The man who drove into Damon Hill in order to win his first world championship in 1994 and swerved into Jacques Villeneuve in an attempt to stop him from winning his first title in 1997 has apologized to Rubens Barrichello for nearly running him into a cement wall during Sunday’s Grand Prix of Hungary.
Toward the end of the race, Barrichello went to pass Schumacher for the last points-paying position, tenth place. Schumacher was having none of it and squeezed his former Ferrari lapdog, er, teammate, right over against the cement wall protecting pit road. You can watch it here.
The wall ended and Barrichello was able to then escape the squeeze by running wide over the pit-out road and completing the pass. Afterward, he was furious and accused his old friend of trying to kill him over some unsettled score. (And what would that be? Barrichello always had to kiss Michael’s butt. If either of those two ever had a right to feel resentful, it would surely be Rubens. . . )
In any event, as reported by the Telegraph, Barrichello said: "If he wants to go to heaven before me, he can. I don’t want to go to heaven yet."
Schumacher downplayed the incident after the race on Sunday, suggesting that he hadn’t done a very good job of blocking because Barrichello had managed to get past.
And then he let go with a few of his patented, up-yours, quotes such as: "We know certain drivers have certain views, and then there’s Rubens . . ."
But then, overnight, something happened that made him change his tune.
Was it Derek Warwick’s comment that, despite being penalized 10 grid positions at the next race, he came very close to being black-flagged? (Warwick was the retired drivers’ rep on the stewards’ panel.) Was it Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn perhaps suggesting that he might not want to tarnish his legacy any further? Was it his wife?
In any event, Schumacher wrote on his website Monday that upon reviewing the incident and looking at the pictures he had come to the conclusion that he had been "too hard" on Barrichello.
"Yesterday, right after the race, I was still in the heat of the action. But after I watched the incident with Rubens again, I must say that the stewards were right with their assessment: the move against him was too hard.
"I wanted to make it hard for him to pass me," Schumacher wrote. "I clearly showed him that I didn't want to let him pass but I wasn't seeking to endanger him with my move. If he feels I was, then I'm sorry; this wasn't my intention."
What next? A 12-step program?