TBT: The day Michael Schumacher parked his car to secure pole in Monaco
At the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher parked his car during a qualifying session to raise a yellow flag to hold off his rivals, preventing them from having the chance to do their fastest lap time. This episode became one of the seven-time world champion’s most famous controversies.
Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Seow Hui Zhi, and Janvi Unni
After the incident in 1994, when Schumacher beat Damon Hill at the Australian GP to win the title that year, and also when he squeezed the british driver off the track, he was not considered the sportiest guy on the grid. But when the German dominated the sport in 2000-2004 with Ferrari, his image of him as a controversial driver supposedly changed. However, we all know that didn’t happen…
In 2005, Ferrari spent the year struggling, finishing with Fernando Alonso gaining his first world championship. In 2006, the Scuderia from Maranello recovered and returned to fight for the top positions. Before the Monaco GP, Schumacher was 2nd in the drivers championship, with a difference of 15 points to Alonso – remember that at the time the victory was worth 10 points.
In the weekend at Monte Carlo, the qualifying was intense – since a pole in Monaco is very valuable. In Q3, Schumacher got the pole by 0.082 seconds to Alonso, the second best at that time. All the drivers went to the pits to change tyres, and used the last minutes to achieve a better position. In the second part, Schumacher did +0.2 of his own time, and when he got into the Rascasse corner, the penultimate of the circuit, the German locked the wheels and stopped the car next to the guard-rail, provoking yellow flags in the area and affecting all the drivers beside Alonso, Webber and Kimi.
Alonso by the way, was coming to the fastest lap, by 0.3 seconds, but was obligated to slow down, finishing a 0.64 seconds to Schumacher, and qualified second.
The action immediately started to provoke comments from the media and staff. Flavio Briatore, Alonso’s boss at Renault, claimed “ He simply stopped the car like that! It is like this Ferrari acts!”
Jacques Villenueve also commented about the polemic. The Canadian said; “I was expecting that it was on purpose, because if that was a mistake, Schumacher should have had a super license point because it was a shameful movement even for Yuji Ide”, referring to the driver who was banned from F1 in the same month of 2006.
Alonso however, was planning a protest, some people talked to the media saying he was going to land in front of Schumacher’s car after the formation lap.
Schumacher defended saying: “Only who was in the car knows what happened”.
Nonetheless, the FIA decided to investigate Schumacher’s conduct on that move, the agency retrieved statements, analyzed the videos, and investigated the telemetry data, and the decision came later that night. Michael was considered guilty for parking his car on purpose, and provocating a late on other drivers times. The organization decided to delete all his times at the track, making the driver lose his pole, being obligated to start the race by the last position.
FIA claimed that Schumacher got into the corner in a velocity similar to the last corner, but unexpectedly braked the car in a ”improper, excessive and unusual” way.
So the commissars activated the F1 regulation number 112 , not giving the driver the chance to defend the decision.
According to the investigation of the case, Schumacher applied 50% more force on the brakes compared to the previous laps, staying for along 5 meters moving the wheel in a “unnecessary” way, losing the control of the car by 16 kilometres per hour, making the engine go off because of the long interval on changing the gears.