Vergne: Schumacher said sorry and that’s the end of it
23 September, 2012
Sep.23 (Reuters) Formula One rookie Jean-Eric Vergne found himself in the unusual position of accepting an apology from a seven-time world champion on Sunday after Michael Schumacher smashed into the back of his Toro Rosso at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The spectacular crash on lap 38 took both drivers out of the race and saw debris scatter across the floodlit track, forcing the safety car out for a second time and FIA officials to take action against Schumacher.
Television pictures showed Vergne making a bee-line for the German after the crash but instead of a confrontation the Frenchman put a consoling arm around Schumacher as they walked back to the paddock.
“There is no sense in being angry about it, because these things happen in racing and even the most experienced driver on the grid can make mistakes,” said the philosophical Frenchman.
“He said sorry and that’s the end of it.”
Vergne, who had been racing wheel-to-wheel with Mexican Sergio Perez before being rear-ended by Schumacher, said he knew very little about what happened behind him.
“I was focusing on catching Sergio Perez at that point, trying to brake late to catch him, so I am not too sure what happened exactly, but I assume Michael braked a bit too late and could not avoid running in to me,” he added.
Singapore has not been a happy hunting ground for Schumacher, who crashed here last year and was 13th in 2010.
Following his latest transgression, officials opted to hand the German a 10-place penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct. 7.
“At one point I understood I couldn’t decelerate and then I just went straight on the brakes, very hard lock-up and everything,” the 43-year-old said.
“I tried to brake as much as it was somehow possible but the accident at that moment was not avoidable any more.
“I feel sorry for Jean-Eric that he had to retire for this one and for the guys and the team but we need to find out what happened.”
Called before the stewards, Schumacher admitted the error and thus will take a 10-place drop in Japan, the officials remarking that it was “the second similar offence by the driver this season”.
Subbed by AJN.