That does not take anything away from the achievements of Michael or Ferrari, but we had the correct strategy and a quick enough package to have won. Not to have come away with a win in those circumstances is disappointing.


Slected quotes form the 1999 San Marino GP
David Coulthard: "Of course I am happy to come away with some points from this race. But, I clearly had the performance to win today however, the back markers were particularly unhelpful in my case and I lost a lot of time in the traffic which was the difference between winning and coming second."

Ron Dennis: "It is very unusual for either of our drivers to make mistakes. But Mika made one today - better today than at the end of last year. David's chance to win the race was taken away by the behaviour of several backmarkers and I am disappointed in the lack of sporting behaviour from their team managers."


This is Ron Dennis regarding DC at Suzuka 1999:

Ron Dennis poke out in defence of David Coulthard, following his clash of words with Michael Schumacher.

"I don't think Michael's comments have done him any good," Dennis said. "First of all his perception of time is completely wrong. He lost 2.5 seconds on his corners, not 10. Furthermore, the rules provide for drivers to take two corners before observing the blue flags. That's what David did.


David Coulthard was irresponsible and unsporting at Spa 1998, and if there is blame to be issued, it goes to David Coulthard and Ron Dennis, accroding to their own words.

#30 ZZMS

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Posted 25 March 2001 - 18:42

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Is that an accurate photo? Ie during the race immediately preceding the incident? It seems strange that being that close together it would take Schumacher nearly into Pouhon to have a chance to overtake DC


Yess, Ross, it is accurate photo from http://www.f1-live.com
It is not strange, as DC successfully defended 2-3 attempts by MS to pass. Namely
1) this one
2) one at the end of the long straight after Eau Rough (spelling?)
and the was possibly another one (I do not that 100% )

Greg L

		   /

 1-----2

/

In this type of bend racing line from point 1 to point 2 is the right side of the track, exactly where DC didn't do nothing

BTW, somebody posted in the other forum that taking the foot off the pedal in F1 has the same effect as braking hard in general car.


#31 MacFan

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 06:12

A number of posters on the pro-MS side of this debate have made reference to DC slowing down. I would like to point out that McLaren's telemetry conclusively showed, to the satisfaction of the governing body, that Coulthard had not slowed down, and I would further ask that the judge disregard statements based on this premise.

My own interpretation of this incident was that McLaren, and therefore presumably DC, were put under pressure by Ferrari to let MS past immediately (the video shows Jean Todt marching to the McLaren pit immediately before the incident). There was a strong possibility of a black flag if Coulthard didn't comply immediately. He responded by maintaining his speed on the straight, rather than accelerating to top speed, which would have allowed MS to pass on the straight. Unfortunately MS was not concentrating, failed to adjust his line, and collided with DC. It could be argued that DC should also have moved to the inside of the straight to allow MS past on the normal racing line, however this would have been more dangerous - DC couldn't see MS in his mirrors, so as far as he could tell MS might have been on the inside already. The advice given to drivers being lapped in every motorsport drivers briefing I have been to is "use your normal racing line - let the faster driver find a way round you". It is obviously better to do this than to weave all over the track trying to get out of the way.

Given the above, and the pressure of being advised to let MS through immediately or risk a black flag, it is difficult to conceive of any alternatives open to DC, other than what he did. MS, on the other hand, could have avoided the accident by being more alert. He had no excuse for not being so - he almost had an identical accident lapping Alexander Wurz less than 5 minutes before colliding with DC.

#32 sensible

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 12:25

I think it was DCs fault, though probably not maliciously. My reasons are as follows. MS was much faster than DC. This is agreed by most posters. MS had been behind DC for at least one lap. Again, this seems accepted. So something "must" have happened to MS. For some reason he dropped behind and was catching up again. (or DC was playing fast slow fast, but telemetery denies this). Given the picture, its probably that MS already tried to go by and was blocked, causing some problem for him. MS was now trying to catch him up. He came round Beau Rivage and found DC right in front of him going a lot slower than normal and not accelerating. I remember an interview at the time with MS saying something about DC suddenly being there and trying to avoid him.

