No question about what was the big talking point after Monaco Grand Prix qualifying. Michael Schumacher, already on provisional pole, speared into Rascasse and stopped short of the outside barriers, apparently unable to get around. Fernando Alonso, 0.3 quicker in the first two-thirds of the lap, had to back off and Schumacher kept the pole.
So: did Schumacher feign a spin to deliberately block the circuit?
The onboard camera from the Ferrari appears to show Schumacher entering the Rascasse further to the right of the normal line. He briefly unwinds the right lock from the steering wheel, either to alleviate understeer or to intentionally run wide.
On that lap he was 0.19s down on his best after the second sector, strongly suggesting he would not have been quicker. But in the press conference, Schumacher said that he felt his time up to that point was competitive.
It isn’t realistic to suggest that Schumacher left the pitlane on his last run with a pre-editated intention to scupper the end of qualifying. But, faced with a split-second decision on whether to guarantee pole position via dubious means, did he pull a ‘dirty move’?
There will be plenty of people saying he did the same at Adelaide in ’94, and Jerez in ’97.
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