• Monaco Grand Prix

Barrichello defends steering-wheel claims

ESPNF1 Staff
May 18, 2010 « Mercedes ponders Schumacher appeal | »
Ruben Barrichello in Monaco: 'After the shunt I was facing the wrong side of the track and the car was on fire' © Getty Images

Rubens Barrichello has denied suggestions he recklessly endangered his Formula One rivals at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Barrichello crashed spectacularly after suffering a failure of his rear suspension, hitting barriers on both sides of the circuit at high speed before his badly-damaged car came to rest in the middle of the track. In what appeared to be frustration, he lobbed his $50,000 steering wheel onto the track before clambering out of the Williams and trotting to safety.

The wheel was almost immediately run over by Karun Chandhok, who dragged the expensive debris all the way to the tunnel before it came loose and was run over again by Bruno Senna.

"What was he doing?," Chandhok asked. "Charlie [Whiting] actually asked me about it. You see on the video that he just throws it."

Although it is a rule drivers must re-connect the steering wheel after abandoning a stricken car, Barrichello insisted there were mitigating circumstances. "I threw the steering wheel because I wanted to get out of the car as soon as possible," he said. "After the shunt I was facing the wrong side of the track and the car was on fire."

Williams co-owner Patrick Head also defended his driver. "If you are standing in the middle of a 120mph corner, you tend to think 'let's get out of here as quickly as you can'."