The point is I dont think MS was actually trying to pass DC at the time. I think he was catching him up and came upon him before he expected in a position he didnt expect. DC was undoubtedly playing games with MS trying to hold him up when (in his situation as backmarker) he should have let him by immediately. Lap times back this up. The 1-2 laps where MS was right behind him were 5 (I think, but certainly much) slower than his preceding laps

Therefore I find

1. Given MS race position and the fact that DC had been holding him up, he should have been more careful.
2. MS had probably lost his temper.
3. DC, as a backmarker, was illegally holding up MS

Given the conditions MS should have been warned about his "reckless" driving, but DC should have been found guilty for behaving in a manner that at best could be called "unsporting"



#33 smarty

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 14:53

Originally posted by ZZMS

BTW, somebody posted in the other forum that taking the foot off the pedal in F1 has the same effect as braking hard in general car.


1. As DC's telemetry indicates he did not lift off.

2. If he wasn't blue-flagged three times in the race, which seems to be the case because he was not punished, this is not his fault but the race marshalls.

3. Even if he was blue-flagged three times, this is a seperate incident than the crash. The fact that DC didn't give way to MS does not give right MS to drive carelessly.

4. It is claimed that DC was driving 2 sec slower than after the crash. I don't know what happened in his pit stop (a setup change maybe???), how much fuel he was carrying at that time, what was the rain intensity later on, but being 2 sec slower really shows that he was consistent at least until the crash. Otherwise how can you expect Schumi to catch and lap him within only 25 laps in such a long circuit.

5. If DC is not able to see what's behind (just like MS which he wasn't able to see clearly), how can you expect him to get out of the racing line? Chaning your line blindly can be very dangerous. MS should have waited for a better opportunity.

Apart from all these arguments, when we think that there was no reason for MS to push so hard at that time of the race in those terrible conditions, I can easily put the blame on MS. He is a very clever racer usually, but in this case I believe he was the victim of his ambitions.


regards,

#34 Smooth

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 16:02

Just to clear up one issue:

DC didn't lift. He also didn't accelerate in an acceleration zone. It is, in this context, the same. MS had followed him for more than a lap, with DC defending his position, ignoring blue flags, and generally working to slow MS down. I, for one, do not imply that DC did what he with malice or intent. What he did was driver error. I think the situation showed the unsporting side of Ron Dennis, but that is not what is at issue here. The issue is simple:

Did one of the drivers make an error? I state that DC did. While I can see the side of the argument of those who wish to villify Schumacher for his pace, I don't think it is valid. He was clearly, and deliberatly held up by a backmarker for more than a lap and a half. Said backmarker ignored blue flags, and raced in a manner to defend his position, which is not sporting or correct. Schumacher had tried on a few corners to get by, and that included leaving the racing line. DC rebuffed those attempts, and when he finally did decide to allow Schumacher by, he stayed on the racing line, and failed to accelerate in an acceleration zone. The telemetry showing he neither braked nor lifted are not really relevant, and unless we are privy to the telemetry for DC's car on the previous laps, I request that the telemetry evidence be struck from the argument, as it is incomplete, and as such inconclusive.

DC stayed on the racing line, which was not in itself a problem, but the fact that he did not continue on his already slowed pace was an error that could have cost both drivers more than a DNF. Saying DC couldn't see MS behind him is a bit misleading as an argument as well. DC had to know full well where MS was, as he had been very near DC's gearbox for over three minutes, and DC would have known where he was at the corner prior to the crash.

#35 Bodzolca

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 16:40

I think that the argument that DC couldn't see MS is not very good. I agree that he could not see him, but he had number of opportunities to let him pass. Then there was a danger of being blackflagged and he slows suddenly down. Irresponsible at least.

The fact is that DC didn't put the foot off the throttle, we cleared this out as early as in the first post by Greg L, but some members are still stressing this though there was not a single theory on this thread whose premises would be DC braking or lifting off. It seems to me that this is due to the lack of arguments so they're distracting themselves from the real issue here.

So what is the real issue?

