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Since 1st March, 1999
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Temporary loss of vision caused pile-up, pleads Ralf
- German GRAND PRIX - Williams driver feels no-one is to blame for crash

Paris : Ralf Schumacher pleaded a case of temporary loss of vision when he appeared before motor racing’s governing body FIA here on Tuesday in connection with last month’s crash at the German Grand Prix.

The Williams driver was found guilty of causing an avoidable accident at Hockenheim in which McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello were forced out of the race.

If his appeal fails Ralf will lose 10 grid positions at this Sunday’s Hungarian GP.

The hearing in front of the Federation Internationale Automobile’s international appeals panel in Paris lasted an hour-and-a-half.

The stewards are due to deliver their verdict on Wednesday morning.

All three drivers turned up with Ralf’s case presented by Williams’ lawyer, Andrew Hunter, and the British team’s operations director Sam Michael.

Using film footage of the incident to support their case Hunter told the four-man panel that Ralf’s vision had been restricted by his car’s blind-spot.

“It clearly shows that Ralf’s line of vision was limited, that he was only able to see the Ferrari of Rubens. As for Kimi he was out of sight — Ralf couldn’t see him,” explained Michael.

Michael insisted that Ralf had taken precisely the same line as he had done at Hockenheim last year, with Barrichello and Raikkonen in his slipstream in third and fifth.

“The only difference this year was that Raikkonen tried to overtake Rubens,” Michael said.

Meanwhile, Ralf said no one was to blame for the pile-up and the crash was a normal motorsport accident. Ralf denied making any post-race statements admitting he displayed a lack of caution before the crash.

“It was definitely very annoying,” Ralf said. “There is no one to blame for this crash. It was a completely normal racing accident. It could have happened to anyone in any race.”

Barrichello told the panel that Ralf had crashed into him, not the other way around. Williams officials pointed out Barrichello was the only one of the three who braked before the crash, suggested he was the only one who saw it coming.

“I tried to take avoiding action,” Barrichello said. “I braked and moved a little bit. I didn’t drive into Ralf. He hit me.”

Raikkonen, also appearing before the panel, rejected suggestions from Williams officials that he could have avoided the crash by driving on, or to the left of, the white line on the left shoulder of the track. “I didn’t want to drive off the course because that is not the best route,” Raikkonen said.

Ralf’s team also argued that the correct procedure at the initial post-race inquiry had not been followed.

“Unlike Ralf, Kimi and Rubens were questioned in the presence of an official from their team,” said Michael.

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