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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Schumacher Escapes 1998 Ban, Fine

SLOUGH, England -- Michael Schumacher escaped without a ban or fine Tuesday over his collision with Jacques Villeneuve in the season-ending Formula One race two weeks ago.


In what amounted to a slap on the wrist for the two-time champion, world motor sport's ruling body stripped the Ferrari driver of his second-place finish in the 1997 drivers' championship.


In a related ruling, FIA's World Motor Sports Council cleared the Williams and McLaren teams of allegations that they colluded to fix the European Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain, on Oct. 26.


"I think it is perfectly clear that the race in Jerez was not fixed and no Formula One race has ever been fixed," FIA president Max Mosley said.


Schumacher, the circuit's most marketable personality, had risked a possible ban for the entire 1998 season and a fine of up to $1 million for ramming Villeneuve's Williams car in Jerez.


But the Motor Sports Council decided against banning Schumacher from any of next year's races or imposing any fine.


Schumacher has denied intentionally ramming Villeneuve but admitted he made a driving error.


Schumacher's Ferrari spun out after the crash on the 48th lap, while the Canadian finished the race and won his first Formula One championship.


Schumacher had a one-point lead going into the race and has been widely accused of deliberately trying to knock Villeneuve out in a bid to win his third title.


Mosley said Schumacher's collision with Villeneuve was "apparently deliberate but instinctive and not premeditated."


Mosley said it would be "futile" to ban Schumacher in 1998 on grounds that it would not act as a deterrent.


"There is no driver competing in 1998 who would not be ready to accept the ban in 1999 if he could win the championship in 1998," Mosley said. "It would not be a deterrent in any sense."


Mosley said FIA considered imposing a fine but instead asked Schumacher to take part in a road safety campaign next year.


Williams' driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen moves up to second place, with McLaren's David Coulthard to third.


Mosley dismissed suggestions that FIA had copped out in letting Schumacher off without any punishment in 1998.


"Finishing second in the FIA championship is an amazing achievement and to have it taken away is a serious punishment," Mosley said. The FIA president said the penalty "sends a message to all drivers at all levels of the sport that if you do something you shouldn't do and the championship is at issue, you will be excluded from the championship and can not possibly gain anything by engaging in an illegitimate act."