Michael Schumacher has stirred up a storm by controversially securing pole position for the Monaco grand prix.
With no more seconds on the clock and challengers like Fernando Alonso bearing down on rapid laps, the German oddly ran wide in La Rascasse, stalled his Ferrari engine and brought out yellow flags that would guarantee his spot at the top.
Reportedly, Renault’s Pat Symonds dashed off immediately to the Stewards to lodge a formal protest, while others joined in by suggesting that the move was made deliberately.
Flavio Briatore said: ”He just parked the car.”
According to the timing data, Alonso would have claimed Schumacher’s pole had he not driven through the caution zone.
On-board replays, moreover, did not conclusively resolve suspicions that the incident was a tactical one.
”I locked up and ran wide and then stalled the engine,” Michael said.
”I did not want to use the reverse gear when all the others were coming.”
Alonso commented: ”I would have got pole. To lose it on the final lap is not good for me.”
With the protests pending, the results will remain provisional for now.
The other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, meanwhile, exited qualifying without even setting a lap by crashing at Casino Square.
Another major upset was Jenson Button’s failure to put his Honda through to the top ten shootout, although his formerly struggling teammate Rubens Barrichello will start seventh.
‘Superman’-clad Red Bull driver David Coulthard also showed some masterly pace as he tasted the final part of F1’s new format for the very first time.