DC as a backmarker held MS behind for a lap and the half (no disagreement here). Probably stewards noticed this (just a pure speculation from my side) and warned Ron that DC should either let MS soon or he would be blackflagged. RD orders DC to let MS pass (a fact, though I'll never understand why he didn't do that a lap an half before). DC realizes that he should really do that, goes through the left corner. A straight follows, slightly bended to the right, but taken flat out. DC doesn't accelerate flat out, he uses only 58% of the throttle and stays on the racing line (a fact if Indian Chief is to be believed), but however it's about 58% all through, he doesn't lift off. Behid him MS is coming probably flat out or close. He's traveling with 220 kmph, DC only 160 kmph, so the difference of 60 kmph in the hard spray of water. Worse, in front of him is car coloured gray. Blue and grey Rayleigh scattering is huge, red scatters at least (fact from the pysics, you can check it out), that's why braking lamps are red. So in fact, DC would probably see MS's red Ferrari in his mirrors before MS sees Mac. MS takes a little wider line through that bend because he's faster. Than he suddenly sees DC cruising, try to move but it's too late. I think MS didn't try to overtake (like sensible said), but he certainly didn't expect DC cruising there.

I still think that DC's tactic of letting someone by was the worst he could think of. One is that he could go off the racing line with full throttle and than lift off. If MS would be on the inside, he could see him. DC could go wide on the corners. But cruising on the racing line in the rain, please don't say that MS should be more careful.

#36 Enzoluis

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 17:12

Coulthard defenders are completely missing the point. This is not an overtake maneuver, this is a lapping maneuver, So the full responsibility is on the slower driver, he has to leave the faster car in a safe manner as soon as possible without interfere the race of the faster car.
So DC is guilty, he didn't do this.
Defenders can try to argue two attenuating circumstances:

1) DC didn't see MS because of the weather
2) DC didn't find a part of the circuit where to let MS pass safely

Both excuses are false.
-MS stay behind DC for more than one lap. If we count that you can see the car behind you since it is at 2s at least That means DC had more than two laps to see MS. ( Two laps at Spa 1998 means about 5 minutes!)
-There was radio call advising DC about MS.
-There was for one lap marshals moving blue flags.
-The spray don't let DC saw MS. Spa has one chicane and one hairpin very slows where the car do not make spray, there are many pictures(one posted in this case) where you can see both cars very close clearly as DC could.
-The exit of this two curves are safe places to let the faster car pass, because the slower car only need to exit wide and accelerate slower than the faster.

This five observations are very consistent evidence for a second charge to DC. He did it on purpose.
We can offer to the judges other evidence that this accident wasn't just an involuntary error of DC:
DC at lap 3, when de SC went out, was 14TH behind Nakano with Minardi. DC passes SN on lap 17th. These means DC needed 14 laps to overtake a Minardi 6 seconds slower than DC at the warm up four hours before in wet conditions.
This is strong evidence DC were running slower than he could.

DC defenders will say is probably a car problem.
Why he didn't pit and fix at the start of the race, in order to have time to recover? They showed that were possible. After the crash with MS, when they realized there was only 7 cars on the track what means big chances to score points, they fixed the car, sent it to the track and when all the front runners were lapping at aprox 2'21" *DC makes the his fastest lap at 2'10"950, very close to his best time at the warm up.
And more evidence that wasn't a car problem are the MS lap times :

Lap 21: 2'18" *
Lap 22: 2'21" * worsening weather conditions, all the front runners increases laps times
Lap 23 2'24" * incident with Zonta and approach to DC
Lap 24: 2'21" * Full lap behind DC

Makes a full lap ahead of MS at the same speed MS makes the lap alone, suddenly DC was as fast as MS.
Could he did this not on purpose?

