• Monaco Grand Prix

Schumacher demoted to 12th after safety-car penalty

ESPNF1 Staff
May 16, 2010 « Trulli apologises for Chandhok shunt | »
Michael Schumacher makes sedate progress under the yellow flag ... but things were to hot up later © Sutton Images

Michael Schumacher makes sedate progress under the yellow flag

Michael Schumacher has been slapped with a 20-second penalty after being found guilty of overtaking Fernando Alonso on the final corner of the Monaco Grand Prix, in contravention of a new rule brought into force at the start of the season. The decision means he drops from sixth to 12th.

He nipped past Alonso just as the safety car had left the circuit near the end of the final lap, and despite vigorous arguments from the Mercedes team, the stewards decided the move was illegal as the race was finishing under the safety car.

The new rule - 40.13 - states: "If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pitlane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."

Immediately after the conclusion of the race, Schumacher and Ross Brawn said they were confident there would be no penalty. "We were advised before the end of the race that the safety car was coming in," Brawn told the BBC. "There was no instruction that the race was going to finish under the safety car."

Schumacher was equally certain he had done nothing wrong. "I think there is either this message, or there is the message 'track clear' and 'safety car in' and that was the message that was given to all of us and when this message is out it means track clear and back to racing. The cars were removed. I took my opportunity."

However, as might be expected, Alonso did not agree with Schumacher's assessment. "The race was very good and in the end I still have a good feeling," he told Spanish reporters. "The team told me we couldn't overtake so when I saw Michael … they will penalise him, so we will end up winning anyway."

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali was also confident. "Our understanding of the rule is pretty clear, you can't overtake on the final lap."

One of the stewards was Damon Hill who had more than a few run-ins with Schumacher when they raced against each other. But Schumacher smiled when asked if that might be an issue.

"It will be interesting. He is a good guy so I'm sure he will understand the situation and it's normal that the other team has a different opinion but we have to see. Maybe we missed something that we are not aware of." Clearly they had.