Renault’s Jarno Trulli won the first grand prix of his career in Monaco on Sunday, but there has been much debate about the collision that ended Michael Schumacher’s winning spree.

Renault’s Jarno Trulli won the first grand prix of his career in Monaco on Sunday, but there has been much debate about the collision that ended Michael Schumacher’s winning spree.


Trulli took the chequered flag on the streets of the Principality after staving off a late challenge from BAR Honda’s Jenson Button, who finished second. Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello finished in a distant third.


In an incident-packed race with only nine drivers completing the course, the Renault’s Fernando Alonso crashed in the tunnel while attempting to pass Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher. And with the safety car out while Alonso’s car was being cleared, Trulli used the opportunity to pit, handing the lead to Ferrari’s six-time world champion Michael Schumacher.


But in a bizarre turn, Schumacher braked in the tunnel - supposedly to get heat into his brakes - and his car was clipped from behind by Juan-Pablo Montoya’s Williams-BMW. Schumacher headed towards the wall and as his front left wheel buckled, so too did his hopes of taking his sixth straight victory of the season.


Following the race, Schumacher denied that he was irresponsible by warming his brakes in the darkness of the tunnel, saying he was following normal procedure before a restart.


"When the accident with Montoya happened I was leading the race," said Schumacher. "So the situation is that the race leader was knocked out of the race after being hit by a backmarker (Montoya). I am sure there was no deliberate intention on his part and I accept the steward's decision. I was accelerating and braking just as we do when we go to the grid and in the standard way when running behind the safety car.


“The tunnel was not even the first place I had done it as I had used the same procedure earlier in the lap. A bit of smoke off the wheels is quite normal in these situations as you try to get heat into the front tyres and the brakes,” the German added.


In response, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said: "Michael was making progress after a difficult initial phase but he was not as quick as we had hoped. When the accident happened, however, he had a good chance to fight for the win."


Montoya, who neither accepted blame nor levelled it at Schumacher following their collision, said that it was not the first time the German had triggered such a situation. It was, however, the first time that Michael had come off worst in such circumstances.


"Schumacher and Montoya have clashed before in drivers briefings about the technique behind a safety car, with Montoya claiming that Schumacher did it in such a way that he couldn't be closely followed.


"He was doing a burn-out, I was doing a burn-out. He accelerated really hard and so did I, then he stepped on the brakes really hard. I moved to the right to try and avoid him and put the car up against the wall so we wouldn't hit, but we just touched,” Montoya said.


"If he was braking that hard he should have done it in a different place – not in the middle of the tunnel. I moved offline to try not to hit him and he came over exactly to where I was. I didn't have anywhere else to go. It was so unpredictable. He just stood on the brakes and you could see the left-front locked for quite a while. As soon as I saw the smoke, I straightaway tried to avoid him but there was nowhere to go.


“I'm not going to blame him and I'm pretty happy I didn't do anything on purpose. I would put it down to a racing incident. If he wants to say anything else, I don't care really,” the Colombian added.


Montoya and Schumacher were summoned to see stewards after the race but the sport's governing body the FIA said in a statement that no further action would be taken.

The start of the race was initially delayed because Olivier Panis failed to move after the first parade lap and the race was delayed by a few minutes. Panis eventually had to start from the pit lane exit after he again failed to get away on the second parade lap.

The second time round, the race was off with stunning starts from the Renault duo and Takuma Sato in his BAR-Honda while the Ferrari of Schumacher was dropped to fifth position.

With smoke billowing from the back of Sato’s machine, his engine finally blew up just three laps into the race. And as Kimi Raikkonen and the rest of the field were able to find their way through the plumes of smoke, Fisichella clipped the back of David Coulthard’s McLaren-Mercedes and the Italian’s Sauber landed upside down. The driver walked away from the Sauber unhurt but Coulthard’s race was ended as well.

Other than the action provided by the mass of retirees, the race was an intense battle between Trulli and Button. As the gap separating the two closed as the race neared its end, the back markers came increasingly into play.

But Trulli remained composed and was able to take his first grand prix victory ever at the most famous grand prix circuit on the calendar. Third-placed Barrichello was a full 75 seconds behind the winner. Having survived the scare with Schumacher, Montoya finished fourth ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Massa.

Nick Heidfeld finished seventh in his Jordan, between the Toyotas of Cristiano Da Matta and Olivier Panis. Zsolt Baumgartner of Minardi was the only other car to finish the race.

Original article from Car