Is absolutely clear DC has to be blamed for the accident, just use the same way of thinking used by MacLaren guys when they start to cry every time an Italian driver, a Ferrari powered car or car from an Italian team do not let them pass at the first corner they are cached. DC stays 1 lap and a half, 3 minutes, an eternity in GP terms, ahead of the leader.
Blaming to MS lack of attention or going to fast have no sense, This is not the case of too dangerous approach to a slower car, MS cached DC one lap and a half before the accident.
There is strong evidence that DC did it on purpose driving slower than he could until be there and using the speed of his car to stay ahead of MS in order to provoke an error to ruin his race. DC didn't brake that's a fact, but there was an enormous speed difference that wasn't at the exit of the previous corner. If you see at the tape of the incident you can see how fast were DC at the short straight before, MS couldn't accelerate as fast as DC did. MS could catch DC at the end of the straight in the braking place, MS couldn't expect that DC do not accelerate to reach Pouhon if DC were accelerating on that way at the previous straight.




* Times estimated from the race graph at FORIX


#37 Hellenic tifosi

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Posted 27 March 2001 - 11:09

In my opinion, Coulthard didn't try to cause a crash with Schumacher, he just tried to make it as hard as it could get. If Coulthard moved out of the racing line while NOT accelarating then it's clearly Schumacher's fault. However, if Coulthard stayed ON the racing line while not accelarating, then he is obviously guilty for the crash. If someone can post a video of the crash, this could help us a lot....

#38 Hellenic tifosi

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Posted 27 March 2001 - 11:21

After seeing two video clips of the incident, at the russian site, I am now sure that Coulthard is to blame. He stayed on the racing line, and he didn't accelarate. Notice that when they exit the previous corner they have a rather big distance, which closes quickly. This indicates that Coulthard didn't accelarate, but if we wanted to do this he should have stayed OUT of the racing line....

#39 jk

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Posted 27 March 2001 - 13:54

The clips Hellenic talks about can be downloaded here:
Tower cam (behind): http://f-1.sovintel....8/spa/spa11.mpg
Side cam (in front): http://f-1.sovintel....8/spa/spa15.mpg

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#40 Jimbo

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Posted 28 March 2001 - 15:49

From the latest video provided by jk, you can clearly see DC jinxing his car to the right twice ('twice' added during edit), even onto the slippery white line, clearly indicating he was doing everything within his powers to make room for MS and to allow him to overtake. To even suggest DC should have moved off-line defies all logic, as that would have been catastrophal. Do we really need to be reminded of the last driver who pulled the stunt of swerving in front of a faster car? His name is Jochen Mass, and the results led to another court case.

#41 Greg L

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 00:08

I've been following this debate since the beginning, but with arguements just about to close, I'll take this opportunity to offer my summation to Rainstorm. First, I think that it is important to once again recognize that the question being debated is "who is to blame for the collision?" I think that with some of the more recent posts, the issue moved towards DC's sportsmanship with "holding up MS," instead of the cause of the collision.

To begin, I'll address the main arguement made by those who put the blame on DC. Of the many arguements made, most all seem to revolve around the fact that MS was trailing DC for some time attempting (and failing) to pass him. The fact that DC did not quickly pull over to let MS pass puts DC's sportsmanship into question, but I think it has little or no relevance in this debate. The issue is who is responsible for the collision, and most people making this arguement are assuming that because DC did not let MS pass earlier, he MUST be responsible should a collision occur minutes later. Not so. The key issue, and the issue that several people avoided addressing, was the sequence of events immediately leading up to the collision.

Regardless of how much time elapsed before DC decided to let MS by, it is clear (and agreed upon by all here) that DC was ordered to let MS pass him and responded by keeping a slower speed and driving along the extreme edge of the road. The evidence of DC's telemetry (while not complete in every way) is still relevant here as it shows us that DC did not slow suddenly in an attempt to catch Schumacher out - he merely drove along the of the road to let MS pass. At this point, I would maintain that the responsibility would be on MS to execute the pass successfully and safely (whether or not the pass is for a position). As Macfan addressed, it is common to maintain one's racing line when about to be passed, and DC did this. It would have been more dangerous for DC to pull off the racing line as MS would likely choose this off-line as his passing route, risking collision. DC did the common and safe thing by staying on the racing line and keeping a steady and slower speed to assist MS in passing. In this context and in this situation, I think that it is clearly MS's responsibility to make sure the pass is completed safely, and I feel that due to poor judgement or anger at being held-up, MS misjudged the distance and/or speed and the collision occured.

