I feel further clarification is needed about the incident at Suzuka in 1990.
Firstly, it was the culmination of almost two years of animosity between Senna and Prost. To have a better understanding one must see what happened in 1989. The in car footage from Prost's car as he turns right two-three times before collecting Senna. If Prost had continued with the line he claimed to be taking, he would have put all four wheels over the curbs and straight lined the chicane. The in-car footage from Prost's car is pretty decisive.
Initially, the FIA said, Senna had been disqualified for taking outside assistance. But later he was disqualified for missing the chicane. Again one must look at the footage. There was no way he could take the chicane after the impact with Prost. Senna was disqualified and Prost became world champion. The more telling factor at that time was the role of Jean Marie Balestre. His relationship with Senna was never good, again footage is available on youtube, where it's clear for all to see. Balestre a Frenchman, and Prost being one too, Senna considered it a conspiracy. Never one to hold back, he described it as such and his super license was duly suspended untill there was an apology from Senna. The apology was not forthcoming and took months and when it did, it was not in the words that was expected. Senna eventually got his super license back some where in February, if my memory serves me right.
Fast forward to 1990, Suzuka. This is the important bit. Pole position at Suzuka in those days used to be on the wrong side, the dirty side of the grid which was a disadvantage to the pole sitter. Senna was going to be on pole, there was little doubt about that. Before qualifying-they, the Mclaren people and FISA met with track officials. Jean Marie Balestre along with track officials agreed that pole position will be moved to the outside, the cleaner side of the grid after qualifying was over and the information was passed onto teams and drivers. As expected, Senna took pole from Prost. FISA came out with a statement after qualifying- saying " we do not change pole position for anyone " This after agreeing to do that before qualifying. That's when Senna gave the famous interview, before the race saying, " Prost, if he is ahead at the start, better not turn infront of me because if he does that-he won't make the corner, he will not turn into the first corner ahead of me "
True to his word, as they charged down to turn one, there is a little glimpse of Prost leaving the door open for a second and Senna being Senna went for it, Prost was never going to make it into turn one ahead of him even without that invitation.
Just wanted to give a little back ground to that incident. Senna was a classy driver. He did not lie nor pretend it was something other than it was. He declared what he was going to do if Prost got a better start. The comparison between that incident and Schumacher doing what he did in Australia or Jerez is often made. I for one feel there is no comparison to be made. One guy, Senna, being promised one thing before qualifying and then FISA going back on their word, declaring in advance what he was going to do, and a second guy, Schumacher, who fell off the road in Australia, damaged his car, got back on track and clinically took out his only rival. Nothing was done to Schumacher either, a small inquiry and thats it.
For 1997, he tried the same move and it didn't come off. The Italian news papers had this to say about 1997;
From around the world the press are unanimously critical of Schumacher's move. And the strongest condemnation seems to be coming from the Italian press:
"To see a world title vanish after waiting 18 years is sad enough. But to see it go up in smoke by that 'prank' from Michael Schumacher is...unfortunately much worse. It's shameful," La Repubblica newspaper said.
Even La Stampa newspaper, owned by the Agnelli family, which also controls Ferrari, said Schumacher was at fault. "(Schumacher's) image as a champion was shattered, like a glass hit by a stone," the paper said in a front page article.
"For Ferrari, after 18 years, it would have been a title to hide," Gazzetta dello Sport added.
"Villeneuve...son of the adored Gilles, emerges in a magnificent light as a man who knows how to fight and as a champion who knows how to win," Gazzetta said.
The funniest comment was made by Damon Hill.
Damon Hill, who is a true gentleman and has always shown remarkable restraint when discussing his '94 collision involving Schumacher, had this to say, "He showed his true colours today and he got what he deserved. I said before the race I didn't think that he'd try anything like that again because it would spoil his image. But I was wrong. At least he is consistent."
I feel as if the Schumacher week should be turned into Schumacher year:)