In my mind, the only other issue of importance in this matter is the role of the weather and the wet track. Clearly, as seen from the video and the post by Jackman, the rain was falling heavily and the track was very wet, causing the cars to throw enormous rooster tails of spray. The video links provided by Hellenic tifosi and jk do a superb job of showing this, but I think that this wet weather situation only puts further responsibility on MS. With such spray thrown up, it would have been impossible for DC to see MS in his mirrors and anticipate the pass. If MS was unable to see DC's car and had poor vision of the area ahead due to the spray, then it would seem to me that the prudent thing to do would be to wait for a better opportunity with a clearer view. MS had a substantial lead on 2nd place, was able to run laps far quicker than anyone else on the track, and (despite being held up by DC) had no reason to push an unsafe passing attempt at THIS corner. If, while beginning to pass, MS could not see what was or wasn't ahead of him due to the spray, he should have backed down and waited for a better opportunity. Instead, and due to either poor judgement or anger at DC, MS pushed ahead, running into the back of DC. I think we all agree that neither MS nor DC did anything malicous or intentional here, but that does not mean Schumacher is without blame.

Given the circumstances of the collision and the evidence presented throughout the debate, it seems to me that DC could not be at fault in this accident. The collision shoud be blamed on Schumacher or chalked up as a racing accident, but my personal feeling is that MS caused the accident through poor judgement, and there was nothing DC could have done at that point to prevent the collision from occuring.

#42 Indian Chief

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 03:02

Greg, it is important that MS was held up behind DC for a very long time. DC's fastest lap at that time was over ten seconds slower. Had MS decided to stay behind DC for the rest of the race, he would have been caught by Hill and Ralf!

So, the people who suggest that MS should have just cruised to the win are clearly wrong.

Another factor is visibility. The McLaren tends to blend into the background - making it impossible for MS to see DC . Some posters on this BB have even remarked that it is a bit difficult to spot the McLaren even on a clear day!

#43 ZZMS

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 04:21

Greg L

1. notion of maintaining the racing line.

It is true for everyone except backmakers. They should get off the racing line As Jimbo rightfully stated DC made it as to right as possible --> exactly were racing line was. In other word he made sure MS couldn't state on the racing line.

2. notion that neither of driver did anything malicious.

How did you ignore 3 min. DC was holding MS for and 10 secs. of the lead cut as a subsequence of DC's defence and blocking (another outlawed actions) is beyong me.

3. notion that DC drove at his best.

This was the only race in 1998 were McLaren has been slower then Minardi and has been lapped without any technical problems. Also, compare DC's pace during other wet races in 1998 (or his whole carrier for that matter). Then please explain to me how did he "find" his pace once the job was done, lapping at the same pace as leaders in a heavely damaged car (3 collisions in one race, Impossible to fully fix in 5 mins).

#44 crouchyaj

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 07:38

How can it be anyone other than MS's fault. DC's telemetry clearly states that it wasn't his and as for a racing accident, MS is "the master of the wet".

Basically MS was out to humiliate his opponents, something all bad sports do. He was lapping 2 secs faster than anyone else on the track including second placed man Damon Hill who was the second fastest, and lets not forget that Damon was no slouch in the rain himself (for those who doubt it remember Japan 94 where Damon beat Michael far and square in the rain).

So what happened? MS made a mistake, misjudged his passing manoeuvre and ended up in the back of DC.


#45 rstix

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 12:07

I want to point out some of my theories and some detailes not mentioned yet. Some readers blame MS to be responsible for the crash by being too aggressive and/or too close to DC. I really fail to see, how MS could have avoided the incident at all and want to present some math to show it: Let's set up a scenario: Both were accelerating out of Beau Rivage with DC pulling away slightly. That's normal, cause he was on the throttle earlier than MS. The speed was around 100 km/h or 30m/s, their distance approximately 0.5s or 15m at this point. Some 6 seconds later, they collide, with DC's speed about 160 km/h (50 m/s) and MS driving 230 km/h (70 m/s), that's how I remember it. MS accelerates from 30 m/s to 70 m/s in 6s, making his acceleration a=40/6=6.6 m/s^2. I think, DC accelerated similarily, but only for a shorter period of time and kept his speed from there on. So he would have accelerated within 3s to his 50 m/s und travelled with constant speed then. At this point, their 0.5 s distance would equate 25m. In the next 3s until crash, MS approaches DC as he continues to accelerate. He would close up by a/2*t^2 = 6.6/2 * 3^2 = 29m. That gives their distance after 3s as 25 -29 = -4m: Boom! So this model seems rather consistant with the events.

How far could MS trail DC? After all, he wanted to pass him, so he could not give DC too much room. We constantly here the excuses of backmarkers, that the guy behind was too far away to make a pass. I think 1.5s would be actually too much to force a pass, but let's assume this distance for a moment. This would translate into a distance of 50 * 1.5 = 75m after the 3 seconds of equal
acceleration and come down to 75 - 29 = 46m m after the 6th second (when the actual crash happened). Let's assume, both kept their speed from there on (DC did it anyway, but MS might have gone even quicker ). So after another 1s, the gap is down to 26m, after another second 6m and half a second later -4m: Boom again. The incident would have occured 2.5 * 50 = 125m further down the track, but still not in the breaking zone for Pouhon (??). So adding 1s security would not have saved MS.

Another remark: I heared at least two ex-drivers (one of them was Boutsen BTW) saying, that under those conditions nobody could use the left side of the track down to Pouhon, because of the amount of water running there. Nobody would try to pass or lap somebody on that part of the track and no backmarker would voluntarily choose this side to let somebody pass. That matches MS comments, that he did not intend to try a pass before Pouhon (and he certainly did not expect DC to "give way" at exactly this place). So DC, after "defending" your position for more than one lap, why on earth did you slow down in a place, where nobody expects you to do so and where nobody is willing to take the left lane? I have only 2 possible answers:
1) DC was totally on the wrong foot (which is complying with the rest of his day: causing the big shunt at the start, his coming together with Wurz and his direct interference with the leading cars at the end).
2) DC (or RD) hoped, MS excursion into the river on the left side of the track could pay dividends but he did not realize, that MS could not see him at all and crash into him.

So I will by no means accuse DC trying to cause a mighty shunt like this, but I for myself would not rule out option 2 from above.

Reinhard


#46 Smooth

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 13:47

To address Greg L's excellent last post:

The issue at hand should focus on which of the two drivers caused the accident, if either.

I didn't want to open another debate on DC's intent, simply whether he, or MS, made an error in judgement leading to the incident. DC was clearly acting outside the rules in defending his position, something a backmarker doesn't have the right to do. The video doesn't show that DC drove on the side of the road to allow MS to pass, he stayed on the racing line. Remember they were coming up to a left hand corner, so the line was to the right, where DC was. DC shouldn't have had to drive off line, but he also shouldn't have left the door open on a few other occasions only to shut it on MS. The place DC decided to let MS by was NOT a normal passing zone, and DC should have waited until the end of the small straight they were on, and slowed more gradually to allow Schumacher by, in a much more normal passing situation. DC's lack of acceleration out of a corner shows, to me, a clear error in judgement, and Schumacher had no warning. If the telemetry was available for DC's last lap before the incident it would certainly be more relevant, but in re-watching the entire race on video, and watching the prior laps repeatedly, DC made an error in judgement, possibly slowing as soon as he got a message to do so.



#47 Peeko

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 14:24

Your Honour, I object to the argument being made by some that Schumacher should have been more careful attempting the pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Schumacher was NOT attempting a pass when the accident occured. On the exit of the left hander onto the straight you can clearly see some 5-6 car lenghts (about 1 second, or some 40-50 meters) between Schumacher's Ferrari, and Coulthard's McLaren. Again, Schumacher was not attempting a pass when the accident occured.

#48 Bodzolca

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 15:06

All quotes are from GREG L's post.

The issue is who is responsible for the collision, and most people making this arguement are assuming that because DC did not let MS pass earlier, he MUST be responsible should a collision occur minutes later.


Nobody said that. We just wanted to prove that MS didn't try to lap DC, he was just chasing him. Afterall, how could he assume that DC would suddenly slow down after his commitment to not let MS pass?

The evidence of DC's telemetry (while not complete in every way) is still relevant here as it shows us that DC did not slow suddenly in an attempt to catch Schumacher out - he merely drove along the of the road to let MS pass.


So what, this was cleared out in the first post. What is very important is that DC drove 60 kmph slower than MS and he was only on 58% of the throttle.

As Macfan addressed, it is common to maintain one's racing line when about to be passed, and DC did this.

Yes, but with a full throttle or a little less, but not 58% in the rain.

It would have been more dangerous for DC to pull off the racing line as MS would likely choose this off-line as his passing route, risking collision.


True, but this would be dangerous only if DC moved off the racing line in the middle of the straight. But DC could move off the racing line immediatelly after the corner (which is what backmarkers usually do, I saw this in Sepang two weeks ago many times) if he wanted to cruise.

. DC did the common and safe thing by staying on the racing line and keeping a steady and slower speed to assist MS in passing


If the speed difference would be 20 kmph or less, I would buy this. But 60 in the rain?????

MS misjudged the distance and/or speed and the collision occured.


Pure speculation. How do you know when MS saw DC? Maybe he saw him when it was too late. (see rstix post)

...he should have backed down and waited for a better opportunity


The whole paragraph which contains the quote above is made on the speculation that MS made a passing attempt. However, we do not know that for sure (see the first quote) and I ask the judge to take this into account.

#49 Mischa

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 22:33

In the hope that the court will accept my twopence worth in these closing moments of the hearing and find it useful in their consideration of the argument.

First of all, only David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher can really know what happened exactly, and how it happened. The FIA at the time dealt with it as 'racing incident', which if this is true, then one of the two drivers involved, or both of them, didn't pay attention or made a mistake

My opinion is, however, that DC provoked the accident. Braketesting is after all one of the oldest tricks in the business, and I reckon that there is hardly a driver who hasn't had to deal with this at one time or another in his career. It solves a couple of 'issues' for the guy in front - it will at the very least rattle the pursuer, disrupt his racing rhythm and serve as a warning not to get too close next time.

What's more, it is very hard to detect via telemetry and/or TV recordings. A F1 racecar cannot be compared to a normal roadcar on a motorway, no matter how fast it can go. For instance, by simply coming off the gas pedal the deceleration of an F1 car equals that of 'pedal to the metal' braking in a roadcar. Therefore, when the moment is right, merely lifting off a little means that the guy who follows closely behind has basically no chance, especially if you ibear in mind the fact that in our case visibility was very poor, the track was very wet, and the difference in speed was significant.

Telemetry Data measure and record, amongst others, the movements or angle of the gas pedal. One glance at such a recording (imagine an ECG and you have an idea) will show that, basically, the gaspedal does not remain motionless in one position, never ever, not even for the shortest of moments. Definitely not in corners, and most certainly not when it rains. Drivers are constantly feathering the gaspedal in order to keep all that horsepower in his car under control. A wet track like Spa 98 merely increases the amount of that particular activity.

While this tightly packed row of ups and downs of the telemetry line doesn't provide clear evidence of an obvious braking or complete lifting manoeuvre, one of those peaks or troughs could very easily have been produced at exactly the right moment to create problems for the guy behind. DC did not have to lift off completely if he wanted to create problems for MS.

In the end, none of us spectators will ever know for sure as concrete evidence either way is not available. The two drivers do know who did what to whom. They sure have learnt a thing or so about each other and their subsequent behaviour until now I think supports my point, I think.

Respectfully yours
Mischa



#50 Enzoluis

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Posted 29 March 2001 - 22:41

No matter also looking at the accident is DC to blame because he suddnly slow down at an unexpected place as was explained in other post, I ask the judges to take in count the full episode, DC had an illegal behavoir and that make him reaponsable for all the consequences of that behavoir.
You cannot go hunting birds with a gun at the central park and when you kill someone say it was an accident.
I think the point that the judges have to determine if DC did it on purpose. If he goes hunting birds with a gun in front of your enemy and unfortunatly he kills him.
I thing there is enough evidence to say DC did it.